Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fire or ice

The American poet, Robert Frost, once wrote,
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
Today bloggers of the world unite to discuss climate change. Politicians say the world is getting warmer, while some statisticians now say it it getting cooler. So we, the non-experts, are left to speculate, as Robert Frost once did, “Fire or Ice?”
How ironic that Blog Action Day would waste Internet bandwidth and its immeasurable electric wattage from dubious coal-fired generators to discuss the amelioration of global climate change as if the weather was an issue of social justice or morality. We have gathered together today in virtual self-righteous hypocrisy to ignore true causes of social injustice and human suffering to talk about the weather. Why? The anti-pattern, “low hanging fruit,” I suppose.
When you address the problem that isn’t a problem, then you’re guaranteed the appearance of success. Kudos, we’ve already saved the planet. Empirical evidence reveals that the earth  in previous centuries has been warmer and cooler than present. Empirically, then, we might suppose that the earth might be both warmer and cooler in the future. To claim any degree of accuracy in our calculations, however, would be absurd. Most of us can’t solve complex mathematical equations without at least a calculator, and fewer of us can program supercomputer algorithms. Even those who program supercomputers are prone to human mistakes and their algorithms fail to account for all data. Otherwise, the weather would never surprise.
Aside from the empirical, I refuse to indulge in any debate regarding global climate change because any historical data older than 30 or 40 years is woefully incomplete and possibly a work of fiction. I place no more faith in climatologists than I do in meteorologists. They can only be right part of the time. Climatologists use current datasets to extrapolate historical sets based on certain assumptions, and then use this data to prophesy doom and gloom scenarios. Their circular logic translated by politicians into social imperatives is merely a form of shamanism or juju.
We have only begun to measure the weather; let’s give technology a millennia or two to calculate man’s impact on climate change before we start extrapolating absurd conclusions. Meanwhile, let’s focus on real issues that plague our society.
I met a man the other day who works as a probation officer for a county in the Kansas City metropolitan area. He told me that the issues he faces everyday are symptomatic of the deterioration of the family. I introduced this man to another acquaintance of mine who works in a residential treatment center for at-risk teenagers. I was amused that these two strangers knew so many people in common having never met each other. Both have dedicated their careers to ameliorate the impact of the disintegration of family within our culture.  Meanwhile, both strive to protect their own families from the destructive influences of our society. I wish them success on both fronts of the culture war.
The deterioration of the family may not be the only cause of cultural morass. Selfishness is the root of all other vices. Consequently, selfishness is the root of the family decay. In Frost’s analysis of the world’s predicament, fire and ice represent the spectrum of human self-centeredness. Greed and hatred both grow from the same root of inflated self-importance. While Frost viewed fire and ice from a universal perspective, hubris devastates at home, too.
The biggest problem the ideology of global climate change faces is the absence of a norm. The earth has gone through an ice age; deserts were once inland seas; Greenland used to be green. What in-between state is the appropriate norm, and who gets to decide the acceptable variance? Meanwhile, Martian  polar caps are shrinking, begging the question whether Earth's observed climate changes might be extraterrestrial in nature.
But climate change is not about the weather. Climate change has become a weapon of political engineering wherein scientists and politicians seek to exert patrician control over the proletariat. The global-climate-change faithful exult, not in the process of cooling the planet, but rather in the opportunity to reengineer society: hence BAD 2009.
The entire culture of global climate change is predicated upon faith in fallible humans and their mystical equations. You may believe it, but I remain skeptical. Better wisdom comes from a lesser poet than Frost: “Don’t follow leaders, watch the parkin’ meters.” Ironically, this revolution has forgotten that governmental mandates infringe on freedom. This generation rushes headlong into a type of eco-fascism demanding that the government infringe upon personal and economic freedom of others. To what end?
The nebulous facts of global climate change propels the political rise of a new patrician class at the expense of personal and economic freedom. Whether the outcome is justified will be determined by those in control. The absence of an objective norm will leave the proletariat believing their beloved fathers saved them from from something.
I agree that social values should be re-engineered or realigned, but global climate change is not my motivator. Society cannot be reformed by top down declarations from political scientists.
Unlike global climate change, the devastation of the family and the fire and ice of interpersonal relationships can be ameliorated by applying absolute standards with predictable results. Such a claim is predicated upon faith in the Creator God who has expressed Himself through graphos and logos, i.e. the Scripture and the revelation of God through Christ, His Son.
Accepting the words of Scripture, and especially the words of Jesus, as authoritative regarding family provides a framework which will transform our personal relationships. Two of the Ten Commandments deal with familial relationships:
“Honor your father and mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.”
“Do not commit adultery.”
The commandments of God that Moses brought down from Mount Sinai did not speak in part to children and in part to adults; consequently, the command to honor Father and Mother speaks to adults as well as to children. The command against adultery has been abandoned by the most modern Christian denominations in deed if not in word.
The prophet Malachi confronted Israel’s problem with divorce. He tells them that God no longer listened to them because they had abandoned the wives of their youth. Malachi writes,
. . . guard in your spirit, and the wife of your youth do not abandon! But if by detesting, you should send her forth, says the LORD God of Israel, then impiety shall cover over your thoughts, says the LORD God almighty.
Malachi 2:15-16 (AB)
The health and prosperity of the entire nation turned upon the commitment within individual marriages. Jesus echoed Malachi’s proclamation when he said, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.” Mark 10:11-12 (NIV) Most Christian churches today seek to affirm adulterous relationships as a type of second chance rather than encourage repentance. In so doing, the church has made itself complicit in the disintegration of the family.
The foundation of a family must be a committed marriage as defined by God from the beginning, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24 (NIV)
Real marriage requires selflessness to succeed. The degree of selflessness required for a successful marriage and family is enumerated by the Apostle Paul, he wrote to the Ephesians, saying,
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church — for we are members of his body.
“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery — but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Ephesians 5:25-32 (NIV)
The love and respect commanded within Christian marriage mirrors Christ’s love for us and our regard for him. Society is built one family unit at at time. Some of us still have the power to contribute to the success of one family. The church, in turn, is to build upon those familial relationships and operate as extended family or community focusing inwardly toward the building up of the whole.
To be effective the church must define itself apart from the culture, “In the world, but not of the world.” Modern Christianity is clearly of the world. The erosion of family within the church is symptomatic. Many churches cater to families, not by drawing families together but by driving them apart. Church has become like a Disney family cruise, with something for everyone, but little substance to bind all together.
Even as churches resist moral decay in the culture, they do so by engaging in external political tactics rather than internal edification. The morality of the culture should not matter to the church, but morality within the church should be of high importance. The Apostle Paul did not care about cultural morality, but he cared deeply about the purity of the church, he writes, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. ‘Expel the wicked man from among you.’” 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 (NIV) Clearly, not everyone belongs in church, but modern Christianity takes a different stance – they accept everyone. Today, people are not expelled from church for immorality, but rather for confronting abusive leadership.
The man expelled by the Corinthians later repented of his sin and Paul encouraged the Corinthian church, saying,
The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.
2 Corinthians 2:6-8 (NIV)
The purity of the church and the reconciliation of sinners is not inconsistent. Yet, today, churches are so eager to forgive, and even indulge immorality, that they become a stumbling block to the innocent and the guilty alike. Children learn that there are no consequences to sin, and the sinner learns that there is no need for repentance.
The modern church is more concerned with creating a culturally accommodating environment than a spiritually nurturing environment. In so doing, church has become an extension of the culture rather than an extension of the family. The church has abandoned its first love, and one wonders whether the depreciation of marriage and the family, as Malachi lamented, is to blame.
Between the rabid lust of the culture and the moral indifference of the church, Christian families today face external perils of fire and ice.
Though the culture and the church will proceed like the weather, Christian fathers can make a choice within the family to set aside their own selfishness and take upon themselves the selflessness of Jesus Christ. This begins by obeying the command, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

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