Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Checking your blind spot

I recently turned twenty-seven. Thirty now looms up like the business end of a sawed-off shotgun. I regard the black hole warily, ready for the explosion. I know, in the back of my mind, however, that the closer I get to the shotgun, the smaller the barrel will look, until, sailing into the last few months of my twenty-ninth year, I will suddenly see another menace ahead; an Abrams tank, with a big 40 on it.
The older I grow, the more I realize that life never really changes that much.
The older I grow, the more I realize that life doesn't even closely resemble what it used to be.
(Unless I miss my guess, anyone my age or older will find the above contradictions completely harmonious.)
Growing up, I was never tempted to showy sins. My transgressions were more the common garden variety, as tame and insipid and insidious as a bad attitude will be.
The ostentatious rebellions of some of my peers never held the seduction for me that it held for them. "Such maturity." my elders crooned. "Such cowardice." hissed my conscience.
Such is the burden a timid sinner bears. The honest acclamation of others, blissfully naive as they are, heaps mountains of smoldering coal upon one's head while one goes about sinning in secret with a fleeting hateful glare, a clandestine fit of temper, or a vile thought.
Living in the basking glow of approval, tremendous pressure is brought to bear on the secret sinner, as an admittance of guilt would bring down the entire, elaborate palace of cards.
And so it goes, endless, unless the hypocrite is confronted with his own deceit, cornered by the Hound of Heaven, with nowhere to run.
Thank God for the misery of conviction.
Thank God for salvation and entire sanctification.
And so, the battle won, the war progresses.
Like any canny defeated foe, the enemy resorts to guerilla warfare.
Twenty seven I am now, and more cognizant than ever that the adversary of our eternal life is so utterly tireless.
Life is good, contentment abides in our home, yet I thank God His Holy Spirit stands as sentry.
Still not tempted to showy sins, nor even prone to particularly embarrassing mistakes of spiritual etiquette, I stop to wonder sometimes, as a soldier who finds himself in a curious lull of battle, what new devilry awaits me.
It's quiet. . . . . too quiet.
What fiendish assault is plotted by my enemy?
Those who succumb to frontal, obvious temptations will always puzzle me.
For example, I'm completely baffled at the carelessness and foolhardiness of those who fall to adultery.
From where I am, I cannot see for the life of me how they got from here to there.
And yet, as I ponder over this, a crawling caution rises the hair on the back of my neck.
What if this spectacle of a fallen saint is a diversion?
What ambush of my own looms behind or overhead?
Of one thing I can be sure. The enemy exerted no more effort in bringing down the adulterer, than he exerts on me each and every day.
I wonder if those weary heroes policing the edgy streets of Fallujah or Tikrit sometimes long for the shock and awe of Baghdad. Memory dims the horror, I assume, but mightn't a massive, organized army out in front be less terrorizing than a lone suicide bomber strolling up behind you?
Be sober, be vigilant. The roaring lion now stalks silently, crouching in your blind spot.
No need to keep your finger on your pulse. But keep your powder dry.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

If only evil were Apollyon

There is something about the particulars of the crime committed against the two small girls by the one's father, that makes it particularly insensate. If you've read up on the case, you know of course, I'm referring to the location of the wounds. It curdles the blood, and eventually leads everyone to ask, How?
I'm sure there's some danger in founding my musings on a case that hasn't yet been fully exposed, but it doesn't really matter. It makes it no less true. My first thought was that this was the essence of evil. Only the willful deliberation of true and pure hatred and sadism would suffice to explain this.
Until Devan conjectured the man was hallucinating.
I know, I said this was based on assumptions, but stay with me.
I know that copping an insanity plea will do nothing to effectuate grace in any of our hearts. Whether it was mental instability ( and who is going to seriously suggest the man was in possession of all his faculties) or drug-induced, justice should stand ready to deal with the man.
Insanity naturally garners more sympathy than drug abuse. With drugs, you have the issue of responsibility. For exactly the same reason, and rightly so, we throw the book at intoxicated drivers. The irresponsibility of combining alcohol and driving is considered criminal, as it should be.
Insanity is a little more dicey. If it were truly mental instability, a genetic defect, rendering him incapable of being responsible for anything, then may the psychiatrists do well with him in the padded cell. If it is insanity caused by drug abuse, the drunk driving precedent comes into play again, but still making the issue more muddled than if it were just plain cruelty.
Honestly, I would rather it be stark black and white. I would be glad would this prove to be a missing link between the single-celled organism of evil and the walking, talking, homo sapiens variety we have today.
The evolution of evil, though, is as dismally convoluted and unexciting as it is insidious.
John Bunyan writes allegorically of a man grappling with evil as treacherous terrain, spewing volcanoes, and a winged, fire-breathing beast that hurls lethal fiery darts.
If only. . .
If only the spirit of antichrist did bear real glistening fangs and have sooty black wings.
But the evil we must battle as compared to Bunyan's allegorical monster is as bullets are to cancer.
Consider one of Satan's most vile concoctions; child abuse.
The disease of child abuse is most often inherited.
How could it be that one who was so mistreated could so mistreat?
Our sense of right and wrong rebels against this folly. That the victim becomes the villain, and the innocent prey becomes the brutal predator. We yearn for a moral template. If only the evil were always evil, and demonstrably so, and the good always good, and demonstrably so.
The architect of evil is so competent.
With a computer hacker's adroitness, he introduced a virus to the human race that requires erasing most of our hard drive to eradicate.
Human nature wants to believe that evil is a human device. If we can isolate evil to Adolf Hitlers and John Wayne Gacys then we can all rest easy. Then at least if vanquishing the foe results in any personal injury, we have the solace of a purple heart.
But when eradicating evil begins with us laying down on a cross, surrendering to the nails and the hammer to kill our own evil, human nature drops the subject of killing evil altogether.
I think any of us, as Christians would gladly trade places with Bunyan's Christian, battling the elements, nature and ravenous beasts, but what we have to contend with is far more dangerous, and difficult to fight.
More later.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

"Good Humor, Gone Bad"?

I recently noticed something on the Fox news website that sort of struck me the other day. (No pun intended!)
The eye-catching title went something like this: "Ice cream vendor loses Good Humor and punches kid who mouthed off".

The gist of the story is that a thirteen-year-old kid started complaining about the price of the ice cream (I don't know, maybe, higher gas prices equals higher consumer costs--just a thought.)
This then triggers the vendor who retorts that the kid is fat and doesn't need ice cream anyway. You can just imagine that the conversation starts going right on down the ol' hill.
The kid, who evidently has vocabulary issues, starts hurling obscene expletives at the man, who then proceeds to lose his "good humor". This delightful exchange comes to a swift end as the man supposedly grabs the kid and slabs him into a wall. (Ice cream sandwich, anyone?)
Consequently, the vendor loses his job (and the $20 it takes to repair the kid's bike), wins a day in court, and is awarded an eighteen month probation sentence. Oh, I almost forgot, he also gets to make new friends at Anger-Management Class.
Meanwhile, what does this darling child, giggling in the courtroom, receive? Nothing. No, not even a bar of soap to lather out the nasties which poured from his mouth.

Folks, I don't like anything about this unfortunate circumstance. I am a firm believer that two wrongs do not make a right. But, I believe that this whole thing could very easily have been avoided. What ever happened with discipline at home and the careful instruction of children to respect your elders? Another thing, what about parent supervision? Personally, if that was my kid, he wouldn't be going near a strange man selling ice cream without his father or mother, and a can of mace.
This ice cream vendor was in the wrong too, but the greatest fault I believe lies with the moral bankruptcy of our great nation. Take away any kind of moral restraint and responsibility and what to you get? Eighteen months' worth of taxpayer-funded babysitting, anger-management class, and rude kid's with no respect.
More later...