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Monday 31 October 2022

All Saints Eve: A Case For Christians To Celebrate Halloween

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To many Protestant Christians, the 31st of October is not Halloween, it is Reformation Day. The anniversary of the day Martin Luther kicked off the Reformation in Northern Europe by nailing the 95 theses to the Castle Church door in Wittenburg. The day that the Church, and Europe, changed forever. 

Reformation day is generally celebrated, in my circles, by those of a more Calvinist Reformed persuasion, though not exclusively. It is common to hear the more informed Christian set it against the "pagan" holiday of Halloween. On Reformation Day Preachers generally remind people of the core tenets and some of the history of the Reformation and celebrate the bold stand of those Protestants who spoke out in protest against the corruption and coercion of the Late Medieval Church, and how they sought to reform the Church. This is a history every Protestant should be well versed in. We should celebrate Reformation Day. 

But there is a much more ancient Christian festival associated with October 31st, and that is Halloween, as the Online Etymology Dictionary informs us: 

"Halloween (n.)

also Hallow-e'enHallow e'en, "last night of October (the eve of All Saints Day) as a popular holiday," 1781, in a Scottish context, a Scottish shortening of Allhallowe'enAll Hallows even, etc., 1550s, "the evening before All-Hallows." This is from otherwise-obsolete hallow (n.), in Middle English halwe, "holy person, saint," from Old English halga, which is from the source of hallow (v.). Also see even (n.), and compare hallows."

Those who are familiar with their good old King James bible, will recognize the word 'hallow':

"After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" (Matt. 6:9-10). 

There is nothing evil or sinister about the word Halloween, it simply means Hallowed Eve, or the night before All Saints Say. Of course, the night has changed in the eyes of many, but we'll come back to that. So, what is all saints day? 

Wikipedia helps us here:

"In the Western Christian practice, the liturgical celebration begins at Vespers on the evening of 31 October, All Hallows' Eve (All Saints' Eve), and ends at the close of 1 November. It is thus the day before All Souls' Day, which commemorates the faithful departed. In many traditions, All Saints' Day is part of the season of Allhallowtide, which includes the three days from 31 October to 2 November inclusive, and in some denominations, such as Anglicanism, extends to Remembrance Sunday. In places where All Saints' Day is observed as a public holiday but All Souls' Day is not, cemetery and grave rituals such as offerings of flowers, candles and prayers or blessings for the graves of loved ones often take place on All Saints Day. In Austria and Germany, godparents gift their godchildren Allerheiligenstriezel (All Saint's Braid) on All Saint's Day, while the practice of souling remains popular in Portugal. It is a national holiday in many Christian countries.

The Christian celebration of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day stems from a belief that there is a powerful spiritual bond between those in heaven (the "Church triumphant"), and the living (the "Church militant"). In Catholic theology, the day commemorates all those who have attained the beatific vision in Heaven. In Methodist theology, All Saints Day revolves around "giving God solemn thanks for the lives and deaths of his saints", including those who are "famous or obscure". As such, individuals throughout the Church Universal are honoured, such as Paul the Apostle, Augustine of Hippo and John Wesley, in addition to individuals who have personally led one to faith in Jesus, such as one's grandmother or friend..."

As Protestants we don't venerate the Saints like Catholics do. But we certainly celebrate the dead in Christ who have come before us. Indeed, Reformation Day, in a real sense, serves to do this, it reminds us of the heroes of the faith, and the ordinary believers who opposed the corruption in the church of that era. Does this not help enhance this traditional Christian holiday (I know my Catholic readers will disagree), after all, we are remembering believers who stood up for the authority of scripture and paved the way forward for us who believe to worship as we do today? 

But more importantly, remembering the dead in Christ that come before us, and the victory they achieved, is thoroughly biblical:

"32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God" (Heb. 11:32-12:2). 

The Hall of Faith in Hebews 11 is a Testament to the saints*, that is believers, who have gone before us. To remember their faithfulness, their witness, their sacrifice, is an important way to inspire us to be overcomers as well. “‘I know where you dwell, where Satan's throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells" (Rev. 2:13). Remembering the believers who came before us, helps us to endure the hard times better and remember the easy times can fade at any moment. It helps us to have an eternal focus for our lives. 

There are those who try to link Halloween to pagan rituals and celebrations, such as Celtic festival of Samhain. But scholars debate over whether the dates of the Celtic festival, November 1st, influenced the Germanic peoples of Europe or whether the Germanic celebration of All Saints influenced the date for Christian Celts. It is unclear historically, and it is also irrelevant, because for Christians All Saints Day was about remembering how Christ gives victory to his people over this world:

"Pope Gregory III (731–741) dedicated an oratory in Old St. Peter's Basilica to the relics "of the holy apostles and of all saints, martyrs and confessors, of all the just made perfect who are at rest throughout the world". Some sources say Gregory III dedicated the oratory on 1 November, and this is why the date became All Saints' Day. Other sources say Gregory III held a synod to condemn iconoclasm on 1 November 731, but dedicated the All Saints oratory on Palm Sunday, 12 April 732.

By 800, there is evidence that churches in Ireland, Northumbria (England) and Bavaria (Germany) were holding a feast commemorating all saints on 1 November. Some manuscripts of the Irish Martyrology of Tallaght and Martyrology of Ă“engus, which date to this time, have a commemoration of all saints of the world on 1 November. In the late 790s, Alcuin of Northumbria recommended holding the feast on 1 November to his friend, Arno of Salzburg in Bavaria. Alcuin then used his influence with Charlemagne to introduce the Irish-Northumbrian Feast of All Saints to the Frankish Kingdom."

So, whether or not the Church replaced a pagan holiday with a Christian one is really not the issue. This happened often in Christian history, because it is far easier to convert pagans if you don't cancel all their holidays, but simply redirect their worship to the true and only God. There is no sinister secret history here, or a gotcha from some atheist apologist, it just a wise and well-established evangelism practice. The Christians on these holidays were celebrating the very thing Hebrews 11 and other Scriptural passages celebrate; "all the just made perfect who are at rest throughout the world." They were celebrating the victory that God's people, even those killed for their faith, have in Christ. We are made perfect in him, and because he overcame the world, so have we. 

And it's not just Catholics who set aside this day to remember that the dead in Christ truly live in victory: 

The festival was retained after the Reformation in the liturgical calendars of the Lutheran Churches and the Anglican Church. In the Lutheran churches, such as the Church of Sweden, it assumes a role of general commemoration of the dead. In the Swedish calendar, the observance takes place on the Saturday between 31 October and 6 November. In many Lutheran Churches, it is moved to the first Sunday of November. In the Church of England, mother church of the Anglican Communion, it is a Principal Feast and may be celebrated either on 1 November or on the Sunday between 30 October and 5 November. It is also celebrated by other Protestants, such as the United Church of Canada and various Methodist connexions.

Protestants generally commemorate all Christians, living and deceased, on All Saints' Day; if they observe All Saints Day at all, they use it to remember all Christians both past and present. In the United Methodist Church, All Saints' Day is celebrated on the first Sunday in November. It is held, not only to remember Saints, but also to remember all those who have died who were members of the local church congregation. In some congregations, a candle is lit by the Acolyte as each person's name is called out by the clergy. Prayers and responsive readings may accompany the event. Often, the names of those who have died in the past year are affixed to a memorial plaque.

In many Lutheran churches, All Saints' Day is celebrated the Sunday after Reformation is celebrated (the date for Reformation is 31 October, so Reformation Sunday is celebrated on or before 31 October). In most congregations, the festival is marked as an occasion to remember the dead. The names of those who have died from the congregation within the last year are read during worship and a bell is tolled, a chime is played or a candle is lit for each name read. While the dead are solemnly remembered during worship on All Saints' Sunday, the festival is ultimately a celebration of Christ's victory over death.

In English-speaking countries, services often include the singing of the traditional hymn "For All the Saints" by Walsham How. The most familiar tune for this hymn is Sine Nomine by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Other hymns that are popularly sung during corporate worship on this day are "I Sing a Song of the Saints of God" and "Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones"." 

I think the Lutheran Church has the right approach here, celebrate Reformation Day, and then All Saints Day the Sunday after. I like that idea, and I especially like the idea of remembering those who died in Christ in the last year. Because they are not dead, they are in victory. As I said at the end of a funeral a few weeks ago:

"I want to finish by saying this: the death of a Christian is a loss to us who mourn them. But it is also a victory. Because when a Christian passes from this life, they pass from the clutches of the devil completely, they are now out of the enemies’ reach. They have defeated sin, death and the devil, and remained victorious until the end. The Christian who has died is reaping the rewards of that victory, and we who believe will one day reap them with him."

Remembering those who passed away, and the victory they had over this world, is a thoroughly good and Christian thing. And celebrating the death of all saints, that is all believers, all who have been made perfect in Christ, alongside the knowledge that they are now in the Church triumphant in heaven, is a good and an important thing for us to do. In a sense, when Protestants celebrate Reformation Day, they are remembering the believers who came before them who made an important course correction in the history of the Church. It's fitting that this celebration falls on the same day as All Hallows Eve. 

Of course, Halloween is now known for being a night that witches are highly active, and is associated with great evil:

"Halloween Celebrations:

Being the vigil of All Saints' Day (All Hallows' Day), in many countries, such as Ireland, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada, Halloween is celebrated on 31 October. During the 20th century the observance largely became a secular one, although some traditional Christian groups have continued to embrace the Christian origins of Halloween whereas others have rejected such celebrations."

Since I was a kid, I have always seen Halloween as an American thing, and I have resented how much American celebrations have started to take over in Australia. I grew up seeing it on American TV shows, where it was always about dressing up as horrific characters and doing trick or treating (we use the opportunity now to give gospel tracts with lollies to kids). I had no idea, growing up, about the Christian legacy of Halloween/All Saints Eve. What has thoroughly happened to Halloween in Anglo-Saxon countries, is something we see happening with Christmas. Just as Halloween has been paganized, so is Christmas being paganized, right before our eyes. The way we see it celebrated today, is, to me, just another example of how our culture is forgetting its Christian roots and legacy. I, for one, like to idea of taking back from the pagans that which they have no right to have. 

Maybe you don't like the idea of reclaiming Halloween, to remember the dead in Christ who are now victorious. Maybe you recognize it as having a history in the Church, but see it as too Catholic to even bother with. But I find the idea of remembering those who came before us as powerful. The Scriptures want us to see ourselves as part of one Church, militant on earth, and triumphant in heaven. Alive in the flesh on earth, alive in the spirit in heaven: 

"9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, 'Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!' 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, 'Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.'

"13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, 'Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?' 14 I said to him, 'Sir, you know.' And he said to me, 'These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

15 'Therefore they are before the throne of God,
    and serve him day and night in his temple;
    and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
    the sun shall not strike them,
    nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
    and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes'" (Rev. 7:9-17). 

A day to celebrate this victory would be a fantastic thing for the Church and society. Of course, we have Sunday and we should celebrate it on Sundays regularly. But so should there be special holidays where this is the focus. 

I won't ever be able to think of Halloween as a pagan festival again. I will now forever see it as a Christian festival the Church lost to secularization. This has happened to many aspects of Church teaching and tradition, and both the Church and society lose something when this happens. All Saints Eve (Halloween) and All Saints Day are the result of the efforts of those who came before us to draw a connection between the Church of the past and the church of today, and we need this. We need to remember that the dead in Christ are not dead. That the Church of the past made the Church of today possible. And, that Christ has made perfect all who believe in him, and that all saints, that is all who believe, will enjoy him in eternity, and because of this, many in the past were willing and able to look evil in the eye and say, "You can't touch me, I have a better reward than anything this life can offer."  

*note I use saint here in its biblical sense of the believer, the sanctified in Christ. 

Sunday 30 October 2022

Staying Alive Or Living?

Image: Unsplash

Being alive and living are not the same thing. They overlap, of course, but they are not the same. If the Covid years taught us anything, it is that people are so weighed down by fear, by the thought of dying, that they'll happily give up on being living just to be alive another day. 

People will happily allow themselves to be locked away, thinking it's for their good. 

People will shun family, thinking it is for their good. 

Dying people will keep their kids or grandkids at a distance, because they are afraid of getting sick. 

People are locking down, hiding out, avoiding people to stay alive. But they aren't living. If you are a Christian you should not be like this. Christ came that we might live and live abundantly. We are supposed to not just be alive, but know that we are living. Enjoying life, getting the best out of it. 

I'm not talking about having big homes, fancy cars, expensive clothes, and elaborate overseas trips. I'm talking being there in the moment with your wife, your kids and your friends. Enjoying God and the nature God created, the good gifts he's given you, and bringing others in on the joy. Really living. 

I had one friend tell me his dad said they should not hug, because of fear, during the crazy Covid years. My friend told his dad to grow up. His dad hugged him and was OK. 

One lady I know, an older lady, refused to give up hugs during covid, because she believes hugs bring a tiny amount of spiritual healing to everyone she hugs. I can't fault her position, can you? 

We only get so many moments in this life. Why aim for more, when we can aim for using the ones we have better, squeezing out of them the experiences of joy and fellowship we can. Better is more than more, if more is used unwisely. 

I don't want to just be alive, I want to live. Just being alive without living, is really just a different kind of death, bringing countless more little deaths to those you around. 

Live, and enjoy life:

"4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:4-9). 

God truly wants you to get the most out of life, according to his way of course. 

In my final moments (God willing far away in my life), I want more of everyone God has given me around me. Not less. Even if it somehow gives me a little less time. The chances of it doing so are so slim, anyway. But to enjoy the family, children and joy that God gives through this, is a big part of what life is about. To shun it, is to have already given up on living just to be alive. What a sad way to be? That's not for this guy. I hope it's not for you too. 

Saturday 29 October 2022

The End Result Of Capitalism: The End Of Capitalism

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If the lie of Communism is that wealth can be spread evenly and everyone can be equal. Then the lie of capitalism is that everyone will get an equal chance to succeed. 

Communism fails for obvious reasons. It is a system that deincentivzes the worker, because no matter how much they contribute, they are only allowed the same share as those who barely contribute. Such a system crushes initiative, and stifles investment. 

Which is why China, a famously Communist nation, has taken the reigns off its citizens to allow them more chances to reap the profits of their endeavours. They worked out from observation and experience how stifling industry and initiative causes the collapse or developmental retardation of more dogmatically communist countries. In response they have created a very different, very Chinese version of creating wealth and sustaining their nstion. 

China is still not free market or capitalist. Wealth created must benefit the people of the nation, and when it no longer does the party can step in and take everything away from those they deem dangerous. The priority of the nation always comes first. Wealth can be created, but it must be done in ways beneficial to China. In doing this, they also show how to solve the issue of the downside of capitalism: it must be given limits. 

Because of the success of capitalism it is hard to highlight to many westerners that it does have inherent and dangerous flaws. Capitalism allows individuals and groups to compete for market share and success, relatively well. It rewards, for a time, initiative and individual creativity. Especially in new markets, such as colonies like early Australia, or new areas of business, like the tech boom of the 90's. But most ardent advocates of capitalism miss the "for a time" part. 

It does reward initiative for a time, but then, as all competitions do, it creates winners and losers. Those winners can get very rich and very powerful and those losers can find themselves having neither riches or power. In this situation you end up with an incredibly unbalanced playing field. It's the Hawks vs District 5 before coach Bombay gets them sponsored. It's the Melbourne Storm verse the Tigers. It's Maverick in an F14 verse anyone in anything else. 

This is not a big deal as long as you have new markets constantly developing. But eventually, as with the old world, the avenues to create wealth become entrenched and favour those who won the competition a generation ago, or more. There is a reason so many people fled Britain and other capitalist countries for the New World, because the old markets became entrenched and new fields needed to be sought out, literally, in undeveloped lands. 

But we are living in a day and age where colonizing new lands cannot happen as it once did (it can to a degree, just look at how Latinos are colonizing the United States, but not in the same way). So, the situation we are getting in the West is that wealth is concentrating into the hands of less and less people, and everyone else's share of the pie is shrinking. 

Not only can you not get the same opportunity as your fellow Aussie or American, anymore, you don't even have near the same opportunities as your parents or grand parents once did. The fields of new wealth creation are shrinking. This is the natural development of markets as they age and mature. 

This can be undone, but usually only through great disruption, like massive advances in technology freeing people from labor, or cataclysm, which breaks the system allowing it to be rebuilt and reshaped. But without such disruptions, the winners take and hold the field, and those able to compete at a high level become fewer and fewer. 

People need to realize this is a major flaw in the capitalist system. My thought, is that it does not mean we reject capitalism, just that we must recognize that God gave ancient Israel economic resets for a reason. Because inequality is a natural outcome of a healthy economy. Vast inequality is a direct result of it not being addressed, and a reset every generation or so levels the playing field again. A reset of the kind where people own their assets and can then build again from a solid, debt free, unencumbered base; a Jubilee. 

This idea might anger the radical devotees of free markets. But to not do something will likely see us end up in entrenched oligarchy with everyone becoming indentured servants like our peasant ancestors. The massive transfer of wealth from the middle class to the billionaire class during the pandemic shows that even major cataclysms (it matters not if they are man made or natural) can overwhelmingly benefit the entrenched wealthy, rather than stoke innovation, and shows the situation is exacerbating. Those with the keys of power and wealth have an ever increasing advantage. 

Afterall, if the goal of capitalism is creating wealth generated via competition, and the result of competition is to create winners and losers, then will not the winners eventually ensure their descendants remain winners at the expense of the descendants of the losers? In other words, the end result of capitalism is, and can only be, the end of capitalism, winners holding the field at the expense of everyone else, unless society politically intervenes to reset the playing field. If you love capitalism, you need to at least ponder this, because every day, this realisation is dawning on more and more people: that opportunity is becoming more and more scarce.

Friday 28 October 2022

The Musk Obsession

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I find the conservative celebration of Musk taking over Twitter incredibly disturbing. Nothing about him says he's on team good. 

- He's a major pusher of the Green revolution. His car company is at the forefront of providing the technology for it. 
- His company was behind an over priced, under capable battery being set up in South Australia. Instead of real energy infrastructure, like coal or gas power. Though I suppose he was just offering a product that overly zealous carbon neutral targeting politicians wanted. 
- He is a major encourager of the transhumanist movement, and has openly discussed his desires to meld the human mind with software, and humans with machines. A course that can only go bad. 

"Musk told the World Government Summit in 2017 that as humanity’s daily dependence on technology increases, humans should simply merge with machines.

“To some degree, we are already a cyborg,” Musk told the audience at the summit. For Musk, becoming a cyborg — a sort of superhuman with both biological and technological capabilities — is only one step away. Think Iron Man.

We all love a good superhero movie, but anyone who’s seen one knows what happens to the innocent bystanders. Mary Shelley warned us about this more than 200 years ago.

Become a human-robot hybrid yourself, Musk argues, and mankind may still end up on top when the inevitable robot wars come. True, if the purpose of humanity is simply mere survival, then why should we not ensure our immortal existence as highly intelligent yet soulless machines?

“I think one of the solutions that seems maybe the best is to add an AI layer,” Musk said in an interview in 2016, “Just as your cortex works symbiotically with your limbic system, your third digital layer could work symbiotically with you.”

Nothing about him says he is on team good. He's a genuine technocrat, a highly capable, skilled and brilliant one, for sure. But nothing of this means he's on team good. 

Why does a tech billionaire want to buy one of the biggest social media platforms in the world? We can't know for sure, but it's definitely not for charitable reasons. Having access to so much user data must be useful to him. 

He's part of the upper echelons of the elite. Why is this so exciting for people? 

Because he said he believes in free speech? Free speech can't save the West.

Because he's anti-establishment? In what ways? 

Perhaps this is a genuine conflict between different factions of the global elite, and we, the ordinary citizens, may benefit from it. But I find that hard to believe, considering his desires to technologically evolve humanity in ungodly ways. 

Edit: interesting statement mister Musk. A pretty clear signal of allegiance.

Thursday 27 October 2022

Increasing Homelessness

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One of the biggest idols of Australian politics is a growing economy from quarter to quarter, and year to year, with relentless consistency. Governments aim for and flag wave growth like it is the goal of government. The QLD government is currently bragging about having the second fastest growing economy in Australia, largely driven by refugees who fled the southern states during hard-core lockdowns and pandemic restrictions. 

Those bragging about the growth in QLD's economy are not factoring in how blocked the roads are, how expensive rent and house prices are, and more. They rarely factor quality of living into the equation. But population growth is a sure fire way for governments to create the illusion of economic growth (really the pie is just being shared by more people), and so they do all they can to achieve it, and by that I mean they bring in as many people as they possibly can. 

And the federal government is poised, again, to use the same strategy, but with foreign immigrants:

"The Albanese Government used the Jobs & Skills Summit as a trojan horse to lift temporary and permanent migration to record levels, which will necessarily add hundreds of thousands of extra people that will require housing.

Where will they live when there is already a chronic shortage of rental homes for the existing population? In tents? On the streets?

The only plausible outcome of the Albanese Government’s mass immigration drive is an even tighter rental market, soaring rents, and a rapid increase in homelessness. It is an inequality disaster in the making.

With friends like Albo, Australia’s renters sure don’t need enemies."

I have already encountered people struggling to get a home, to rent or buy. I know ministries helping the poor are struggling to find homes for people. Statistics are bearing out that this is a growing problem. Interstate buyers drove QLD house prices to abominable levels, out of reach of so many people. Rents are at family budget crippling levels across Australia. 

And politicians brag about growth numbers!

To maje natters worse, to keep the bottom line of economic numbers ticking up our federal government is willing to exacerbate all these social issues. 

Democracy stopped being about representing the people some time ago. Have you ever noticed that red and blue, the two major political party colours mixed together make purple? The colour of the ruling elites. The wealthy get richer, while everyone else splits an ever increasing expensive pie, with smaller slices for everyone else. 

Wednesday 26 October 2022

There is Justice In Some Places

This a good day for fired city workers in New York:

"New York City’s controversial COVID-19 vaccine mandate for municipal workers was enacted illegally and employees who were fired for refusing to comply must be immediately reinstated with back pay, a state judge has ruled.

“It is time for the City of New York to do what is right and what is just,” Staten Island Supreme Court Justice Ralph Porzio wrote in a decision made public Tuesday.

More than 1,750 city workers were fired for refusing to get vaccinated, including 36 members of the NYPD and more than 950 Department of Education employees.

In his 13-page ruling, Porzio said then-city Health Commissioner David Chokshi’s Oct. 20, 2021, order “violates the separation of powers doctrine” enshrined in the state constitution.

Chokshi also violated the workers’ “substantive and procedural due process rights” and didn’t have “the power and authority to permanently exclude [them] from their workplace,” Porzio said."

The mandates were evil. The lockdowns were evil. Let the justice now roll on. The let's just move on and forget crowd, need to be quiet, and also made to watch those who were fired, suppressed, bullied, and wronged now be compensated. They need to see how wrong they were. 

We will move on, after Justice has been enacted. Like it now has for New York city workers. Praise God. 

You were right not to comply, maybe not all of you will be vindicated in this life, but let's celebrate every victory like this. This is a good day for these workers. 

Tuesday 25 October 2022

Witchcraft Is Real

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Why was the term anti-vaxxer so capable of driving people to take a dodgy medical experiment and harrass people who questioned it?

For the same reason that the term racist got people to deny their national identity and allow their nations and national industries to be given to foreigners. 

Or the reason that being called a misogynist or sexist convinced men to send their wives to work and sign their daughters up to combat roles in the army, or police force.  

Or the reason the term homophobe or transphobe stops people from protesting against evil stuff being taught to kids in school, and in TV shows. 

People fear disapproval of the group more than evil itself. They would rather let genuine evil function around them, than be socially disapproved of. I think this is partially trained into people school, but partially instinctive for people. 

Either way, if you care more about being called a bad word, than confronting genuine evil, then evil barely has to try to defeat you. All it has to do is speak a word and you cower. And it does and people often do. 

We live in a day that mocks the era of people believing in witches and warlocks, who said words have magical power, and yet people are immobilised by the barest voicing of a single word. Think about that. 

Sorcery is real, witchcraft is real, and while the supernatural realm does exist, you don't even need to go there to prove the power of sorcery. Witchcraft is dependent on special words being recited precisely to get power over others. All those made up attack words above, grant the speaker that very kind of power over the weak of mind and spirit. 

What leg do you have to stand on to mock the "superstition" of earlier days, if made up words can break you, and cause you to cower? Witchcraft is real, and you see it's effect on people in everyday life, in the office, at school, in the media, all over the place. People with evil intent can break other people with a word. What else do you call that, other than sorcery? 

The reason people caved so thoroughly is because in a real and genuine way, a spell was cast and they were caught in its power. After all, only a terrible person would give aid and comfort to even the idea of anti-vax sentiment...or so people were conditioned to believe anyway. When that conditioning was required to be triggered to achieve a goal, fear was used to weaken peoples resolve and our society snapped into line and the spell was cast. 

That's why so many people caved and harrased others. It's simple really. Witchcraft is real. 

Monday 24 October 2022

The sons of God?

About five years ago now, an older gentleman came up to me at Church, and asked me about my views on the sons of God and the divine council. I said, "You mean the high angels, the arch angels?" He responded, "I guess you could call them that." He handed me this book, The Unseen Realm, and suggested I read it. I thought it was a bit of an odd subject and put the book on a shelf. 

We readers do this often. Because we already have a massive reading pile on a shelf somewhere in our house. So we don't have time to get to a new book right away. It might take months, a year or even more. Plus, this issue seemed odd to me, a divine council of the sons of God? Was this a Mormon book? I just put this in the strange basket. 

I forgot about the book for a few months, until I came to preaching on Genesis 6, and the 'Sons of God', the 'Benoy Elohim'. I decided to pick up the book, and wow, was I wrong. 

The Unseen Realm is fantastic, thoroughly orthodox in its theology, and well laid out. It presents a clear argument that the highest rank of Angels, the 'Benoy Elohim', are a significant class of divine beings that have an incredible impact on this world, for good, and for ill. Some are holy, some are fallen. It was the results of the fall of some of these beings that precipitated the flood, and a significant portion of scripture is dedicated to this remarkable topic. 

For instance, Psalm 82: 

"God has taken his place in the divine council;

    in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:
“How long will you judge unjustly
    and show partiality to the wicked? Selah
Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
    maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
    deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

They have neither knowledge nor understanding,
    they walk about in darkness;
    all the foundations of the earth are shaken.

I said, “You are gods,
    sons of the Most High, all of you;
nevertheless, like men you shall die,
    and fall like any prince.”

Arise, O God, judge the earth;
    for you shall inherit all the nations!"

This is a remarkable Psalm which lays out the divine council, the existence of lower case "gods", and their identity. They are not divine in the sense that God the Father or God the Son are. They are divine in the sense that they inhabit the divine, or unseen realm; they are heavenly beings who are supposed to worship God alone (Ps. 29:1-2). They are created beings of great power, and authority, and some of them were confused by people with gods and they liked it. They are also called the Watchers, as we are told in Daniel (Dan. 4:17). 

They hold great authority in the world, and are in some way responsible for the nations:

"7 Remember the days of old;
    consider the years of many generations;
ask your father, and he will show you,
    your elders, and they will tell you.
When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance,
    when he divided mankind,
he fixed the borders of the peoples
    according to the number of the sons of God" (Deut 32:7-8). 

And God judges them according to how they administer this authority as well. And Psalm 82 shows he is not happy with at least some of them. 

They also have great access to the throne of God, Job 1:6 -  "Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them." And the Great Deceiver was at one point among their midst  

The most remarkable element of Unseen Realm is that Heiser shows how this topic of the sons of God all folds into God's redemption plan for humanity. Which makes sense when you read passages like this: 

"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not" (1 John 3:1, KJV). 

It is the destiny of those of us who believe to be granted the rank of "sons of God." We are told this often in the New Testament, but Heiser's powerful book fills in the picture of what this means in a remarkable way. Those of us who believe truly have a great destiny. One to really look forward to. 

Sunday 23 October 2022

Iatrogenic Disease

A term to become familiar with

"Iatrogenic disease is the third leading cause of death in the United States, only surpassed by heart disease and cancer. Iatrogenic diseases are the results of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures undertaken by a patient, in other words, they are doctor caused illnesses. About 250,000 people die a year due to poorly doctor prescribed medication and medical errors. By comparison, the Poison Control Centers of the United States reported that vitamins, minerals, amino acids, essential fats, herbal remedies and homeopathic has no reports of deaths or even poisoning. Because of the amount of drugs prescribed to a single patient to treat a single or several conditions, adverse drug reactions are likely to occur and cause pathologies independent of the conditions for which the treatments were meant for. Diagnostic and invasive procedures, like drugs and surgery, as well as hospitalization, and even the treating doctors themselves can bring about iatrogenic disorders. Adverse drug reactions are defined by World Health Organization as any reaction of a drug which is harmful and potentially unintended, it occurs in prescribed doses normally used for prevention, diagnosis and the treatment of disease. Generally, the more drugs a patient is prescribed, the more likely the possibilities of contracting an iatrogenic disorder."

Just a few years ago I would have been highly resistant to the idea that medicine is responsible for great amounts of death. But then I found out that prescription drugs, taken properly, are one of the leading causes of deaths in the US. And then we have the crazy, reckless, dissemination of experimental medicine to almost all age groups, across the world, in the last few years, at a blindingly fast pace. 

I think the term Iatrogenic Disease is one we should all become familiar with. The hospital system is a necessary and good thing in our world today. It does save a lot of lives. But is it just me, or is it not quite the system you once thought it was? 

The look on this doctors face, tells me, I am not the only one: Dr John Campbell.

Saturday 22 October 2022

They Were Wrong, We Were Right

Image: Unsplash

Joe Hilderbrand gets a lot wrong. Afterall, he was wrong about what a decent member of society is. Getting a vaccine does not prove you love your country, it is not the one thing you need to do to demonstrate this and we now have had it admitted by Pfizer themselves that there was no evidence their version, a major staple of Australia's pandemic response, ever stopped transmission. So he gets some important stuff very wrong. Decent members of society don't bully people to get an unproven medication they don't want or need. 

But he was right about the lockdowns, and other ridiculous covid response measures, because it was so easy to see they were unjust and wrong. This was very easy, and a lot of good people got this right, because it was not hard to see, from very early on. And Australia’s first major inquiry into the pandemic response has found this to be the case:

"The thing about the truth is that it always comes out. It may take years, decades or even centuries but reality has a way of asserting itself. Lies inevitably fall apart.

And so more than two and a half years after Covid-19 first came to Australian shores the truth has finally emerged about our various governments’ response to it and the lies have been exposed.

Lockdowns were wrong. School closures were wrong. Border closures were wrong. Poor people were hurt the most.

These are the findings of the first and so-far only full inquiry into Australia’s response to Covid, an independent review funded by three major philanthropic organisation and headed by Peter Shergold, previously the most senior public servant in the country and now Western Sydney University chancellor — an eminent and highly qualified mind deeply respected on both sides of politics.

They are unequivocal, they are damning and they are almost word for word exactly what I and a few other brave souls have been saying from the very beginning of the pandemic.

As I have been shouting from every platform I can since 2020, the most egregious act was that committed against our children — the mass shutdown of schools on the basis of no evidence whatsoever. To their eternal shame, state premiers and chief health officers were both complicit in this.

They were wrong and they caused untold damage that will be immeasurable and long-lasting. The inquiry makes this crystal clear."

The pandemic response was heavy handed, clumsy, economically disastrous, and for small children developmentally detrimental. This is all compounded by coercing people to take an experimental drug they did not want, with terrible side effects for many people, before the pandemic response was allowed to wind down. Evil on top of evil. 

But here is the kicker for me: this was so obvious, so bloody obvious, but so many pastors could not see this. Leading pastors praised the government's tough handling, defended it, criticized those who didn't agree as conspiracy theorists. But it was clearly wrong, practically and morally. Why couldn't they see this? Because many of them are blind. Many of them foolishly believed lie, after lie, after lie.

"His watchmen are blind;
    they are all without knowledge;
they are all silent dogs;
    they cannot bark,
dreaming, lying down,
    loving to slumber" (Isa. 56:10). 

They are so focused on developing their visions, they can't see clearly the evil in front of them. Think about that. Church leaders talk so much about "vision" today, but then God gives them an opportunity to call out clear evil, and they can't see it. Incredible. 

Some will respond, but we did see it, we just didn't speak up. But that's worse, that is cowardice. 

So which is it? Are many Church leaders blind or cowardly? Either way, this explains so many of the issues in the Church today. 

You might ask: Matt, why are you so hard on pastors? Here is why: Because they are supposed to have the wisdom of Christ to clearly see evil, and to rise up and confront it. That is part of our calling. But evil rose up, consumed our nation and the churches, and some cheered it on, and others remained quiet. If the pastors, the watchmen don't call out evil, then the whole nation suffers. So this needs to be called out, constantly, until there is repentance on their part for not seeing the evil and not speaking against it. 

So I ask you: if you could not see this clearly, why couldn't you. It was so obvious. As obvious as calling out 2+2=5 as wrong. 

Friday 21 October 2022

Sexless Hellscape

Image: Unsplash

The world of free love was supposed to be a sexual paradise, but instead it's becoming a sad barren existence

"Although millennials are in or around their sexual prime, some members of this generation around the world have reportedly been “retreating from sex”. Accounts from millennials forums including r/DeadBedrooms corroborate this, especially for married and long-term couples. 

Some recent statistics tell a similar story: a 2021 survey of adults ages 18 to 45 across the US, conducted by the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University and sex-retailer Lovehoney, showed that among married adults, millennials were the most likely to “report problems with sexual desire in the past year”. The survey showed 25.8% of married millennials reported this problem, while only 10.5% of married Gen Z and 21.2% of married Gen X adults reported the same.

Although “low desire isn’t necessarily synonymous with being in a sexless marriage”, says Justin Lehmiller, research fellow at the Kinsey Institute, “when one or both partners in a marriage experience a drop-off in desire for sex, sexual frequency usually declines – and loss of desire is one of the biggest reasons why marriages become sexless in the first place”.

What, exactly, is going on? Sex therapists and researchers suggest a variety of factors that may explain millennials’ sexless marriages, from their current life stages to the almighty influence of the internet. Regardless of the specific reasons causing sexual fractures in the bedroom, overwhelmingly, this generation is facing some unique – even unprecedented – obstacles to healthy sex lives...

...In addition to social media, the experts agree porn has had an outsized influence on millennials, many of whom came of age just as porn was becoming widely accessible online. This, of course, is a huge shift from previous generations. “In the 20th Century, some guys tended to be sexually compulsive with lots of women,” says Snyder. “These days, they just tend to watch lots of porn.” In other words, they don’t have to seek out sex with another person to have a sexual experience that involves other people, even if those people are only in a video.

Anderson has many younger-than-45 male clients in sexless marriages who suffer from “porn-induced erectile dysfunction”, she says – a condition that makes it either impossible or very difficult to achieve an erection without pornography and with a real-life partner. This can lead to them preferring solo sex over sex with their partners. Some of them get used to having total control over their pleasure, she explains, or to the more extreme images they see in porn that their married sex can’t live up to."

The article suggests several reasons for this decline in sex including stress, the economy, social media, and porn. But it adds up to a sad reality, the promised sexual liberation of the free love movement has disintegrated into increasing sexual barrenness, especially for millennials. 

Free sex, promiscuity, porn, hook ups, risky liasons, affairs, and more were supposed to enter humanity into a golden age of freedom. When in reality it is enslaving a generation to pleasuring themselves. People are increasingly becoming lovers of themselves. 

People have a choice, the sexual morality of the world, or this:

"15 Drink water from your own cistern,
    flowing water from your own well.
16 Should your springs be scattered abroad,
    streams of water in the streets?
17 Let them be for yourself alone,
    and not for strangers with you.
18 Let your fountain be blessed,
    and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
19     a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight;
    be intoxicated always in her love.
20 Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman
    and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?" (Prov. 5:15-20). 

God doesn't want to stop you from enjoying sex, or enjoying life. He shows you how to get the most out this life. Marriage is intended for your joy. Sex between a husband and wife is a gift meant for your good. But people have searched for pleasure in everything but God's intended design for humanity, and the result is countless couples living cold, sexless, barren lives. 

The choice is before you, delight yourself in your wife, if you are a man, or your husband, if you are a woman, or find yourself losing out on the pleasure and joy God created for you. 

Thursday 20 October 2022

Holy Land?

Image: Unsplash

Just because God put his temple in Jerusalem for a stretch of history, does not make it a permanent Holy place. 

Remember, under united Israel, the original Holy Place where God put his name was Shiloh: 

"8 “Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail. 9 Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, 10 and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’—only to go on doing all these abominations? 11 Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself have seen it, declares the Lord. 12 Go now to my place that was in Shiloh, where I made my name dwell at first, and see what I did to it because of the evil of my people Israel. 13 And now, because you have done all these things, declares the Lord, and when I spoke to you persistently you did not listen, and when I called you, you did not answer, 14 therefore I will do to the house that is called by my name, and in which you trust, and to the place that I gave to you and to your fathers, as I did to Shiloh. 15 And I will cast you out of my sight, as I cast out all your kinsmen, all the offspring of Ephraim" (Jeremiah 7:8-15).

God removed his holy name from Shiloh, because of Israel's sin. He removed it from Jerusalem for the same reason. His own Son, the Son of God, quoted this passage himself when predicting judgement on the Temple, I bet you recognize it. There is no such thing as inherently holy soil. 

The Temple where God's name now resides is in his people, the whole Church, Jew and Gentile, all who believe, all who confess his name. There are no holy lands from the time of Jesus. Only holy people, washed clean by his sacrifice for them. Peoples inability to accept this is the reason the conflict in Gaza is so seemingly eternal. 

Australia has no say in stopping this. And should not be meddling in such unsinkable foreign affairs. But Christians have to stop encouraging this meddling. Our hope, the hope of anyone who believes, is not in real estate anywhere, not even ancient lands that our Lord once walked. Our hope is in the eternal Canaan, the eternal Promise Land, heaven. No earthly ground is inherently holy. 

Another way to say this is this: it's holy ground wherever God's people are, because where two or three gather in his name, there is the Lord, there is the land called by his name. The correct Christian view of Israel is this: it is a mission field like any other, until Jesus returns. Paul himself said as much about his people. Who are we to say the Palestinian who calls Jesus Lord has any less claim to be there, than the Israelite who says Jesus is not? Are not the blessings of the Promise for those who believe, not those who don't?

"15 To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. 16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ" (Gal. 3:15-16).

Those in Christ enjoy the fulfilment of his promises.

Wednesday 19 October 2022

We Have No Right

Israel has every right to determine what their capital is. That is their right. A nation has that right to self determination. We Australians have no right to tell them otherwise. It is petty that we do try. 

Palestinians also have every right to dispute it. There are people among the Palestinians who trace themselves back to the ancient Jerusalem Church, yes, the one founded by the Apostles. Genetically there are people there that can be traced back to the most ancient inhabitats of the land (they are not just "Arabs", as is often asserted, Arabs themselves have different nationalities, just like we Europeans do).

You don't have a right to say Palestinians are not a people. I mean you can assert it, but your assertion is meaningless. Nationality is a self-asserted right. It is petty that we do try. Our connection, as Australians, to our land is far less ancient and yet you would not let anyone deny it? Would you? 

It is between Israel and Palestine to sort out this issue.

But also who cares. It's kind of ridiculous that a continual conflict in another country far away, where two competing ancient peoples can't agree, has such an impact on Australian politics. Nothing Australia does will actually effect the situation for good or for bad. Issues of Israel, Palestine or most foreign countries (if any) should not have any serious bearing on Aussie politics. 

We are not a global power. We should have no pretensions to be one. We certainly have no right to tell Israel what to do, or Palestinians how they should identify, or really any other nation how to conduct their internal affairs. 

In fact, if you pay enough attention to immigration and demographic trends in Australia, we have our own issues of this kind building just over the horizon. That is what should concern us.

Tuesday 18 October 2022

The Irrational Atheist

I became a Christian in 2006. I was born in a Christian home, but wandered a different path until August 2006, when I finally bowed the knee to Jesus. I was trained to do evangelism in November 2006 and began doing street evangelism straight away. While I was a new Christian, technically, I had been raised in a Christian environment, so I was familiar with the Bible and its teachings, and just wanted to get out and evangelise. 

One of the most common arguments I would hear when out on the street back in that day was: "But religion is responsible for all the wars..." or "...most of the wars in history." My response was always this: "name me ten wars started by religion in history." 

I don't think anyone ever mentioned the Wars of Religion, in the 16th century, which would have given them easy points. Usually they mentioned World War 1 or World War 2, or Vietnam, which were easy to knock back as having nothing, or very little, to do with religion. 

I didn't develop this argument myself. I knew the history relatively well already. But it was the Evangelist who trained me to share the gospel that forged this argument for me. It was powerful, simple, and effective, and I saw it make a lot of sceptics think twice before asserting again how violent Christianity was.
Then in 2008 came this book, The Irrational Atheist (TIA), by Vox Day. I came across it in a review in a Creation Ministries magazine. It wasn't the first apologestics book I had read, but it along, with The Devils Delusion, are among my favourites. TIA had a pretty big impact in the evangelism world, because it neatly destroyed many Atheist arguments. 

For example, Vox destroyed the argument that religion causes all or most wars in this book. Showing that 6.98% of all wars are caused by religion. Indeed, this argument was so conclusive and so effective, the more well read atheists I encountered just stopped using the religion causes war argument altogether. That is because this statistic was like a vice grip crushing their argument. Because of this, evangelists like myself, the one who trained me, and others, were able to knock the religion causes war argument down conclusively in debates and discussions. I still hear that Evangelist using that statistic when he trains people in evangelism in my church today. Such was the effect of this book. 

Though it's use in apologetics is less common than it once was, because it is less needed today, I used a version of it just today in an online discussion. Among other things, I told my friend who asserted that Christianity was reaponsible for great genocides, that 2005 called, and it wants it argument back, because religion is responsible for far less bloodshed than other causes, including Communist Atheism. This book has been, and still is, useful in many ways, even though the main atheist antagonists in the book are hardly influential anymore. 

It makes sense that they aren't very relevant today, as well, because they were so provably wrong in many ways. Or as Vox Day puts it: 

"I am saying they are wrong, they are reliably, verifiably, and factually incorrect. Richard Dawkins is wrong. Daniel C. Dennett is wrong. Christopher Hitchens is drunk, and he's wrong. Michael Onfray is French, and he's wrong. Sam Harris is so superlatively wrong that it will require the development of esoteric mathematics operating simultaneously in multiple dimensions to fully comprehend the orders of magnitude of his wrongness" (pg7). 

That's still my favourite part of the book, and whenever I recommend TIA I quote this paragraph to highlight how fun this book is. And that is the thing this book taught me the most: defending Christianity can be, and should be fun. We are on the winning team, afterall.