Tag Archives: Christianity

Coexist?

I’ve seen those COEXIST bumper stickers around for some time, and on occasion amused myself when stopped at traffic lights trying to figure out what all the symbols stood for. The only one I could never figure out was the E. But now I know, thanks to the poster below (via PowerLine):

Click to enlarge

Guilt is a Sin

Guilt, according to the American Heritage dictionary is

  1. Remorseful awareness of having done something wrong.
  2. Self-reproach for supposed inadequacy or wrongdoing.

It’s a sin because it’s adding to the work of our Lord on the cross. If He took all the punishment for all our sins — and He did — then why would we feel we need to punish ourselves?

1 Jn 1:9 says, “If we confess, [name, cite] our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Jeremiah 3:13 says, “Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against the LORD your God…”

Acknowledging that you have sinned carries no merit. You’re just agreeing with God that what you’ve done/said/thought is a sin, and at that point He forgives you the sin and cleanses you from all unrighteousness. The cleansed vessel of the soul is then suitable to be filled or controlled by God the Holy Spirit and fellowship is restored.

Guilt — beating yourself up for what you’ve done — has no place in that. It’s human works, human effort to atone, to make sure you’ll never do it again… I struggle a lot with the guilt function so I’ve had ample opportunity to consider it in all its ramifications and it really is quite arrogant. After all the word of God says our hearts (the way we think and perceive the world and ourselves) are deceitful and desperately wicked, that from the tops of our heads to the bottom of our feet, there’s no soundness in us, that we are stubborn and willful and none of us in ourselves is good. Not even one. (Ro 3:10)

We were all born in sin, we still have the sin nature after salvation. We are going to sin. We are going to make mistakes. We’re stupid sheep, we are easily entangled in sin and deception… guilt assumes that we can do better. Guilt assumes that somehow our sin is an aberration, a shock, something we should very well be able to avoid. If only we’d work hard enough or hurt bad enough, then we won’t do it again. It’s the flesh’s mode of self-improvement, and like all else the flesh produces, God finds it disgusting.

Guilt is something that has motivated me almost all my life, something carried over from my first 21 years as an unbeliever.  I’ve talked about it on this blog before… that feeling that I must do X or something bad will happen. Usually the “something bad” is that “they” will think poorly of me. But who is they?

At first I had no idea, but gradually I realized it’s something in my own conscience. Not something based on the word of God, but on stuff I picked up as a child and internalized. It doesn’t matter if God says there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, if my conscience says I should do or be a certain way, then that’s all that matters. If I fail to toe the line, then my conscience will punish me.

Because, apparently, Jesus didn’t do enough. Because, apparently God really didn’t mean it when He said there is nothing good in us, and that the only way to actually live the Christian way of life is the same way as we received it… by grace, through faith.

You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing (the Gospel) with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?   ~ Galatians 3:1-3

The Adjustment Bureau

Last Friday we watched the new Matt Damon movie, The Adjustment Bureau, which I thought was going to be much more like Inception than it turned out to be.

Briefly, David Norris (Damon) is on track to become New York’s youngest senator, when he has a chance meeting with the woman of his dreams. As he seeks to find her again, he discovers the Adjustment Bureau, a behind the scenes organization of non-human operatives who keep track of everyone — making sure they all proceed in accordance with their “Chairman’s” plan.  Unfortunately for Norris, the Chairman’s plan doesn’t include him and the mystery woman ever getting together and the story is about how he fights that plan in going after her, essentially attempting to write his own destiny. Ultimately this is the “message” the film leaves us with: that we must fight for what we want to do, to achieve our own destiny in order to really be free.

At least… I think that’s what the message was.

At first it seems that this is a movie about destiny, about God’s plan for our lives, about how unseen agents are moving and shaping us along the tracks we’re supposed to follow. The AB guys have a book which they consult to keep them on track with respect to the actions their charges take — whether such actions are part of the plan or not. And there is that Chairman up there (at the top of a New York skyscraper apparently), who has many names, one of which is “God”.  There are special doors that lead into another world and back to ours, and the caseworkers have special powers that enable them to manipulate the environment of their charges, all of which could be taken for angelic ministers, shepherding us on our way.

Except of course… Jesus doesn’t figure into any of this. His name is only mentioned in the usual way it’s mentioned in Hollywood movies…as an expletive. And the Plan changes each time someone does something outside it, so that the agents are constantly playing catch up, trying to “clean up this mess,” and get things back on the track they’re supposed to be on. Not exactly the way God does things.

So, on the one hand, it’s cool that the film is going to cause some people to think about God and His plan, about free will, about their decisions, etc… But on the other, it’s annoying that they make God and his agents so inept. And weird because it when you get down to it, the movie’s set up and even resolution really implies we have no free will at all — only what the agents allow us to have. Like unwitting cattle we are moved about as they desire, oblivious to their manipulation. The exceptions are a few, stubborn, passionate individuals  (like Norris) who manage to break out of the track that has been laid for them and follow their own plan…

Ick.

We’ve spent the last month studying the Divine Decrees in Bible Class. Thinking about God’s awesome power. Reflecting on how He knew simultaneously all the plans there ever could be and all their courses, successions, outworkings in every detail. Every detail. He knows every decision every one of us has ever made and ever will, and every decision we would have made, had circumstances been different. And out of all of those options, He chose the best, the one that will provide our highest blessing and His glory. It buries the Keystone Cops stuff that’s put forth in The Adjustment Bureau.

Moreover, as I said, the real plan all hinges on Jesus: “What do you think of the Christ? Whose son is He?”

God has shut all of us up in sin so He can have mercy on us all. And His mercy is the fact that He sent His son to die for the sins of every one of us, believers and unbelievers alike. All we have to do is choose to believe. Or to reject. In the end those who have rejected Christ, the only sin He couldn’t die for, will stand before the Great White Throne and give an account for why they rejected the work of Christ, and provide whatever they think they have to offer God that could possibly compare with what He’s done.

Of course none of that was in the movie.

Because really, the movie wasn’t about God, in my view.  Early on my take in watching it was that the Adjustment Bureau couldn’t be God’s organization — there was no grace, for one. No, I think it’s a great illustration of Satan’s organization.  The Adjustment Bureau is the kingdom of darkness, the rulers and principalities mentioned in Ephesians. The agents going about trying to make sure people don’t find out what God’s plan for their life is, and seeking to impose the plan their Chairman has written. Yes, they are presented in some cases as appealing, nice, trying to be helpful, etc,  even as they have no idea what they’re doing. One is guilt ridden for some of the things he’s had to do to Norris’s parents. And many of them even wonder if what they are doing is right.

But the strength of a counterfeit lies in its closeness of form to the thing it is counterfeiting. And Satan’s many systems always incorporate ministers of light, and deception and confusion.

I cannot imagine any of God’s elect angels  wondering if what they are doing is right. Or feeling guilty. Or going against His directive will. Or any of that.  The agents in the film spend much of the time blundering around. They threaten and intimidate and lie…

But God is not the author of confusion. God is not taken by surprise. He’s not up there going, “Oh no, Norris got off track! I didn’t foresee that! He must not kiss that woman or disaster will ensue! You guys get down there and clean that up!” He’s not up there going, “Oh, gee, I had a plan for you, David Norris, but I see now that your plan is far better than what I came up with and since you are sooo insistent… I’m going to give you what you want.

Paul was insistent. He was going to Jerusalem to see his people and never mind that God told him not to go three times in a row. He was going. So he went. And ended up imprisoned in Rome for years as discipline because of it. Granted, God used that to allow him to witness to the Praetorium Guardsmen he was chained to, and to write half the New Testament, but that only shows how God can take our messes and make blessing out of them, not that we have any business writing our own destinies.

TAW – Basic Principles

I continue to be amazed and excited by the way God is using the material in The Artist’s Way to stimulate thinking and encourage me in operating more freely in the creative part of my soul. The way He’s leading me through this, drawing my attention to parallels between what’s in the book and what’s in the Christian life, then providing confirmation, sometimes almost word for word in Bible class is really exciting.

Today (Sunday) I begin Week 2, which is called Recovering a Sense of Identity.   (Week 1 was Recovering a Sense of Safety).  Week 2 focuses on the things which will come in to attack and hinder the concepts taught and gains made in Week 1. One of the tasks for this week is to read through daily the “Basic Principles” that were listed on page 3.

One of the things I’ve been doing as I move through the course is to make it mine. When I first got the book, brand new from Amazon, I was reading it at the dining room table and drinking iced coffee. Barely had I started when I set the glass down wrong and it fell over, the entire contents flooding the book. After picking off the ice cubes, I mopped up the mess and spent a good amount of time sliding pieces of paper towel between all the pages. Yes. ALL the pages. There is not a single page untouched by coffee and some have a delightful, distressed look about them. At first I was dismayed and asked the Lord if this was some kind of sign. Was I not to read it after all? Instead, I got a laughing sort of thought: “Now it’s no longer ‘precious’ and you can feel free to write in it.”

Ahhh!  Very true. So I have done exactly that — underlined, highlighted, circled, starred, commented in the margins, crossed stuff out and replaced it with other stuff. Thus, I have amended the Basic Principles to my own liking, (You can find the original HERE) and I share them with you now:

Basic Principles

1. Creativity is a God-given part of the soul, bestowed for our blessing and benefit.

2. The Bible is full of songs, poetry, imagery. The book of Job was originally performed as a play. Jesus told stories in his teachings – the parables. Both David and Moses composed melodies and songs. David danced in the street as he worshiped the Lord. We are commanded to sing praises to the Lord, to “make” melodies. Angels sang for joy when God made the universe. God is the one who made flowers, birds, sunsets, the sea, clouds, mountains, lakes, trees.

3. God is the only one who creates out of nothing, but we echo His creative aspect in creating new things out of the materials He’s placed around and in us.

4. He has made each of us unique, with unique and specific creative gifts that come with the desire to use them. Sin, lies and distortions stop us.

5. He has a specific will and destiny for every person – for the unbeliever to be saved, for the believer, a specific journey or calling in which to glorify Him, a calling which no one else can fulfill.

6. He has given me creative gifts to be used for His glory and my blessing.

7. Part of using those gifts involves nurturing and encouraging them through filling the well with imagery and experience, and giving them time to be practiced.

8. Refusal to encourage my creativity and provide material for it to play with is a refusal to walk through the open door of operating in the gifts He’s given me.

9. When I open myself to exploring the creative part of my soul, I open myself to discovering and living in the full person God has made me to be, and to learning more about Him. He is the Great Creator and He is in me.

10. Functioning in and nurturing the creative side of my nature is as important as functioning in the logical, orderly side.

11. Why wouldn’t I want to open myself to His leading me into increasing creativity?

12. We must love ourselves before we can love others and in loving ourselves we must know who we are. As part of tending our own vineyard we nurture our creativity, for it is a vehicle by which we glorify Christ, as much through the process of living in it and enjoying it, as through whatever it produces.

13. Special word from Bible Class today (the day I typed this up for the first time): Some people who would never walk into a church or listen to a message will read one of my books. Or read my blog. And I am able to continue to witness to others through the art of card making.

Foreign Service

One of the premises for my work in progress, The Other Side of the Sky is that the setting will include a loose analogy to Christians as citizens of the Holy City and ambassadors of that city to the world. With that in mind I’ve been reading a book called From Inside a US Embassy: How the Foreign Service Works for America where I came across the following descriptions. I thought they were especially interesting when considered in light of our spiritual calling as Believers in Christ:

“The Foreign Service is a career like no other. It is much more than a job; it is a uniquely demanding and rewarding way of life. As representatives of the United States (Ed: or the kingdom of God?) to foreign governments, Foreign Service members have a direct impact on people’s lives and witness history in the making. They work alongside highly talented colleagues and face the unexpected every day, in situations that push their ingenuity and creativity to the limit.

“But a Foreign Service career also imposes significant demands. Typically, Foreign Service members spend two-thirds of their careers overseas, sometimes in unhealthy or isolated locations. They live for extended periods of time far from parents, siblings, and old friends, and sometimes without familiar amenities or modern medical facilities. Due to increasing international terrorism, [they] face physical danger and may be required to serve an ‘unaccompanied’ tour or to remain at their duty posts in harm’s way after their families are evacuated.”

Reading Reviews Again

On Sept 18 2010, K. Daru  gives a generally favorable review of the first book in my Legends of the Guardian King series, The Light of Eidon, highlighting elements of the fantasy aspects she/he thought were good, then discussing elements of the “religious” aspects of the story that were good and concluding with the following:

“And therein lies the rub. The fantasy, by itself, would be four (maybe five) stars. The depiction of Christianity, by itself, would also be four stars. But I found the juxtaposition between the two jarring. Every time the story turned to Christianity, I found myself yanked out of the fantasy world and into the present day; my mind couldn’t decide whether I was reading an epic fantasy or a modern-day conversion story. This lack of immersion makes the whole of the book less than the sum of its parts, and is what finally led me to give it 3 stars.”

I reproduce it here because it triggered a sudden realization for me related to fantasy and Christianity. For as long as I can recall, there has been discussion of Christianity in Fantasy, and the importance (some feel) of not jerking the reader out of the fantasy world with the Christianity. It has to be hidden, pontificators pontificate, or it’s flawed.

Okay, they’re welcome to their opinion, but it was the way this reviewer articulated that opinion that struck me: For some readers the fantasy world is IT. That’s what they care about. That’s why they read fantasy. That’s why they can read almost any kind of fantasy regardless of what it says because they just love the escape to another world.

I love the escape too, but it’s not the be all and end all for me. Take Avatar, the movie. Great world, but I didn’t like the story at all. I have no interest in returning there because there was no Truth in that story.

And Truth is what I love. Of course I mean Truth as revealed in God’s word, and for me fantasy — all of it, my own and others, is merely a vehicle that can communicate Truth. (See my article Why I Write Fantasy in the page tabs above) It’s the Truth that I love, that gets me excited, that I want to think about and investigate and handle. Particularly the truths related to salvation, the Christian life, the Christian’s relationship with God, the angelic conflict… That’s what I’m interested. The world is secondary. (That admission is almost sacrilege in some circles, but so be it.) It’s a means to an end, a way to bring out concepts in a new way, unencumbered by baggage that often accompanies Christian vocabulary and concepts.

For readers who also love the truth, that is what they love about The Legends of the Guardian King. Those are the ones like Christine W who said of Return of the Guardian King

“The message of perseverance and placing your faith in Eidon comes across so strongly and resonates within the reader long after the book is closed. I wanted more, but not because she didn’t finish the story or that it was lacking in something, but because it inspired me and left me wanting a closer relationship with God.”

For readers who are more interested in fantasy as a genre, in going to some new and exotic world, well, they’ll be less impressed. If they notice the Christian foundations, that’s really all it seems they do: notice. They say “Aha! Eidon is God! Ha! This is representative of Protestantism versus Catholicism and Islam. I’ve guessed the secret.”

But they don’t see or care to see the analogies to the Christian life. A person has to want to see those things. Has to be ready to see them. But what’s cool is that some of us plant, others water and still others reap the harvest.  And I see more and more how God can use these books in the lives of people who may not seem ready. Who read them and are offended, or bored, and yet for some reason feel compelled to read to the end. Even those who didn’t read to the end, who gave up midstream in disgust, even those on some level must have been ready, because they had the opportunity to read the books. So even if they don’t like what they read, and give only a three, or two or one star rating, the fact is those concepts and images and truths have entered their souls.

And, whether they accept or reject them,  the Word of God does not go forth void.

Is Koran Burning UnChristian?

After last week’s post on the guy in Florida who was going to burn the Koran, I was asked by several people what I think about a Christian burning a Koran in order to deliberately provoke the Muslim world — isn’t that unChristian? I’ve thought about it all weekend and can’t come up with a definitive answer, though I’m probably closer to “how silly” than “ooh! That’s bad!” And at the same time very aware of the fact that God can use silly, sinful and even evil acts of man, including Christians, to fulfill His plan and bring glory to Himself.

There is no verse that says “Thou shalt not burn a Koran.” Nor is there one that says, “Thou shalt respect all other religions.” Yes, we are to be at peace with all men – so far as it depends on us. And yes, sometimes we are to operate in the law of love and sacrifice, giving up what we are free before God to do, but over which the person we are with will stumble. We’re not supposed to deliberately make people sin.

On the other hand, Jesus deliberately cracked corn in front of the Pharisees on the Sabbath (which you weren’t supposed to do), He healed people on the Temple steps on the Sabbath (no healing allowed either), told a guy He healed on a Sabbath to pick up his bed and go report to the Pharisees (aren’t supposed to pick and carry things like a bed) and in every case provoked the Pharisees to anger, judging and outrage. Of course they were already angry and judgmental and looking for ways to discredit Him, so I’m not sure He actually provoked them, so much as brought their inner true motivations to light.

In any case, I can’t say categorically that to burn a Koran to provoke a reaction (or prove that you are not going to be intimidated by the threats of fanatical and violent devotees of an evil religion?) is “unChristian.”

As for the idea that burning a Koran will not bring Muslims to the Gospel, but rather drive them away — How do we know that?  Yes, absolutely such an act is not going to bring a diehard believer in the Prophet to Christianity, but neither is anything else. But what about those with doubts? Might they actually be swayed — inspired even — by the sight of someone daring to “insult” the book that is supposedly the word of a god so thin-skinned and impotent he has to rely on people to defend him?  In some ways you can look at burning a Koran as a defiance of a false god — one that shows the tyranny of one religion and the freedom and mercy of another.

I also don’t think we are supposed to “respect” Islam as a religion. It’s a compendium of evil and lies, it’s tyrannical, it blasphemes God, insults the Lord Jesus Christ. I can respect someone’s right to believe it and will leave them to do so, but I don’t respect “Islam” at all.

At the same time, I’m not comfortable with the whole activism scene. I don’t think that’s really the way Christians bring change to a nation, so personally I would not be out burning Korans to make a statement. I can’t see any need to incite Muslims, since if you noticed my update to the Koran burning post last week about Michelle Malkin’s column The Eternal Flame of Muslim Outrage, it doesn’t take much to incite them: Underwear, sneakers, fast food packaging, teddy bears…

Still, I have to say in the end, there’s just something creepy about someone believing a book can be insulted, and that it’s their duty to make sure no one insults it anywhere in all the world, threatening to kill those who even suggest they might. It’s the bullying I don’t like. And the tiptoeing and hand-wringing from our leaders that I like even less.

Inventing Moderate Islam

I seem to be on a run of posting about Islam this week. It was not intentional, I  just keep stumbling across new and interesting tidbits. I think I’ve alluded to the fact in my first post about The Last Patriot, that I don’t think there can ever really be a “reformed” or moderate Islam. I guess the primary reason for that is that it’s not based on grace the way Christianity and even true Judaism (two sides of the same coin; or maybe two stages in the same continuum) are. Both Christianity and Judaism are based on the fact that man is depraved and can never do anything to achieve a relationship with God on his own. The Law was not given to man so he could follow it and be saved, but to demonstrate the fact that he couldn’t follow it and needed a savior.

There is no savior who died for all in Islam, only a bunch of rules for men to follow to please Allah – a lifting and corrupting of elements of both Christianity and Judaism (probably more of the latter than the former). In a sense it’s more an extension of what the Pharisees thought the Law was about than what the Bible says it was.

There is no  “by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of works lest any man should boast.” It’s all about following the rules. Being obedient. Punishing those who don’t comply. Everyone should get what they deserve, and if there is any mercy, it is thin, indeed.

Islam is a perfect, clear example of religion. And religion  is a system of bondage whereby men can be controlled, ostensibly by other men, but in reality by the unseen “rulers” and “powers” and “world forces of darkness.”  (True Christianity is not a religion, as I’ve said before, but a relationship). Religion is a system whereby men seek to impress or please God by their own good deeds and personal “righteousness”. It is a system that promotes creature credit rather than God-credit. 

Kill the Infidel, go to heaven. Question Islam, be executed and go to eternal damnation…

In addition to this, as with those elements of the Mosaic Law given to the Jews as a nation to guide them in how a nation should be run, the tenets of Islam are intertwined with matters of state. So on the one hand Islam is a system of worship and on the other hand a system of law/legislation.

There is no “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s” in the Koran. Mohammed’s kingdom was very much of this earth, as were the kingdoms of the sultans who followed him, and followers were required by their faith to render unto them. Nor are there commands like “Do not speak evil of your rulers,” the latter written at the time when the evil, heathenish  Nero ruled over Rome. Rather there is Sharia, which would like to kill the evil, Satanic Infidel George Bush. Sharia is supposed to be Allah’s guidance and injunctions regarding matters of state and public affairs, and if it’s straight from Allah, how can it be ignored or “reformed?”

 I’m sure there are muslims who choose from the religion what they like and discard the parts they don’t, just as there are Christians who do the same with the Bible. And there are no doubt many who would like to do away with some of the more restrictive and draconian elements of the muslim faith. But for true and fundamental reform among those who take their faith seriously… I just don’t see it as realistic. As I said in a previous post, why would Allah change his mind after having set down the only true, proper and pure way to do things?

I’m not alone in my questioning whether there can truly be a “moderate” Islam. Recently National Review Online  published an article by Andrew McCarthy called Inventing Moderate Islam (It can’t be done without confronting mainstream Islam and its sharia agenda)”  The piece starts thus:

“Secularism can never enjoy a general acceptance in an Islamic society.” The writer was not one of those sulfurous Islamophobes decried by CAIR and the professional Left. Quite the opposite: It was Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual guide and a favorite of the Saudi royal family. He made this assertion in his book, How the Imported Solutions Disastrously Affected Our Ummah, an excerpt of which was published by the Saudi Gazette just a couple of months ago.

[snip]

It is also worth understanding why Qaradawi says Islam and secularism cannot co-exist. The excerpt from his book continues:

“As Islam is a comprehensive system of worship (Ibadah) and legislation (Shari’ah), the acceptance of secularism means abandonment of Shari’ah, a denial of the divine guidance and a rejection of Allah’s injunctions. It is indeed a false claim that Shari’ah is not proper to the requirements of the present age. The acceptance of a legislation formulated by humans means a preference of the humans’ limited knowledge and experiences to the divine guidance: “Say! Do you know better than Allah?” (Qur’an, 2:140) For this reason, the call for secularism among Muslims is atheism and a rejection of Islam. Its acceptance as a basis for rule in place of Shari’ah is downright apostasy.

And apostasy, says Mr. McCarthy, is a dire accusation since the punishment for apostates is death. As long as there remain a substantial number of people in power who believe in the rightness of Sharia and are ready and willing to exterminate any apostates who seek to modify it, whatever moderate muslims there may be out there will remain hesitant to express that apostasy.  Thus, as McCarthy concludes,

When you capitulate to the authority and influence of Qaradawi and [Ground Zero mosque project imam Feisal] Rauf, you kill meaningful Islamic reform.

There is no moderate Islam in the mainstream of Muslim life, not in the doctrinal sense. There are millions of moderate Muslims who crave reform. Yet the fact that they seek real reform, rather than what Georgetown [University] is content to call reform, means they are trying to invent something that does not currently exist.

You can read the entire article HERE.

Sharia or the Constitution?

Under Muslim Sharia law, one cannot proselytize to a Muslim, nor is a Muslim allowed to leave the faith. Recently the Associated Press reported that  4 Christian evangelists were arrested in heavily Arab Dearborn, Michigan, for passing out copies of the Gospel of John (translated into Arabic) at  an entrance/exit to an Arab Cultural festival. (In the video below it appears to be more like a county fair or carnival, a ferris wheel looming in the background). 

The head evangelist George Saieg, only the day before had received a favorable ruling in his behalf, overturning a lower courts findings and allowing him to distribute the books on the festival’s perimeter.

But since the festival typically draws several hundred thousand attendees, police made the arrests to preserve the peace.

I suppose they would get in trouble if they couldn’t keep people from rioting, nevertheless, if people are not able to peacefully distribute Gospel literature (or even Watchtowers, for that matter) in public places for fear of some religious group rioting… that is not good. That means, essentially,  that it’s Sharia law that is in force and not the United States Constitution, which most certainly does allow proselytizing and other freedoms of speech. 

Here’s the video they made of it, just to let other people know what sorts of things are starting to happen right here on American soil (much like the recent  incident with the students who were sent home for wearing American flag shirts on Cinco de Mayo because many of the hispanic students at the school were offended and school officials feared a riot might start…) 

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Smw9QuH1xkA&feature=player_embedded]

Lost Finale Thoughts

Well, as I mentioned at the end of yesterday’s post, we watched the finale of LOST last night and, believe it or not, I wasn’t disappointed. It ended much better than I expected it to. And although my initial thought as the final credits rolled was that I could have done without the last fifteen minutes or so, I’ve decided that those were okay, too, because, as with all of LOST they prompted thought about topics I care deeply about and find fascinating, ie, issues of spirituality, the afterlife, and the underpinning of reality, which always gets back to God, who IS reality. Which is why I’ve watched the program all along. Plus I just liked the characters.

I never expected they would “get it right,” or really even come close to presenting spiritual realities as they are. And they didn’t. But while I was annoyed by that stained glass window in the background of the final scene with Jack and his dad, the one with the six symbols of the world’s major religions arrayed in it, I wasn’t surprised by it. It was, in fact, appropriate for the dumb Tower of Babel ideas they were promoting.

Immediately afterward I read viewer reactions, some of whom found it fabulous, some of whom found it dreadful, and some of whom found it emotionally satisfying but intellectually a let-down. I would most agree with the latter, in that there were so many questions that I thought were important to the story that were left unanswered, or answered in ways that made no sense. But hey, why would I expect any more? The answers their questions demanded reside in the things of God.

And the naturally-minded man cannot understand the things of God, for they are foolishness to him, neither can he know them for they are spiritually discerned. LOST ‘s writers and producers and actors attempted to portray things of God from a naturally-minded viewpoint which pretty much has to end up being nonsensical. In other words, for me the problem was that the writers were overwhelmed by their material and tried to describe and explain eternal, infinite, heavenly things in earthly terms. God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and our thoughts are not His.

Think about that for a moment. His thoughts are not our thoughts.

All the ways that seem right to a naturally minded man (which can include Christians who aren’t operating in the power of the Spirit and haven’t had their minds renewed by the continal inculcation of His word) are not God’s ways. God’s plan is about Him, not about us. He created us for His glory, not ours. Everything good in the world is from Him. He IS love. He IS truth. He IS faithfulness. Life. Light. Warmth. Justice. In God’s economy you give to receive and die to live.

LOST’s writers played with elements of destiny, purpose, time, dimension, eternity, alternate universes, justice, redemption… but without God in the picture, they had no hope of even getting close to answering the questions they raised. In fact, as I contemplate the ending I have the sense that they tossed various concepts into the story to be intriguing and thought provoking and importantly metaphysical, but had no idea what they were working with. And why should they? They had only their human viewpoint and human viewpoint can’t comprehend the things of God. Sort of like a prairie chicken trying to understand and portray the life of an eagle. Absolutely clueless.

And yet… God has placed the desire for eternal things in the heart of every man, and that’s what came out in LOST. The show dealt with eternal things, if only sketchily. Thus I could watch it from the viewpoint of what I know those things said about God, knowing there IS a purpose for every person’s life on this earth and that it’s important to know that and seek it. Because if you truly seek that, you will end up finding God. If there is a purpose for our lives, it must lie with the one who made us, because the concept of purpose and destiny demand the existence of a mind to come up with them. Purpose is meaningless apart from mentality and will… So in the end, when the story implied there could be purpose without a directing creator, it fell into nonsense.

The first purpose for any man is that he believe in Christ. After that, it’s to be conformed to His image, and thus bring glory to God. Not by anything we do from ourselves, but from what He makes of us and how guides us and what He enables us to do.

Of course, this was not how LOST’s writers chose to deal with purpose and destiny, but the intriguing part for me was how, because of that failure, they could not come up with anything that made any sense. It was fluffy and glowy and happily ever after, but completely illogical, even almost random.

“Huh?” was the main thought I was left with after those final 10 minutes. “Huh?” and “But what about… [fill in about fifty blanks here]? The main one being, what about the Island? Why was it there? Who put it there? What was the glow? Why did that need to be guarded? Why were those particular people brought there? Why not everyone? I must say, that once Jacob was revealed to be a doofus like the rest of us, and not an analogy for God, the sense it in all started to unravel…

So while emotionally it ended well (I found a lot of the “remembering” scenes very moving), the whole purpose of the story, which I think was centered in the Island, got shuttled aside.

Unless I just didn’t see it, which is entirely possible.

I also didn’t think it was just a dream, as Lelia commented yesterday. What I think is below…

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SPOILER…

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I think the Island was real, and that the world of the side-flashes was a form of purgatory, or maybe reincarnation, where people lived full second lives that were somewhat happier than their original lives, though not entirely for they still had to work through their issues to contentment and growth. Part of that was remembering who mattered from the life before — mostly in the form of right man/right woman relationships, but also friendships — and in so doing they reformed their Island community and together traveled on into eternity. (This part I thought was a cool echo of the way a local body of believers, who have served and fought side by side in this life will indeed have a special relationship in eternity).

As for eternity itself, that seemed something like the Elysian Fields… a place of eternal happiness based on human relationships and perfect environment. But no God.

Thus the ultimate message I saw is that man can fix himself. That, instead of going from perfection to chaos to salvation courtesy of a divine savior, as the Bible teaches, we go from chaos to perfection courtesy of our own efforts for self and others, combined with our sufferings…

For those of you who are LOST fans… is that how you saw it? Or do you go with the ” it was all a dream” or “they’re all dead” interpretation? Or something else entirely?