Augustine and The City of God.

Somehow, a few months ago I was inspired to purchase the abridged (one volume of 549 pp) version of this historical Christian classic written over a three-year period in the early part of the 5th century.

Yes, I’ve been paging through and skipping some of this age-old classic along with some biographical information about Saint Augustine, when this hit me: “History was a neglected discipline in the later Roman Empire; the great historians of the past, Tacitus and Herodotus, were neglected, their writings used only as quarries for illustrations by the rhetoricians. The philosophy of the age was anti-historical, as if the end of history had arrived.” [1]

In this age of technology dominating our lives 24/7 who has time to read history. We look at the past as irrelevant to us because daily, we accomplish much more, so much easier, and traveling through the clouds, than having to work hard each day to put food on the table, to hunt and gather it, to keep the tent aired out, to find wood to burn to heat the coffee beans. As a student in our public-school system, all I remember of studying history was dates and names of the kings, rulers, tyrants defeating other kings, rulers, and tyrants in wars costing the lives of millions of other peasants, barbarians, subjects and soldiers.

We really haven’t changed much at all then.

But how did someone acquire so much knowledge and wisdom back in the days of riding camels, horses and trudging by sandals of leather, reading in the evening under the light of candles and sleeping on the ground inside a tent under sheep skins? Huh? How? Amazing isn’t it. The Bible itself did not become wide spread until the Gutenberg press was invented a thousand years after Augustine read the Latin papyrus scroll Old Testament and the Greek version of the New on parchment animal skin codex, and then becoming convinced that Christianity is real, is true, that the reality of all things is we are all descendants of Adam and Eve through Noah and his wife, that the Creator of all things insists that He alone be worshiped.

And now our hundreds of protestant denominations and the Roman Catholics argue about just that: how should we worship the creator of all things? What does it mean to worship? Do I have to give up something to worship, or is reading one of the current translations of the Bible for ten minutes each day enough? Is the Ten Commandments for us today or were they nailed to the cross and we’re free to do our own thing just so long as we treat others the same way we want to be treated?

The end of history has arrived, so relax as we’ll be out of here soon.

But now excuse me as I step on some toes, mine included.

Just like Adam and Eve, we desire the fruit of the garden of plenty by being glued to the Smart TV, posting an update on FB, a new message on the Smart Phone and catch up on the latest scores, political shenanigans and tomorrows weather on the computer.

“The attraction of leisure ought not to be empty-headed inactivity, but in the quest or discovery of truth, both for his own progress and for the purpose of sharing ungrudgingly with others. Nor should the man of action love worldly position or power (for all is vanity under the sun) . . . but . . .  of contributing to the eternal salvation of those committed to one’s care.”  P 461 City of God.

The tools we use is all that has changed, as now we are able to access all this history comfortably seated in a warm house by pressing carefully selected keys on a plastic keyboard.

 

  1. https://banneroftruth.org/us/resources/articles/2015/augustine-and-the-city-of-god/

Merry X-mas

Yes, that was the headlines the media besieged us with not that long ago.

Now it’s Happy Holidays.

The schools do not instruct the students that their coming time away from the classroom has something to do with the birth of the Savior, Jesus the Christ becoming one of us. No, that’s left up to the parents. We walk the malls and see tinsel, wreaths and green artificial trees decorated with balls of holly, and perhaps a store just might have a nativity set in the display window as we quickly pass by, or another may have boxes of miniature or large outdoor nativity sets for sale. Hallmark cards may have scenes of the nativity, may have Merry Christmas on the front with best wishes for the Holiday Season inside. The gift giving spirit has been dominating since Thanksgiving. We’ve purchased our live evergreen tree and carefully hung the hundreds of ornaments, wreaths and strings of lights blinking to one of a dozen patterns, and finally a star has been placed on top. We check the water daily. It’s ready for the presents, some held back for the kids to open the morning of the 25th.

xmastree-times-square-nyny
Times Square

Christmas themed movies appear throughout the cable guide devoted to an actor/actress achievement of their Santa wish: a long-ago love coming back into their life, the wish for the family reconciliation, a wish for this or that, one you secretly gave to the department store Santa years ago. All heartwarming stories that touch us. Some that are humorous. Clean wholesome movies the family can enjoy together.

Santa Claus is everywhere; ringing the bell in front of the grocery store, at the center of the department store, as another Santa in the center of the mall has children lined up ready to sit on his lap. Santa is selling cars, furniture, and cell-phones on TV.

Neighborhood homes have lights strung around the roofs, artificial snow and a full-sized snowman or Santa on a sleigh on the front lawn, some nativity sets here and there. On a roof is Rudolf leading the Santa sled with piles of presents. Churches have the nativity sets and a few here and there may have actors dressed as Joseph and Mary around the nativity scene. To attract the kiddies some may have Santa with a backpack filled with presents. This year the date falls on a Monday, so the churches will be full on Sunday enjoying the choir singing, the band may play Silent Night, and the pastor reads the story of the reason for the season. All is well, Jesus was born as a child in Bethlehem.

Yes, this is the Christmas season society has developed for us over the years.

In America, we have that freedom. Other places penalize Christmas displays of any kind.

Our creator God looked down upon this marvelous creation over the years interacting with various humans throughout our natural history for a way to redeem His most important part of creation. God saved Noah and his family from the wrath of the flood to start over desiring that they act according to the original idea of honoring the Creator and worshiping Him alone in spirit and truth. History records that we humans failed to obey those commandments again. So, the time has come, God declares one last act of compassionate mercy by sending a part of Himself to inhabit a human body, to live and grow up among other humans sharing in their lives, to teach and to demonstrate the majestic creative and sustaining powers to the likes of us all.

Since we are limited in our vision to this physical world, God became one of us.

We failed all in the past, so now this is the final gift, the last hope, a final way for His family of man to accept the loving merciful forgiveness of our sins of disobedience being redeemed and the gift of a new spiritual life to honor, worship and obey.

Merry Christmas.

Tearing up biology.

Ah, the world is turning and has been rotating since its creation. Can’t undo that. In this world of ours there are rules that man cannot change: the physical dynamics of creation, the biology of creation. Mankind has been given an innate curiosity about the surrounding nature of things which has led to the development of phenomial technological achievements.   So, here we are in the 21st century able to talk to and see others on the other side of the rotating earth through some sort of electronic signals as the world turns. This curiosity is also contemplating changing our nature as assigned at birth. Some don’t like it. Some rebel against it. And unfortunately, rebellion is also a part of our nature.

There are some who claim that an element in their birth got mixed up, and they would like to change that. Some are confused. Some desire to be a boy instead of a girl. Some boys like being a girl.  And these are demanding that a fact of biology can be changed. Operations have been done altering and/or removing a physical element. The claim is that society is sexist because it has certain unwritten rules that determines what type of clothes one must wear, what toys kids should play with, who must use which rest room, what kind of a job, what sports, what, what, and around it goes so noone should be happy because I’m not happy.

Anyway, you get the picture.

OK, let’s go along with the scenario. Society burns all the clothing and we all wrapped our bodies with drapery. No barbers anywhere and our hair grows and grows. Oops, some people started growing mustaches and beards. Oops, some people had an unusual growth under the chin. Oops, some noticeably had higher voice range when speaking and singing. Oops, some had unusal lumps on their chest. Oops, some seem to have larger feet and got physically stronger than others. Oops, some had some sort of bleeding each month. Oops, some would and some would not, and on and on it goes.

Ah, come on, it’s all in the placement of the 1’s and 0’s in each bite of programming, change a gene here or there, and that can be changed by one of our AI programmers.

Nope, in the beginning God created a male and a female saying to them: “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. . . . ”

 

Sexual impropriety

The news is abuzz of sexual impropriety from celebrities, show hosts, politicians, leaders here and there. What’s going on? Back in the days of the 50’s and 60’s, even while youngsters were enjoying the hippie clan of live happy and high, the news did not highlight the problems that sexual freedom was rampantly exploding like a hurricane destroying lives, families and reputations as it is now. Then sexual promiscuity was a matter to be kept behind closed doors.

So, perhaps it is time to let it all out folks. Tell it like it is. We like sex.

The human being enjoys sex here and there. Playboy came along and beautifully portrayed women as objects for males to use to satisfy their lusts. Hollywood installed the red carpets to portray women in scanty drapery with body curvatures to admire as the actresses enjoyed the spotlight furthering their career. The movies explicitly moved the act into our living rooms as we watched ‘in horror’ that they would show such for our teens and youngsters to watch.

Time to tell it like it is. We like entertainment.

We like to comfortably relax, and watch others play make believe, and they do it well, being paid tremendously for negating any morality they may have had before entering the business. Ah, it’s just make-believe. And we go on with our daily business at hand. Did you see the latest, is the talk at the coffee station?

But we know that there are consequences to our actions.  To whom do you put you trust? The celebrities, the media, the politicians we can see and hear, or the words of the creator God we cannot see or hear except for that still small voice within our spiritual conscious: “don’t do that.”

“Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth . . .” Genesis 1:28

Well we sure have multiplied. Since the Lord God created us in His image, then there is that image floating around each of us ready and willing to . . . . ah, multiply our sensual feelings. Imagine if that finality of the sexual act was not enjoyable, but just a routine function of a physical activity that did not have an enjoyable part to it. Would we shy away from it? Would we consider it a difficulty to avoid? Would we have multiplied the earth?

Do we even think about the consequences? Not just the repercussions from mates, the family, the children, the bosses, the media, the left or right politically, but the final consequence coming after that last breath of air.

Oh, but that’s a myth? Nothing to worry about there? We can’t see it or hear it or touch it on the buttocks, so it can’t be real.

No, God created that sexual act as enjoyable so that we would multiply. And God also provided some rules to go along with it.

Genesis 2:24 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.

Hebrews 13:4 “Marriage should be honored by all and the marriage bed kept undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterers.

Perhaps our churches should get back to the Hell-Fire and Brimstone preaching such as The sermon of Jonathan Edwards in 1741, entitled “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”.  “There are in the souls of wicked men those hellish principles reigning, that would presently kindle and flame out into hell-fire, if it were not for God’s restraints. There is laid in the very nature of carnal men, a foundation for the torments of hell. There are those corrupt principles, in reigning power in them, and in full possession of them, that are seeds of hell-fire.”

A long read, but wow, if the majority of weekly sermons would be similar to that of Edwards, how it would affect our comfortable lives?

Hell-fire

 It’s time we start getting real about the judgment of God. (Flickr/Creative Commons)

 

From CharismaNews 2015. By John Burton.

“We need a fresh wave of great awakeners—those who will unapologetically preach hell-fire in today’s dire end times.

To the shame of much of today’s church there has been a firm and steadfast rejection of any truth that doesn’t result in people feeling happy affection for God.”   Read more . . .

The Commandments Part 6

As I wrote in the first part, the owner, the creator of a company has certain rights over the workers employed under his rule. The workers are pleased to have been selected. They wish to please the owner, so they diligently pursue their assigned tasks wanting to impress and be considered for a promotion. To achieve that, they know the rules should be followed, must be followed, or a dismissal of being fired.

 

The owner of this venture called for a meeting this afternoon after the storm had passed over the mountain top.

“Moses, it’s good to see you. I see you’ve brought a couple big pieces of stone with you.”

“Yes sir, just as you requested.”

“Thanks, now I’ll carve these rules in stone so they can’t be set ablaze as they could be if put on papyrus.”

Moses holds the tablets tight against his chest, as the finger of the creator starts carving. the tip of the finger burning hot engraving each letter a half inch into the granite. Finishing the first eight, the owner stops.

“When these are finished, I desire that you place them at the court hall to be viewed by all.

supreme-court-10-commandments-photo-by-oldironsides-the-silentmajor

“Now before I finish this project, I need to explain these last two rules. This is our last physical meeting together until the son has his designated time among you reconciling all things unto himself, providing a way of redemption for all. The faithful will meet again in different surroundings.  These last two rules should cover it. No more except the round-up conclusion. Here they are:

  • Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
  • Thou shalt not covet they neighbor’s house, thy neighbor’s wife nor his manservant, nor his ox, nor anything that is thy neighbor’s.

“In case questions arise, I will explain further.  They are both lies, deceits. When one bears a false testimony, he’s stealing by denying the truth. But the truth cannot be killed. It can only be covered up by lies and deceit.

And oh how dishonorable it is to want something so bad you’ll do anything to get it, even lying to yourself. These two last rules state the relationship to stealing, murder and committing adultery.  When one covets something he does not have, the focus is changed to gratify the physical possession, which necessitates a change in the process of achievement.

“How far will you go to get what your neighbor has?  His wife is his partner unto death, not yours. Don’t even think about it. You’ll be killing three friendships, plus the trust they have put in you. He’s got people doing his gardening and repairing the dwelling. He’s got a state of the art set of wheels. He’s got goats and sheep in that big barn of his. He plays games riding his camel. He comes near shouting in your face: ‘wow, what fun’, while you sit on that rocker and watch, wishing and desiring those things. Day after day they are paraded before you.

“Get to work and all these can be added to you.”

“Your forefather was deceived in the same way. Don’t let that happen to you.”

“These words as etched in stone convey the laws.”

“Moses, now you must post the stone tablets where everyone will see.”

ten commandments 3

“You can easily explain all of these 10 commandments with this easy to remember saying that the son will expound on further when he visits summarized by this:”

“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets”.

The commandments Part 5

As in my previous hallucinations? of the creator God appearing in our vision as the owner, the developer of this company, is now discussing the commandments.

The Lord God starts:

“And now my partners here we are gathered together again, this time it seemed right to venture alongside the garden. This garden is protected territory, but you can still partially view and smell the aroma, although your view and smell is foggy.  It’s partially left here as a reminder.

I will be speaking this morning  about something that shatters many a men in their quest for temporary satisfaction. Have you thought about why that union between a male and a female is so enjoyable? As the creator,  I could have done it differently when your body was finalized for use, and later wish I  had, as your ability to sensualize that act became a goal and more devilish than intended. How physically exhaustive it was, it may have led to less and less new ones being born as you shy away from physical tasks. Yet, it is very satisfying, so you want more and more.  Would you rather relax and just think about it, perhaps watch others?  Don’t even think about that. That’s desiring to know evil. That’s why this garden has been declared off limits.

The object of this lesson is to get into your deep consciousness that it is not okay for you to seek satisfaction with anyone else other than your wife. Nope, nobody else; not a friend, not an old classmate, not your neighbor, not a stranger, not a sister or your mother, and, oooh, icky, not your brother either.  No. Never. Don’t even think about it. Your features were not designed for that, so forget it.  You don’t want to get fired because of a half-hour, an hour of fun, do you?

“Thou shalt not commit Adultery” is rule number 7.

Your wife is precious and loving, sacrificing much to make you happy. Why else would you choose her? For inheritance? Get real. For beauty? That’s not all a woman is endowed with.  Did you marry her to cook and wash your dirt, clean up your messes and provide for you?  Get off your butt. Did you marry her because a deep forgiving enduring love developed?  If so, then that love will last.

You made a vow upon your marriage: to love and to honor, in riches or poverty, in sickness and in health to death do you part. So, keep that pledge and that intimate relationship will blossom into beautiful bouquets: children, and then grandchildren, to whom your innate genes are passed down, as was said before what goes around comes around.

Okay?  You got it?  Good.  You vow unto me that you will obey #7.

 

Just two more rules coming up later today, so back to work until then.

Thanks Giving

This Thanksgiving day, I give  thanks for those way back in history who recoded their events and thoughts by engravings on the walls of caves, on papyrus, the invention of paper, the typewriter, newspapers and books, the Bible so that now we have records to read and understand more fully our heritage. For William Bradford coming up with the idea of private property and control leading the way to that great experiment of personal liberty and prosperity for all: our constitution.

 

 

Happy Holidays

Here we are, Thanksgiving 2017 is fast approaching. And then Christmas. The stores are overloaded with all the ingredients for a happy thanksgiving and Merry X-mas. The commercials are humming. TV’s a glittering with weather updates for anywhere. News shows the airports jammed, shows us the latest crime scenes, where the detours are, so beware folks, but have a happy thanksgiving and merry whatever anyway.

first-thanksgiving painting

Painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1863-1930)

Huh? Happy Holidays. Gads. The pressure. Family gatherings. Trips. Be Happy. Be thankful, Macy’s having a parade. Keep the kiddies busy. Pies to bake. Get the stuff down from the attic. Cooking or going out, yeah, let’s go out. It’s too much. Where are those pills.

How can anyone be happy with all this bombarding us in front of our face and behind our back?

And yet, we do provide a happy face.

Do we take time to reflect, to think of the What, the Who, the Where and When all this holiday season started and Why.

Some parts of the world are not so joyful this time of year, so why are we? Yes, it’s our American heritage dedicated to individual freedoms over and above that of kings and queens, presidents and magistrates. “We hold these truths to be self-evident…” But are we about to lose all that as society appears to be elevating self-gratification over virtuousness.

George Washington wrote, “Human rights can only be assured among a virtuous people.”

Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.”

Patrick Henry said, “A vitiated [impious] state of morals, a corrupted public conscience, is incompatible with freedom.”

Virtue as defined by Webster is:

  1. .moral excellence; goodness; righteousness.
  2.  conformity of one’s life and conduct to moral and ethical principles; uprightness; rectitude.
  3. .chastity; virginity: to lose one’s virtue.
  4. .a particular moral excellence.
  5. . a good or admirable quality or property: the virtue of knowing one’s weaknesses.

Philippians 4:8 (KJV)

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

 

I’m always interested in your comments.