Saturday, January 5, 2013
Wow. It’s been a while and I have learned many things:
1) I should only drop my computer when it’s off. I gather that can make a life-and-death difference for a hard drive.
2) I should avoid destroying my hard drive during the Christmas season; new drives arrive slowly.
3) Most importantly – I must conduct my life in such a way that I can prevent being so harried and flustered that I knock important things like my computer 3 feet down onto a hard floor.
So, how was your Christmas?
We did Christmas up well this year – in spite of weather and busy schedules all children and grandchildren joined us, I had a great excuse for baking cheesecake, and we inadvertently ended up with a poodle puppy. Within the confines of my world, blessings abound.
But now the tree is tucked away, the stockings boxed, the nativity scene wrapped and shelved. Routine returns – walking the dog(s), cooking dinner, cleaning, studying, teaching, reading, checking the news. Checking the news – aye, there’s the rub. It’s getting hard to face each day’s events, to watch not only the political horrors unfolding, but to see our culture contorting into an evil, Godless muck.
Godlessness does not end well. I’m thinking Sodom and Gomorrah, Rome, Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia – the list is huge, and ugly, and we’re on it.
I’m not a fussy parliamentarian. I don’t care about white dresses at weddings or whether or not alcohol is consumed at the reception. I have no interest at all in what people do in their bedrooms, how much soda they drink, or, anymore, what party they vote for.
I care about respect. Respect is dying a slow and painful death in our culture and it’s just so horrifying to watch that I can barely stand it. Without respect there is no gratitude, without gratitude there is no honor, and without honor there is no shame. We won’t last long without shame.
Posted by Deana Chadwell at 2:13 PM
Sunday, December 2, 2012
Snow now covers the mountains around me, my Christmas tree gleams and sparkles, and eleven stockings hang expectantly up my staircase. I’ve been knitting and sewing and shopping, trying to find fun and suitable gifts for everyone. I try my best to be fair, but that’s a tall order. Despite old lump-of-coal traditions, I believe Christmas is a time to commemorate God’s gifts to us.
In fact, twice each year we celebrate the overwhelming fairness of God – at Christmas when we remember His grace in sending His son into this fallen and hopeless world and at Easter when we celebrate the resurrection and its signal that all our debt has been paid. Such amazing justice – by one man all sin came into the world, and by one man all sin can be forgiven. It doesn’t get much fairer than that.
(Though we must also remember that what happened to Jesus Christ on that fateful Passover was not fair; He was perfect, yet He went to the cross and took the punishment that was ours – the greatest unfairness ever buying the greatest grace ever – an odd and amazing balance.)
Fairness is a balancing act; we must weigh evidence, measure effort, make ourselves aware of mitigating circumstances, and erase all of our pre-conceived notions. Look at Lady Justice holding her scales high, insisting on perfect equilibrium. Of course, for God, perfect justice is possible because, in His omniscience, He has all the facts – He knows what happened in Benghazi; He knows how the Koch brothers and Warren Buffet acquired their wealth. He is as aware of motivations as He is of actions. We don’t have that luxury, so our fairness is never perfect.
And lately it’s been quite clear to me that we suffer from a national confusion about what fairness entails even in its simplest form. Amidst all the holiday excitement there lurks in my soul a terminal annoyance with the infantile drum beat about the successful and their “fair share.” What does it mean to be fair?
Fairness is not equality. Fairness has nothing to do with amounts. Only 5-year-olds think that. Picture a fat, trembling lower lip and crocodile tears, “Johnny got 5 and I only got 3. That’s not fair.” It’s not equal. It may be fair. Maybe Johnny worked longer or harder or is older. Fairness is connected to balance – we want to balance the work with the wage agreed upon, the crime with the appropriate punishment, the reward with the results. Equality is just a mathematical term and is, in its literal sense, only about numbers and things that can be counted – money, percentages, lollipops. When we conflate the two ideas we rob justice of its soul, reducing it to some merely material substance that can be stacked up and tallied. We use the term fairness sloppily when we make it about equality: we use the term equality dishonestly when we make it about race or gender or wealth.
Posted by Deana Chadwell at 7:51 PM
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
“Why do you think the Bible is a good determiner of moral standards?” challenged one of my Facebook friends recently. That’s a surprising question for those of us who’ve been alive long enough to remember a culture that took the book at its word. We didn’t always follow the directions, but we saw that as our own error, not the Bible’s. One of my most loved family members once explained his disdain for the Bible by pointing out that it was just written by a “bunch of old men 2,000 years ago” and therefore couldn’t possibly bear any relevance for today. Really?
Under these two objections lies the assumption that the nature of man is markedly improved, that we’ve got everything under control and no longer need to follow the instructions. I do function like that under some circumstances – I’ve been sewing for over half a century and rarely read the pattern instructions. I take a glance at a recipe and then I’m off on my own. I get the attitude. But there’s a big difference – the evidence shows that I need neither; I’m an excellent seamstress and a good cook, if I do say so myself.
But let’s look at the larger assumption – where can we find evidence that mankind has improved morally? Intellectually? Socially? We’re still having wars, torturing our enemies – now we even kill the innocent unborn. People still break their marriage vows, abuse their children, and steal from each other. We continue to gossip, lie, and practice terminal arrogance. Nothing indicates that we’ve become good at being good. Perhaps it’s time to ask for directions.
But why assume that this ancient book produced by a foreign culture and written in foreign, paleolithic languages would be of any help? Simple logic. Now, granted, if you have really bought into the idea that the universe is just a product of three kinds of nothing getting together and exploding, then the rational approach may not work for you. But if we start with the concept of God, the only useful explanation for our awareness of good and evil, then we can find answers to both concerns. Follow my thinking:
If God is good, fair, unchanging, rational, and truthful (read this as a 1st class condition in the Greek – “and He is.”) and He made us and put us here, then He must
1) have a reason, a purpose for doing so,
2) have found a way to let us know what that is.
Posted by Deana Chadwell at 12:15 PM
Sunday, November 18, 2012
I often have conversations in which my faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ, and in the Bible is either called into question, or treated like one of those quaint little idiosyncrasies old ladies are prone to. I’d like to speak to that.
Today we consider religious belief a kind of random selection made on the whim of personal preference, like choosing a flavor of ice cream. The attitude – the meme, if you must have trendy terminology – is that nothing non-material is real. Those in the fashionable “know” see the atheist as the brave realist able to look life in the eye and get on with his purposeless, short existence. But they see believers as poor weak
souls L people who need to
lean on a fairytale, and who will be barely, and condescendingly tolerated.
It occurs to few that a religious belief can be based on reality. I’m not sure most Christians even see their faith as based on fact, on history, on ontological truth, yet it is. In fact the Judeo-Christian worldview is the only world religion that can make that claim. Over and over again archeological information surfaces that bears out the accuracy of the biblical account (but that’s another post).
Because he is at the center of it all, I begin with the historical actuality of a man named Jesus.
In fact, Jesus Christ, whose lineage can be traced back through David (king of Israel from 1010 to 970 B.C.) to, and beyond, Abraham ( 2nd millennium B.C.) is more thoroughly documented as having been a real person than his contemporary Julius Caesar. Not only do we have thousands of biblical manuscripts that attest to his existence, but we also have dozens of contemporaneous, extra-biblical sources that mention him – Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny the Younger, Thallas, Celsus, just to name a few. Many of these historians were antagonistic toward Christus and spoke ill of him, but no one thought he was a myth, and as they argued against the Christian claims, they inadvertently justified the biblical accounts.
Posted by Deana Chadwell at 3:25 PM
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
We knew he could win, would stop at nothing to win; a “level playing field” is for dreamers, it’s for politicians to use to buy votes. We are resigned, we biblical Christians, we who read history, we who understand economics. We are resigned.
You see, we know what is coming and I, for one, just want to get it over with – like having a root canal. We had one last thread of hope in this election, but deep in our bones we knew that the problem was much deeper than anything an election could solve. We knew that as long as our fellow Americans lack the integrity to see immorality as a problem, as long as they trust government rather than God, as long as life is just about how much you can scam from somebody else, then we are doomed. We know that it’s not possible to run a country on wishing, on lying. This is not pretend.
And we knew that we were fighting a dishonest, biased media and that we were working with a citizenry that has been systematically taught not to think, not to be curious, not to face facts, not to love this country. After more than a dozen years of institutionalized misinformation – both from our churches and our schools -- and a constant drivel of Hollywood/television propaganda, the resulting mass delusion is hard to overcome. We knew that. Hope, however, is always struggling up through the mire, and we occasionally indulged in imagining our friends and relatives waking some day, pre-election, slapping palm to furrowed brow, and saying, “Boy, was I an idiot! I understand now.” We hoped, but the lure of free phones evidently out-weighed the lure of truth.
And there will be hell to pay. I don’t mind my liberal friends gloating a bit right now. That will stop soon enough. Let them enjoy themselves while they still can for their fairytale is drawing to an ugly, witchy close, and we all need to brace ourselves.
What we will see now will be a mixture of economic inevitability and biblical prophecy.
Soon war will erupt in the Middle East. Israel will win. Of that I am sure, not just because the prophecies say so, but Israel has made it this far – a God-proving miracle in itself. She has made it back to her land, against all odds, just as the prophecies foretold, and she still has a huge part to play in the rest of human history. She’s not going anywhere yet.
What will happen to us in that war, I don’t know. According to Genesis 12:3 God has promised to “bless them that bless you and curse them that curse you.” So far that has proven true. If this war breaks out as soon as I think it will, and Obama is still in power, we will be in the “cursing” category, a place we’ve never been before and it won’t be pretty. Name a nation that has hurt Israel and you will be naming a nation that has met with mega disaster – from the plagues of Egypt, to the dead army of Sennacherib, to the defeat of the Spanish Armada it’s a terrifying picture. I don’t want to be in one of those shots, but it is coming.
Posted by Deana Chadwell at 2:04 PM
Sunday, November 4, 2012
As vile as this election cycle has been, it has also been a blessing. Through hundreds of Facebook and e-mail conversations in the last year I’ve learned so much about what makes us all tick, and I want to thank all those friends (and those who aren’t anymore J) for the education they’ve provided me. It has been an adventure.
November, always the toughest month, adds to its repertoire of general gloom and threatening winter by entertaining elections. This November will either make us or break us in ways no election has ever done before, however, I don’t see us dealing with the issues at hand very intelligently. For one thing pundits and politicians alike are analyzing the American voter in misleading and unrealistic terms. They have us all divided up into ridiculous groups of voters as if no individuals existed, as if America is no longer a country of real, unique people, as if our gender and our skin color somehow control the way we see this nation.
One true thing about human nature is that we work to make order out of chaos (evidence that we were created in God’s image) by categorizing ideas, things, people. “There are 2 kinds people: those who divide people into 2 groups and those who don’t.” OK, often I’m one of the ones who do, but I contend that very few folks avoid it altogether. And I contend that dividing people into groups has nothing to do with race, gender, ethnicity, or income. It has to do with temperament and worldview. The process tends to produce more of a venn diagram than it does an outline – too many overlaps, but this is how I’d arrange the voting blocks for this election:
v Me-voters – the hand-out people, the free birth-control gals, the gay marriage voters, the abortion folk, the pay-for-my-college people. Some are just too young to know better, to understand that a government that will do those things for you will not stay solvent for long, and will use people’s dependence as an excuse to take their liberty. Me-voters are willing to part with freedom and to take freedom from others in order to fulfill whatever personal whims they harbor. Their ability to pursue a master’s degree in Tunisian carpet weaving and a life of promiscuous sex without having to earn the money to pay for either is more important than the safety of the nation, or the prosperity of anyone else.
Posted by Deana Chadwell at 4:16 PM
Monday, October 29, 2012
“We all know that something is eternal. And it ain’t houses and it ain’t names, and it ain’t earth, and it ain’t even the stars . . . everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal, and that something has to do with human beings. All the greatest people ever lived have been telling us that for five thousand years and yet you’d be surprised how people are always losing hold of it. There’s something way down deep that’s eternal about every human being.”
Stage Manager, Our Town
I am eternal – so are you. I don’t mean eternal in God’s way – no beginning and no end. We’re just creatures and we had a beginning.
I began in the hallway of the Catholic hospital in Norfolk, Nebraska. That’s where my soul met up with my body. My father was still in the Philippines – it was 1945 – and the nuns thought my mother was bringing a bastard into the world and treated her accordingly. She was still angry when she filled out the birth certificate – mad at being left in the breezeway to give birth, and mad because she had just received a letter from my dad demanding that she name me Deanna – no explanation. She had planned on Karin after my Danish great grandmother, so she took the anger out on my name, misspelling it on purpose. I’ve been correcting people about it for over 60 years --- 67 years, to be exact and the older I get the surer I am that the real me will always exist. I have evidence:
Some days my right hip feels like a gravel-filled mortar and pestle. My face leaks – eyes water, nose runs. I’m well aware that my occasional efforts with a box of Nice n’ Easy only covers the grey, not the wrinkles. But, I don’t feel old. Wise, sometimes cranky, but not old. I loved teaching in a high school because it never occurred to me that I wasn’t 17. It seemed perfectly natural that I’d never left 11th grade. Some part of me hadn’t.
Posted by Deana Chadwell at 6:35 PM
Sunday, October 21, 2012
-->“We live in a nation where we can believe anything we want to believe as long as we don’t actually think it’s true.”
Our beloved and much attacked 1st Amendment reads as follows:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. That statement is the wisest, most remarkable statement ever made outside of Scripture, and it’s not very far outside -- its wisdom is extracted from the Word of God. Freedom of religious belief goes to the very heart of why human beings exist in the first place, without freedom to choose for or against God our purpose starts to crumble, and without purpose our society fractures and finally collapses. Our Constitutional freedoms aren’t just for making life pleasant – they are to ensure that we can live purposeful, eternally productive lives.
This freedom allows us to make the most important decision any human ever gets to make unhindered by our government – only we ourselves are accountable, nothing else is in the way. This freedom allows us to make the most of every breath we take.
Unfortunately, America has misunderstood the 1st Amendment. We’ve come to think that because the government doesn’t have any religious beliefs to force upon us, no one – not even God -- cares what we believe. We’ve even taken that supposition so far as to assume that therefore our God-view doesn’t matter and that all the available choices are 1) merely fairytales and we can cook up whatever stew of philosophies we want to –none of it is true anyway, so who cares? Or 2) all religions are equally true at the same time, which gets us back to point 1.
Posted by Deana Chadwell at 10:07 PM
Monday, October 15, 2012
I have a confession to make: I’ve been cranky on Facebook. Yes, it’s true. I am occasionally vociferous and curt with some of my really smart and adorable FB friends. Perhaps I’m growing tired of the 47%-of-Big-Bird nonsense. It is true that years ago a friend and colleague told me that I “didn’t suffer fools gladly.” She has since un-friended me; I guess she didn’t like it when she became one of the fools I didn’t suffer, but I suspect she was right.
In this most contentious election year one of the attitudes that I find the most off-putting and the most likely to stir up my ire is the allegation that Christians, since we’re supposed to be charitable, should vote liberal. Evidently we’re not fulfilling our obligations as believers if we have concerns about the national debt or the property rights of those who make more money than we do. The implication is that you have to be a quasi-Marxist to be a good Christian.
Really? Well, some defining is in order here. What’s a Christian? That’s a tough one, not because it’s hard to define, but because many non-Christian ideas use that term in spite of their non-biblical origins. Anyone can hop on the Christian bandwagon and everyone pretty much has -- every major religion claims Christ as either a teacher, a prophet, or a leader. Only biblical Christianity sees Jesus as the literal Son of God and Savior of mankind.
Christianity, in its purely biblical sense, is merely (if I can borrow C.S. Lewis’ phrase) the certitude that:
Posted by Deana Chadwell at 10:26 AM
Sunday, October 7, 2012
I’ve been hard on my liberal friends lately -- not personally, mind you, but more and more the term “liberal thinking” has become an oxymoron. This week I’d like to look at the positive side of things and explore all the many ways that the conservative agenda is -- pardon the pun -- right.
Let’s start with the obvious assumption that most conservatives make: God Is. We differ – sometimes mightily – in our understanding of God, but the vast majority of us are sure He is our creator, and we’re sure because He is manifest in the careful, artistic patterning and intricate engineering of nature. We see evidence of His perfections as they came together on the cross to provide humanity with both purpose and possibility. We recognize the divine worth of every human being and, at the same time, the flawed essence of human nature and its need for divine guidance. A handful of conservative atheists can be found – S.E. Cupp at Glenn Beck’s station, novelist Ayn Rand, for instance, but most of us stand on the solid, defensible ground of Christianity, as did the majority of our founding fathers.
Standing on that foundation gives us a natural advantage – we see human nature for what it is – flawed and unlikely to improve on its own. History backs us up on that, but the evolutionary approach leaves one with the unsupportable assertion that man keeps getting better and better. However, the 20th century, instead of demonstrating how far man and society had evolved, turned out to be the bloodiest in human history. The conservative was not surprised – check out G.K. Chesterton’s writings from the beginning of last century and it all sounds like he’s talking about today.
Posted by Deana Chadwell at 8:35 PM