And God said: Language and Nature

The study of the natural world has been in decline, like many areas of intellectual activity. A contemporary response is the advocacy of “scientific literacy,” the ability to apply scientific methods. Among the strategies is the inculcation of terminology and basic facts. This would be more fruitful if the targeted students are personal cultivators of their language – reading, writing, and speech. Most of the time the efforts of ‘scientific literacy’ is like pouring new wine into old wine skins, as in the students possess not the mental/emotional substance (maybe even spiritual) to engraft the information. Language is a primary way we interact with everything under the sun. It is how we understand.

Simply memorizing facts and figures does not shape one’s internal use of language. In the long run, it is what someone values, practices each day. If a student does not actively try to expand their vocabulary to better understand the world around them, any terms someone embarks to teach them will not take root. If the general focus is trending not structural, words do not grow into fields of thinking. They are more as consumer goods to be used then disposed of when obsolete. The minimization or replacement of grammar and phonics during elementary education attests to a culture lacking a foundational stone of language.

No building blocks, no development. Even during the 1100s of the Middle Ages, scholars & clergy belittle language instruction, since words could supposedly mean anything in the grand scheme of things. A church leader reminded his peers of its necessity:

“Reason would remain utterly barren, or at least would fail to yield a plenteous harvest, if the faculty of speech did not bring to light its feeble conceptions, and communicate the perceptions of the prudent exercise of the human mind. . . . Deprived of their gift of speech, men would degenerate to the condition of brute animals, and cities would seem like corrals for livestock, rather than communities composed of human beings united by a common bond for the purpose of living in society, serving one another, and cooperating as friends.”

from: Book 1 – chapter 1 of The Metalogicon by John of Salisbury (1159)

It is quite something to have encountered numerous educators who softly scoff at prioritizing language and arithmetic over ‘science literacy.’ Apparently, it is foolish to focus on the building blocks of thought and calculation before delving into rigorous scientific activity. This is like failing to practice diet and conditioning prior competitive sports. Sure, one could still learn something, except they grow a sapling instead of a forest of understanding over time. Who is to say they even are able to maintain the young tree after the official activity is done? Going back to John of Salisbury, the students’ neglect of language will not promote any social/intellectual endeavor. They go about their days more as animals, concerned with what they currently desire.

Indeed, speech in the mainstream is more for knowing information to meet the whims of politics and economics. The political games of left/right, Democrat/Republican has a major part in forming language. Heck, the main purpose of obtaining a college education is to be of higher value in the job market! Our culture’s speech essentially hinges on a simulated “Game of Thrones” and Monopoly. This has been an ongoing battle for generations, the struggle to speak according to Godly rather than mortal things.

“The heralds of the truth, it is written, “have proclaimed the works of God, and have understood His doing.” Scientific knowledge, by the nature of things, must precede the practice and cultivation of virtue, which does not “run without knowing where it is going,” and does not merely “beat the air” in its battle against vice. Rather “it sees its goal, and the target at which it aims.” It does not haphazardly chase ravens with a piece of pottery and a bit of mud. But scientific knowledge is the product of reading, learning, and meditation. It is accordingly evident that grammar, which is the basis and root of scientific knowledge, implants, as it were, the seed of virtue in nature’s furrow after grace has readied the ground.”

from: Book 1 – chapter 23

The general culture neither teaches speech/grammar nor the pursuit of virtue. We therefore are of no mind or heart for genuine understanding. Our sinful ambitions are seen to be more real than the natural world itself. Learning ones language requires discipline, a self motivation that is truly beyond what we feel is a need/want. Only when we deny our selves to seek after the things of God do we address the truth, good, and beauty in nature. In doing so, vice is not our master, with lustful ignorance not dictating how we learn to speak, as social beings that need to interact with our natural world. Christ’s natural law in our hearts and minds lifts us beyond the cravings of beasts, as well as the warped passions of demons. After all, He is the Word before the beginning.

His divine power has bestowed on us everything that makes for life and devotion, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and power. Through these, he has bestowed on us the precious and very great promises, so that through them you may come to share in the divine nature, after escaping from the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, virtue with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with devotion, devotion with mutual affection, mutual affection with love. If these are yours and increase in abundance, they will keep you from being idle or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Anyone who lacks them is blind and shortsighted, forgetful of the cleansing of his past sins.

2 Peter 1:3-9

 

Giving Unto God & Caesar

Last week was the deadline for filing income taxes. Less than a week ago was the observation of Christ’s death and resurrection. We are expected to give unto Caesar, our human governments. By contrast, we are to surrender unto God, giving our all. Caesar is merely another man that is meant to provide a service to the citizenry. Whereas Christ is the foundation of our very lives. What happens when we allow the mortal Caesars to have control in the areas of the eternal Lord? Disappointment then tragedy comes.

People cause suffering, no more or less than the governing powers. For some reason many call these two, one in the same, to eventually fix the evils of the world. What is even more comical is now in our modern world we are surprised when Caesar is unable to prevent or immediately restore the aftermath of natural disasters. Why do we put so much hope in mortals simply because they have some kind of authority, either through position and/or wealth? If your hope to relieve the human condition lies in human beings, there was not much hope in the first place.

This is also tied into the evils rooted in the love of money. Politicians and rich men alike, what is the outward source of their meager power? Taxes and payments. Unless we give, they cannot act. They promise the goods/services of security and comfort. Sure, they are only human like the rest of us, though with all that money we give, only they can solve what ails us. In case you are wondering, yes, I mean halls of government and even business can share the power of Caesar, in times of peace or war.

But, though the patriarchal system is the earliest form of government, and all governments have been developed or modified from it, the right of government to govern cannot be deduced from the right of the father to govern his children, for the parental right itself is not ultimate or complete. . . . Property, ownership, dominion rests on creation. The maker has the right to the thing made. He, so far as he is sole creator, is sole proprietor, and may do what he will with it. God is sovereign lord and proprietor of the universe because He is its sole creator. He hath the absolute dominion, because He is absolute maker. . . . The despot is a man attempting to be God upon earth, and to exercise a usurped power. Despotism is based on, the parental right, and the parental right is assumed to be absolute.”

from: chapter 3 of The American Republic by Orestes Brownson (1865)

Those who truly hold governance are people who create, as does our Lord. Because what we make with our hands/minds is from what God has made us, we are granted responsibility over a power, not endowed with it. Thus we can set it on the rule of Christ, being creation and children of His heavenly Father, or we may out of foolish desire for ultimate self rule, stake this power in ourselves, in the personal and/or formal halls of Caesar. Indeed, those who play God fail to create good things for the generations, demanding they be given wealth and honor due to their social-economic status.

Just to be clear, this is a warning against the depravity of the love of money, as well as power, whether it be through socialism or capitalism. These two joined are an unholy alliance, though this is for a future post. No matter how a man puts it, Caesar will receive tribute for the services that can be rendered – order and enforcement in this life. By one’s own life, via a politician, or a businessman, the parental figure of a group of people, will become a cruel master when pursuing the status of the Creator in life. Indeed, render unto Caesar a portion of your creativity. But be warned, surrender unto God your very life itself, for He is the holy master of all Caesars, whom will answer to Him in the end.

“The right of the father over his child is an imperfect right, for he is the generator, not the creator of his child. Generation is in the order of second causes, and is simply the development or explication of the race. The early Roman law, founded on the confusion of generation with creation, gave the father absolute authority over the child—the right of life and death, as over his servants or slaves; but this was restricted under the Empire, and in all Christian nations the authority of the father is treated, like all power, as a trust. . . . How, from the right of the father to govern his own child, born from his loins, conclude his right to govern one not his child? Or how, from my right to govern my child, conclude the right of society to found the state, institute government, and exercise political authority over its members?”

from: chapter 3 of the American Republic

 

Let every person be subordinate to the higher authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been established by God. Therefore, whoever resists authority opposes what God has appointed, and those who oppose it will bring judgment upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear to good conduct, but to evil. Do you wish to have no fear of authority? Then do what is good and you will receive approval from it, for it is a servant of God for your good. But if you do evil, be afraid, for it does not bear the sword without purpose; it is the servant of God to inflict wrath on the evildoer. Therefore, it is necessary to be subject not only because of the wrath but also because of conscience. This is why you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Pay to all their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, toll to whom toll is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.

Romans 13:1-7

Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the disobedient.So do not be associated with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth. 10 Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness; rather expose them, 12 for it is shameful even to mention the things done by them in secret; 13 but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14 for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore, it says:

“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will give you light.”

Ephesians 5:6-14

Can’t – No, We Won’t

When you agree to be a part of a certain establishment or receive a particular audience, one of the key conditions can be the prohibition of expressing the faith. In this case, signing on to have public/secular school students as guests means a curriculum and theme approved by a Godless state. This practice of keeping religious convictions private, as in out of the public sphere, is thus a choice of willing to do so.

When are we believers going to stop deceiving ourselves about this matter? To salve our own conscience, or perhaps it is a reflection of week spirituality, we declare with a mournful tone, “We cannot share Christ.” Oh no, my dear brethren. We know the conditions of our positions. We decided to do this. In my case, our Christian organization decides to do this. Yes, invite young minds to learn and be physically challenged with no reference to their Creator.

Now, the defense to this ‘strategy’, or whatever it may be called, is supposedly reliance on the Holy Spirit to speak to our visitors. By all means, the Spirit has surely done His work, though is this what God has called the faithful to do? A secondary defense is that this provides revenue to fund the facilitation of Christ-centered groups. Plus, it is an economic benefit to the community. I did not know the Body of Christ negotiated with the world to make His ministry happen. Besides, two consistent trends in feedback reinforce this is not a sound alternative to direct glory of the Lord, the King of kings.

First off, virtually all the spiritual testimonies that are propounded as proof are from groups that come to this place with the purpose of knowing God. Second, because we can be privately Christian but not publicly during secular programs, many if (I hope not) most, view our ministry as a part of the pluralistic social mold. So if anything, are we suggesting to students that faith in Christ is merely a preferred outlook rather than devotion to the Way, Truth, and Life?

“Impatient Christians today explain away the simple beliefs of the saints of other days and smile off their serious-minded approach to God and sacred things. They were victims of their own limited religious outlook, but great and sturdy souls withal who managed to achieve a satisfying spiritual experience and do a lot of good in the world in spite of their handicaps. So we’ll imitate their fruit without accepting their theology or inconveniencing ourselves too greatly by adopting their all-or-nothing attitude toward religion. So we say (or more likely think without saying), and every voice of wisdom, every datum of religious experience, every law of nature tells us how wrong we are.”

from: The Root of the Righteous by A.W. Tozer (1955)

There are those in this organization who were by all means called to be here for longer than others. With that said, we have to reflect honestly with our Lord. As far as His will goes, we can no longer in good conscience claim, “We can’t share Christ.” Instead, we must make prayerful decisions with the knowledge that each of us chose to be in a place where we will not. On top of this, we are being paid by institutions whom do not revere God, to fulfill their expectations on what constitutes education.

I will conclude speaking for myself, though I am convinced at least a few of my co-workers possess the same heart pang. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” Thus, these youth are receiving an education without foundation, along with quite possibly a poor witness to what it means to be a disciple of Christ. Indeed, may the Holy Spirit work some good of this in spite of our failures as believers. Still, I can not tolerate having my tongue restrained in what is formally the Lord’s domain, considering the organization would have to enforce these policies. How satirical is that, children of God preventing other siblings from openly sharing about their heavenly Father to little children of the world. My time here draws to a close in due season. Where will I go next? I am not sure. Among my prayers are an open door to any place in any position, where the only person who can be guilty of my silence about the things of Christ our Lord is me. I am reluctant, blessed by place and peers. Nonetheless, not my will but His be done.

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”

John 15:1-8 (Jesus Christ)

Of Father and Mother

The two that become one flesh create another one, whom shares not just DNA from each parent but an immediate likeness as image bearers of God. This biological & spiritual creation of a person is beyond the wonder of the animal kingdom. It is something of the finest beauty, meant for universal good, founded on the immortal truth of Christ. Indeed, how the Lord set mankind to reproduce itself reflects an intimately loving destiny, a divine will for us to work for higher things, which included collective fellowship/worship of His glory in the earthly dominions bestowed.

The days as a toddler was uncertainty navigated through an inquisitive faith. My memories in Sunday school go back to the second year of life outside my mother’s womb. While she was at work for the postal service in the morning, my father was present until the late morning. As per usual, I wandered into their bedroom after waking up, remembering the digital clock displaying a time around 8:00 am. One day I had slept on my mother’s side of the bed, looking at the clock a few feet away on the nightstand, then inspecting my father to find him still sound asleep. Gazing out the window, the neighborhood was at peace. The sun was out with animals doing their early calls, the occasional resident or city employee going about their day. Directly in the sky the sun was partially hidden by bulbous clouds. Yes, we were not alone. I reached out my hand for the God of Creation. He was mindful of me, placing an already extended hand further, so a mere mortal could be touched by the Sustainer of all things.

I remember at about the age of seven my parents had me watch a video presenting the development of a baby within the womb. The down to earth narration, subtle music expressing mysterious wonder, and colored imagery showed me a process that set me reflecting the shear depth of human life. If anything, this permanently impacted my mind, acting as a cornerstone for my view of people. The chief cornerstone had already been established; I would not remove Him any time in the future, less I forfeit the inheritance of what it meant to be human, under the care of a fatherly and majestic God.

My history textbooks were not the best written. Each year they pretty much repeated the same sequence without diving deeper into any topic. Well, that is what the home encyclopedia set and public library were for. What the Abeka text did offer was a grand layout to understand the heritage of man – good, bad, and ugly. The peoples of the earth are made in the image of God. Our destiny revolves around the will of our Maker. Knowing our ancestors affirms what Scripture confirms about us in relation with God. Thus mankind is not just a part of a mere piece of time. We are involved in God’s eternal holiness, judgement, and redemption. Our parents’ legacies reach beyond death, much more than just figuratively speaking.

“O LORD, our Lord,  How a excellent is Your name in all the earth, Who have set Your glory above the heavens! Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, because of Your enemies, that You may silence the enemy and the avenger. When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained. What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, All sheep and oxen – Even the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea that pass through the paths of the seas. O LORD, our Lord,  How excellent is Your name in all the earth!”

Psalm 8

It is no hidden reality that fathers and mothers can fail throughout the rearing of their children. I admit experiencing countless moments of exposure to spiritual attack, emotional neglect, and mental anguish from things said and done (or not). Yet according to our dear Lord, we as a family are corrupted by sin, in need of His restoration. Did not my parents and theirs have to suffer this pain of the human condition? Through it all, anything my parents or I killed, Christ resurrected. Such is through prayer and choosing forgiveness, advancing into His life out of the darkness that strives to bind us. If the family of image bearers is reconciled to stand united on the garden rather than divided on the grave, what a joyous harvest they will bring forth to their table, with excess for their neighbors and relatives. Woe to us who choose pride and pleasure, the streets filled with all forms of poverty.

These are the two things a parent ought give a child, even if it means forsaking so many advantages to them in the world. Firstly, introduction to the God whom made them through word and action – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Secondly, that they are aware of what they are – sinful mortal, divine creation, and human heritage. These things so the two greatest commandments can be fulfilled: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. And love your neighbor as yourself.” Thus they fear and honor the Risen Christ in the face of the evils from the world, dark spirits, and their own fallen desires. The Truth sets us free.