Archive for October, 2018

Saying What God Says

October 31, 2018

A respected person on Facebook recently posted a link to this video.  It might be helpful to view it or have it available as we go through this.  The video was published in June, but remains more or less applicable to the current tittering over the wave of migrants making their way to the US border from various points in Central America.  Though I assumed I wouldn’t agree with what the video has to say, I watched it all the same in case there was something to be learned.  Unfortunately, the only thing to be learned is how to make an inane video and drag  the Church into a challenging situation while condemning anyone who disagrees with your vacuous statements.

Let me say that I am sympathetic to the plight of those in need, regardless of where they live.  I can easily empathize with those who are willing to risk everything for the chance at a better life rather than remain at risk of certain death or abject poverty.  What I can’t empathize with are those here in our country who think the solution to such situations is to ignore common sense and reasonable laws aimed not only at helping these people, but helping and protecting our own citizens as well.  Nor can I easily empathize with Christians who insist that either you support their position on this issue or you’re essentially denying Christ.

Let’s break this down.

The video starts by attempting  to answer a question – Why do people hate migrants and refugees?  There’s a clear hint that this isn’t going to be a nuanced, intelligent discussion of either politics or the faith.  The implication right out of the chute is that if you disagree with this man’s particular (and unsubstantiated) religious and Biblical opinions (which may or may not be right, but I can’t tell because he doesn’t bother to substantiate them) you are a hater of migrants and refugees.

I am not.  I don’t know these people personally.  I’m also well aware of our nation’s history as a country of migrants and refugees.  I take pride in that as an American and a Christian.  I believe there are valuable precedents that should be maintained in welcoming your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, to quote Emma Lazarus.  We have always done this to one degree or another and we always should.  But in general, we have had laws and rules and regulations for how this should be done.  Not because we hate these people, but because it is part of the responsibility of our nation to our own citizens, and part of the reason we can continue to be a lamp to so  many people throughout the world.

Side question: How many countries do you know that have no rules, laws, processes, or procedures regarding who can come into their country, how they can enter, and the rules that they need to abide by while they’re there?  If you know of one, and that country is serving as the model for ignoring or decrying any sort of immigration law here in the US, I’d really, genuinely love to hear about it because I can’t think of one.

If  I want to go to another country, not only must I follow proper procedures to leave mine, I have to respect the laws and rules of the country I want to enter.  Our family entered and exited seven countries last year.  I fully expected I would be required to follow rules governing my entry and exit and I abided by them.  My desire to visit their country did not entitle me to demand they suspend their rules for doing so.

Ok.  Back to the video.

His first point is to criticize conservative Christians who point out that migrants and refugees are breaking the law.  No.  Migrants and refugees are not breaking the law by wanting to enter our country or enter it by legal means.  Illegal migrants and refugees, however, are breaking the law.  Period.  Otherwise, we would not have a distinction between legal and illegal.

Rev. Martin then makes the emphatic statement that seeking asylum is a human right.  Now, we need to distinguish here.  This man is wearing a collar, has already referenced conservative Christians (which he apparently does not include himself among nor provide definitions for beyond disagreeing about the issue of legal migration and refugee processing), and therefore it  is not unreasonable to assume that he’s asserting that seeking asylum is a human right as defined by God through the Bible.  I’d like to know the verses that he would reference to support his assertion.

Because if it’s  not a Biblically defined human right, then it’s a man-made human right.  And as Rev. Martin is going to move on to next, not all human-defined laws are right.  If seeking asylum is a man-made human right, then there is a place to question how that right is substantiated.  Now, I have no problem with a man-made human right to seek asylum.  But such a human right merely entitles someone to attempt to seek asylum.  It does not insist that they must be automatically received on those grounds.  Also, does asylum apply to those fleeing persecution or  danger, or those leaving their homes and seeking to move elsewhere on any number of other grounds?  We have major terms being hurled around here without definition and I don’t think  they’re being used properly.

Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, drafted and adopted by the United Nations in 1948, asserts that Everyone has the right to seek and enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.  I don’t have a problem with that definition.  But let’s be clear that barring some Biblical reference (which I can’t think of off hand and Rev. Martin never provides), this human right is a man-made one.  The Bible certainly refers to people from other places and how God’s people the Old Testament Israel should treat them (Exodus 22:21, Leviticus 23:22, Leviticus 24:22, Numbers 15:15, Deuteronomy 10:19, etc.).  There are broader requirements to love my neighbor (Luke 10:25-37).  But again, definitions are not being pinned down anywhere in this video.  Note also that these verses don’t address how a sojourner enters into their land or community.  It only addresses how that sojourner should be treated once they are there.  I assume this means the sojourner has already been allowed to enter and sojourn with God’s people in God’s land, and in such a case certain rules apply.  I don’t assume this means anyone for any reason could impose upon God’s people and land.

Disclosure: I don’t believe the majority of Old Testament rules apply to the US today, or to any other country or time other than Israel in the Old Testament, which was a theocratic example and experiment, unique in all of human history.  But since people like to try and draw on the Old Testament as binding for Christians, I’m happy to critique such arguments.

He then moves on to claim that those who disagree with his position will try to use the Bible to support their view but that they’re  doing so incorrectly.  First off, he accuses them of being inconsistent – wanting to refer to the Bible to support their stances against abortion and same sex marriage, but apparently while ignoring the Bibles’ clear statements about welcoming migrants and refugees.

The Biblical argument against abortion, briefly stated, is that murder is forbidden (Genesis 4:10-11 , Genesis 9:5-6, Exodus 20:13, etc.), and that the unborn child is every bit as human as an adult (Psalm 22:10, Psalm 139:13-16, Jeremiah 1:5, Job 31:15, etc.).  The Bibles’ stance on abortion seems clear if the unborn child is just that – a human being.  Science comes in pretty handy here to demonstrate that this is clearly the case.

In regards to same-sex marriage and/or homosexual behavior, the Biblical argument rests on some very clear verses:   Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:26-28, Jude 1:5-8, 1 Timothy 1:8-11, etc.

If Rev. Martin – or someone else – will show me a Biblical verse that does not deal with how we treat people among us, but rather directs us in how to determine who should live among us, that would be helpful in making his case.  Lacking this, I can only come to the conclusion that Christians who argue against abortion and against homosexuality and gay-marriage and also argue against illegal immigration are not being inconsistent.

Next Rev. Martin asserts that Christians are misusing Scripture to support their positions against illegal immigration and for enforcement of  the laws already on the books regarding how to handle people seeking entry to our country.  He uses a rather embarrassing clip of Sarah Huckabee Sanders as she attempts to vaguely use the Bible as a defense for following the law of the land.  What Sanders might have been thinking of were verses in Scripture such as Romans 13, or Hebrews 13, both of which seek to make it clear that our freedom in Christ does not entail freedom from the civil rule of law, assuming said law does not force us to violate our faith in Jesus the Christ.

Then Rev. Martin makes the very strong assertion that God’s Law demands that we welcome migrants and refugees.  Depending on what he means here, I agree with him.  Although since he doesn’t explain what this means, or provide any Scriptural references to support his claim, I can’t be sure we agree.

I agree that we should love and care for people we encounter in our day-to-day lives regardless of whether we think they are here legally or illegally.   I even agree that our government should seek to provide protection for those who are fleeing persecution or even poverty.  But what does this mean?  Does this mean that we let in everyone who shows up at the border?  Do we ignore the entire concept of borders?  What if we let people in but require them to live in humane, temporary shelters while we process their requests and make sure they are who they say they are and that their reasons for seeking entry are legitimate and consistent?  That would seem to be a form of welcoming people, wouldn’t it?  An attempt to show love and care to the outsider without presuming that such love and care must require us to either make them citizens immediately or release them into the general  population without any idea who they are or what their real purposes might be here?

I agree with his next point, that migrants and refugees have become demonized and dehumanized.  That is unfortunate.  But I would also assert that humanitarian assumptions have been extended by other Christians to entire groups of people without any actual thought being given to it.  If I wish to enter another country in order to facilitate illegal activity, I probably won’t say this at the border.  I’ll come up with another reason to enter.  That country then has to determine whether or not my rationale is reasonable to accept.  We do this shorthand through passports and visas.  Passports and visas are national  endorsements of sorts, saying that we are likely to be good visitors to other countries because we are good citizens at home.

I don’t hear any talk about passports or visas in most discussions about migrants and refugees.  I don’t hear much talk about vetting their backgrounds.  Is this unreasonable?  Is this unloving?  Is this the same as demonizing and dehumanizing them?  I guess it depends on who you ask.  If you ask me, it isn’t.  It’s  reasonable.  And it’s necessary in a sinful world where people lie and misrepresent things.  Our investigations will be imperfect – again because we are sinful and broken and very, very finite.  This means some bad people will still come in under false pretenses.  And it also means that some good people who were entirely honest and genuinely in need will be refused entry.  That is lamentable, and we should strive to minimize it as much as possible.  But it will happen unless we simply cease to acknowledge that we have borders with other countries and allow anyone who wants to to come and go as they please.

Then we have the obligatory references to Hitler, the Rwandan massacres, and Japanese-American policies in World War II.  I don’t think President Trump’s use of the word vermin was either Christian or appropriate.  That being said, simple  reviews of arrest records will easily reveal that there are genuinely bad people who enter our country both legally and illegally.  Unfortunate, but true.  And I ask my government, to the best of its ability, to keep out the bad people and let in the good people.

I very much like his suggestion of getting to know the people and stories behind their situation.  I think that those who are obsessively afraid of any outsiders should do this.  And so should people who would blindly attribute only the purest of motivations to everyone and anyone.  But this isn’t just helpful for the issue of immigration.  Perhaps it would stimulate interest among our people to take an interest in the plight of the people and where they come from.  What are the situations of the countries they are fleeing?  Why is there such endemic poverty?  Why is violence rampant?  And do we as a nation have a humanitarian obligation to be of help to these people just as much as we seek to be of help and a defender of the helpless on the other side of the globe, where oftentimes the regions involved are rich in natural resources we are interested in?

Yes, we should remember that these are human beings and seek to treat them as such.  To treat them, in fact like the people we currently live next to and among, people that we assume are following the laws of our states and nation and communities.  I might very well seek to flee my homeland and bring my family to safety.  And I would pray that if that were the case, the country I fled to and its representatives would be sympathetic.  That they would listen to my story and provide an opportunity for a new life.  But I would fully expect that this would be on terms they determined, not me.  I could be free to reject those terms if I didn’t like them, and to seek better terms elsewhere.  But I couldn’t possibly presume that I would be made exempt from their laws.  I presume that in large part, it is those very laws that created a more stable environment, which is what I would be trying to find for myself and my family.

As for his final question, it’s one worth considering.  But it’s a question separate from national policy.  The parable of the Good Samaritan seems instructive here.  But it’s a story aimed at me, personally.  Not at public policy or national security.  If I have a say in those things, then by all means I should take seriously that privilege.  But for me personally, I pray that I will show the love of Christ to everyone that crosses my path every day, whether that’s my wife, my children, or a stranger asking for help.  I will pray to respond in love, rather than with a question about their legal status in my country.

But that question really wasn’t what prompted the video.  I truly hope someone will point out the verses to me that clearly indicate how I as a Christian am supposed to support and articulate public policy as opposed to verses that do clearly dictate how I personally am to respond to these people when they actually cross my path.  That would be a discussion I’d love to have.  I haven’t memorized the entire Bible, and perhaps there are folks, like Rev. Martin, who have passages  in mind I’ve forgotten about or am less familiar with.

If that’s the  case it would be a lot more helpful to cite those passages rather than accusing people  of hating a class of people and then demanding our public policy be crafted on Biblical verses and principles which aren’t bothered to be cited.



Reading Ramblings – November 4, 2018

October 28, 2018

Reading Ramblings

Date: All Saints Day (Observed) – November 4, 2018

Texts: Revelation 7:9-17; Psalm 149; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12

Context: Christians have always honored the memory of those who died for the faith. Stephen is the first person said to have died for expressing faith and hope in Jesus the Christ as the incarnate Son of God by whose death our sins have been forgiven, and whose resurrection promises us the grace of God to eternal life. It didn’t take long for others to join him, victims of either religious or political motivations (or both), and eventually it became too cumbersome to remember every single martyr individually. The earliest recorded evidence we have of this practice dates to 379 AD in the invitation of St. Basil of Caesarea to a group of bishops. Over the years the day has been extended to remember not just those who were killed for following Jesus, but to remember all the faithful who have died in the faith, whether their faith was the active cause of their death or not. My practice is to recite the names of those congregational members who have died since the previous All Saints Day, and then to allow members to say aloud the names of special friends and family they wish to remember, regardless of when they died. It’s a beautiful memory of those who have conveyed the faith to us or helped us to grow in our faith, as well as an affirmation that our separation, while painful, is only temporary.

Revelation 7:9-17 – The beginning of this chapters is optional reading for the day, but I usually exclude it because the symbolism of the numbers and the tribes can become tedious, and the general idea is captured and expanded upon in the second half of the chapter anyways. I refer to this as the great family reunion snapshot. St. John is privileged to glimpse the gathering of all the faithful around the throne of God. As such, I like to stress that St. John not only sees himself somewhere in that throng (if he could take the time to search through them all!), but he’s also seeing you and I – the faithful here and now and the future faithful as well. Everyone is there. Nobody is forgotten or left out. Nobody is considered too low-born to be welcomed, and nobody is too important to skip it. We’re all there. The world may have attempted to silence us in our faith, may have attempted to cut us off or away from Christ through threats, persecutions, imprisonments or even execution. But all such attempts fail. Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:31-39). This is our hope. Not simply a long life or physical comfort and health, but that we will be raised up on the last day to join our voices with all the faithful in worship of our Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier.

Psalm 149 – God is to be praised. This isn’t an obligation, but rather the natural response to divine goodness. As we recognize people and things here and now that are good, whether it’s a moving piece of music, an inspiring painting, a selfless act of kindness or mercy, we praise and exalt these things and people. How much more fitting to exalt and praise the truly perfect and wholly good God who created all things? God is praised as the creator and king of his people (vs.2-3), but more so because God is a good king and creator shown ultimately in his redemption of his people (v.3). It is because there is an objective God and therefore objective good and evil that we can give thanks to God for his goodness and at the same time struggle actively against the powers of evil in this world. Our prayer first and foremost is that those who engage in evil would repent and see the error of their ways, joining us in praise of God. But for those who refuse, justice must be done. Evil must be punished, and this is ultimately and always a good thing.

1 John 3:1-3 – We are God’s children now. Not someday, not eventually. Not once I die. Not once I clean my act up and commit myself fully (whatever that means) to God. Now. Here. Today. As I cling to his promises in the midst of more failure and loss and struggle. Now. It’s real and true, every bit as real as my sin and failure and frankly, more real, as my sin and failure will one day be pulled from me, and what will remain is my identity as a child of God. Pure and holy and perfect. That is what will appear. It hasn’t appeared yet – we can’t perceive it, let alone those around us! But it will appear and be made clear to everyone on the day of our Lord’s return. On that day, as we are made whole again body and spirit, we will be like Christ. Not divine, but perfect and whole as we were intended to be and as He always has been. Towards this end, towards this expectation, we strive diligently to make each day now look as close as possible to that day. For our words and thoughts and actions to be closer and closer to the perfection they will one day be. We don’t do this in fear but in joyful expectation. We don’t do this out of obligation but because of the opportunity. And we don’t do this arbitrarily, as though God sat down one day to think up things to prohibit or require of us that would make life hard or us unhappy. What God has prohibited or required is bound up in who we were originally created to be, and who we will one day be by God’s grace in Jesus the Christ. It is a consistency that doesn’t match anything else in our world or lives. That’s the magnitude of the Father’s love. That here and now through faith in Jesus the Christ we are already what we were intended to be at the dawn of creation, and what we will be fully at the dawn of the new creation.

Matthew 5:1-12 – Perhaps the people we remember in our lives – current or deceased – who influenced our life of faith the most had some of these qualities. Perhaps the more of these qualities, the more memorable and impactful. I’d like to think that once upon a time these qualities were valued, but I suspect we more likely would appreciate them more in others than work to cultivate them in ourselves. I don’t hear much about espousing a quality of meekness or mercy or peacemaking these days. I hear a lot of exhortations to be right, be angry, be proud and strong and above all a winner and world changer. Yet the irony is that if we’re blessed enough to have met people with some of these beatific qualities Jesus talks about, they did change our lives and were winners, whether the world looked at them this way or not.

Then again, Jesus himself claims that the world will revile us for valuing these qualities and most particularly for valuing them as followers of Jesus the Christ. Why are we surprised and confused that our culture more and more embraces the antithesis of these qualities? Did we think that somehow we were immune to Satan, that he had given up on our country and decided to leave us in peace? Did we somehow think we would be exempted from the very truth that the Son of God himself prophesied and assured us was truth? If you suffer for the faith, you suffer knowing you are not the first to do so nor the last. And you suffer in the hope and assurance that your suffering is not the final word on your life, the defining quality of who you are. Rather, the final word in our lives is the command to live. We do not forget those who have gone ahead of us in the faith because they have not ceased to exist, and we will be together again. What a glorious thing to look forward to! A future so bright, not even the darkness of this present age can fully tarnish or eclipse the glow! May we be found faithful on that day when the saints go marching in!

A Few Statistics

October 26, 2018

Not including this post, WordPress informs me that I have made 2,791 blog entries since August 24, 2006.  In addition, I have 25 entries in various stages of preparation that I haven’t published, either because I lost interest, lost steam, or reconsidered whether I really wanted to publish it, yet didn’t want  to delete it.  I have one unpublished entry from 2017 that is counted as deleted and never published, but I could restore it and start working on it again if I wanted to.

Readership levels have fluctuated over the years.  So far in October, I’ve had visits from people in 32 different countries, though the overwhelming majority of my visitors are from the United States.  I average between 450-500 visits to my site per month.  I have 160 WordPress users that follow my blog.  Many of these I suspect don’t actually read what I write.  I often am told that people start following my blog.  When I go to check out their blog to see what they’re writing about, it’s frequently a site designed to accumulate users and followers by offering positive thinking quotes (not quite sure why they are following me!), advice to writers, etc.  A lot of blogging is now focused on gathering followers and subscribers to reach levels where you can sell advertising, and I assume they’re hoping that I’ll reciprocally follow their site.

I don’t.

Thanks to all of you who are regular or irregular readers over the years.  I hope I’m helpful in generating thought and reflection.  You may not agree with me, and I’m always open to being challenged (though it rarely happens here).  Frankly I always hoped this place would develop into a forum for discussion but that remains a hope to be fulfilled.  Some of you I know and interact with in real life on a regular basis and we discuss in person what I’ve written here.  I love that!  But feel free to post your reactions here.  My goal is civilized discourse, whether we agree or not.

Hard to believe it’s been 12 years.  It will be interesting to see how long God lets me continue!

Interpreting the News

October 25, 2018

Perhaps you’ve heard about the group of migrants headed towards the United States from Central America?  No?  Can you tell me how you are able to remain undisturbed by these sorts of tidbits?  I’m willing to invest in whatever technology you’re using!

So the local paper carried a Reuters article about the progress of the migrant caravan so far, and I’ve spent the last 20 minutes trying to interpret it.  It’s easy to just gloss over the specifics, but I decided to actually try and make sense of what the article claimed to tell me.

It tells me that first of all, the caravan numbers  in the thousandsMost of them are from Honduras.  This is the second paragraph of the article.  But in the 4th paragraph, I’m told that the caravan started with hundreds of people in the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula.  Google maps showed me that location in northwestern Honduras, close to the border with Guatemala.  Now, after passing through all of Guatemala, the caravan numbers thousands of people and yet most of them are Honduran?  I’m not sure how that makes sense, but I suppose it could actually be true.

Mexican officials, I’m told, are trying to navigate between our country’s demands that they stop the migrants, and their commitment to migrants’ rights.  First off, I think our leadership needs to cool their jets.  It’s not our job to tell Mexico (or Guatemala, or Honduras) how to enforce their borders.  Clearly, as this article demonstrates, that control is illusory at best.  If Mexico wants to let thousands of unknown people wander through their country, so be it.  They claim to be carefully processing everyone and I hope that they are – that’s the responsible thing to do.  President Trump or anyone else shouldn’t be telling them what or how to do things.

Of course, the understanding is that the only reason this is being paid attention to is that it fuels the fires for conflicts here at home over immigration.  I was  very impressed that this article characterized the two sides of our domestic debate more fairly than I typically see or hear.  One side supports legal immigration and the enforcement of federal immigration law.  The other side has some people who support abolishing ICE and [establishing] open borders.  I think that’s a reasonable  description of the sides.

Publicity of this caravan only is helpful to the latter side.  By highlighting the humanitarian crisis of these people, pressure will be put to bear on anyone who denies them entry into their country – ours or otherwise.  Those who support immigration control can use this as an example of why we need to protect our borders, but frankly, that’s an obvious assertion anyways.  I don’t know of many countries in the world – all right, any – who don’t control their borders.  I don’t know of any countries who don’t have policies about how to handle people who want to come into their country.

Except maybe Mexico and Guatemala, who seem to have some policies but are fine with disregarding them.  I’m not sure I’d agree to welcome with open arms a mob that tears down fences and demands entry on the basis of wanting a better life.  The want is valid.  The means, not so much.

Our country has policies as well, but there are people who apparently don’t like them and think we should ignore them.  I maintain that if we don’t like our immigration policies, we need to rewrite the laws rather than simply decide if we want to enforce them or not.  Doing so is actually a benefit to potential immigrants – it allows them to know what to expect if and when they reach our borders.  It’s far more humanitarian to actually establish and follow laws and procedures and policies, rather than leave it up to the whims of an official or bureaucrat as to whether they are enforced or not.

All of which misses the main point.  If San Pedro Sula – and by extension all of Honduras – is riddled with crime, why aren’t we pressuring or helping the Hondurans to establish some sort of rule of law?  Why is there absolutely no talk of why people are fleeing Honduras, only what we should do with them if or when they reach our borders?  Isn’t  the main humanitarian crisis in Honduras then, not making it’s way through Mexico?  And if these people come from such a corrupt, crime-infested country, and if they’re willing to disregard international rules of law regarding how to enter a country, then why in the world wouldn’t we carefully screen and scrutinize them before allowing them into our country?

I’m all for being merciful and responding to the plight of others, but unfortunately this article doesn’t do any of that, and neither are either of our political parties.  Similar to the refugee and immigrant crisis Europe has faced over the last few years prompted by the civil war in Syria, the major issue shouldn’t be how to put these people into new countries and cultures, but rather how to make sure that these people don’t have to leave home in the first place.  Humanitarian efforts, or democratic efforts shouldn’t be a political football here at home.

But I digress.

The second issue is (continued from my paragraph four) the issue of migrant rights.  What rights, precisely, does someone have who comes to the border of a country and asks to be let in?  I think most people would agree that the only practical rights are the rights that the country gives them.  If I show up on the border of Canada and want to come in and live there, I should expect that they should ask me some questions.  I should expect that this may take some time.  I may not get in right away.  I may have to stay on this side of their border until they know whether or not they want to let me in.  If I’m requesting humanitarian aid, then likely the wait is better than whatever I’m facing on this side of the border.  Hopefully they’ll offer me some food or something.  Perhaps they’ll have an internment area where I can stay if my safety or health is in danger.  Politically speaking, that would be very kind and generous of them.  I’m not sure it’s a  right of mine as an immigrant that they would be ethically bound to honor, or honor beyond a certain point.

I can say as a Christian that I might be tasked with providing a  migrant with assistance.  Jesus’ exhortation to love our neighbor makes pesky business of these issues of geo-political boundaries.  I can’t not love the person standing in front of me because of their immigration status.  If they’re in front of me and I can help, I probably should.

However that does NOT mean I must support open borders or no immigration enforcement.  There is nothing in the Bible that I can see as a clear mandate to ignore the rule of law and ignore national laws and borders.  I can see lots of places in Scripture that call me to respect and honor them as much as I can while maintaining my faith and worship of God.  And it doesn’t mean that if someone is here illegally and suffering that I’m under no obligation to show love to them.  In fact, I’m pretty sure it works just the other way.  But that doesn’t mean that I have to support legislation that provides a legal support framework carte blanche for people who come to this country.  We live in a broken and sinful world and therefore need to be wise in how we do things.  That includes immigration.  Wise, but compassionate.  Firm, but loving.  Those can be hard things to manage.  Just another of those tensions we are called to live in, Biblically.

If a stranger shows up pounding at my door at 3 am and demanding help, what do I do?  First off, it’s not unreasonable to try and ensure the safety of myself and my family before I open the door.  I may choose to yell back and forth through the door with this person until I have a better idea of who they are and if they pose a threat to me.  Let’s say I open the door to talk and find out what’s going on.  What rights does this person have?  What can they demand of me?  Can they demand that I let them sleep on my couch just because it’s raining and they don’t have a place to stay?  Perhaps.  But that’s a contextual decision, not a policy.  We’ve actually opened our home to someone we only just met so they had a place to stay for the night.  It was an unusual situation in which we were pretty sure we were not going to be robbed or killed or otherwise harmed.  But it would be lunacy and irresponsibility to say that we had to make that offer to anyone who demanded it of us.

I may not let the person in my house to dry off or sleep on the couch.  Sorry, but I have responsibilities to my family to consider first.  That doesn’t mean I’m unloving.  Nor does it mean I can just slam the door on them and feel justified.  As a Christian I should still desire to be of help if I can.  Maybe it’s giving them an umbrella or a jacket.  Maybe it’s offering to pay for a hotel room.  Maybe it’s directing them to the local warming center.  Maybe it’s taking them there.  Situations vary.  Responses vary.  I’ll undoubtedly end up making a few mistakes here and there.  I desire to do good but I’m not perfect or omniscient.  Knowing that, I try to err on the side of caution without losing love for this person as a creation of God’s.

Is that not a reasonable analogy?  Explain to me how it isn’t, other than a matter of scale and degrees of separation in terms of me personally having to deal with the situation.

On the national level it gets trickier, but I think the same principles hold true.  We need to deal with people in love as much as we can, but that doesn’t mean that they get to dictate what that love is and how it looks and feels.  It’s complicated, but it’s not rocket science necessarily.  Think about how you would handle the situation in the middle of the night at your own home, and then extend those principles to the national level.  Quit screaming at each other and figure out something that works.  Act like adults instead of petulant children.  Lives are at stake here – we owe it to those truly in need to figure out how best to help them.

Then we can try to help people so that they can stay in their homes safely rather than trekking thousands of miles to a new place and being subjected to all of the dangers and inconveniences that entails.




Just Do It

October 25, 2018

The local paper ran an article the other day about a man engaged in aquaponics.  It’s a subject our family has been interested in but is proving to be more challenging in our particular neck of the woods because of the State of California’s rather stringent restrictions on the most common (and apparently ideal) species of fish to use (assuming you’re going to eat the fish as well) – tilapia.  The article was unremarkable overall but one line caught my eye, something to the effect that the guy being interviewed was interested in sustainable farming practices, but also wanted to change the world.

Which of course made me want to roll my eyes.  It’s as though the man and his work would be unremarkable if it weren’t for the fact that he hopes to make a global impact.  Because that’s what really matters, of course.  Changing the world.  Being that man or woman.  Otherwise, mehSo you’ve found something that interests you and is helpful to you and your family and maybe your local community?  Yawn.

Small potatoes certainly don’t sell papers.  We need something bigger, sexier, more glamorous.  Wanna change the world?  Oooohhhh!  We wanna talk with you!

The Old Testament reading this past Sunday was from Ecclesiastes, that wonderfully perplexing philosophical book of the Bible.  Authorship is traditionally (if perhaps not accurately) attributed to an aging King Solomon,  reflecting on the meaning of life after a rather illustrious one of his own.  Specifically, the assigned reading was Ecclesiastes 5:10-20, a minor treatise on the dangers and foolishness of preoccupying ourselves with amassing wealth.  The author summarizes his conclusions in verses 18-19, which essentially say that the wisest course of action is to enjoy the simple pleasures and work of life.  Do your work and enjoy it.  If you happen to receive wealth in the process, enjoy that responsibly as well as a gift from God (as opposed to a self-made right).

It’s a beautiful passage that pairs well with the theological doctrine of vocation espoused by Martin Luther.  Since this coming Sunday is Reformation Sunday and the observance of Luther’s landmark 95 Theses, it’s an appropriate connection to make.

We were created for work.  It’s not something bad and evil that came about after the Fall of humanity into sin.  It’s not a punishment – we’re designed for it.  Sometimes that work will change the course of human history, will alter the world.  So be it.  And it isn’t wrong, per se, even to have that as a goal in mind.  Understand, of course, that both statistically and historically the odds of you having a global impact are incredibly tiny.  Negligible, perhaps.  On par with winning the lottery.  In both cases, the statistics lead some snooty people to scoff at the whole concept as ludicrous.  Yet the fact remains that regularly – despite overwhelming odds – people win the lottery.  And people do in fact have global impact even if the odds are against them.

What I object to is our current cultural obsession with this idea.  It seems to be a mantra pushed at our kids from an early age and capitalized on by schools everywhere.  Don’t just get a degree, become a leader.  Don’t just get a job, change the world.  All the schmucks at those other schools are just going to get jobs.  You’re not like them.  You’re special.  You’re going places.  You’re going to accomplish Big Things.

That’s a lot of pressure.  It’s a kind of pressure linked with perfectionism, and studies (articles here, here and here, for starters) are increasingly citing this perfectionism as a major cause for anxiety and depression in younger folks.

We all like the idea that our kids are going to grow up to change the world.  But how many of us did?  And is our own disappointment part of the reason so many parents push their kids to excel and aim for such lofty heights?

I try to encourage my children to find what they enjoy and pursue that if they can as a career or vocation.  But the main issue isn’t whether they change the world or not.  I suspect most people who changed the world didn’t set out with that goal.  They stumbled into it or it came about after the fact.  Do what’s in front of you.  Fulfill your obligations.  Support yourself or your family.  Contribute meaningfully to your community.  These are the goals we should be setting for our children, the aspirations we encourage them to attain.  By and large they won’t be able to control whether or not they change the world.  But they do have a much more sizable control over whether they can pay their bills, live within their means, and love their neighbors through the work they do and the relationships involved in that work.

You’re designed to work.  Just do it.  If you do it well and responsibly and honestly and cheerfully, you’re going to change a portion of the world anyways.





Wet Bar Wednesday – La Paloma

October 24, 2018

Crafting delicious cocktails can be a lot of fun, but it can also lead to a certain snobbery.  What, after all, is a basic rum and Coke (never Pepsi!) compared to a beautifully balanced Sazerac (here is my version, and here’s another)?

Well for starters, it can be delicious.  Complicated is not always better, and sometimes a good, refreshing drink is great weather it’s basic or not.

But still, the snobbery can persist.  So it was that while I was in Las Vegas this summer playing pool, I walked to a well-reviewed Mexican restaurant for a late lunch and relaxing afternoon one day.  The bar was large and well-appointed with a variety of tequilas, and as I have enjoyed doing for  decades, I asked the bartender to set me up with a recommended tequila-based drink.

Her immediate response was La Paloma (the dove).  It’s just Squirt (grapefruit flavored soda) and tequila.  I was disappointed once I understood properly what was in the drink.  I was hoping for some complicated and impressive drink to enjoy and impress others with.  Instead I get a gross soda messing up my tequila.

But, it was tasty.  And tasty is more important than complicated.  I’ve mixed some very impressive looking drinks over the years, but if they don’t taste good, all that effort (and money!) is for naught.

La Paloma

  • 1 part tequila (I suggest a basic one rather than a nicer/pricier one)
  • 3 parts Squirt (I would like to try this with Fresca instead, as I think the flavor is better)

Pour into a glass over ice and stir.  If you want to make it look prettier, put a wedge of lime on the rim of the glass.  It’s light and refreshing either way, so enjoy!



Automated Vehicle Ethics

October 24, 2018

I’ve blogged before on the push for automated vehicles – self-driving cars.  While it seems an inevitable application of technology – and may in fact be safer in the long run, it’s still going to take some considerable work to figure out the nuances of it.  There’s the technology aspect, as well as the necessity to direct vehicles in how to behave if they think an accident is unavoidable.  How do  you teach a car to make an ethical decision?

Traditionally, this is talked about in terms of the Trolley Problem, a philosophical scenario developed in 1967 by philosopher Philippa Foot.  It’s a fascinating little thought experiment.  But the first problem is nobody has a good solution for it.  And the second problem is that it’s going to be difficult to program a car how based on it.

The third problem is the assumption that, in a split second reaction time, there can be a pre-defined way of solving the problem.  After all, it’s hard enough to solve given a few moments (or years) to contemplate it.  Save more or fewer lives?  Save more important people or less important people?  Save younger people or older people?  And how do you define and quantify more, fewer, more important, less important, young and old?

I’m not sure how I would react in a split second decision.  Reflexes and some sort of sub-conscious thought no-doubt kick in.  But would I regret my decision after the fact?  Would I castigate myself for what I viewed as an incorrect choice after the fact?  Would I be willing to sue myself to that extent?

I’m not sure I could answer these questions in advance (hence the compelling nature of the philosophical scenario), let alone in a moment of instinctual thought and action.  I pray I am never in such a situation, where such a decision needs to be made.  There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong decision, at least not in any sort of unquestionable and always-and-forever sort of sense.  I can say with a far greater certainty about who I wouldn’t intentionally set out to hurt, but in the midst of a split second decision between two equally undesirable choices?  That’s hard.

At the very least I feel bad for self-driving cars.  Just another reason I will likely never own one.


What Are We Really Mad About?

October 24, 2018

Last night I was  able to follow up with the bartender I wrote about a while back, the atheist who asked for prayers for her friend suffering from breast cancer.  She remembered me this time, and what I do for a living – something she likes to broadcast very loudly to whomever happens to be around us, while also laughingly shushing them if they happen to swear when I’m in the area.  I told her last night that if I was able to deal with her, then there wasn’t too much that I was likely to hear from anyone else in the place that would need to be shushed.

Her shot for the night was that she either doesn’t believe in God or is angry at God if there is one, because if there is one, then He let her mom die of cancer, and that’s a pretty lousy God.  She had at least one of her three sheets in the wind at this point, and so it wasn’t appropriate to try and actually have a conversation with her on the topic.  I’d like to think there will be a time when I can do so, but it’s going to take a miracle.

But should the Holy Spirit provide an opportunity for us to talk honestly and privately and without her being overly intoxicated, I might try to steer the conversation in this direction.

She’s obviously hurt and angry at the loss of her mother.  I can’t fault her for that.  It’s hard to have someone you love die.  I don’t think it matters much if it’s cancer or something else.  Death stinks.

If she denies that there’s a God or any other creative, deliberative, willful force behind our existence, then she can pretty much give up the anger.  There’s no point in it and there’s no basis for it.  Anger indicates some feeling that things have been done incorrectly or unfairly.  Her mom didn’t deserve to die from cancer, or didn’t deserve to die at the age she did, or any number of other variables.

But if we’re all just the results of blind chance and randomness, then ideas such as anger or unfairness or incorrectness lose all meaning beyond the meaning we may arbitrarily assign them.  And if we assign them that meaning they really have no meaning at all because our meanings and definitions are prone to shifting and swaying.

If you’re going to be angry, and if you’re going to make some sort of appeal to morality or ethicalness as a basis for being angry, then you need to have a rock-solid baseline on morality and ethics from which to hold such a higher power accountable.  Oh, and by the way, in the process you consign yourself to the same baseline and the same accountability.  That may come in handy later.

So  either you give up your anger and recognize that all of this has no meaning, no purpose beyond what we arbitrarily choose to assign it, or you acknowledge that deep down inside – whether you like Him/Her/It or not – there must be a higher power responsible for all of this who is somehow acting inappropriately.

Either the conversation is over at this point because the other person recognizes that they are not being consistent in their understanding of reality in denying a higher creative power and agrees to try and be more consistent (probably also with a few unrepeatable words about how rude and uncaring I am) or they acknowledge – at least for the sake of argument (and to hold on to their anger and indignation) that there might be a higher power that might have some explaining to do (or to whom, perhaps, we have some explaining to do).

If they’re talking to me, we’re going to talk about the Judeo-Christian God of the Bible.  If they don’t want to talk about that God they’re going to have to talk to someone else and their god.  But you have to determine which god you’re talking about in order to understand how to proceed, and sometimes the simple fact that they’re talking to a Christian theologian will take the conversation down that road.  If they’re willing to acknowledge a higher power but not the God of the Bible, I’ll send them to the local mosque/ward/temple/etc. to talk to somebody there, as there won’t be a point in us continuing our conversation.  But hopefully an important acknowledgement will have already been reached – that either they’re truly an atheist or they’re really not.

If she’ll agree that it’s the God of the Bible that she thinks likely exists and who she is angry at, then we continue the conversation.  It might be helpful at this point for her to reiterate her basic points – God is bad and a jerk because He allowed (or caused) her mother to die of cancer, which presumes that a God should be good, and if they are good (or claim to be good) then one sign of such goodness (all other things being equal, which they never are) is that we wouldn’t have to deal with death.

After she has another chance to express her feelings, we can proceed.

First we have to lay out the ground rules so we know we’re talking about the same God.  Which means we can only judge him based on what He’s told us about things, since as creations we would have no other means of either knowing of or assessing God’s behavior.

So do we have a basis in who God tells us He is and we are for feeling that death is a raw deal?  We sure do.  Does He acknowledge and explain this predicament and how it came to be that a good God would have a creation with death in it?  He sure does.  Where does the blame lay for that?  According to the Bible, with us.  We’re to blame.  Not just some primordial ancestor but me personally as well.  I inherit a mortality, but I also perpetuate and continue it so that my mortality is not simply an unfair imposition but actually what I deserve (there’s a moral component – I knew that would come in handy at some point!).

There is a baseline (which God, by definition, defines).  We’re the ones to blame that things are messed up.  But surely a good God would have known all of this in advance, right?   Everything in Scripture would lead me to think that this was and is the case.  God was/is not shocked by my sinfulness or by the first sinfulness of Adam and Eve.

But surely a good God wouldn’t just leave us in this predicament.  Surely a good God would have a solution.  Does God say that there is a solution?  Actually, yes.

So God has revealed what the problem is and has revealed that He has a solution to that problem – the problem that means that we die.

Does this have pertinence to my bartender friend’s mother, and to her as well?  Yes, actually.  It pertains directly and completely to them.  Our faith and hope are turned towards God rather than away from him.  We can recognize him as the source of hope and joy and life, rather than as being absentee or abusive.  God has not left us alone.  Quite the opposite.  He continues to seek us out to draw us into relationship with him.  But only on his terms.  Because He’s God, and we aren’t.

Ultimately, if we acknowledge that God is there, we don’t have a right to our anger.  He takes that away from us at best, or redirects it towards ourselves at worse.  But we aren’t left with nothing.  Rather, He amazingly gives us hope.  Joy.  Peace.  Forgiveness.  Grace.  Everything we weren’t – in our anger – willing to give him, yet everything we understand to make life worth living and that invariably characterizes to one degree or another the people we are most drawn to and impacted by.

It would be a long conversation.  Feelings are powerful things.  But feelings are also made to be guided and mastered and directed, rather than directing us.  When we simply allow our emotions to drive us, bad things tend to end up happening whether short term, long term, or both.

It’s not a perfect discussion, but a start.  What would you add?  What would you omit?


Pastoral Procrastination

October 23, 2018

It might be shocking to hear this, but pastors procrastinate.


Not very often.

Just a teeny bit.

I am, at this very moment, procrastinating.  I’m not proud of it, but it’s true.  I should be making a phone call but I’m reticent to.

This past year in particular has been a year of paranormal possibilities – asserted or feared demonic activity in various people.  I have an old high school friend who makes occasional noise about me coming out to do a house blessing/exorcism on a property they own in another state.  I don’t think that will ever really come to anything, but it’s out there.  I was asked to investigate and respond to possibilities of ghosts in the home of a member late this spring.

And I was referred to a random person calling with concerns about their son who they have reason to believe is dealing with demonic possession, in addition to drug and alcohol abuse.

This is the phone call I need to make but keep putting off.

The ghost issue was pretty straightforward.  I don’t think the Bible permits us to assume that ghosts are something real.  Yes, there’s 1 Samuel 28.  But I don’t think that this is enough to assert that ghosts are real, or put more theologically, that the spirits of the dead are at liberty to be summoned for our purposes, given permission to wander for their purposes, or are otherwise left unattended, forgotten, and left to fend for themselves.  We may think we see/experience ghosts, but the only thing Biblically that matches this sort of thing would either be angels or demons.  Not the spirits of the dead, but completely different spiritual entities from us.  And of the two, only one I believe has an interest in leading us to different conclusions about their identity.

And it isn’t angels, in case you’re wondering.

While I think ghosts are pretty easy to deal with Biblically, there is confusion.  Consider this little article I found online from a Catholic web site.  In part it’s helpful.  I do believe that how we feel around something we consider to be paranormal can be a clue as to whether it is angelic or demonic.  Yes, natural causes and other explanations for sensory miscommunication should be seriously considered.  Our bodies are weird, fallible things and sometimes they hiccup and convey something to us that just isn’t real.  Not just non-corporeal, but rather actually a non-event.

The article assumes (I assume) that drugs or alcohol or other mind-altering substances aren’t at work, but that’s another major issue to consider.   When I consulted someone I consider to be well-versed in these arenas regarding the possible haunting issue this spring, that was the first question he asked – are there medications or other substances involved, and is there any history or evidence of anything we could term mental illness.  Both of these arenas are often rich grounds for misinterpreting reality.

I have no idea about the article’s reference to ‘a “soul of a saint in heaven” as a possible explanation for the incident.  Where in Scripture do we hear anything about the souls of the saints coming back to us for some reason?!?  Same with the issue of a “soul from Purgatory”.  Again, where in the world does Scripture give us that sort of idea?  And why are the lives of saints a better indication that this may be a reality not covered in Scripture?!?

The possibilities of actual demonic activity are always real.  I believe demons exist.  I believe they wish us harm, and if they can inflict that harm either in the short-term or the long-term by leading us to believe they are the souls of our dearly departed, I have no doubt they will attempt that.

But in the case of the procrastinated phone call, there are so many issues to sort through, both to define what’s going on and then to deal with it.  A person with mental illness needs good professional help as well as theological support and prayer.  A person who is not willing to attempt recovery from drugs and alcohol is not in a condition where some sort of intercession is likely.  And of course, if there is demonic activity, then those other issues are going to remain unresolved in an effort to protect their work and presence.

So I procrastinate.  I’m sorry for that, truly.  I say this to the man who’s son is suffering.  I don’t know that I can help the son, given all of the above issues.  But I can and will pray and show love to his father as he tries to help and love his son.  It’s a hard situation, but one that deserves more  than procrastination.

Movie Review – Venom

October 22, 2018

My oldest son has been excited to see Venom, and since his successful completion of his most challenging series of midterm exams to date, I decided it would be a nice reward to take him to see it.  Although Venom is very successful, I think there were six people total in the theater on a Monday mid-afternoon.

Warning, there are probably some spoilers ahead..

On the way there we talked a little about it.  I’ve never been a big comic-book/superhero  fanatic.  Never had the money for them on the one hand, and just never had any good entry into that whole arena, which has moved from being the realm of nerds and escapists to being incredibly sexy and profitable.  I don’t know the whole Marvel/DC universes and couldn’t probably tell you which superheros belonged to which one.  That didn’t make a lot of difference in watching the movie, but I’m sure that there were little surprises and hints and nods for those who are familiar with these things (such as the mid-credits scene, which made no sense to me but my son was able to explain the significance of).

We talked about how the concept of an alien symbiote seemed like a good metaphor for sin.  It’s part of us but only to a certain extent.  It is killing us even as we are led to trust it and think that it isn’t as bad as it really is.  And while certain sound frequencies might be lethal to the alien symbiotes in the movie, sin is only removable from us in real life by God.

I left the movie with questions.  It wasn’t a great movie, although I thought Tom Hardy gave a good performance.  Definitely the opportunity for a bit more nuance than some of the other roles I’ve seen him in, such as Mad Max or The Dark Knight Rises.   Michelle Williams had very little to work with, character-wise.  Riz Ahmed gave a very good performance as a new villain archetype for the 21st century – the uber-rich, uber-suave, uber-dedicated-to-good-causes tech giant.  Earlier arch-villains were just bad people.  But now we know that some of the most dangerous people in the world are those who are committed to what they see as good and necessary goals and causes, and who are willing to work through the system to accomplish their ends.  Ahmed’s character Carlton Drake is willing to stop at nothing in order to accomplish a higher good – saving the human race from almost certain self-destruction.  But he’s willing to follow the rules – such as having his victims sign waivers before he does experiments on them.  A good reminder that just because you’re following the rules doesn’t mean you’re doing good things.

Being a comic-book movie, there are a lot of implausabilities and willing-suspension-of-disbelief sorts of things.  Hardy’s Eddie Brock can be snuck into a high-tech, highly secure compound that has no cameras monitoring things, so that the only way the villain can find out he was there was by cajoling his accomplice?  Come on!  But hey, it’s a comic  book, and it’s only two hours.  You gotta cut some corners to move things along.  Fair enough.

There are definitely some interesting theological aspects to the film, ranging from subtle to not so subtle.  There’s an in-your-face critique of the Judeo-Christian God, courtesy of a motivational speech by Drake to his first human testing victim that draws on the story of God and Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22.  I don’t agree with the interpretation and application presented but many people probably have similar responses to this very challenging story.  And he makes the very telling statement that, unlike God, he – the compassionate but ruthless tech god – won’t abandon humanity.  He will save us whereas God cannot be trusted to.

Which is a good reflection of how our culture treats technology and science at this point.  Clerical garb has been replaced by lab coats in terms of symbols of hope and salvation.  Science and technology will save us, our culture repeats.  Unless they destroy us first.  Many of the characters in this movie display a loyalty and trust of Drake that seem to be driven by the hope that he inspires, hope that his ruthlessness will result in the ultimate greater good of salvation.  You gotta break a few eggs to make an omelette, after all, right?

The relationship of Brock to his alien symbiote is confusing.  At first it’s a lethal combination, but by the end of the movie there’s a happy medium?  Brock is in control.  He calls the shots, whereas the symbiote did so initially.  Why the change?  Wishful thinking?  The intrepidness of humanity?  Who knows.  But it was a rather jarring change in tone for the sake of a happy ending.  And the basic idea of a ruthless investigative reporter simply taking the word of his symbiote because it’s convenient isn’t very realistic either.

Or is it?  Hmmm.

Finally, the movie concludes with an assertion about the two types of people in the world – good people and bad people.  We are assured that you can tell the difference between a good person and a bad person, it can be intuited, if  I’m remembering the precise word he chose.  Good people can’t be eaten/judged/destroyed, but bad people are fair game.

Yet the line between good and evil and our perceptions of these things can be incredibly thin and difficult.  Is that person evil, or do I simply dislike what they do?  We’re introduced to two side characters in the film.  One is a security guard in a high-rise office complex, and the other is an extortionist demanding his payment at gunpoint from a shopkeeper.  Despite the fact that the security guard prevents Eddie from doing something that is very important and necessary for him to do, Eddie insists that the symbiote (Venom) can’t simply eat the guy.  Eddie knows him – he knows the guy works three jobs to care for his family.

On the flip side, when a SWAT team shows up to deal with Venom on a rampage, it’s acceptable for Venom to crush them and kill them if necessary just because they’re annoying and threatening.  Likewise, the extortionist is obviously a bad person because they’re doing a bad thing to somebody Eddie cares about.  You can guess what happens to this guy.

Our culture struggles with the issue of good and evil and how to tell them apart.  Essentially this has made us more distrustful of people who do good things and more empathetic to people who do bad things.  Villains are more convincing now when they’re operating out of arguably altruistic motives.  They still have to be defeated, of course, and we’re supposed to cheer when they are, because they are definitely evil people, and not people just doing bad things.  The idea seems to be that if you’re doing bad things, you should be willing and able to stop doing them.  And if you don’t, then it’s evidence that you’re evil and fair game for destruction.  All of which promotes an idea that most people are basically good.  Good people who sometimes do bad things and therefore just need help to see the error of their ways.  But if that isn’t successful, or if they don’t acknowledge that what they’re doing is bad, then they deserve to be destroyed.

So the symbiote metaphor for sin definitely breaks down.  Sin is not something we can completely control.  It isn’t something that can be tamed to socially responsible ends.  Our attempts to do so inevitably wind up by redefining good and evil to make the bad things we do seem less evil – or to even declare them good.   Without any solid moral baseline, these films inevitably portray vacillating and contradictory notions of redemption and condemnation, good and evil.  They strive to confuse us on these issues before feeding us the predicted outcome of true good destroying true evil.

This isn’t one of the better superhero movies, in my opinion.  The characters are not overly sympathetic, whether human or alien.  There was humor but it was more forced than the banter that defines the Avengers franchise, but you’ll still probably enjoy the movie if you are a comic-book fan or just like to turn off the brain for a bit.

But don’t think for a second that your sin is something you control, that you manage, that you outwit.  Or that your sin can be justified because of good intentions.  And hopefully give thanks that a promise has been given in Jesus Christ that one day, the sin that rages in us will be removed, permanently.  Not by sound frequencies but through the death and resurrection of the Son of God on your behalf.  That’s something to truly look forward to, even if Eddie Brock thinks he can make peace with his inner demon.