Sunday, October 31, 2010

All Hallows' Eve

I am of a different mind ten times in the course of a day. But I resist the devil, and often it is with a fart that I chase him away. When he tempts me with silly sins I say, “Devil, yesterday I broke wind too. Have you written it down on your list?”
The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn.
- Martin Luther

Tomorrow is All Saints Day, when we remember all who have died  in the Lord.  Today, or technically tonight, is All Hallows' Eve, or Halloween.  All Hallows' Eve, historically, is a day when the Christian community has said to Satan, "You have no power over us.  Our Lord has defeated you and the powers of sin and death, therefore, we trust in his love and power and will be victorious."  Thus comes the tradition of dressing up in costumes - to mock Satan.

It is also Reformation Day and for many Protestants, the day when we commemorate the reformation of the church. Is it any wonder that Martin Luther, who struggled mightily with Satan and accepting Christ's power of forgiveness and atonement, would choose All Hallows' Eve to nail his Ninety-five Thesis to the door of the church in Wittenberg?  This document that mainly challenged the use of indulgences required by the Church to pay for one's self or loved ones out of the punishment of purgatory, would be seen by many.  (Unknown to Luther, it was soon after printed in the vernacular so that it could be read by even more.)  A very daring act for a monk and teacher in the Church.  An act that flouted and dared the powers of evil which had become entrenched in the hierarchy of the Church at that time.

This day is largely a secular holiday in the States. While I don't minimize the destruction that can be done with the wrong attitude, I really hope that soon, we who are Christians can reclaim the attitude and perspective in which it began nearly two thousand years ago.  This is a day to remember whose world this really is, and that for the spirits and forces that would destroy, their power is not only limited, but has an expiration date.

C.S. Lewis says in his preface to The Screwtape Letters,
There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.
So, today, to the Devil who would tempt and discourage and destroy, I say, "Boo!", and remember all those who've gone before me, who in word and deed, often at great sacrifice, did the same.

Almighty God,
your saints are one with you
in the mystical body of Christ:
give us grace to follow them
in all virtue and holiness
until we come to those inexpressible joys
which you have prepared for those
who truly love you;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who is alive with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Happy St. Crispin's Day

Named for the twin martyrs, Crispinus and Crispianus, c 286 A.D.. Though no longer noted on the Roman liturgical calendar, it remains in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer.

The St. Crispin's Day speech from Shakespeare's, Henry V, given by King Henry to rally the troops for the Battle of Agincourt, is portrayed here by Kenneth Brannagh.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Evolution, Devolution, Revolution Part 1

It is amazing to me what significance the book of Genesis has on our understanding of God, life and how we view the world.  With all the debates among Christians about whether evolution can be accepted, too often other questions and meanings get lost in the debate.  A couple of weeks ago, I read two articles; one by Rachel Held Evans and the other by Lisa Dye.  Both are about Genesis and both are about truth, but from very different angles.

Evolution is an enormous object of interest to many American Christians.  One facet totally refutes evolution, seeing it as contrary to scripture, while another holds a more nuanced view and works at reconciling both biblical and scientific truth.  I hold to the second view.  From the time I was in second grade and asked my dad how there could be real dinosaur bones buried in the ground, (I assume up until that point I believed dinosaurs to be a myth, but my memory is unclear on this point.), and he answered that they must have really been here, I have worked at figuring out how this could be.

When I was in college, the church my parents began attending had a wonderful video series in their library, titled, Does God Exist ?, which held multiple lessons by John Clayton, a scientist and high school science teacher.  Through these, he taught some of the fallacies evolutionists have taught along the way, but he didn't dismiss everything that they taught.  The point of the series was of course a defense of the Christian faith, but there were so many answers, or potential answers to my questions, that I poured over the series multiple times.

After I left college and become more well read, I discovered that a majority of the Christian authors I loved and respected had no problem with this reconciliation.  I was also encountering more Christians personally that were of this same mind.  Granted, the majority that I knew were still anti evolution, but as  my horizons were broadening and I learned more, there was a real burden that was lightening.  This is the kind of stuff that can keep me up at night, so as Evans explains in her article, I didn't have to choose between the two.  They didn't cancel each other out, and as I studied more, I found just how complimentary they could be.

There are still areas that are unclear, which I will write about soon, but I wanted to get this series started with a bit of my background and understanding, then move onto some of the theological challenges in understanding scripture and the universe God created.