Reckoning

Fellow Smallville fans will hopefully recognize the name of this post. Reckoning was the 100th episode of the series.  For those who don’t know, Smallville is the story about Clark Kent growing up in the town of Smallville. It is my favorite show and I think that’s true simply because I think I resonate with Clark Kent in so many ways. I personally know this urge to be the hero of the story, yet I also am introverted enough to know the fear of revealing oddities about one’s self for fear of being rejected. Reckoning was the episode I watched last night.

In this episode, Clark has been wrestling with his relationship with Lana Lang. He finally decides he can’t hold back from her. He takes her to the Fortress of Solitude and reveals his secret to her. After he does that, he then asks her to marry him. From that, we have the theme of the show breaking in (Something I called before ever seeing this episode) and the adventure begins.

Lana doesn’t say yes immediately leaving Clark in the ropes. He asks her not to though as he’s sprung so much on her that he wants her to think about it. He tells his parents, including his father who is running for state senator against Lex Luthor who is quite pleased that his boy has become a man.

Of course, Lana does say yes, she will marry Clark. Clark is absolutely thrilled and they rush to the Talon, the local coffeeshop, where the Kent campaign is preparing to have its victory party in the case of a victory.  The results do come in and Jonathan Kent has been elected the new Senator from Kansas.

Lex Luthor calls Lana then and she comes over as he’s depressed over the outcome and is frankly, drunk. He finds out that she’s engaged and gets angry demanding to know what she found out about Clark that makes her trust him. Lana physically defends herself and runs out and drives away calling Clark telling him where she’s at. Lex Luthor drives after her and pulls alongside her on the road yelling out the window asking Lana if they can talk. Lana looks away and Lex screams.

<> At that point, a bus runs into Lana’s car knocking it over several times. Clark shows up to learn the horrid truth.

<> Lana Lang is dead.

I can so feel for Clark at this moment as the girl of his dreams is dead. His father is there and pulls him away as Clark is paralyzed but hysterical with blood on his hands and hearing his father saying “There’s nothing you could have done.” I know I’d be thinking if I was Clark, “Yes. I could’ve done something. I could’ve arrived sooner.”

Just picture that. Having the girl of your dreams and finally no barriers to your being with her and then in a moment, she’s dead. It’s so odd because I’ve seen this episode a number of times and I always know what will happen and how it will turn out. Yet, I’m still in utter shock and just stunned that this event could take place and I feel such sympathy for Clark every time.

Clark goes to his Fortress and asks that time be changed. In an earlier episode, Clark had been brought back to life and told that someone he loved would have to die in his place. Clark seeks to change it so Lana won’t die. The episode kind of restarts then with Lana showing up in Clark’s barn for their “date.” It turns out to be their last fight. Clark can’t tell her the truth for she didn’t last a day with it.

Chloe, Clark’s dearest friend who knows his secret, offers to stay with Lana throughout the night to make sure fate doesn’t get a second chance.  The victory comes down for Jonathan Kent again, but there’s a power failure due to the change in events and Chloe loses Lana who drives to see Lex. This time, Lex is still drunk and kisses Lana and she runs out the door. The chase begins again and Lex pulls alongside her again.

This time, Clark shows up and stops the bus from running into Lana. At last, he has saved the day. After he watches Lex and Lana together then agree to forget it never happened, he runs off.  Lex and Lana are left as they see Jonathan Kent drive by who has gotten a phone call from Lex’s father, the nefarious Lionel Luthor, who contributed heavily to Jonathan’s campaign.

Jonathan meets Lionel and Lionel shows him something that relates to a great secret in the family. Jonathan gets thoroughly angry and throws Lionel around the barn telling him to get off of his property. By now though, Jonathan is having a hard time catching his breath and  walks out. Lionel Luthor reaches out and takes the crumpled piece of paper of what he’d showed Jonathan.

Clark and Martha Kent, his mother, pull up then and in their headlights see Jonathan walking out into the driveway. They get out to have Jonathan collapse. They pick him up and take him over to a place to sit down. Jonathan turns and looks at his son and then his head falls back.

<> Jonathan Kent is dead.
Friends. I do not consider myself an emotional person. I am often quite stoic in my emotions. However, every time I see this episode, I am never strong. Part of me tells myself I will be, but part of me really doesn’t want to be strong. I don’t openly weep at this episode, but I do have tears running down my face during it. There is nothing in the media that moves me like this does.

I honestly see an emptiness as it shows the Kent Farm in the snow. I see the newborn calf frisking about, but then I see the cemetry service. I see the whole team gathered in black. I see a young man there wanting the father he desparately loves to come back to him and at the end takes some of the dirt and just watches it fall from his hands. His Dad is dead.

Our media isn’t too kind to fathers, but Jonathan Kent is the best father I have ever seen on TV. Now I might not have seen a lot of TV shows so my opinion might not count for much, but Jonathan reminds me of how important a father is in the life of his son, and I admire how Clark wants to be like his Dad no matter how old he gets.  Clark is always going to his Dad for advice.

So I think I can relate. In many ways, Smallville is great because the story does drive me in. I feel like I have lost someone close to me also when Jonathan Kent dies. I remember the first time in fact I saw the episode I was devastated.  I was living with my folks then and my Mom came up to me afterwards and said “Are you going to be alright?” Yeah. I would be. It was just hard then. The story is that powerful.

Clark’s father has been honored in Smallville lore.  He isn’t forgotten either. Clark is always pointing back to his Dad and still today is wanting to be a man that his Dad would be proud of.

I suppose it’s a good thing this is around. Like I said, not much really gets me emotional, but even as I write this blog and remember the events of the show,  I can feel a sadness growing in me. However, it’s a sadness I don’t really want to lose. It reminds me of the things that are important. It reminds me of the value of family and the kind of father I’d like to be someday and how I want my future son (or daughter) to see me.

Here’s to you Jonathan Kent. You were a hero to more people than Clark Kent. If you ever read this, just know your fatherly example extended beyond a TV show.

Beauty, girls, and God

As a single male who is a Christian philosopher seeking to get married, I have a love of at least there things. There are more, but today, I choose to write on these three. I love beauty. I love ladies. I love God.  Some of us might be able to think of how two of the three can be connected. How can all three though?

<> Obviously, when we men talk about ladies, one thing we do say is that we love their beauty. Let me go on and dispel any idea some might have about me. I do believe a lady’s appearance is important and I am quite drawn to that. Why shouldn’t I be? Did not God give a lady a naturally beautiful form for a reason?

I have often asked a question to men. I give them a list of things in the universe such as a distant galaxy, the Grand Canyon, a gorgoeus sunset, a pristine waterfall, a majestic mountain, a priceless work of art, a wonderously carved statue. The last item I give will always be “A human female.” I then say “Name the most beautiful.” The lady wins hands-down every time.

What is it about us men with this specimen called the human female? If we catch a glimpse of a beauty and we want to be sure we saw, we will go to the ends of the Earth for what? We simply want to see her again. Our eyes automatically give us the clue that we have seen a slice of divinity, and I would dare say we have.

The lady is the last direct creation of God in the Genesis creation narrative. I believe she is the crown of creation in that she mirrors God’s beauty. She was seen without any covering. Many of us can wonder exactly how Adam reacted to hear a rustling in the bushes and see this beauty come out of them to meet him. Many more of us single guys have wondered exactly what the first lady created by God looked like.

We cannot separate her beauty from God’s. There would be no beauty in the effect if there was no beauty in the cause. The Psalmist said that he sought to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord in Psalm 27:4. Is it any coincidence that most guys seek to look upon the beauty of the female? Could our pursuit of the female, which is fully expressed in sexual intercourse, show how we are to pursue God?

After all, which man would be looked upon nobly if when asked why he was wanting to get married said “I just want to have constant sexual intercourse.” Many a married person would say that he’s deluded at that point.  The single guy would understand the desire for intercourse as would the married person and I think it’s commendable, yet we would find one sorely missed if they merely wanted an experience.

After all, if you merely want an experience and you are not concerned about the person, then you are using the person. A person is not meant to be used though. They are meant to be loved. Persons are not things and as soon as we start treating them as mere objects, we start living out of step with reality.

Yet what if we changed this instead? What if we said we want to experience the person? Then, I think, we are on to something. Which of us would look at the nature of God and say “I merely want to know what he’s like.” That’s a good goal to have, but is it a good one to have if you say “I don’t want to know him. I just want to know what he’s like.” God is not meant to be treated like a lab rat or an object of curiosity. Neither is a lady.

In this then, we must avoid two extremes and go for the golden mean. We cannot treat God as merely an object of knowledge. On the other hand, we cannot have just an idea of experiencing God. It’s important to know who it is that you are experiencing, just as it is important to know who you are in bed with. Just ask Jacob how important that fact is.

Thus, we are to pursue God for who he is and desire to experience him based on who he is. Is this not the way we do in the romance relationship? Do we not as men pursue the girl and the more we see who she is, the more we truly want to experience her? The two are working hand in hand.

And what is this experience? Total revelation. The two become so interconnected that they are one. The sexual unity between man and woman is meant to be a lesser light pointing to the greater light of the unity of God in relationship with man. I can imagine my married friends telling me, “If that unity of God in relationship with man is greater, then wow, it must be really awesome.”

And what is the result? New life. We are the bride of Christ. He comes to us and puts his life in us. The new birth is in this case though, ourselves. We are the ones that receive the new life. It is Christ in us. We are reborn and made to walk as he did. This only comes though when we open ourselves up to him. Christ is not a rapist. He does not force anyone to receive his life. You are free to dismiss the wooing of this gentleman, but if you forsake love in its very essence, then where are you to go?

Yes. The three are connected, and should they not be? Should not all that is here point to God in someway? Does not all of creation say “I’m not it. I’m not the goal. Look past me.” Indeed my fellow men, even our women say that. Treat them as beautiful treasures that they are, but realize that they are gifts, and as wondrous as opening the gift is on the day, it will be far better to meet the source of the gift.

<>

Answering Evil

There are a number of ways to answer the problem of evil. There is a rational defense of it and I’m capable of that. However, I think the reason the problem of evil hits us so hard is that it’s so real to us in our daily lives. Why do I write this today? Because today, I visited a friend in the hospital who’d been in a head-on collision. He’s going to be bed-ridden due to broken ankles until August and the other guy is dead. What do you say when they ask “Why did God allow this to happen?”

<> I don’t doubt this guy’s a Christian. He’s a great one. Yet we can all ask the question and understand why. I think it’s the proximity of it all that gets to us as well. Imagine a loved one dies that you’re close to and you go to God and you say “Why did X die?” “Well, several people die every day and you don’t say anything.” “Yeah, but why this one?”

<> You feel that pain to a degree of how close that person is to you. Every case of suffering pretty much, you’ve heard about before, but then you know someone who’s going through it and it suddenly takes on new meaning. Suddenly, you are wondering why this person of all people.

I think some things that are important is to remember the incarnation and resurrection. God in Christ lived among us and lived this wicked world for us. He did die that death for us and he did rise again. If that’s so, then naturalism is defeated and Christianity is true. If so, then the problem of evil does have an answer.

Secondly, we have to trust God. If God is omniscient and omnibenevolent and knows the beginning from the end, then we can be assured that he has a good reason for why he allows things to happen. It’s important to realize that we don’t have to know that reason and we probably won’t.

Thirdly, where else are we to go? To whom shall we go Lord? You have the words of eternal life? If you reject Christianity for evil, where else are you gonna go? Naturalism? What can that offer? That is a worldview that cannot even define evil let alone give an answer for it.

Finally, we need to be good friends to those in need and realize that God does not give us just a rational answer. He gives us himself. When the person comes suffering at first, they need a friend more than they need a philosopher. I’ve told several of my friends that if they’re in ministry and a young mother comes whose child was killed in a car accident and they want to know why, you do not become a philosopher or a theologian there. Instead, you be a minister, a counselor, a friend, etc. They need a shoulder to cry on. Later on, they might want an apologist. Now, they don’t need one.

And let’s not forget the worst evil of all. We usually think of evil as in death or injury or financial loss. What about the evil you bring upon yourself? What about the wickedness of your soul? Are you doing anything about that? You who complain about the Problem of Evil? Are you being the Problem of Evil? Are you seeking to justify yourself or are you willingly receiving justification from God?

<> More importantly, are we?

Be Real

I have a friend who is a real blessing to me who came to me tonight and we started discussing hard times going through and I got told something along the lines of “Do you still see me as this kind of person even though I’m suffering now?”

 Honestly, I’ve thought the same kind of thing before. It’s amazing that we’ve got this view of life that we’re supposed to be invincible in Christianity. Are we still having Job’s doctrine, one doctrine specifically refuted by God himself in the Bible, that if we’re having problems, we’re less than Christian?

 I think of what G.K. Chesterton said. The stoics of the time prided themselves on concealing their tears. Christ never concealed his. Christ was extremely forward with his emotions. He’s the one who went into the temple and drove out the merchants and who asked the Pharisees how they would escape Hell.

Would it not be great if we would learn from that? Does it not help you whenever you see your heroes in the faith admit their weaknesses and problems? I really am blessed when the men I want to be like and feel so distant from admit that in many ways, they are just like me.

 Friend. Christ never told you to be invincible. Christ never told you to be ashamed of yourself or your emotions. Christ told you to be real. He came to give you a whole life and not part of a life.

No. Don’t be overcome by emotion either of course. Self-control is a Christian virtue. Do not become devoid of emotion however. Share your struggles. Share your sins.

And guys, this is probably harder for us. We men are taught that real men don’t cry. We learn to conceal our emotions and shut them off. Look at Jesus. If you are a Christian, will you not say real men ought to be like Jesus? Look at your idea of masculinity and look at Jesus. Do they match? If they don’t, and mine sure doesn’t, then our views of masculinity are wrong.

And to my friend who knows who they are, you rock entirely. I believe one thing that’s shaped me be the man that I am today is having a friend like you in my life. Thank you.

Wonka Wonder

We have TVs where I work and it was slow tonight and myself and the lady I work with do not really care for “Cars” so we decided to put in a movie we both enjoy which would be Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This is just one movie I never tire of, particularly the Veruca Salt video.  There are times I have watched that video on YouTube and just hit the button to watch it again over and over.

<> This story is just so magical. Willy Wonka is just this amazing character who seems to be stuff that is said to be impossible  “But Willy Wonka did it!”  As you watch, you are amazed at what wonders he has in his factory, but at the same time, it is almost as if they were expected. Part of the children leaving the tour seems contrived, but at the same time, it seems like a natural progression to their actions.

<> Imagination is such a wonderful thing. It is like having a transcendent experience every time.  I wonder how many of us are like Neo and living in a dream world. Do we live in a world where adventure awaits just around the corner? Do we live in a world where the knights win the damsels and where warriors show up to slay the dragons?

This is one reason I am such a fantasy buff. I find it easy to imagine something greater beyond this world. How many of us look at our day to day lives and just watch and think “No. There has to be more to it than this.”? How many of us are reaching out and grasping for something greater than ourselves?

In this, the odd view out would be atheism. If this view is true, all that is is what is detectable by your senses. If that which you seek is not in this world, then it simply is not. There is truly no place for magic. There is also no place for wonder as why should one hold wonder at what chaos has wrought? (Odd that the skeptical worldview says that chaos can produce good in physics yet they don’t want that in morality.)

What kind of world are fantasy stories more at home in? In a theistic one. This is one reason we all love these stories so much. These stories are either our story or we want them to be our story. What little boy did not watch Superman growing up and dream of flying through the air and beating up bad guys? How many girls heard the stories of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty and thought “Someday my prince will come.”?

Yes. This is why these stories are still so popular and why so many of us become children again upon seeing these stories. We do believe there is something out there greater than us and we long for it. Our hearts thirst for it endlessly. We don’t know what it is, but we know that it is.

I believe this is the afterlife in Heaven we are seeking. This desire is described by C.S. Lewis in his autobiography “Surprised By Joy.” The world of the imagination points to that as imagination belongs to the kingdom of Heaven and not to the kingdom of this world.

Yes. Wonka casts a spell on me every time that makes me believe the good will be rewarded and that there are places where your wildest dreams come true. It is a spell I willingly submit to and have no desire to ever see dispelled.

Wild About Harry!

I know I’ll probably lose some readers at this one. These are the readers that I hope will stick around to see what I have to say. I am devoted to my love of Christ and my enjoyment of Christian Apologetics. I am also a great fan of the Harry Potter series.

<> I have a friend also in ministry. However, we are diametrically opposed on this one. It seems a shock to him that someone like myself would like Harry Potter since that “teaches the children witchcraft” and is a lure of Satan. It is things of this nature. From what I understand, it has been said that I MIGHT make it to Heaven.

<> Don’t get me wrong. I like my friend. I really do. I just don’t understand this one and frankly, neither does most anyone else who speaks to us. It seems that he will allow Lord of the Rings, Narnia, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars, Warcraft, and anything else. All of these can be explained away. If all magic is wrong though, then so is Lord of the Rings and Narnia. If however it isn’t, then you have no problem with the genre. Stop acting like that’s an issue.

<> Why do I like them though? I have a vivid imagination. The Potter stories touch with my story, which is why we like any story. Somehow, we can all connect. I can connect with Harry Potter  on the story level. Maybe someone else can connect with Hermoine or Ron or someone else. Maybe you connect with parts. How many of us would like to have an Albus Dumbledore in our lives?

I also recognize that this is fantasy. The truth is, so do other children. If someone starts thinking this is real, they had other psychological issues to begin with. People look at Dungeons and Dragons the same way not realizing how many other kids had other issues and they just choose to focus on one thing in their lives and blame it all on that.

<> I also believe the world has more wonder than we realize. This is a magical world. When I speak, I communicate my thoughts to another person. As I push buttons here, words are showing up on my screen and before too long, all of you will be able to read them. I find technology simply marvelous, but let’s not forget that there are greater things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in our philosophies.

<> We need a return to fantasy because we are seeking that which is fantastic. This world is not our home. We are made for a world where dreams come true. We believe in dark powers, but we also believe in light powers that will fight them and we believe that while the angels are in this war, they often seem to encourage soldiers on the side of the light to fight for the cause as well.

Yes. I’m wild about Harry. It doesn’t shake my Christian faith at all. In fact, I thank God for the gift of great imagination.

A Nation of Wimps

Exactly when did America become one? I saw another news story today about a statue of Moses with the Ten Commandments being removed because some people found it offensive. This boggles my mind how much we in America give in to fear. Could it be we fear violating everyone’s personal god, themselves, expressed through their own prophets, their feelings?

<> Not all offense is wrong of course. There are some things that just shouldn’t be done in public. I do believe in decency laws. There is another kind though where the word offensive isn’t enough. When you hear a story about rape or child abuse or the like, then you should not feel offended. You should feel outraged.

<> Outrage isn’t allowed though. You’ll hurt someone’s feelings. Geez. We need to grow up then instead of having a nation of children. It is a shame we can’t have rage due to the threat that we might actually hurt someone’s feelings. Forget how they treated their victims. Be sensitive and understanding. No. Here’s another idea. Give justice.

<> Yet this permeates our whole society. The employee gives in to the angry customer lest he hurt their feeilngs and they complain to the manager. The manager does the same lest the district manager does the same. The district manager does the same lest the, well, you get the picture.

<> I really think we need to recover the fine art of offending people, especially those of us who are Christians. Why do I say that? Because Christ called us to go out into the world. He did not call us to have the world walk all over us. When they say they don’t want to offend anyone, orthodox Christianity is always the exception. You can say what you want about the Evangelicals. Just don’t insult group X.

<> We don’t need to be needlessy offensive of course, but we need to be tough. The only way we’ll get some people to move is by stepping on their toes. In fact, the gospel should offend people. It should still offend us. Do you like being told that you’re a sinner after all? Do you like that your choices on how you live your life are called into question continually by the carpenter from Nazareth?

<> I speak especially to my fellow men. We need to be men. There was a day when a man was considered to be a warrior. Today, we are turning men into pushovers. Yes. Men and women are ontologically equal, but we are not entirely equal and thank goodness for it. You would rather go on your honeymoon with Danielle than with Daniel if you’re a guy.

<> What’s at stake? Everything. Our story is that we have allowed ourselves to be walked on in the name of political correctness. Truth knows nothing of this. Truth is willing to offend people if it will do them good in the long run. What is the purpose of protecting a feeling that is not only wrong but will lead away from truth?

<> Go out then! Be a warrior!

SAINTS WIN!

 I was online Saturday night and I saw a friend of mine typing excitedly in the theologyweb forum, “SAINTS WIN! SAINTS WIN! SAINTS WIN!” I care nothing about sports really, but I thought I’d have some fun with this obvious reference to football and said something like, “He must have just read Rev. 21 and 22.” I then continued with comments like “Yes. The saints do win and it is worth celebrating.”

 However, that thought kept coming to me. It wasn’t just seeing “Saints Win.” It was seeing “SAINTS WIN!” I wondered if I had ever really taken the time to consider that that is how the story ends. The saints do win.

 There are some truths that are obvious that we just seem to forget. If we remember them, we do not realize the impact. How much could be said on what a difference the resurrection of Christ makes or the incarnation or creation ex nihilo or salvation by grace through faith. Each of these doctrines should leave us in absolute wonder throughout the day. We say we believe them, but do we really realize them?

 The saints winning is such a point. This one hits us home because we live in a world where we do undergo suffering. We all have mountains that we are trying to climb in our lives that are weighing us down. We all have struggles we’re trying to get through. Who among us has not once looked to the heavens and asked “Why Lord? Why?”

 Our answer if we believe the Scriptures, is to trust the author. The saints do win. This is the reason why we should not hold back at the problem of evil or have it keep us in terror. G.K. Chesterton in his work “The Man Who Was Thursday,” describes a character in a way that if you saw his ugly side, you thought there was no way there could be any good, yet if you saw his beautiful side, you knew there had to be a reason for the ugly.

This was not meant as a strict parallel of God. G.K. Chesterton did say that this book was to be considered “A nightmare.” However, I do believe there are many that look at the world this way. They see suffering and cannot begin to fathom that there is so much goodness here as well. We should be the people who see goodness and think “Yes. It is because of this that we know there must be a reason for suffering.” Are we to know this reason? Not always and in fact, rarely. The reason is there though and we should trust that.

 All things work together for good to them that love the Lord. Please notice first what it is. All things. It doesn’t say “All good things” and it doesn’t say “All things are good.” It says “All things work together for good to them that love the Lord.”

 All things work together then for the saints, for these are the people who love the Lord. If you are a member of the body of Christ, then you are included in this group.

 If you are not saved in fact, then you are not truly doing what you can about the problem of evil as you are not dealing with the evil nearest to you, the evil in your own heart.

 The answer to the problem of evil then is that the world needs saints. We need to be saints who will trust in God that he is working all things together for good and to bring as many people into the fold so they can be a part of that good.

 And it is best to be part of that good. It is best to participate in the glory of God. As C.S. Lewis has pointed out, you will bring glory to God somehow. John the apostle and Judas both brought about the plan of God. One did it knowingly and willingly and the other one didn’t. Either way, any action will bring about the glory of God. Why not make it a good one?

Of what good is it to do an evil act? You will harm those around you and you will harm your own soul as well. Each action you do helps to shape you and your view of God. If you treat sin lightly, then you are treating God lightly. In our world today, it is good that we celebrate the love and grace of God, but let us not forget other attributes like holiness and justice. Hebrews 12 reminds us that our God is a consuming fire and how the Israelites were afraid to approach him including Moses. Yes. We can boldly approach the throne of grace and should, but let us be clear on who we are approaching. He is not just a grandfather in the sky. He is God Almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth.

 Thus, let us do good for the glory of God. Why should we fear anything either? We are on the winning team. Whatever suffering we undergo in this life, it will work for our good. As Kreeft has said, our worst day here will seem like a bad head cold from the viewpoint of eternity. We have all eternity to live in bliss and joy. The temporary suffering we have here is nothing in comparison to that.

 Go out then! Be a saint! Remember, you are on the winning team!