Posts Tagged ‘Grace’


November 25, 2019

Perhaps my 68 years of dealing with this life’s challenges has enabled me to render a helpful opinion on an important question: what is wisdom?

Wisdom is knowing what to keep and what to throw away.

Wisdom is throwing away whatever is not useful, but disposing it in such a way that you do not make a mess for someone else to clean up.

. . . unless they are being rewarded for cleaning it up.

Wisdom is knowing what to accept, what to reject.

. . . and knowing when to wait until you’ve decided which of those two categories is appropriate in any given situation.

. . . and knowing that sometimes we don’t have time to decide . . .

good luck with that!

Wisdom is using what you have acquired to improve your own life and the life of those with whom you are in community.

Wisdom is listening;

it is also discerning, when the appropriate time comes, to suspend listening and speak.

Wisdom comes in noticing that the world is not a perfect place—there is something wrong with it.

So wisdom then requires discerning the good from evil.

. . . while understanding that there is a purpose for the presence of both in this life.

Wisdom calls us to identify what it wrong, and resist it.

And even to defeat evil when that is necessary.

Wisdom may be conceding that different persons, different people groups, have different definitions for what is good or evil.

And so therefore, in some cases, the grace to forgive wrongness may be more appropriate than judging evil with punishment,

Sometimes even defining what is really good  should be re-evaluated.

Wisdom is realizing that the complexity of this world is largely—though not totally—unexplainable, and there may be—there just may be— a God who operates at a level that is beyond our power to comprehend or measure.

. . . a God Who, at the very least, set it all in motion, as the ancient purveyors of wisdom have insisted.

There will always be someone who knows more than you do. Get used to it.

Wisdom is finding people to love.

Wisdom requires responsibility for those we love.

‘. . . and sometimes accepting responsibility for those we are unable to properly love.


Without love we are lost forever.

Love requires sacrifice.

Wisdom means being thankful when someone has made sacrifice for you, because you have not done all this on your own.

You were getting help even when you didn’t know it.

PS. It’s not all about you.

Glass half-Full


October 13, 2015

One man, one woman

become one.

Host of family and friends

from near and far


Joy, celebration, love;

heaven comes down

to us

while we witness,

in bright sunshine,


nature’s original intent

for him and her. . .

sacramental coupling more

mysterious and sweet than

we could have anticipated, so that the

coital coupling to come will conceive pure


A miracle of unity, this event transforms

all who are present and willing

to enter into their sacred intent toward each other,

in faithfulness, fidelity, finality.

Rare, but true.


John speaks of love and sacrifice, while

celestial grace streams from

blue sky.

Wisdom gets multiplied by two, and


far greater than we could have mustered,

erupts from the fearless conviction of their vows,

spoken boldly, with certainty, and yet lit up

around the edges, like this entire celebration itself,

with a slightly naughty mirth.


Such brave intent we see, in spite of the dissolution of all things holy that’s

going on out there in, you know. . .

the world, and all that other crap we hear about from time to time.

But now. . .

Their vowful miracle becomes

a blessing to us who witness, even

as they speak the gift into existence, pronouncing to

each other.


And then they skip away.

And so amazed are we

while we wonder at the the scene. We

had wandered in; now we float

out, in sacramental awe.

We eat, drink, dance, celebrate into the night until. . .

as suddenly as they had entered in,

bride and groom are gone.

To discover the greatest mysteries of life.


This Afterglow

bequeaths us traces of infinite, unpredictable


with glintings of eternal grace.

This moment, remembered, shall inspire us

to consecrate today’s exchange, while

these two young ones are continually equipped,

in time,

to become one.

They’ll discover, as days and nights ripen,

that pleasure which is, in all of life, the most precious of all:

to behold, as days slip into years, that smile on the face

of the one you love.

They’ll come to savor it, like the finest wine, as Mom and Dad have,

and their Mom and Dad before them.

That unfathomable depth of joy will fortify

the life they share with invincible companionship.

While meanwhile, back at the ranch, parents bask in



20 questions from Phyllis about pornography

December 18, 2010

Phyllis Chesler calls herself a Second Wave feminist, whatever that is.
From that perspective, she has posed twenty questions about pornography, and asked readers to answer them.
Before answering them, let me say that I still struggle occasionally with pushing those buttons, but there are much more important things– much more purposeful–to do while online.

Phyllis writes in her article about feminists having common cause with conservatives and Christians on these sexual issues. Well, I am a Christian–just how conservative is a laughable issue–and we shall see, as I answer her twenty questions, just how much commonality we uncover.
Western civilization, in the context of Judeo-Christian heritage, has had a history of conflict on these problems. Basically, it always comes down to disagreements between propriety and permissiveness. These days, the argument has shifted to a worldwide scope, encompassing the controversial rigidity of Islam prurience.

As a Christian, I must say–thank God for the Muslims. We need some of their propriety. But of course it’s not really that simple; they’ve got some seriously questionable baggage packed in their sharia.
I won’t grind that axe now, though. Let’s get on to Phyllis’ questions:
1. Is pornography “work” or is it a violent crime? It is not work, nor is crime. But its influence can lead to crime, sometimes violent.
2. Is pornography “free speech” in action or is it a violent, often murderous crime? It is free speech. Sometimes its influence can lead to murderous crime, just as hate-speech can lead to pogroms.
3. Is pornography really a “victimless” crime? There are some victims.
4. Are pimps, johns, traffickers, and landlords being victimized? If so, why are they not complaining? They are victims, primarily, of their own sin; secondarily, of the the sins of other. You see my antiquarian Christian context coming through here. Those “victims” are not complaining because sin is fun for awhile until its grip on you becomes lethal. Then radical deliverance is required, but it cannot come through human law.
5. Are the people, mainly men, who buy and watch pornography being victimized? If so, why are they not complaining? Is anyone forcing them to consume pornography? No one is forcing them. They are making poor choices, manipulated by insidious servitude to corrupt popular culture.
6. Are the seductive, taunting, smiling, naked girls and women who are being paid “good” money–victims? If so, why don’t they complain, leave, find some other job? That’s an appropriate question, but I don’t know the answer. Go ask them, and tell them to fill out a resume while you’re at it. Good luck with that project.
7. Isn’t working in pornography a job just like any other job–like any other acting job? No.
8. Aren’t pornography actors there of their own free will—for the easy money, the attention, the “stardom?” Probably.
9. Isn’t our right to see and read whatever interests us essential to our fundamental liberty? Yes.
10. Doesn’t the First Amendment guarantee us this right? If we criminalize one kind of “free speech,” where will it end? Who will decide what information or images we are allowed to see? Won’t state or religious censorship chill our rights, even our very thoughts? Censorship should be personal, or parental. If it is guided by moral sensitivity, then it is beneficial for society as a whole.
11. On behalf of “free speech,” and privacy rights, didn’t Second Wave feminists avidly collaborate with pornographers to ensure that pornography remained a civil right? I don’t know, but if they did, this demonstrates the problem of unintended consequences which renders much of human law ineffectual.
12. Didn’t Second Wave feminists launch the battle against violence against women, which included sexual harassment, rape, incest, domestic battering—as well as the most serious battle against pornography and prostitution? Weren’t they vilified for collaborating with Christians and conservatives on the issue of pornography and prostitution? I don’t know, but I’m willing to learn more about whatever happened.
13. How many women from wealthy and prominent families, or with advanced educations,  “choose” to work in pornography or as prostitutes? You tell me.
14. Did you know that, by definition, pornography is that which has to do with “prostitutes.” “Porne” in Greek is a “prostitute.” The so-called actresses in pornography are treated as if they are–and usually soon are–also “working” as prostitutes. I didn’t know that, but it seems, generally, like an accurate assessment to me.
15. How different is being a prostitute from being a stripper, massage therapist, or a nurse? I wasted many a beerish hour watching strippers in my youth. My wife of thirty years is a nurse.  I can tell you there is a huge difference. As Dean Martin once sang, he wishes that “every boy could find what I found in your heart.” What we all seek ultimately is true love, whether we ever realize that dream or not. Thank God we did.
16. How many prostituted girls and women are actually free to leave, walk out, give it all up? Under the influence of God’s message of salvation to all humankind, many prostitutes will be free to leave it behind. See John, chapter 8. I suppose there are other motivations too, by which those bondages can be overcome in a woman’s life. More power to them if they can make the transition. The search for true love is the main compulsion of human existence.
17. Where might they go? Where might they call “home?” Who will help them get off drugs and alcohol, restore their ravaged health, support them as they deal with the sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS, with which johns have infected them? This is what churches are intended to do. Certainly, we Christians are lax in this, and guilty of neglect and insensitivity. But we do have problems of our own to deal with in this life, and there is only so much time and energy. That’s why we’re advocates of grace instead of law.
18. Do you have any idea of what the average age of a pornography actress/prostitute is? 27?
19. How long a shelf-life does a “working girl” (prostitute, pornography actress) actually have? We all have less time than we think we do.
20. Why does pornography “turn” people on? Pornography is a demonically-inspired counterfeit of a natural, God-ordained human urge to love and procreate. The chemistry between man and woman is as essential for life as that between hydrogen and oxygen.  Porn is on a shoddy synthetic of a natural compound.

Thank you, Phyllis,  for posing these timely, important questions.

Can’t you hear Jerusalem moan?

November 30, 2010

The people of Israel have cultivated a heritage of literacy for thousands of years; it’s one reason they are, as an ethnic group, so comfortable and proficient with the communicative arts. Hebrews have been talking, reading, and writing for a long time.  Beginning with Moses, Solomon, and other biblical documentarians, their meticulous oral and written histories constructed a potent cultural tradition that has matured like a fine vintage over time. The Jewish religion has also spun off two other major peoples-of-the-book–Christianity and Islam.
Hey, like it or not, Moshe, it’s what happened. Read ’em an weep. We’re all riders on this bumpy monotheistic bus.

The Torah/Bible documents how that deep heritage manifested as an ancient kingdom.  But Israel was, as kingdoms go, relatively short-lived. Right off the bat, after three kings, the country split, and it never regained that golden age magnificence of Solomon’s forty-year flash in the pan. Israel and Judah hobbled along for a few centuries until the Greeks humiliated them and the Romans subjugated them.
In 70 AD the army of the Roman empire dispersed Jewish nationalism to the four winds. For nineteen centuries after that forced diaspora, faithuful Jewish passover observers spoke of  celebrating their feasts “next year in Jerusalem.”

Jewish identity went under-canopy, and into a kind of fervently prolific survival mode.  Beneath diverse banners of other empires and nations, Jewish culture managed to proliferate and mature in a richly productive way, even without the benefit of native soil and eretz. In spite of the odds stacked against them,  Jewish people even managed to prosper beneath the adverse radar of alien hegemonies. There’s a lot to be said, I tell ya, for having a strong tradition of literacy, and a God to inspire it.

Along the way, though, some other peoples got jealous of  the inexplicably improbable Jewish well-being. Adolf Hitler and his band of Nazi thugs scapegoated the Jews in a fiercely destructive milatarism;  but it backfired on them, and it was the feuhrer’s lying face that was found lieing in the ashes of a formerly noble German heartland in 1945.

Then, lo and behold, miracle of miracles, it came to pass that,  in its darkest hour, Jewish culture, in its severally metamorphosed forms–from the Hassidic to the Socialistic–resurfaced as a nation-state.
We know they made a lot of people mad in that nascent process, most notably the Palestininians, but that was an old argument. It wasn’t any walk in the park, you know, when the Jews and Philistines were going at it for the same real estate way back in times of old. Yeah, yeah, aw go on, tell me about it. Some things never change.

But here’s where the contemporary shi’ite hits the fan. That ancient Jewish tradition is based, let’s face it, on religion and racial identity. It dropped back into the modern world like a square peg from a round-hole universe.  In today’s terms, it’s politically incorrect. I mean, think about it–is anybody even allowed any more to found a society based on race and religion? Democracy, equality, and multicultural tolerance is the going thing, the world-approved plan, these days.

When extremist Jewish groups insist on forcing their settlements upon a wannabe Palestinian west-bank state, and when an Israeli government slowly but surely corners a whole group of indiginous people into second-class citizenship, the world brands the Israelis as racist, religious bigots. The people of Israel are going to have to decide if they want to remain a cultural entity that has successfully navigated through perilous environs for thousands of years–or are they going to actually take a chance on this nation-state democracy thing?
It’s a very risky proposition, because the Palestinians will most likely, over time, outnumber the Jews in Israel and, given half a democratic chance, vote them out of power. And the Israelis know this.  So political correctness is ultimately a losing strategy, and democracy will not fly in east and west Jerusalem. You might as well cast the notions of equality and brotherhood out to Gahenna.

I think they should just go back to the God thing. That’s what their stubborn cousins, the Muslims, are doing. Mosaic Law and Shari’a will promulgate each other to death, until the grace of God doth move upon their holy blood-stained mountain.
Disclosure: My God is a Jewish carpenter.