Gayle and I were reading Numbers 19 last week, and she was quite frustrated with the subject matter. So she shouted at God, "Why don't you come down and show us what this means?"
And so it was. She cried out for understanding, and God gave it to her, just as promised.
Little stuff like this is really essential - in a dismal time, for God to show up once in a while so that that there is no question that this God is as advertised and does come through. And especially in the sped advocacy work, "Not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord." Which certainly reminds me that in that case I'd best be very honest and upright with everyone, doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with my God. Even if I can win without God being around, and that's hardly likely, it's emptiness. It's futile.
There's good reason not to look for prosperity in this world this year.
As the new year 2015 comes in, it looks so far much like 2014 only worse. The 1% will doubtless continue to grab it all for themselves as they have been doing so well with the help of their enablers such as George Bush and Barack Obama. The fracking bubble and the stock market bubble will go on a while longer, but who knows how long? All bubbles pop, since the tulip bubble of 1637 on up, but who can tell when? Can they use that next crash as an excuse to enrich the same thieves as Bush and Obama conspired to do at the end of 2008, or is sovereign debt so much worse now that it won't work that way this time? Stay tuned.
The evil clowns that govern us are stoking up tensions with Russia over Ukraine. Maybe they expect the Russians to cave. Can they be that stupid? Have they forgotten that Russia endured 20 million dead to stop the Germans, and they expect Russia to knuckle under to some economic pain? Does anyone think that if Russia, China, or some other hostile power intent on cutting the US down to size contrived to overthrow the Canadian government, installed a neo-Nazi regime, and drove several hundred thousand Canadians into the United States, the United States would let that stand?
Various jurisdictions have made it crystal clear that police officers will not under any circumstances be held accountable when they lynch young black guys on the street for trivial reasons or no reason - and a very large proportion of American white people approve. How smart is it just now, as the economy approaches another collapse, to show 12% of the population that it is considered subhuman and undeserving of the basic respect due to all human beings?
In addition, several hundred thousand young men have been sent to far-off places to commit bloody crimes, or at least to condone them in others. They have been traumatized, and when brought back home, have been cheated out of the care they deserve and often dumped on the street. And these have all been trained in counter-insurgency (and therefore in insurgency), often having guns and definitely knowing how to use them, in an economy that has no use for them. Have these adventures abroad, and the creation of such a class of men, really been a good idea?
But to me the most alarming thing is not these bad things in the world. Our most serious problem is the utter apostasy of professing Christians. That's not new. The non-negotiable essentials for American Christians, and especially evangelicals, have always been to be conformed to this world, to be respectable in its eyes. For this reason, American Christianity has always been good at crusading against drunkenness or other things that the world finds disreputable, but whatever the world approves, whether mass murder, imperial violence, white supremacy, or - at the moment, homosexuality - US Christians can never resist. Thus the disciples of Jesus, professing to be at least, who are called by him the light of the world, never choose to be so, since to be the light always demands that we reject lying and walk in the truth, and that always involves persecution by the darkness, starting with the darkness in ourselves.
This, as we drift into 2015, is why the darkness is very great, and we are in serious trouble. My advice to my fellow Christians now is not to be concerned with religious activities, but to make sure that you can call upon the living God and find him in your daily affairs. In a world of lying, are you capable of recognizing and letting go of your own love of lying in specific ways each day? And figure that if the world around you doesn't see you doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with your God, then that has not yet happened.
As others have noted, it's getting to feel in the United States like the last half of the 1850s. One way or another, difficult times are coming. Maybe a really thumping economic crash and attendant social turmoil will be delayed through 2015, maybe not. I'm certainly no good at timing such things. But it is time to get real.
Desmond Tutu used to say in South Africa that everyone in this country is in favor of change, so long as everything can stay the same. Well, whatever happens, it's not going to stay the same much longer.