A man of courage


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Blessed John Paul II

Today is the feast day of St John Paul II, a man who, even in an age of giants such as Thatcher and Reagan, stood out on the the world stage. He was the first non-Italian Pope in centuries, and if ever there was a larger than life figure, it was him. A youngish man (for a Pope) when he came to the throne, he made an immediate impression with his vigorous personality, and he set a pattern since followed by all his successors, of globe-trotting. This was not because he liked travelling, but because he knew the Church was a global Church, and he knew that by visiting churches locally he could make a great impact. Not everyone approved of his style, and some of his gestures towards other faiths and other Christian churches upset those who had no idea there could even be a Pope like the current one. But in all these things he has one objective, to show the world what a Catholic could be like – and in so doing, he set the benchmark high.

His own background was as dramatic a could be imagined. A Pole by birth, he found his homeland wrecked by totalitarianism, first from the Right in the form of Nazism, and then from the Left in the form of Communism. He distrusted both system because he had experienced them. If his enmity seemed aimed mostly at Communism, that because it was the great enemy for most of his life. Many Poles, and many in the West, counselled caution, and thought the best that could be done was to establish a modus vivendi with Communism; but John Paul II- whilst never reckless (after all it was not his life that was at most risk) also refused to believe the common wisdom that Communism was here to stay. He had lived under its soulless rule and he could not believe that such a system could last; man did not live by bread alone, and the fact that Communism had difficulty even providing that made its eventual fate inevitable in his eyes.

Of course the Soviets hated him, and all the more when the 1980s threw up two other world leaders who refused to believe that ‘containment’ was all that could be hoped for. Naturally, the foreign policy establishment in their own countries distrusted Reagan and Thatcher, whom they dismissed as unsophisticated thinkers unable to grasp the flexible and nuanced diplomacy that was necessary to keep the Cold War from turning hot. Like John Paul II, these were leaders who relied on their instincts and beliefs rather than ‘position papers’ from the diplomats – and like him, they turned out to be right – something for which they have never quite been forgiven by those ‘experts’ whom they showed to be wrong.

If in the heyday of his vigour, St John Paul II set one sort of example to the world, then in his later years he set another – that of the suffering servant. As his health deteriorated it would have been easy enough for him to have gone into seclusion and even to have retired – but he did no such thing. There are prudential arguments that it might have been better had he done so as that might have prevented some of the scandals from spreading – but that depends not only on hindsight, but on the view that any successor would have had more success here, which, given the mind-set of the Church then seems improbable. Be that as it may, by staying where he did and literally suffering in public, St John Paul emphasised that human life is sacred at all its stages, and that illness did not mean any loss of personhood.

St John Paul II was, I think, the greatest leader of my lifetime, and this is a suitable day to pay tribute to him.

Christianity and the New Spirit of Capitalism


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Over the course of the last posts, here, and here, and his link on Catholic social teaching, here, Chalcedon has done much to limn the problems many of us have reconciling our present economy to our Christian beliefs.

Most here will know that I have quite deep libertarian political tendencies, but I too, recognize those problems. It seems to me that what we see today as capitalism, is not what I grew up with, it has become something else, the unchanging focus on the quarterly bottom line highlights the problem. The world I grew up in honored, sometimes too much, the loyal employee, who stayed with the same company, doing his best to help the company, which in turn was loyal to him. Today, that entire ethos is gone, and work has both become all encompassing and completely individualized. But we, especially as Christians know that we are far better as individuals in a community, whether that community is a corporation, the military, or indeed the church.

So how did we get here, and where do we go from here, if anywhere. Most of you know how my thinking goes generally, but I’m no expert, I take in data, analyze it in view of my experience, and draw conclusions. As they say, your mileage may differ, in fact, it probably will.

But recently I ran across something that strikes me as relevant. Professor Kathryn Tanner, the Marquand Professor of Systematic Theology at Yale Divinity School. gave a series of Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh. I think there are five of them, I’ve only watched the first so far, but I think she has a quite large contribution to make to the conversation.

Here is her introductory lecture.

I do agree with much of what she say about economics, I’m still evaluating, though. What do you think?

Markets and values


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Wilde was right – a philistine is a man who knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing; we inhabit a philistine society. We talk a lot about ‘human rights’, but as even the briefest acquaintanceship with Western foreign policy towards China and Saudi Arabia will reveal, we do not put them ahead of making money. We are happy to lecture Russia, but then America is not heavily dependent on Russia for very much. This points to the wider societal question of how we find a language for dealing with things which are valuable for what they are, not for what they are worth? An example would be the idea of the inalienable dignity of every one of God’s children. This is only partly captured in our language of ‘human rights’, and as the examples just offered suggest, is far more contingent than we might care to suppose. Involved in this is the question which the former British Prime Minister, David Cameron formulated in terms of the ‘Big Society’. Mocked by the media for its vagueness it was, in fact, nothing more than what Edmund Burke called the ‘small batallions – that is those bodies intermediate between the State and the individual. We in the West have tended to reduce the role of such groups, not least in the area of welfare provision, and, as the State has come to realise there are limits on what it can do, gaps, dangerous gaps, have been left, and having destroyed most of the ‘small batallions’ we have simply left some of the poorest and most vulnerable in our society at the mercy of circumstances which are not in their favour. It is one thing to drive down on welfare claimants who defraud the system, it is quite another to invent a system which routinely tells chronically sick people that they are fit to work, whilst running a parallel system which allows fabulously wealth international companies to pay ‘all the tax that is required’, when that tax is less then some individuals pay. That creates a distrust in the system which is corrosive of the bonds of society.

The Government in the UK makes noises about devolving power to the big provincial cities, but even if it did more and actually began to deliver on the promises, it is far from clear that it would do much to alleviate the sense of helplessness and deracination in the populace which has helped to fuel the anger we saw in the ‘Brexit’ campaign, and which we see in the Trump’s support. It is very easy for the metropolitan elite to dismiss these things, but we have already seen their effects in the UK, and even if Trump loses (and lose he will) those who backed him are unlikely to have the anger assuaged by anything President Clinton II might or might not do; quite the opposite.

But we do not have a real concept of the common good, we have lost, or at the most optimistic reading, are losing, a sense of shared values. We lack a sense of what it is human beings are for, why we exist, and what we should be doing with our lives. The notion, popular during the Reagan/Thatcher years, that wealth creation and ‘trickle down’ to the rest of us, would produce some sort of answer, even if only unlimited growth and the consumerist utopia it promised, seemed, for a while, before the crash of 2008, to contain a sort of answer which, whilst unpalatable and even chilling to those of us who thought human beings should be aiming higher than the wallet/pocket-book, nonetheless kept a lot of people happy, has crumbled into the dust of stagnant, and even regressive income distribution. The failure of this ‘dream’ has produce a great deal of anger but no solutions.

To Christians none of this is surprising, but what might be is the failure of Christian thinkers to put forward an alternative – one based on a conception of the human condition which sees us not as consumers but as brothers and sisters and as children of the living God. We cannot, of course, expect secular thinkers to do this, but we might expect Christian ones to be less backward in coming forward. It is not, after all, as though the secularist alternatives seem either varied, new, or particularly brave.

On a darkling plain?


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One of Jessica’s reflections on Arnold’s Dover Beach, came to mind as I pondered yesterday’s post and some of the responses to it. If you follow the link you will find the full text of the poem, in which the poet responds to the ebbing of the ‘sea of faith’ with the reflection that the lovers should cling to each other, as that was all they could know to be true in a society where the certainties were fading away. She suggested that there might have been a spot of self-indulgence in the attachment to despair. That may well be how it might strike a younger person, but to an older one, it seems a realistic enough reaction to an otherwise intolerable situation. She also mentioned Larkin’s line from An Arundel Tomb that ‘what will survive of us is love’. Larkin, of course, calls this an ‘almost true’ ‘almost instinct’. hinting at the difficulty the modern sensibility has with something that looks like a sincere expression of deep emotion; there seems to need to be at least some nod toward the direction of a knowing cynicism. That, too, is part of the modern malaise. In losing God we lose also that sense that we are loved, loved unconditionally, and that we have a unique value simply by being who we are. In losing that, in losing God, we lose an anchor which holds us to a place our ancestors would have recognised, but which is increasingly foreign to us.

We are not ‘alone’ as on a darkling plain, we are children of the living God, and as such we are part of a relationship, even as the Trinity is a relationship between its three persons; as it is characterised by mutual love, then so, too, should our fellowship with each other. Christ the Word became Incarnate, thus honouring our flesh; we are not simply creatures of spirit, we are material beings, and the material world in which we live, not least its local manifestations such as our churches and homes and communities, matter to us; they help nurture and support us, and we do the same to them. Traditional religion has contributed immensely to social cohesion and our sense of justice; indeed it has helped define our society and our laws; it helps locate us where we are, and, at the same time, to connect us to the transcendent. Catholic social teaching has much in it from which a society lost in materialism could still learn. The social order cannot, or should not at any rate, be reduced to a set of market transactions; culture is not simply a commodity to be traded at whatever price can be had for its material artefacts. If there is no more to the world than secular materialism, then there really is not that much purpose to life beyond eating, drinking and being merry, because tomorrow we die. But not can eat and drink, and many cannot be merry, and so what purpose did their lives serve? Down that road lies an instrumentalisation of the human person, where it seems quite ‘normal’ to celebrate the ability of one person to exercise their ‘freedom’ to realise their ‘happiness’ at the cost of a a human life in the womb, and where to argue over what everyone used to call a ‘baby’ seems wisdom rather than folly.

Is democracy simply a means to the end of the greatest happiness of the greatest number, or has it some more moral purpose? Even to ask such a question in a society which lacks a common morality (or at least in which this is increasingly so) is to realise how far we have come from ‘Dover Beach’.

The Hollow Society?


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In abandoning God, our society has also abandoned a number of ideas, the absence of which has helped hollow it out. If God provides nothing else, he provides a purpose for life and a standard by which we might evaluate a good life. In his absence, life has no necessary purpose beyond the fact we have to live it; that being the case it is a good idea to live it as comfortably as we can. How fortunate (and not at all coincidental) that we have evolved a system – capitalism – which can provide whatever we want – as long as we can afford it. Of the buying and selling things there is no end; everything, in the end is for sale; everything has a price – even our values. Modern liberalism is, it is tempting to say, based on nothing more elevated than satisfying the demands of our own egos. Ultimately it leads to a form of democracy in which the fact that a majority want something means they get it, even if that something is something sold to them on a false prospectus; the majority wanted it, they get what they wanted. Parliamentary/Representative democracy was designed to put some safeguards against majoritarian tyranny; but why should the majority not simply get what it wants? Who cares about what the losers wanted? They lost. This is not, one suspects, a situation in which democracy as we have known it can sustain itself for very much longer. Here in the UK we see the chasm between the two sides of the argument on the ‘Brexit’ referendum grow no narrower, and when Mr Trump loses the American Presidential election, his supporters will be loud in proclaimed he was robbed; they will no doubt get louder as it becomes clear that Mrs Clinton has no idea of how to put things right.

Our new Prime Minister, Mrs May, has been talking about the need for Government to intervene to moderate the effects of the ‘market’. That sounds a splendid idea – but mainly to those not old enough to recall what it used to be like when British Governments thought they could control prices and incomes with a ‘policy’; of course they couldn’t. But nonetheless, in an economic situation in which the majority feel they are getting worse off, and where they can see a minority getting obscenely better off, calls for such intervention are going to be popular; that, after all, is where such calls came from back in the 1920s and 1930s. But how you create a ‘responsible’ capitalism with a social conscience in a system where shared values are few, and where what matters is how much money you can make and how much you can consume with it, is a moot point.

The values which used to underpin such ideas were based on a Christian understanding of society. They wee certainly imperfectly implemented, but they were also part of the glue which created a society rather than a set of atomised individuals competing for resources. People had a value in themselves, they were made in the image of God. The meaning of our lives was not something to be created from abstract notions of personal worth, but were rather givens to be discovered and explored through our Christian faith; we were stewards, not owners of the planet and its resources. Communities were secular versions of the church community, united by common values and assumptions; no man was truly an island.

If, as many of us would assert, we are living in a time of crisis, then perhaps the greatest cause of this is the loss of the sense of God, of anything beyond our own mundane imaginings and our monstrous egos.

Who is Jesus?

Jesus did things, so the Gospels tell us, that were unlike anything the Israelites had seen before. Take a look at the story of the paralytic whom Jesus healed.

Matthew 9:2-8

They brought to him a man who was paralysed, lying on a bed, and Jesus, seeing their faith, said to paralytic, “My child, be of good courage; your sins are forgiven you.”

 Certain of the scribes said within themselves, “This man blasphemes.”

But  Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil thoughts in your hearts? For which is easier to say: ‘Your sins are forgiven you’ or  ‘Get up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins…” (then he said to  the paralytic) “Get up, pick up your bed, and go to your house.”

 And he got up, and departed to his house. But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men.

Jesus’ claims here are extraordinary, but they are supported by the fruit of His ministry. In claiming to be the “Son of Man” from Daniel 7, Jesus was asserting that He was the Messiah, Yahweh in human flesh. “Son of Man” was a familiar construction that meant “human”, but the particular Son of Man that Daniel saw in his extraordinary night vision was different. This person was riding the clouds, and only one Person in Israelite theology did that: Yahweh. The people of Jesus’ day knew this, and that is why the scribes had such an adverse reaction to His claim: they could not believe that this carpenter from Nazareth, surrounded by disciples taken from the lowest echelons of society, was their God and Saviour, the One who had appeared to Moses in the burning bush.

In our modern setting, we misread Daniel: we see simply an elevated human. This is not how that text was understood by contemporaries of Daniel or Jews of the Second Temple Period. Consider the following texts:

And Yahweh appeared in the tabernacle in a pillar of a cloud: and the pillar of the cloud stood over the door of the tabernacle. (Deuteronomy 31:15)

There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides upon the heavens as your helper,  and in his splendour on the sky. (Deuteronomy 33:26)

Sing to God, sing praises to his name: extol him who rides upon the heavens by his name Jah, and rejoice before him. (Psalm 68:4)

…who makes the clouds his chariot: who walks upon the wings of the wind… (Psalm 104:3)

Behold, the Lord rides upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it. (Isaiah 19:1)

Yahweh has the authority to forgive sins. He is goodness itself, righteousness itself. He knows the thoughts of the heart, our motives, and our circumstances. As the covenant-God of Israel, offences against Him could mean exclusion from the covenant community. He expressed His forgiveness to those who repented in a variety of ways, including through the sacrificial system.

It is in the context of this theology that Jesus heals the paralytic. This story shows us who Jesus was, and why He came. He came to forgive us our sins, to announce and achieve reconciliation with God. The miracle of healing was an expression of his love for mankind, but was also a sign that He had the authority to forgive sins and to restore a person’s standing before God.

Jesus is the God of Israel come in the flesh.


Image and Identity

Genesis 1:26-28:

And God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”

So God created man in his own image; in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”

This is the first time in the Bible we come across that mysterious phrase, “image of God”. The passage itself tells us what that means: it means that humans are to have dominion over the earth, over the creatures that inhabit it. An image is a representation or model of something else. Mankind, in exercising divinely-given and divinely-guided authority, represents God, who is the Creator and Ruler of all.

The image is an attribute of all human beings because it is “given” to them as a species, not as individuals. In other words, to be a human is to be an image of God, regardless of one’s mental or physical abilities. This principle, in conjunction with general principles of goodness and love, underpins the Christian doctrine of the sanctity of life. An unwarranted attack (as opposed to justified war) on human life is an attack on the image of God, and by extension God himself. For this reason, conservative Christians uphold the teaching that abortion is not morally permissible.

This idea of dominion speaks to our past in Eden, to our present age in the “valley of tears”, and to our glorious future when the resurrected saints will sit on thrones, ruling under the leadership of King Jesus. We did exercise dominion in the Garden, when Adam and Eve were its gardeners, tending and pruning the plants. We do exercise dominion of a kind now: we have subdued to the earth to make it produce crops and sustainable livestock for our needs. We shall exercise dominion in the future in a kingdom that, as the prophet Daniel puts it, “will have no end”.

The Cross stands at the centre of this story. Jesus, being by nature God, is the Creator and upholder of life. By his grace we draw breath. He is the King of Eternity. But in his humility, he took on our flesh in order to restore us to God’s original plan. More than that, he raises us higher than the position Adam occupied before the Fall. Adam was an earthly ruler, subordinate to God’s council.

Ephesians 2:6-9

[God] has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.

The image of God goes to the core of our identity and our destiny. The story of our fall from that true model and our restoration by Christ and elevation to a seat of son-ship and blessing, lies at the heart of the Good News. We see that theme repeated again and again, perhaps most notably in the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

But God has also made us to be individuals. In our assessment of the “degeneration” of Western society and in our analysis of the “East-West Divide”, we tend to make an either/or paradigm: either individualism or community. This is a false dichotomy and places an undue “guilt-trip” on Western Christians.

God has made us as individuals. While it is true that our sin can lead us to be selfish, to be focussed on our individual needs, it is not the case that the concept of “being an individual” is bad. Community presupposes individuals. This is why St. Paul uses the image of the body with different parts in First Corinthians: he wants to simultaneously affirm our individual identities and our corporate identity as an integrated whole, united under the headship of Christ.

So, next time you think about your personal identity, think also about your status as an image of God and as a son or daughter of God. You have a glorious destiny ahead of you – but only by the grace of our wonderful Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory, honour, and power to the ages of ages. Amen.


The Perfect Storm

By nature, we try to make sense of chaos, to impose some kind of order or structure upon it, to find a chain of causes and effects. As we consider the problems of our own age and try to make a global picture, a global model, that both explains and predicts events, we need to remember that our own biases and values affect our perceptions (see Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, and the ideas and methodology of gestalt psychology).

The Bible presents us with global claims, but often given in the context of local ideas and practices, be they Near Eastern or Greco-Roman. The covenant people of God are drawn from both the Jews and the Gentiles, but Jerusalem is the “city of the Great King” (Ps. 48; Matt. 5:35; http://www.joelstrumpet.com/?p=8435). We can look at the pieces of history and the regions of the world, but everything converges on Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the place where God’s temples stood, where our Lord was crucified, and where He will set up His throne to judge the nations when He returns.

The problems of this age have been there from the beginning. In His Olivet Discourse, Jesus advised us not be misled by the appearance of “wars and rumours of wars” and other phenomena of a terrifying nature. In themselves, these things do not indicate that the end has come. He likened them to birth-pangs, preliminary signs of an impending birth, to be followed by signs of another kind. However, it should be noted that birth-pangs do change as one gets closer to a birth: their pain becomes more severe, and the interval between them becomes smaller. Therefore, it should not surprise us if our woes today seem on the one hand, to be of the same basic nature as those of history, while on the other more dreadful in their impact. Thus we may understand, for example, World Wars 1 and 2 to have their forerunners in wars like the War of the Spanish Succession, while also affirming their own unique horrors and scope.

These things confirm for the watching Church that her Master is coming, even if we do not know the hour of His return (Matt. 24:36, 44). The time immediately preceding and following His return will be terrible, and will involve a reversal of fortunes. Before Christ’s return the Church will endure terrible persecution: the fallen humanity will think they have finally silenced her voice. Many will be killed; many will become apostate; many will be in hiding (Matt. 24:9-13). But after His return, Christ’s Church will be glorified and enjoy her promised rest and victory, while the unrepentant tremble at His judgement (Matt. 24:30-31).

As certain as those events are to happen, so the events that lead to them must be. Even now, we witness terrible persecution in the Middle East, in Africa, in North Korea, and parts of China and India. In the West many families that once professed to be Christian are abandoning their commitment to our God and His Christ. The end is not yet, but who can doubt that it will one day come?

Amidst this terrible persecution, however, is a beautiful sign: the conversion of the Gentiles. As has often been said, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” Great numbers in the Muslim world are becoming Christians, escaping from the hard bondage of their former spiritual overlords. In other parts of the world, missionaries are having an impact: people groups who have never heard the Gospel are hearing it for the first time, and the Bible is being translated into their native tongues (Matt. 24:14). This is why the Bible refers to true believers as stars shining in the darkness, particularly at the time of Antichrist’s great persecution: as the spiritual darkness gets worse around them, their witness to the goodness, power, and glory of God becomes greater as they submit to martyrdom and unbelievers respond through conversion.

The story of the end, then, is one of great extremes: great faith that submits to execution; and great darkness that persecutes God’s Elect. A time of chaos will be followed by a time of order. Christ will rule from Jerusalem, and the nations will acknowledge those whom He loves.

What other factors do you discern that will contribute to this perfect storm and perfect redemption?


Eschatology and the Now

Chalcedon’s recent piece on conspiracy theories raised the issue of how we are to understand the spiritual and cultural forces at work in our world in the context of trends and “the end of the age”. Reactions to the study of eschatology fall along a spectrum, from the one extreme of obsession to the other of complete avoidance. Michael Heiser has written an excellent series on why an obsession with eschatology is a waste of time (Part 1: http://drmsh.com/why-an-obsession-with-eschatology-is-a-waste-of-time-part-1/). His overall point is that people bring a set of presuppositions to the Bible that influence how we interpret it. Often we fail to notice that we have these presuppositions, and failing to notice what they are, we do not realize that it is equally possible to have quite different presuppositions. This leads to friction and a lack of charity in certain circles of discourse.

In this piece I do not intend to go over all the ground covered in Heiser’s series of excellent blog posts. They are worth reading slowly, with plenty of room for digestion and reflection. Rather, I wish to think about the nexus between eschatology and current events, which is sometimes derogatively referred to as “newspaper exegesis”. Why does this matter? Why should pastors and influencers within the Church give space to this controversial topic? There are a number of reasons, but one of them is the prophetic ministry of the Church.

The prophetic voice of the Church can be understood in a number of ways. The proclamation of the Gospel is a prophetic act: it communicates the will of God to fallen humanity. He desires to be reconciled to them and has done this through the Cross of Christ. The prophetic voice can also be a voice of encouragement and rebuke within the believing community, just as Jeremiah and others called Israel to reform their ways and return to God. Outside the Church, the prophetic voice can be a call to society as a whole, a warning that evil deeds bear evil fruit, while good deeds bear good fruit: “You reap what you sow.” A third application of the prophetic voice is the apocalyptic genre, the revelation of what goes on in the spiritual realm and what is to come in “future history”.

The proclamation of the Gospel often involved the comment that Jesus would one day return to judge all mankind. He has the right to do this because He is Yahweh and has lived as a man: the same experience that makes Him fit to be our great High Priest, also makes Him fit to be the final Judge. In His teaching ministry, Jesus made the point that the words that men utter and their response to the revelation they received will serve as witnesses for or against them on the Day of Judgement. The men of Sodom would have a more bearable judgement because they did not have the revelation of Christ that the town of Capernaum did.

We need to take these preaching points on board for our proclamation of the Gospel and engagement with the world. No-one will escape the Last Judgement, and people should know that. People should also know what hope for the future Jesus offers. Our Gospel is not just “you go to heaven when you die”; we preach the restoration of all things, the Age to Come, when Jesus will reign on the earth and abolish our corrupt systems and practices. He will make all things new, and will right all wrongs. He will wipe away the tears from our eyes, tears incurred by living in this vale of sorrow. When you pray or sing “in hac valle lacrimarum”, remember that the valley will not last forever.

As to our current situation, we should be warning the world of the spiritual dangers it faces. Whether Christ comes thirty years from now or three thousand, there are very real dangers that people should consider. These are not just the abstract terms that get used in newspapers and blog posts. These are the concrete actions and values that people hold and live with on a daily basis. We offer people genuine liberation from the woes that enslave them under the powers of darkness. Our kingdom is a kingdom of light and its King will one day judge the world for how they treated “the least of [His] brethren”.