Reflections in the Dark

In the Balkans they have a name for beings that are the offspring from a human and vampire union, it is dhampir

According to lore, vampires do not cast a shadow nor do they present a reflection. Because of their ‘undead’ status, when photographed, no image appears. You can see examples of this in the opening scenes of the children’s comedy Hotel Transylvania 2. They can, also according to lore, turn into bats as Bela Lugosi proved to us time and again as Count Dracula.

I had the opportunity to spend a good amount of time in the Balkans and visited the castle of Vlad the Impaler, the medieval psychotic sociopath from whom the Count Dracula’s legend is formed. He defended his castle and lands by impaling those who trespassed on long stakes and left them for others to see as a warning for all who might venture into his wooded lands.

Vlad

In the Balkans they have a name for beings that are the offspring from a human and vampire union, it is dhampir. According to ‘The Great Archives’ if I were to become a vampire through being bitten and eventually undead, I would be Lucas Montgomerie, also known as the Father of the Thirsty. The Archives claim that I would be, or was… depending on how you believe, “strangely cheerful for monsters and a prankster of the night.”

Before you pass this off as the senseless ravings of simple, superstitious and backward people; think again.  Consider some basic points… ‘Father of the Thirsty’ – for anyone who has gotten between me and a pitcher of sweet tea, you KNOW the results! ‘Strangely cheerful’ – believe it or not, in high school I was voted, out of all the males in our senior class as ‘happiest’. As for the ‘strangely’ part – anyone who knows me also can vouch for that! Then comes the ‘prankster of the night’.  For most of all my police career, I was on midnight shift. That is where I belonged, even now I am writing to you during the still hours of the late night. As far as ‘prankster’ – until the statute of limitations runs out; you are not getting any confessions from me!

On the doubting Thomas side of the ledger, once I learned the name I would or did have, I immediately looked for the Facebook page with the same name and YES, there is a Lucas Montgomerie but … there are two reasons to doubt. First his picture was there (which it should not be, remember?) And secondly, he didn’t look anything like me!

Now, before you begin to think that my cork is not all the way down in the bottle, let me explain to you my point. The legends and folklore of the Middle Centuries did come from a great deal of superstition and fear. They were called the Dark Ages for a very good reason. Men like Vlad were not the exception. There were many more evil, dark, demented people living out lives which were very likely demon driven. Demon possession has been a historic fact for millennia. I venture to say that as we get closer to the End of Time, the darkness will once again attempt to envelope our world.  Jesus dealt with many people who were possessed by demons.

On one occasion, Jesus had just finished teaching folks along the Sea of Galilee and that night He and His disciples got in a boat to cross to the other side of the sea. During the night a vicious storm erupted while Jesus slept. Awakened by His frightened followers, Jesus calmed the sea and they soon arrived in the Gadarenes. Mark chapter 5 tells us, “immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains, because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones.” (NKJV)

You have heard, no doubt, of the numbers of young people now being called, ‘cutters’ because of their urgent need to cut themselves. Solomon said there is nothing new under the sun. The ‘Gothic’ craze of recent decades, the continued  infatuation with demons and dark spirits, cult practices and things that go bump in the night is not unexpected.

The Dark Ages from 456 to 1000 was a time when most people were illiterate. Poverty and disease was rampant. Only the most educated had access to books and no one but the priests, if there were any in a region had the ability to read the Latin text of the Bible and it was only they who could speak on God’s behalf.

Our own century has seen a great many diseases cured or annihilated. Still cancers rage and disrupt families each and every day. We have more ‘knowledge ‘ available at our fingertips than ever in history. Just ask Google, it will tell you. The search, though, for true knowledge, understanding of the great classic works sorely lacking. A bogus claim that Albert Einstein said, “The day that technology overlaps our humanity we will have a generation of idiots.” There is no evidence that he ever said that but the logic of it does make sense. That we are becoming a generation that could be more susceptible to demonic influence is not at all out of the realm of reasoned thought.

The Book of Mark relates that when the demon possessed man saw Jesus, he ran after Him and worshipped Him.  When Jesus asked him his name, the demon replied, “Legion, for we are many.” (NKJV) James, the half-brother of Christ and author of the book bearing his name in the New Testament writes, “You believe that God is one. You do well, the demons also believe and shudder.” (NASB) There are still parts of the world where people are unable to read the Bible in their own language. Here, in the United States, Bibles can be found just about anywhere and many are free. For Americans, particularly those who claim the name of Christ, to not be familiar with God’s Word but to take a face value what a pastor, priest or the Internet claims to be truth is an open doorway to the same superstition and ignorance of the first Dark Ages. What will be your first step toward preparing your children or others of the next generation to live lives in the Light of God’s Word? Just something worth some reflection!

 

How Many Politicians Does It Take to Destroy a Country? A few thoughts on the untimely crash of Ukraine’s Parliament

And, the president of the country is trying to wage a war against a life-blood neighbor who is the second most powerful nation in the world, who controls Ukraine’s natural gas flow and must do so with not one single member of his own party in the Parliament.

A House Divided
A House Divided

Some have referred to Ukraine’s newest President, Petro Poroshenko as a man without a party because ever since his elevation to the position of President of the embattled Ukraine at the end of May; his own political party, the Solidarity Party, has not been represented in the Parliament. If it is difficult for any country’s leader to get legislation passed through a democratic process in which his own party is less represented to some degree, imagine being the president of a country and there is not one single representative in the entire parliament who sides with you! Poroshenko has had to rely on a shaky coalition of pro-Western politicians to prosecute the war.

Lincoln 1858
Lincoln 1858

In 1858, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Presidency, Abraham Lincoln gave a speech that has been given the name, ‘The Nation Divided’ speech in which Lincoln quotes the Bible; Mark 3:25, in which Jesus admonishes the Jewish leaders, “…and if a house against itself be divided, that house cannot be made to stand.” (Young’s Literal Translation) Lincoln went on to say that he did not believe that this government could not any longer endure going on half free and half slave.

When the framers of the U.S. Constitution went about finding the right examples for a model of government, they opted for a republic, that being democratically elected representatives making the laws for the people. They decided on a two house system, an upper and a lower. The upper being the Senate with a set number of two senators from every state. To balance out the legislature based on population, the lower house, the House of Representatives was decided by a formula to determine representation by population.

The United States of America has a population in 2012 of 313.9 million citizens. (Sources include: United States Census Bureau, World Bank) Although there are six (plus an others category) of listed political parties; in the current Congress only three parties are represented and they are the Republican, Democratic and Independent parties. Of the Independent there are only 2 in the Senate and they have come alongside the Democrats to make a majority. In the House of Representatives only the Democratic and Republican parties are represented. (Wikipedia)
For a country as complex as the United States with a citizenry of 313.9 million and an estimated 37.5 million additional non-citizens living legally in the U.S. (2006 figure by migrant information.org) and another 11.7 million illegal immigrants. (Pew Research Center)
For a country as complex as the United States with a citizenry of 313.9 million and an estimated 37.5 million additional non-citizens living legally in the U.S. (2006 figure by migrant information.org) and another 11.7 million illegal immigrants. (Pew Research Center)
To complete this short history, geography, political and mathematics review, keep the figures simple that for a country of roughly 360 million people the federal law making branch of the government consists of 541 law makers. One hundred are Senators, four hundred and thirty-five are voting members of the House of Representatives and six are non-voting representatives include the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico and five delegates, District of Columbia, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the North Mariana Islands. (ballotpedia.org)
That brings the ratio of citizens to lawmakers to about 673,000 to 1.
Many Americans declare that Congress is broken, it never gets anything done correctly and so on, yet laws do get passed, a great many of them actually and an extremely large amount of business is handled. Also, very cleanly (relatively) and without violence (usually) at regular intervals every so many years, there is a peaceful introduction of those who the voters believe will do the job better than the last set. Then the process continues without skipping a beat.
America’s house may have a great many differences of opinion but we are not divided.
That brings up now the condition of Ukraine, the focus of this short essay. Once again Ukraine is politically in shambles. The country which follows (more or less) the president in Kiev is doing battle with a foreign invader, Russia – one of the most powerful countries in the world. Battling Russian separatists that are armed and aided by Vladimir Putin’s regime in Moscow, the battles go on. Now, in the midst of this crisis, the ruling coalition that is supporting the president is non-functioning and to be dissolved which could lead to early elections and now basically nothing will get done in a bureaucracy that wasn’t succeeding in doing much to begin with. Here is where the numbers and the mathematics become important.

Remember that America has 535 Congressmen (male and female) for 360 million citizens, a ratio of 673,000 to 1 and are divided basically into two parties. Ukraine, on the other hand, has 450 Parliamentarians for a country of 45.6 million citizens. Their ratio is approximately 101,000 to 1 (citizens to representatives).
Those 450 Parliamentarians are divided into 10 political parties
For a country whose population is 1/8 the size of the United States in population which would equate to roughly the populations of California and New Jersey together versus the entire US population, it has about the same number of law makers. However, instead of being more efficient and more personal because of the smaller person to legislature ratio, it is in complete disrepair because ten different political parties are all vying for power! And, the president of the country is trying to wage a war against a life-blood neighbor who is the second most powerful nation in the world, who controls Ukraine’s natural gas flow and must do so with not one single member of his own party in the Parliament. A nation divided against itself, will not stand.

Ukraine Political Parties
Ukraine Political Parties

In conclusion, to answer the question posed in the title of this essay: “How many politicians does it take to destroy a country?” The answer is, one – if the people let him get away with it.

Sometimes God Says…

Aaron made his way into my study and quietly took a seat in the leather chair just across from the corner of my desk. Without saying a thing he sat. I could see him from the corner of my eye; he was watching me work, waiting patiently for me to acknowledge him so he could say what obviously was on his mind.

In times past, we have had an opportunities to learn wonderful lessons from the off-hand comments of our children and now our grandchildren. Simple words that drive a theological truth home so strongly yet so innocently. Those moments seem to always happen when it is unscripted. It happened again just a few days ago.

As I sat in my study, surrounded by work, without any particular agenda or even focus; I was visited by my oldest grandson, Aaron. Not only is Aaron my oldest grandson, he is my first grandchild. Now in 2nd grade, Aaron has gotten to a point where he is thinking through some of the most complex concerns for adults by seeing them with the innocence and simplicity of a young boy. President Ronald Reagan once said, “They say the world has become too complex for simple answers. They are wrong. There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right.”1 Perhaps it is due to Aaron’s young age that his outlook is simple because there is no real question about whether or not one should do what is morally right.

Aaron made his way into my study and quietly took a seat in the leather chair just across from the corner of my desk. Without saying a thing he sat. I could see him from the corner of my eye; he was watching me work, waiting patiently for me to acknowledge him so he could say what obviously was on his mind. When I finally turned my attention his way, he looked at me and matter-of-factly asked, “Is it true that sometimes when you pray to God that sometimes God says ‘No’?” I affirmed for him that his thought was right on the mark. His look was one of satisfaction that what he thought to be true was true. At least, in his eyes, if his grandfather said it was true, it must be. I considered digging a little deeper to find the source of his question; but I know my grandson pretty well and I know his expressions. If there was another concern there, he wasn’t giving away a ‘tell’.  I was fairly certain this was one of ‘inquiring minds want to know’ moments.

I could not help but remember an episode of M*A*S*H, the iconic television series of the 70’s and 80’s which continues on in syndication. In the episode Quo Vadis Captain Chandler, a young bomber suffers a head wound and believes he is Jesus Christ. The staff of the hospital, certain that he is simply Captain Chandler with a mental issue, still cannot help but be drawn to his simple, peaceful, way. The camp chaplain is particularly engrossed in theological discussions with him. The psychiatrist, a Jewish major approaches him and Christ, as presented by Chandler, notes that he and Sydney Freeman have not met yet. Major Freeman asks, “Is it true that God answers all prayers?” Chandler, a look of sad resignation on his face, as a tear trickles down his cheek… he replies, very quietly,, “Yes, sometimes the answer is ‘No.’”2

In chapter 5 of the Gospel of Mark, the story is told of a man who had been out of his mind, living naked among the tombs; the villagers terrified of him. When the demon possessed man saw Jesus the demons immediate bowed before Him and begged not to be destroyed. In an apparent act of compassion even toward the demons Christ sent them into a herd of swine which then ran headlong into the sea. The villagers immediately pleaded with Jesus to leave them alone and to go away; which Jesus did. We should be careful for what we ask of God. As Christ was entering his boat to leave, the man freed of the demons asked to go along with Him but the Bible informs us that Jesus’ answer was ‘No.’ Jesus had something else for this man to do. Jesus said to him, “`Go away to thy house, unto thine own [friends], and tell them how great things the Lord did to thee, and dealt kindly with thee; and he went away, and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how great things Jesus did to him, and all were wondering.”3

The Bible never tells us what eventually happened in Decapolis. It was clear that when Jesus said, ‘No’ it was because He had something else of importance for the Kingdom to be done. There was a role and place for that one man that only he could fill. Has God said ‘No’ to you lately? Look closely at your request. Is it blocking something else that God might have for you?

In a theological discussion the priest and Captain Chandler were considering Judas Iscariot. Chandler (as Christ) said, “Being Judas, he could do nothing else.” Sadly, it seems Judas was born into this world for the horrid purpose of betraying Christ. Every person born into this world have been molded by the Potter as God explains to Jeremiah the prophet as recorded in Jeremiah 18. “I go down [to] the potter’s house, and lo, he is doing a work on the stones, and marred is the vessel that he is making, as clay in the hand of the potter, and he hath turned and he maketh it another vessel, as it was right in the eyes of the potter to make.”4

Paul writing his letter to the Romans recorded in chapter 9, declares “But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?”5

From 1954 to 1960 Americans were educated in the life and times of the manager of the General Insurance Company, Jim Anderson and his family, wife Margaret and their children, Betty, Bud and Kathy. Jim Anderson was played by veteran actor, Robert Young who went on some years later to play the role of Marcus Welby, M.D. In this 1950’s view of the ‘typical American life’ viewers came to understand that the title of the show was in fact the premise upon which every episode was built, “Father Knows Best.”6     

Without being trite or giving more due to the writers of a 1950’s sitcom than they deserve; Christians have come to realize that when it comes to matters of everything of any consequence (and for all those with little or no consequence in the grand scheme of things) our Heavenly Father knows best. And… sometimes, our Heavenly Father says, “No.”       

 

1 Kristol, William and Michel Makovsky “The Obama Complex” The Weekly Standard February 10, 2014  p 10

        2 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0638393/

       3  http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mark5&version=YLT

      4   http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=jeremia18&version=YLT

      5  http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans9&version=NKJV

    6   http://sharetv.com/shows/father_knows_best?utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=father%20knows%20best%20tv%20show&utm_campaign=Bing+Campaign

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