Monthly Archives: March 2010

I’ve taken a recent interest in politics, it’s genesis in the building hours of the signing of Health Care Reform within the House of Representatives. Though clothed in sensation, this birth was born of disgust and repulsion. I watched the Minority Leader speak as his regretful words grew into a growl, and then into an embarrassing roar. With my shot hearing and poor knowledge of politics, I was later informed that much yelling occurs in congressional meetings, and that such savagery isn’t all too uncommon in political arenas; I was recommended Parliament for a benchmark visage.

I always imagined our political leaders as civil and well behaved, sorts of heroes that endeavored into what I never desired to set foot in. Clearly, this was my youthful imagination. Though a gross generalization, yet possibly a reputable claim, our political leaders are monsters. I was disgusted at the idea that I voted for these representatives — let alone, could vote for them. The incivility and rash immaturity was strong foundation for me to believe that democracy, in very blatant terms, sucks.

Days before reform passed, I conversed with a friend about these things over dinner. We began to discuss different political systems, and my dinner partner enlightened me of the varieties. Days prior, a friend introduced, in my mind at least, a rather novel idea: That the Nazi political system was efficient and possibly one of the best political systems; had their supremest and anti-Semitic views not been so central, the Nazis would have been a legitimate and powerful political presence in Europe and perhaps the remaining globe. What drove this home for me was that an efficient and select few governed. Under the assumption that they ruled for the best interests of their citizens in a virtuous pursuit of truth and goodness, it sounded the purest political establishment.

Which beckons us back to The Republic, where Plato dreams a city governed by Philosopher-Kings and -Queens. This, I believe, is the perfect political system. For years this genuine theory has circulated itself through the minds of thinkers, yet it has not been realized, and, I am confident to assert, will never happen on this Earth in its condition and nature.

This is a sharp transition from political theory and critique to spiritual application. I discussed this in brief with my roomate as he prepared for his slumber, and I drew the parallel that the Lord’s Kingdom would be as Plato had dreamed: Governed by a ruler(s) trained in ethic, virtue, and truth — always seeking the Good. Such a ruler is God. The ideal political system will be realized in the Eternal Kingdom, and that Eternal Kingdom will only be in place when the New Earth and Heaven are created. It would be impossible to install that system from the top-down in our day. We could, and nations have, establish such political installments, but they will either fail or turn brash. If we want Plato’s Republic, we need a revolution among the common folk — a revolution in desires and interests.

Now for the real spiritual application: My roomate commented that when I revealed my unabashed desire and dedication for such a ruler, he thought of the Anti-Christ. Had I been cast in a dramatic sequence, shivers would have ran along the vertical of my spine, and a dark and dreary musical assemblage would have blanketed the screen. That did not happen, but it did cause me alarm. Had the Anti-Christ appeared prior to that exchange of conversation, would I have dedicated myself to him or her? It prompted me to take a more serious look at Revelation and eschatology. I’m skintly knowledgeable of the End Times, and this is reasonable concern for any believer. Attraction is the bane of us all, but Revelation provides groundwork to beat it.

( Photo via Will Burrard-Lucas )

Excerpted from Reading the Bible in the Strange World of Medicine by Allan Verhey, footnote his (Copyright  2003 Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., pg. 33-34):

There was, so the tale is told, a heart patient who was both quite sick and quite pious. He had the habit of opening his Bible at random and, without looking, putting his finger upon the page. He would take any passage thus identified to be a word from God for him in whatever circumstances he found himself. After he had been admitted to the hospital, and after the initial round of tests and procedures, when he was finally left alone in his room, he took his Bible and let it fall open upon his lap. It fell open to the Psalms, and he put his finger down upon Psalm 51:10. He opened his eyes to read it; “Create in me a clean heart, O God,” it said. And then he looked up with rapture that God should speak so directly to his condition. It was a word from God, surely — a message, a sign. And he knew what it meant. It could only mean that he should receive a Jarvik Seven, the artifical heart that he had recently read of in the newspaper. He summoned the nurse to report this remarkable event, and he sent a message to his doctor that he needed a Jarvik Seven.

The physician stopped by in the morning, and when she had heard the patient’s story, she refused to take Psalm 51:10 as an indication of a need for a Jarvik Seven. “A Jarvik Seven is probably not what the psalmist had in mind,” she said. The patient was not easily convinced; he kept pointing to the still-open Bible and to Psalm 51:10. As the doctor got up to leave the room and to quit the argument, she put her finger down upon that same Bible, upon the psalm before Psalm 51, upon its ninth verse, and she read its words: “I will accept no bull from your house.” ((The patient’s Bible must have been a Revised Standard Version (RSV).)) That sort of “bull” is probably not what the psalmist had in mind either, of course, but the patient was suddenly a little less confident about his method of “searching the Scriptures.” And so should we be.

It’s a very entertaining tale, and one, I’m ashamed to reveal, that I’m guilty of engaging in. I remember moments in my life where I would open my Bible and hope for a miraculous revelation, but, instead, what was miraculous was my steadfastness in finding what I wanted to find. I don’t think miracles happen today as they did with the early church. Certainly, unexplainable phenomena may be attributed the title of miracle, to which, I’m confident, staunch naturalists will attribute the title “that which has no explanation yet“. In light of that, I think miracles have an unfortunate association with miraculous things — or rather, “impossible” things. The miracles presented in the Bible are certainly miraculous, and they seem this way, I postulate, because they seem impossible. How do you feed 5,000 persons with a few loaves of bread and fish? How do you sustain a widow, her orphan, and a prophet for days with enough ingredient for only a day’s meal? How does a virgin conceive, or the dead resurrect?

I don’t doubt the existence of miraculous miracles, but I think miracles, for the most part, are much more natural today. That is, the impossibility of the biblical miracles has reduced. Certainly there exists a spiritual reason to ask for miracles, but their actuality, I believe, is more natural than we seek. ((Isn’t it rather human to desire what, at times, seems unattainable?)) Instead of hoping for a miracle cure from an illness, it is a miracle that God has provided doctors; and it is the health care practitioners that perform the miracle. Instead of hoping for a miracle mark on your next exam, it is a miracle that God has provided tutors and peers that grasp the material more adequately, and are able to help — even then, it is a miracle that you can have a swing at the content, and can train yourself to understand it; and it is the tutors, peers, and yourself who perform the miracle.

Yet, certainly, there exists this supernatural realm of demons and spirits. It’s hard for me to surrender to the belief, but I am confident in professing my belief of spirits and demons. ((As a professing Christian, I must believe that spirits exist, lest I denounce the existence of the Holy Spirit. And if the Spirit exists, it must follow that demons as well.)) And it is in this realm that I am befuddled. I’m curious to know the prevalence of demons and spirits in the 1st century and why, or at least why it seems, the prevalence has decreased today. It’s also an interesting thought to ponder on why these spirits seem to be more populated in less developed areas. ((It makes me thinks of rural villages where witch doctors still exist, and where shamans heal patients by warding off evil spirits. These observations draw me back to a very interesting interpretation of Genesis that I put forth about a year ago. Perhaps I’ll revisit it and tie in this idea.))

The dichotomy of science and spirit is an area that might summarize the pinnacle of my academic endeavor. I am so interested in that intersection. The most profound thing, I think, that I will find at that intersection is that the collision of these two subjects isn’t as immiscible as we have developed it to be. It could be that the two subjects are really more natural than we think.

Final Note: I feel like the excerpted story is irrelevant  to the entry, or vice versa. I’m not sure how I twisted either to support the other, but let me be firm in my purpose in writing this: sometimes God is more natural than we think, and sometimes science, the method and discipline, is more godly than it ought to be. The divine is, at times, more common, and reason, at times, is not the Absolute.