Saturday, September 24, 2005

A Take on "Lord of War"

I saw Lord of War with Nicholas Cage the other night, and I enjoyed it because I like finely crafted morality plays even though it was, indeed, spiritually wrenching. What made the film especially profound was that it exhibited several characteristics of the Catholicist Nation. Just wanted to note a few of them here:

1. The Catholicist will rationalize his questionable behavior so frequently that eventually he will become an expert at it. This is essentially the practice of casuistry, making some sophisticated case for an act no matter how evil it is. The World System militant operatives' influence in enabling this practice is brilliantly displayed in Lord of War. Cage's character knows that his elite gun-running operation contributes to the death of thousands, and his wife confronts him about it. He struggles but is resigned to his addiction because he confesses "I'm so good at it." He takes what is good (accomplishment from the talent God gave each of us to do great things for Him), and in his devotion to Mammon he twists it into a counterfeit that destroys (the essence of idolatry). His pat response to all who censure him in some form or another is that he is not responsible for the things his buyers do, or that those who use his weapons are legitimately defending themselves. Makes you shake your head, either because these claims are too stupid or, worse, that we never refuse to let them slide.

2. The Catholicist cannot escape the wretchedness of his world, no matter how valiantly he tries to evade it with his sophisticated rationalizations. At one point in the film, Cage's character says, "Someone once said, 'Evil prevails when good men fail to act.' They should just say 'Evil prevails.'" The choking despair reflected here is the most pronounced declaration the Catholicist can ever make. It is truly all he's ever left with. The only way out is by grasping the extended hand of the One who can actually rescue him from it: Jesus Christ. But in the fully Jesuitized Catholicist Nation where is He? He is certainly portrayed in any of his thousand straw-man forms, but they're just religious toys. He could also vibrantly be in the hands and feet and hearts of his disciples, but where are they? If they're grafted to the World through things like 501c3 contracts, then their pleas are all too often seen as mere solicitations to join another club.

3. Without Christ, the Catholicist will always fully be engaged in cutting down others in some form or another. In the World, all motivating desires, concerns, and convictions come from fear. How could it not be? Who's really there to be there, to care for you, to love you? No one! Cage's character even had a trophy wife, a top-class model throughly devoted to him. But his conception of her was one of a "straw-woman" if you will. The Agent of Cain makes his affections known to the Catholicist, but just as driven by fear he's the top gun-runner of them all. He deftly uses the education and media power networks to make sure conflict is sizzling wherever however. It is pointed out at the end of the film that the top five gun-dealing nations are the very same ones that occupy the permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council.

4. The Catholicist cannot help but be on the track from deception to murder. In other words, unless he is in the embrace of Christ and out of the workings of the World, all of the lying, deception, deceit, falsehood, and manipulation will always lead to his abject destruction at some point later in time. This is really it, what the World operatives want. The subversive directive for the committed Romanist official is for as many people to die without Christ as possible. If they are indeed "disguised as servants of righteosness" as it is written in Paul's second letter to the Corinthians, and doing exactly what their master wants, then all they can be about is getting people dead while deep in the worship of Cain. The film does a striking job of depicting that "body of death"--places like Sierra Leone and Liberia, hell on earth, that way only because the lie got started somewhere, somehow.

5. The Catholicist can be extraordinarily likeable, indeed there is nothing he does that he is not convinced in some way is very good. But it is all just evil. The reprobate Catholicist has his conduct down so durably that he has expertly caked it with spectacular moral pretense. This is the defining aspect of Cage's character. He is the quintessential anti-hero, we actually root for him in his neverending predicament. Through all the agony we still cheer him in his joy of making that big deal with the corrupt warlord-- it resonates with us, that we'd be as successful in our endeavors. At the end of the film it appears that he does "get his," to our great relief-- we simply can't be allowed to be too pleased with his phenomenal exploits. But after a good tongue-lashing from the Interpol agent who's chased him around the world, Cage's character says, "My wife and son have left me, my family has disowned me, and my brother is dead. I do appreciate the gravity of my situation. But I will not spend one second in a court." Why? Because the government values his service too much. He is a now a fully deputized agent of Cain. What else can he then do but continue to lay waste to more people's lives, both personally and professionally?

Sure the film is patently anti-war, anti-guns, expose-the-truth-of-what's-what, but in this point it can't be emphasized enough: The government is evil, indeed, but it is a necessary evil for all those who refuse to come to Christ to get out of that evil. Want to pretend you're not evil? That's okay, Rome is there in all its gun-running glory to smack you around, to manage the Lie so you don't find out about it too soon and escape the inevitable death by actually leaving to go to Christ and His kingdom, and to the joy and freedom that is there.

And that's the key to this film. If you're a thorough-going Catholicist, it's just an idiosyncratically fun movie with violence and sex and intrigue and stuff-- it's just a Hollywood production, it's not really like that. But for someone who wants out of the hell it depicts, a hell all too real to one who is authentically honest with himself, maybe he won't just resign in the despair.

Maybe he'll turn to Him.

What does that term "Catholicist" mean? If you want to know, click here.

For a little bit more about this Jesus, click here.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

God's Wonderful Matters

A long time ago I dreamed of having my own website in which I could just write about the things I see that destroy people, things that maybe those people would look at and see for themselves and not be mixed up with those things anymore and find true joy and freedom and contentment. I planned to call it "The Pascalian Cynic," first for the French philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal, an iconoclastic figure of the highest order; and secondly for the kind of person I see myself as: a cynic who so desires to see authentic expressions of the life that God made in each person. I find that I either rejoice in that expression or I withdraw because it pains me so to watch so many so willingly and often gleefully dance with death. In many ways I've been trained by good Catholicists not to say anything because, well of course, I'd be intolerant narrow-minded bigoted and all the rest of it.

So now there's the Internet. Joy! Here I can boldly lay out my case about what the World is really like and what it is really doing to draw people from that One source of genuine contentment. Yes, I confess, there is a measure of safety here. I do enjoy this-- writing in my modest webzine The Catholicist Nation and blogging here-- but I also know that this cannot be a fellowship community, that I must be with people, with them in physical proximity, worshipping Him in Spirit and in Truth. This is the vibrancy of the Acts 2 church. Sadly, I believe many consider the only way truth-telling communities can thrive, at least for now, is in cyberspace. While understandable in the sense that the church has been so corrupted by the World, we cannot settle for mere cyber-interaction. Jesus wants us to be His "flesh and bones," as Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians.

I've called this blog "Wonderful Matters" because my absolute favorite passage in the Bible is the entirety of Psalm 131. Here it is, it is rather short, but in it you may see why I've adopted the title.

"My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore."

It is phen0menally amazing to me that God has wonderful matters for us, most of which we don't even need to know about. In fact, I believe the first step to getting derailed and screeching headlong to one's destruction is to try to figure out things that one shouldn't be trying to figure out. Those engaging in such presumption take the place of God--it was the very first sin in the Garden! The critical wonderful matter here, however, is that one is with Him. Once we turn to Him and allow Him to do that with what is His, once we tell Him we'd like to do whatever it is He wants for us, once we enter into His family as His adoptive children and as such rejoice in being heirs of all that is His, He lets us in on an extraordinary breadth of understanding regarding that which matters.

The first thing, though, is to quietly, serenely walk with Him knowing He provides--just like the weaned child whose hope, whose life, is in Him.

As it is, that is too wonderful.

And it makes me all the more want to direct people to that wonder and beauty and grace as they trudge through a violently wretched World. By all means I don't know everything. That's exactly the point. All I need to do is "know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge" (also from Ephesians). I'm a cynic not so much because I hate the World, but because I see enough of how awesome the Kingdom is, how magnificent His care is, how profound His mercy is, and how stunningly people are convinced they're into wonderful matters without Him.

Look here for my take on why Jesus Christ is the source of anything that matters at all.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Help for New Orleans Part II

One of the remaining issues now along the gulf coast in the wake of hurricane Katrina's devastation is what the final "body count" will be. By some estimates it will be as many as 10,000 dead. One of the questions frequently asked of someone who believes in God is, "Okay, so we ask God for help. Well, what about them. What about those who died. How come God didn't help them?"

The funny thing is that in all the media-generated discussion about whether God is responsible for this or for that or for none of it or for all of it, it is never brought up that Jesus addressed this exact question.

Look at the book of Luke, chapter 13. The account is not in any of the other gospels, it is only in Luke. Here some people ask Him, essentially, "Hey, Jesus, what's the deal with that tower that fell on a bunch of people killing them? And what about the people who were sacrificed for pagan rituals, what's the deal with that?" (In other words, "Why do terribly bad things happen to good, fine people?")

Read Jesus' response for yourself. Right there. Read it. Then you'll really know what the deal is. Paraphrased here for you, Jesus basically says that whether any of them was good or bad is beside the point. Oh, what is the point then? To Jesus, the point is

Are you, the one asking these questions, good or bad? And if you are bad, then you should probably think about being good. Because someday you're going to die, too. And where will you be then?

In fact, Jesus doesn't pull any punches. He says here--as He does in other places-- that no, you're not good. You really need something, ahem, Someone, to make you good. Indeed you're so bad you're dead already. So that stuff about falling towers and human sacrifices? Pointless really.

You're already dead.

So maybe you should think about being alive.

And the only way to be alive is with Him.

"I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in Me, even though he dies, will live." That's from the book of John. Check that out too, while you're at it.

It can't get any more clear than that.

And it can't get any more urgent, because if you're asking that same question, He's talking to you.

For a bit more on why Jesus is the only way to life, click here.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Help for New Orleans

Looking at all the people now screaming for help in New Orleans after the devestation of Katrina, hearing about how much more George Bush could be doing, listening to only the stories on the media of people whining and complaining and groaning, I just wonder what would happen if they actually asked God for help.

No, actually asked Him for help, not demanded it or cajoled it or bargained for it. It is just that I read in the Bible about just asking and you'll be fed. He fed thousands with a few fish and bread. He said we're more valuable than some birds. He said if we asked we'd be able to move mountains. I'm just saying that's what I read in the Bible.

I actually think there are some people doing great charitable things for God there. I really think there are a lot of people doing that. I think some people are being really blessed in some way somehow there. But it seems all I hear about are those who're being shafted-- at least that's what the media tells us. I think, this is just what I think, that we're being given the story they want to give us so we'll all give more homage to Cain's agent. Think about how much you hear about how little George Bush is doing-- "Come on, get crackin' Mr. President you loser get your rear in gear and get us stuff."

Again, why don't they ask God instead of George? I truly think they'd find abundance, miraculous abundance, and all they have to do is ask-- and maybe just thank Him a little bit.