Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Semi-Random Musings (1)

My workplace isn’t a complete and utter hive of political correctness like so many major corporations today, but that’s sure not for lack of trying.

In our case the issue is economics rather than ideology. It has been deemed insufficiently cost-effective to put a dedicated Human Resources rep in what is really only a regional satellite office, so instead we are PC-policed from over a thousand miles away. Which means we aren’t, really.

That would be a nice benefit if we were free to enjoy it. But we aren’t. Somehow, without any discussion of the subject, we have managed to begin policing each other … for free.

Thus any expression of personal opinion that might be considered even tangentially to the right of Far Left is quickly tagged with an anonymous yellow sticky pointing out that it is in some manner or other “potentially offensive”. The list of potential grievances has now gotten so unwieldy that it includes things like complimenting one member of the staff in front of others, since that might lead the onlookers to feel comparatively undervalued.

Poor things.

Part of this, I’m sure, is the general mood of multicultural urban society; and most of it, I am very sure, is coming from our younger, university-educated employees, who are to a man (and woman) convinced that changing external behaviors by main force will eventually transform hearts and minds and produce a better world. It won’t.

Scripture teaches us that people express themselves in particular ways because they think in particular ways: “As he calculates in his soul, so is he.” Our mouths speak out of the abundance of our hearts, and while our increasingly Orwellian masters would like to get into the repository of our attitudes with their scalpels and excise all the nastiness they believe they will find there, that feat remains a hair beyond their ever-expanding reach.

These days, all such nagging really accomplishes is to drive the person being nagged to the Internet where he or she can find others to reinforce almost any currently taboo notion.

As one Twitter wag recently put it:
“Without a doubt, the most bizarre notion of current politics is the idea that you can make it legally mandatory for others to like you.”
— BeigeShiba
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Prayers that end with “… in Jesus’ name, amen” are not wrong per se. (Legalism is a slippery slope and we don’t want to start down it even part way for fear of ending up in a crumpled heap at the bottom.) But such a habit is spiritually risky in that it may allow us to slip unconsciously from aspiration to incantation.

Properly understood, asking the Father anything “in my name” is really to ask on the Son’s behalf, as if HE were the one asking. We can claim no promise from God that we will receive things we ask for outside the interests and goals of the risen Christ. In his grace from time to time the Father may choose to grant such a request, but he is under no obligation to do so, and we cannot put him there no matter how badly we desire a particular thing.

This being the case, as we pray we need to be always asking ourselves, “Am I really speaking for the Lord Jesus with this request or only for myself? Has he directed me to ask it?” Such questions can hardly be asked semi-consciously or in a pro forma manner; they require our full spiritual attention.

It seems to me that the last sentence of a prayer is a little bit late in the game to assess the appropriateness of requests already made.

Absent that, the words “in Jesus’ name” are just a meaningless mantra.

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The word “Jezebel” entered our culture from the Old Testament and has come to evoke everything from female promiscuity to manipulation to betrayal. Many who use the word today probably have no idea where it comes from. But if we’re looking for the worst woman in the OT, there’s a pretty good case to be made for Jezebel’s daughter Athaliah.

Jezebel incited her husband King Ahab of Israel to all sorts of evil, but Athaliah took her mom’s philosophy of being the power behind the throne to new depths, first inciting her husband, the king of Judah, to all sorts of evil including idolatry (and probably including the murder of his own family), then counseling her son Ahaziah to be even worse. After Ahaziah’s death, she murdered the entire royal family (with a singular exception that came back to haunt her in a big way). Later we find that before she had them all killed, her sons had been in the habit of breaking into the house of God and using the dedicated things they stole for the Baals. Lovely.

After this Athaliah ruled Judah for six years until finally unseated and summarily executed in a coup d’├ętat initiated by the high priest, at which “all the people of the land rejoiced”. It was the first and last time in Judah (or Israel’s) history that a woman sat on the throne.

Most importantly, while it was probably not Athaliah’s conscious intention to destroy the line of David through which Messiah would eventually come into the world, it’s clear she took the best possible crack at it, and that she was almost surely Satan’s pawn in doing so. Had she succeeded, there would have been no Joseph for Mary to marry, and at very least the Solomonic line of descent ascribed to the Lord Jesus would have been cut off.

You’d think such a performance ought to at least rate a dishonorable mention, or perhaps a modern adjective or two like “Athalian”, “Athalial” or maybe “Athalianic”.

On second thought, never mind. One exceptionally wicked archetype is plenty.

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