Thursday, September 03, 2020

Obey The Authorities, Listen To The Experts, But...Everything IS Willed By God

 Let me say it this way: It is comparatively "easier" to lament hardship, death, and moral evil in the hearing of a sovereign God, than it is to believe He is benevolent, but not sovereign. Do you realize that passages of Scripture and the witness of history are troubling precisely because God is confessed as Almighty? What's the point of crying out in anguish to a God who can't do anything? What is "faith", in a Friend who is kind, but feckless? In all this, we must understand that an account of evil, and its relationship to freedom is crucial.

I might do a lot of wailing and crying, because the sovereign God allows truly heinous, unimaginable things. Why? Your guess is as good as mine. I might even dare to say--Heaven forbid!--that I think God is doing a terrible job. I won't ever say He's not there, or that He's been somehow surprised.

Job never got the true answer to his questions. If you read that book of Job, you'll see that. Job is never privy to the conversation in the supernatural realms at the beginning. We see it; we know: The evil one wants to mess with him, and God allows it. This is troubling in itself. One thing I do know: God thunders against Job from the whirlwind; He doesn't sigh and shrug.

There are Christians and others who believe all manner of wacky, dangerous things. People have died of COVID-19, because they believed "faith" would protect them. I'm not going to tell you how much fear you should have about the virus. I'm not going to make any proscriptions against your freedom, at least not beyond my authority. I am going to say that God is sovereign, by definition.

Someone could question Providence--and even turn it into a "shameful" "ism" in the National Catholic Reporter--and this remains true: Everything supernatural utterly relies on a revealing God, who always remains in control.  

Wednesday, September 02, 2020

Obvious, But Not That Obvious: The Missionary Impulse Belongs To God

 If you've been a Christian, and you've gone to the same church for any length of time, you'll probably meet some missionaries. Mission work is a big deal, and rightly so. We love that "Go, therefore,…" at the end of Matthew's Gospel. Again, this is rightly so. But don't forget what Jesus says right before that: "All power in heaven, and on earth has been given to me." It is interesting that he does not say, "to you". What this means plainly is that anyone who shares the good news of Jesus does so in the power of Jesus.

St. Paul gets pretty worked up about immorality in Corinth, and he says, "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?" Leaving aside the immorality for a moment, this is one of those, "Do you realize what this is saying?!?" moments of the Bible. We ourselves are temples. The adoration of Almighty God is taking place within us! There is a mystery here, but this is why Jesus told us that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit would come to dwell in us. The Blessed Trinity is itself a communion of love. God is conducting a mutual admiration society for Himself in our souls. It seems funny, but unlike us, God isn't being sarcastic.

All of the known world would come to Jerusalem to worship the true God in the one Temple; now, God empowers millions of people to bring the true worship with them wherever they go.

I must confess, this lofty thought has not been at the forefront of my thoughts the past few days. Yet that is all the more reason to meditate on it, when it does come to mind. Forgiveness is always available, if the Temple has started to look like a 7-11 with a lazy cleanup crew.

Tuesday, September 01, 2020

Processed Foods And Other Stuff

 I know the blog has been a little fallow lately, but I haven't been in the frame of mind to say anything that I felt like sharing. I'm happy for the money--such as it is--that the ads on the blog slowly and surely accumulate, and which will one day be paid, but I never wanted to treat this blog like work or a chore that I was doing. And trust me, if I published every time I was in a mood, I'm pretty sure I would redefine "pariah".

Anyway, you hear all the time that processed foods are bad. It's absolutely true that there are many milligrams of sodium in anything we call "processed". Presumably, large amounts of sodium is added as a preservative, in order to increase the shelf life of certain foods. There are large portions of the so-called "clean food" movement that represent nothing more than a transmuted desire for ritual purity, long since abandoned in religious practice. That said, if you pressed me, I would probably eat less sodium if I could, all things being equal. The absolute worst thing about the sodium in processed foods is that it does not appreciably improve the taste experience of whatever it is you happen to be eating. Therefore, most normal people will add table salt to something that was already loaded with sodium in the first place. I'm gratified that I can keep your beef stew in a can or a package for more than a year. However, it still doesn't taste great without help, and that is help that I intend to provide.

You know, I broke my salt-shaker the other day. I won't say it shattered in a million pieces, but it was enough that I had to mourn the loss of my salt-shaker. Even in America, do you know how boring our food is without salt and pepper? Really boring! Our forefathers were at least partially English of course, so they are not only pioneers in moving west, but pioneers in eating boring food.

On the other hand, like any Midwestern white person, I don't like my food to be too adventurous. It's always funny when I watch a cooking show, like Top Chef, or The Great British Baking Show, because the odds are better than even money that I won't eat whatever it is. You can hear the foodie types talking about flavor notes and surprises, and I wonder who these weirdos actually are, with this eating-as-aesthetic-experience thing going on. I like a good flavor as much as the next guy, but I eat to eat, not to experience food. The number one rule I would give any chef is, "Don't repulse me with your food." If I'm completely honest, I laugh hysterically when some host says, "Your seasoning overpowered everything else." Is there a bigger "first world problem" than over-seasoned food? I will play you a piece on the world's smallest violin, as I bring your brisket, festooned with entirely too much salt.

So I had this beef stew, and lacking table salt, I used seasoned salt, which is paprika, dried stuff, and only Heaven knows what else. It was probably a bit much, but out of the can like that, it just doesn't taste right. Which reminds me: when I would get the same stew in a plastic microwavable container, it was tastier, but smaller. Too bad I couldn't open the thing to save my life.

One more thing. Having a disability which also comes with a startle response is really irritating, especially when opening sealed cans of stew. I think to myself, "I know that when I pull this lid off, it's going to make a sharp noise, which will startle me, and splatter beef gravy all over this kitchen." The noise doesn't have to be loud, just different and sudden. I estimate that it takes at least 300 mg of sodium in some form or another, to balance out that frustration.