Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Some Trust In Chariots...

We've been close to a nuclear World War III more often than you would like to think.

For instance:

1. On the evening of October 25, 1962, at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, an air force sentry at a military base near Duluth, Minnesota "spotted someone climbing the base fence, shot at the figure, and sounded the sabotage alarm." As alarms at airfields all over the region were sounded, at Volk Field, Wisconsin, the wrong alarm, the one signaling nuclear war (the "P.S., we mean it, this is not a drill" alarm) went off, and pilots scrambled and headed down the runway, being stopped only at the last second by the post commander. The "intruder" was a bear.

2. Also in the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis, only two days later, October 27, 1962, on the same day that an American U-2 spy plane was shot down over Cuba: At this point, Soviet submarines were being subjected to depth charges to make them rise to the surface (we were unaware they had nuclear weapons aboard). Despite strict orders not to use their nuclear torpedoes absent authorization from Moscow, the three Soviet officers aboard Foxtrot submarine B-59 had decided to use theirs if under attack and unable to reach Moscow but only if all three officers agreed. They were, in fact, unable to reach Moscow, and in the end, one officer, Vasili Alexandrovich Arkipov, finally made the fateful decision not to start WWIII.

3. In 1983, U.S.-NATO military maneuvers in Europe, called "Able Archer 83," were interpreted for a time by the Soviets as the prelude to a -- not so good -- full-scale nuclear attack.

4. On January 25, 1995, technicians at the Olengrosk early warning radar facility detected an unidentified ballistic missile over Norway which appeared to be heading for Russia. Because the missile was manufactured in the United States, its "signature trail" was therefor identified by Russian computers as hostile and apparently fired from a U.S. submarine in the Arctic Sea, even though it was actually only a Norwegian research rocket researching the Northern Lights. President Yeltsin's "nuclear briefcase" was activated and Russian missile submarines ordered to battle stations. Finally, with three minutes to spare, the missile was correctly identified. Happily, for the human race, this incident took place at a time when Yeltsin was President and not earlier (or subsequent) presidents.

But this is the mere tip of the iceberg of close calls known to experts. There have been literally hundreds of false alerts of a nuclear attack in this country alone, triggered by such things as a flock of geese, the rising of the moon, the sun's reflection on a cloud, a strong solar storm, and space debris re-entering the atmosphere. And of course, there have been who knows how many similar or worse incidents in other countries. (From World Peace Through Law, by James Taylor Ranney)

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Truth is...if history teaches us anything, we should know by now that mankind is capable of horrific, and horrifically short-sighted, acts of aggression. Our hope for peaceful coexistence can't reside in the strength of our armaments to deter, or the openness of our hearts to live and let live.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. (Psalm 20:7 NIV)

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Healed by Faith or Medicine?

When a person goes to a doctor, is that a lack of faith in God?

You have heard it said that disease is not from God...it is a result of The Fall (Adam & Eve's/mankind's initial choice to go their OWN way instead of God's way). It is fair to assume that God's ultimate desire is for His creation to be in perfect harmony with Him and itself...for example, no disease.

And some folks believe the treatment for all disease should be, therefor, leaving it up to God to restore a person's body to perfect health.

So, is it evidence of a lack of faith when someone goes to a doctor in hopes of getting rid of a physical ailment?

I really appreciate an ancient insight I recently read, attributed to Saint Basil of Caesarea (329-379 CE), who is thought to have founded the first hospital (from The First Thousand Years, by Robert Louis Wilken):

When [Basil} was a student at Athens, he had shown particular attentiveness in the study of medicine, not only in its practical side, but also in its theory and principles. He had gained enough experience to know, as he put it in one of his letters, that incompetent physicians often make people's illnesses worse. In one of his writings on the monastic life, The Longer Rule, he addressed the question as to whether relying on the 'art of medi­cine' is in keeping with Christian piety. Medicine, he wrote, like the know-how of a farmer or the skill of a weaver, is a gift of God. Because the body is susceptible to illness, God has given human beings the skills to heal illness. 'Just as we would have no need of the labor and toil of the farmer if we were living among the delights of paradise, so we would not require the art of medicine for healing if we were immune to disease.' The work of the physician who heals bodies [swells] to the glory of God no less than the work of those who care for the soul. As the Lord used clay for healing (John 9:6), so also it is good that physicians use the things of the earth for the cure of bodily ills.

Truth is...I don't have a definitive answer to the question "Healed by Faith or Medicine?", but as is often the case when presented with an either/or concerning God, the truth probably lies closer to both/and.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Pearls Before Swine Speaks Truth

I'm pretty sure I've never before tapped into Stephan Pastis' comic strip, Pearls Before Swine, for any kind of life lesson, but this past Sunday's strip, I believe, may have touched on something a lot of people are feeling.

It begins with the sweetest, most innocent character in the cast, Pig, as he is bombarded with current events.

Then, we see Pig's unique reaction.

But it's the final panel that plops us right in the middle of SadButTrueVille.

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Truth is...No doubt, plenty of us wish we had a balloon that would float us away from turmoil and conflict. The hard truth is, we have to BE the change we'd like to see. I can be part of the solution, or I can be part of the problem.

(Now, let's discuss that pig snout on the front of Goat's face.)

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The One Who Falls

It's dance. It's pantomime. It's performance art.

It touches on (at least) competition, cooperation, yearning, loving, separation, community, desperation, and death.

It's intriguing. It's fascinating. It's mesmerizing.

It's a great effect and it affects greatly.

It's a piece by sculptor/choreographer Yoann Bourgeois titled (roughly translated from the French) "The One Who Falls".

Truth is...between the song, the faces of the performers, the fact that the world keeps spinning no matter what...there's plenty to contemplate here. I long for the hopeful resolution that would surely be added if Yoann were a Christ-follower (making an unfair assumption here), and yet, this piece says a lot about life as we experience it here on Planet Earth.