Light on a Hill
Tom Vormund the bus driver sat, as was his custom after a long work day and a delicious supper, in his shabby recliner chair silently watching the courtroom TV show that aired every weekday night. Tom, normally the goofy life of the party at work or extended family gatherings, religiously avoided talking during two daily activities: eating his meals and watching light-weight programs on TV. In fact, the more shallow or banal the show, the more rapt attention it received from Tom. Or so it seemed to his wife Gloria, who was just out of sight washing dishes in the kitchen. Each day she steadily whittled off time in purgatory by just being within continual earshot of the sci-fi channel and Steven Seagall.
Living in the reduced, formerly glorious city of Schenectady, NY and dwelling in a large, World War I era, formerly glorious house in need of serious updating, she secretly thanked God that her kitchen was not part of some suburban, "wonderful open floor plan". In fact, hiding back here and doing dishes in solitude (since, especially if one asked for help it would ensure that one would be completely left alone), gave her respite from her busy day with the six children, the animals, the phone calls and ill-timed visits from neighbors, friends and relatives. Gloria Vormund, nee DeGrazia, even as she approached middle age, had just begun to become aware of how eccentric and out-of-step she truly was, thinking her thoughts and treasuring her stay-at-home life in this day and age, doing dishes by hand and singing the Mass parts in her head as she scrubbed and stacked.
Just now the baby, strategically placed next to Daddy, was swinging in his swing, hostage to its hypnotic rhythm, surveying the opening credits rolling over a shot of the TV courtroom. Big 6 year old sister, Sophia, was imparting fashion advice to little 4 year old sister Giselle, as the former, with her long, golden curls lovingly brushed out the long, auburn curls of the latter, cozily ensconced as they were in their pink, doll-infested bedroom.
The boys were each engaged in favorite pastimes, as well. The eldest child, 12 year old Joshua, had slipped unobserved, out the back door and into the alley that ran along the back yards between the streets. Free at last, he stood outside in the not quite satisfactory shelter of a scraggly tree and lit up an illicit Marlboro. As he took a nice, big puff, his quick and agile mind thought about this stifling, ridiculous world of school and church and family rules and how inanely lame it all truly was, and resolved to live a libertine life somewhere else, as soon as he turned 18. He was all alone, or so he thought, except for the neighbor's homely tom cat, who came out from under a broken end table that the garbage men had missed. He rubbed up against the boy's leg and received some gentle head-rubbing affection from that bohemian in a ball cap, that hardened sinner, the animal-loving Joshua.
He was all alone, or so he thought.
The younger boys, up in their room with the unmade beds, busied themselves in more age-appropriate activity. Nicholas, 8, was busily searching under the bed for lost Legos in order to assist brother Anthony, 10, with the construction of their newly imagined project, the foreboding dark fortress of the rock trolls. However, just as the warm soapy, low-tech washing of dishes freed their mother's mind to ponder the sublime mysteries of life, so the builders of Lego castles had leisure to discuss the truly important.
"Do you know how much money we could make on a yard sale? Let's get all our old toys and the junk in the attic and have one Saturday", said Nicholas, who was not as sentimental about keeping old things as he was desirous of raising capital for new endeavors. His big brother, Anthony, though not one to turn down a little extra coin with which to hunt down bargains, was nevertheless, more of a collector.
"Well, we could, but do you really want to give up all your old toys?" he asked, fitting a tiny black helmet on the head of a menacingly cute Lego troll man.
"Hmm, we could start with the girls'
stuff then", answered the pragmatic Nicholas, still under the bed.
"If Sophia catches you, she'll beat your head in with that big, old hard plastic doll that used to be Mom's", laughed Anthony.
"That's the one I'd get rid of first", said Nicholas as he wiggled back out from under the bed with a small cache of the tiny building blocks. "Here", he said.
"Thanks, Nick. I still don't think we can have a yard sale, though. Maybe in the Spring, but not right now cause its November. And people don't like to walk around and be cold at yard sales".
Anthony was right. November, in upstate NY, is a dark melodrama of lengthening shadows. It serves as a rainy, blank interlude between the bright gaudy, golden days of high Autumn and Thanksgiving Day, which finally pulls back the curtain on the year's crown jewel, Christmas. Ah, Christmas, the holiday that lasts well into a New York January and in some minds, makes the rest of the year just able to be suffered.
Even now, on a Monday evening at 6 p.m., the night outside the lace-curtained window was black as pitch, its air filled with a chilly drizzle and the long, sorrowful descent of the last brown leaves from the great branches of old trees to the rotting leaf graveyard that was the grass and street below.
"Well then," resolved little Nicholas, "I might just load up my wagon and go door to door".
Gloria was just rinsing off the last dish, her beloved, oversized cast-iron skillet, which she then dried with a paper napkin, placed back on the gas stove, gave its inside an olive oil rub, and lit the burner in order to season it for its next use, undoubtedly tomorrow. Her ritual was interrupted by Tom who was talking loud enough in the living room to attract her attention.
"Now I know this is fake!" he proclaimed, either to her, the baby, or into the unquestioning ether. She turned down the burner to low, and went in to investigate.
"What?" she asked.
"How many times have I watched this show?" he asked.
"All these cases are fake."
"No, they're not. What do you mean?"
"Every time they start a new case, they show the people walking in and what does the announcer say?" Tom asked rhetorically, because Gloria sure didn't know or care. He proceeded to enlighten her.
"They always say, 'the litigants are on their way into the courtroom'".
"So?" she asked, clueless and mindful of her pan on the stove.
"Now how could all these people be from the same family, huh?"
"They're not from the same family, what are you talking about Tom?"
"Exactly. How could they all be the Litigants? How come they all have the same last name, the Litigants? The guy always says, 'The Litigants are on their way into the courtroom"
Just then, the baby looked up at his mother and sighed.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
NOW IS THE WINTER OF OUR DISCONTENT
"And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold." Mt. 24:12
Praised be Jesus Christ in every tabernacle!
We have a new president and he has chosen the people with whom he wants to lead. We must pray for them, without fail, every day. At the same time, I will not seek to conform to any immoral laws and values in the name of unity. For what fellowship hath light with darkness?
Because sinful ideas, behavior, and governing are not named for what they are, we have been desensitized to what an affront and offense they pose to God, and I am only taking His Word for it!
Calling evil good, and good evil will soon destroy us if we continue to countenance such a stance. Every civilization before us that has relaxed its moral standards eventually succumbed to rot and collapsed in its own stench. "And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it." (Mt. 7:27).
Why do we call what is evil, good? I think it stems from inordinate desires and a lack of personal accountability. We redefine terms, so that we may have what we should not. Look at something as simple as knowing we cannot afford a house at X price, but grabbing it anyway through a "magical" mortgage. This act of personal irresponsibility, magnified by the thousands of such transactions has brought down an economy, which threatens to bring down our country and the rest of the world with it! The seedy uncle of this, credit card debt, moves the process speedily along.
We lived in apartments until we could afford a house that could be managed on one income. I never felt any shame in this. Why should I? Before WWII a goodly number of people, including the professional classes, lived in rented homes. I don't understand why it is shameful to rent but not so to take a mortgage on a house you cannot afford and then furnish it with items purchased with credit cards. And now that the house of cards has collapsed no one is asking the hard questions of those who were not personally accountable enough to live within their own means.
Another example of calling something evil good is the homosexual neurosis and the dangerous and lets just say, really negative sexual practices that it foments. There, I've said it and I'm calling it for what it is. We cannot continue to "make nice" about this. You can love who you want to, but its more than likely true that your feelings stem from either being seduced/molested as a young person or because of poor and inappropriate parenting from mom and/or dad. I am not mocking anyone here; I am sorry for the pain that these children were put through, and therefore do not think there is anything gay at all about having one's innocence stolen or being neglected or abused. That traumatized person needs help, love, compassion and healing, but they will not receive it because the gay lifestyle is lauded and admired, so no help can come to the hurting soul.
Let me be clear: Homosexuals are children of God whom He loves as much as the dearest saint. I said, however, that homosexual neurosis is evil, i.e. a bad thing with which some are sadly afflicted, and that homosexual practices are gravely disordered and inherently evil. Eventually, through health issues and a soul bereft of help, a person will break down, and when you legislate homosexuality to be normal behavior, legalize gay "marriage" and insist on indoctrinating children in the beauty of a homosexual lifestyle, it will bring down society.
There is, however, another reason for homosexual behavior. A more basic reason than those aforementioned, can be found in the pre-Judaeo-Christian pagan worldview. Heathen society considered that a man may pleasure himself with anyone or thing that he desires if he has power over them. So, in this case and as it is progressing today, homosexuality is a subset of this entitlement. This was standard practice in the world before Moses. The list of (perfectly acceptable) receptacles for a man's lust included wife, sister, slave girls, little boys, other men, sheep, goats, etc. Isn't that great? The Mosaic code created a startling and radical new way of living and relating, but now the old paganism has resurrected itself in the form of enlightened, compassionate progressivism. The role of woman and wife was elevated by the Law and the fulfillment of that law, Jesus Christ, but now, in the name of equal rights, women are being used, abused, dumped and left bereft of support by men whom they allow to do what they will with them. Satan himself must laugh at the irony that women have bought into this sorry bill of goods because they believe in feminism - "the empowering of women".
What is true of paganism in sexual practices was also true of the value of life itself in the "Old Religion" and finds its new incarnation growing insidiously in our own culture today. In the good old pagan worldview, a man may do whatever he wishes to anyone or thing under his control and authority. No surprise that human sacrifice abounded, with the even more titillating variation of sacrificing one's children on the fiery altar of the gods. In Rome as in other ancient communities, babies born with birth defects were brought down to the city dump and left there to die. (Interestingly, when the Christians came around they would go and rescue the babies and bring them home to raise up as their own).
In native American culture as in other pre-Christian cultures, the old and disabled were routinely put out of the camp to die. I do not know if the following was typical, nevertheless an incident occurred on land that is now within the city limits of my hometown, which is horrifying to contemplate. It seems a young Indian chief was trying to put distance between himself and his pursuing enemies. His aged mother had fled with him and his men. When he saw it was slow going, he instructed his braves to stop at that spot, and bury his mother alive so that her presence would no longer slow them down.
There's life without the light of Christ for you.
The old nature and its old religion put little value on the sanctity of life. Indeed, the Mosaic injunction of an "eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" was actually an improvement over the heathen view that said, "You make me mad and I'll massacre your whole village".
Abortion, road rage, senseless violence, pornography, pedophilia, assisted suicide, deciding who should live based on their "quality of life", eugenics, all these are part of an ancient evil, man as a senseless brute, filling up his cup of iniquity and asking Satan to supersize it for him. No, we will not be accountable for ourselves, our finances, our part in building truly stable marriages, families and communities. No, give us bread and circuses, and above all, give us "change we can believe in".
May we wake up in time, cease the dialogue with darkness, speak the truth in love and may the Lord, in His mercy, bring revival to our land.