Saturday, December 20, 2008


Comic Art


This space received a comment a while back suggesting a look at the character we examine today - the arch enemy of the Sorcerer Supreme, The Dread Dormammu (a name that could only come from the pen of Stan Lee.) So here we are. And since the Kirby stuff had about run its course we will use this to start a series on the baddies of the comic book world.

Dormammu is arguably Dr. Strange's greatest foe, although my money would probably go on Mordru for that role. But one thing is for sure. Dormammu is among the greatest images form the pen of Steve Ditko.

I have never been a huge Ditko fan. To me great artists become definitive for a character and for the most part Ditko's characters have gone on to be done better by someone else. But I have said in this space before and will say it again, the Ditko image here on the left featuring Dormammu and Eternity remains one of the most iconic ever in the medium. It is Ditko at his best. It could be argued that this image's effect is more the result of the inker or the colorist, but Ditko's pencils indicted the stark black of Eternity, and the complete lack of background. Nope, this is Ditko's image.

Dormammu has been through a lot of changes in his fictional existence. That is usually indicative of a character that has great potential, but never gets done quite right. In this case I think it is because he has never found precisely the right place to sit.

As we go through this series, we will talk continually about the fact that a hero is only as good as his villains. I don't think that is entirely true, it is about the conflict that arises and gets played out time and time and time again. Because Strange has Mordru, and their fit is near perfect, Dormammu suffers from not quite fitting into the picture properly.

Dormammu cannot be let go - he is an iconic image and a great one, but he needs someplace to call home - a hero that is both worthy foe and great narrative. Mystic characters in general don't play well in regular series, so I think he needs one more recast, out of the mystic realms into the simply powerful.

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Friday, December 19, 2008


What We Know

Psuedo-Polymath writes and quotes on science, math and epistemology:
Mr Wigner’s essential observation is that in the first place starting from a number of relatively imprecise measurements a great mathematical structure (Lagrangian and Hamiltonian mechanics) is built. Ms Neother’s theorem is but one elegant and precise result that falls out from that mathematical structure. The quantity of results and their precision far exceeds the precision and quality of the experimental data going into the formation of those theories. Or as Mr Wigner suggests:

A possible explanation of the physicist’s use of mathematics to formulate his laws of nature is that he is a somewhat irresponsible person. As a result, when he finds a connection between two quantities which resembles a connection well-known from mathematics, he will jump at the conclusion that the connection is that discussed in mathematics simply because he does not know of any other similar connection. It is not the intention of the present discussion to refute the charge that the physicist is a somewhat irresponsible person. Perhaps he is. However, it is important to point out that the mathematical formulation of the physicist’s often crude experience leads in an uncanny number of cases to an amazingly accurate description of a large class of phenomena. This shows that the mathematical language has more to commend it than being the only language which we can speak; it shows that it is, in a very real sense, the correct language.
Is mathematics the "language of God?" Some would say so; this seems to imply it.

Though I love and am reasonably proficient at mathematics, I would not go so far. You see, God also created much that is not subject to mathematical description - humans would be a good example. If indeed mathematics is the language of God, then by implication, an unfallen creation would behave entirely mathematically - inclusive of animal and human behavior. And yet, as beings created in the image of God, we are in turn creative, something that assures at least the occasional bit of erratic, unpredictable, non-mathematical behavior. Heck, even the cats are not entirely predictable. All of creation, even an unfallen creation, is not mathematically precise and predictable.

If there is a language of God - WE ARE IT. Only something as complex and varied, and erratic as a person can come even close to expressing God. Hence, Christ - think about it.

But back to mathematics - the fact that the so much of the universe is so precise and predictable does tell us something about God and ourselves. God must enjoy mathematical precision, or else He would not have built it into His creation. And our ability to discover it is yet another manifestation of being created in His image.

I wonder what would happen to mathematics and science education if we taught it from the perspective that it is an expression of God?

Just wondering?

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Friday Humor

I can relate!

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Thursday, December 18, 2008


Not God - Fear?!

I have written before here about how the "behavioral" sciences are not really sciences at all. They are an application of the scientific method to phenomena that can never act in an entirely repeatable manner and therefore can never rise to the level of true science. Well, let's add another argument to the quiver here when it comes to the "behavioral" sciences.

Consider this MSNBC article on the sources of altruistic behavior:
Religion and its promotion of empathy get undue credit for our unselfish acts. Instead, it’s our less-than-virtuous psychological perception that a moral authority is watching us that promotes altruism, a new review essay suggests.

The essay is based on two psychologists’ re-examination of dozens of studies that have dealt with the relationship between religious participation and so-called prosocial behavior, a term that includes charity, cooperation, volunteerism, honesty, trust and various forms of personal sacrifice. The Biblical parable of the Good Samaritan is a classic example.
Now, in the first place, note that tiny little word "essay" in there. What these psychologist's are doing is "re-interpreting" existing data. Much of this they are doing by discarding large chunks of it. As they say (I really love this) "Also, studies that do show a link between altruism and religion are often based on self-reports — subjects saying they did something unselfish, rather than direct observation of them doing so. This type of data is notoriously unreliable." Well, so is pretty much every other behavioral study ever done! I mean this is a convenient time to bring up that particular little argument - it pretty well undoes the entire profession and training of the people claiming the argument.

But back to the point - data are facts - interpretation is theory, this fuzzes the line there seriously. Does bad data occur? Sure, but there are mathematical, actually statistical, tools to weed out bad data, where is that here?

Next point - incomplete measurement. Acting cooperatively is not the whole story here. Of course some people act cooperatively absent religious motivation, we're dealing with behavior here, there are always exceptions to the rule. But what about the quality of that behavior. Is there data on the levels of selflessness involved. After all, some cooperative behavior is based in self-gratification - is it really charity?

Which leads me to the real bottom line on all this. Cooperative behavior may, in fact, be rooted at least initially, in attempt to please authority, even in religious people. But, we religious people rely on that obedience, along with the rest of our religion, to transform us into people that will behave cooperatively without consideration of self.

Which I think makes this "study" a serious weapon aimed at the church. You see, despite the problems I have with it as science, I think it contains truth. I do think most religious people behave altruistically out of obedience and not a genuine expression of God's nature within us. The church has fallen just a bit short. We give people an authority to fear, but we do not give them a God that transforms.

This "study" is an assault on the faith, but it is one for which we have given them the ammunition. Too many of us, way too many of us, behave altruistically in a slavish manner rather than in the manner of a person set free by their Lord. Too often the church promotes this to maintain its own authority, never realizing that it actually has none - it should only be reflecting God's.

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Illuminated Christmas

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Yeah, But Hopefully It Does Not Stop There

Milt Stanley quotes this blog:
"I am beginning to see that the churches are made up of some people that are in in the body of Christ and some people that are not in the body of Christ, and all of the people are broken."
That is very true and yet, I find myself just wanting to go "yeah, yeah, yeah...." You see here's the thing, I cannot escape the fact that people "in the body of Christ" should be healed from their brokenness (not pridefully so, but healed nonetheless) and the body of Christ should be an agent for that healing.

The problem with quotes like that is that it somehow reduces the church to group therapy - just a bunch of screwed up people hanging out together trying to get unscrewed up. Not exactly hopeful, certainly not victorious.

I am not content to have faith in Jesus Christ merely for the sake of eternity - I will deal with eternity when I get there. I hold fast to Jesus Christ because of what He has promised for my life, here - now - TODAY!

When the church wallows in the whole "we are all sinners" thing, it sounds to me like we've stopped holding onto that hope for the here and now. There is a difference between confession and concession. The alcoholic does not "hit bottom" in order to stay there. Confession, the admission of our inadequacy, is a form of confrontation - of staring the problem in the eye not to come to terms with it, but to OVERCOME it. Concession, on the other hand, is the acknowledgment of a problem and learning to live with it. I DO NOT WANT TO LEARN TO LIVE WITH THE NONSENSE THAT SIN CREATES IN MY LIFE OR IN THE BODY OF CHRIST.

Which brings me to the next point - submission is not the same as contentment. It is true, we lack what is necessary to fix the problems I rail against here - we are to submit them to the Holy Spirit, but that does not mean we are to learn to be content in them. Sin is sin is sin, we must never be content with it. Too often, "we are all sinners" is church-speak for "learn to live with it."

I refuse to learn to "live with" sin.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008


The Church Is Called To Be Better

Mark Roberts has been blogging about what it means to be church and recently he looked at the empathy implications of I Corinthians 12:
As Paul wraps up his discussion of the body of Christ, he states: “If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad” (1 Cor 12:26). For those of us who want to be empathetic, this sounds like good news. According to God’s design, we will feel the pain of those who hurt and the joy of those who are honored.

But there is a double downside to this kind of empathy. First of all, we should note our calling to suffer along with those who suffer. The text doesn’t say anything about making them feel better. Surely other biblical passages call for encouraging and helping people in need (1 Thess 5:11-14). But in 1 Corinthians 12 we are told to feel genuine empathy, to hurt with those who hurt. This can be much harder than merely giving aid and comfort. It requires really knowing people. It demands the opening my whole heart. It means that I will feel pain when those around me feel pain. Sometimes I’d rather just cheer people up and be on my merry way. But that’s not how God has designed the church as the body of Christ.
Put another way, the church may, in the end, "fix" things, but it is decidedly non-therapeutic when it does so. What doctor would willingly and knowingly share a disease with a patient? The therapeutic model calls for us to "rise above" the problem, but the Christian church model calls for us to wallow in it. In the therapeutic model, one throws a rope to the person trapped in quicksand. In the church model we jump into the quicksand with them, and struggle together to get out.

Many would argue that the church way is not a better way, but given that this follows God's example, I would tend to take God's judgment on what is good over "many." But how often we fail at this particular part of our calling. We tend to dispense solutions like a pharmacy dispenses pills. We have three steps for this and ten steps for that and more books on the other than there is shelf space in the Christian bookstore.

What seems to be short in the church is people that are willing to crawl into the quicksand with me, or, frankly, I with them. What would a church look like where we crawled into the muck together rather than dispensed solutions?

I am not entirely sure, but I think "messy" would be one adjective that could readily apply. Maybe we need to let messy happen....

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Kitty Kartoons

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Monday, December 15, 2008


Look Inside

Bonnie at Intellectuelle riffs off a Kay Warren piece in CT. The Warren piece concludes:
There is monstrous evil to be fought in our world, and it's up to Christ's followers to lead the way. But the fact is, we're all terminally broken on both the soul and behavioral levels. Until we are willing to deal with the internal monsters that always threaten to take us down, we're just kidding ourselves. We will go into battle as proud Pharisees breathing retribution and judgment, ready to fry the evildoers. Instead, let's go as wounded healers who have reaped the benefits of God's amazing grace and are more than ready to assist other broken folks in finding his mercy as well.
Bonnie concludes likewise:
I must allow Christ to slay the monster within before I can manage those without.
Now, while I agree with all this, it also creates a check in me - there is such a thing as righteousness and even righteous anger at evil. Too many times this kind of right-minded talk has resulted in wrong-minded inaction.

In the face of horrendous evil like Warren discusses - genocide as an example - Christians are to act meekly, but NOT timidly - humbly and yet still boldly - we are to confess and at the same time condemn the evil.

It is correct to say that we cannot act righteously unless we are first righteous. It is also correct to say that confession, humility, submission to Christ are THE ONLY means to righteousness that we have. But we cannot let the our continuing need for grace prevent us from being God' instruments in destroying true evil.

These ladies are right - too many times Christians, in fighting monsters, have become monsters. But likewise - too many times Christians have allowed monstrosity to continue for fear of becoming monsters. I know of too many stories of sexually predatory ministry professionals allowed back into the ministry for the sake of grace, when the statistical evidence of repeated offenses are so overwhelming.

There are too many places in the world where starvation reigns, not from a lack of compassion and outpouring from the world, but because corruption prevents such outpourings from reaching their target. The local government is the corruption and our government will not act to end the corruption. Now we sit and watch such circumstances claiming powerlessness. Would it be wrong for the church to hire a mercenary army in such a circumstances? I wonder?

YES - God's grace first, last and always - but that grace also empowers us, and we are equally sinful by failing to act as we are by acting improperly.

The key to being a Christian is to learn bold action in humility. It is a tall order, but it is also darn well time we got about it.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008


Sermons and Lessons


Friedich Ernst Daniel Schleiermacher, German theologian and philosopher, was born at Breslau in 1768. He was brought up in a religious home and in 1787 went to the University of Halle, and in 1789 became a Privat-Docent. In 1794 he was ordained and preached successively at Landsberg and Berlin. The literary and philosophical side of his intellect developed itself in sympathy with the Romanticists, but be never lost his passion for religion, a subject on which he published five discourses in,1799. We find in them a trace of the pantheism of Spinoza. His translation of Plato, accomplished between 1804 and 1806, gave him high rank as a classical scholar. In 1817 he joined the movement toward the union of the Lutheran and Reformed churches. As a preacher he was unprepossessing in appearance, being sickly and hunchbacked, but his simplicity of manner, and his clear, earnest style endeared him to many thousands. He died in Berlin in 1834.


As Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we should walk in newness of life. - Romans 6:4.

It is natural, my friends, that the glorious festival of our Savior’s resurrection should attract the thoughts of believers to a far remote time, and that it should make them rejoice to think of the time when they shall be with Him who, after lie had risen from the dead, returned to his and our Father. But the apostle, in the words of our text, recalls us from what is far off to what is close to us - to the immediate present of our life here. He takes hold of what is the most immediate concern, of what we are at once to share in and which is to form us, even here, into the likeness of Christ’s resurrection. We are buried with Him, lie says, unto death, that as He was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we also might walk in newness of life. And this new life is that which, as the Lord Himself says, all who believe in Him possess even now as having passed through death to life. The apostle compares this with those glorious days of our Lord’s resurrection; and how could we more appropriately keep this feast - a feast in which, above all others, many Christians draw renewed strength for this new life from the most intimate union with our heavenly Head - how could we better celebrate it than by endeavoring to receive this directly for ourselves from the words of the apostle? Let us then, according to the teaching of these words, consider the resurrection life of our Lord, as the apostle presents it to us, as a glorious, though it may be unattainable, model of the new life in which we are all to walk through Him.

1. This new life is like that of our risen Savior, first, in the manner of His resurrection. In order to appear to His disciples in that glorified form, which already bore in it the indications of the eternal and immortal glory, it was necessary that the Savior should pass through the pains of death. It was not an easy transformation; it was necessary for Him, though not to see corruption, yet to have the shadow of death pass over Him; and friends and enemies vied with each other in trying to retain Him in the power of the grave; the friends rolling a stone before it, to keep the beloved corpse in safety, the enemies setting a watch lest it should be taken away. But when the hour came which the Father had reserved in His own power, the angel of the Lord appeared and rolled away the stone from the tomb, and the watch fled, and at the summons of omnipotence life came back into the dead form.

Thus, my friends, we know what is the new life that is to be like the resurrection life of the Lord. A previous life must die; the apostle calls it the body of sin, the law of sin in our members, and this needs no lengthened discussion. We all know and feel that this life, which Scripture calls a being dead in sins, pleasant and splendid as may be the form it often assumes, is yet nothing but what the mortal body of the Savior also was, an expression and evidence of the power of death, because even the fairest and strongest presentation of this kind lacks the element of being imperishable. Thus with the mortal body of the Savior, and thus also with the natural life of man, which is as yet not a life from God.

And this our old man must die a violent death in the name of the law, such as the Savior died, not without severe suffering and painful wounds. For if the body of sin dies out in a man of itself, through satiety of earthly things, and because no excitement can any longer affect his exhausted powers, that is a death from which we see no new life proceed. The power of sin must be slain in a man by violence; a man must go through the torture of self-knowledge, showing him the contrast between his wretched condition and the higher life to which he is called; be must hear the cry, and accept it as an irrevocable sentence; that an end is to be put to this life; he must groan and almost sink under the preparations for the execution of that sentence; all his accustomed habits of life must cease; he must be conscious of the wish that he were safely through it all, and it were at an end.

And when he has yielded up the old life to a welcome death, and the old man is crucified with Christ, then the world, which knows nothing better than that previous life, if it only goes on well and easily, uses all kinds of efforts to hinder the rising up of the new life, some of them well-meaning, others self-interested and therefore hostile. Some, with good intentions, like those friends of the Savior, consult together, and try all in their power, keeping away all extraneous influences, to preserve at least the appearance of their friend from being defaced, and tho no joyful movement can ever again be awakened, to preserve the form of the old life. Others, seeking their own interest and pleasure in a way by which they almost certainly accuse themselves, try to prevent an abuse being practiced in this state of things, and also to guard against the gay, merry life which they lead, and into which they like so much to lead others, being brought into contempt by a question of a new life arising after this dying off of the old man, when, as they think, there is really nothing else and nothing better here on earth and when it is a vain pretense for some to assert that they know this new life, and a mischievous delusion for others to attempt attaining it. Therefore wherever they perceive such a state of things, they have their spies to watch against every deception that might be practiced about such a new life, or at least at once to discover and publish what kind of delusions prevail in connection with it.

But when the hour has come which the Father has kept in His own power, then in one form or another His life-bringing angel appears to such a soul. Yet how little do we know about what part the angel had in the Savior’s resurrection! We do not know if the Savior saw him or not; we can not determine the moment at which he rolled away the stone from the tomb and the reanimated Savior came forth; no one witnessed it, and the only persons of whom we are told that they might have been able to see it with their bodily eyes were smitten with blindness. And in like manner, neither do we know how the soul, lying, so to speak, in the tomb of self-destruction, is wrought upon by the angel of the Lord in order to call forth the life of God in it. It arises unseen in that grave-like silence, and can not be perceived until it is actually present; what is properly the beginning of it is hidden, as every beginning usually is, even from him to whom the life is imparted. But this is certain, as the apostle says, that the Lord was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, and thus also, according to the words of the Savior, no man comes to the Son except the Father draw him; that same glory of the Father, which then called forth the Savior from the tomb, still awakens in the soul that has died to sin the new life, like the resurrection life of the Lord. Indeed, among all the proofs of the Father ‘s glory in heaven and earth, there is none greater than this, that he has no pleas¬ure in the death-like condition of the sinner, but that at some time or another the almighty, mysterious, life-giving call sounds in his ears - Arise and live.

2. And, secondly, this new life resembles its type and ideal, the resurrection life of Christ, not only in being risen from death, but also in its whole nature, way and manner. First, in this respect, that though a new life, it is, nevertheless, the life of the same man, and in the closest connection with his former life. Thus, with our Savior; He was the same, and was recognized by His disciples as the same, to their great joy; His whole appearance was the very same; even in the glory of His resurrection He bore the marks of His wounds as a remembrance of His sufferings and as the tokens of His death; and the remembrance of His former state was most closely and constantly present with Him. And just so it is with the new life of the Spirit. If the old man has died in sin, and we now live in Christ, and with Him in God, yet we are the same persons that we were before. As the resurrection of the Lord was no new creation, but the same man, Jesus, who had gone down into the grave, come forth again from it; so in the soul before it died the death which leads to life in God, there must have lain the capability of receiving that life when the body of sin should die and perish; and that life is developed in the same human soul amid the same outward circumstances as before, and with its other powers and faculties remaining unchanged. We are entirely the same persons, only that the fire of the higher life is kindled in us, and also that we all bear the signs of death, and that the remembrance of our former state is present with us. Yes, in manifold ways we are often reminded of what we were and what we did before the call to new life sounded in our hearts; and it is not so easy to efface the sears of the wounds, and the numberless traces of the pains under which the old man had to die that the new man might live. And as the glad faith of the disciples rested on the very fact that they recognized the Lord as being, in the glory of His resurrection, the same person that He was before; so also in us, the confidence in this new life, as a permanent and now natural state with us, rests only on this - that we recognize ourselves in it as the same persons that we were before; that there are the same faculties, lower and higher, of the human soul, which formerly served sin, but are now created anew as instruments of righteousness. Indeed, all the traces of that death, as well as of the former life, make us more vividly conscious of the great change that the life-giving call of God has produced in us, and call for the most heartfelt gratitude.

And as the Savior was the same person in the days of His resurrection, so His life was also again of course a vigorous and active life; indeed, we might almost say it bore the traces of humanity, without which it could be no image of our new life, even in this, that it gradually grew stronger and acquired new powers. When the Savior first appeared to Mary, He said, as if His new life had been, as it were, timid and sensitive, “Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my God and your God.” But after a few days He showed Himself to Thomas, and bade him boldly touch Him, put his hand in the Master’s side, and his fingers into the marks left by the nails of the cross, so that He did not shrink from being touched even on the most sensitive spots. And also even in the earliest days, and as if the new life were to be fully strengthened by doing so, we find Him walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus, and from Emmaus back to Jerusalem, as well as going before His disciples into Galilee, and leading them back to Jerusalem, where He then ascended to heaven in their sight. And as He thus walked among them, living a life with them, human in every part, and exercising a human influence on them; so also His most important business was to talk with them of the kingdom of God, to reprove and rouse them up from their slowness of heart, and to open the eyes of their minds. Now so it is, my friends, with our new life - that is like the resurrection life of the Lord. Oh, how very gradually it gains its faculties in us, grows and becomes strong, only bearing still more than the new life of the Lord the traces of earthly imperfection. I can appeal on this point to the feeling of us all, for assuredly it is the same in all. How intermittent at first are the manifestations of this new life, and how limited the sphere of its action! How long does it retain its sensitive spots, which can not be touched without pain, or even without injurious consequences, and those are always the places in which the old man has been most deeply wounded in his dying hours! But in proportion as it becomes stronger, this new life ought the less to give the impression of being a mere phantom life, - the impression the Lord’s disciples had when in the first moments they thought in their fear that they saw a spirit, so that He was obliged to appeal to the testimony of all their senses, that they might perceive He was no spirit, but had flesh and bones. And thus if our new life in God consisted in mere states of feeling and emotions, which were not in the least capable of passing into action, or perhaps did not even aim at doing so; which were too peculiar and special to ourselves to be actually communicated to others or to move them with good effect, but rather might touch them with a chill sense of awe; what would such a life be but a ghost-like apparition that would no doubt excite attention, but would find no credence, and would make men un¬easy in their accustomed course, but without producing any improvement in it? No, it is a life of action, and ought to be ever becoming more so; not only being nourished and growing stronger and stronger through the word of the Lord and through heart-communion with Him, to which He calls us, giving Himself to us as the meat and drink of eternal life, but every one striving to make his new life intelligible to others about him, and to influence them by it. Oh, that we had our eyes, more and more steadily fixed on the risen Savior! Oh, that we could ever learning more and more from Him to breathe out blessing, as He did when lie imparted His Spirit to the disciples! Oh, that we were more and more learning like Him to encourage the foolish and slow of heart to joyful faith in the divine promises, to active obedience to the divine will of their Lord and Master, to the glad enjoyment and use of all the heavenly treasures that He has thrown open to us! Oh, that we were ever speaking more effectively to all connected with us, of the kingdom of God and of our inheritance in it, so that they might see why it was necessary for Christ to suffer, but also into what glory He has gone! These are our desires, and they are not vain desires. The life-giving Spirit, whom He has obtained for us, effects all this in each in the measure that pleases Him; and if once the life of God is kindled in the human soul if we have once, as the apostle says, become like Him in His resurrection, then His powers are also more and more abundantly and gloriously manifested in us through the efficacy of His Spirit for the common good.

But along with all this activity and strength, the life of the risen Savior was yet, in another sense, a secluded and hidden life. It is probable that when, in order to show Himself to His disciples, He went here and there from one part of the land to an¬other, He was seen by many besides them, who had known Him in His previous life. How could it be otherwise? But the eyes of men were holden, that they did not recognize Him; and He made Himself known only to those who belonged to Him in faithful love. At the same time, however, He said to them, Blest are they who do not see, yet believe! And what was the little number of those who were counted worthy of seeing Him, even if we add to them the five hundred whom Paul mentions, compared with the number of those who afterward believed in their testimony to the Lord’s resurrection? And thus it is also, ray friends, with the new life in which we walk, even if it is, as it ought to be, strong and vigorous, and ever at work for the kingdom of God; yet it is at the same time an unknown and hidden life, unrecognized by and hidden from the world, whose eyes are holden; and be who should set him¬self to force the knowledge of it upon them, who should hit upon extraordinary proceedings in order to attract their attention to the difference between the life of sin and the resurrection life, would not be walking in the likeness of the Lord’s resurrection. As the people in the time of Christ had opportunity enough to inquire about His resurrection, in seeing how His disciples continued to hold together, so our neighbors also see our close alliance, which has nothing to do with the affairs of this world; and if they, because of this, inquire about what unites us, the answer will not be lacking to them. But our inner history we will as little thrust upon them as the risen Christ thrust His presence on those who had slain Him, and who had therefore no desire to see Him. Instead of this, as He showed Himself only to His own, we also will make known our inner life only to those who are just in the same way our own; who, glowing with the same love, and cheered by the same faith, can tell us in return how the Lord has revealed Himself to them. Not by any means as if we followed some mysterious course, and that those only whose experiences had been entirely alike should separate themselves into little exclusive groups; for even the days of the Lord’s resurrection present examples of various kinds of experience, and of one common inner fellowship connected with them all. And not only so, but even those who as yet have experienced nothing at all are not sent empty away. Only they must first become aware, by what they see without our thrusting it upon them, that here a spirit is breathing to which they are strangers, that here is manifested a life as yet unknown to them. Then will we, as was done then, lead them by the word of our testimony to the foundation of this new life; and as, when the word of preaching pierced men ‘s hearts, when to some of them the old man began to appear as he really is, and they felt the first pangs that precede the death of the sinful man, there also sprang up faith in the resurrection of Him whom they had themselves crucified; so will it always be with the knowledge of the new life proceeding from Him who has risen. Therefore let us have no anxiety; the circle of those who recognize this life will always be widening, just because they are beginning to share in it. And as soon as even the slight¬est premonition of it arises in a man’s soul, as soon as he has come only so far as to be no longer pleased and satisfied with the perishing and evil things of the world, as soon as his soul absorbs even the first ray of heavenly light, then his eyes are opened, so that he recognizes this life, and becomes aware what a different life it is to serve righteousness, from living in the service of sin.

3. And lastly, my friends, we can not feel all these comforting and glorious things in which our new life resembles the resurrection life of our Lord, without being at the same time, on another side, moved to sorrow by this resemblance. For if we put together all that the evangelists and apostles of the Lord have preserved for us about His resurrection life, we still can not out of it all form an entirely consecutive history. There are separate moments and hours, separate conversations and actions, and then the Risen One vanishes again from the eyes that look for Him; in vain we ask - where He can have tarried? - we must wait till He appears again. Not that in Himself there was anything of this broken or uncertain life, but as to our view of it, it is and can not be but so; and we try in vain to penetrate into the intervals between those detached moments and hours. Well, and is it not, to our sorrow, with the new life that is like Christ’s resurrection life? I do not mean that this life is limited to the few hours of social worship and prayer, glorious and profitable as they are; for in that case there would be cause to fear that it was a mere pretense; nor to the services, always but small and desultory, that each of us, actively working through the gifts of the Spirit, accomplishes, as it were, visibly and tangibly according to his measure, for the kingdom of God. In manifold ways besides these we become conscious of this new life; there are many quieter and secret moments in which it is strongly felt, though only deep in our inmost heart. But notwithstanding this, I think all, without exception, must confess that we are by no means conscious of this new life as an entirely continuous state; on the contrary, each of us loses sight of it only too often, not only among friends, among disturbances and cares, but amid the commendable occupations of this world. But this experience, my dear friends, humbling as it is, ought not to make us unbelieving, as if perhaps our consciousness of being a new creature in Christ were a delusion, and what we had regarded as indications of this life were only morbid and overstrained emotions. As the Lord convinced His disciples that He had flesh and bones, so we may all convince ourselves and each other that this is an actual life; but in that case we must believe that, though in a hidden way and not always present to our consciousness, yet it is always in existence, just as the Lord was still in existence even at the times when He did not appear to His disciples; and had neither returned to the grave, nor as yet ascended to heaven. Only let us not overlook this difference. In the case of Christ we do not apprehend it as a natural and necessary thing that during those forty days He led a life apparently so interrupted; but each of us must easily understand how, as the influence of this new life on our outward ways can only gradually become perceptible, it should often and for a long time be quite hidden from us, especially when we are very busy with outward work, and our attention is taken up with it. But this is an imperfection from which as time goes on we should be always becoming more free. Therefore always go back, my friends, to Him who is the only fountain of this spiritual life! If, ever and anon, we can not find it in ourselves, we always find it in Him, and it is always pouring forth afresh from Him the Head to us His members. If every moment in which we do not perceive it is a moment of longing, as soon as we become conscious of the void, then it is also a moment in which the Risen One appears to our spirit, and breathes on us anew with His life-giving power. And thus drawing only from Him, we shall attain to having His heavenly gifts becoming in us more and more an inexhaustible, continually flowing fountain of spiritual and eternal life. For this He rose from the dead by the glory of the Father, that we should be made into the likeness of His resurrection. That was finished in His return to the Father; our new life is to become more and more His and the Fathers return into the depths of our souls; there they desire to make their abode; and the life of God is to be ever assuming a more continuous, active and powerful form in us, that our life in the service of righteousness may become, and continue even here, according to the Lord’s promise, an eternal life.

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