Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The World Has a Disease

By Tony Harriman

Our world has a disease, a mind disease — a deadly disease.  More security, more bag checks, more stripping before you can get on a plane, more gun control, more X-ray machines … all these are doing no more than help us BELIEVE we are dealing with the symptoms of the disease.  Rather than just handle the symptoms, what if we put more focus on wiping out the disease?  What if we did more than just make statements like, “People need God in their lives.”?

The people with the disease on the planet appear to have lots of SOME kind of god in their lives, and the fruit of that relationship is the CAUSE of the disease.  So what are we to do?  What’s the cure?  The people following this god believe that their god would like everybody with a different faith to be wiped out.  No middle ground.  No compromise.  No discussion.  You do it this way — or else. 

There’s a temptation to believe that we’re talking just about the Islamic faith.  Not so.  It might be surprising to learn that there are many cults around the world who are awaiting simply the opportunity to openly exercise their nutcase-ness and force you and me to follow their way — or die.  It might also be a surprise to learn that mainstream Christianity once embraced this elitist attitude.  Many American nations — North, Central and South — were overrun and wiped out in the name of God and some European king or other.  Old Testament history is full of the fodder which has fueled many a massacre across what is now the USA.  This same fodder is fueling the current strange Dark-Age attitude so prevalent on the planet.

It is not enough to say to a religious nutcase, “Okay, you stay here, and the rest of us will pack our bags, move out and start a new life for ourselves somewhere over yonder.”  The religious nutcase must track you down and rid the planet of the disease that he believes YOU are carrying.  He or she believes you are broken beyond repair and his or her god is offended that you should be using up the planet’s good air.

More religion is not enough.  We’ve got more than enough religion.

What we need is a change of heart and mind, a common belief — among all residents of the planet — that we all have a soul to save, that we all have a part to play and a place to live in this ridiculously-small portion of the known universe.  We need to know that there is indeed a Heavenly Benefactor Who is interested in every … single … person on the planet.  Why our Benefactor allows us all to treat each other so badly is, I must admit, still a mystery to me, and I imagine we shall have to wait for answers that currently, humanly, we are unable to process.

Just like a person with gum disease or broken teeth, we cannot fix ourselves.  We need divine intervention.  We are broken and have no no glue sufficient for the job.  Only the Being Who made our mind can fix our mind.  Unlike flesh and blood, attitudes are spiritual (like it or not), and can only be fixed by a Spirit greater than the one we possess.  A broken spirit cannot fix itself, any more than Humpty can put himself back together.

Things on our little world are rough sometimes, so rough, in fact, that we wish we could jump off.  We can’t jump off.  There’s nowhere to go.  Besides, those of us who survive need each other.  We need each other to dress our wounds, wipe our tears and lift us up — for now.

There’s a verse in the Christian New Testament that points to a time when God Himself, our Heavenly Benefactor, will wipe every last tear from our eyes.  When the planet’s reset button is hit, when the universe is finally rebooted, and God once again declares everything to be “Very good,” our Father’s own hand will take on the task of calming the last troubled mind.  This task will be delegated to no one.  Picture that: the Creator of EVERYTHING that has any kind of existence will personally wipe away ALL tears and ALL CAUSES of tears.  I don’t know about you, but I have a few tears that sit so close to the surface that I can be reduced to a helpless wreck in less than a moment, right out of the clear blue.  I’d like for those to be gone.

There’s going to be more nutcase-ness running about the planet for who knows how much longer, simply because human beings don’t have a cure for nutcase.  We’re better at mopping up the flood than we are at turning off the tap. 

On a recent trip to Cuba I was given an opportunity to relive a reality experienced by many of us who travel.  The road surfaces in Cuba are awful, full of potholes, road material worn well down to the dirt and beyond.  The Cuban driver observes that he or she must have one set of eyes on traffic conditions and one set of eyes on the condition of the road.  Both may be hazardous.  In the troubled world in which we’re living we need to keep one set of eyes on the road ahead, one set on the conditions around us, and an additional set on the condition of our own vehicle — our own mind.  Because just as easily you and I can embrace some kind of nutcase philosophy that convinces us that we are better than others, and that the behavior of “those over there” is worthy of death … cold-blooded death … strap-a-bomb-to-myself kind of death.

Be patient.  All things will be set straight.  Nature will take its course.  We have no need to try to help God open the roses ahead of time.  He’s got that covered.

And that's just my take on it ....

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Speak English, Please

By Tony Harriman

More than once in my life, on both sides of the Atlantic, I’ve heard the assertion made to visitors who speak a foreign tongue: “This is England --” or “This is America -- speak English.”  I’ve thought about that long and hard, and I’ve come to the conclusion that people who believe and say such a thing really don’t know the history of the English language -- at all.  Of all languages on the planet, English is the one that has undergone the most changes.  The earliest we know of the language gives us its roots in Celtic Germanic. But the language has never parked and festered.  English speakers have wandered in and out of communicating (mostly) in Celtic, Latin, Scandinavian (Danish and Norwegian), French, German, Anglo-Saxon (Old English), Chaucer’s English (Middle English), Shakespeare’s English (Elizabethan), until we arrive at the many dialects we hear widely spoken today.  We might not think of these languages as being English, but the inhabitants of Britain probably didn't give it much thought -- this was simply the local lingo spoken in the British Isles.

English explorers frequently wandered the globe and came back from distant lands with scores of new words -- constantly.  We’ve mixed and matched the language to suit various (and varying) needs.  Some old rules from different eras are partly the reason we have so many versions of the sound made by the letters "ough."  Rough, thought, bough and though are given their pronunciation from very different ideas -- clearly.

Consider for a moment how English speakers define food: an Anglo Saxon sheep when prepared for eating becomes the French mutton; an Anglo Saxon ox becomes the French beef; the Anglo Saxon Pig becomes the French pork.  Of course, the spelling has changed a little, but not the root.

The English language took a huge leap when French was added to its use, especially in the arts (Poetry, music, dance, etc.).  Because of its broad language, England became a land of such sought-after folk as the Venerable Bede.  English monasteries and churches became healthy places of learning, and remained so until Henry the Eighth finally shut them down.

Some foreign words used in the English language need no replacement: Ricochet, Silhouette, Hamburger, Pretzel, House, Mouse, Buffet, and Assassin.  We may not know where these words came from, but we know what they mean.  Some words may not be as obviously foreign as, say, Filet Mignon, but no matter how they sound, we have no doubt as to the intended meaning.  You might be surprised to learn that Algebra -- both the math and its name -- was given to us by the Arabs.  The lowly and ubiquitous dandelion gets it name from the French description of the shape of its leaves: dent-de-lion -- lion's tooth.

Other words we have adopted include: Pizza, Paella, Diesel, Fest, Burrito, Tortilla, Pasta, Kaput; or how about Kindergarten?  Totally German, that one.

Come across the Atlantic to the United States and we have another dilemma for the “English” speaker -- more than half the States’ names are of Native American origin, to say nothing of just about every city and town name in the Southern States.  Of course, there are English names too: New York; New Jersey; New Hampshire -- all named after the original places in England, which in turn were given their names from a language that wasn’t quite English as we know it.

Someone (not British) once asked me, “How does it feel to be pure British?”  To which I responded, “You clearly don’t know the history of Britain.”  Every British person in Britain today came from somewhere else many miles from the British Isles.  Just like the rest of the world, Britain has been overrun and ruled by many foreign monarchs.  My own personal blood contains a lot of Roman and Scandinavian, and I can claim no part of my British blood as belonging to any part of Britain from more than a couple of thousand years ago.

Now, I recognize the need for border rules in our present world; without them the many nations of the planet would still be engaged in a constant struggle for autonomy.  And I understand that there has to be a standard way of communicating, especially regarding the rules of the road, sea and sky.  And for the sharing of ideas, small and great, there has to be what’s known as the Lingua-Franca, the language of common use.  But to say that you may speak in only one language would put an immediate stop to the growth of ANY language.  

To my fellow Earthlings out there I would say this: those people whose language you don’t understand ARE speaking English; you just aren’t yet familiar with it, because right now your personal (or national) vocabulary hasn’t yet included the words.  But know this, your children WILL understand more of the words, and your grandchildren will DEFINITELY be more savvy regarding the use of MOST of those words.

From a Godly perspective I have a very difficult time with the notion of national exclusion.  “God loves you.  Now go back Home!”  is an attitude I have a hard time seeing Jesus allowing to fester in His heart.

I suppose we should be careful not to fall into the trap of making “myself” of more importance than others.  The Scripture reads: “…he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?”  1 John 4:20. 

Ah, but you say, “I love my brother, I just don’t want him here, he wants to change the way we do things.  We have our own customs, and if these foreigners come here, then they should do things our way.”

There is a Biblical concept of a thousand years in Heaven before we return to what will become a New Earth, where we’ll make our new home.  I’ve wondered if during those thousand years we won't be spending an awful lot of time UN-learning how to live, because the attitude rendered above is not one we can expect to endure throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity.  If we have any of that kind of junk on us, we’re going to have to be scoured before we can ever be rendered safe to live among the Godly inhabitants of the universe.

As a closing thought, you have to wonder what is meant by "The UNITED Nations."  United in or by what, exactly?

And that’s just my take on it ….

The Story of Redemption - Narrated by Tony Harriman

Steps to Christ - Audiobook

Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing - Audiobook

Christ's Object Lessons - Audiobook

Up a Tree with Christina Bee - Audiobook

Leave the Thorns Alone - Music CD