MARCHING TO A WORTHY DRUMMER INSTALLMENT #31

Chapter 12: An Informed Conjecture as to Why God Allowed the Western Church to Misunderstand the Nature of the Holy Spirit

 

My early experiences with cars were anything but mundane. First, I was not born to travel. My first memory of movement from point A to point B by car was with dad at the wheel. My second memory of travel was hard on the heels of the first, with dad still at the controls, but with me trying with all my might to maintain my dignity by holding down the bile. The situation would only escalate, because the attempt only made my nervous stomach twitch, a condition that fed upon itself, finally escalating into an eruption that projected vomit all over the floor on the back. How I remember the consequences! Dad would swerve the car onto the shoulder, brake to a violent halt, and yank open the rear door while shouting that the malady was all in my head and to “geddada the car now before I toss you onto the road.” There was never any preparation for the mess; being always “in my head” it was never expected. He and mom would try to clean it up as best they could, after which the journey would resume with the windows in the back cranked down all the way. The cold plus my empty stomach helped to control the force of my retches, allowing me to puke with silent ripples without adding to the mess on the floor.

Of course that never helped much, because I was a twin. It was only a matter of time before the combination of my continued retching and the stinking mess on the floor assaulted the eyes, ears and nose of my brother to bring him to a sympathetic bout of hurling, restocking the mess on the floor to its pre-cleanup condition. The process would repeat itself, my brother now being the object of our dad’s wrath.

We constantly disgraced ourselves in this manner throughout our childhood years. Once in a while we would be invited on trips with friends, in their parents’ cars. On one particularly humiliating occasion, our best friend’s older sister drove us across the Bay Bridge to the San Francisco Zoo. She had just gotten her driver’s license and thought she was hot stuff. We ruined her day. With the windows tightly closed and she smoking like a chimney, it didn’t end well. Our eruptions were virtually simultaneous, an event that caused our friend to screw up his face in disgust and his sister to shout things that turn faces red. As we were in the middle of a 13-mile long bridge at the time, she was unable to stop the car. Her rage mounted with each passing mile as the barf molecules increasingly polluted the air. Her cigarette quickly lost its appeal, and she began to gag herself. We were surprised that he remained our friend. She certainly didn’t. With the exception of him, this nauseating event happened exactly once per friend, because our malady wasn’t vehicle-specific. In fact, it haunted us until the exact time when we ourselves learned to drive, at which point the carsickness disappeared entirely never to return (with cars as the vehicles).

The humiliation didn’t leave quite so readily. Vestiges of it, in fact, still remain and have been supplemented by a host of other humiliating experiences. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing because, as was made evident in a previous chapter, pride pretty much represents the opposite of humiliation, and pride has done an enormously successful job of messing with a good understanding of God. Furthermore, Scripture tells us time and again, God hates pride. As I noted in Chapter 15 of Buddy, Psalm 101:5, Proverbs 16:5 and Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:51 and 52) are quite clear on that issue:

“Whoso privily slandereth his neighbor, him will I cut off; him that hath a high look and a proud heart will not I suffer.”

 

          “Every one who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.”

 

          “He hath shown strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.”

Despite my attribution of blame for a false and persistent misunderstanding of the Godhead on the Church leadership’s unwillingness to accept all that Jesus offered in His sacrificial death and its uncritical acceptance instead of secular values and understandings, I must admit that it was God who ultimately permitted such a state of affairs to develop and then to persist for over a millennium and a half. But if that is the case, it isn’t the first time that, for a higher purpose, and in opposition to what we might expect of Him but never in contradiction to Scripture, God has allowed His people to follow an error of understanding. The Jewish failure to recognize Jesus when He came in the flesh, despite numerous Scriptural references to His mission and character, including the drama of Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of Isaac, the story of Joseph, the deeply-entrenched Passover custom, the messianic Psalm 22 and passages in Isaiah 53 and many others too numerous to mention here, furnishes a prime example of this passivity of God in the face of error. This precursor situation is clearly stated by Paul in Romans 11:1-12:

“I say, then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people whom he foreknew. Know ye not what Scripture saith of Elijah? How he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and dug down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. Even so, then, at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works; otherwise, grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace; otherwise work is no more work.

 

          “What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded. (According as it is written [e.g. Isaiah 6:9 and 10, Matt. 13:14], God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear) unto this day. And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumbling block, and a recompense unto them; let their eyes be darkened that they may not see, and bow down their back always.

 

          “I say, then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid; but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, to provoke them to jealousy. Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles, how much more their fullness?”

Is it possible that God also willingly removed His hand of restraint in the unjustified rejection by Christianity of all gender associations with Him? If He did, is it possible that He may have done so in order to avoid the continuation of our insufferable arrogance so that we would be unable, upon finally meeting Jesus face-to-face, to crow about our superiority to the Jews for our better vision when, in fact, we had been so blind in another important matter of faith?

Think about just who it was against whom Jesus so frequently spoke out: the religious elite. He constantly pruned back their hard and self-serving know-it-all attitudes toward God, in which they had thoroughly misled themselves centuries before and clung so intractably thereafter to their false understandings.

Are today’s Church leaders so different from the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day? Hardly. And in the midst of the pomp and pride and financial obsessions and general fixation on the material world of modern Church leadership, who is to say that God hasn’t with purpose permitted a very wrong understanding of the Holy Spirit to persist, to the end that when these leaders come to face their God directly, they will be humbled in His presence for their lack of comprehension and thus be forced to confront their own assumption of the Pharisaical mindset?

Chapter 13: A Way for the Western Christian Church to Correct its Misunderstanding

It has been suggested to me that I have a gallows humor. The “suggestion” wasn’t offered with benign intent – it was hurled as an accusation, the implication being that my gallows humor is an affliction. But I don’t think of it that way. Rather, I think of it as a welcome endowment. It’s welcome, because I’m clumsy and tend to get into trouble of the kind that parts of me get squished. If I’m going to have to go through life with that kind of problem, I’d much rather be laughing about it than crying.

I tend to associate myself with people who possess that same endowment, along with the clumsiness that often accompanies it. That way I get to laugh at them too, but in a sympathetic way, welcoming the fact that they get to laugh at my troubles as well.

My greatest sources of laughter by far were my hang gliding experiences and, thanks to my brother, ultralight events as well. There’s just something about sitting around a campfire after a day of airborne adventure swapping tales of mishaps that didn’t end up so seriously as to require hospitalization or funeral arrangements. What makes these aviation experiences so rich in colorful tales is that the craft are frail and tiny, making them subject to micrometeorological situations, which is a 50 dollar phrase meaning that they get tossed around a lot by vagaries of air and wind. Another source of richness is that the activities are dominated by people with gallows humor, who go aloft seeking the events of which tales are made of with adventurous spirits and not a whole lot of common sense, and more than their share of clumsiness. Most important of all, the activities aren’t (or weren’t when I was participating) encumbered with regulations and the means of enforcing them. A passage out of my novel Buddy readily comes to mind:

“He imagined Ray’s mind at work constructing the latest local hang gliding legend, a tale in which he would be the star character. The sight of the peering eyes took him back to his first lesson. The kid who gave it had spoken with a stern voice wholly out of sync with his pimply face. Furrowing his greasy adolescent brows, he had stated with the assertion of a saint on a mission, ‘Never, NEVER fly into a rotor. If you do, you will DIE.’ He had sealed the importance of his statement with a slash of his outstretched finger across the festering pimple that jutted out from his neck. The inadvertent contact of his finger with the pimple made his eyes water, but, somewhat subdued, he had bravely continued on with the lesson.

“In the afternoon, not wanting to wimp out of the demo flight that would complete the day’s lesson, the kid had jumped headlong into the rotor of a downslope wind, ending the lesson on a somewhat negative note. The class watched him hobble of the field dragging the asymmetrical remains of the one decent shop glider along with a semi-useless right foot. One of the students, his face ashen with disbelieving horror, had stood at the top of the hill gaping at the carnage below: ‘Screw this crap,’ he had said under his breath, and had hurried down the other side to his car. He’d left in a cloud of dust, his car fishtailing in its haste to depart the area.”

[to be continued]

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