Ponderings with Doug – May 20, 2016

It’s automatic!

Technology is making more things automatic.

In a bygone day, one inserted a key, pressed in the clutch, other foot pressed on the accelerator and the hand turned the key. The starting of a car was a beautiful symphony of rehearsed movements. Ask a sixteen year old what it means to “flood a car” while trying to start it. They will look at you with the look that is translated, “you old fool.” Modern cars all have some form of automatic starting. Today, I grab my key fob, sit in the seat, push the brake and push the start button. I can also start my car without being in it, but I’m afraid my car would drive off without me.

The car has automatic seat adjustment. I push a button to inform the car it is my rear on the seat. The seat adjusts. The cruise control adjusts the speed if I get too close to the car in front. It warns me when I change lanes without signaling. If I change lanes too often without signaling the car will tell me to get a cup of coffee or take a nap. It is automatic in almost everything.

If you sign up for something that is free on the Internet and give a credit card number, guess what will happen when the “free” is over? You have a standing order automatically and your credit card will be billed similarly. Read the fine print on the “free trials.” Some place with everything “free” the words “automatically billed” appear in fine print. I do the Dollar Shave club. They automatically send me blades. If I cancelled my subscription today I would have enough blades to shave for years. Their automatic sending is way ahead of my manual shaving.

Have you signed up for something with your email address? If you do, you will end up on an automatic subscription list. The button that reads “Unsubscribe” takes you to the black hole of the Internet and by unsubscribing to one publication you automatically give your email address to fifteen others. It is automatic.

There are things about being human that are automatic. You don’t need to send signals to your heart or lungs to do their work. Your eyes focus automatically. Most of us move about without too much thought. It became automatic as toddlers. Lately, I pay more attention to my ambulatory processes. Falling down is bad. Getting up from the fall is worse. Some of our bad human habits are automatic, but that is a sermon series for this summer.

Human interactions also become automatic. Admit it, there are people that get on your last nerve. You have long since forgotten why that is so. You respond to them automatically. Rarely will we deviate from our first impression of a person.

There was a lady in a church named Rosie. Her disposition was the opposite of her name. Rosie would be seen walking down the hall of the church and the church staff would vanish. I never figured out how they disappeared when they saw her coming. She would barge into my office and demand to see her funeral service file. She would take it and scratch off another name of a person she wanted participating in her funeral. She was so mean that the Devil was afraid of her and God didn’t want her, so she outlived all the people she wanted doing her eulogy. Thankfully I left that church before she died, so I didn’t have to do her funeral either! The response to Rosie was automatic. She had taken all the Methodist and Baptist Bible studies, but none of them had “taken.” Her Sunday school class was afraid of her, but that is the subject of another article.

There are other people you enjoy seeing because they seem to spread their joy and love of life to everyone. They make you laugh and feel better no matter how bad your day is. That is how I feel about Sunday mornings. I don’t know how much good I do folks on Sunday morning, but my life is enriched and blessed by being with them in the house of God.

Living as a child of God in today’s culture is not automatic and becoming increasingly challenging. As a child of God we are taught to pay attention to how we live. The Bible has a great way to putting this concept, be careful how you live you might be entertaining angels.

Yes, especially those people!

2 thoughts on “Ponderings with Doug – May 20, 2016

  1. Today’s culture is not a culture. It is an anti-culture. A culture is a set of principles, institutions and traditions which limit and restrain the whims, desires and compulsions of the individual so that he is liberated, freed and emancipated from them so that he can execute his duties, responsibilities and responsibilities to the divine, to family, to free associations and to his community, his kith and his kin. The limiting and restraining process produces character which is the acquiring, internalizing and living out of the great virtues – the cardinal virtues, the capital virtues and the Christian virtues – faith, hope and love.
    An anti-culture is a set of forces which destroy or overthrow the principles, institutions and tradition which would limit and restrain the whims, desires and compulsions of the individual so that the individual is freed from these constraints so that he can realize self. The anti-culture produces the so-called “autonomous self,” that would-be Promethean self who would shake his fist at all gods. Rather than character which is the teleos of culture, the cult of personality is the teleos of the anti-culture.
    The culture which we call Western Civilization was fully formed when the Christian faith, nurtured in the womb of the Hebrew tradition; as Bride born out of the wounded side of Christ, the Second Adam, as Eve, the Bride, was born out of the wounded side of Adam; quickened to breath by the Holy Spirit on Pentecost as an infant by the Holy Spirit, entered as a New Meme the Providentially prepared classical culture of Greece and Rome, the very writings of which prefigured the coming Christian age.
    There arose, however, from the very body of Western Civilization an auto-immune syndrome which turned on the body. This destructive syndrome can be marked with the term “Enlightenment,” which, however, has antecedents in the Reformation, the Renaissance, the 13th century clerics and monks, and in the age of the Gnostics and Arians. The three ugly sisters spawned by the Enlightenment were liberalism, communism and fascism. In WWII, liberalism in the guise of “democracy” killed the state hosts of fascism. At the end of the Cold War, she killed the state host of communism. She committed sororicide. She is the last sister standing and makes universal claims She has possessed and animated the Hobbesian state which is an abstract corporation with a monopoly on coercion, with the ability to define the limits of its own power, and which is animated by a powerful will, be that the will of a dictator, an oligarchy or a so-called “democratic” majority usually manipulated by elites, in the case of the West, liberal elites who have taken over the institutions – political, legal, religious, etc.

    Liberalism and the state which she animates hates Jesus Christ, His Church and any culture or vestige of culture which betrays the influence of Christ and His Church, hence they hate what is left of Western Culture.

    It is easy to see that the few Christians actually left in the West have more in common with our pagan ancestors that we do the moderns, post moderns and post-post-moderns among whom we are yet allowed to walk; for an ancient priest or witch doctor knew that there was a created order and that there was Something pushing through that created order demanding a response, usually a blood sacrifice, be it an virgin tossed into the volcano or a captive whose heart was ripped out. We Christians understand the same thing, save that no sacrifice made by man, even a precious blood sacrifice was sufficient. Our Lord stepped out of Heaven, became one of us, a kinsman redeemer, and spilled His blood for us all.

    Modern man does not believe that there is a created order. He does not believe that there is a creator. He does not believe that he is a creature. He is at best merely a conduit of DNA, which itself is but a spawn of a meaningless unfolding, as likely to be a devolution as it is an evolution.

    Recall that would-be Promethean self. Well, it turns out that he is an estranged, alienated and shriveled self. It is little wonder that the vampire and the zombie have become the metaphors of the post-post modern age. They are death-bringing parasites.

    Christians must live against the anti-culture, but we must also remember that we are called to endure, to remain faithful; for victory does not belong to us; it belongs to our Lord; it is a victory which He has already won in time and space as well as in eternity: crucified 2000 years ago on Calvary and offered as sacrifice before the foundation of the world.

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