peace

Accept – Offer – Surrender

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‘Accept, offer, surrender’ is a method of prayer I’ve formed recently, to help me come to Jesus and find rest in Him. It’s longer name is, “accept the past, offer the present, surrender the future.” It’s been very helpful to me, and so I share it now, in the hope that it might help someone else.

Accept

I found I have a tendency to fight the past. Stupid, right? I routinely exert my effort and stress into hating and complaining about things I cannot change. On the other hand, meanwhile, I resist the good things I’ve been given, by being ungrateful. I think this is generally because I don’t like that I’m not in control of the good things in my life, so I either ignore them, or pretend they’re my right and take them for granted.

In order to accept what I’ve been given, especially the bad, I start off by saying something like, “Lord, I accept Your love.” Unless I accept God’s love, I’ll always remain on guard against the world, never letting anything in, and always remaining at war. I then proceed to go through the things in my life, especially those most on my heart and mind, and pray, roughly, “Lord, I accept ____ in Your love.” God works everything for good for those who love Him [Rm 8:28], and all things, good and bad, are to be accepted from His hand. God is present in all things, and we ought to love and accept Him in all things.

But some things are seemingly impossible to accept. Thinking about them brings too much pain. When this is the case, I recommend praying again, “Lord, I accept You love me.” Let His love enter you, ask for His help, and try again to accept it. Then, if you fail repeatedly, change tact, and instead accept, offer and surrender your struggle to accept it.

Offer

It is easy to live with a worldly mindset, in which I just get by, serve myself, and my life is basically meaningless. It’s incredibly easy, corrupted as I am by sin, to remain closed in on myself, refusing to love. But we are called to follow Christ, who opened and poured Himself out for us.

I say, “Lord, I offer myself to You now, in union with Jesus’ sacrifice upon the cross, in union with His love, and in union with His obedience.” I then go through every situation I’m in, each problem, each obstacle, and each opportunity, and offer it up to the Father, asking to be obedient in each one, and united to Jesus’ offering upon the cross.

It’s in this offering of love and gratitude that we find true life and true freedom in Christ. In sharing His love, we experience His own joy, and our joy is made complete [Jn 15:11].

Surrender

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Ultimately, I’m not in control; I never have been; I never will be. Nothing at all is truly in my power. But this is good news, because it is all in God’s power, and His plans and desires for me, are far greater than mine. It is difficult to let go of the illusion of control and trust in God, but it is the only way to peace and freedom, both for ourselves, and for those we have been oppressing.

Again, I start with something like, “Lord, I surrender to Your love for me.” I don’t think I could surrender to anything but love, and I don’t think I’d want to. Then, I go through the things I’m uncertain of, each of my fears and my hopes, needs and desires and say, “Lord, I surrender ____ to Your love.” Often I’ll make a petition that it goes a certain way as well, because I know God is a good Father, who is happy to treat us [Mt 7:11].

 

 

God bless you!

 

P.S. Also, if a particular matter arises to trouble me, I’ll do a short accept-offer-surrender for just that issue. I’m sure it can be adapted in many other ways too.

God bless!

The Sins of Our Fathers

I believe that we are responsible for crimes and sins committed by those who went before us, and also for those done on our behalf by those in authority.

I know this is contrary to our modern ideas of justice, rooted in an individualistic worldview. But that worldview is incomplete.

I am not merely myself, I am also a member of various societies: my family, my school or workplace, my town, my country, and the Church. And each of these societies has a life of its own, living and acting as one, and so, is capable of both obeying and disobeying God. And as far as I remain a member of these societies, I participate in both its merit and guilt.

society

This doesn’t mean that I take on all of the guilt of every individual in society. But I do bear the guilt of society acting as a whole, and every association I belong to, even if I wasn’t even alive when its crimes were committed.

What am I to do? How can I be saved from these sins? How can we be saved from them? I must simply repent. Then in me, my society will be repenting, and being brought to repentance member by member. We must repent, do penance, and pray for the salvation of our families, communities, nations and Church, just as we must for ourselves.

I especially think of our national sins, of wars, colonialism, slavery, exploitation, abortion, etc., and of the sins committed by leaders in the Church, especially in the sex abuse scandal. And I believe that actually, this will be crucial to re-evangelising our society.

Thank you for reading, and God bless you!

 

P.S. I think it would be especially good in this regard, if on the anniversary of national crimes and sins, we took it as a day of fasting and penance, especially those crimes we are persevering in. For example, the 27th of October and 27th of April for the UK’s abortion act (royal assent and commencement, respectively), and the 20th of March for Iraq war. It would be great if the national bishops conferences could promote this too.

P.P.S. I watched a documentary a while ago about the descendants of prominent Nazis, titled ‘Hitler’s Children’, I think. It showed how they were haunted, even decades later, by the guilt of their parents’ and grandparents’ crimes, with many doing penance by working to prevent such atrocities ever being repeated, and one woman moving to the desert and having herself sterilised. It seems to me, that communal and hereditary guilt is a simple psychological fact, that it would be foolish to deny or dismiss.

 

God bless you!

The EU and Paradise

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Tonight, the above EU poster made me finally realise just what the EU really is. By using the image of the tower of Babel (on the left is the 16th century painting it’s based upon), the EU declares its design to bring all of humanity together (which is great, by the way) and reach/create heaven by our own strength (which is very, very bad). This is shown also by the Remain camps appeal to the EU for bringing peace.

What’s so wrong with this? Every attempt to create paradise by our own power always has and always will bring nothing but slavery. The Nazis believed in, and sacrificed to, a glorious Arian future. The Soviets believed in, and sacrificed to, a glorious communist future. Revolutionaries always believe in the post-revolution world, and commit atrocities for it. Whatever we make our ultimate end, will always demand sacrifices of everything else.

What about Christianity, with its promised “Kingdom of Heaven”? The Kingdom of Heaven demands a far greater sacrifice than any other revolution: it demands our very selves. This is the meaning of the cross: the Kingdom of Heaven is giving yourself away in love of others. Do we do this by our own strength? Not at all! How could self abolish self? The Christian’s self sacrifice is not how they win the Kingdom for themselves- it is the Kingdom! Because the Kingdom of Heaven is not our creation, but a gift to receive in us, we have no work in which to sacrifice for a greater, “sacred”, good, but have only to live Heaven now.

‘The Kingdom of God is within you.’ -Jesus

The EU believes in itself, and for that reason will oppress people. It trusts in strength to achieve its goals, but strength and power can never bring true harmony, love and joy. The Church on the other hand, believes in God’s gift of Himself to us, and in this gift the whole Church is called to give itself away. It is by lowliness, humility, and love, and these alone, that Heaven is brought to Earth.

“You know that among the pagans their so-called rulers lord it over them, and their great men make their authority felt. This is not to happen among you. No; anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be slave to all. For the Son of Man himself did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45)

So what’s the problem with the EU? That it believes it can, through mere collective intelligence and power, force the world into unity. The Body of Christ (the Church) on the other hand, calls the world to true unity in its own self-giving sacrifice of love, in which your life is mine and mine is yours.

We are, as always, having to choose between using/forcing others, and loving/helping them, and this time, because the aim is as high as it gets (heaven), so are the stakes.

Peace and love, and God bless you!

Great article from Veterans for Peace

Here’s an excellent article from
Veterans for Peace UK on the confusion between the false religion of militarism and the religion of Jesus Christ, and what this looks like in military chapels and religious rituals.

Veterans for peace is an excellent and important organisation that works towards peace from the perspective of those who have experience of war.

My dream for this world

I dream of a world, where people acknowledge each other as equals. And not just equals, but as naturally good, and worthy of good things.
A world where people love their neighbours as themselves. And not in word, or tongue, but in deeds and in truth.
A world where people are tolerant of insignificant matters, and pay attention to the truly important things.
Where no one is taking what belongs to another, whether through direct violence, the threat of violence, or trickery guarded by violence. And where if anyone does take something, many seekers of justice quietly take it back.
A world where no one claims to own another’s life, nor a period of their life, nor the means to their life.
A world where people do not use violence to settle their problems or fulfill their desires. Where each human is recognised as an end in themself, and not as merely the means to another’s ends.
A world where truth is known and sought after. Where people speak reasonably and listen to determine the truth on any matter. Where people have the humility to accept the truth, because they know it is more than their own selfish desires.
Where things are not determined by violence, but by freedom and consensus. And if consensus can’t be reached, then they are free to break away and do things differently, or submit to the will of the majority. And if people refuse to accept reasonable decisions at first, they will be convinced eventually by reasonable friends arguments and attitudes towards them.
A world without a proud and pompous above and an angry and miserable below. Where people delight in helping each other, and seeing each other happy.
A world where people are not stressed by the prospect of losing their home, or paying for their next meal. Where they seek truth, justice, and love over security, and so produce a greater security.
A world where we no longer learn how to kill. Where the tools to slaughter millions of innocent children [nukes] aren’t kept, just in case they’re one day needed (to, you know, protect our children from bad men with guns).

Much of this vision is neatly summed up in the word, ‘Anarchism’. The rejection of rulership. But not necessarily all of it. It proceeds largely from Christian ideas of love and justice.

I’m a Christian, so would this dream world ideally be Christian? Maybe… but I would rather non-Christians live this way than Christians fail to live this way. Of course, it’s a very Christianity inspired vision, so I would hope it would come most naturally to Christians (though it seems many Christian groups are far further from these ideas than many non-Christian). It would be a world with religious tolerance.

How to start
First of all I must start with myself. As Leo Tolstoy said,

‘Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.’

Talking has its uses, but no one will listen to someone who refuses to listen to themselves. The problem isn’t simply outside of me, it’s also within.
Secondly, it must start with the least. They are the ones that need it most, and who I’m most likely to have inadvertently supported the exploitation of.
And thirdly, it must spread to others. Most people aren’t yet capable of living in such a world. Too few of us are good enough so that if all exploiters gave up tomorrow, the world would become good. As we stand, many would try to take their places.
These three are nicely unified, in that I cannot help others without changing myself, I can’t improve myself without helping those in need, and I can’t convince anyone without action in accordance.

God bless you.

P.S.
It’s good to know what I must do, but it sure does look tough. I’m not very comfortable around strangers, but I don’t know many people in need. Of course, I’m sure many of those I know have their own very real needs, but there are fewer people I know anyway, so the majority of my duty will involve strangers.
Thinking over the parable of the Good Samaritan earlier today, I realised that I’m far more like the Levite or the Priest who walk by on the other side than the Samaritan who helps a stranger in need. I desperately need to correct this.

God and Satan never team up

Therefore, there can be no such thing as a necessary evil. Necessary evil is an oxymoron, and the idea of it shouldn’t be tolerated anymore.
But does this mean that “necessary evil” is just evil, or just good? Is it the action itself or the sum of its consequences that determines whether it’s good or evil?

This is a tough question, so I’m going to look back to the relationship between God and the Enemy.
God sometimes permits the Enemy to act. We see this in the book of Job, and it makes sense of God’s all-powerful nature and the Enemy’s working. But why does God give the permission?
The Enemy is not God’s servant, seeking to serve Him in counter-intuitive ways. The Enemy is a thief and a destroyer, and utterly set against the keeper and creator. But God allows His Enemy to work, because He can work strength from weakness, and good even from evil.
So does this evil serve God? Only because of God’s goodness. The evil remains evil in itself, but is overwhelmed by goodness. That the darkness makes the light seem brighter, does not make darkness light. Evil presents the opportunity for good, but isn’t good itself.

From this I would say that “necessary evil” is actually just evil. Doing evil will not (without good intervention) result in good.
If doing good must involve God, then it must be wholly good, and not evil in any part. This means it must work entirely for God at all times. Therefore, the act itself must serve God directly.
Evil seeds will produce evil; hate will produce hate; violence will produce violence. But, love will produce love, and ‘the love never fails.’ (1Corinthians 13:8)

The Enemy thinks it has victory in all it does, because it cannot comprehend the power of God’s goodness, or His strength through weakness. Strength through weakness is, to the world, the fool’s approach.

We cannot use evil against evil. It will not work to the detriment of evil. At best, it will direct evil away from us, towards others.

In evil times (and when wouldn’t qualify?) evil seems most attractive, and goodness most powerless. But it is here that all things good are needed the most.
It is through the cross we were saved: not by vengeance and wrath with power, but by forgiveness and love with pain.

God bless you.

There is no necessary evil

The argument that some evil is necessary is used to defend some evil acts. For example, someone might say that because there are evil people in the world trying to do evil, the good must use evil, when there is no other way, to restrain the evil.

There are two problems with this idea (but the first is maybe just an explanation of the second).

Firstly, evil has a tendency to escape and overflow such situations (eg. The abuses by militaries of their enemies and innocents). This means that it is doubtable if evil policies ever decrease the total evil. ‘Fighting fire with fire’ doesn’t work literally (ask a firefighter), and I don’t see why it would metaphorically. Is there anything in existence that lessens itself? Anything that drives itself out? Anything that defeats itself? Why should evil be unique in this way?

Secondly, I have never heard of anything in existence, where its own existence is an argument for its necessity. Please tell me if you can think of one. Unless evil is a unique substance in this way, or I’ve overlooked a similar substance, or it does not truly exist, it cannot be necessary because of itself.

Evil can’t defeat itself, nor excuse itself.

The three options I see are that
1. Evil doesn’t exist
2. Evil isn’t evil to evil people
3. Evil is never necessary for the sake of evil.

Religion (and morality) refuse option 1. Evil exists as much as good does.
Jesus rejects option 2., when he tell us,

‘but I—I say to you, not to resist the evil’
Matthew 5:39

And,

‘but I—I say to you, Love your enemies, bless those cursing you, do good to those hating you, and pray for those accusing you falsely, and persecuting you, that ye may be sons of your Father in the heavens’
Matthew 5:44-45

Jesus and Paul accept option 3. when Jesus tells us to

be perfect, as your Father who is in the heavens is perfect.
Matthew 5:48

and when Paul clarifies the Christian position to

Be not overcome by the evil, but overcome, in the good, the evil.
Romans 12:21

God bless you

Britain faces charges for hundreds of abuses in Iraq war

http://m.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/jan/19/british-troops-accused-iraq-torture

Britain is going to court over the widespread claims of illegal torture and abuse by British soldiers in Iraq.

‘The court will rule on whether the abuses were isolated incidents of which commanders, senior ministry officials and politicians were unaware, as the government insists, or “systemic” and authorised as policy.’

I’m not sure which idea is more disturbing; that from the top down this was endorsed and hidden from the public; or that soldiers do this independently, as a result of their nature, their training, or their job.
One law professor

‘will present five so-called “state practices” they claim were “unlawful, right to the top”, including illegal interrogation techniques taught at the army intelligence facility at Chicksands, north of London, unlawful detention and unlawful use of lethal force.’

It’s deeply disturbing.

‘Most of the alleged incidents took place while prisoners were in custody, though some occurred during “strike operations” on people’s homes, with suspects and their families allegedly subjected to abuse and crude violence. Prisoners who died in custody were invariably said to have done so due to “natural causes”, despite beatings and kickings.’

But here, I need to get philosophical, and look into the morality of torture. I suppose, it could be defended from two sides. Firstly, justice/punishment. Secondly, the greater good.
Essentially, those who speak of justice these days, already mean torture. That’s what they want prison to be. Just, very mild and protracted, and chiefly mental torture.
And the greater good is a very common argument for war. What about the civilians maimed, killed, widowed, or orphaned? “Collateral damage for the greater good.” So if knowingly allowed and acccepted, why not endorsed?

‘All’s fair in war.’

But I do not accept either of these ideas. War is evil. The “Justice” system does more harm than good. The only hope I see against evil is to

‘Be not overcome by the evil, but overcome, in the good, the evil’

Romans 12:21

I strongly recommend reading the entire article at the top of the page. If you don’t want to scroll up,  here’s another link to it.

God bless you.