Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Light in the Evanescence

Hey! It’s me again. I know, you probably thought I died or something because it’s been so long since I said anything here. Rest assured, I have not passed on but am instead alive, very well (thank you for your concern), and trying to restart this blog before IT dies.

Speaking about dying (bad transition, I know, but you’ll have to move on because I’m not changing it), I have been struck lately by how transient this world really is. From our births, we are stuck in a cycle that is doomed to end.

Whether it be fame, money, careers, youth, or even relationships, the cycle cannot last forever. Money is fleeting: princes have become paupers overnight. Youth only lasts for so long. Relationships very often end before they are properly started. And as for fame… can any of you name all the American Idols? I can’t. See. You can’t do it either. Case closed.

Even at its most basic level, life itself, we see a clear starting point and a definite end. Our world is built upon things that cannot and will not ever last. But, for some reason, we lose sight of the fact that the now is not the only thing that matters. It is so easy to get caught up in mindless entertainment and the trivial matters or today that we take our eyes down from the Goal and look down at the ground, or, as is oftentimes the case, into the gutter.

Everyone has their own things that distract them from the Goal. For some, as I mentioned earlier, it’s money. For some, sports. For some, relationships. I’m more of a I-want-as-much-personal-and-particularly-juicy-scoop-as-you-can-give-me sort of person. I’m not a gossip. Honest. Your secrets are safe with me. I promise. It’s just that I need to know what’s happening in people’s lives like some people need to know who won last night’s football (a.k.a. “soccer”) game. To me it’s just that kind of important. So when I heard that, for example, Carrie Underwood was getting married, I was very excited. Probably overexcited. But that’s not the point. Or, for something that more people can relate to, the Royal Wedding.

But what got me thinking was this: If a personal detail in the lives of a few people entire unconnected to myself can get me so excited, why can I not get so excited about what God (Someone very important) has done and is doing in me (someone entirely connected to myself) or my friends? Why can I not have at least the same level of concern for the salvation of those around me as for the floor I will get at Wheaton next year? What have I gotten out of knowing about Carrie’s wedding except for the ability to (finally) have a something to say in a conversation with an avid hockey fan (she married a hockey player)? Why would I rather spend my money on a new shirt, song, or video game when I could (and probably should) be thinking how to best maximize its impact in a place that matters.

I don’t know about you, but I’m one of those people that has to take everything to an extreme. Nothing is half-hearted. I either enthusiastically throw myself into a project or don’t even give it a second thought (or a first thought, for that matter). I either exercise fanatically or not at all. I can’t just like a singer – I either love her or hate her (keep your comments about Enya to yourself as we move on). But any one of those things – my hard-held opinions – can change in a heartbeat. A big mistake or continual frustration can quell my passion for the project I’m working on. A rainy day that throws off my workout routine can be enough to get me out of the gym for weeks. A few lame songs and I don’t really like the singer as much as I used to. Getting up a few minutes late or saying “I’ll do it later” can result in days without a quiet time.

But thanks be to God! For He is not like us! He is constant. Even though we may change, He is our firm Rock. He is an island in the chaos. He is our unwavering light in the cycle of evanescence (that’s my favorite word, just FYI). He is the Goal to which we should be striving, not the fleeting moment. I will die. My aviator sunglasses will go out of style and I will look back at the picture of myself and laugh in shame. I might end up hating my friends so much that I never want to see them again. I will get old and fat and ugly (and don’t you get so smug, because so will you). As Isaiah 40:6-8 says, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” Nobody’s going to remember or care who did what and who wore what at which awards, who beat whom at which games, what your wore, what you ate, how clean your house was, or anything like that 100, 50, 20, 10, or even 5 years from now. But what will matter is how we have spent our time serving our Lord and making His presence known on the earth until He returns. And I pray that when He returns He will find that I did indeed utilize all the resources, gifts, and talents He gave me to my best ability and to His glory alone.


Is the Created World Good?

For many, many years, the world has wrestled with the question, “Is the physical world good?” Many have attempted to answer this question, ranging from the Gnostics to Marcion and Cerdo of the early church. The main viewpoint of those previously mentioned is that anything physical is evil – if something is possible to be experienced on a physical level, then it is evil. The early church condemned these heretics, routinely denouncing them as anathema.

What do the Scriptures seem to say on this subject? When the Lord is creating the world, we read that God says that His creation is “good” or “very good” seven times in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis alone. Thus it is very evident that the world, at least in its original state, was good, not evil.

However, after Adam and Eve sinned, the world became cursed (Genesis 3:17) and death became a natural part of life (Romans 5:12). This begs the question: did creation cease to be good after it was changed through the fall, or was it merely “less good” or did the fall make no difference on the quality of creation? It is probably safe to eliminate the first question when we examine the verse, “For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.” (1 Timothy 4:4 – 5)

We are therefore left with two possibilities: did the fall make no impact on the inherent goodness of creation or did the fall merely lessen the goodness in creation but not totally eliminate it? The answer may be found by pondering the following question: could God, in His perfect deity assume a material form if matter has even a drop of evil in it? The answer appears to be “no”. Thus we must assume that, although our world is fallen and in bondage to sin, as we see in Romans 8:19 – 21, the goodness described in the first chapter of the Bible has not been marred.


The Martyrdom of Polycarp

Polycarp was one of the early church fathers who was martyred for his faith at a very old age. Many Christians were being martyred in those days by the order of the government. However, salvation was offered them if they would merely say “Down with the atheists!” the atheists being, of course, the Roman term for the Christians because they worshiped only one God whereas the Romans worshipped many gods. Polycarp was one of the Christians who, under the reign of either Antoninus or Marcus Aurelius, was martyred.
The martyrdom of Polycarp has great spiritual significance for Christians today. Jesus foretold this persecution on many occasions, such as in Luke 21:12 (“But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name”). Yet the Christians did not try to run from it, and neither did Polycarp. He stood firm in the face of opposition and did not back. Even though he was offered the opportunity to save his own life he merely said, “For eighty-six years I have been his [Jesus’] servant, and he has never done me wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?” Martyrs in the past, as well as many, many martyrs that die daily for the Faith prove to the world that Christianity is not a religion that can be suppressed by human hands. Martyrs are very important to us as Christians, not only for the obvious reason of showing us what an example of someone “sold out” for Christ, but also proving to us that the Christ who gave the martyrs strength to face terrible deaths is the same Christ who will give us courage to face the things in our lives that seem, rightly so, small in comparison.


To Go Beyond

To continue on the poetry theme, here is anothre poem I found recently by a guy named Nathaniel Elm. I like it alot, even though the ending might be a little harsh.

“To go beyond this moment and look
Into another, or to go beyond yourself
And find another soul, there.

To go beyond what is missing and discover
How much you really have, or to learn what you have
Been given and know that it is yours

To go beyond this time and look upon the next and wonder
When you will get there, or to go beyond and do what
There still is left to do

To go beyond and think about when there is not
Want, or to go beyond and take another step
And ensure that no others have want, too

To go beyond this present pain and think
About when it was safe, or to go beyond and dream
Of peace and bring it back again

To go beyond and run the extra mile when you know
You didn’t have to, or to go beyond the call of duty
When others do just their part

To go beyond and heal the rift, close
The gap and mend the wounds, or to go beyond and
Wait until the storm has passed without giving in.

This is self-discipline”


Mythopoeia

This is a beautiful poem I just came across by J.R.R. Tolkien, author of “The Lord of the Rings” to his good friend C.S. Lewis just before Lewis came to Christ.

“To one [C.S. Lewis] who said that myths were lies and therefore worthless, even though ‘breathed through silver’.

Philomythus to Misomythus

You look at trees and label them just so,
(for trees are ‘trees’, and growing is ‘to grow’);
you walk the earth and tread with solemn pace
one of the many minor globes of Space:
a star’s a star, some matter in a ball
compelled to courses mathematical
amid the regimented, cold, inane,
where destined atoms are each moment slain.

At bidding of a Will, to which we bend
(and must), but only dimly apprehend,
great processes march on, as Time unrolls
from dark beginnings to uncertain goals;
and as on page o’er-written without clue,
with script and limning packed of various hue,
an endless multitude of forms appear,
some grim, some frail, some beautiful, some queer,
each alien, except as kin from one
remote Origo, gnat, man, stone, and sun.
God made the petreous rocks, the arboreal trees,
tellurian earth, and stellar stars, and these
homuncular men, who walk upon the ground
with nerves that tingle touched by light and sound.
The movements of the sea, the wind in boughs,
green grass, the large slow oddity of cows,
thunder and lightning, birds that wheel and cry,
slime crawling up from mud to live and die,
these each are duly registered and print
the brain’s contortions with a separate dint.
Yet trees are not ‘trees’, until so named and seen
and never were so named, tifi those had been
who speech’s involuted breath unfurled,
faint echo and dim picture of the world,
but neither record nor a photograph,
being divination, judgement, and a laugh
response of those that felt astir within
by deep monition movements that were kin
to life and death of trees, of beasts, of stars:
free captives undermining shadowy bars,
digging the foreknown from experience
and panning the vein of spirit out of sense.
Great powers they slowly brought out of themselves
and looking backward they beheld the elves
that wrought on cunning forges in the mind,
and light and dark on secret looms entwined.

He sees no stars who does not see them first
of living silver made that sudden burst
to flame like flowers bencath an ancient song,
whose very echo after-music long
has since pursued. There is no firmament,
only a void, unless a jewelled tent
myth-woven and elf-pattemed; and no earth,
unless the mother’s womb whence all have birth.
The heart of Man is not compound of lies,
but draws some wisdom from the only Wise,
and still recalls him. Though now long estranged,
Man is not wholly lost nor wholly changed.
Dis-graced he may be, yet is not dethroned,
and keeps the rags of lordship once he owned,
his world-dominion by creative act:
not his to worship the great Artefact,
Man, Sub-creator, the refracted light
through whom is splintered from a single White
to many hues, and endlessly combined
in living shapes that move from mind to mind.
Though all the crannies of the world we filled
with Elves and Goblins, though we dared to build
Gods and their houses out of dark and light,
and sowed the seed of dragons, ’twas our right
(used or misused). The right has not decayed.
We make still by the law in which we’re made.

Yes! ‘wish-fulfilment dreams’ we spin to cheat
our timid hearts and ugly Fact defeat!
Whence came the wish, and whence the power to dream,
or some things fair and others ugly deem?
All wishes are not idle, nor in vain
fulfilment we devise — for pain is pain,
not for itself to be desired, but ill;
or else to strive or to subdue the will
alike were graceless; and of Evil this
alone is deadly certain: Evil is.

Blessed are the timid hearts that evil hate
that quail in its shadow, and yet shut the gate;
that seek no parley, and in guarded room,
though small and bate, upon a clumsy loom
weave tissues gilded by the far-off day
hoped and believed in under Shadow’s sway.

Blessed are the men of Noah’s race that build
their little arks, though frail and poorly filled,
and steer through winds contrary towards a wraith,
a rumour of a harbour guessed by faith.

Blessed are the legend-makers with their rhyme
of things not found within recorded time.
It is not they that have forgot the Night,
or bid us flee to organized delight,
in lotus-isles of economic bliss
forswearing souls to gain a Circe-kiss
(and counterfeit at that, machine-produced,
bogus seduction of the twice-seduced).
Such isles they saw afar, and ones more fair,
and those that hear them yet may yet beware.
They have seen Death and ultimate defeat,
and yet they would not in despair retreat,
but oft to victory have tuned the lyre
and kindled hearts with legendary fire,
illuminating Now and dark Hath-been
with light of suns as yet by no man seen.

I would that I might with the minstrels sing
and stir the unseen with a throbbing string.
I would be with the mariners of the deep
that cut their slender planks on mountains steep
and voyage upon a vague and wandering quest,
for some have passed beyond the fabled West.
I would with the beleaguered fools be told,
that keep an inner fastness where their gold,
impure and scanty, yet they loyally bring
to mint in image blurred of distant king,
or in fantastic banners weave the sheen
heraldic emblems of a lord unseen.

I will not walk with your progressive apes,
erect and sapient. Before them gapes
the dark abyss to which their progress tends
if by God’s mercy progress ever ends,
and does not ceaselessly revolve the same
unfruitful course with changing of a name.
I will not treat your dusty path and flat,
denoting this and that by this and that,
your world immutable wherein no part
the little maker has with maker’s art.
I bow not yet before the Iron Crown,
nor cast my own small golden sceptre down.

In Paradise perchance the eye may stray
from gazing upon everlasting Day
to see the day illumined, and renew
from mirrored truth the likeness of the True.
Then looking on the Blessed Land ’twill see
that all is as it is, and yet made free:
Salvation changes not, nor yet destroys,
garden nor gardener, children nor their toys.
Evil it will not see, for evil lies
not in God’s picture but in crooked eyes,
not in the source but in malicious choice,
and not in sound but in the tuneless voice.
In Paradise they look no more awry;
and though they make anew, they make no lie.
Be sure they still will make, not being dead,
and poets shall have flames upon their head,
and harps whereon their faultless fingers fall:
there each shall choose for ever from the All.”


The First Half of My Re-Written Version of “Macbeth”

Act One
Scene One

The world was shrouded in darkness. Not a single light shone, either in the heavens above or on the earth below by which a weary sojourner could find his way. The darkness was almost tangible – alluring and taunting – yet elusive – always hiding just out of reach, like a spider web with fine gossamer fibers that one can never quite brush away. The darkness was absolute; it seemed to hold some sort of a spell. Nothing stood long within its path – the darkness laid desolate every living thing that stood in its influence. Every tree, every shrub, and every blade of grass, it seemed, had long since surrendered its life to the iron will of the darkness. Not a single soul had ventured into the Dead Plain for over a hundred years. Not a creature dared to take refuge beneath the gnarled, rotten limbs of withered oak trees. Not a word. Not a sound. Only darkness.

And then something moved in the darkness. It was a feeble, quaking limb, shattered into many pieces, then a trembling fist; and, finally, a rasping breath forced its way out of a twisted, parched mouth into the plain, ringing across the darkness like a war cry on the field of battle. The air was still thick with the stench of blood and the screams of the dead and dying. A solitary form, decrepit with age and misuse, crawled like a worm across the desolate plain through the carnage of the previous day.

An icy wind whipped over the plain, rattling the rusty branches of the trees and the very bones of the living and the dead into a lifeless submission, and a torrential rain drummed ceaselessly against the lifeless forms, running tiny eddies through tangled and blood-matted hair. No life, it seemed, could endure such devastation. But the form did not give in. Bracing herself — for it was a woman, if one could call such a deformed creature thus — against the frozen blast, she pulled up, seeming to draw strength from her macabre surroundings. With a hideous shriek that was a death rattle and a victory shout and a vulture’s croak in one, she thrust her hands into the sky. Suddenly, the field was ablaze in an unearthly light. Each of the bodies that lay upon the ground was within that moment consumed by an eerie blood-red flame that was not extinguished by the torrential downpour.

And the witch was not alone. Two other figures very like the first crawled through the muck and gore and joined her in pagan incantations. The hellish light grew stronger and more powerful until the light was almost blinding. Yet the three sisters carried on, as indistinguishable from the light as one filth from another.

“I feel my strength returning, sister,” croaked the first.

“I, too, sister,” snarled the second.

“And I, too, sister,” hissed the third.

The sisters turned to one another in pagan glee.

“Our work here is almost complete, sister,” said the first, rattling her skeletal wings slowly behind her.

“When shall we three meet again, sister?” queried the second, tail methodically swaying from side to side, as in a trance.

“And where the place, sister?” demanded the third as her forked tongue flicked in and out of her mouth to catch the scent of decaying bodies,

“When the battle’s lost and won – ere at the set of the sun,” cawed the first, “upon the heath.”

“There we shall meet Lord Rían,” responded the second.

The women, having completed their plans, joined hands. The fire that had once consumed the bodies at first tricked then erupted in a giant cascade out of the bodies of the witches and formed a giant pillar of fire and smoke that reached as a thousand grasping tendrils trying to bring down the foundations of Heaven itself.

“I summon you, Tanwen,” cried the first over the silent roar of the flames.

“I come, Greymalkin,” shrieked the second.

“Dema calls,” murmured the third.

Then, as suddenly as the light began, it subsided into a smoldering, pulsating glow that crawled over and through the bodies of the slain warriors on the field. The field was empty – abandoned it seemed; desolate once more. But it was not forsaken entirely. For three creatures were making their way through the field: a skeletal vulture, a bedraggled cat, and a rotting snake. Their eyes shone feverishly with the flame of the fire that had only moments before enveloped the entire plain as the gathered around one of the fallen heroes and gorged themselves on flesh – biding their time until Lord Rían arrived. And then there was silence. Not a word. Not a sound. Only darkness.

Act One
Scene Two

A final shot rang out. The sound bounced off the rocky cliffs that enclosed the army as a box until it was able to escape like a captured bird out of its cage. Kennet, commander of King Ashton’s armed forces, strolled over to his target and kicked the man with his boot to ensure that he was truly dead.

“That’s the last of them, I would think, my Lord King,” Kennet said, as he bowed to show respect to the man who had just appeared behind him.

King Ashton of the Arnava looked around and surveyed the battlefield. He was a good man, Kennet noted for the hundredth time, with kindly features. The Arnava was an ancient species renowned for their delicate, detailed metallurgy and verbal prowess. Although he was only a few thousand years old, Ashton’s face was creased with crevices that demonstrated the great care and effort he took in ruling his country. From the white hair that flowed off his crowned head onto his shoulders like light dancing on the water to the beautiful iridescent white wings of the Arnava royalty that stretched out to the sky from his back, Ashton looked every inch a king; his presence instantly demanded respect. But his heart was the heart of a peacemaker, not that of a warrior.

Ashton nodded. “I should hope so,” he stated sadly. “I have seen many deaths in my lifetime and I should not like to see any more today.”

“Understood, Sir,” Kennet responded. He holstered his gun and walked slowly with the King back to the military outpost. “We won a great victory today, Sir. Today will certainly teach any other man who wishes to be a traitor to think twice before he acts.”

“I suppose it shall.” Then he paused. “Was today even necessary, Commander?”

Kennet faltered in his steps, a shocked expression on his face. “Sir, Lord Oscar was trying to take your throne! He was willing to kill you for your crown. Any such man deserves to die!” he declared passionately.

Kennet could see that the actions of the day were weighing heavily on the king. He shoulders were stooped; his face was puffy; and he dragged his feet as he walked, not bothering to even look up. “I suppose you are right,” he acknowledged, but then he quickly added, “but surely there was another way: another avenue we overlooked…”

Kennet sighed. He was very young in Arnava terms – only in his late eighties – and was known for his compulsive, aggressive behaviour that was uncharacteristic even of youth. Hence he couldn’t understand Ashton’s peaceable mindset. But Kennet was also fiercely loyal to his king and was willing to go beyond his duties for the sake of the State: qualities that led rapidly to his early promotion to the Commander of the King’s Army.

“There was no other avenue, my Lord. You know that as well as I. All negotiations failed years ago. It was time to act.”

It pained Kennet to speak so his king. It was Ashton, after all, who had saved his life as a child living in poverty and brought him to the palace to be raised and educated. Kennet had been all but adopted into Ashton’s family and almost thought of him as his father.

Ashton opened his mouth as if to say something and then abruptly closed it again. He saw a figure in a bloodied gown frantically making her way towards the two men. Kennet’s hawk-eyes strained to discover the identity of the woman. Then his eyes widened in shock. It was Dr. Dŵynwen, head of the army’s medical personnel, though her current state of disheveled anxiety hardly resembled the cool and collected surgeon that was so familiar to them both. Something must be terribly wrong, thought Kennet apprehensively, to make this woman behave in such a way.

Dŵynwen stumbled up to the men, barely bothering to make a sloppy half-curtsy to the king before blurting out her news. Her eyes were wide with fright, her hair in a tangle, and her face and hands and gown were freckled with dripping sweat and blood. Kennet’s russet wings twitched nervously in anticipation of her news. “My- my Lord Ashton,” she began, gulping the air the way a dying man in the desert consumes water.

“What is it, Dr. Dŵynwen?” the king gently asked. The regal demeanour he had lost during the recent conversation with Kennet he bore once again with a kindly smile that masked growing concern.

“It- it’s your son, my Lord,” she managed to gasp between heaving breaths, “he’s been- grievously wounded.”

Kennet saw the king’s face blanche and knew his face was undergoing a similar process.

“My-“ Ashton began, voice cracking. Then he started over, clearing his throat, “My son… Finn?”

“Yes, my Lord King,” Dŵynwen stated, drawing herself up again. “He was wounded in combat with Lord Oscar not two hours ago.”

“Where is he?” cried Ashton. “I must see him!” Without waiting for a response, King Ashton dove towards the medical district, great wings beating the air into submission like a trainer would a disobedient animal. Kennet also stretched his wings out, their earthen tips extending wide, and raced with the king towards the dying prince. The king is going slow, he thought, faster than I have ever seen from him, but too slow. Kennet was young and powerfully built: his wings were strong and his body was lithe and designed for speed. The King, however, was old and unused to flight; time and again, Kennet had to force himself from beating the king to their destination.

Time marched on like a line of ants with no end in sight; the winds tossed them about like a discarded old toy. Desperation creased the countenance of the elderly king; tears mingled with the sweat and rain that were streaming down his face. Just as Kennet was beginning to have newfound appreciation for the unknown athletic stamina of Dr. Dŵynwen, he saw the medical district faintly in the distance.

It was a small structure of no remarkable features, for it had been set-up rather hastily as part of the last minute preparations for the oncoming onslaught… (To be continued)


Is St. Augustine Still Relevant Today?

When I first read St. Augustine’s popular book, Confessions, I did not see many ways in which this “antiquated” book could possibly be relevant to my life. Aside from further growing in the art of confession, the concept obviously derived from the title of the book, I feared that little would be left to learn. Fortunately, as I delved into the book rather hesitantly, I found to my delight that there are many truths to be derived from this classic work.

To begin, Confessions taught me that my presupposition of the work confession itself might have been slightly skewed. Confession to the Lord and to my fellow humans often becomes merely a list or an acknowledgement while completely ignoring the equally important aspects of true sorrow and repentance. The confessions of St. Augustine were very real – he made no attempt to justify the sins that were his own. This is another aspect in which I seek to grow. It is one thing to own to committing a sin; it is quite another to do so without making excuses or justifications.

While still unregenerate, Augustine’s search for truth was an all-consuming part of his life. This was a very convicting realisation for me as I examined the differences between his quest for truth and me for mine. Granted there is a rather stark contrast in the life situations which we find ourselves in: Augustine was born into a half-Christian home and was not raised with the Truth in the same way I have been. As one great teacher once told me, “It’s okay not to know, but it’s not okay to not know and be satisfied.” In other words, don’t be afraid to ask questions without knowing the answer, but don’t be satisfied in your ignorance. However there are ways in my life were I can see that I am content with not knowing, and this should not be so.

Perhaps one of the poignant ways St. Augustine has changed my life would be as an example of both sin and the effects thereof. I have meditated many times on the passage where he stated, “I was afraid that You would answer my prayer at once and cure me too soon of the disease of the lust, which I wanted satisfied, not quelled.” Unfortunately we as Christians are often caught in the state of the realisation of the fact that our sin must be dealt with but with the hesitation of dealing with that sin for fear of having our sinful desires left unfulfilled. Amid all this, though, is the joy that shines through we a transformed life is witnessed through the power of Christ working through a man to change his heart and his very desires.

Therefore, in my opinion, Confessions, though certainly very old, is hardly out-dated, for the truths and experiences are still very relevant to life today. The truths expressed in Confessions cannot change with time, for their Author does not change with time, and are consequently always relevant.


Is the World of “Beowulf” More Christian than America Today?

Every person and every age has its own understanding of the relationship between good and evil. America is known as the great “melting pot,” indicating the infusion and assimilation of many people and ideas from the entire world into one country. This has led to the diversity and breadth of beliefs that can be seen in America today, most of them unbiblical. Writing in a likely unchristianized Britain in the late first century, the “Beowulf” poet, seemingly as a Christian, held a view of good and evil that was probably not typical of the time. Although his view may not have been typical of the age, the “Beowulf” poet’s view of good and evil is more Biblical than that of American culture today.

To understand where the poet and the culture aligned with and have strayed from the truth of the relationship between good and evil, a study of truth itself would be in order. The Bible repeatedly states that God and God alone is perfect – every aspect of His nature is wholly and utterly good. This means that anything contrary to His nature is not good, for it is not God. Humanity cannot hope to meet God’s standards. As Romans 3:10 states, “No one is righteous, no not one.” Humanity is fallen and incapable of doing any good, and when life is over, God will judge our lives and we will see that our supposed “good deeds” are as filthy rags in His sight and really worth nothing at all. Only by salvation through His Son may we escape eternal judgment. As C. S. Lewis once said, “No good work is done anywhere without aid from the Father of Lights.” Such is the standard that humanity can never attain – if our good deeds are as rags, what must our wicked deeds be in His eyes?

The culture has many points of view on the relationship between good and evil – as many, it seems, as there are people who make up the culture. However, there are some predominant themes that seem to rule American culture as a whole. In a relativistic society, there is no true meaning to the word good, as there is no meaning to the word evil. Good seems to mean something that helps others, promotes popular causes, or supports popular ideologies. In America today, it seems to be very hard to do anything evil at all. The end justifies the means in our world – if the end result was “good”, it doesn’t matter how one gets there. This belief is reflected widely across our culture though the various forms of entertainment, specifically mass entertainment. As long as one doesn’t hurt another in the process, it never was really bad in the first place. However, as askew as America is today, it is not completely off the mark. A corrupt politician exploiting the citizens of his district for financial gain and power plays is universally disdained. Nothing is more despised than one who hurts another for his own personal benefit. An overwhelmingly large percentage of Americans believe in some kind of eternal reward, but the popular conception of heaven is not quite the paradise as described in the Bible. “As long as I’m not terribly bad, or at least more good then bad, God wouldn’t send me to Hell,” they say. Yes, the culture does acknowledge Hell, but they reserve it almost exclusively for the Hitlers and Stalins of this world. As can be seen, the culture has strayed dramatically from the Biblical view of good and evil and is not likely to return anytime soon.

The “Beowulf” poet had a view that is more similar to the Bible’s as compared to that of the culture’s perspective. “Beowulf” does not deal so much with goodness as much as the evil that dwells within this world. Within humanity, the poet frequently calls people “good” when referring to their physical or behavioral characteristics. People that are “good” within the poet’s story are those that are strong and powerful or good to others, most notably those who are unselfish, self-sacrificing, and generous. The poet also acknowledges that God is both sovereign and powerful as well as good on many occasions. The poet also has a very well-defined view of evil as well. The list may seem rather similar to the culture’s list: murder, cruelty, and other things that seem to unjustly hurt others. Then a surprising addition pops up. According to the poet, striving against God is a terrible evil (lines 106 – 114) and condemns worship of idols, calling Satan “the killer of souls.” Regarding eternity, God is the judge of the deeds of mankind, says the poet (lines 180 – 188), but we are left to guess whether or not the God of the poet’s world is as just as the God of the Bible or if it rather like the wishy-washy god of the culture.

God alone is the standard of perfection and the judge of all things. While the culture takes an elastic stance on the issue, the Biblical standard of good and evil is inflexible and unyielding. “Beowulf” falls somewhere in between The “Beowulf” poet seems rather undecided – sometimes mirroring the Bible and other times mimicking modern culture – and eventually lands with view of good and evil that is markedly more Biblical than that of American culture today.


The Perfect Hero

Beowulf. Batman. Brad Pitt. The idea of a hero conjures up many images in the mind that may run the gamut from the demigods of ancient Greece to the celebrities of pop culture. From supermodels to superhumans, we as a culture lack any real definition for the term “hero” and use it with little care. A true hero is a magnificent tapestry woven of many fine and beautiful threads composed of different qualities and character traits. Unfortunately, the cultural heroes of today have at best only bits and pieces of the larger puzzle. Only in the person of Jesus do all the heroic qualities come together to form a true and perfect hero. If the Bible is the Word of God, and if God is perfect, then Christ, who is God and who followed the Scriptures perfectly, is the absolute standard for perfection and for being a perfect hero. Although the different qualities are widespread, they can be divided into three separate and distinct qualities: the hero’s relationship to good and evil, his relationship to others, and his relationship to God and truth.

A hero must have a proper view of good and evil if he is to be considered a true hero. To be considered a true hero, as Christ is, a hero must fight for what is good, right, and true. Although this seems perhaps overly fundamental, this is, in fact, crucial. If heroes are pictures of Christ, how can one be called a hero when he is blatantly antagonistic to Biblical values? Digging deeper, the method one uses to fight is almost, if not just as, important as the side on which one chooses to fight. Many “heroes” of today, such as the infamous Jack Bauer, are not known for always choosing good over evil when both options are presented. Heroes over the ages have resorted to less than Biblical techniques to complete their mission or satisfy their desires. If Jesus, the perfect and sinless man, is our standard for a perfect hero, however, then it is easily seen how the belief that the end justifies the means is a seriously flawed one.

A hero wouldn’t be a hero if he was the only person is the world. It is vital that the prospective hero also has the correct view of how to interact with other human beings. When the Lord was present on this earth, He demonstrated many qualities that add to the tapestry of the perfect hero. In an age where our idols are often too cruel or too lenient, the true Hero knew when to show mercy and when to exercise justice. A hero must also be wholly honest and trustworthy. Why would people put their hopes in one who they knew to spin lies? Furthermore, just as Christ was humble despite great authority and power, a hero must demonstrate a similar trait. Celebrities and superheroes alike often show a destructive tendency towards a cocky, prideful vanity that is infinitely removed from the demeanor of Christ while on this earth. Self-sacrificial love is an essential component of humility that was vividly portrayed in the life of Christ, especially in His death on the cross. Although God does not call most heroes to die in such a tragic way for others such as Sidney Carton from A Tale of Two Cities, He does call them to have the will to do such a thing if it was necessary.

Finally, the most important, and perhaps the most overlooked, set of qualities is the hero’s relationship to God and truth. If a hero has an incorrect understanding of God and truth, he is not a hero at all. There are many men and women, many of whose names are unknown to the world, who have quietly worked for the glory of God’s kingdom on earth from behind-the-scenes for their entire life without receiving recognition for their efforts, and have demonstrated a lifelong commitment to humility. God calls heroes to be above reproach in all areas of their life and obedient to Him in all things. If one misses this factor, he misses the entire point of the qualities of a hero.

But whether it’s Mario or Link rushing off to save the princess yet again and somehow saving the world in the process, or your friendly neighborhood Spiderman just settling for New York City, the heroes that we admire as a culture are the saviors of their people, just as Christ is the Savior of all those who are predestined to adoption as sons. While anybody can exhibit heroic qualities from time to time, only Jesus fully exhibits all the qualities of a hero all the time to their fullest degree. Only Jesus has the wholly correct view of good and evil. Only He relates to others perfectly. And only He serves God without any mistakes. Therefore Christ is the only perfect hero and we are called to imitate Him. The term “Christian” means “little Christ”. As we strive to model our behavior after Christ, the one and only true Hero, we have become His representatives on earth and are “little heroes” after His image.


The Manhood of Lady Macbeth

We live in an age where the definition of masculinity is highly twisted. The cultural icons thrown at us today from the screens demonstrate and seemingly encourage the blurring of the gender roles. Women like Lara Croft leave much to be desired in the feminine category and we’re left wondering whether men like Adam Lambert and Michael Jackson are completely male. What are the qualities of a real man? This is truly a relevant question, but it could hardly be regarded as new or exclusive to today, for this same question is posed in the famous Shakespearean play Macbeth, written in Elizabethan England and set at an even earlier date. Viewing our modern situation once again through this knowledge, an “antiquated” play like Macbeth suddenly seems a lot more pertinent to modern-day life. How does Scripture answer this question? True men, according to Scripture, desire to be responsible and to make responsible choices, serve and sacrifice for others — especially women, show humility while exercising godly and God-ordained strength, confront ungodly teaching and behaviour, and represent Christ to the world and all those under His care.

It is impossible to discuss qualities of a true man without making reference to the only perfect Man, the Lord Jesus Christ. All the qualities that would make a perfect man are, of course, the same that made Jesus Christ the perfect Man. Responsibility is a crucial part of Biblical masculinity. Men are responsible for the way that they lead and protect others. Even though Eve sinned before Adam, God still held Adam responsible for his poor leadership of Eve as seen by the fact that God addressed Adam before Eve in Genesis 3:9 (“Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you?’” NKJV). Men are called to serve and sacrifice for others. Perhaps the most beautiful example of this is the Lord on the cross giving Himself up for His bride – the elect. Men are called to emulate this sacrificial love on a daily basis for those within their sphere of influence. Godly leadership is another God-ordained job that men are given. Men are to lead their family in a way that honours God and shows humility. Christ had the greatest reason to be proud and domineering, but instead He was born into this world not as a king but as a lowly peasant. Even when His critics attacked and denounced Him, He did not respond with pride. How much more so should men who make mistakes be willing to confess and right their wrongs with humility and grace! The other traits are perhaps rudimentary but still central to being a godly man. Men are to confront teaching and behaviour they see as ungodly – not in a self-righteous or violent manner, but with grace and humility, and they are to represent Christ to the world and to all those under their care. These traits, though not exhaustive, are all part of being a Biblical man trying in sanctification to emulate the Perfect Man.

Macbeth, protagonist of the classic Shakespeare play under the same name, is faced with choices that reveal his perception of masculinity. The reader or audience member first gets glimpses of Macbeth’s mind through what he is. It is seen that Macbeth is fearless is battle (1.1, lines 15 – 23) and well trusted by his friends and king. He is shown to be a patriotic man – the sort one would do well to imitate. However, a darker side of Macbeth’s character is lying dormant beneath this beautiful exterior. When he learns through the three weïrd sisters that he is to receive the kingship, a disturbing inner conflict takes place. His thoughts immediately turn to murder as a possible and acceptable solution to attain the prize of the crown (1.3, lines 130 – 142). He goes on to say, “If chance will have me King, why chance may crown me/Without my stir.” (1.3, lines 143 – 144), further revealing the evil that has been awakened within his soul by suggesting to himself that, while chance may give him the throne without his effort, he is also contemplating more violent alternatives. Right from the opening minutes of the play, Macbeth falsely depicts masculine qualities by entertaining irresponsible and ungodly notions.

Like anyone, Macbeth is not only defined by who he is and the things he says, but primarily by what he does. As the old adage goes, “Actions speak louder than words.” This is found to be especially true in Macbeth’s personal life. When Macbeth’s wife and primary consultant, Lady Macbeth, learns of the prophecy, she immediately gives her own two cents: both on the issue of what Macbeth should do and on the issue of masculinity. Among the particularly horrifying and perverse list of character traits she claims makes one a man, Lady Macbeth believes that one cannot be a man unless he is willing to act on his every desire – whatever the cost. Lady Macbeth presents her husband with some very ungodly ideas, namely murder, to get the crown which he desires. One may expect to see Macbeth, as the heroic protagonist, up in arms and ready to challenge these obviously pagan thoughts, but the reader will never find a word of complaint against the plans of his wife; only questions, and, finally, submission. Instead of leading his wife in a God-honouring manner, he submits to her plans and kills the king. When the deed is done, and Macbeth gets the crown, he is plunged into a world of suspicion and murder to hide his tracks. Despite some initial panic, Macbeth refuses or is unable to look back and little remorse can be seen in him for his deeds, leaving the audience to marvel at his remarkable hardness of heart. In every way, Macbeth exchanges the Biblical view of masculinity for his own twisted view that promotes violence, treachery, and backstabbing of the innocent.

A true man, defined by the Bible, is rare indeed. He must be responsible, willing to serve and show sacrificial love to others, humble, gracious and caring but not effeminate, able to exercise godly leadership but not domineering; able and willing to confront ungodly teaching and behaviour but not confrontational as a rule, and ably represent Christ to the world and all those under his care. Very few cultural heroes – whether real or fictional – fulfill these requirements to any notable degree. Through the life of Macbeth, one can easily see how “manhood gone wrong” can take one who seems so good and turn him awry.