Sky King did nothing wrong

He followed the script.

He played by the rules.

He married young, but not too young.  He met his wife when they both were in college.  They moved to be close to family.  He took a job that provided him with free travel to see his own family regularly and stay in touch with more than social media posts.  He was upbeat, patient and pleasant to his co-workers.  He worked hard and did his job unstintingly.

And none of it worked out.  He was making barely more than daycare workers in Washington State make.  His wife was working at a bakery, making around the same.  Combined they were making around the median household income for their state, which is about half what married couples make who have kids in Washington.

But he met her at college.  They married young, but not too young.  They lived near family.

And he was almost 30 and fatherhood was looking like a dream.  He hoped further, additional credentials would finally get him a pay raise, into management.

But hope curdles in the face of grinding reality, where following all the rules pushes you deeper and deeper under and all the smiles and positive attitude aren’t moving you forward, but locking you in place.

His name was Richard Russell.  His friends called him Beebo.  What a privilege they had.

He took a plane up into the light, because for all his efforts to follow the rules, the light was slipping further and further away and all his smiles and good spirits couldn’t push away the dark shadows of despair and futility.

But in that plane, for a little while, he touched the light.  He reached down into this bleak world of corruption and the grinding down of good, young, decent men and he gave a taste of it to the rest of us here on the cold gray ground.

We who only knew him in death call him Sky King.  Sky King did nothing wrong.

 

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(Proper) Catechesis is love

What it says on the tin.

Proper catechesis is missing from most Christian practice, and it’s one of the reasons well-off Western Christians seem so hypocritical and awful to non-Christians looking in.  There are many ways to properly catechize people smart and stupid alike, but mostly they aren’t done or even considered important by all too many Christians, but it is important for Christians to receive proper catechesis and it is, simply, love.

Biblical Theocracy

A book review from The White Oppressor T.W.O.
tankMan

It was June 5th 1989, less than thirty-six hours after the historic “Beijing massacre”, when the People’s Army complied with the Chinese government’s order to roll the tanks down the Avenue of Eternal Peace and through Tiananmen Square, to clear all debris from the nation’s political heart, whatever the cost. I was in the student canteen at Hong Kong Baptist College, picking at my rice box, sitting across from one of my students. Mee Mee had just struggled through a final exam on a day when many of the students, still in shock, had stayed home, unable to think about school­work when their homeland’s future was hanging in the balance. We were discussing whether or not the college should postpone the remaining exams until the political crisis cooled.
About six weeks earlier, near the beginning of the forty-nine day stu­dent protest that ended in tragedy, four well-meaning students had come to my office trying to persuade me to cancel my classes in support of the democracy movement in China. They were quite surprised at my rather unorthodox response, and went away perplexed at the idea that there should be a Westerner, a U.S. citizen no less, and a teacher of religion and philosophy, who actually claimed not to believe in democracy! Until then, I had normally kept to myself the political ideas which had been brewing in my mind over the past ten or twelve years, since voicing them usually met with just such reactions of offence and disbelief.

But here was Mee Mee, her heart torn in two over the recent events in China, not knowing whom to support. Her parents thought the Chinese government was in the right; she disagreed, yet found it hard to accept the equally extreme belief of the recent tendency in Hong Kong to view democ­racy as the final answer to mankind’s political quest. I bared my heart to her, telling her how I have always been the sort of person who is naturally in­clined to grasp his rights in the name of freedom and justice, and yet, how the results of such grasping rarely satisfy me. For if my struggle to defend my rights succeeds, I am often left with a strange sense of empti­ness or guilt; and if it fails, I am left with bitterness at having been treated unfairly. As our conversation developed, I realized that what she was so interested in discussing, others might also find challenging in this time of crisis.

Thus begins Biblical Theocracy, the most important book on politics and Christianity since Augustine’s City of God. (You can read it online for free in poorly formatted HTML.)

This is my favorite passage:

If we wish to adopt a form of Christianity consistent with the Bible, then we must seriously consider whether or not we are perhaps being deceived by our society and culture-and perhaps also by our own human selfishness-when we preach democracy as the panacea for all political problems. Aside from offering the citizen certain legal rights, most versions of democracy tell us we have the power and authority to claim for ourselves certain “inalienable rights”, such as “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. Yet this is one of the greatest political lies ever told! Christianity is a religion of the cross, a religion whose founder taught that true life comes only to those who are willing to die [see e.g., Mat. 10:38-39; 16:24; cf. 1 Cor. 15:31]. Among other things, this means Christians are called to give up all rights: not just the basic right to “life”, but also rights such as “liberty” and “the pursuit of happiness”. For the Bible repeatedly says Christians are to be “slaves of Christ” [e.g., Eph. 6:6; Rom. 6:22] and are to endure all manner of suffering for the sake of a future glory [see e.g., Rom. 8:18; 1 Pet. 2:18-4:19; and Chapter Six below]. How, then, can a Christian defend a political system which encourages its citizens to stand up and de­fend their “basic human rights”?

How indeed? If you are wondering in what sense this is practical:

And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.
1 Samuel 8:18