Friday, March 25, 2005

cold war

about five years ago i was writing articles for a small denominational magazine in canada. this article was the only one that was rejected, on the grounds that the theology was too 'reform.'

although there is a troublesome idea about the sovereignty of God that i still wrestle with today, i have been thinking a lot about the morning after the 'night of His betrayal...'

seemed appropriate to post this on Good Friday.

*sidenote: the greatest rationale for Good Friday services is that we go from palm sunday with all of the 'hosanna heysanna' hoopla to Easter and the resurrection, having not really dealt with the cruelly torturous passion of the Christ. without Good Friday, Easter would be just another sunday, right?

being an early gen-X canadian, i remember few things from 1972 that impacted my life like the amazing canada-soviet hockey series. i remember sitting in the open-area (the big educational trend of the day) with a hundred or so other third-graders watching the games on a 20" black and white tv during school time. i remember rushing home afterward to the paved driveways and the back streets to live out those great hockey moments in our own luke-warm version of the cold war. i had no idea what the series was all about, other than national pride. this was, after all, why we sang O Canada in the first place... it was the unofficial 'hockey night in canada' theme song.

so I was troubled, as were most canadians, when I saw what bobby clarke did. he was a canadian ambassador from flin flon manitoba who had lived out the canadian dream. he'd made it all the way to the nhl and even had a puck-shaped hole where his front teeth had been. he was playing in a series that would be remembered more as a series of battles than a series of games, but when he swung his stick down upon valery kharlamov's ankle, fracturing it and thus impeding one the soviet's key offensive weapons, he stepped over a line for me. coach john ferguson, no stranger to warlike play, had chosen clarke to carry out the deed because "i couldn't tell that to rod gilbert but i could certainly talk to bobby clarke and he'd do it."

shrewd coaching or abandoning an ideal in order to accomplish a desired outcome, the result was the same. i saw kharlamov hobbled on tv by one of my heroes.

how could i have done this to you, Lord?!”

the tragic voice cries out in the coldest moment of the night- that moment that lingers seemingly forever as darkness pauses in chilling solitary stubbornness before surrendering to the first hints of morning light that at once begin to whisper the coming of day from somewhere in the eastern abyss.

“oh God- i’d give anything to take it back! please remember me as a sin offering to I AM!”

the tortured voice cries again to be followed by a sickeningly sonic quadratic of rope pulled tight, creaking wood, cracking bone and escaping air. after this there is only that whisper of morning across the clouded sky. just hours later another dying man will cry out from an entirely different tree of pain before darkness claims this troubled mediterranean district for three hours in the middle of the afternoon.

“goddammit, I told you- I DON’T KNOW HIM!” a gruffly frustrated, heavily accented voice snarls from the comfort of the warmly burning embers and billowing smoke of a courtyard fire. even now the details of this night with its cryptic words, its symbolic gestures and its empty embraces are hazy. one thing seems certain: whoever this voice in the shadows belongs to clearly knows the man of the hour who turns to look straight through the firelight at him as that same darkness surrenders that same piece of sky. off in some barn in the distance, a cock acknowledges the coming of friday morning for the third time in just minutes.

we are really good at judging. we have had a lot of practice. it is as comforting to be able to point at someone in gethsemane as it is to berate adam and eve for getting us all thrown out of eden. we know that judas kissed Christ with a divided heart many times before the garden, and that peter's bloody sword could only temporarily hide the lack of resolve that his words betrayed for all to hear. yet in our heart of hearts we know who we are, and we wear those same labels again and again in our own lives. perhaps that’s why we judge so effortlessly. the ability to do that came once we tasted of sin for ourselves and discovered first hand the difference between faithfulness and disobedience.

but here's the thing. each of the disciples betrayed Christ in that moment when they were required to be faithful, yet didn't the gospel go ahead anyway? as a matter of fact, didn't the gospel require the Christ to be betrayed by those whom he trusted? as i look at the story of judas, i am struck by the idea that perhaps God simply chose judas because he knew that judas would, on his own, do what needed to be done in order for Christ to be ultimately glorified. how could Christ have conquered death and the grave for real without that horrible thursday night? without the death there could be no resurrection- and the resurrection was the point. had judas not been the type of man he was, he would not have been in the position he was, nor could he have been as involved as he was. he was there because Almighty God knew that he would do the job, and an ugly job needed to be done.

such is the sovereignty of God- to know our failings and somehow be glorified even in them.

i believe that the real difference between judas and peter came after the moment of betrayal. betrayal takes on many forms, and both peter and judas were guilty of the severe where we are guilty of the subtle. nonetheless, as the sun came up, one man took his own life and one man recommitted his. the difference between judas and peter was the simple acceptance of the grace of God. whereas judas could not allow himself to be forgiven- in truth he could not forgive himself- peter went away praying a different kind of prayer, and upon that praying rock did Christ build his church.

God is honoured in many ways. he chooses to allow us the freedom to be fallen or faithful, because the choice itself glorifies him. through our faithfulness, we invite others to ask "who is this God that he/she serves and why is he/she able to remain straight while the rest of the world curves?" our lives are to be a plumbline showing how far the rest of this life has slipped away from truth.

because God is omnipotent, his will is accomplished in all things whether anyone, even he, likes it or not. God doesn’t want us to hold out on him, but his will will be done with or without our acquiescence. the choice as to how actively we are involved in bringing honour to his name is up to us, for even fallenness can be used of God to accomplish his intentions.

bobby clarke’s coaches knew their players well. they knew who to call upon for any given play in the game.

although the comparison between the coaching staff of that historic hockey club and the creator of the universe is tragically flawed, the comparisons between the players involved might not be so far off. when God is looking for someone to do a job that accomplishes his will and ultimately brings him honour, when does he call upon us? does he have our faithfulness or our lack of faithfulness in mind when he thinks of us?




(© 2000)



Blogger dans_inferno said...

Thursday, March 17, 2005
War Hero Diary of Gilles d Rais: serial killer

Gilles d' Rais was an infamous serial killer who also supplied Joan of Arc with men and arms so that she could become a saint and raid the city of Orleans. Gilles d' Rais is remembered in children's fairy tales today in the story of 'Bluebeard,' by the Brothers Grimm and so forth. Because Gilles had a long flowing bluebeard, and he serial killed a whole bunch. There should be a special circle in hell for serial killers who help make others into saints........dans inferno

War Hero Diary: Gilles
Religious wars are nothing new.
The girl called Jeanne d’ Arc, the maiden of the village of Domremy, she brought to our cause a change. She brought the voice of an angel from God to lead us French against the English at Orleans.
The English burned Jeanne at the stake.
Jeanne was condemned to the stake by the English court because she dressed like a man. Still, the English took certain sympathy upon Jeanne. She was supposed to be strangled by the executioner before the flames engulfed her body. But the kindling was drier than anyone anticipated. Before the executioner could step forward with the garrote to strangle Jeanne d’ Arc, the flames jumped skyward unexpectedly.
Jeanne died by the flames instead.
My lord and master, Gilles d’ Rais, went mad with anger and anguish.
Gilles loved the girl who looked and dressed like a man.
Gilles d’ Rais, among the wealthiest of knights in the court of the French Dauphine, loved the girl who fought like a man and who spoke to angels before battle.
With God and his angels on Jeanne’s side, with Jeanne as our leader, we French no longer feared the English in this war of a hundred years and more.
I was one of mercenary knights in the employ of the wealthy and handsome Gilles d’ Rais, the boyhood friend of the king.
We mercenary knights in the employ of Gilles provided one of the strongest fighting forces against the English.
Gilles was in love with Jeanne. Gilles followed Jeanne. We followed Gilles to defeat the English at Orleans.
We continued to follow Gilles who followed Jeanne, until Jeanne was captured and condemned at trial, then put to death at the stake.
A religious war is an unstable war.
Gilles went mad with anger and hatred and anguish at everything that stool the maid of Domremy from him, in his mind.
Gilles began killing indiscriminately, for passions that we, his mercenary knights, could not fully understand.
Yet, we continued to kill upon Gilles’s orders, and we took to kidnapping upon Gilles’s orders, even if those we killed and kidnapped were not the English, but our own poor people of the villages.
Until such time as Gilles was himself put to the fiery stake.
Gilles is forever known to history as Bluebeard.
Religious wars are uncontrollable things……dans inferno

posted by dans_inferno at 4:48 PM 2 comments


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