Sunday 30 May 2010
Joe sets up his friend Mike on a blind date with a young lady-friend of his. But Mike is a little worried about going out with someone he's never seen before. "What do I do if she's really unattractive?" says Mike. "I'll be stuck with her all night."
"Don't worry," Joe says, "just go up to her door and meet her first. If you like what you see, then everything goes as planned. If you don't just shout 'Aaaaaauuuggghhh!' and fake an asthma attack."
So that night, Mike knocks at the girl's door and when she comes out he is awe-struck at how attractive she is. He's about to speak when the girl suddenly shouts:
Friday 28 May 2010
In 1972, in an underground newspaper of the Samizdat, there was published the text of a prayer. It had been found in the jacket of a Russian soldier, Aleksander Zatzepta, composed just a few moments before the battle in which he lost his life in the Second World War:
“O God, hear me! Not once in my life have I ever spoken to you, but today I feel the urge to make you an act of worship.
You know that even from my infancy they always told me that you didn’t exist… I, stupid, believed them.
I had never marveled at your great works.
But tonight I looked up from out of a shell hole at the heaven of stars above me!
And fascinated by their brilliant magnificence
All at once I understood how terrible the deception…
I don’t know, O God, if you will give me your hand.
But I say this to you, and you understand.
Isn’t it strange, that in the midst of a terrible inferno, the light should appear to me and I should have discovered you?
Beyond this I have nothing to say to you. I am happy just because I have known you.
At midnight we must attack,
But I have no fear, you are looking out for us.
It is the signal. I have to go.
It was wonderful to be with you.
I want also to tell you, and you know it, that the battle will be hard: it could be that, in this very night, I’ll come to knock at your door.
And even though up to now I haven’t been your friend,
When I come, will you let me come in?
But what’s this? Am I crying?
My Lord God, you see what has happened: only now I’ve begun to see clearly…
Farewell, my God, I am going.
It’s scarcely possible that I’ll return.
Strange; Death now has no fear for me.”
V Cattona (ed), Mondadori, Italy, 2006.
Translated by Jim Christensen
Thursday 27 May 2010
Friday 21 May 2010
Wednesday 19 May 2010
Many years ago I was brought face to face with the reality of malign spiritual activity and the terrifying prospect of a person being demon possessed. I realise for many readers the expression ‘demon possessed’ is an archaic phrase that belongs to a bygone age and has been usurped in this century by the psychoanalysts couch and an array of behaviour altering psychiatric medication. The notion of the existence of a personal Devil and his following of spiritual entities called demons sounds more medieval than modern and yet in spite of all our social and medical advances the problem of evil and its embodiment in individuals persists. In the situation I was involved with a young woman was at the centre of dark and terrifying forces that seemed to defy the usual parameters of what would be called ‘mental illness’. She became increasingly agitated and bizarre in her actions as these malign entities appeared to subsume her personality and take over , culminating in an epic display of ‘possession’ accompanied by guttural cries denigrating Jesus and His work and the speaking of strange languages. That chilling experience left many convinced that the Devil is real and sometimes can in extreme cases ‘possess’ a person through his demonic spirits.
Over the years I have never encountered another case like this but from reading eyewitness reports have learned that while these are rare they are not unheard of. Of course Jesus in His earthly life constantly confronted the Devil as a personal being most notably after His 40 day fast in the wilderness, and when He commanded the spirits possessing a man to go into a herd of pigs ! Apart from these spectacular appearances by the Evil one, the day to day activity of Satan is cloaked by deceit and subterfuge leading Bob Dylan to wryly comment in one of his songs, “ Sometimes Satan comes as a Man of Peace” In the uncertain times we are living in many are turning to alternative ‘spiritual’ practitioners to seek guidance and reassurance as the old certainties of religion and economic growth are tumbling. So called psychics are one growth area in this field and can trace their lineage back through history with Michel de Nostradame being perhaps the most notable. They purport to be in contact with ‘spirit guides’ who reveal to them secrets of the future hidden from mere mortals.
Understandably at a time of domestic breakdown and with such an indeterminate future ahead many are now dialling ‘psychic phone lines’ or making appointments with these self-styled seers to gain some solace and comfort about what the future may hold. Some psychics are little more than acute observers of the human condition dressed up in the spiritual razzmatazz and can tell a lot about someone by simply picking up on the mood or disposition of their clients and spin it out to create the impression of other-world insights. Still others practise what is called a ‘cold reading’, a psychic deception where a subject is asked general questions and using the answers to narrow down the information to specifics to convince the participant that the psychic has received information from the ‘other side’. The third category of psychics are seriously dangerous as they do contact ‘spirits’ who can reveal accurate information about the future, but the real question is from what source does the ‘genuine’ psychic draw their knowledge ? The Bible strongly condemns any involvement with psychics, mediums or the occult, “ Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord, and because of these detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you.” ( Deuteronomy 18: 10-12)
Psychics and clairvoyants have now become part of the popular culture with exposure in magazines and TV shows depicting the practise as normal and perfectly acceptable to the modern mind. Earlier I wrote of my own dramatic experience with the occult in the manifestation of a young woman who appeared to be possessed by spirits, and later discovered that in her case youthful experimentation with the Ouija board at school may have been the entry point through which these malign demons gained entry to her life. The apparently innocuous experiment using the Ouija board had a repercussion in her life that was not anticipated as she had not been fully informed about what was really at stake. Similarly many who seek out the services of psychics or New Age healers are inviting forces into their lives that are not sourced in God but come from the realm of Satan’s kingdom and are hell bent on doing us harm. The Apostle Paul became involved with a girl who had become entangled with the demonic, “ Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.” ( Acts 16:16-18 )
Don’t be deceived even in the spiritual realm all that glitters is not gold and everything should be tested against the only revelatory book we have from God our Creator, the Bible. He made us and knows us intimately and knows what will do us good and those things that will do us harm. The problem with all occultic activity is that its true source is veiled and the Scriptures tackles this head on, “And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.” ( 2 Corinthians 11:14-15 ). At a time when the consumer is demanding more and more information about the foods they eat, ingredients, traceability etc., it is even more important that we exercise caution about the plethora of alternative spiritual practises now available and inform ourselves about ‘spiritual tracability’. Its one thing to know that the Sunday roast comes from John Murphys herd in County Limerick but quite another as to where that psychic or medium is drawing their power from. Our dietary transparency might be important to our ongoing health and wellbeing but discerning the true spirit behind psychics, spiritual healers etc,. is a matter of our spiritual life and death.
Friday 14 May 2010
Today the world seemed cruel, but evening hours
Were filled with perfume from forgotten flowers,
I saw again familiar filigree
Of moonlight through my lacy Lilac tree;
I heard the robins stirring in their nest;
And saw the path that fairy feet had pressed;
Reflected stars were in my garden pool;
On my warm face the breeze was kind and cool.
The silence seemed to speak, my head was bowed,
Then ramblers that had grown into a cloud
Lifted my eyes that, tear-washed, now could see
The beauty that today was lost to me.
Dear god, who is so near to flowers, and birds,
Be nearer still, as I shall search for words
To thank Thee for the blessings night revealed,
Which through the day discouragement concealed.
Sunday 9 May 2010
In one test babies aged between six months and one year were shown an animated film of simple geometric shapes. In the film a red ball with eyes attempts to climb up a hill. At intervals its progress is helped by a yellow square that pushes it upward and impeded by a green triangle that trys to shove it back. After watching the short film several times the babies were asked to choose between the “good guy” square and the “bad guy” triangle. 80% of the infants choose the helpful one as against the unhelpful one. The researchers registered the tots “choices” by the amount of time each one spent looking at the shape.
I love it when science and research reaffirm the ancient truths of the Bible and of course, when science is practised as the pursuit of truth then it can only confirm the words of Scripture. In archaeological research sometimes the ‘finds’ have to play catch up to what has been described in the Bible. Places and people who have previously only been mentioned in the sacred text are being vindicated as authentic when workers in the field unearth the tangible evidence confirming the Bible accounts as true.
The Psalmist , thousands of years ago, wrote these words,
“ You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.” (Psalm 139)
He would have been pleased that science has caught up and while attaching a greater significance to the speed at which a baby learns in the first six months of life, has now discovered that some knowledge has been present since birth (and before). Truly we have been ‘wonderfully created’ and guided by a Creator who loves us and has a grand design for our lives.