186 Pentecost 10: Moment by Moment
"Oh, give thanks to the God of heaven! For His mercy endures forever." ~ Psalm 136
Artwork: Soup is waiting Artist: Jakob Raozalski
Moment by Moment
While Pastor Fisk is taking a break, we bring you more from the Mad Mondays archive. This was first published on January 3 2022.
How beautiful and fleeting life is.
It is in trying to make it stay, trying to hold it tight, trying to keep it from changing, trying to stop it from being interesting and unexpected, that we make so much trouble for ourselves.
Right now, we are experiencing the due penalty of the American zeitgeist of arrogance, greed, and gluttony. Mass formation psychosis is a bona fide human condition, a group hypnosis closely connected with the rise of 20th-century totalitarian regimes. It's the reason logic doesn't matter anymore, the reason we're divided into "us" and "them" camps, and the reason why the brainwashed need to keep tuning in for their daily dose of programming.
Greedy desire for carnal self-security has put us all at risk together. This isn't the first time, and it won't be the last.
But it also doesn't have to ruin your day. You can rediscover the meaning of trust and reflection of Christ in the worship of his name. You can put aside clinging to the past, trying to control the future, and believing in permanent profit. You can embrace the ongoing transience of the present now:
Eat simply. Relax modestly. Follow your convictions and cultivate authentic friendships with real people as a son of the Father, as a vassal of the King, and as a temple of the Holy Ghost.
Transience is. Seasons are. Life is there, then gone again. Joy is the satisfaction of knowing that God gave you this moment too.
Till angel cry and trumpet sound,
The Mad Christian
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God’s peace! Frisby and the MM team.
By the way..
In this edition of Mad Mondays:
Architecture for pilgrims
Yes, there’s a lot to say about the Bidens and the Trump
Human history: the good, the bad and the ugly
We’ve got a round up of a week’s worth of headlines, the ever excellent “John Michael Jones gets a Life” and some curiosities to start your week.
Embassies of heaven
"Two cities have been formed by two loves: the earthly by the love of self, even to the contempt of God; the heavenly by love of God, even to contempt of self. The former, in a word, glories in itself, the latter in the Lord." So wrote Augustine in his seminal work, The City of God, a book whose impact has been felt for more than a millennium. Refugees fleeing the fallen Roman empire were comforted by Augustine’s clear thinking about the world to come and where their citizenship ultimately lies.
Writer and art collector, Roberta Green Ahmanson, argues that Augustine's "earthshaking" idea – that Christians are citizens of heaven, even while they live out life on this globe – had a profound influence, not only on Christian understanding but also on church architecture. As it became legal for churches to be built, designers considered how to best build sanctuaries that would be a reflection of the Heavenly City. As one author quoted in the piece notes, "For Augustine, only … the vision of this Celestial City can sustain our collective souls."
Ahmanson writes, "Church buildings became embassies of the New Jerusalem. Believers could gather in them to be refreshed by singing the songs of Zion, eating holy food … the Eucharist … hearing the word of God, learning the principles of the New Jerusalem to apply in their daily lives as restorers of the brokenness around them, as witnesses to the transformative power of the Gospel and the promise of the day when all things would indeed be made new."
Whether you meet in a cathedral or a more modest church, gathering in twos or threes, all in His name around Word and sacrament, you are experiencing glimpses of the eternal breaking into this decaying age. Some years ago, Pastor Will Weedon did a great job explaining how our confession influenced the design of the sanctuary at his LCMS church. Our liturgy, our hymnody, our sanctuaries – all are able to teach and encourage saints in their pilgrimage to the city of God. They are a reminder to us that we are sojourners in this life and a witness to an unbelieving world that Christ will come again.
Weather chat and lawfare
Devon Archer, a long-term friend and business associate of Hunter Biden, answered questions in a private hearing with lawmakers last week. Archer testified that during the last decade, Hunter had put his father on speakerphone numerous times while he was with his business partners.
Democrats insisted that Joe Biden was never part of business discussions and probably didn't even know who he was speaking with. "As [Archer] described it, it was all casual conversation: niceties, the weather, what’s going on. There wasn’t a single conversation about any of the business dealings that Hunter had,” said Democrat Rep. Dan Goldman.
However, during an interview with Tucker Carlson, Archer contradicted that, saying that Joe Biden knew who was on the phone. Even if the calls were only small talk, "Hunter's ability to reach out during business meetings to the then-VP was the 'pinnacle of power in D.C.'" After the hearing, Chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, James Comer (R-Kentucky) said, "Joe Biden was 'the brand' that his son sold around the world to enrich the Biden family."
Right-wing media called Archer's revelations "explosive", while corporate outlets downplayed its importance. At the very least, Archer's story suggests that President Biden has not been truthful about what he knew about his son's business dealings.
Former President Donald Trump was hit with a fresh indictment last week, the third in a matter of weeks. The indictment contains charges related to his claim that the 2020 presidential was stolen from him. Although there is no charge that Trump incited the Capitol riot on January 6th, 2021, it would appear that apportioning blame is what Prosecutor Jack Smith has in mind. When announcing the indictment, Smith focused on the events at the Capitol, saying the riot was "fueled by lies" perpetuated by Trump.
The case may be hard to prosecute since getting conspiracy charges to stick would involve proving that Trump knew he lost the election but lied to the contrary. Also, if questioning the outcome of elections is now criminalized, then a troubling precedent will be set. Observers of various political stripes have noted that what is really being tested is the First Amendment protections of free speech. As legal commentator Jonathan Turley noted, even lies are protected speech. "This indictment essentially charges Trump with not accepting the ‘truth.’ There is no limiting principle to this indictment.”
The Special J6 Committee, which did a lot of the heavy lifting in gathering evidence to blame Trump for causing the riot, have asked the proceedings to be broadcast, in keeping with the "historic" nature of the case. "If the public is to fully accept the outcome, it will be vitally important for it to witness, as directly as possible, how the trials are conducted, the strength of the evidence adduced and the credibility of witnesses”, lawmakers wrote in their request.
Trump has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Let’s take this excellent advice from Pastor Wolfmueller: use this site to find out who your elected officials are and pray for them, “that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.” (1 Timothy)
We need to talk
Florida is taking fire for some of its new education programs. Vice President Kamala Harris claimed that the state's middle school curriculum teaches that "enslaved people benefited from slavery." It makes for a provocative soundbite, but those who've read the curriculum say it's a dishonest portrayal.
All the curriculum actually does is acknowledge that "some slaves were taught skilled trades which they could then use to help themselves." Writing at The Federalist, Raheem Williams wrote, "Despite how insensitive some may believe it to be, some slaves did learn skilled trades — and they did use these skills to secure their freedom." Fact-checkers admitted the curriculum does not promote an "upside" to slavery but questioned the "educational value" of pointing this out.
For his part, Ron DeSantis issued a direct challenge to Vice President Kamala Harris to defend her criticism of Florida's curriculum. But she has declined to engage in what she says is an "unnecessary debate." The fact that not every story of servitude is identical is a perfect example of how history cannot be sanitized or clearly boxed up. Those who want to paint human history in black and white terms may simply be ignorant. But in this case the desire to control the facts suggests that ideologues do not want people thinking for themselves or weighing ideas. Slavery is an ugly stain on the history of the USA, which is the reason that debate and discussion is very necessary.
Odds and Ends
Prosecutor Jack Smith has added additional charges against Donald Trump in the classified documents case. Trump is accused of obstructing justice by pressuring staff to delete security footage from Mar-a-Lago. Two members of Trump’s household staff are now facing conspiracy charges. (BBC, CBS)
Republican presidential candidate, Vivek Ramaswarmy has filed a a suit against the Department of Justice and demanded transparency about what the Department knows about the current Trump indictments. (The Hill)
A Georgia judge has rejected Trump's attempts to stop investigations into his "efforts to overturn the state’s 2020 election results." (The Hill)
Marriage, sex and children
Once again, marriage is the most important predictor of happiness. (UnHerd)
The rates of twins born in the US is dropping. Researchers attribute the boom throughout the 80s and 90s to IVF. Now that doctors are discouraging implantation of more than one embryo, the “twinflux” is coming to an end. (Axios)
Texas abortion law is being challenged over which medical emergencies will trigger exceptions to the state's strong pro-life policies. (Texas Tribune)
Here's a strange factoid: Two of the highest paid women are actually men. How very 2023.. (Twitter)
Law, policing and crime
Tree of Life synagogue shooter sentenced to death. (Religion New Service)
Europe's space agency has received test images from its Euclid telescope after cameras were switched on last week. The telescope is designed to collect information to help astronomers study dark matter. (ArsTechnica, BBC)
Georgia Power has fired up its commercial nuclear power plant. Construction on the Vogtle 3 began in 2009 and it is the first new nuclear reactor to be brought online in the U.S. in 7 years. (CNBC)
Rare pink bird spotted in Wisconsin for the first time in 178 years. (Smithsonian)
Medicine, health and food
Well, this is troubling: "Prestige Biotech, a Chinese medical company, operated an illegal laboratory in California where they bio-engineered and infected almost 1,000 mice with diseases including HIV, E. Coli, malaria, and Covid-19." (National Review)
A biotech company is hoping to replace sugar with a product it has made from synthesized protein. "Sweelin" is derived from a protein found in tropical berries which "docks to the same sweet receptors as sugar, so has the same mouthfeel and taste profile." The company's "microbially produced protein" is 3,000 times sweeter than sugar. (Nature)
Mouth breathing could be ruining your sleep. (CNN)
Thalassotherapy: feeling better when you're near the sea. (Insider)
Nintendo's Switch successor is reportedly in the hands of "third-party devs". It is touted to feature a cartridge system but no word yet on backwards compatibility. (ArsTechnica)
Will Musk's ambition for an "everything" app turn Twitter into China’s WeChat? (The Guardian)
Earbuds to help you sleep? (FastCompany)
Economy, banks and markets
This is a pretty big deal. Credit rating agency, Fitch has downgraded the U.S. citing two decades of “steady deterioration in standards of governance”. (WNG)
The Bank of England has raised interest rates again to 5.25%, the highest since 2008. (CNN)
Once the darling of SUVs, Jeep is hoping it can turn around its sales slump. (Insider)
Adidas was considering how to dispose of its $400m stash of Yeezy’s – shoes designed by Kanye West – after the rapper was bounced out of polite [online] society for unsavory posts. As it turns out, customers cared less about the politics, with the shoes selling out and demand for a second batch already growing. (AP)
Google is offering a special rate in its on-campus hotel as a way to encourage workers to transition back to working in the office. (CNBC)
The arts and sports
Striking Hollywood writers (and actors) say that executives have proposed replacing background actors with "likenesses (sic) created by artificial intelligence." (Huffington Post)
The U.S. women's soccer team has bowed out of the World Cup in the round of 16. Due to an agreement that prize money won by both men’s and women’s teams would be pooled and shared, the ladies will still take home millions. (Red State)
Stories from far away
Ukrainian pilots will "receive F-16 fighter jet training...pending formal approval from Washington." (Time)
Leader of South Africa’s socialist Economic Freedom Fighters party has doubled down on his call for white farmers to be killed. (Not the Bee)
China's Cyberspace Administration has proposed limiting smartphone use to 2 hours a day for children. (CNBC)
An American nurse and her daughter are still missing after being kidnapped in Haiti. Alix Dorsainvil was working for a Christian charity in Port-au-Prince. (BBC)
Denmark is trying to find ways to ban Qu'ran burning. (Al Jazeera)
France has unveiled its huge surveillance apparatus ahead of next year's Olympic games. (Politico)
The International Monetary Fund has agreed to release $7.5bn to Argentina whose economy is reeling from drought. (AP)
Former Pakistani prime minister, Imran Khan has been sentenced to 3 years in prison for corruption. (The Guardian)
Bangladesh is facing a massive outbreak of dengue fever. (Reuters)
Greece is limiting the amount of daily visitors allowed at the Acropolis (Yahoo)
John Michael Jones Gets a Life is produced for Mad ⳩ Mondays by E. Darwin Hartshorn. Episodes can also be found on Tuesday, along with previous episodes, on Bunny Trail Junction at bunny-trail.com.
Quick Hits for the Eyebuds
🚢 How cruise ships got so big
⚗️ Last week in history: English clergyman, Joseph Priestly, discovers oxygen
🤫 Noiseless props for movies
🐻 Bears with anthropomorphic mannerisms cause confusion around the internet
🦮 Brilliant facts about Braille
🚫 Don't post photos of your boarding pass!
🎨 The mind-bending lenticular paintings of Sergei Cadenas
😱World-record slackline attempt in photos
🎣When all the bait shops are closed, try a Happy Meal
Only Illuminati Need Apply: Your reaction highlights
Mad Monday reader, Kelly reached out to us to raise awareness of what she is doing to protect children in her community. A local gallery in Ohio is “tax payer supported from multiple sources including the Ohio Department of Education. They are a non-profit organization that serves an impoverished pocket of NE Ohio.”
The gallery increasingly features anti-Christian artworks including pro-abortion and explicit pro-LGBT content. Kelly writes: “I have never been a public face of the ‘Christian Resistance’ but I had to do something when it has started to take over the art center” where children are taken for school excursions. You can read about Kelly’s journey here and show support by visiting this link.
Sweetness You May Have Missed
This Week Preached: No sermon this week!
Podcast Release: BHoP#154 2023 Men’s Gathering Opening Session
Let us pray: Heavenly Father, though we do not deserve Your goodness, still You provide for all our needs of body and soul. Grant us Your Holy Spirit that we may acknowledge Your gifts, give thanks for all Your benefits, and serve You in willing obedience; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.