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Issue 043
The Eighth Roman Month 26, Anno Domini 2020
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved. ~Psalm 46

Artist: Pawel Kuczynski

The Devil You Lie To Yourself About

Recently, Nancy Pelosi introduced legislation into the House beefing up the 25th amendment for dealing with senile or mentally incompetent presidents. To hear Shapiro tell it, the laws would have teeth.

Like, "sanity tribunal" teeth.

"This is not about President Trump," Pelosi said. "He will face the judgment of the voters, but he shows the need for us to create a process for future presidents....This legislation applies to future presidents."

Shapiro poo-poo'd: "Not about this election, haha, yeah right."

But I believe her.

Liars who lie the best don't ever lie if they don't have to. It leaves too many loose ends. 

For good lies to stick, you can't waste your breath on bad ones. (The Bible teaches you this, or, I should say, how not to be duped by it.)

So, I believe her.

Because... if I knew that Trump had to go no matter what, and if I was willing to sell all rather than let him have four more years, even if I had to give up my dream of a naturally elected woman president in my lifetime, I'd do whatever it takes, even cow-tow to a racist stooge with a recent habit of letting his aged mind talk too much.

I'd play his pride, and I'd tell him we needed him for just this moment to be the kind of forward thinking man who didn't choose the easy running mate. No, I'd convince him he needed to win the next era by selecting the most forward thinking running mate that money could buy, maybe even someone who probably couldn't even poll well, but who would know how to use the bully pulpit once she got it.

That's exactly what I'd do. Then, I'd quietly use my substantial power as a lawmaker to play the long game. And when you'd ask me about it, I wouldn't even blush, since you'd be so distracted by the white noise I wouldn't even have to lie.

"This legislation applies to future presidents."

Trust not in princes, especially if you hope to become one.

Until next time,

Be strong, and let your heart know courage.
Rev. Fisk

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Don't fear the Reaper

If you Google "how to face death," you can probably predict the recommendations in the first few hits - have a funeral plan, accept that death is "natural," get your house in order (metaphorical and literal) and in the mean time, live life to the fullest. Atheist Alex Rosenberg suggests taking “Prozac or your favorite serotonin reuptake inhibitor, and keep taking them till they kick in.”* A stark contrast to the Christian hope outlined in a quote from Luther: 

“He who believes that he has a gracious God as his Father, and that Christ, the Son of God, has abolished death, sin, hell, and the devil, should he not rejoice and exult? Indeed, he should even go through iron mountains and adversities of every kind with a fearless and invincible heart, and he should conclude that everything is flowing with honey, milk, and wine; yes, he should praise God with the height of joy and gratitude, now no longer as one who is mortal but as one who is living an eternal life.”

So a recent podcast with Evangelical professor Clay Jones piqued our interest, as it touches on one of Rev. Fisk's favorite topics: the fear of death and how it drives us. Jones says he often finds that people claim they don't fear death, but that is because they just don't think about it. He suggests that one reason our society values entertainers and sports stars so highly is that they provide the biggest distractions from our own mortality. 

Yet, the menacing presence of a virus has brought the prospect of death home for many who were existing comfortably. Jones suggests that reactions to one's own death usually fall into a few categories. The first reaction is to engage in literal immortality projects such as the trans-human quest to upload consciousness into robotic bodies, cyborg style. Larry King and other celebrities will pay a premium to be cryogenically preserved when they die, placing their hope in science to catch up to their ideal of immortality. All hail The Singularity! But how do you upload a soul BTW?

Jones' second category for facing death is symbolic immortality projects, to leave a legacy, maybe through writing books or "living on" in our children (Although "genetic memory" is an interesting study; your genetic contribution to your offspring eventually becomes non-existent.) Saving the planet is, to Jones, another way of living on after death. He says that's why people get so upset when you question their environmentalist activities - you are taking away their shot at immortality. 

The final way Jones sees people dealing with death is what he refers to as mortality mitigation. Epicurus said, "Death is nothing to us; for that which is dissolved, is without sensation, and that which lacks sensation is nothing to us." Cheery. Atheists are fond of throwing shade on the idea of living forever - wouldn't that be tedious? On top of these ideas, Jones says that concepts associated with Eastern religion would fit this category, such as the assertion that existence is an illusion. 

But we know there is another way to grapple with our mortality, since Christ has conquered the grave. This most amazing twist changes our death, however it may come, into the instrument God uses to bring us into the presence of our Savior. As the Reformed hymn "It is Not Death to Die" says,

It is not death to bear
The wrench that sets us free
From dungeon chain, to breathe the air
Of boundless liberty.

St. Paul fixes our eyes on the world to come: "So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."

* Source: The Atheist’s Guide to Reality: Enjoying Life Without Illusions by Alex Rosenberg.

Malarkey aplenty

The news around Hunter Biden last week has put the Streisand Effect on full display. While major Left leaning outlets continue to discredit, deny or dismiss the story, the interest in it has grown. It is true that the details of Laptop-gate ('cause it's always a proper scandal when you add "-gate" to it, right?) need to be hashed out, but the issue of  the "increasingly brazen union of corporate press and tech platforms" running interference so close to the election is astonishing. 

As at the time of  writing, the New York Post's page on Twitter  remains blocked after many days, leading to speculation that there is no good reason, apart from the tech platform wanting to black-out anything that could sabotage the Biden campaign. 

Also smelling like it is politically motivated, Bret Weinstein has been blocked from Facebook

The D.O.J's antitrust suit against Google might break down the monopolising power of Big Data, but whatever the outcome, but the bottom line is: when reading news, don't check your brain at the door.

Is the Pope Catholic?

It's kind of hard to say with Pope Francis. A recent documentary has recorded the Pope as saying that a civil union law is needed to protect same-sex couples. The remarks have predictably divided the Roman church between progressive and conservative groups. Francis' special talent for muddying the waters of dogmatic clarity for the world's Catholics seems to be driven by his desire to have his cake and eat it too.

Your best private life now

The loss of a baby is a distressing topic to broach at any time, and those who suffer through the experience know how hard it is. Recently, model Chrissy Teigen and John Legend posted heartbreaking images to social media in the aftermath of the miscarriage of their baby. While much could be said (and was said) regarding the decision to share such an event so publicly, Frank Furedi writing at Spiked had some insightful observations regarding our culture's "ritual of disclosure."

The flip side of the everyone-has-a-voice age of digital megaphones is the "devaluation of private life." In the decades-long fashion for wearing your heart on your sleeve, the logic seems to be "better out than in," regardless of the topic. Furedi suggests that the acceptance of voyeurism – and its corollary, exhibitionism, "stems from the cultivation of personal and emotional openness in contemporary Western culture. Openness is encouraged everywhere today. Children are instructed to share their private concerns and anxieties with their classmates and teachers. Adults are continually exhorted to ‘express themselves’, to ‘share’ and to ‘talk about it.’ Individuals who publicly air their private troubles are applauded for their bravery."

Sharing details of your life can be lucrative: "Celebrities and cultural influencers now compete to see who can draw more followers into their inner lives." But worse than the commercialization of personal lives, Furedi says that "it is through the act of public disclosure that many individuals now seek validation." Furedi continues: "Sharing intimate details of one’s life in this way is often justified on the grounds that it challenges the ‘taboos’ and the ‘stigma’ surrounding a particular subject." 

Yet, mostly, it comes up empty: "A culture fascinated by the performance of revelation will always disappoint. When you look closely, you will discover that very little has been revealed. Even after you’ve seen the tears flow in the sharing of an intimate moment, you will realize that, in truth, very little of value or interest has been revealed. This exhibitionism is a mask – one that conceals the spiritual emptiness where a meaningful private existence used to be." Ouch.

"Self-improvement" was once a popular way to work on "meaningful private existence", and today "self-care" seems to occupy the same space. Learning languages or volunteering, or even a spa retreat or Netflix binge might be good for your sense of well-being. Posting your innermost thoughts on the 'Gram might win you some likes, but Mad Christians have better tools to grow from the inside out. 

There is a "time to keep silence and a time to speak" and feeding an inner life with the wisdom of the Word can help us know the difference. So set up your Psalms clock (see SMChill) and take time away from the white noise to reflect, read, think and pray. As Tony Stark might say it: "Put miles on your soul."

COVID news is hard to avoid so...
  • A bit about herd immunity
  • People with O-type blood may have lower risk of COVID
  • Arguments and evidence that lockdowns do more harm than good at The Hill. Also, a model out of South Africa predicts that for every death directly from COVID, a staggering 29 people will die from issues related to lockdowns, especially poverty. The model was developed by actuaries, who worked with risk management data to estimate "years of lives lost."  If the theory “that coronavirus could kill tens of millions of people [had] been increasingly confirmed, lockdowns may have been justified." But the authors conclude that outcome is no longer a possibility. "It now seems unlikely that more than a 1-million will die worldwide. The humanitarian crisis provoked by lockdown, however, is a matter of sheer certainty.”
  • Death rates among patients are dropping.
  • An Irish doctor speaks out against lockdowns and about what real health looks like. (And he sounds like Donal and Conal, so that’s marvelous, Patrick!)   
  • Say it isn't so! A few reports circulated this week claiming that Sweden, who's relaxed response to the pandemic is famous, is considering lockdowns. Reports say that faced with growing cases of COVID,  Swedish experts are recommending city-specific lockdowns, which would be optional. We will keep watching, but according to comments left by people claiming to live in Sweden under this report, that's bunk.
Quick Hits for the Eyebuds

🧂 Molten salt reactor is the next big thing in nuclear

🧝 Just no: New Tolkien series to contain sex scenes

🤕 Who is culpable when people are hurt by A.I.?

🧊 The crazy pastime that is cold water swimming

🌶️ Some like it hot: A Thai university has made a device to detect chili heat quickly

🏆 Next level origami

🍦 Dude reverse engineered McDonald's API to check locations of broken ice cream machines. Not sure why. . .

And in random news...

The pandemic has pushed a few words and terms into the "frequently used" category. ("pivot", anyone?) "Contactless" everything is all the rage and thus the humble QR code is having its 15 minutes of fame. Ah, the @ symbol knows all about waiting for recognition, languishing on typewriters everywhere, just waiting for the internet age..

Speaking of contactless... Hands off: Atlanta PD have arrested a man using a drone

And while we're on illicit activity...The house with booze in its walls: A New York man has found Prohibition era whisky in the walls of his home as he was renovating. 

Planning for a rainy day: The government of the Bahamas has released its digital currency,  the "sand dollar." The aim is to help the underserved communities, scattered across the archipelago. Other countries, including the US are looking at launching their own versions.

Only Illuminati Need Apply
Your Reaction Highlights

An interesting post from dthmik comparing the way cults dupe their followers into believing lies and the way experts and the media have shaped the pandemic narrative: The Colvidian Cult.

As well as a sweet request from Roger:

Trying to be terse, so I will write in verse,
how do I access the Mad Christian Discord Universe?

To which we reply,

Here you find your sought opportunity,
to be a part of Mad Christian community.

A Good Word: Rec's from Rev. Fisk

If you are interested in extremely low-gluten communion bread (<0.001%), the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration have you covered.  These are wheat-intolerant Fisk-tested and the reviews claim they are celiac-approved.

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Keep Ye Head on Straight, Mate!

Pirate Christian Radio is an online radio station that is free from the scurvy plagues of pop-psychology, goofy fads, self-help, pietism, purpose-drivenism, the prosperity heresy, contemplative mysticism, seeker-sensitivism, liberalism, relevantism, Emergent nonsense, and the sissy-girly Oprah-fied religiosity that is being passed off in our churches as “Biblical Christianity.”

If you are looking for Christian programming that is truly Christ-Centered, proclaiming the good news that Christ's life, death, and resurrection was given FOR YOU to forgive your sins, then you will find Pirate Christian Radio to be a refreshing stream of living water that quenches your thirsty soul.

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Let us pray:  Almighty and gracious Lord, pour out Your Holy Spirit on Your faithful people. Keep us steadfast in Your grace and truth, protect and deliver us in times of temptation, defend us against all enemies, and grant to Your Church Your saving peace; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.