Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I Have Friends

It was, I suspect, somewhat early on in the growth of the “accountability” movement. I had heard the concept but had not given it much study. The deacon at the church I attended as a young married man apparently had studied it. And so, seemingly with the approval of the session, he sat perched by the entrance of the sanctuary.  He asked me, as he asked everyone passing by, with all the tact and enthusiasm of a carnival barker, if I had an accountability group. Being young and na├»ve I stopped and asked, “What’s that?”

“Well,” he explained, “it’s a group of men who are active in your life, that care for you enough to challenge you when you fall into sin. They watch out for you, support you, and encourage you to grow in grace and wisdom.” “In that case,” I retorted, “I do have an accountability group. It’s just that I call them my friends.”

Twenty years later I find myself having the same kind of conversation. When people find about the loss of my wife, they suggest that I find myself a group. Though I seek to mask my skepticism, it apparently shows through. “Really,” folks tell me, “you need people that you can talk to, that you can be real with. You need people you can count on to be there for you.” The answer is the same. I understand the need. And it is well met in my life, by my friends.

Now I have nothing against accountability, nor accountability groups. I am positively in favor of grieving, and have nothing against groups built around that theme. What puzzles me on both counts, however, is how we have lost what is natural, and sought to replace it with programs. What does it say about the culture, both inside and outside the church, that callings normally born by friends now are met by something so artificial, so inorganic. These groups strike me as the emotional equivalent of a multivitamin. Sure enough many of us are not getting enough vitamin D or zinc in our diets. But isn’t eating a few more veggies a better way to solve the problem?

Institutional solutions to relational problems at least do this for us- they expose our relational weaknesses. If our lifestyles make healthy meals a challenge, we need to change our lifestyles. If the transience and cyber-ness of our relationships make, well, friendship, a problem we need to change how we relate.  We need to love near, and serve near.

And if, on the other hand, we have healthy relationships- real, personal relationships where we encourage one another toward righteousness, where we are free to be ourselves, where we talk with depth, and love with sincerity, we yet have this to do- we need to give thanks. We need not create a gratitude committee at our local church to create a gratitude program. No, we need to give thanks. So here I do. I have friends and family that love and care for me and my children.  They check up on me. They look me in the eye when they talk to me. They hug me when they see me. They tell me they love me, and joyfully receive my love in return. They mourn when I mourn, as I rejoice when they rejoice. And I pray that they know that I give thanks to Him for them. I have friends, more and better than I deserve.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Ten Suggestions For My Unbelieving Friends

My life, I am persuaded, would fall apart in a heap in a moment were I not a servant of the Lord. Though it is true that Jesus is the very font of my happiness, that is not why I follow Him, nor how I would encourage you to follow Him. Rather I trust in His finished work, and embrace His Lordship because I believe His Word to be true. I pray the same might soon be said of you.

That said, though I fear if you do not repent and believe on His name that your after-life will be too horrible to contemplate, because you are my friend I hope for you the best possible life on this side of the veil. What follows are things you can do, or at least try to do, without embracing Jesus. To the extent that you succeed, your life will be better.

First, live for something bigger than yourself. You may be persuaded that there is nothing above, no transcendent goal, but I suspect in your more honest moments you would confess that you, yourself, you are definitely not a sufficient reason to live. Serving self will make for a miserable life. If you fail, you will be bitter and frustrated. If you succeed, you will face the vanity of it all. And then you die.

Second, turn off the idiot box and its incestuous cousins. Television does not provide rest, but agitates. It is eye candy, which is as healthy for you as nose candy. Youtube, Halo, Hulu and Netflix are just more of the same. These are machines, made by men’s hands telling stories taken from men’s minds. There is more, even under the sun.

Third, show some respect. Learn to honor that which is honorable, and flee from the cynical, the lowbrow, the snarky and the knowing. When all your life is mockery you make a mockery of your life.

Fourth, take some time off. No one ever went to their grave wishing they had put in more hours at work. Bodies need rest, real rest. Yes, work hard, but give yourself a break..

Fifth, do as you are told. We all, by nature, are rebels. And so are the people in authority over us, whether in our families, in our work, or in our community.  Everyone has their weaknesses, including those above you in authority. Whatever you might gain in breaking the law, in defying your boss you lose in worrying about getting caught. I know it’s silly to stop at that red light in the middle of that cornfield. But the time you think you’ll shave off your trip will be counterbalanced by having to be hyper vigilant watching for the state police.

Sixth, be nice to people. Don’t hurt them, yell at them, gossip about them. I know people can be jerks. After all, I know me, and I know you. But we can still keep from hating each other, can’t we? Being bitter towards anyone, whether friends or foes, is eating poison and hoping they suffer.

Seventh, and this is a tough one, love on your spouse. You promised to forsake all others. Keep that promise, not just for your spouse’s sake, but for your own. I know how wonderful the mystery dance can be. But I can tell you that everyone who ever stepped out lost more than they gained, even if they were never caught. It destroys you, because it is breaking the most solemn vow you are able to make.

Eighth, don’t take what isn’t yours. Don’t go on the dole and steal from your neighbors through the proxy of the state. Don’t cheat on your taxes, or your time card. Don’t borrow stuff and fail to return it. And don’t steal from your future by constant debt. I know it’s in my holy book, but one need not believe the Bible to see the wisdom of owing no man anything save the obligation to love.

Ninth, tell the truth. There is so much less to keep track of, so much less shame. And you’ll find it rather a pleasant thing to have a reputation for truth telling. And while this may surprise you I would insist that it is also vital that “to thine own self be true”principle. Here I don’t mean the sophomoric notion that you must be true to who you are, but instead that you must be true toward you about you. Tell yourself the truth about yourself. Self-delusion is deadly, for it’s a box we can’t escape from.

Finally, be grateful. I’ve never known anyone, Christian or not, who grumbled and was happy. I’ve never known anyone either who was grateful and unhappy. If you follow the ninth suggestion, you will know that what you have is well more than you deserve.

You won’t, of course, be able to do all this. I don’t do all this. Only one person ever did all this. And He solved our inability by suffering the Father’s wrath that is due to us. Better than all the above is that you would confess your failure, and cling to that Man. He has promised us a wonderful life, a life filled with death and heartache, persecution and broken relationships. And Him.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ask RC: Is Social Security an old age insurance program?

No. While we are often encouraged to see it this way, the truth is that Social Security is a wealth transfer program, an entitlement program.  Money is taken from one person, and then given to another. To help us understand this it might be wise to go back to the beginning.

Social Security was a creation of FDR’s New Deal. On the income side it began with a payroll tax on employers, which was in turn matched by employees.  This money, however, was not set aside, invested, hidden under a mattress. No, it went right into the out-go side. A farmer can’t harvest his crop until after he grows it. With Social Security the aged harvested what they did not plant. My grandparent’s taxes, went, after Washington’s administrative cut, to checks written for their ancestors. The promise to them wasn’t that they would receive their savings back when they reached the appropriate age. Instead the federal government promised to tax the next generation, ad infinitum.

Washington showed its true colors when it, during the many years that it spent more money that it brought in, kept a budget for Social Security apart from the federal budget. When Social Security, because of the baby boom, began to run a surplus, Social Security’s income was brought into the federal budget. (Keep this in mind the next time someone suggests that for several years President Clinton ran a surplus. He did, in a manner of speaking. More money came in for several years than went out.  The promises to pay, however, far exceeded what was brought in. This would be as if I spent $5,000 on new furniture, while bringing in $3000. If my payments were delayed a year, and I spent only $2500 on my other expenses that month I could, though I shouldn’t, claim a surplus.)

That great big aardvark-in-a-python baby-boom bubble, however, is coming home to roost, as that generation approaches retirement. The cash they put in went to their parents, and to the annual budget. Washington did put IOU’s into a bank somewhere. Trouble is, what Washington means by IOU is, I Own You. That is, it is a promise to tax other people. Remember Washington has nothing that it did not first take from someone else.

Social Security has run headlong into three demographic walls. First is the baby boom already mentioned. Second is the pleasant reality that people are living much longer than they once did.  And thus, as in a Ponzi scheme, most Social Security recipients receive much more than they put in. Third, not needing actual children to care for them, thanks to the federal government, families radically decreased in size. And so we have fewer people paying for the needs of more people. Bankruptcy is inevitable.

What do we do? If push came to shove I would argue that we cannot accept Social Security. It is asking the state to take the wealth of others for our own gain. On the other hand, people were lead to believe, wrongly, that this was an old age insurance program. So I have no fervent beef with older people who depend on Social Security. I wish it were not so, but the greater wrong-doer here is the federal government.

If you are relatively young, however, you will not have to wrestle with the moral dilemma over whether to take Social Security. It won’t be there for you. When politicians insist that they will protect Social Security what they really mean is, “We’re going to keep taking your money, but we won’t have any to pay out to you.” No one ever wants to be in a position where they must trust Washington for anything. It is no insurance program. It’s a shakedown. Plan on being taken, but do not plan to receive. The Bible calls this going the extra mile, turning the other cheek. It’s what homeschoolers do every year, paying school taxes for schools they don’t use. The God of heaven and earth sees. And He, not Washington, it is who gives us our daily bread.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Why can’t we all just get along?

The story is told of the man who was rescued from a desert island twenty years after being shipwrecked. As he proudly showed his rescuers around the island they came to three grass huts. Our Robinson Crusoe pointed out that one of the huts was his home, and the other his church. When asked what the third hut was he replied, with a note of disdain, “That’s where I used to go to church.”

We can’t get along, and the reason is simple enough- we are sinners.  Now let’s break that simple answer down a bit, working back to front. What do we mean by sinners? I don’t, of course, mean unsaved. Of course believers, in the eyes of God, are just. That’s what we mean by “justified,” to be declared just. But Luther himself affirmed that Christians are simul justis et peccator, at the same time just and sinner. That sin causes us to believe things that are false. It means we have appetites and desires that are dishonorable. It impacts what we think, feel, say and do.

“Are” of course, reminds us that this is presently true of us. Sin is not behind us yet. We still struggle with it. A day is coming when we will no longer be sinners, but for now, while here, we are.

But what do I mean by “we?” Because we are sinners we are tempted to conclude that the reason we can’t get along is because people are sinners, and by people we mean, other people. “I” could get along with “you” if you would stop doing what you are doing.  This process, stay with me as we get grammatical here, happens in the plural as well. That is, “we” could get along with “you” plural if “you” plural would quit doing what “you” plural are doing.

Now the truth is that the other guys, whether we are talking to or about them, are sinners. There are heretics in the land, wild elephants let loose in God’s vineyard.  There are also sheep who think it wiser to calm the elephants down, rather than drive them out of the vineyard.  To be more clear, one reason “we” can’t get along is because sometimes we’re not we together. Wheat doesn’t and can’t get along with tares. To profess the name of Christ is not to possess the name of Christ. Because they are sinners, wisdom means recognizing that. It means some appropriate level of skepticism, some fruitful usage of shibboleths.

But we must not lose sight of the hard truth that I am a part of we. I too am a sinner. I need to be skeptical most of all about myself, and my motives.  My moral indignation over your error, or your refusal to confront evil just may be a smokescreen to keep me from having to confront my own evil. A necessary consequent of “We are sinners” is “I am a sinner.” And as a sinner my desire is, if I must confess my sinfulness, to forget that confession as quickly and as deeply as I can.

There is a right perspective on the Elephant Room 2. I’m happy to confess that host, questioner and answerer all badly dropped the ball. The problem is that I’m happy to confess this is because it distracts from all the balls falling on my own feet. Because they are sinners, we need to call out sin. Because I am a sinner, I must always confess my own sin, to be on guard against proclaiming before our Lord, “I thank you Lord that I am not like other men. I roundly condemn heresy wherever I see it, and in turn condemn those who won’t condemn heresy. I read all the orthodox blogs. And tithe only to the purest coalitions.” Instead, may we, those who name the name of Christ, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit, cry out, “Lord, be merciful to us, sinners.”

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine the Brave

As a rule, men are relational dolts. From an early age girls develop sophisticated communications arrays, whereby they are able to simultaneously translate what anyone says, whether with words, expression or body language, into what they actually mean. They know from birth that when a genteel southern woman tells them, “Well bless your heart” that war has been declared. Men, on the other hand, are tone deaf and body language blind.

Women in turn understand the intricacies of social interaction. They don’t have to be told to write thank you notes; they compose them on the way home from a dinner with friends. They don’t have to be told to send out birth announcements- they start filling them out while in labor. Men, on the other hand, bring their favorite beer to a buddy’s barbecue not as a “host gift” but to make sure there is enough. We watch SportsCenter during labor.

Which is why, perhaps, western culture has constructed one day a year for us, to make it simple. We know our marching orders- a card, flowers or candy, perhaps a gift and a nice romantic dinner for two. We can do that, once, or twice, or four times a year- birthday, Mother’s Day, and the hardest one, our anniversary. When we succeed on these days we tell our wives that we really are trying. We really do love them, and want them to know. We’re fighting our man weaknesses as best as we are able.

What we ought to be doing, however, is fighting her woman weaknesses. The Bible calls us to dwell with our wives with understanding (I Peter 3:7).  Women, by and large, crave security. They are given to relational worry. When husbands and wives fight, often the husband is merely annoyed, while the wife fears the end is near.  Peter doesn’t call us to turn our wives into men, but calls men to see it from her point of view. We fight her fears by putting her at ease.

A godly husband, then is not one who four times a year takes up the aggravating task of trying to be relational, in order to keep his wife from getting grumpy. Instead a godly husband is tasked with the constant call of communicating his love and commitment to his wife. This is not a few days a year, but every day. Too often husbands get frustrated, even offended by this hard reality.  “Doesn’t she think I’m a man of my word? I promised ‘Until death do us part’ and I meant it.”

Such reasoning shows our relational weakness. She doesn’t want to know that she can count on you to grimly see your vow through to the end. She wants to know that you would make it all over again today, and tomorrow, and the day after that. She doesn’t want to know that you will stay with her, but that you want to stay with her.

A year ago on Valentine’s Day I bought my wife a nice gift, and we shared a nice meal together.  There were not candles on a linen covered table. There was no table. Denise was in a hospital bed, having been diagnosed with leukemia just days before.  Chemotherapy had already begun to erode her appetite for food. Assurance, however, she still desired.  She apologized for our surroundings for our celebration. What I heard was “Please tell me we will be okay.” I replied, “Our location is this- we are in the loving hands of our heavenly Father, who will never leave us nor forsake us. And I, by His grace, will joyfully walk with you every step of the way. There is no place I would rather be than right beside you.”

My counsel for you today is to get the flowers. Enjoy a nice meal together. But tomorrow stop, hold her chin, look her in the eye and tell her, “I give thanks to God for you. I would marry you all over again. You are a joy in my life.” And then, the day after that, do it again. Repeat.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Little Deaths and Big Deaths

Whether its source is old-fashioned American individualism, new-fangled notions of libertarian social theory, or the pietistic error of sealing the gospel off from positive social change and sealing our sins off from negative social change, we have, as a culture and a church come to the dubious conclusion that what goes on behind closed doors is nobody’s business, and affects only those behind the doors.  We, as a culture and a church think when we take our pants off with someone not our spouse, as long as everyone is there voluntarily, the worst thing that can happen is that God might get miffed at us. And He, of course, is rather famous for having a rather forgiving nature.

Six innocent men went to their death at Ai because a different man, Achan, took for himself booty from Jericho. Who would know, I suspect, Achan wondered. Why would we think sexual immorality is any different? “Husbands and wives stray. What’s the big deal? Happens all the time. “ It does indeed happen all the time. And when it does bombs explode in the homes of little children.  Hearts are scarred. Fear replaces the departing spouse. These children grow up thinking the deepest betrayal possible to be normal, acceptable, just a part of life. That there is nothing they can depend on. They grow up believing that mommy, or daddy loved their sexual appetites more than they loved them. And they believe rightly.

It could, of course be worse. One need not be married to witness the extent of the destruction that follows in the path of sexual immorality.  Simply visit the inner city. There boys without fathers grow up to too often become criminals. They likewise become baby-daddys, creating still more fatherless children. There girls, never having the loving nurture of a father, too often, seek comfort and connection in fornication. And we, if we are concerned at all, are concerned about the economic disadvantages of all things. We think condoms are the solution.

It could be, indeed it is, worse still. Men and women, not married to one another, rollick. Believing their behavior affects only them, they are in turn flabbergasted when another person enters the equation. Here though the child does not end up growing up in a single parent home. No, here the result is murder. 

Go and stand outside your local abortion mill. You are unlikely to meet there the poor, bewildered girl whose parents threatened to kick her out of the home and who was lied to, told that all she had inside her was undifferentiated cells. No, what you will meet there is someone angry that anyone would dare discourage her from murdering her shame. Babies both come from sleeping around, and get in the way of sleeping around. So they must be dispatched. Nothing must be allowed to stand in the way of our desires.

 You cannot separate the great evil of abortion from the raging fornication that defines us as a people.  Thus more birth control is not the answer. You cannot bring the fire of lust to your bosom without knowing that not only will you be burned, but that the same fire will consume your own home. You cannot witness the flames of Moloch that burn the unborn and forget it all starts with a spark, of illicit desire.

Sexual folly gives birth not just to our own deaths (Proverbs 7: 21-27), but to the deaths of the innocent. Our groping hands are not mere private moral stains. They are instead covered with the blood of our own children. Our cultural obsession with sex isn’t a social problem. It is the war machine that creates the wretched daily stench of thousands of dead bodies, buried in dumpsters. God give us the grace to repent.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Ask RC: Should a Christian become good friends with pagans?

The Apostle Paul writes to the church at Corinth “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (II Corinthians 6:14). The text at least ought to raise the question in our minds. Would Paul’s admonition here preclude close, personal friendships with those outside the kingdom? To answer properly we need only to answer this question- is such a friendship being bound together? Is it a partnership? Is it fellowship?

This text, for instance, clearly forbids believers from marrying outside the faith. There is no human relationship more tightly bound than husband and wife. I would suggest in turn that this text does not preclude us from doing ordinary business with unbelievers. I am not bound together with my internet service provider. I am not in partnership with the local newspaper. I am not in fellowship with the dairy farmer who provides my family with milk. Where it gets tricky is in between these two extremes. Can a Christian doctor share a practice with a non-Christian? And can we have close personal friendships with those outside the faith?

Though it’s not terribly dramatic, the answer, as usual, lies in wisdom. Nearly seventeen years ago, on the day I wed my dear wife, the man standing next to me was not a Christian. When we first became friends in college he professed to be a Christian. After college he left that profession behind. Our friendship continued and it continues to this day. I think of this man often, and even prayed for him and his family yesterday during corporate worship, that God would be pleased to grant him new life. We speak on the phone a few times each year, catching up on the news, and remembering our times together in the past. On the one hand, this relationship is “close.” On the other, it is not.

My life, day to day, is not caught up in his. My focus, day to day, is on the lives of my wife, my children, and the saints at my church. I have neighbors that are “friends” that are outside the faith, neighbors that I likewise pray for. There is nothing wrong with such friendships, as long as they are loose. But my soul can only commune with those whose souls commune with our Lord. Whatever we might have in common, in terms of the image of God, with unbelievers, we are defined by our faith.

Each Lord’s Day we remember that on that day we gather with all the saints around the world, the church militant. We remember that we are all lifted up into the heavenly places, to the New Jerusalem where we meet our Lord, and join together with the souls of just men made perfect (Hebrews 12: 22-24.) We remember that we join together with the church triumphant. We remember that we are one body, because we confess one faith. Our loyalty, our hesed, or covenant love, is for those within the body. We are indeed free to reach out to those outside the kingdom, remembering that such once were we. We are not free, however, to juggle our loyalties.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Kingdom Notes: Treasure In, Treasure Out

My beautiful wife loved nothing more than to beautify.  She devoted herself to creating a beautiful home. She planted flowers, bushes and trees outside. Inside she hung, placed, painted and etched.  Even when she was not well, this was where her heart was. Over the course of the last nine months of her life, most of it spent in sundry hospitals, she watched, I suspect, more Home and Garden Television than all of HGTV’s executives combined.

Her pursuit of beauty, however, did not have its end in a pretty house, but in a godly home.  She worked to beautify me, and our children.  This morning while I shaved I looked to the shelf she placed between our sinks. There she had placed two small plaques. One reads- “Cast all your anxiety on him because He cares for you” (I Peter 5:7). The other reads, “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him” (Lamentations 3:25). I cried in gratitude to hear her voice, and to hear His gospel.

As the tears dried, and I began to mentally work on this brief piece, I thought about the simplicity of it all. My eyes passed over God’s Word, and everything changed. I thought in turn about what usually enters not just my eye gate, but ear gate. Like most Christians I live in a decadent culture, and consume far too much of its “wisdom.” My eyes are filled with images made in Hollywood, my ears filled with the wisdom of Nashville. My soul is a veritable sluice gate through which pours more filth than my ancestors could have dreamed of.  It should not surprise me then that I don’t speak with the wisdom, the grace, the discretion, the honor with which my ancestors spoke.

Nor should it surprise me that my wife spoke into my life such graces. She adorned her home with God’s Word, and so adorned her life with the words of life.  A godly woman builds up her house. She did not know, when she placed those plaques on the shelf, that one day I would be anxious about living without her. She did not know that the loss of her light would dim my hopes. She did not intend to whisper to me this morning from a better country. But she did. She whispered the gospel to me.

The next time you are alone in your car, turn on the oldies station. Sing along with as many songs as you can. Then turn off the radio, and begin to sing the Psalms.  Then ask yourself what I ask, having failed the test so miserably- who has the words of eternal life, the Beatles, or Jesus?

Uptight evangelicals, which might just be a synonym for fundamentalists, are quick to decry the baleful influence of the broader culture. It’s all too terribly true. Better, however, that we should celebrate the influence of God’s Word.  Treasure in, treasure out. Hope in Him. He cares for you.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Kingdom Notes: Be Reasonable

In the great war launched in Genesis 3 between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent there are two other great battles. On one side of the battlefield stands the enemy. The seed of the serpent hate God, would kill Him if they could. They hate His people, and all that they stand for. But they have a battle waging inside themselves because, for all their sin, all their fallenness and depravity they still bear the remains of the image of God. Their great dilemma is that because they are made in God’s image they want to live in a world that makes sense, that is understandable, and coherent. Because, however, the objective reality is that they are under God’s wrath, they must construct a world with no God, or at least, no judgment.  It is impossible, irrational.

The other great battle is the mirror of this one. We are the seed of the woman, reborn, remade, reflecting the image of the Son, the express image of His glory. But we still sin.  We have an old man with which to do battle. We want to serve God, to manifest His reign, to become like Jesus. But, we also want to be loved, to be respected, and, perhaps most dangerous of all, to be normal. Which weakness the devil is rather adept at exploiting.

Consider, as an example, politics.  Because Jesus is our King, because He has set us free, we don’t, generally speaking, want bloated government. Because we aspire to honesty, we want a government of law, that will stay within its Constitutional bounds. Because we honor our fathers in the faith who labored through such issues with great care, we understand that just war is defensive war. Trouble is, the broader culture has veered so far from these basic ideals that to espouse them is not to be considered wrong, but to be considered unsophisticated, ignorant, crazy, unreasonable.

And so we retreat. We back down. We begin to scout out a new line of defense. We move leftward. Oh we’re careful to steer clear of the convictions of the seed of the serpent. We don’t go over to the dark side. We just get close enough that they won’t laugh at us.  We do all that we can to maintain loyalty to Christ, while looking sane to the world. And we fail.

Entitlement programs, all of them, even the ones we like, are unconstitutional, unbiblical and indefensible.  We cannot defend stealing from our neighbors and burdening our children with crushing debt for these programs, while politely arguing that we shouldn’t for those programs.  Preventative assassinations, bombings and wars are also unconstitutional, unbiblical and indefensible. We cannot defend spending billions of dollars and thousands of lives for this strategic objective, but object to doing the same for that strategic objective. Abortions, all of them, even the ones that hide our shame, keep the numbers down among the underprivileged, or take down the human result of rape or incest are unconstitutional, unbiblical and indefensible. We cannot support candidates or legislation that seek to slow, limit, regulate murder.

My point, ultimately, isn’t about politics, but about our unbelief, our fear. We are willing to confess Christ before men, as long as the Christ we confess is palatable, normal, reasonable. We are willing to be Abraham’s kin, as long as we can pitch our tents close to Sodom. I fear, however, that while we think we are Lots, the truth is we are Lost.

We live in a post-Christian west. It will become Christian again not when we can gently reason the world back home, but when we are again willing to be fed to the beasts in their stadia.  Our faith is eminently rational. It is not in the least reasonable.