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Saturday, April 23, 2005

I'm going to a wedding, and I hate playing dressup, but the Aardvark will look HOT today.
Hot in a Sopranos sort of way. Black pleated, cuffed trousers, black button-down, black and charcoal tie. White sneakers (KIDDING!) Black shoes. Slick scalp.
Sopranos? Never watched it once.

The ensemble almost seems funereal. My niece Kim is getting married to a fine young man, who has had an almost courtship level of relationship with her parents. I do not mourn for them. I have great joy for their adventure. My problem is the dissolution of so many Christian (!) marriages around me. My daughter married a nice young man...who turned out to be an abusive bounder with delusions of culthood. They are separated, primarily for her safety. The "D" word has been kicked around, but I'm sorry, there is ZERO scriptural reason for divorce. One can drag "feelings", and "it's not fair" into it all day long, but it still doesn't change what Jesus said about it. Period.

Two, count 'em, TWO families in our congregation have disintegrated, because one spouse in each wanted a different place to put it. I have a suspicion that I know what is going on.

There is a deadly triumvirate preached in our neck of the woods: marriagedivorce&remarriage.
Just like that: marriagedivorce&remarriage. When someone preaches on ISSUES facing the church, that one is top of the heap: marriagedivorce&remarriage.

What is wrong with this picture?
To teach on marriage like that seems to me to plant the idea that the three somehow go together: marriagedivorce&remarriage. Rather like soupandsandwich, friesanketchup, BurnsandAllen...
If the concept of sowing and reaping has any credence- Jesus taught it, and agriculture works- then ought we not preach and teach on marriage (Ephesians 5:25, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it..." would be a great place to start.) and LATER present divorce as the vile aberration it is, rather than linking it in the hearer's mind
with marriage? I believe that we are reaping the harvest of decades of bad, copycat preaching.
Amongst other things.

The lesson of the dating scene is not much better. If this relationship sours, welllll, I can always find another.

I pray that this marriage will be as blessed and full as Kim's parents has been, and that Momoovark's and mine has been, and that Christ intended for marriage to be.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Pulling a Religion Out of your Butt...

The latest bit of glurge to clot the finite bandwidth is "The Rainbow Bridge".
This load of dingo's kidneys has been popularized by none other than Mr. Feelgood himself, Neal Boortz, who got all verklempt upon reading it on the air.
Here is the regrettable "poem":

Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Author unknown...

*ahem* I wouldn't want to be known, either. According to my #2 son, Riatsila, this comes across as the sort of thing you make up to tell your kid when Rover gets pureed by an SUV.

It speaks authoritatively of Things Supranatural. It is thus Religious.
This author has pulled a religion out of his nethers.

Tangentially,Momoovark, my sweet missus, said it all:
"Religion is people doing what they want, rather than accepting what God (in Christ) has done for them.

Cue Sinatra: :"I did it MY-Y-Y-Y-Y WA-A-A-A-AY!"

That settles the issue of "religion" for me.

Back to the Bridge: Riatsila queried "What happens to goldfish?".
Clearly they flop around in an eternity of drowning, unable to die, refreshed only by the occasional puddle of dog drool, then flopping over to their owners-in-life, to find the only moist areas available to them.

That's what I call Heaven...


Tuesday, April 05, 2005

MLM Love

Love is all-important. We humans hunger for it, yearn for it, wither without it.
Multi-level marketing (MLM) systems use this human need as a foot-in-the-door. Coupled with the Need to Belong, Love provides a powerful engine for convincing the prospective member to join, to part with precious shekels, and start on the Road to Riches, if he will just sell the soap, sell the vitamins, and buy, buy, BUY the inspirational books and tapes, so he, too, can Duplicate the Pattern, and get OTHERS to sell the soap, sell the vitamins, and buy, buy, BUY the inspirational books and tapes.

The hook is: "We love you, and will do EVERYTHING to help you succeed. If YOU commit, WE commit.", this said with a dewy-eyed earnestness that would melt the heart of any normally sceptical person, introducing a cultic aspect to the business "plan". If I BELONG...if I am LOVED...well, then, I must be WORTH something. I must be LOVABLE.

The problem with MLM love is that it is bogus. It is to agape, charitable, self-giving Love as prostitution is to married love. It is quid pro quo. The hugs, the "We love you!" at the end of phone calls, are surface, shallow, and VANISH as soon as you step out of line. Stop selling the soap, selling the vitamins, and buy, buy, BUYING the inspirational books and tapes, and this bogus love runs for cover, or at least runs to the next John or Jill. No tickee, no hickey.

It really reminds me of the poor Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons who begin to think on their own, and read a REAL Bible to learn about the Gospel, and get shunned by the very people who have been FAMILY to them for years.

If you don't do as we say, we won't LOVE you anymore.

That is NOT love. It is self-serving manipulation and control. If you are a Christian, and are using these tactics in business OR church-life, then you are not "walking in love" in your service to God. You are instead walking in devilish deception, and hurting your witness by displaying a hooker-level "love" to your friends, family, and prospects.

If you wish to hawk vitamins, or soap, or weight-loss plans, well and good, but PLEASE read First Corinthians 13, and compare it to your "Plan".

1 Corinthians 13:1-13, "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profits me nothing. Godly love suffers long, and is kind; love envies not; love vaunts not itself, is not puffed up, Does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; Rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a mirror, dimly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abides faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love."


For anyone who has been victimised by unscrupulous MLM schemes (Oh! Did I repeat myself?) this site may prove helpful:
www.merchantsofdeception.com

Whilst the site is aimed at Amwayites and Quixtoids, it can finger patterns which you may recognise in other "plans".

Your ever-helpful Aardvark