Friday, March 5, 2010

Mark 9 -- looks like we've got company

Pornography is strange. Somehow, nearly microscopic dots of colored ink on paper can exert a powerful attraction to our minds, and become more fascinating than the flesh-and-blood women we actually share our lives and beds with. The reader toys with the increasingly vile possibilities that arise if half the human race consists of toys to be used -- and broken -- for the pleasure of the other half. As you play with depravity in the atelier and abattoir of the mind, you sometimes find you've got company. An invisible playmate, eager to dialogue with you about the possibilities -- and ways to achieve them.

Pornography is strange. Users are ashamed to put it out with the trash, lest their neighbors see what they've been giving their thoughts over to. Somehow, porn ends up bundled up in neat packages, and left by remote waysides where adolescent lads can find it. One such lad found one such bundle in the 1950s. The centerfolds back then were somewhat more chaste, somewhat more demure, than the Sports Illustrated swimsuit models today. Even so, the only women willing to pose for those airbrushed pictures a half-century ago were prostitutes.

Serial rapist / murderer Ted Bundy gave one interview to the civilian media, on the night before his execution. He spoke at length with James Dobson, PhD, founder of a Christian and family themed radio talk show. Bundy's descent into the life of a monster began with dots of colored ink on paper. Then, as he told Dr. Dobson, one day he had company. An invisible playmate. A driving, obsessive passion that seemed to sweep in from outside his mind, to take possession of him.

The fences between the visible and invisible realities we live among are stout, and liberally posted with No Trespassing signs. Most of the time, we are unaware of the holy angels that protect us. Unless we go looking for them, we usually live in blissful ignorance of the foul spirits, the cinler, that lust to participate in the visible world through the agency of our willing cooperation.

Sometimes, though, the barriers can be penetrated. Materialistic ages, for example, usually are obsessed with the occult. Something of the image of God in us, the fingerprints of the Creator on our souls, rejects the doctrine that life consists only and entirely of what can be seen, touched, measured. Carl Sagan's pompous credo, "The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be," rings hollow with real people. "Surely, there's got to be more," the well-indoctrinated little materialist muses, then falls prey to the blandishments of "scientific" spiritualism. Oh, yes. There are techniques and tools that can open the soul to interactions with invisible entities. The most popular board game in America, for example, is the Ouija board. The "flower children" of the sixties turned to psychedelic drugs in a quest for transcendent realities. Or practiced "transcendental meditation," self-hypnotic techniques for lowering the bars, putting out the welcome mat, turning on the Vacancy sign for invisible guests.

There are moments in history when the stakes are raised, and human/demon interactions become more commonplace. The destiny of the nation is at stake,[1] and various trends in popular culture compete for the souls of children. When eras end, they usually do so in a cloud of debauched currency, debauched morals, and debauched spirituality.

When Jesus walked the earth, a lot of his attention was given to the ministry of exorcism. Such as we read of in this chapter:
Mar 9:17 Halktan biri O'na, "Öğretmenim" diye karşılık verdi, "Dilsiz bir ruha tutulan oğlumu sana getirdim.
Mar 9:18 Ruh onu nerede yakalarsa yere çarpıyor. Çocuk ağzından köpükler saçıyor, dişlerini gıcırdatıyor ve kaskatı kesiliyor. Ruhu kovmaları için öğrencilerine başvurdum, ama başaramadılar."
Mar 9:19 İsa onlara, "Ey imansız kuşak!" dedi. "Sizinle daha ne kadar kalacağım? Size daha ne kadar katlanacağım? Çocuğu bana getirin!"
Mar 9:20 Çocuğu kendisine getirdiler. Ruh, İsa'yı görür görmez çocuğu şiddetle sarstı; çocuk yere düştü, ağzından köpükler saçarak yuvarlanmaya başladı.
Mar 9:21 İsa çocuğun babasına, "Bu hal çocuğun başına geleli ne kadar oldu?" diye sordu. "Küçüklüğünden beri böyle" dedi babası.
Mar 9:22 "Üstelik ruh onu öldürmek için sık sık ateşe, suya attı. Elinden bir şey gelirse, bize yardım et, halimize acı!"
Mar 9:23 İsa ona, "Elimden gelirse mi? İman eden biri için her şey mümkün!" dedi.
Mar 9:24 Çocuğun babası hemen, "İman ediyorum, imansızlığımı yenmeme yardım et!"diye feryat etti.
Mar 9:25 İsa, halkın koşuşup geldiğini görünce kötü ruhu azarlayarak, "Sana buyuruyorum, dilsiz ve sağır ruh, çocuğun içinden çık ve ona bir daha girme!" dedi.
Mar 9:26 Bunun üzerine ruh bir çığlık attı ve çocuğu şiddetle sarsarak çıktı. Çocuk ölü gibi hareketsiz kaldı, öyle ki oradakilerin birçoğu, "Öldü!" diyordu.
Mar 9:27 Ama İsa elinden tutup kaldırınca, çocuk ayağa kalktı.
Mar 9:28 İsa eve girdikten sonra öğrencileri özel olarak O'na, "Biz kötü ruhu neden kovamadık?" diye sordular.
Mar 9:29 İsa onlara, "Bu tür ruhlar ancak duayla kovulabilir" yanıtını verdi.
Let's look at a brief part of the conversation:
  • Elinden bir şey gelirse
  • Elinden -- from your hand
  • bir şey -- one thing
  • gelirse -- can come from forth
  • İman eden biri için her şey mümkün! --
  • İman -- faith
  • eden -- has
  • biri --one
  • için -- within
  • her şey -- everythin
  • mümkün -- is possible!
Encounters with demonic forces are ugly scenes, though rarely as harrowing as the movie The Exorcist portrayed. Cinler enjoy their zones of influence, are reluctant to give them up, and often scream loudly, using the voice of the cinli person, when expelled. Exorcists need to be people with rich prayer lives, as Jesus told His disciples. People of integrity. A Catholic priest, who blessed me and my younger brother when we were infants, told my parents that the forces of evil throw in the face of the exorcist every sin he's ever committed.

Yet there's more to life than the ugly side. This chapter begins with an experience on a mountain top. Our Lord's favorite three disciples (and yes, God does play favorites) suddenly realized that they were not alone with Jesus. Two other gleaming Personages, Moses[2] and Elijah, representing the Law and the Prophets, also showed up. One of the classic doctrines of the Christian faith is "the communion of saints." In some way, we are linked with all of God's people who have ever lived. When we gather around the Throne to worship, we sometimes sense an invisible parallel congregation. We are forbidden to talk with the dead -- but we can and certainly do worship with those who are now eternally alive in the presence of God.[3]


[1] In the card game of Poker, "the stakes" are the funds being wagered. To "raise the stakes" is to increase the amount of the bet, the funds at risk, the resources "at stake."

[2] Moses had finally made it into the Promised Land.

[3] The week after my godly father-in-law died, I was at a Wednesday evening prayer service, and had a vivid mental picture of the older gent, eyes alive and alight, vigorously enjoying the prayer service with us.

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