Mothers with Empty Arms

Looking back on the memory of
The dance we shared ‘neath the stars above
For a moment all the world was right
How could I have known that you’d ever say goodbye

 And now I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance, I could have missed the pain
But I’d have had to miss the dance

 Holding you I held everything
For a moment wasn’t I a king
But if I’d only known how the king would fall
Hey who’s to say you know I might have changed it all.

And now I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain
But I’d have had to miss the dance

Garth Brooks, The Dance

 

I’ve not written much on the problem of evil, it’s something I and my wife understand, our lives have been touched by pains, disappoints, loss, as have we all. The problem of course is I’m a student of the New Testament, a theologian, and a thinker, as an apologist writing about facts and presenting arguments is something I understand, but explaining or addressing feelings, well the dozens of times I’ve tried to start an article, it never went well.

October is infant and pregnancy loss awareness month (as apparently is April), and I’m a husband of a wife who has suffered from at least two lost pregnancies, and the father of at least two children that did not arrive into this world. We experienced the joy of expectation and found those hopes dashed as the ultrasounds took place. There are a number of women suffering from infertility, sometimes suffering without speaking, sometimes, like my wife, not wanting to speak, those empty arms being a bitter pill and sometimes very little is needed to remind someone of that aching heart. The hardest thing my wife has ever endured was losing her babies, the hardest thing I have ever endured was crying with her, holding her while methotrexate was used to save her life because of an ectopic pregnancy and trying to take care of her while I too mourned my lost little ones. This was after a pastorate had turned dreams to dust, and I cried out that naracisstic prayer we all pray, “why me, Lord,” or worse, in the recesses of my mind to cry out “it’s not fair.”

The theological answer is clear, of course, which is why the problem of evil is such a modern phenomenon developed in a culture that was nominally Christian enough that they had an expectation of God, but no actual understanding of God’s justice. Modern’s reject God because they believe He must be some cosmic Santa Claus, failing to realize that He is a just judge. The Christian answer is ultimately one of justice and freewill, far from the millennials starry-eyed belief that justice is an attempt to build Utopia, a Christian view of justice must always reconcile with the fact that we are a fallen race who no longer deserves the beauties of this world. Nor can we object to God’s allowing the fall because we ourselves have joined into sin willingly, it is no good to just blame Adam when our depraved wills have chosen to follow in his footsteps. Whatever else we might say of the problem of evil, we must begin from the standpoint that the atheist cannot make his case until he can prove man deserves better; I personally think this case cannot be made unless we choose to be ignorant of human history.

Of course, for the woman who has lost a child, or is struggling with infertility, this is a cold comfort, there is really a distinction between the problem of evil and the problem of suffering, the one asking why bad things happen, the latter asking why bad things happen to me. But then again, perhaps they are not so separate after all; we perceive them to be different because of the heaviness of our tears. To understand suffering, we ultimately need to understand that God is both just and loving, and if we are redeemed there is an “already-not yet” dynamic to our lives under the sun. We are already heirs of God, but we have not yet come into the fullness of our inheritance. We are already redeemed from sin, and yet the old man of sin still lives within us. We are positionally righteous before God through Christ’s sacrifice of His own body; Jesus being the Sacrifice for sin and the Priest offering that Sacrifice, but my life is still imperfect in it’s obedience to Him. We are freed from the cares of this life for the next, and yet we still suffer greatly. We are never promised that suffering will end in this life.

The key to our suffering, however, is that, as believers, the meaning of suffering changes, it is neither pointless nor eternal (no matter how it feels). For the lost, the suffering is a warning of what will come if they continue down a path that rejects the God who made them, but for the believer, it’s different. Our suffering, even in loss has a purpose. I can find solace, for example, in the fact that I believe my children have been spared all the pains of this life—and I am persuaded the pains of this life far outweigh the pleasures, the pleasures being reminders of lost Eden.  But I also have found that He which has begun a good work in me is completing that work. My wife and I are closer through our trials than we would have been without them. I have been forced to depend on Him in ways I never could have imagined; at times, just to get through the day. In college, I tried to be Spock, though I was passionate about the faith, I could only experience many parts of the Bible from the analytical processes of my mind, that now seems both foreign, vain and quite frankly misses much of the point. The saccharine substitutes so freely used by our society are shown to be a pale imitation of the joys in Him; we can no longer be satisfied with distractions and diversions. If the suffering brings us down, it also lifts us up, it reminds us that this life is temporary, but that there is something eternal, and life is more than the accumulation of things and accolades. It sharpens my desire to write and present an offering to Him. In short, if the suffering of the lost is hopeless, the suffering of the believer produces fruit, and we have the hope of looking to a day when that suffering will end. Garth Brooks is wrong, our lives are never left to chance, for the believer, God will always take our straw, and make it into something of value, if we will trust Him.

I know this isn’t the help many want, I understand the desire to scream out about the unfairness of it all. I’ve been there. But I also have learned that screaming at God for causing our pain is to miss the very same God who is the only one that can bring meaning to our pain. To forget Him in trials is to give up the strength that brings us through that suffering. If we are stuck for the moment in the fallen world, with its reminders of our lost innocence, we know also that He is suffering with us, and has already suffered for us. Joy will come, or at least peace, for me it was from a song by the Greenes.

You aren’t alone, we are in it with you, And if it is hope, never give up on our God, Mandy’s last pregnancy happened after she gave up, and her arms are no longer empty, and my heart is now full, though I often ask God to make sure my babies with Him are getting hugs. Joy can come in the morning.

 

 

And the Harvey Goes to . . .

So unless you have been away from civilization, the internet, the news, the radio and the watercooler, you probably have heard about Harvey Weinstein. Now I’m usually pretty careful about forming opinions in the first month for reason’s I’ve noted in the past, but the number of accusations (now over forty) of sexual harassment and even a few about sexual assaults (along with an audiotape by the NYPD) makes it hard to believe he is not guilty of serious indiscretions, even if some of the specific accusations may be false. It seems to me, though, this shows something about where we are as a society, or rather, the hypocrisy of the spectacle. This isn’t exactly new; rumors of the casting couch and sexual misdeeds and assaults are very old in the industry, going back to Louis B Mayer, Harry Cohn, Darryl Zanuck, and Howard Hughes, all major studio heads during Hollywood’s golden age.

What is new is the outcry and the response from within the industry; Barbara Walters blew off the accusations of Corey Feldman about Hollywood being full of sexual predators who preyed on child actors,[1] and his friend Corey downward spiral started with sexual abuse as minors. But there are convictions that would seem to corroborated that this is a problem in Hollywood, and that Walters was wrong not to suggest further investigation. Jason James Murphy, a Hollywood casting director, cast children in School of Rock and Super 8, before it was realized that he had previously been convicted of kidnapping and molesting an eight year old boy.[2] Worse, Victor Salva, director of Disney’s Powder and the Jeepers, Creepers line of films has worked with teens despite a conviction for sexual acts on a 12-year old during the filming of Clownhouse.[3] Leonardo DiCaprio’s former manager, Bob Villard, was convicted of child pornography, and the sexual assault of a 13 year old boy.[4]  Brian Peck, a convicted pedophile, who has worked as a vocal coach with children for both Disney and Nickelodeon,[5] but his conviction did not prevent him from working with his friend, Bryan Singer on X-Men 2.[6] Talent scout Martin Weiss,[7] and Nickelodeon production assistant Michael Handy,[8] used roles within the industry to molest children. Yet, when a documentary on childhood sexual abuse in Hollywood, An Open Secret was given limited release, and was opposed by a major Hollywood union, [9] apparently Barbara Walters was not the only person who thought investigating the problems of Hollywood was unimportant.

There are also charges leveled against Bill Cosby, also a case where many women over the years have made the same basic accusation; yet industry outrage is a recent phenomenon. The industry has continued to support Roman Polanski who has been accused of rape by four separate women.[10] He plea bargained a case in Hollywood of having sex with a minor – a 13 year old girl, who he plied with champagne containing quaaludes[11] – but when he found out that he might actually have to serve time in a prison, he fled to France before sentencing. In 2009, when the Switzerland considered extradition to the United States, more than a hundred Hollywood celebrities signed a petition (circulated by Harvey Weinstein) to have him released,[12] and Whoopi Goldberg stated on the view, “it wasn’t rape-rape,” and continued to defend this point, even after it was pointed out that Polanski had used drugs on his victim.[13] Interestingly enough, Whoopi’s defense of Weinstein is very similar to Weinstein’s own discussion of his deeds.[14]

There is also a sense in which the ourtrage is limited to one’s own situation. Rose McGowan who worked with Victor Salva on Rosewood Lane. In an interview with the Advocate,[15] she made the statement she knew nothing about his conviction and it was none of her business, but this is not the attitude she expected from Jeff Bezos on Weinstein working on an Amazon production. Apparently her allegations of rape should be taken more seriously than those of a twelve year old boy, or for that matter a court of law. Similarly, Asia Argentino signed the petition to free Polanski,[16] it seems in her estimation the assault on a thirteen year-old girl was less serious than an assault on herself. There is then, a sense of, “justice for me, but not for thee,” that occupies the discussion.

Allegations have been leveled against Woody Allen, Ben Affleck, Bryan Singer, and Oliver Stone, but I have tried to avoid rumors, (as the Old Testament stated no one was to be punished on the word of one witness alone), and stick with points were people have been convicted. Harvey Weinstein in 2009 stated in an interview with the L A Times, concerning the petition for Roman Polanski that “Hollywood has the best moral compass. . . “[17] Interestingly enough, his own letter on the subject presents himself as a man of his times.[18] I say this is interesting because the modern popular ethic moves not from the Bible or some other standard, on an assumption that there are no moral absolutes, only community standards. Weinstein is treated as if an absolute, and not merely a community opinion has been violated. In short, his argument that he is simply living out the culture of his own youth is completely consistent with the ethos of the modern American left, but the leftists decrying him are inconsistent with it. That is, they argue that sexual harassment is absolutely wrong, but when confronted with their own sins, they immediately will cite that not everyone believes in moral absolutes.

Now it is true that there have been notable scandals in American Evangelical churches, but for the Evangelical the problem is when we fail to be consistent with our epistemic source for defining ethics, the Bible. For Weinstein, it is the opposite, he is in trouble precisely because he is living up to the Darwinist ethic that views all moralities as subjective along with Hollywood’s view of love as of spontaneity and emotions, of giving into desires, and that is precisely what Weinstein has done.

Political commentator Mark Levin has suggested renaming the Oscars the Harvey’s, and it makes sense, but the Harvey’s may serve a better use, noting when someone in Hollywood is living up to “Hollywood values.” This year, the Harvey should go to Harvey Weinstein.

 

[1] http://worldofwonder.net/fbf-barbara-walters-tells-corey-feldman-youre-damaging-entire-industry-warns-hollywood-pedophila last accessed October 15, 2017.

 

[2]http://articles.latimes.com/2011/nov/17/business/la-fi-ct-casting-director-20111118 last accessed October 15, 2017.

 

[3] https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-pedophile-director-embraced-by-hollywood Last accessed October 15, 2017.

[4] http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jan/08/business/la-fi-ct-hollywood-molesters-20120109/2 last accessed October 15, 2017.

 

[5] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3115792/Pedophile-X-Men-actor-convicted-sexually-abusing-Nickelodeon-child-star-working-underage-kids.html last accessed October 15, 2017

[6] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3115792/Pedophile-X-Men-actor-convicted-sexually-abusing-Nickelodeon-child-star-working-underage-kids.html  Last accessed October 15, 2017

[7] http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jun/02/local/la-fi-me-molester-pleads-20120602  last accessed October 15, 2017

 

[8] http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jan/08/business/la-fi-ct-hollywood-molesters-20120109  Last accessed October 15, 2017

[9] http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/movies/open-secret-aims-expose-child-predators-hollywood-article-1.2249251  Last Accessed on October 15, 2017

[10] http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/la-et-entertainment-news-updates-roman-polanski-accused-of-raping-german-1507133265-htmlstory.html  Last accessed on October 15, 2017

 

[11]http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/roman-polanski/story?id=8705958 Last accessed on October 15, 2017

[12] http://www.indiewire.com/2009/09/over-100-in-film-community-sign-polanski-petition-55821/  Last accessed on October 15, 2017, the petition itself has been taken down.

[13]https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=whoopi+goldberg+it+wasn%27t+rap-rape&&view=detail&mid=1DA0F795D27E0C65B20F1DA0F795D27E0C65B20F&FORM=VRDGAR  Last accessed on October 15, 2017

[14]Ibid.

[15]https://www.advocate.com/arts-entertainment/features/2011/08/11/rose-mcgowan-my-life-l-word  Last accessed on October 15, 2017

[16] http://www.indiewire.com/2009/09/over-100-in-film-community-sign-polanski-petition-55821/  Last accessed on October 15, 2017, the petition itself has been taken down.

 

[17]http://articles.latimes.com/2009/oct/01/entertainment/et-polanski1/2  Last accessed October 15, 2017

[18]https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/movies/2017/10/05/harvey-weinstein-scandal-read-his-full-apology/738093001/  Last accessed October 15, 2017

The Tragedy of Hugh Hefner’s Life

Hugh Hefner is dead, and the internet and press are full of those lauding him on the one hand, and of Christians and feminists speaking of the damage he has done in society, on the other. But there is a third story I have not seen, which is the tragedy of a soul who choose straw instead of gold, and who has gone on to meet his Maker unprepared.               Those who laud Hefner will talk of how he has rescued society from narrow-minded religious puritans (nevermind that the puritans often did not live up to their stereotype), but then, this itself misunderstands completely a Christian view of sex. It is, of course rather ironic that anyone makes a case that a group with a higher birthrate than the rest of the population is somehow against sex. There is no question that Christians both engage in sexual intercourse and it is rather difficult to assume they do not enjoy it. The problem is that the world has the entire question of sex backwards, that is, they think that because Christians believe sex should remain within the boundaries of heterosexual marriage that we believe sex is evil. Instead, we believe sex is precious, and that promiscuity demeans it. Make no mistake, sex is precious and beautiful because it was made by the God who declared His creation, including the creation of man and woman who had sexual organs designed to please one another, to be good. For a Christian, declaring sex to be good is to recognize it to be a gift from God. The “misogynist” Paul in 1 Corinthians 7 makes a statement that, to the first century Greek world was an extraordinary claim: he argued that women as well as men had the right to sexual pleasure from their marriage; this passage has inspired a number of practical manuals on sexual intercourse, such as Ed Wheat’s Intended For Pleasure, and Tim LeHay’s The Act of Marriage.

No, the sexual revolution and the changing sexual mores that Hefner bequeathed have not left the world a better place. His legacy is one of broken homes, addiction, sexual jealousies and a loss of intimacy in our sexual relationships. Hefner’s comments about his first wife show a man who was shattered by an affair. “I had literally saved myself for my wife, but after we had sex she told me that she’d had an affair. That was the most devastating moment in my life. My wife was more sexually experienced than I was. After that, I always felt in a sense that the other guy was in bed with us, too.”[1] Thus, Hefner’s own life was touched by the inadequacies that he has bequeathed to many women comparing themselves to his models. Rather than working through his pain, he turned to addiction instead, seeking to make sexual conquests into substitutes for sexual intimacy. In his old age, there is no companion who he has truly shared a life with, no one who has helped him bear the existential sorrows of life, no one who has shared the joys of life. His children did not grow up in his home, and subsequently he had to compete for their affections with his former spouses rather than sharing those affections with them. Often he lived with girlfriends whose affections for him were based solely on the lifestyle the playboy fortune bought for them, rather than a soulmate who loved him no matter what. Whatever else be said, Hugh Hefner had a large bank account, but an impoverished life.
[1] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-442600/Playboy-boss-Hugh-Hefner-finds-soulmate.html#ixzz4uYKQydZn  Accessed 10-4-2017