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The Prospect of 2013

December 29, 2012 1 comment

The Year 2013: Is the glass half-full or half-empty?

Following the Christmas holidays, its natural for people to get sentimental, reflect on the past year and look forward to the coming year.  The media always has their “wrap-up” citing the headlines that most impacted the nation and the world.  There are wishes for a “Happy New Year,” promises, conjectured in the form of “New Year’s resolutions” (lose weight, spend more time with family, etc.).So, as I sit here and ponder the events of 2012, I must admit, my outlook is….bittersweet.  By nature, I consider myself neither an optimist, nor a pessimist.  A realist.  I know, I know, most people like to overuse that label for themselves, but truly, when asked if I see a cup half full or half empty, I will always respond, “BOTH!”Perhaps, it’s not my outlook, so much as my bull-headed determination.

I’ll stick with the previous assertion, thanks.  (Its my blog. Well, for now.)

This year has obviously been interesting with the election.  For my part, I was absolutely unclear about who was going to win, though, I certainly thought I saw tremendous support for Mitt.  However, in light of the direction the world was turning, reading the tea leaves also gave strong indications that Obama would pull through, in spite of no record, nothing what-so-ever to recommend him, and a continuing treasonous scandal.  I advocated for Romney, as much as I could, grew tense, like the rest of the country, fervently prayed, and waited.  Like many of you, that night, though I wasn’t shocked, but I was shocked.  I had been on my face, begging for God’s mercy on this country.  However, I also prayed for His will to be done.  The Lord spoke, the fate of America was solidified.

I went, immediately, to a somber state of acceptance.

Like most of you, the prospect of 2013 is dismal, in light of the political arena.  I have lost all faith in politicians, even in those I thought were truly fighting for truth and justice.  Time and time again, we have seen them bow to the will of those who grow in worldly power.

NATIONALISM VS. PATRIOTISM

I have recognized, through this process, that there is a clear distinction in “nationalism vs. patriotism.”  Nationalism retains that sense of arrogance, even in the face of God that we are better, bigger, and stronger.  That nothing will stop or hold us down.  Contrarily, patriotism is vastly different.  The patriot humbly clings to the principles that make one’s country great.  He recognizes the blessings, even undeservedly, that have been bestowed upon his nation, contingent upon obedience to the Lord and the principles for foundation.  A patriot doesn’t put faith in any man, but looks to the Lord for his sense of national direction.  He bows his knee to the Great I AM, accepting His plans, knowing that the protection of the nation is directly hinged upon what is done with the blessings and how well we uphold Biblical precepts.

As I stated before, I am an eternal realist.  My worldly outlook for the nation ,as far as the state of this planet, is grave.  Evil has been unleashed.  All too common these days, we hear of rampages of brutal murder.  People immediately want an answer,

“WHY?” 

What could possibly be the reason for such senseless violence? Now we see a spectrum of blame, polarities that want to crackdown on this heinous barbarianism.  On one side, governmental leaders are grasping, white-knuckled, to the claim that the problem is GUNS.  “We MUST eliminate firearms!” Another argument from the other side is that “We MUST revisit mental illness!”

As you might expect, I do not subscribe to either.

The problem is that all sense of morality, more specific, humility before the Almighty, has been cast out.  Society, as a whole, has spit in God’s face and pushed out any shade of godliness.  People have been hypnotized by the Dark Angel, masquerading in light.  They don’t believe in evil, unless it suits their purposes.  They don’t believe in the antithesis of evil, that being salvation only through Christ’s blood.  Instead they exchange one lie for another, until all sense of rationality and reason is subjective and without basis.

So you see, we could talk about the continued, growing scandals that have growing tentacles over the White House.  We could talk about the wildfire of Radical Islamization.  We could talk about the fiscal cliff that looms, in mere hours.  We could talk about genocidal dictators racing toward mass-extermination.

But, the crux of the matter is not as complex as it seems.  People are hung up on the thousands of symptoms of a simple, albeit, eternal crisis.The world has cocooned itself in a cozy bed of Godlessness.  They have set up their own altars, whereby they sit on their own throne.  Rather than serving the God of the universe, humans, regardless of culture, ethnicity or nation (a true testament to color blindness), embrace and worship the god “within.”

This cannot last.

Just as God is grace, He is the perfect balance of Justice and Judge, as well.  He does not force His will on man, yet retains the control in decision-making.  He can allow us to make the ridiculous choices that will cause self-destruction, both individually, corporately, as a society, and internationally.

Though He allows us our own way, don’t think for a second that He isn’t angered by it.  We cannot be so pompously deluded to think that we were created by a limp-wristed pushover.

He is YAHWEH!

THE GLASS IS HALF-EMPTY, BUT IT IS ALSO HALF-FULL.

In God’s never-ending kindness, the removal of protection can serve as a wake-up call.  When we are stripped of comforts, whether in leadership, or in security, we have the opportunity to turn to the only lasting truth in YESHUA, Jesus Christ.

For the few of us, who are truly watching, wide-eyed at the plans unfolding around the world, faith is strengthened.  I’ve heard it said, “The national and international headlines are now catching up to the Bible.”  The cards are on the table.  We are coming to that fork in the road, whereby we can choose to move toward God, or turn our backs on God.  Sadly, the Bible tells me that many will fall away from the faith. (Matthew 7:14, 2Timothy 4) Further, Christ tells us, “15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” (Rev.3:15-17)

My hope is in the Lord.  I do not know the specifics of what 2013 will bring, but I trust that He is JEHOVAH.  I take great hope in His mighty power.  (Ephesians 6:10-18) My outlook for this world, in the direction it is hurtling toward, is bleak.  People have chosen the path of Baal.  The Lord is rousing from His Holy Hill and He will come with absolute Authority and Justice.

Though, I am desperate to see His glory and His might, at the same time, I tremble at the prospect of an angry, JUST God.  I fear living in a land that has chosen to shove the Lord’s hand of protection away for the false notion of self-preservation and governmental rule.

If this nation refuses to humble herself in fear of the Lord, it is doomed to destruction. 

Nationalism is idolatry.  It is an ideology that dominates both parties, both sides of the aisle. 

With all of this bleakness, comes great hope, when one seeks and clings to the ONLY hope we have!  We have access to TRUE LIBERTY!  We can be unfettered and freed from bondage in the hope that comes from faith in the Lord, through YESHUA.  When we recognize that He IS the source of life; we are liberated, REGARDLESS of worldly powers.

These days, I treasure God’s Word.  I recognize the NECESSITY OF IT.  It is easy to get enthralled and overly distracted with the events unfolding.  Though Christ commanded us to, “WATCH!” (Matt.24:4, 42 read all of chapter 24) I must keep my FOCUS upon HIM.  We must SATURATE ourselves in the WORD.  I am constantly amazed and deeply grateful for the Bible.  Without it, faith and hope would be very burdensome.  But again, God in His grace and mercy, gave us the Cliff Notes version.

In summary: I know how the story ends;

He wins.

——————————————————————

SCRIPTURE TO MEDITATE ON:

1 Samuel 12:24-25

24 But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. 25 Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will be swept away.”

Chrislam: A Blending of Religions, A Loss of Faith

Chrislam: A Blending of Religion, A Loss of Faith

You may remember Rick Warren.  He is the author of Purpose Driven….stuff.  He has a slew of Purpose Driven materials that hit churches and homes full force in the early part of the decade.  It seemed every church on every corner was offering small groups that focused on this premise.  I admit.  I was cautious.  Any time one man’s work gets a vast number of groupies, I’m usually skeptical.

As a person of faith, a follower of Christ, it is vital that I maintain the proper perspective of man and God.  Man is given to failure, pride, and manipulation.  God is perfect.  Throughout history, especially in the church, people’s hopes in men are dashed to pieces, based upon the fact that they thought their “hero” could do no wrong.  They forget that man is easily deceived.  They forget the humanity of humanity.  Thus, placing such high hopes on the ideals of a man is a dangerous business.  When people come face-to-face with the harsh reality that their “idol” isn’t Superman, but wrought with frailties, given to the temptations of this world, they often give up hope.  Hope in people. Hope in institutions.  Hope and faith, altogether. Gone.  At the same time, people who are so strongly led by men, who forsake thinking on their own accord, who don’t take time to look into “facts”, and research what they have been taught are often seriously misled.  There are many great thinkers, writers, and philanthropists, but ultimately, it is necessary to come back to a source of truth and check in.  Men are easily swayed, manipulated, and deceived.

I come, now, to Mr. Warren.

Pastor of a mega church in California, New York Times bestselling author, philanthropist, Rick Warren has obtained tremendous influence and power in the last 15 years.  His most recent endeavor has been the bridging between world faiths.  While many would see this as a laudable, even admirable, action, many are now deeply concerned.  The last few years, in particular, Mr. Warren has been called upon to serve on world faith councils.  He is consulted upon in unifying and bringing “peace” among the great religions.  Actually, his main focus has been Christianity and Islam.  Though men and women around the world have a heart to find like-mindedness in issues of morality and respect, Mr. Warren has sought to take relations among the faiths to a whole new level.  Last year, he brought the Qu’ran to be placed side by side the holy book for Christians, the Bible, in the auditorium during what were typically Christian services.  Most recently, he was a primary participant to “A Common Word Between Us and You”, the “Christian response” to a letter written by King Abdullah of Jordan and over 100 Muslim clerics.  In this document, those who proclaim Christianity have proclaimed that the God of Islam and the God of Christianity are one in the same. Here is an excerpt:

The Task Before Us
“Let this common ground” – the dual common ground of love of God and of neighbor – “be the basis of all future interfaith dialogue between us,” your courageous letter urges. Indeed, in the generosity with which the letter is written you embody what you call for. We most heartily agree. Abandoning all “hatred and strife,” we must engage in interfaith dialogue as those who seek each other’s good, for the one God unceasingly seeks our good. Indeed, together with you we believe that we need to move beyond “a polite ecumenical dialogue between selected religious leaders” and work diligently together to reshape relations between our communities and our nations so that they genuinely reflect our common love for God and for one another.  Given the deep fissures in the relations between Christians and Muslims today, the task before us is daunting. And the stakes are great. The future of the world depends on our ability as Christians and Muslims to live together in peace. If we fail to make every effort to make peace and come together in harmony you correctly remind us that “our eternal souls” are at stake as well.  We are persuaded that our next step should be for our leaders at every level to meet together and begin the earnest work of determining how God would have us fulfill the requirement that we love God and one another. It is with humility and hope that we receive your generous letter, and we commit ourselves to labor together in heart, soul, mind and strength for the objectives you so appropriately propose.

There is one (among many) problem with this:  Muslims do not believe in the Trinity. The Qu’ran forbids the belief.  Why is that a problem?  Because Christianity proclaims that Jesus Christ is God, the son.  (Hence, the name of the faith/religion?  Christianity?)  Muslims do not believe that Jesus Christ was the Savior.  They believe he was a prophet, a good guy. But, for Christians, the Bible, from cover to cover is about the Messiah.  The focus of the book is not about a good guy, but about the Savior for all of mankind.

(Kind of a big deal to us Christians.  The true followers of Jesus Christ, that is.)

The two faiths are incompatible. It is impossible to believe that Allah is the same is the Judeo-Christian God, when their book and our book define two different Gods.

One is a big ‘G’ God, the other is a little ‘g’ god.  And both sides claim to serve THE God. 

You may ask why this is really such a big deal.  Many of you have genuine concern and a heart for the Muslim community.  Let me be clear that I believe that there should be mutual respect and kindness toward all people, people of other faiths, people who have different lifestyles, and those who do not believe as I do.

HOWEVER, as a follower of Christ, our hope is to reach out in love, as only modeled in the mind and spirit of Jesus. Yet, Jesus never compromised who He was!  He never forsook his purpose and always maintained truth and honesty.  He was gracious, kindhearted, and stood upon truth. 

Without the full grace of the Holy Spirit, we WILL most certainly forsake a merciful attitude and come across in an unloving, un-Christlike manner. So our ONLY hope is full reliance on and constant prayer in the Lord.

It is easy to want to see good intent of these men and women, both the Muslim, and those who define themselves as Christians, in “reaching out” to each other.  But, I also see a power play with people who are very influential as primary proponents.  A person can be loving, kind, and respectful, and still maintain their integrity, belief system, and commitment to truth.  I DO believe that there are some who are genuinely ignorant of what they have signed onto.  It is possible that they did not fully read or understand, pick up on all of the seemingly small, albeit powerful statements with wild implications laced throughout.

The following video clip explains the inconsistencies of Islam and Christianity and the complications that Rick Warren, Robert Shuler, Bill Hybels, and others have created.  Essentially, they have renounced Christianity, as the Bible sets forth, for a new faith.

 

Essentially, as this video so effectively states, this document renounces any higher allegiance to Christ and places common ground – “A Common Word” (which as the creator of the video points out is a direct reference from the Qu’ran). If we don’t have Jesus, we have nothing. Jesus and his sacrifice are what make our faith transcendent and unique from all others.

Without this essential person, being Jesus Christ, the namesake of our “religion”, Christianity, one could argue that Allah were the same as the God we serve!

Alas, our Book, our entire reason for being is woven in the person hood of God the father, Christ, his son, and the Spirit that gives us power. This key element – the Trinity, is blasphemy to Muslims. This is what the Common Word has renounced.

Having said all of that, our task, as unwavering, uncompromising believers is enormous. The Bible foretells of the climax of this battle in the last days, when apostasy will be rampant and the muddling and mixing of faiths will occur.

It is absolutely essential, (I am talking to myself and praying to Christ, as I type) that I remain in Him – HIS word, HIS truth, begging and asking for the mind of Christ moment by moment, and throwing off anything that entangles, so that I can recognize the wolf in sheep’s clothing and then know how to properly respond. I can ONLY know that if I am in Him and He abides in me.

Further, I completely agree that there could be dialogue between the faiths. I started to say “should”, but changed it.  If there is not a mutual respect, as there is NOT many times from the Muslim community, particularly internationally, (relations within America are different, largely) then, communication is not possible.

A response from the Christian community would be appropriate and even a gesture of good will.  But I believe that we would have to respectfully, yet clearly disagree. We can agree on issues of morality, ethical and cultural values, but this in no way demands commonality in pledging the same God and matters of faith.

This letter is not kindness and peace, but weakness, a lack of principle, a lack of biblical knowledge, and a wavering spirit.

Finally, we must pray for Rick Warren and the men who have unified themselves with these precepts, along with the Muslim community. It is undeniable that many of these men and women have tremendous influence and that is a VERY scary prospect. Those who are not careful, guarded in Christ, and saturated in Scripture will be easily swayed. Again, while I believe that there may have been some well-meaning, albeit, ignorant people who signed this document, there are absolutely people who have an agenda.

A Dose of Self-Awareness – Just What the Doctor Ordered

Gauging where I should be.

Gauging where I should be.

I have a fever.  I think.  The thermometer isn’t the most reliable, stupid little thing.  I just bought it too.  Well, I feel like crap.  I guess if I pass out and wake up in the hospital I’ll get extra attention if necessary.  Thankfully, at least I’m not delusional, yet.  (Hey, watch it…)

In talking with a dear friend, I began to reflect (alright ramble) upon some heartache I’ve had in the last couple years.  Funny, when we stop and actually listen to what we say we could learn a few things.  Sometimes, we learn how stupid we sound. (That’s where I’m going.) This time I’m reflecting upon the stupid things I’ve said and done.

About four years ago, I realized something. I really should have been on the debate team in high school.  I would have won, hands down, every time.  If my “high school” me was my “up to a year ago” me, that is.  I’m good with words, quick-witted, bold, and unashamed. I’m confident in this.  If someone comes at me with an arrogant attitude and is uncivil, I will do everything in my power to demean, condescend, and put him or her in their place.  I have no tolerance for incivility or disrespect.  There was nothing more gratifying that knowing that I won the debate.  If only the respect of the audience watching.

I am ashamed to admit that this crept into my passion in issues of faith.  Though my original intention was always to speak for truth and for what was right, my intellect, witticism, and conscientiousness became the prized idol. Admiration from others and respect was the game.  I won, but really I lost.  I sought out debates, I was harsh, critical, brash.  Even in scenarios where I began just wanting to communicate my feelings to friends and loved ones, I would get overly sensitive.  I wanted to win.  My intent started pure, always, but I was taking God off of the throne and putting myself there instead.  I was Master of my own, with pawns at my disposal.  This was my sin.  My attitude caused a rift in relationships.  I was spikey, uncouth, ungracious, and provoking. Known as passionate, but a hot head in political issues and sensitive in forms of communication.

About as comforting as cuddling a porcupine.

What is so sad to me, is that I now realize, that though my passion began with fiery fervor for truth, sadly became about me and not about Christ. I was prideful.  He humbled me.

God cannot receive glory when I get in the way.  I was in the way.  In a BIG way.  Thankfully, albeit, painfully, He took me out of the way.  I want Him to receive the glory.  It is HIS truth that matters, NOT mine.  It matters NOT what I think, only what He thinks.  I must remember:

Philippians 2:3-7

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition of vain conceit, but consider others better than yourselves.  You should not look not only to your own interests, but to the interests of others.  Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus, who being in very nature, God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but rather made himself nothing, taking on the very nature of a servant”

Antisocial Personality Disorder – Psychos welcome.

Casey Anthony: Textbook Sociopath.

Evaluation of Anti-Social Personality Disorder 

Abstract

 Antisocial personality disorder is one of the most intriguing, yet controversial forms of mental illness.  It is also one of most widely used themes in media and literature.  With the ability to now view criminal trials live, fictional television depictions, and weekly news documentaries, western culture has obsessed over sociopaths and psychopaths.  The purpose of this paper is to examine antisocial personality disorder.  While there are many complex facets to this mental illness, an overview of symptoms will be discussed.  As well as the general overview, an in depth look will be taken into the following topics:  biological components, treatments, aspects of criminality, and spiritual implications. 

 Keywords: psychopathy, sociopathy

EVALUATION OF ANTI-SOCIAL PERSONALITY DISORDER

Introduction

            Antisocial personality disorder, also understood as psychopathy or sociopathy,  is a classifiable mental illness that has strong ties to criminal behavior, obsessive media attention, and questions of demonic influence.  While antisocial personality disorder, or ASPD, is widely understood to be firmly rooted in environmental influences, there are biological and genetic considerations.  High profile cases of violent criminals such as Ted Bundy and Casey Anthony have all dazzled the media and played upon the worst nightmares of society. 

Historical Terminology

            Over hundreds of years, there have been many terms for mental illness.  In the advent of behavior science and psychotherapy, antisocial personality disorder has been narrowed and specified from previous terms.  Psychopathy and sociopathy are still terms associated with ASPD.  In years prior, other labels for the psychopathic condition were used.  (Ogloff, 2006) Some of these are manie sans délire, moral insanity, moral imbecility, degenerate constitution, congenital delinquency, constitutional inferiority, psychopathic taint, psychopathic personality, psychopathy, and, of course, Antisocial PD and Dissocial PD. (2006)

Psychopathy   

The term “psychopathy”or “psychopath”, which will also be interchangeable in this article, has been described as,

a constellation of affective, interpersonal, and behavioral characteristics including egocentricity, impulsivity, irresponsibility, shallow emotions, lack of empathy, guilt, or remorse, pathological lying, manipulativeness, and the persistent violation of social norms and expectations’’ (Gunter, Vaughn, and Philibert, 2010, p. 151)

 “Psychopathy” was actually the first personality disorder recognized in psychiatry.  (Ogloff, 2006) Thus, this concept has had historic clinical tradition in its understanding.  To use this termed disorder meant that the individual displayed an extreme form of abnormal personality.  Psychopathy is a concept with overt negativity.  (2006)  Even used by the media, “psychopath” implies an impression of danger and unmistakable evil. (Lykken, 1996) This is the longest standing term and a subject of considerable research and scholarly writing.  (2006)  In comparison to ASPD, however, psychopathy is more defined and based more upon traditional personality characteristics.  (2006) The first to use this term was the German systematist, Robert Koch.  (Lykken, 1996) Koch coined the phrase in 1891 for what we now refer to as personality disorders.  Later Emil Kraepelin, used the term “psychopathic personality” to describe amoral or immoral criminals. (1996)

Sociopathy

            The term “sociopathy,” was the next in line of specified, maladaptive personality terms.  In 1930, an American psychiatrist by the name of Partridge pointed out that these people had a common disposition to violate social norms of behavior and introduced the term “sociopath.” (Lykken, 1996)  Lykken made the distinction between psychopathy and sociopathy using the term, “sociopathy” interchangeably to antisocial personalities whose “behavior is a consequence of social or familial dysfunction.” (p. 29) Lykken (1996) further went on to state that he used the term, “psychopath” to refer to “people whose antisocial behavior appears to result from a defect or aberration within themselves rather than in their rearing. (p. 29) However, most current psychiatrists believe that both genetic and environmental factors contribute to the development of psychopathy. (Furnham & Swami, 2009)

Antisocial Personality Disorder

            The criteria for ASPD, according to the DSM-IV-TR (2000) is as follows:

A.       A pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others since the age of 15 years, as indicated by three or more of the following:

1.         Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors, as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest;

2.         Deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure;

3.         Impulsivity or failure to plan ahead;

4.         Irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults;

5.         Reckless disregard for safety of self or others;

6.         Consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations; and

7.         Lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent

to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another.

  1. The individual is at least age 18 years.
  2. There is evidence of Conduct Disorder with the onset before the age 15 years.
  3. The occurrence of antisocial behavior is not exclusively during the course of Schizophrenia or a Manic Episode. (DSM-IV-TR, 2000, pp. 649-650)

Ogloff (2006) points out that the need for evidence of Conduct Disorder before age 15 reflects research that demonstrates that personality disorders are of long duration and have an onset that can be traced back at least to adolescence. 

Overview

            According to the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) manual, a diagnosis of ASPD requires at least three of the following: 

  • A failure to conform to social norms
  • Consistent deceitfulness
  • Impulsiveness and failure to plan ahead
  • Irritability and aggressiveness
  • Consistent disregard for work and family obligations
  • Consistent disregard for the safety of oneself and others
  • A lack of regret or remorse (Harvard Mental Health Letter, 2000, p. 1)

The Model Sociopath

The Harvard Mental Health Letter (2000) further highlights the typical traits of one with ASPD.  The disorder is at least three times more common in males than females and, by and large, more serious in men than women. (2000) He is neither autistic nor displays any psychotic behavior, but his is indifferent to the concerns and feelings of others.  However, he is cognitively aware that others have wishes and concerns, but this information does not affect him, thus his behavior is not thwarted as a result.  (2000)  His narcissistic attitude leads him to do anything and everything that he wishes, often requiring elaborate manipulation by deception or intimidation.  Because he feels that he is a narcissist, he seeks to exploit the weakness in others and believes any harm that may come to them is deserved and easily justifiable.  Further, he may feel only contempt or indifference toward his victims. (2000) Generally, he is highly irresponsible and unreliable in any commitment that does not reflect his personal desires. He seems incapable of loyalty, shame, or guilt.  Though he can be quick to anger and rage, a sustained feeling of hatred is rare.  (2000) In speaking of love, he may mean sexual attraction, a desire for flattery, or physical and material support. When he expresses sadness, it is likely due to a failed scheme, getting caught, or a missed opportunity.  Due to this shallowness, even his sense of suffering and remorse is nearly non-existent.  However, he may display paranoia and sadism.  The Harvard Mental Health Letter (2000) states that the “model sociopath is likely to be hotheaded, as well as, coldhearted.”  (p. 2)

Some authorities maintain that there are two types of sociopaths.  In the first group, traits such as: glibness, selfishness, callousness, and deceit are prevalent.  (The Harvard Mental Health Letter, 2000) The second group includes: thrill seeking, irresponsibility, self-defeating impulsiveness, and lawbreaking.  Those in the first group are capable of long-range planning, contrarily to the impulsive nature of the second group.  They are more intelligent, less reckless, and are able to achieve a degree of social success, all the while, creating havoc in public and personal lives.  (2000)

As previously stated, one requirement by the DSM-IV-TR (2000) is evidence of Conduct Disorder in childhood and/or adolescence.  Some behaviors associated with CD are:  lying, truancy, bullying, fighting, cruelty to animals, arson, burglary, vandalism, malicious mischief, running away from home, consistent precocious aggression, deceit, impulsiveness, and rule violations.  (The Harvard Mental Health Letter, 2000) There is a possible comorbidity with learning disabilities, particularly Attention Deficit Disorder.  (2000)

            Another common trait of those with ASPD is addiction or addictive behaviors.  Chemical addiction, substance abuse, and sexual addictions are all common in sociopaths.  (The Harvard Mental Health Letter, 2000) It is important to note, however, that a person who typifies antisocial traits will change completely upon recovery from an addiction.  (2000) It is possible that the antisocial tendencies may be the cause or the consequence of addiction.  It is also possible that addictive behaviors and sociopathy may be the result of a common predisposition.  (2000)

Biological Components

            Clearly, the traits of those diagnosed with ASPD reflect an abnormality in behavior.  However, little is known about variances in genetic inheritability.  What is known and documented is the presence of antisocial tendencies in individuals who have damage to the frontal lobe area of the brain.  (The Harvard Mental Health Letter, 2001) One infamous example is that of a man named Phineas Gage, a 19th century railroad worker, who was seriously injured in an accident.  An iron spike penetrated Gage’s frontal lobe, which amazingly did not reflect obvious permanent damage.  Although he recovered, others reported that his personality changed severely.  The once reliable, sober worker became an alcoholic, profane, unreliable drifter.  (2001)

The same social reasoning deficiencies that sociopaths demonstrate are often similarly indicative in patients with frontal lobe damage.  (2000) However, Gunter, Vaughn, and Philibert (2010) report that, “examinations of brain tissue are the facts that exact regions of the brain involved in antisocial spectrum disorders and psychopathy have not been identified and neurons only constitute 10% of the cells in the brain.” (p.153) Interestingly, however,  there have been several neuropsychological tests that seem to indicate biological abnormalities in those with ASPD.  (The Harvard Mental Health Letter, 2001)  One such finding is a “feeble stress” response in the autonomic nervous system, which is indicated by low heart rate and sweating of the palms, measured by electrodes attached to the hand.  (2001) In measurements of the skin conductance, when told that they are about to receive an electric shock or observe someone else who is to receive an electric shock, sociopaths do not show the typical surge of anxiety. (2001) In another psychological study, results of the experiment demonstrated that sociopaths have difficulty recognizing facial expressions of anger, fright, and disgust. (2001)

It is important to note that, thus far, there has been no “antisocial gene” pinpointed.  According to The Harvard Mental Health Letter (2001), this also means that  biological abnormalities in the brain region alone will determine if someone will be irresponsible, deceitful, or violent. There is the possible of vulnerability, which combined with an unhealthy family and/or social environment can lead to ASPD.  It is also possible that there is a biological component of an extreme temperament or subtle variation in the prefrontal cortex.  (2001)

Treatment

            Attempting to cure or, at the very least, treat ASPD can be an extremely difficult and overwhelming task.  Due to the prevalent deceit, manipulation, and abuse, the job of a physician or psychotherapist is highly complex.  (The Harvard Mental Health Letter, 2001)  A lack of responsibility for actions, blaming everyone else for failures, and possible anger are common threads.  The therapist must maintain a proper emotional distance, without being drawn into attacks.  (2001)  Overcoming feelings of repulsion and setting aside feelings of disapproval can be very difficult, but necessary.  On the other hand, the therapist must remember the strong abilities of the sociopath.  “Actions are louder than words” would be a highly appropriate saying.  The Harvard Mental Health Letter (2001) has this to say about working with sociopathy, “It is almost impossible to avoid being deceived at times, and the effort to uncover every lie is rarely worthwhile.  But even habitual liars sometimes tell the truth…” (p. 2)

Yet, it is often argued that there is no cure for adult sociopathy. ((Lykken, 1996) The most useful option according to Lykken (1996) is prevention.  Training high-risk parents to properly socialize children, revamping the adoption system, and providing healthy, successful rearing environments are all necessary preventative tactics.  Unfortunately, these tasks are overwhelming, highly expensive, and time consuming.  (1996) However, it is important to note that it is estimated that sociopathy will cost about $3 million in an average lifetime in society.   Lykken (1996) states,

That means that each million potential sociopaths now out there on the production line of our American crime factory will end up costing us $3 trillion by the middle of the next century. (p. 38)

Controversially, Lykken (1996) goes on to propose state licensure requirements for those wishing to procreate or adopt, positing

Such a licensure requirement would offend those who believe that people have an inalienable right to produce as many babies as they wish, no matter how incompetent, immature, abusive, or depraved they may be. Because I am more concerned about the rights of those helpless babies than I am about the alleged procreative rights of their feckless parents—and about the lives of crime, violence, and social dependency that most of these babies are doomed to lead when they grow up…” (p. 38)

Diagnosis

            There are several tools used to assist in diagnosing ASPD.  Some of which are:

Personality Diagnostic Questionnaire—4 (PDQ-4), Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory—III (MCMI-III), Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI), Self-Report Psychopathy Scale II (SRP-II), Levenson Self-Report Psychopathy Scale (LSRP), Psychopathic Personality Inventory (PPI), Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R) (2005), and The Hare Psychopathy Checklist. (Ullrich & Coid, 2010) However, there are strong concerns from some in the psychiatric community of over and misdiagnosis. (Ogloff, 2006)  Ogloff has this to say,

As currently construed, the diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder grossly over-identifies people, particularly those with offence histories, as meeting the criteria for the diagnosis. (Ogloff, 2006, p. 519) Far more people (particularly prisoners) meet the criteria for a diagnosis of Antisocial PD, than is warranted. (Ogloff, 2006, p. 521)

According to Ullrich & Coid (2010), ASPD disorder affects approximately l%-4% of the adult general population in westernized countries.  According to the authors, ASPD is more strongly associated with violence towards other persons at the population level than other psychiatric disorders. It is important to note, however, not all persons with ASPD are violent, “with approximately half in a community sample reporting no violent behavior towards other persons over a five year period.” (Ullrich & Coid, 2010, p. 172)

Ogloff posits that while it is true that people may possess psychopathy characteristics, very few people possess enough of the traits to be considered ‘psychopathic’, citing that approximately 15% of North American male prisoners, 7.5% of North American female prisoners, 10% of male forensic psychiatric patients, fewer than 3% of psychiatric patients and an estimated 1% or less of the general community display antisocial traits. (Ogloff, 2006, p. 522) The Harvard Mental Health Letter (2001), concurs with this estimate stating that many antisocial personalities are found in prison, estimating 15% – 20% of prisoners meet diagnosis requirements.

Therapy

            As previously discussed, psychotherapy with a sociopath can be very intense.  Behavior therapists have used token economies as a reward system, rewarding good behavior and punishing bad behavior.  (The Mental Health Letter, 2001)  Cognitive therapists try to change maladaptive thinking habits, hoping that feelings and actions with follow.  (2001) Overall, the goal of the therapist is to teach ASPD patients new ways to express needs, solve problems, anticipate consequences of actions, develop self-control, and resist false assumptions and expectations of hostility from others.  (2001) Often, sociopaths are encouraged to journal about situations that provoke anger and then compare these events to the immediate rewards with the long-term negative affects of impulsive acts.  (2001)

            One important note about therapeutic intervention in sociopaths is that the prospect of success is much greater with people who can be persuaded to change.  (The Harvard Mental Health Letter, 2001) “The model sociopath would never volunteer for psychiatric treatment.” (p. 2) Typically, he is coerced or required to attend therapy.  (2001) He may attempt to dominate a therapy group with fascination or intimidation.  The Harvard Mental Health Letter (2001) describes the possible scenario,

He can turn psychotherapy into a power struggle in which he alternates charm and flattery with intimidation – trying to enlist the therapist as an ally against his family, the law, the prison system, or society, and going on the attack if he is thwarted.  If he is intelligent enough, he can wield a psychiatric vocabulary to deceive therapists and parole boards. (p. 3)

Psychotropic medication

            Caution, when prescribing a sociopath medication, should always be used, due to possible comorbidity with substance abuse.  However, drugs that reduce irritability, aggressiveness, and impulsiveness may be useful.  (The Harvard Mental Health Letter, 2001) Serotonin enhancing anti-depressant drugs such as Prozac, Zoloft, and Lexapro, anti-psychotic drugs, anti-consultants, and Lithium are all common pharmacological drugs used to treat sociopathy.  (2001) However, it is important to note that a sociopath cannot be relied upon to consistently and voluntarily take medication that does not provide immediate, pleasurable results.  (2001)  Furthermore, as stated before, it is necessary to use strong discretion when prescribing medication due to abuse and combining medications with other substances.  (2001)

Effectiveness

            Although, treatment is a process fraught with a negative outlook, little is really known about the true prospective outlook for the sociopath.  It is encouraging to note that there is evidence to suggest that sociopathy begins to “fizzle out” around age forty. (The Harvard Mental Health Letter, 2001) Impulsive aggression and criminality seem to dissipate by this time. 

Criminality

            One of the most fascinating, albeit tragic aspects of ASPD is the link to criminal activity.  Due to the aggressive nature and impulsivity, combined with narcissism and a disregard for others, crime is extremely common among sociopaths, as discussed prior, however, not all sociopaths are violent criminals. With the advent of instant media, in court cameras, and a vast societal interest, obsession with violent, extreme sociopathy has captivated the Western world. Hollywoodnever ceases to produce fictional tales of horror or documentaries based upon real life events.  Television shows, such as CSI, Law & Order, and Criminal Minds all play upon the fascination with sociopaths.  

High Profile Cases

 Ted Bundy.  There is, perhaps, no sociopath as famous as Ted Bundy.  He eventually confessed to thirty murders, though many speculate that the victims were many more.  (wikipedia, 2011) Until the final given interview with James Dobson, the day before he was executed, he placed blame with many others, including

“his abusive grandfather, the absence of his biological father, and the concealment of his true parentage, alcohol, the media, the police (whom he accused of planting evidence), “society” in general, violence on television, and ultimately, pornography.  On at least one occasion he even tried to blame his victims: “I have known people who…radiate vulnerability. Their facial expressions say ‘I am afraid of you.’ These people invite abuse…By expecting to be hurt, do they subtly encourage it?” (wikipedia, 2011)

His crimes were all against women, all brutally violent, and equally appalling.  In the televised interview he gave he described the feelings he had when committing his crimes.  He used phrases such as, “some kind of horrible trance” and “possession by something alien.”  He stated that after a “brutal urge to act, then after he becomes himself again….basically a normal person.”  What is unbelievable is Bundy’s affect and countenance the day before he was set to die.  He seemed genuinely remorseful.  He seemed to fully accept responsibility for his actions and was very hesitant to relive the gruesome details of his victims.  These traits were not always described in observing Bundy, as alluded to previously.  So what could account for the change?  Either two things:  1.) Bundy was a very skilled, extremely charming, and highly intelligent individual who was manipulating any viewer.  This is quite possible.  These are the hallmark traits of the “model sociopath.”  Or 2.) There was a profound, life-altering change in his life that could only be supernatural. 

            In his final interview, Bundy specifically as for James Dobson of Focus on the Family.  He began to tell the story of what would end in horrific violence, stating, “People in towns around the country, just like me with dangerous impulses.”  He explained his profound addiction to pornography.  He went on to say that 100% of men in prison have a rooted addiction to pornography.  He claimed to be “half-drunk” at the time when he committed most of his crimes.  He discussed the desensitization affect in the addiction that lead to hard-core violence in feeding his impulses.  In that seeming humility and remorse, he expressed that he deserved “the most extreme punishment allowed by society.”  Finally, he told Dr. Dobson that he had accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior, but was also scared about “being in the valley of the shadow of death.”  Most people believe that he was simply manipulating his audience in an attempt at sympathy. 

Truly, only God knows.

            Outside of the interview that took place within, what were his final hours, the scene was described like this,

On the morning Bundy went to the electric chair, hundreds (from photographs of the event, the crowd seemed to be composed largely of men) gathered across the street from the prison. Many wore specially designed costumes, waved banners proclaiming a “Bundy BBQ,” or “I like my Ted well done,” and chanted songs such as “He bludgeoned the poor girls, all over the head. Now we’re all ecstatic, Ted Bundy is dead.” The most common journalistic metaphors for the overall scene were that of a carnival, circus, or tailgate party before a big game. (Journal of American Culture, 1990, p. 4)

What doesn’t make sense is the bloodlust for Ted Bundy, but millions flock to theatres paying millions of dollars to see “horror” films, such as Nightmare on Elm Street, Silence of the Lambs, Saw, and Friday the 13th.

Casey Anthony.  Not since the O.J. Simpson trial, has there been such fanatic attention to a criminal trial as the Casey Anthony case.  From the flamboyance of the defense attorneys to the family drama that is noted in court, daily, worldwide attention began at the first glimpse of that angel-faced, Caylee Anthony.  Her mother, Casey Anthony is on trial for murder.  Habitual lying is the pervading undercurrent for the entire trial.  Accusations of sexual abuse, conflicting stories of accidental death, and shocking behavior have all crossed the lips of the defendant. 

In watching these amazing hearings, the utter narcissism and complete disregard for the feelings of others is immediately apparent of Ms. Anthony.  For thirty-one days, her child’s whereabouts remained unknown before Caylee’s grandmother, and, arguably, co-caretaker, demanded to know where the child was.  It was at this point that Casey admitted that she had been “missing.”  Cynthia Anthony called authorities immediately, when her mother, possibly never would. 

During the month that the defendant claims that her daughter was taken from her, shocking pictures were released, depicting her hard-core, party lifestyle.  Clubbing nearly every night, shopping nearly every day, grief and concern are completely absent from a mother, who claimed to be wild with worry for two-year-old daughter.  After being arrested and convicted on check fraud and theft, and then finally charged with the murder of her child, Anthony changed her story, being caught in a slew of lies, to the accidental drowning of little Caylee.  Her father was now the target of the defense council, asserting that he sexually abused his daughter, giving justification for the habitual lying. 

Ms. Anthony’s affect and demeanor in court are, often, wildly unpredictable.  From proclaimed anxiety and nausea, to intense, brief rage, Casey’s emotions seem to fluctuate, depending upon the presence of the jury and the position of cameras.  She is seen often, unbelievably laughing at moments and at other times, completely stoic and stone-faced.  She often seems completely in control of her council team, passing out files and papers, setting up computers and answering questions from the judge in calm disposition.  However, towards the end of the defense’s presentation, they submit a motion, declaring Casey Anthony of “incompetence.”  The judge denied the request, following a battery of tests by court-appointed psychologists. 

Dr. Keith Ablow (2011) recently penned the article, Why We Can’t Stop Watching the Casey Anthony Trial.  He asserts three reasons that the public is enthralled with this trail:  First Casey represents a “brainteaser.”  He describes her as a “psychological Rubik’s Cube,” She has no criminal history, prior to 2008.  She comes from a middle-class family.  Her parents are still married and despite recent allegations of abuse, there is no documentation or witness to attest to this. (2011)

Secondly, Ms. Anthony’s conduct, whether a killer or a simply a mother who did not report her child missing, is a “conduit for buried, forgotten terrors still inside all of us.” (Ablow, 2011) Dr. Ablow (2011) explains that during childhood, our physical and emotional vulnerabilities are entirely dependent upon that of our guardians.  At that time, the thought that a mother or father dislike us, wished that we didn’t exist, and may be able to act upon those feelings, are fears that we suppress.  These childhood nightmares are, simply, unthinkable, and, in adulthood, still locked deep inside us. (2011) He states,

Casey Anthony, the pretty, smiling, mother who may well have murdered her daughter is, in fact, every adult’s worst, long-denied childhood nightmare. The chance to see such a woman in captivity, and to ponder what she is accused of, is like going to the zoo to see the rarest, deadliest monster you can imagine, the one resurrected from the deepest recesses of your mind in its most fragile moments. And, what’s more, even if she is that monster, she may or may not be freed. (2011)

Finally, the third reason that the public is so enthralled with this murder trial is that many people who have experienced the joy of starting a family, still have moments of wistfully recalling what it was like to be unencumbered with a child. (Ablow, 2011)  Parenthood is not easy.  There are times when it is downright hard.  With the many moments of blessing, also bring moments of challenge, emotion and frustration.

Spiritual Elements

Demon Possession

Mark 5:1-13

They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!”  Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. (New International Version, 1984)

The passage of Scripture cited is one demonstrating demonic possession.  There are a few key elements relating to mental illness.  The first, is the fact that this man was isolated, due to the fact that he could no longer be physically restrained.  This could be likened to extreme aggressive behavior and possible mania.  His strength and ferocity required segregation from society.  The second key, is that he would “cry out” and “cut himself with stones.” Today this would be described as inappropriate outburst of emotion, indicative of possible psychosis, Bipolarity, Delusional Disorder, Schizophrenia, or a personality disorder.  Finally, the final relation to current mental illness is the response by the man to Jesus’ question about his name.  The response, “Legion, for we are many,” is clearly attributable to Dissociative Identity Disorder, formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder.              Based upon this passage, and assuming a biblical worldview, this is solid evidence that mental illness is, at least in some cases, directly caused by demonic possession.  Symptoms that are commonly classified in modern times as mental disturbance have clear, direct correlations to cases that occurring thousands of years ago. 

            Neil T. Anderson (2000) is a proponent for the theory that most, if not all mental illness is derivative of possession.  What many term mental illness, psychosis, and poor habits, the author redefines as living in bondage to demonic influence. The author points out that these are merely symptoms, but one should appropriately ask:  Who or what is causing the symptoms? (2000) 

            There are six common misconceptions: 

  1. Demons were active when Christ was on earth, but their activity has subsided.
  2. What the early church called demonic activity we now understand to be mental illness.
  3. Some problems are psychological and some are spiritual.
  4. Christians cannot be affected by demons.
  5. Demonic influence is only evident in extreme or violent behavior and gross sin.
  6. Freedom from spiritual bondage is the result of a power encounter with demonic forces.  (Anderson, 2000, pp.19-26)

However, In Tennant’s (2001) article, Altar of Possession, the author highlights the relation of dissociative patients to satanic ritual abuse or SRA.  “And once most started talking about SRA, there was a bias on part of the therapists to look for this phenomenon,” Kelley says. “If genuine SRA wasn’t there, the doctors would help them find it.”  (p. 51) This is one concern of most secular psychotherapists.  Hypnosis is a similarly controversial technique in which there is great speculation of “memory planting” and within the Biblical Counseling field, an invitation of demonic activity.  

Discussion

Antisocial Personality Disorder, psychopathy, sociopathy are labels that strike fear into the hearts of, both, lay persons and professionals.  It is important to note that not all those who display ASPD behaviors are violent.  Further, this diagnosis presents several concerns of misdiagnosis.  Are some people, simply demon possessed?  Is an exorcism necessary?  Or, less dramatic, are antisocial tendencies merely the result of sinful behavior, thinking, and action?  It is very possible that there are degrees and cases of each scenario.  Only by viewing this “illness” from the scope of a biblical worldview, is it possible to truly discern the true foundations for ASPD.
References

Ablow, K. (2011, June 25) Why we can’t stop watching the Casey Anthony trial.

Retrieved June 25, 2011 fromhttp://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2011/06/25/why-cant-stop-watching-casey-anthony-trial/

American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental

disorders (Revised 4th ed.).Washington,DC: Author.

Anderson, N. T. (2000).  The bondage breaker.Eugene,OR:  Harvest House.

Antisocial Personality Disorder- Part One. (2000, December). Harvard Mental Health

Letter, 17(6), 1-4.

Antisocial Personality Disorder- Part Two. (2001, January). Harvard Mental Health Letter,

17(7), 1-4.

Furnham, A., Daoud, Y., & Swami, V. (2009). “How to spot a psychopath”. lay theories

of psychopathy. social psychiatry and psychiatric epidemiology, 44(6), 464-472.

Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Gunter, T. D., Vaughn, M. G., & Philibert, R. A. (2010). Behavioral genetics in antisocial

spectrum disorders and psychopathy: A review of the recent literature. Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 28(2), 148-173. doi:10.1002/bsl.923

Lykken, D. T. (1996). Psychopathy, sociopathy, and crime. Society, 34(1), 29-38.

Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Ogloff, J. P. (2006). Psychopathy/antisocial personality disorder conundrum. Australian

& New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 40(6/7), 519-528. doi:10.1111/j.1440

1614.2006.01834.x

Ted Bundy (n.d.) Retrieved June 30, 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_bundy

Ted Bundy Interview [Video file]. Retrieved from

http://www.youtube.com/user/TheJeremyKyIeShow#g/c/FDF64AD8FE64B10E

 Tennant, A. (2001). Alter possession: some “demons” are better left unexorcised.

Christianity Today, 45(11), 51. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

The Holy Bible. (1984). New International Version.Grand Rapids,MI:  Zondervan

Publishing House.

The New Founding Fathers: The lore and lure of the serial killer in contemporary

culture. (1990). Journal of American Culture (01911813), 13(3), 1-12. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Ullrich, S., & Coid, J. (2010). Antisocial personality disorder — stable and unstable

subtypes. Journal of Personality Disorders, 24(2), 171-187. doi:10.1521/pedi.2010.24.2.171

Osama bin Laden – How should the Believer respond?

Osama bin Laden

Osama bin Laden.  Say that name anywhere in the world and some type of response will be elicited.  The fact that the man is now dead, brings a myriad of emotion and strong rhetoric out of many people internationally.  Nearly everyone will have an opinion and a strong one at that.  Most say he got what he deserved.  So many people are moving to the streets in celebration.  Strong emotion, strong language, strong partying…?? 

My initial raw, gut reaction was to move into the streets, laugh and rant and rave.  (Not literally.  In midwest suburbia at midnight that would be strongly frowned upon for other reasons.)  But, then a Voice got a hold of my heart and reminded me that this was folly. 

The fact is the guy was utterly lost and seriously depraved. He served the devil whilst he was certain he was serving “God,” nonetheless we are commanded (!) to pray for our enemies and those who persecute us. I, by no means, believe that we let criminals get off “scot free,” but I think there should be a sense of candor and grace in OUR actions, NOT because he was deserving, but because we belong to One who saved us from our sin. God said, “The vengeance is mine.” We act with justice, but we, as Believers, are to be set apart, reverent, and act as though Christ would. Did Christ ever get angry? Absolutely! But, did he revel in someone’s demise? Never… He used sober judgement, warning us of the perils of sin and the eternal judgement that awaits those who refuse to give their lives to Him.

It’s a shame that people have stooped to the same level that much of the Arab world did on 9-11. Just because they danced in the streets, is not a license for us to. I, myself, had to really examine what my response should be and felt that the Lord would not be pleased by the celebration and sheer folly of the termination of any life, even one so graphically vile, as bin Laden’s. 

Further, I think that the celebratory and congratulatory attitudes that are wildly flaunted right now in the media, in politics, and on main street are only fanning the flames of hatred, violence, and plots to destroy American soldiers and civilians.  After pondering the news, I reflected upon the images that were flashing upon televisions and computer screens worldwide, knowing that this was going to further support the uprising that has been continuing to seep across the Middle East.  Radicals will use these images for propaganda to encourage stronger, more complex, violent schemes toward our country.   I am constantly amazed that most in the media are not recognizing this and certainly not urging caution and restraint in the public’s actions. 

Those who were directly affected by the devastation of September 11th will feel this more than the rest of us.  The troops who have been lost, the families who have lost their loved one’s who bravely served in an attempt to eradicate our world from this evil, have a claim at the sense of justice.  The fact is the though that evil never sleeps.  Evil is not thwarted by our desperation for vengeance and glory.  However, this does not mean we simply let evil have a physical presence in this world.  But, we must recognize that there are works that our eyes often do not see and the only way to fight this battle is with the army of the Lord.  Evil doesn’t die in our strength, but only by the power of Christ’s blood.   In fact, if we give in to the same bloodlust, we are tools in the hands of the enemy…

Evil will take reign in us if we aren’t aware, aren’t cautious, and aren’t pro-active.  The best weapons we, as Believers hold, is to recognize the war that we wage is not against flesh and blood, but powers of darkness.

Ephesians 6:12 (New International Version)

12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm.

As Believers we are commanded to love our enemies.  That does NOT mean to tolerate what they do and allow reckless behavior!  But, it means that our response should not be out of bitter anger, but of righteous thinking, even righteous anger!  Righteous anger comes from the Holy Spirit within us.  The things that anger God and violate his Word, should anger us, but only in the sense that it is HIS authority that is violated, not our own

I don’t have this attitude perfected.  I am merely a lump of clay that He continues to mould and break.  But, these are the reflections that I have had in these last 48 hours. 

Gravity and Absolute Truth

Flying Machine

Millions of Americans were glued to the television last year when a “father” slash inventor slash sycophantic hoaxter created a large balloon and tipped off the media that his son was caught within.  For over an hour, cameras, law enforcement, and fire crews chased the balloon only to, thankfully, find that the child was safe at home.  After a bit of questioning, the father admitted that he knew that the child was at home the entire time.  Authorities were not amused. 

For centuries man has had many quests, but none so fervent and comical, perhaps, as the pursuit to defy gravity and fly.  I love watching old films that portray the many contraptions that inventors concocted, trying to get off the ground and soar.  Even today, with the developed machine known as the airplane, people are still trying to fly better, higher and less inhibited.  No doubt most have heard of the infamous jet-pack, with a backpack, of sorts, a few hoses, and some propulsion, a person can lift off of the ground for several minutes, enjoying the uninhibited views and restraints that the air can offer. 

Today with paragliding, hang-gliding, bungee jumping, airplanes, helicopters, space shuttles (oh..wait), and hot-air balloons, we can for a few moments live in a state of anti-gravity.  But, regardless, eventually, the air current or fuel runs out and we come back to ground in submission to immutable law.  Without this constancy, we would careen out of orbit.  Simple elements and tasks are suddenly complex and require extra care that is unnecessary without the gravitational pull.  Liquid would be uncontained and non-cohesive.   Yet, the thought of defying gravity mesmerizes mankind!  Watching astronauts float around without the restriction looks like SO much fun.  Undoubtedly, it IS.  At first.  But, it is gravity that keeps man from drifting aimlessly away. The knowledge that our atmosphere provides oxygen that is required to keep our bodies alive, can bring a sense of relief and respect to the system in place. 

When people hear the term “absolute truth,” often, there is nay saying and a lack of support.   Absolute truth means that we are tethered to ideas that we may not want to accept, that there is something bigger than ourselves.  We cannot control what concepts are “kosher” and what are not. 

Absolute truth means that I am not the god of my own universe.

No wonder people have such a hard time accepting this reality!  Accepting that we are not really “masters of our domain” is difficult even for people who claim to believe in absolute truth!

Just like man’s quest to fly, we want to somehow defy absolute standards.  “Hey, it might not be good for you, but it’s what I believe.”  People take bits and pieces of what they deem truth and reality and VOILA! Homemade, alternate realities a la carte!  Sure, people can, will, and do, try to beat absolute truth, however, eventually the fuel runs out.  If there are no absolute truths, if there is nothing bigger to keep the system in check, then what is real?  How does one determine what is right and true and good?  If I think one ideal is right and my neighbor thinks it isn’t and worlds collide, what thenSomebody has to win! Man can shake his fist at absolute truth, deny it’s existance, and even concoct his own flying machine, but there are still limits beyond his control.  Chaos will abound and his fuel will run out.  If there are road signs cautioning us to steer clear or state, “Do not pass!” We can still choose to go around or run right through those signs.  But, eventually we will come to the end of the road…

Just like gravity, absolute truths provide the stability of the system that we live in.  They keep us grounded and minimize the chaos.  We are not drifting away into the great unknown.  We know what the limits are and don’t choose to test the boundaries, for fear of an aimless, dark existence.  Staying in the atmosphere allows us the life-giving oxygen for the soul.  And while it may seem appealing to test the truth, when we remain grounded and recognize the reasons for absolute truth, we appreciate the boundaries that have been set.  Many people see absolute truth as a stifling of humanity, I see them as liberation from the unknown chaos.  I don’t have to wonder who to trust, what to think, and rely on my own abilities.  

I know if I jump off that cliff, the boundary that separates law from air, I’m going to die. 

I choose to live and respect absolute truth.

A Planet in Peril

These are strange times, indeed.  I don’t mean just the election or the political scenarios, though that is a huge indicator.  No, I mean the way of the world.  This shift in all things: morality, respectability, honor, endeavors, and motives.  It’s like the world is spinning in the opposite direction.  Like the sun is rising in the west and setting in the east.  And what is so disturbing is that few notice it!  It bereaves my soul to see how many people are just wasting away.  Letting the hours go by without a thought to what is going on in the world today.  They climb their career ladders and lust after the pleasures this temporary place has to offer. 

 Does anyone else notice the earth careening, seemingly out of control?  Are there really so few who see it? 

Yet, I know that it is not all for naught.  There is a greater purpose.  Jesus.  It is all about Him.  “He is before all things and in Him all things hold together,” Colossians 1:17(NIV).  The only thing that keeps this planet spinning in its proper (at least in the physical sense) place is the authority of the Almighty. 

The scientific community and  environmentalists think that the threat we face is global warming.  As though by changing light bulbs and recycling could save the danger that plagues all mankind!  Save the whales on the way to hell?  Really?  There is no mistake that we should take care of what the Creator bestowed upon us.  Even when mankind was thrust from the garden and cast out into a lonely world, God still allowed our landing-place to be the beauty of Earth.  Our original purpose was to tend the land and oversee the animals, ironically!  It seems we have come full circle.  Yet, when man-made the choice to forsake his intended purpose and design, we thru away any hope of keeping our simple, beautiful existence. 

How laughable that people today think that the human race is contingent upon what we can do!  How sad that the pursuit of so many today is not how they can serve their Creator, but how they can serve themselves and the creation.  It is true that the lives of so many hang in the balance.  But the ultimate reason is not because of the diminishing state of the physical world.  There is no amount of saved carbon footprints, no measure of energy refinement, no emission law that will save this planet.  It is a ticking time bomb.  Why? 

Because of pollution? 

Because of our dependence upon oil? 

No, not even that! 

Our sin tainted this earth and began the demise in state, long ago.  It’s like that part in the Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy steps out of the trailer and suddenly sees the blaze of color.  Only imagine it in a slow reversal.  The longer we go the colors continue to fade.  We have gone from a radiant state to the infiltration of a colorless decay.  Only this time there is no good witch from the north to give us ruby slippers.  We can’t just click three times to return to our home.  This isn’t a fairytale.

It amazes me that God had purpose for me.  I was to be in this time.  Though none of what is going on in the world surprises me (hint: Daniel 7 and 12,Ezekial 38 and 39, Matthew 24, 2Thessalonians 2), I am almost in a constant state of amazement.  Everything He said is true.  Everything that was.  Everything that is.  Everything that He said will be is happening before my incredulous eyes.  I don’t worry about much, though the prospect of where this world is leading is daunting, to be sure.  I rely on the Lord, day-to-day.  I give thanks to Him for the generous gift of seeing the bible come to life, of having my faith met with such blessed revelation. 

I cannot help but cry out to those who are asleep at the wheel!  Those who are supposed to be sounding the alarm and those who do not know that there is hope!  That this life isn’t all there is and that the state of this world and its demise is the work of man, but not due to the energy crisis!  We are in a salvation crisis!  The physical world is decaying along with the state of men! Polls show that most Americans do not believe that Cap and Trade will save our nation, but do they also know that nothing will?  Nothing within you or I can save us!  Only Jesus Christ can save.  This world is spinning out of control because of our lack of dependence upon God. 

Ironic in the most absolute degree:  Earth is doomed because of mankind, but not from climate change!

Without a Savior we are doomed because of sin.  We wanted our own way in the garden and God gave it to us.  This world in its self-idolatry is again crying out for our independence from God and He is giving it to us!  How much more power will men try to wrestle away from God?  Though it cannot be manipulated or forced away from His hand, He eventually gives us what we ask for. 

 Now we have a planet in peril

Israel’s King David penned these words millennia before this time, but I wonder if he was inspired for this very moment in our Earth’s history,

Psalm 12-14 (New International Version)

Psalm 12

1 Help, LORD, for no one is faithful anymore;

   those who are loyal have vanished from the human race.

2 Everyone lies to their neighbor;

   they flatter with their lips

   but harbor deception in their hearts.

  3 May the LORD silence all flattering lips

   and every boastful tongue—

4 those who say,

   “By our tongues we will prevail;

   our own lips will defend us—who is lord over us?”

 5 “Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan,

   I will now arise,” says the LORD.

   “I will protect them from those who malign them.”

6 And the words of the LORD are flawless,

   like silver purified in a crucible,

   like gold refined seven times.

 7 You, LORD, will keep the needy safe

   and will protect us forever from the wicked,

8 who freely strut about

   when what is vile is honored by the human race.

Psalm 13

1 How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever?

   How long will you hide your face from me?

2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts

   and day after day have sorrow in my heart?

   How long will my enemy triumph over me?

 3 Look on me and answer, LORD my God.

   Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,

4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”

   and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

 5 But I trust in your unfailing love;

   my heart rejoices in your salvation.

6 I will sing the LORD’s praise,

   for he has been good to me.

Psalm 14

1 The fool says in his heart,

   “There is no God.”

They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;

   there is no one who does good.

 2 The LORD looks down from heaven

   on all mankind

to see if there are any who understand,

   any who seek God.

3 All have turned away, all have become corrupt;

   there is no one who does good,

   not even one.

 4 Do all these evildoers know nothing?

   They devour my people as though eating bread;

   they never call on the LORD.

5 But there they are, overwhelmed with dread,

   for God is present in the company of the righteous.

6 You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor,

   but the LORD is their refuge.

 7 Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!

   When the LORD restores his people,

   let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!

Does any of this sound familiar?  Wake up, people! 

Our salvation isn’t somewhere over the climate changed rainbow….

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