Low-tech communication

“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library” from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I am a great fan of books, old as well as new. I have nothing against technology, but it just isn’t the same staring at a screen or relying on battery power/electricity. I’ve never had a lot of gadgets myself, but I used to know quite a bit about them. I don’t pay much attention to that anymore. I believe there are many different players in the e-book market, and Barnes & Nobles lost almost half a billion US Dollars on their NOOK tablet in 2012. It’s not that I oppose progress, but I am a bit oldfashioned and I like stability.

I like carrying a paperback in my backpack or in a pocket, and fish it out whenever I need to. I read at the beach in summer, when I’m hiking in a park, when I’m in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, when I take my daughter to ballett and choir, during a train ride or when I’m sitting in my favourite chair at home.

I like holding the book in my hands. I like feeling and hearing the paper between my fingers as I turn the pages. I like the way I enter the world of the story and the way the characters follow me long after I finished the book. I like what this is doing to my world within and I like being able to drop the book without having to worry about breaking it. I like knowing that some of the great storytellers in the past (such as Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain) acquired knowledge as well as amusement the same way. I like the fact that some of the books I’ve been reading lately were given as a Christmas present to my grandparents 70-80 years ago. If I buy an e-book today that is not going to be very useful to my grandchildren. They will have to buy something new, something totally without any link to the family.

I also like audio books, which I find very useful when I drive long distances. Technology is very useful, but low tech is also very nice. That never fails to entertain me, like when we moved into this apartment in August last year. We had to abandon everything we owned except for a few belongings we could get into our car. It took a few days to get cable (not to mention a TV-set) and internet service, and during that time the oldfashioned books still made me quite content.

I am not going to write about all the six books I read in February, but three of them are quite interesting:

Reisen til London/Journey to London
Dik Lehmkuhl, 1946

The story of the Norwegian government at war. Based on interviews with leading Norwegian emigrants in London during World War 2.

journey to london
My grandfather’s Christmas gift from his in-laws in 1946

I came across this book at my mother’s house. My grandfather got it as a Christmas gift in 1946 (he always wrote this information inside the book). This is a fascinating account of how the Norwegian Royal family and government fled through most of the country in 1940, and eventually made it to England. The Nazis wanted a Norwegian capitulation and met with representatives of the government several times during this wild chase, but although the government had been very naive before war broke out, they made a wise decision. They were under no circumstances going to welcome Hitler.

There are still some people with the attitude that Norwegian politicians and the royal family fled like cowards and thus failed the people, but this book gives a different impression. The parliament, government and the king must have known that capitulation was the only sensible decision they could make. It was impossible to resist Germany with the limited resources Norway had available. The Norwegian attitude was, however, that resistance, even against this overwhelming power, was better than giving in to Hitler’s demands.

In addition to this resistance, perhaps the most important decision the government made during the flight was taking control of the Norwegian merchant fleet, which was the fourth largest in the world. 900 of the nearly 1,200 Norwegian vessels of over 500 gross tons were either out at sea, in allied or neutral ports at the time. I think this revenue made it possible to resist. Norway had an underground army, Spitfire pilots were trained in Canada and they later established a base outside London. That was the start of the Norwegian Royal Airforce. I’m glad it happened of course, but it still amazes me that the Nazis lost the war. They seem to have had an overwhelming amount of fire power and technology, but their own arrogance and their enemy’s determination eventually changed the outcome.

I have been critical to Norwegian remembrance culture and myth building, and although this is probably a part of the mythbuilding, it was truly a fascinating read. I might come back to this book again later because this is almost unbelievable. Sometimes the truth is actually more incredible than a Hollywood film.

Annerledes/Different
SPISS, a small business that offer lectures, guidance and education within the topic autism,especially asberger syndrom.

This book is a collection of texts written by people with an autism spectrum disorder. Through poetry and prose of different length they tell about how it is being them. Most of the authors are between 12 and 23 years old, and the oldest is 72 years.

Different was quite a bit of work. The texts were apparently printed without much editing. Some of the texts could have benefited from some structure, but perhaps that added something useful. This gives you an impression of what some aspies struggle with. Another thing I liked about the book was that it presents so many different experiences. One of the things I have addressed myself is that psychologists tend to be too rigid. One of the girls in the book describes how she wasn’t diagnosed at first because her asberger wasn’t exactly according to the guidelines, and even with help from the professionals from SPISS, it took some work to get a new evaluation. The problem was that she obsessed on certain narrow topics, like aspies tend to do, but because she had stopped talking about it to everyone she encountered, they decided it couldn’t be asberger.

It’s the same with me, and I believe that’s why they decided I didn’t meet enough criterias to get the diagnose asberger.

The Pilgrim’s Progress
John Bunyan, published 1678
A Pilgrim's Progress
This was a Christmas gift in 1908 and it’s still inspiring my family.

This is available on The Project Gutenberg, a site that offers free books because they are not protected by copyright laws anymore. The copy I read was published in Norwegian in 1908. I’m not sure who the first owner was, but I’m guessing it was my great grandmother. My grandmother had it later, but she was only 5 years old when this book came into the family. It was an interesting read, but I’m going to get a modern edition because it was quite hard work reading this arcaic language.

This is one of those books I have known about for almost as long as I can remember, but haven’t read. I believe most people have a list of books like that, books they may even refer to, but don’t really know anything about. I suspect that books like Moby Dick and War and Peace are on many people’s list. This is one I can remove from my list.

The protagonist (Christian) is trying to persuade his familiy to leave their home because the city they live in is going to be destroyed. All names in the story describe the person or place that carry this name, and this city is thus called the City of Destruction. His family thought he had gone bunkers, so he had to leave them behind in this doomed city. He wanted to leave the life of misery to get the inheritance promised to him in  1 Peter 1, 3-4:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,
New International Version, Biblegateway

He wants to find the Celestial City (Heaven). He is carrying a huge bag on his back, this is the wages of sin. This was after all a time when the church was full of brimstone and you were promised nothing less than eternal suffering in hell. This was a time when only ordained priests were allowed to preach, and as John Bunyan didn’t abide, he was jailed for it. I believe he wrote this book in jail, so they didn’t exactly silence him. To put it short, this is an allegory of life. Christian encounters people that want to help and people that clearly lead him astray. The other characters have names giving us hints about what type of people they are: Obstinate, Worldly Wiseman, Pliable, Formalist, Hopeful etc.

This reminded me of something I believe C.S. Lewis has addressed, where should a christian’s loyalty lie? There is a pressure to be patriotic, in other words show completely blind loyalty. If you don’t support the government when it does something wrong, you are more or less a traitor. “You are not one of us. We can’t trust you.”

This is a difficult question of course, but when christians in Iraq and Syria are being slaughtered, should we be ok with that? It’s getting harder and harder to be a Christian, and in 2014 more Christians were murdered for their faith than ever before. There is also more prejudices against Christians than before, in South Korea for instance. This comes into conflict with patriotism because our democratic governments have very undemocratic allies.

The Bible tells us to support the government, and I believe the general advice is that we keep this support even when the government fails to do its part. That sounds like a contradiction and blind loyalty. I will always abide by the laws, but I still intend to speak out against the evil my own government is doing, and it’s doing plenty.

I like A Pilgrim’s Progress because it tells you that God didn’t promise us an easy life. I have come across a few people that have told me I could have an easy life. God wanted me to have an easy life, and if that didn’t happen it was because the problem was me. That wasn’t especially helpful. I believe God will guide us to the Celestial City, but that doesn’t mean life will be hunky dory all the time. I have no doubt that Gods wants me to have a better life, but I seem to be attracting a lot of boneheads, creeps and low-lifes to use the most flattering terms I could think of. I wonder, could it be that I’m not a people person? No, surely not! I’m taking the long road to the Celestial City.

I have some more Christian books that I intend to read in March, as we approach Easter.

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19 thoughts on “Low-tech communication

  1. John, I really liked your summation and commentary on Pilgrim’s Progress. I don’t know if you are aware, but there was a film made of it back in the 70s. It was the first film I ever saw, on an old reel to reel. I still remember it, and remember re-enacting it over and over as a child of five. I agree that God wants us to have a better life, but we humans seem to only see “better” through the lenses if the world. In worldly terms, Christians may not appear to have “better lives,” but as I Thessalonians says, we are “children of the day, children of the light,” even when are surrounded by the darkness. “Better” by worldly terms would mean only material things, an easy life. But Jesus said that he came that we “might have life and have it more abundantly.” As Christians, we know that He is talking about more than the size of our house, our bank account, or what kind of car we drive.

  2. There is something comfortingly familiar about holding a book while reading.

    Historical reads are a great way to better understand the world in which we live.

    I don’t think I’d ever heard of asperger’s syndrome until I started poking about your site. Learning about the differences in the way people process information is fascinating, and ease of access to such information is one nice thing about the net, I guess.

    We had a modern English translation of The Pilgrims Progress, but I loaned it to someone before finishing it. Helen L Taylor’s Little Pilgrim’s Progress is a simple, yet reasonably accurate presentation which held even our younger one’s attention. If you like to read with your daughter, it might be a worthwhile investment.

    The “prosperity gospel” truly is an insult to those who are persecuted or simply experience an extra helping of life’s troubles. Jesus made a point of saying that in this world His people would experience difficulties. Life can be very hard sometimes, but it helps to remember that diamonds are formed under conditions of extreme heat and pressure

    Keep to the path. You’ll make it to the City 🙂

  3. I suspect that being diagnosed aspergers doesn’t mean much. Those who have autism spectrum differences certainly recognize the symptoms, which helps adjust to life that way. And that means processing information a bit differently. Or communicating differently. I tend to use arrays and tables. Serial step by step logic is boring to me. These are just examples of the differences I see now. Most folks fade away very quickly when I try to communicate that way verbally. To me it’s like they only deal with the barest minimum details. I accept now that they spend their brainpower on other things such as emotional signaling, especially nuances. And where I’m clumsy, inept, or ungraceful … they focus on fluency in such things. I can’t say one is better our worse, just different. So now I simply no longer try to fly like a bird in the air, since I was made to be a fish in the sea. Blessed are we in the way our Creator has made us.

  4. So many times while growing I remember seeing Pilgrim’s Progress. I never wanted to read it since I associated it with the Thanksgiving holiday. And I really do hate holidays since they so overwhelm my aspie hyper-senses. Eventually I read it and loved it once I learned what the story was about and the author. Would that I’d read it in my teens instead of The Hobbit.

    [please excuse missing linefeeds … due to WordPress android app]

    As I recall there’s a sequel where a young woman makes a similar journey.

    It’s so sad to me that many Christians identify so much more with the things of this passing world than with New Jerusalem and all those already there with Christ. I love being part of His family (from every nation, tribe, tongue, and people). And of course I mean those saved, not the greater majority of the deluded and damned.

    I can’t say though that I identify with those that call themselves christians in Syria, Iraq, and such. They missed the call to come out or suffer such plagues. Sorry to see such miseries. It’s like dealing with addicts and the curses they bring on themselves. Clinging so tightly to a place or nation might be in some sense idolatry. I won’t be like those that cry so (x7) for the fall of babylon.

  5. Nomemoleste,

    The sequel to Pilgrims Progress is called, Christianna”. It is about Pilgrim’s wife, who remained behind in the City of Destruction while he went on his journey to the Celestial City. Christianna decides, along with a friend and her children with Pilgrim, to seek the Celestial City, after she heard that her husband had made the journey successfully. Apparently, he had sent her a message, warning her of the traps and dangers he had experienced.

    With regards to the last paragraph in your comment, Nomoleste, I am confused as to your meaning. What do you mean by, “I can’t say though that I identify with those that call themselves christians in Syria, Iraq, and such. They missed the call to come out or suffer such plagues. Sorry to see such miseries. It’s like dealing with addicts and the curses they bring on themselves. Clinging so tightly to a place or nation might be in some sense idolatry.” Why aren’t those Christians being persecuted in the Middle East Christians?

    1. Jay,

      I see your response is considered and informed by scripture. I’ve due respect for both VOM, the martyred, and the calling to carry our own crosses, dying to self daily, giving our lives in love. Much the same can be said for rescuers and responders.

      Corrie Ten Boom comes to mind regarding going through the fire of the nazi concentration camps and losing her family in the process. She might also point to her life as a traveling evangelist for many decades afterwards, living on the road like a tramp, journeying to the ends of the earth.

      Yes, we have the calling to be salt and light on one hand, preaching the Gospel as living testimonies, helping Christ with His ministries and missions. And on the other hand — there’s the call to move as the Holy Ghost leads, to dust off our feet and move on to the next place, whether in obedience (cp. bootcamp) in the wilderness, or in triage after the fashion of the apostle’s journeys in Acts. It’s most definitely a matter of following as Christ leads.

      There’s no call to martyr our own children; they make that choice themselves. There’s no call to remain in Sodom, or even to look back. There’s no call to remain in Babylon, lest we suffer her plagues, such as demonic oppression, and fall when the Ten Horns’ (false leaders’) hearts are turned (by The Lord) to destroy her, and to destroy the luxury market for which the kings and merchants of the earth will so lament, weep, and wail.

      Those in Iraq have had the warnings of the Saddam Regime, Gulf War 1, Gulf War 2, and now ISIS — to escape. Many refugees have done just that. I can’t describe a place more evidently caught in a hammering. Syria is similar, though Assad still reigns. To stay is to die — if for Christ and the Gospel– Amen. They’ll be back.

      The option is to go into the wilderness — much as with the Exodus, the Diaspora, and as will be the same for the Great Multitude soon comiing that refuse the 666 system. Is Christ any less able to care for them as refugees — than as victims of slavery, war, famine, plague, and worse. He raises the dead, considering the Two Witnesses. “To live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1) No doubt some are called to be just that.

      Nonetheless — Christ Himself has prophesied: in the Gospels – a time to come out of Jerusalem and in the Revelation – a time to come out of Babylon. There is no call to suffer the judgment of God on the wicked.

      What then of slavery, war, famine, and plague? Stay or flee? The only ones equipped to work in such places are like the ebola doctors. It’s not smart for non-professionals to hazard such things, which even cut down the pros. Very like going into battle without adequate armor. The Armor of God most definitely considered here for our discussion.

      There’s a time to evacuate before the storm falls. Those that can get out need to run. It’s folly to say — “stay on the beach.” The Tsunami won’t even notice.

      That said, I’m still pointing to the characteristic pattern of tribulation judgments.

      1 Saddam (a false christ)
      2 Gulf War 1
      3 Gulf War 2
      4 The “Golf War” (BHO, re: John’s earlier Blog)
      5 ISIL/ISIS/IS/Islamic Terrorists
      6 next Babylon the Great (you recognized)
      7 finally … silence

    2. Nomemoleste,

      It appears we are rather more in agreement than perhaps I realized, at least with the first part of your post. I agree that we should follow the leading of the Spirit, and that often includes a “leaving” of some sort. I recently experienced this a year ago, when I had to leave a church I was very attached to. It took something very painful for me to leave, and I left behind very dear brothers and sisters. However, I know without a doubt that God used that painful situation to bring me to the place where I am now, and I see Him working all around me as a result. This time, though, I am going to try to not become so attached to the church and the people that I am not willing to leave. I think this is what you are talking about.

      As far as our differences, I realized from reading this last post, that where the real disagreement is found is differences on eschatology. I do not necessarily think that Iraq is the “Babylon” mentioned in Revelations. For me, I often feel that my own nation, U.S.A better fits the description of “Babylon.” I know that Babylon was literally located in Iraq, but I am doubtful that the Babylon of Revelations is necessarily so literal. So, if the US is a sort of “Babylon,” where should I go? I believe that we are going to see some dire events in the US, and I don’t see how we can all flee. Flee to where?

      Another point where we diverge concerning eschatology is on the statement, ” There is no call to suffer the judgment of God on the wicked.” I question whether what is happening in Iraq and Syria is really God’s judgment. It sounds more the schemes and plots of those elements that seek to create a One World system. It is God’s judgment that will later be poured out on those who create, perpetuate and embrace that system.

    3. Jay,

      On “Leaving.” The only True and Proven Church is in Heaven now with Christ. New Jerusalem is Home, by way of The Cross.

      On “Eschatalogy.” I see reflections, echoes, and harmonics spread across history, current events, and prophecy. So I’d agree that it’s hard to depart from a fractal reality of mixed tares and wheat.

      Yes, there are primary events — such as Christ offering His body and life up on the Cross, as our Great High Priest and The Lamb Slain (our Passover … The Passover Lamb). The holy days foreshadowed.

      So, I would not disagree that babylon extends into the US or NYC. I just don’t think it’s the primary instance. In any case, no matter the actual identity or scope of great babylon — when it’s destroyed — every trade center is likewise ruined.

      Hence the woe & crying in Rev. 18…
      :9 bewail & lament (kings of earth)
      :11 weep & mourn (merchants of the earth)
      :15 weep & wail (merchants of these things)
      :19 weep & wail (shippers)

      We can agree to disagree on Iraq & Syria re: God’s Judgment. My conclusion is simply that as in Daniel chapters 7-11, the king of the north and king of the south (north and south of earthly Jerusalem) war back and forth until the antichrist conquers both establishing the 666 beast complex (7 heads, 10 horns, 10 toes), which of course is ultimately bowled over by The Stone Kingdom of the millennial reign.

      I suspect that as with the Ten Horns that have one mind, that the 666 capital is more of a “sister cities complex” (counterfeit to the capital of Christ’s Kingdom). Something similar to linking the stock markets of the world, though the trading floors are in NYC, London, Tokyo, etc. Before then, Rev. 12 occurs, and the rest of the enemy angels are cast into the world, out of heaven.

      So the actual identity of Mystery Babylon is likely the ruling collective of the fallen angels and their proxies.

      Rev. 12: 9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

      Rev. 18:2 And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.

      I don’t expect them (the enemy angels) to settle for anything less than overshadowing Jerusalem with a false New Jerusalem. So all the debates about who, what, and where may be partial at best and more likely just plain wrong.

      { Perhaps even an orbiting platform? Perhaps seen as an alien mothercraft by many, or the return of the ancient gods to “olympus,” or a closed(?) dimensional gate (wormhole, bottomless pit, or attempt to make a portal) to try to return to the heavens. Time will tell. The interesting point is the necessity of a double destruction, which may be both physical and spiritual, or more simply, “multi-dimensional.” No speculation intended. Just recognizing how far short the debates likely come to the actual.}

      Please don’t feel like you have to respond Jay. I’ll beg off as being a bit aspie on the topic.

      ~https://nomemoleste.wordpress.com/2015/01/19/glimpses-of-the-hyperreal/

    4. In case I forgot yesterday, I want to thank all of you for taking part in the conversation. I’m not exactly in the right mood for Bible studies every day, although I know that is necessary, and my faith is changing too much, but I will use these comments as a start. As long as you don’t point any fire and brimstone-talking lunatics rejoicing in the rapture, in my direction, I think it could be interesting to communicate with a couple of Christian gentlemen.

    5. You’re very gracious John! I consider myself a guest here and avoid shouting preachers myself.

      Low-tech considered, you may find that there are quite many Christians that are happy to keep life simpler. Writers like Jacques Ellul, Vernard Eller, and such have dealt with the problems of the consequences of high tech. Likewise, The Amish and old order Mennonites.

      Aspergers may be part of pour design which gives us the abilities to deal with a technologically and information dense environment — at the expense of more socially intense skills.

      Bill Gates, Wozniak, and plenty of the Silicon Valley notables are likely on the spectrum. What we need are better filters to block out the cacophony of social and population dense environments with their overloads of sounds, smells, and related soap opera dramatics.

      It’s hardly any surprise that zen thrived in Japan where population densities are high. A contemplative academic life is similar. And the rigid structure of a printed book offers control of how much to take in at any given time.

      May I ask if you are off work due to sabbatical? I’m relying on this android WordPress app to signal when you respond – so there’s no urgency. Christians indeed have the promise of eternities of patience.

    6. Thank you for your perceptive response. I like reading your thoughts on asberger. I don’t know whether you have read it, but I have written some about the autism spectrum. My daughter is on the spectrum, and I believe I am. I was diagnosed with NLD, and getting a second opinion is very hard.

      It’s not important to me to get a label, but it might help. Also I don’t understand myself because I have a feeling NLD doesn’t explain enough. I identify with asbergers, but it’s like I’m somewhere in between. Some question whether NLD is real, most doctors don’t know anything about it, and without a diagnose I couldn’t identity publicly as an aspie.

      I wish I was taking a sabbatical, but I have problems keeping a job and getting a new one is very difficult. I am trying to get some help from the Labour office. There’s a lot of uncertainty at the moment, but hopefully something good will come out of this.

    7. I’m wary of being diagnosed, since I’m already on 30% disability for benign skin cancer issues. What I’ve seen in business here in the US is that escalating disability diagnosis is used to exclude folks from the workforce. In any case, the diagnostic criteria changed for aspies when the manual was last revised making it less severe than other ASD’s like HFA. That fits my situation since I’m mostly only mildly socially impaired.

      In reading about NLD diagnosis, I realized there’s a trait I’d missed — “handwriting impairment.” I’ve had a mild tremor all my life that gives me terrible handwriting. That’s a relief since I thought it might get worse as I age past 60. It’s clear that with ASDs, everyone has a somewhat different mix of the symptoms, so it’s not a completely consistent sliding scale.

      Yes, I get that keeping a job is difficult. I’ve had many. For a teacher, the social interactions with students and staff must be like a mine field for those with ASDs. So, in seeking employ, perhaps it’s better to look for “teaching venues” that rely more on verbal or written instruction. Take for instance Khan Academy, where the instruction is all diagrammed on the screen. (Of course, I’d be too shaky for free hand drawing, but I can type and use cad drawing skills quite well).

      Let’s follow up more in another set of posts … since we’re being squeezed by the WP theme.

  6. Thanks kindly(!) Jay, for the reminders about Christianna and their family. Both husband, wife, and children came out of their native born lands “like strangers journeying in strange lands” – seeking The City built by God.

    The parallels are remarkable for those is in the mid-east and especially, Syria, Iraq, and Iran.

    Parallels like coming out from:
    – Sodom (Gen. 19)
    – Egypt (Exo. 7+)
    – Babylon (Jer. 51, Rev. 18)
    – Jerusalem (Jer. 6, Matthew 24:15-22, Mk 13, Lk 21)
    – our natural families (Gen. 12, Psa. 45:10)
    – dire peril (Prov. 1:24-27, 14:16, 22:3, 27:12)
    – our own ways (Prov. 3:5-6)

    Against this larger backdrop…

    2 Cor. 6:14-18

    Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?

    And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

    Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,

    And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

    So our mission with Christ remains one of rescue, to help bring the lost out from this soon falling world, which is like a building on fire, and a slow motion train wreck. It’s falling to the 666 system and similar (“the daughters of babylon”).

    The fall of the WTC Twin Towers is likewise instructive. The first bombing attempts years before were warnings unheeded. So the rescuers on 9/11 likewise perished. There’s a point at which responders are told not to attempt rescues as hurricanes pass over. And the “Twin Towers of the mid-east,” the kingdom of the north and the kingdom of the south are ever warring over earthly Jerusalem (as in Daniel)….

    Shall I continue Jay? This is a graphic example of recognizing arrays and parallels in The Word — which the worldly turn from with deaf ears (growing dull) and blind eyes (glossing over).

    1. Nomemoleste,

      Thanks for your response. Please correct me if I have misinterpreted your response. It appears to be a response to my question to you about Christians in Syria and Iraq. I will respond based on my understanding of your explanation.

      The Scripture references you list are great examples of God’s people being “called out” of a particular place or situation. But I think we need to consider the context as well. There are various meanings of being “called out.” Sometimes that is a literal, physical removal, but other times it is of a more spiritual nature. I think it can be a mistake to apply a Scripture (that refers to a particular situation) to a situation that may not be the same. Not everything in Scripture is literal in a physical sense.

      For example, the Christians in Syria and Iraq.

      1) First of all, God does not necessarily always require His people to leave their homelands just because wickedness and evil reigns supreme there. There is wickedness in every nation on this earth. Where are those Syrian and Iraqi Christians to go? To the U.S., where I personally believe there is a reigning wickedness just as evil as is what is happening in the Middle East?

      2) Not every Christian in those countries have the means and opportunity to flee. To judge those believers for not leaving seems as unfair to me as all the people I remember judging the residents of New Orleans who were too poor/lacked the resources to evacuate before Hurricane Katrina.

      3) Although there are numerous Scripture references that support fleeing in the face of persecution, there are numerous other Scriptures that seem to support staying and preaching the Gospel despite the persecution. I think staying or fleeing is a matter that should be between each individual Christian and God. Sometimes God tells people to stay and sometimes he tells them to go. I guess it all comes down to God’s purpose and plan.

      4) If ALL believers flee persecution and/or wickedness in their homelands, who is left to preach the Gospel? Who is left to be a light in the darkness? Case in point, I recently watched a DVD produced by Voice of the Martyrs, which told the story of a Christian family in Syria. They had an opportunity to escape the country, but after prayer and fasting, the husband and wife realized that God was leading them to remain in Syria and be a testimony of His Love and salvation to their lost Muslim neighbors. They described the numbers of their Muslim neighbors, who during the terrors of war sought them out and hungered to learn about Jesus.

      5) A believer can be “separate” even while living in a wicked regime. What about Daniel, Shadrach, Meschach, Abednego? What about Joseph in Egypt? What about the Old Testament prophets? What about Paul going to pagan places to preach the Gospel? What about Christians who lived in Rome and were martyred there for their faith?

      6) We cannot avoid living in a wicked world. There is nowhere for us to physically go to flee wickedness. The only “hiding place” we have is in Christ Jesus. Separation is something that happens in our heart and in our spirit, which then becomes manifest in our actions and how we live our lives.

      I believe that Christians in Syria, Iraq and other such countries are experiencing something that Christians in the West have not faced in centuries (unless you count WWII). Those believers need our support, our prayers, our encouragement; what they don’t need is our judgment. How many of us have been through the fire they currently face? What would we do if faced with the same?

  7. Please forgive my earlier intrusion. It’s been interesting to read the unfolding discussion here and has been kind of fun to watch your commentary repeatedly return to the top of my reader.

    1. Your intrusion is totally unacceptable! I’m joking of course. Your input in this chat across the pond is very welcome. Thank you for making me less confused earlier by the way.

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