God’s Story

Disclaimer: I didn’t write this. But it’s incredible, from the mind of Jeremy Marshall.

Our story begins with an artist flinging millions of bright dots on a pitch black canvas. 100 billion to be more precise, and that’s in our galaxy alone. Then the Artist did the same thing in 170 billion more galaxies just like ours so that eons later, scientists and philosophers with coke bottle glasses would sit in stuffy rooms without windows and try to work out why there should be so many. It doesn’t make any sense. That’s because the explanation for all the stars and all the galaxies isn’t a scientific explanation OR a philosophical explanation OR a theological explanation. The explanation is about art. Artists create art to express themselves –to say something about who they are. And whether its good art or bad art or big art of small art, all art achieves the goal of reflecting the artist. So when the Great Artist, the First Artist, flung countless stars into countless galaxies, He was speaking about who He is. And His art spoke so beautifully of who He is, He decided to keep going. He painted land and water and plants and birds and animals. All of this art sang of the artist’s skill and heart, but it wasn’t quite enough. The artist had to go further. So the Great Artist painted the last thing you’d expect to end up on a canvas. He painted an artist. It wasn’t enough for the Great Artist to have His art speak of who He was; He desired his art to perpetuate itself. He wanted His paintings to fill the voids in itself, and even the paintings of His paintings would shout out about who the great Artist was.

 

But you know the story. The second generation artists got the idea that their brushes were their own, and they needed to use their paint to touch themselves up. A big black ink blot spashed on the canvas, and just like a pencil eraser that has seen too many days, every attempt to clean it up just smeared it further and ground it deeper. The art was ruined.

 

But the Great Artist had other tricks up His sleeve; he commissioned a whole nation of painters to spread His colors. These little artists will spread My colors to the ends of my canvas, and my art will once again display the heart of the artist. Wrong. The whole army of painters went rogue. It was like a whole town trained by Michelangelo skipped town and traded paintbrushes for spray cans, tagging graffiti on overpasses. Instead of a gentle touch-up job, the Great Artist’s canvas got worse.

 

As a last ditch effort, this mad genius did the unthinkable. The Great Artist painted Himself into His own painting. He entered His own work, showing His art how to truly wield a paintbrush, and making a way for his little painters to paint again. He painted death on Himself to put a brush in our hands.

 

And so here we stand. Artists descended from the great Artist Himself. And for those that have been adopted by this Great Artist, we’ve been given a brush dipped in His blood. The only question that remains, is what we’ll do with the paint. All over the world people wonder how so great an Artist could allow so many ugly paintings in the world. Death, destruction, pain, hunger, envy, strife, abandonment – dark shades seen in hideous blotches everywhere on our earth canvas. The answer to the question lies in recognizing the paint. It’s our paint, not His. His masterpiece was flawless, but it has been thoroughly marred by our own rebellious strokes. The failings of Adam and Eve and Israel and Peter and you and me are the failings of a people who forgot what their brushes were for. We’ve been given the unfathomable honor of painting with the Master. Of taking part in His great art. But more often than not we sit doodling in the corner. We don’t realize that all art that isn’t His art is just graffiti. And the graffiti is everywhere. So the question that lies before us tonight is whether we are content in our lives to keep to ourselves, scratching out sketches not fit for a young mother’s refrigerator door, or if we will recognize the glory of adding just a few strokes to the work of the Master. Many of us feel like we’re not yet ready to join in the art. We’re in college, we’re in training, we’re still learning, we’re still young, we’re inexperienced, we’re poor.

You can finish reading the full post at http://callingallcollegians.blogspot.com/. God is good.

 

My view on Abe Lincoln

If you were to ask even the most ignorant American to name an important president, Abraham Lincoln would surely be at the top of the list. He freed the slaves and ended the Civil War, for goodness’ sake! Why wouldn’t he be the greatest? I mean, President’s Day is half dedicated to him!

Seth Grahame-Smith recently published a novel called Abraham Lincoln, Zombie Hunter, which is currently being adapted for the silver screen. In this novel, Grahame-Smith retells the life of Lincoln, from birth to assassination, supplemented with “secret diaries” of Lincoln to reveal his central role in a world-wide struggle against vampirism. Though this story is fictional, it isn’t too far from the real life of Abe Lincoln.

Thomas Jefferson once claimed, “A democracy cannot be both ignorant and free.” The control that “Honest Abe” imposed upon the press was nothing short of why Americans nowadays cry out against the governments of China and North Korea. If we are to truly respect and honor our right to speak out against the government, if we are to truly be free, we must look back on our leaders who hindered that right and make sure history does not repeat itself. Man should be free to keep his government in check. Unfortunately, the man regarded as one of the greatest leaders in our nation’s history robbed his people of that right. Vampire hunter? No. Rights slayer? Yes.

During the Civil War, Lincoln was praised for leadership in the North, and the Confederate States’ leader, Jefferson Davis, was praised in the South. This war was between the Union and the Confederate States of America, whom Lincoln considered still part of the Union throughout the war. In this line of thinking, Lincoln had his army fight against itself—a snake eating its own body, if you will.

There was virtually no criticism of either leader in their respective “nations.” This is because both severely censored the press. That’s right, good ol’ Honest Abe was only as honest as he allowed the press to say he was. Though he didn’t hunter vampires, he hunted the press with more efficiency than any vampire hunter could dream of.

Wartime censorship has been used to “protect” national security interests. The words “clear and present danger” are the “yardstick” by which censorship rights of government as opposed to the free-speech rights of individuals are measured in such times of crisis.

President Abraham Lincoln first used this type of censorship during the Civil War. First Amendment freedoms and protections were secondary, according to President Lincoln, to the preservation of the nation. Lincoln believed in “the ends justified the means” argument in preserving all the laws. The Civil War alterations to the protections guaranteed under the First Amendment consisted of opening mail and censoring anti-Union newspapers.

This censorship was epitomized in the penultimate year of the war. By May 1864, Lincoln’s patience with the press ran out. Two New York papers published a fake story reported a presidential proclamation that claimed Lincoln was about to draft 400,000 men. Lincoln ordered the two newspapers shut down and their publishers imprisoned. The Independent Telegraph System, which dispersed the story, was taken over by the military.

Another huge misconception of Lincoln is his all-revered Emancipation Proclamation. This document, considered one of the most important in American history, was, for all intents and purposes, a failure. To start with, this document was published two years before the war ended, and proclaimed the freedom of slaves in the ten states then in rebellion, thus applying to 3.1 million of the 4 million slaves in the U.S. at that time. That would be the same as Mexico coming in during the Civil War and freeing the slaves. As The Confederate States of America established its own government and drafted its own constitution, it was considered its own nation, even if unrecognized by the Union. Therefore, Lincoln had no power to free slaves in the Confederacy.  Second, the Proclamation only addressed the South—this left over 900,000 slaves in ownership of their masters throughout the North and West.

The Proclamation also simply freed slaves. By doing so, all Lincoln did was basically declare that slaves are actually humans, not property. It did not address their citizenship status, or what rights they had otherwise. I argue the real significance of the Emancipation Proclamation; it was merely a piece of propaganda that actually freed no slaves.

I question whether Americans truly understand the man to whom they refer to as the greatest president in our history. If we can still glaze over the facts that he fought a war against a nation he didn’t recognize as an independent country, wrote laws that were inconsequential, and tried to destroy the value of the First Amendment, I guess we don’t deserve to be free in our ignorance.