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A true sense of wonderment

Nov. 24, 2008

by ED and HJ Editor Lynda Jensen

As a Civil War buff, I stand in wonderment that a black man has been elected to be president of the United States and find myself still surprised over this fact. Perhaps it is true that the American dream is still alive, despite the odds.

Don’t get me wrong – I have many deep idealogical differences with President-elect Barack Obama. The unborn are in more peril than ever before (even in later stages of pregnancy), and Christians who follow the Bible, which is the only written record of God’s word, should be very concerned.

Moreover, despite these glaring problems; it is nothing short of amazing that a black man was elected to the highest office in the land under my witness in 2008.

Here are some Civil War facts for those who are interested: 3 million men fought in the Civil War and about 600,000 men died in it (the war was from 1861 to 1865).

To put this into perspective, the population of Gettysberg at the time of that great battle in July of 1863 was 2,400 people; or about 300 fewer than the population of Cokato right now.

Imagine this battle, which involved about 163,000 men, taking place just outside of town with every church, school, and many private homes being turned into hospitals to take care of a total of about 54,040 casualties – 23,040 in the Union Army and 21,000 Confederate wounded soldiers (or what would be about one-third of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army).

In other battles, the struggle registered shocking casualties, with 7,000 men dying in just 20 minutes during a battle called Cold Harbor, May 4, 1864, in Virginia.

This would be like losing every person who lived in Winsted, Howard Lake, and Lester Prairie – the entire populations of those three towns – in one fell swoop. The total number of casualties during that one battle was estimated at about 12,000 men.

That’s a lot of men dying for their ideals.

Don’t forget how the issue of racism has colored this nation overall.

It started with selling black people on auction blocks, then “strange fruit” – that is, the description of lynched black men swinging in southern trees (as sung by songbird Billie Holiday) – which then progressed to segregated facilities and to the Civil Rights movement. Now, here we are.

Regardless, as I page through my Civil War books and think about what happened so long ago, I think to myself, “I know the end to the story.” But this story does continue.

Will it ever be written that history, ourselves and everything else were colorblind? Perhaps someday.

Late comments on ‘The Golden Compass’

I wrote this review last year about the movie “The Golden Compass” for our church bulletin. Since I wasn’t writing a column at the time, it didn’t make the newspaper.

It seemed to me too late to offer further comments until I bumped into a copy of this movie at our local library. It’s still available, of course, although I was surprised to see it sitting on the return cart waiting to be restocked.

Make no mistake – Christian parents should avoid having their children see the movie “The Golden Compass.”

The creator of the movie, Philip Pullman (a self-described atheist), made the following comments to the Sydney Morning Herald in 2003:

“I’m a great fan of J.K. Rowling, but the people — mainly from America’s Bible Belt — who complain that Harry Potter promotes Satanism or witchcraft obviously haven’t got enough in their lives. Meanwhile, I’ve been flying under the radar, saying things that are far more subversive than anything poor old Harry has said. My books are about killing God.”

More recently, reviews from online media say that Pullman is trying to soften these comments, because — as they put it — “Pullman realized that ‘killing God’ wasn’t the ideal sales pitch.”

Pullman also said the following to the Washington Post seven years ago when he was asked what C.S. Lewis (the well-known Christian author) would think of his books:

“I’m trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief,” Pullman told the Post. “Mr. Lewis would think I was doing the devil’s work.”

Amongst numerous Christian reviews of this movie is the following statement by Catholic author Pete Vere, which seems to sum up the advisory to parents: “For the Christian parent, the movie cannot be anything but spiritual poison to their children — for the movie is the fruit of the book,” Vere wrote.

The book is worse than the movie, in that it portrays organized religion as the root of evil in the world in a much clearer fashion — the movie is a bit more obscure, but the motive of both movie and book is clear, according to the author himself.

Quote to remember

“What is said in the passage [James 2:14] is like a two coupon train or bus ticket. One coupon says, ‘Not good if detached’ and the other says, ‘Not good for passage.’ Works are not good for passage; but faith detached from works is not saving faith.”

Charles C. Ryrie

(James 2:14 – “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?”)