THE VILLAGE VICAR SPEAKS

The Clash of Ideas

by Rev. Dr. Ron Holden

We live in a world in which the clash of ideas, concepts and basic principles of thought and behavior are in a never-ending conflict. The plus-factor is that the discussion of these differences appears, unlike the past, debated in a passionate, non-shouting and amicable manner. From the bombastic, grandiloquent and pompous debater, we have developed a suave, cultivated and polished approach to today’s issues.

Of course, much of our exterior veneering is expressed with a degree of posturing depending upon the venue in which the debate is lodged. Held in a tavern ignited by too many intoxicants, the hashing-out descends to the level of the gutter, with all restraints removed and

the fear of consequences, apart from a haphazard fist fight, minimal.

In contrast, a formal discussion of different points of view before a TV camera or a large auditorium filled with knowledgeable spectators decrees a polished performance from articulate speakers who are in complete control of their emotions, facial expressions and vocal reactions to the stinging words of an opponent.

For some this is sheer acting, playing a part, an attempt to impress without possessing genuine sincerity or honest integrity. For others this is a truthful, heartfelt and earnest expression arising from a deep conviction. The problem is that the listener must discern the difference between the two.

     How can sincerity be measured?

     The salesperson must be sincere whether he means it or not. The small-town politician may be able to evade scrutiny because he can be easily put out of office. But the candidate running for high office has to be transparent because teams of researchers, opposing candidates and enemies in general will expose the dents in his armor.

     Anatole France wrote: “The first virtue of all really great men is that they are sincere.

They eradicate hypocrisy from their hearts. They bravely unveil their weaknesses, their doubts, their defects. They are courageous. They boldly ride a-tilt against prejudices. No civil, moral, or immoral power overawes them. They love their fellowmen profoundly. They are generous. They allow their hearts to expand. They have compassion for all forms of suffering. Pity is the very foundation-stone of genius.”

To me, this is the epitome of sincerity. There is nothing hidden, all is obvious and the total interest is centered upon others. Being so translucent enables a person to present his ideas forthrightly, not fearing the clash of ideas because he believes in what he says.

Are you kind to those who hate you,

Helping when you can?

Are you patient and forgiving

Towards your fellow-man?

Are you doing unto others

As you’d have them do

Were they in your stead, my brother

Does your life ring true?

Author unknown

In our day a position of ethical strength must be discharged, with fervency and sincerity.

There are those whose clarion call is touching lives, moving a number to action and effecting society for its good.

Ideas containing absolute truth should be propagated and bathed in prayer so that that truth may be permanently etched in everyone’s mind.

 

A graduate of McGill, a weekly speaker on Persona Channel 18, Past-President of the South

Okanagan Ministerial Association and chaplain at the South Okanagan General Hospital and the Osoyoos Legion, Rev. Dr. Ronald Holden will be addressing religious, moral and sociological subjects in this column.

THE VILLAGE VICAR SPEAKS

 

THE MOST DEMOCRATIC OF ALL ACTS: DEATH

 

             Death is the most democratic experience in life for all participate in it. And yet when the call of God for us to depart from this life resonates in our soul and mind, so much fear arises as we dread the process of dying and entering into an unknown sphere.  Much of the process is resolved by pain-control medications and the entering into the unknown can be resolved by opening the pages of the Bible and accepting its message.

 

             Our greatest problem is that so much of self is involved in what we do here. The visible, concrete and material components of existence become life’s focal point and relegate into the deepest recesses of our mind that which is all-important when the end comes.  When the tsunami of terror suddenly manifests its horror and we are swept from reality into a whirlpool of the unknown, fear controls our mind as we enter into the deep throes of night, alone and insecure.

 

             Consider how Charles de Gaulle expressed a fearful outlook of the end: “Old man, exhausted by ordeal, detached from human deeds, feeling the approach of the eternal cold, but always watching in the shadows for the gleam of hope”.  And  in his writings does he express his search culminating in “the gleam of hope”?

 

             Also note how Thornton Wilder was bound to this world and its offerings, which are so trite in comparison to what could have been his occupation:  “Good-by world . . . Good-by to clocks ticking . . . and Mama’s flowers.  And food and coffee.  And new-ironed dresses and hot baths.  . . and sleeping and waking up.  Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize”.

 

             To measure the value of Christianity is to prove the conquest of death.  D. L. Moody, a famous minister of by-gone years, stated emphatically:  “Death may be the King of terrors . . . but Jesus is the King of Kings”.  And Alexander MacLaren, a noted preacher, exclaimed, “Death is but a passage.  It is not a house, it is only a vestibule.  The grave has a door on its inner side”.

 

             I believe that the fear of death is cancelled by belief in Christ.  Paul taught that to “depart from the body is to be with Christ”.  In essence, he stated that when we leave this world by the pathway of death, we enter into eternal life, to be with Jesus forever.  Then we can shout: “Where, O death is your victory?  Where, O death is your sting?”  And at that point in our experience we can rest in the words of Paul: “But thanks be to God!  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”.

 

             Our goal should be to live forever, and then we shall not fear the sense of dying.  In fact, a man’s conception of death will determine his philosophy of life!

 

             The last words of John Wesley were:  “Brethren, farewell.  The greatest thing is that God still lives.”  And of Francis Willard: “How beautiful to be with God!”

 

                 According to the Bible, we will be passing from an old order and entering a new order.  “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them.  They will be his people, and God himself will be their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.  There shall be no more death or mourning or crying or pain for the OLD ORDER has passed way”.

 

                 By faith in Christ we will all experience the NEW ORDER, “at home with Jesus forever”.

 

A graduate of McGill, a weekly speaker on Persona Channel 18, Past-President of the South Okanagan Ministerial Association and chaplain at the South Okanagan General Hospital and the Osoyoos Legion,  Rev. Dr. Ronald Holden will be addressing religious, moral and sociological subjects  in this column

THE VILLAGE VICAR SPEAKS

 

THE ENEMY WITHIN:

AN UNFORGIVING SOUL

 

             One of the prime causes of illness is the lack of desire to forgive and forget.

It is one of the contributory factors to colon cancer, ulcers and a plethora of other potentially destructive diseases.

 

             Individuals pass through soul exercises that are unproductive such as saying “I can forgive, but I cannot forget” which is only another way of saying “I cannot forgive.” Such thought processing is an invalid exercise that leads to remaining in the same sorry state as that with which the soul began.  The most productive exercise is the development of a forgiving spirit.

 

             On the one hand, a person can choose to function at life’s lowest level and walk with a heart of hate.  On the other hand, he can rise above that and emphatically declare “I will not permit any man to belittle and degrade me by making me hate him”.

 

             The scripture never fails to provide a premise upon which to act:  “The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression”.

 

             The inability to forgive others breaks the bridge over which he must pass himself.  The bridge can only be reconstructed by the act of forgiving as forgiveness is required.

 

             The best way to end a quarrel is to begin the conversation by forgiving.  This is the beginning of restored fellowship and an expression of love greater than that which existed at any prior time.  The best way to continue a quarrel is to display malice at every encounter.

 

             I can only speak from my limited experience by observing that forgiveness is my deepest need and should be my greatest achievement.  By experiencing both I am walking on a higher plane and manifesting a greater depth of character.

 

             Sadly but true, it is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.  How sad it is when our values become so distorted!

 

             One of my most significant observations is:   When you are forgiven, someone must pay, and the one who forgives is the one who suffers.  So be it!  It is better to suffer doing a right than doing a wrong.

 

             Let me conclude with a few thoughts that I have gathered from my readings.

 

             King Henry V1 of England had it said of him:  He never forgot anything but injuries.’

 

             Emerson said of Lincoln:  “His heart was as great as the world, but there was not room in it for the memory of a wrong”.

 

             Spurgeon gives this advice:  “Cultivate forbearance till your heart yields a fine crop of it.  Pray for a short memory as to unkindness”.

 

             The great exhortation of Jesus is:  “And be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you”.

 

A graduate of McGill, a weekly speaker on Persona Channel 18, Past-President of the South Okanagan Ministerial Association and chaplain at the South Okanagan General Hospital and the Osoyoos Legion,  Rev. Dr. Ronald Holden will be addressing religious, moral and sociological subjects  in this column

THE VILLAGE VICAR SPEAKS

 

THE EFFECTS OF REJECTING GOD

 

                 Sometime ago Billy Graham’s daughter, Ann Lotz, was interviewed on television and asked the following question in reference to Katrina.  “How could God let something like this happen?”

 

             Her response was extremely profound and insightful.

 

             “I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we’ve been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives.  And being the gentleman He is, I believe that He has calmly backed out.  How can we expect God to give us His blessings and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?”

 

             Has man on his own volition removed himself so far from God that God has removed Himself far from the affairs of man?

 

             A creature can do as he wishes—he is not a robot but possesses a fully developed brain, a will that can function according to his whims and a conscience that is educated in the moral realm to abide within an ethical teaching taught by God in a book to which all have access.  The creature can turn from being God-centered to being self-centered, from law-abiding to law defying, and from being a good influence to a bad representative of mankind, an absolute disgrace.

 

             A man’s conscience tells him what he should not do, but does not keep him from doing it.  He can suppress that warning voice within, become perverted habitually in his behavior, so that he moves from good acts to a premeditatedly evil course.

 

             A man can escape the censures of the world, the reproaches of his own heart and move into a defiant, calloused and morose state of mind.  He can follow the voice of a dictator, the course of accumulating wealth at the expense of society or rob the poor or helpless and increase their poverty and aloneness.

 

             Why would God want to claim such deviants as His creatures?  Man has chosen to go his own way; God has allowed him to do so.

 

             The bottom line for man is to reverse his course and to choose a Master who can provide the redirection so necessary.  It is not a matter of who or what a man is, but whether he is controlled by God.  “The confession of evil works is the first beginning of good works,” said Augustine.

 

             Let’s rethink what Billy Graham’s daughter said, “How can we expect God to give us His blessings and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?”  The answer is obvious:  We cannot.

 

             We may argue, “But what about those who are presumed murderers, thieves, corrupt politicians, suicide bombers, religious forces bent on destroying mankind?”  They “seem” to be mocking our legal system, defying punishment and maintaining the appearance of acceptance in society.  Perhaps.  But no one escapes the punishment of a righteous God!  Justice always prevails.

 

             There is a point where man and God must meet, either to experience his goodness or his judgment and at that point both are revealed as they are.

 

             “Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceedingly small;

               Though with patience He stands waiting, with exactness grinds He all”.

n      Friedrich Von Logau

 

A graduate of McGill, a weekly speaker on Persona Channel 18, Past-President of the South Okanagan Ministerial Association and chaplain at the South Okanagan General Hospital and the Osoyoos Legion,  Rev. Dr. Ronald Holden will be addressing religious, moral and sociological subjects  in this column

THE VILLAGE VICAR SPEAKS

 

MASTERS OF DECEPTION

 

             I think that a master of deception is like a lawyer who has a line of defense; he begins to argue, then he deflects the direction his words might be going.  When it looks like he is NOT going to win his case, he throws in confusion to deceive the jury and hopefully the opposition.  He makes mileage out of the most innocuous comment or detail and begins backtracking or downplaying pertinent facts.

             Such people never reflect on their own weakness.  They desire to be absolved of any guilt without having to confront another human being or suffer the minor indignity of a form of penance.

             There is not much credence in their dialogue, and it is difficult to persuade them to recognize their wrong and the eventual consequence.  In a few cases solitary contemplation does produce some results but such cases are rare.

             Their visions are skewed, their priorities need to be rearranged and their present mind frame requires a transition from denial to confrontation.  The gung-ho attitude needs to be altered quickly.  Pain or discipline can change behavior.

             But the only way people really benefit from pain or loss or hardship is t0 first acknowledge a wrong and then, over time, to see how it has changed them and how they have fitted those changes into how they live.  Life needs to be filled with a sense of mission and meaning.

             Let’s be open!  It is easier to deceive yourself than to deceive anyone else.

             Sir Walter Scott in Marmion wrote:  “Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!”

             “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”, stated a Chinese Proverb.

             One of the most perceptive statements I have come across is:  “When we put up a bluff we are sure to tumble over it.”

             Whenever you are involved in deception you have three choices:  Do what you please; do what others do; or DO WHAT IS RIGHT.

             It is wrong to let others decide what our reaction should be to a given situation.  If they make the decisions, we are no longer free persons, whether we decide to agree or disagree.

             Always remember that others see through our acts of deception.  We can deceive some of people some of the time, but not all the people all the time, so goes the well-known saying.

             Let me go back to the lawyer analogy with which I began.  As we listen to people, little by little we gather incriminating evidence.  Before us is the task of objectively analyzing the facts based upon the purported evidence.  We are not referring to an all smoke and mirror situation but one based upon substance, upon substantiated facts.  Should we have an axe to grind, we should not be a participant; otherwise we may be poleaxed.  But now we possess the facts.

             At this point we reach a sensitive area and must consider the words of Jesus: “Do not judge, or you will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with what measure you use, it will be measured to you”.

             In summary, it is important to realize that God judges all for their acts of deception.

 

A graduate of McGill, a weekly speaker on Persona Channel 18, Past-President of the South Okanagan Ministerial Association and chaplain at the South Okanagan General Hospital and the Osoyoos Legion,  Rev. Dr. Ronald Holden will be addressing religious, moral and sociological subjects  in this column