Saturday, June 27, 2009

How Catholic is "catholic?"

What a transformation we have undergone. The change has been both at a break-neck pace, but also understandable - particularly in light of our developing ecclesiology and love of the Church. The resulting effect has been one of viewing the Church with more of a "catholic" mentality than a "Protestant" one. These two terms have gone through a number of different definitions throughout history, picking up new baggage with each change, but never discarding any. As a result, the terms, by themselves, say little unless clarified by either common understanding among conversation participants or copious qualifiers to accompany their usage.

For example, the Baptists may find ties to the Anabaptists of Switzerland in the 16th Century, who "protested" the Roman Catholic church at the time through what would be called "the Radical Reformation," but what exactly do they "protest" now? In addition, Protestantism is so diverse in its various denominations (Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, etc.), that the term is useful only in identifying something as non-Catholic, but offers little more clarity than that.

On the other hand, "catholic" also suffers the need for clarity as well. For much of life I have mistakenly assumed it had one meaning, that of referring to the Roman Catholic church. However, "catholic" can have a slightly more broad use than merely referencing the Christian tradition headquartered in the Vatican. At its root "catholic" is derived from the two Greek terms kata ("according to") and holos ("whole"). Therefore, "catholic" does not merely refer to the Roman church, nor can it ethereally be merely translated as "universal." It, quite literally, has to do with things agreed upon "according to the whole." Therefore, in some sense, Rome has been rather presumptuous to wear this label for itself, seeing that it does not constitute the "whole"of the Christian Church. Nevertheless, to seek the Church to be "whole," or to desire it to be "whole" again after so many years of schism and division is to view the Church through a somewhat "catholic" lens. In addition, to remain faithful to the ancient creeds is also "catholic" because these summaries of Christian doctrine were agreed upon "according to the whole." All Christian's believe the Nicene Creed (whether they realize it or not), and none are Christian who deny the truth expressed in the Nicene Creed. Therefore, the Nicene Creed is a "catholic" expression of Christian faith.

One of the ramifications of such a "lens" is to gaze longingly upon that period of the Church's history before division and schisms ripped it asunder. In this way, one can speak of the "catholic" era of the Church, before the great east/west schism of A.D. 1054. Such an ecclesiology can see in this a healthier period than is presently on display because at least there existed a unified mechanism for addressing innovations to Christian doctrine that ran contrary to the faith inherited from the apostolic era. Not to be naively nostalgic, but the assumption of sickness is to suggest a normalcy prior to becoming symptomatic. If the last millennium has been marked by schisms of Rome with the East, theological inventions of Rome through medieval scholasticism, Swiss anarchic reactions to Rome during the Radical Reformation, Protestant splintering of the Church through denominationalism and American reinventing of "church" through marketplace consumerism, then the first millennium can be viewed as healthier than the second.

Therefore, longing for the Church to return to a healthier state is, at least to some extent, a "catholic" desire. This appetite for a more "whole" Church can lead one to be more open to instruction from the ancient Church before it was as splintered apart as we find today. In addition, this mentality lends itself to finding greater value in the "whole" than in individual appetites regarding church practice. Someone may ask, "Do you like how they do 'church' at your new place?" This question is far less relevant now than it used to be, for in this way the "catholic" mentality is contrasted with the "protestant" ethos. It is more of a "protestant" mentality to evaluate churches based upon personal taste and "felt needs." Such Christian consumerism understands that if the present church experience does not meet those "needs," I can always try another...and another...and another.

The net effect is that I must admit to developing a more "catholic" view of the Church than I ever have had before. It's actually somewhat disorienting. To change one's mind is unsettling, realizing one's own immaturity in a new frontier. Much of what I thought I knew must be re-learned. It's not intellectual suicide to abandon intellectual autonomy, but it's an odd sensation nonetheless. To progress in this vein is to increasingly think more "catholic" than "protestant." This has the uncomfortable effect of placing Rome, Italy in closer proximity to my position than Alpharetta, Georgia (headquarters to the Southern Baptist Convention). After all, Benedict is at least talking to Bartholomew, which is to be celebrated. In addition, the Orthodox Church in America is extending the embrace of good will to the Anglican Church in North America. These things appear to be pleasing fulfillments of Jesus' prayer for our unity in John 17.

This change of mind was driven home to me Sunday during the singing of one of the hymns. I grew up singing the old hymn "The Church's One Foundation." Imagine my surprise when the hymnal at Church of the Holy Communion seemed to add a verse in the middle:

Though with a scornful wonder men see her sore oppressed,
By schisms rent asunder, By heresies distressed;
Yet saints their watch are keeping, their cry goes up, "How long?"
And soon the night of weeping shall be the morn of song.

I have two hymnals at home. This verse is in the 1976 hymnal I boosted from a Baptist church (not really, they gave me one), but is omitted from the 1986 hymnal I got from another Baptist church. Why the later omission? Is it not appropriate to long for the Church to be healed from her many schisms and divisions? Regardless of whether it be a “catholic” sentiment, I too cry “How long?” when lamenting the fracturing of Christ’s church. For this reason, the Reformation was positive for correcting some of Rome’s errors, but also takes on a tragic flavor for splintering the Church further. Some may accuse me of sounding increasingly “catholic” (meaning, I want the Church to be whole), but I’ll not let that deter me from thinking the Church as greater than myself, and with a "catholic" desire for unity, crying out:

“How long?”

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Respect the Ex

My father used to tell me, "Son, don't bad mouth your old girlfriend to your new one. She'll think you talk about her that way too." I later learned the wisdom of this applies also to marriage. Imagine the awkward inappropriateness of telling your wife, "Man, you're much better in bed than that girl I knew in college!" Bad idea. Keep it to yourself.

Anyway, I'm finding that a similar notion applies to migrating from one Christian tradition to another. The personal benefits of entering the Anglican communion do not need to be placed in stark contrast to my previous church arena. I can appreciate much of what I inherited from the old tradition, and feel no need to "diss" it in order to affirm my adopting of the new. Some things may suffer the occasional comparison, but the focus need not be negative. There is no fundamental need to expound upon how "I couldn't stand anymore for this so I escaped to that."

And yet, some debates have ensued that require me to draw the contrast. It's as though the previous "girlfriend" cannot allow a gracious breakup, but instead insists to know "what is it that you didn't like about me?" This is awkward because you would rather just say, "It's not you. It's me." No matter how cliche' such a cop-out might sound, it's born of the desire to break up kindly without focusing on a critique of perceived annoyances.

I am learning to appreciate the Anglican way, and adopting a measured sacramentalism that finds value in the practices of the ancient Church. The Book of Common Prayer is a great comfort when one realizes how unnecessary has been the dichotomy between prayer "meant" and prayers read. It is not a choice between reading it or meaning it if indeed one learns to both read it and mean it simultaneously. The liturgy provides a mystical continuity with ancient Christians, so that one feels as though they have entered something with some real history behind it. I truly enjoy our new "relationship," and this is true without feeling the need to disrespect the old one.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Evolution of a Worshipper

Great cartoon! Captures very well why so many evangelicals are on the Canterbury Trail.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Faith vs Certainty

One of the things refreshing about not being pastor now is that the temptation is presently far less to fake strong faith just because people are looking to you (paying you) to possess it. Faith can ebb and flow for spiritual leaders (just like anyone else), but there really can be a perceived lack of freedom to show it. Therefore, the temptation can be to project stronger faith than you actually have. This may seem hypocritical, but it's part of the human experience, especially when among your duties are to be the exemplar of faith to those around you.

However, upon further reflection, I am coming to realize that this would be less of a problem if it was faith that people actually wanted to glean from their leaders. Instead, what is implicitly sought is certainty, rather than faith. Faith is the middle ground between certainty on the far right side and doubt on the far left. Both make concrete assertions about what cannot be known. Faith, it would seem, makes fewer assertions with the same level of zeal. Instead, faith trusts in He who is, rather than making dogmatic claims about what He does. Faith may develop parameters of what can reliably be trusted (such as the revealed Word of God or the summary formulations of the ancient Christian creeds), but it still holds a place for the unknown, for mystery.

Certainty is an incipient discontent with what cannot be known. That's all that certainty often seeks to know. In a sense, certainty can, at times, take on the character of distrust, because it becomes fixated on what has not been revealed. An example may help, though examples have their limits:

I trust my wife to remain faithful in marital fidelity. I cannot be certain of this because I do not remain with her every waking moment of every day. She is often away from home without me. Likewise, I am often away from home when she is at home alone. I trust that no other relationship with another man is being, or has been developed, in those times of my absence. To be certain of this, I would need to be with her all of the time. Then I could verify it myself. However, this would demonstrate an alarming lack of trust. Stories abound about controlling spouses who fret over the fidelity of their mates during times apart, and thus seek to minimize times when the partner is out of their sight. This quest for certainty betrays a lack of trust, or faith, in the one who has pledged faithfulness.

As I consider how this template applies to my relationship to God, I realize that a dynamic and healthy relationship must be willing to entertain faith that does not require certainty.

And yet so many assertions are made in popular Christianity (insidiously rampant in Evangelicalism) that seem certain about things never promised in Holy Scripture, considered concrete by ancient fathers or common to all believers worldwide. It is a strange thing to begin developing faith that can shed levels of certainty comfortably, yet that is precisely the journey I am on. For this reason some might consider that I am developing weaker faith. I would instead contend that faith is not faith unless it's faith. That which is certain need not be trusted. As a result, I may trust in the One who sees my affliction, but can make no assertions of certainty regarding any response of his to that affliction. My faith is in He who saves me from the punishment of sin, but no certainty can be entertained about salvation from want, from disappointment or from jobless poverty.

Where this brings me is: I want to say that I trust God for a job, that he will take care of us, but I really don't know what that means. My "faith" is turning into faith (as opposed to certainty). Some will attempt to be comforting by making assertions of certainty such as, "God has something in store for you," or "God is in control," or my personal favorite, "God will provide...because he has a wonderful plan for you." These assertions are meant to be comforting by sounding so certain. However, they are not comforting because I realize that they are most often predicated on assumptions that Scripture and the Fathers never teach.

Someone might say, "I will pray for you." This used to sound like just more popular religious drivel, but now I consider it a better response of faith. To the one who says, "God has something planned for you," I want to say (but often am too polite to), "You have no way of knowing that. I know you're trying to be comforting, but you totally made that up." However, to the one who says, "I will pray for you to find something soon," I want to say (but will likely just say "thank you"), "You mean to say that you will take time away from your routine to appeal to the Lord of Lords on my behalf? You would bend his ear for my benefit? Although we cannot define with certainty how he chooses to interact with our lives, or provide for us when he does, you would appeal to him anyway to intercede in my situation? I'm touched and grateful."

I'm still not sure what new levels of certainty I'll have to shed as part of my faith development, but I doubt it will be comfortable. In the end though, better to have faith in the One that I know, than be certain about things that I don't.

Monday, June 15, 2009

When You Need Something from Outside Yourself

Having grown up in a Baptist context, I knew that worship and theology were not sacramental in nature. However, it was not until I did my undergraduate work at a fundamentalist Bible college that I realized just how anti-sacramental my tradition was. The rejection of God working through any material means was passionate and pointed, as though giving any ground to sacramental theology would somehow reverse the Reformation. Fear of Roman Catholic stereotypes permeated many layers of the fundamentalist teaching, leaving one with the sense that Protestants had better keep "protesting" or else a sinister Cardinal is coming to get you. As a result, all expressions of faith allowable for worship must be manufactured out of one's own sentiments.

This is not to denigrate the devotional life, nor to downplay the necessity of emotive engagement in worship. However, by making worship solely reliant on the sentiments that one can conjure within themselves, the anti-sacramentalist unwittingly denies the penitent a tangible means of receiving God's grace when life's "low spots" retard the ability to manufacture the right sentiment on their own. This is unfortunate, since there are most certainly times when conjuring feelings of worship and devotion are more difficult than other times. At such times the worshiper needs something from God that they know they didn't conjure on their own. Such exterior sources of assurance can penetrate dark times of disappointment, despair - even depression.

Consider the great pleasure taken by the parent when the child first expresses love back to them in a way that the parent didn't train them in. Or think of the security wrought in a relationship when one hears "I love you" that was not "I love you too" (a response to the affection you initiated). Assurance cannot be manufactured on our own. Intuitively we know this. It is a deeply felt desire to receive tokens of relational security that our conscience cannot undermine with an accusatory: Oh you totally made that up.

For this reason there are most certainly times in life when you need something from outside yourself.

Sure there may be times when I can "sense" God's grace around me, but right now I need you to had it to me as I kneel at the rail. Sure there are times when I can pray spontaneously to God, but right now I need you to lead me through prayers past down from ancient divines that knew the same God I'm crying out to. Sure I can reflect privately on my own about what I believe, but right now I need you to walk me through what we all believe from the Creeds. Sure I can remember the great acts of God on my behalf, but what if I need reminding - will you supply symbols, traditions and rites to keep them fresh in my mind? What's your answer when I need a faith that I know I'm not making up? Will you "feed" me the goodness of Christ? Or will you instruct me to be "warmed and filled" on my own, and be on my way?

Sometimes you need something from outside yourself. I come from a tradition that often maligned sacraments by calling it "salvation by works." If anything, sacraments refute "salvation by works" by offering grace from outside yourself. You're not conjuring, manufacturing or inventing feelings of grace within yourself. On the contrary, it can't be by your work since it came from a source outside yourself - and that can be very assuring at just the right time of life.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Confirmed Christian

Not that I wasn't a Christian before, but it's especially meaningful now to have representation from the ancient Church confirm it. How refreshing it is to be "confirmed" as a believer, and received fully into the Christian community in a way that is recognizable by expressions of the Church even outside my home culture. It has often grated on me that my Christianity would not be recognizable outside of America since the American brand of Christianity has shed so much of what has been, throughout history, considered Christian. It is rather gracious that an expression of the ancient Church within the U.S. would so understand the Christian landscape within the U.S. so as to accept my assertion of being Christian even though I know so little of what it is to be Christian. In a way, we have entered into a more elaborate and full expression of what it means to be Christian than we have ever enjoyed before. Many who enter the Anglican church often speak of the sensation of "coming home." I understand their sentiments. Robert Webber, in his book Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail, shares stories of people with experiences similar to our own.

How we prepared our children for this was no small task. Let's face it. They were in for quite a shock. The evening prior to their first liturgical service we had a family worship time in which we sought to use cogent illustrations to not only explain what they were going to experience Sunday morning, but get excited about it as well. We used the analogy of adventure movies: Indiana Jones, National Treasure, The Mummy, etc. In these stories, the hero usually needs to (1) know the history, (2) understand the traditions that grew out of the history of an ancient culture, and (3) interpret the symbols of that culture to find the priceless goal. In other words, history, tradition and symbol were to be inextricably linked with high adventure. During family worship in our house, a game is usually invented to illustrate the major point. Some games are more fun (like the time we rigged the living room like a ship deck in a storm to teach a lesson from the book of Jonah), while some require more thinking on the kids' part. On this occasion, we had the kids imagine that Indiana Jones is setting out to discover an ancient Christian city, whose treasure is more valuable today than ever. What history would Indy need to know? What ancient Christian traditions does he need to understand? What Christian symbols must he be able to decipher to be successful in his quest?

The lists they gave us were alarmingly insightful. They listed the history surrounding the time of the great ecumenical Creeds. They noted the traditions of the Eucharist (Communion), Baptism, singing, preaching, praying and giving. According to the kids, Indy would need to be able to fully interpret symbols such as the Cross or the Dove, or symbols for the Trinity. My wife and I were amazed. The kids saw themselves as entering a Christian "adventure movie" wherein they, like Indy, would need to know history, tradition and symbols to "discover" treasures of Christian worship that were new to all of us. These treasures would be common to the Anglican community we were entering, but they were quite new to us. Interestingly, our children anticipated church services the following morning with excitement, challenging one another on how many Christian symbols they will detect, and decipher their meaning.

When we went to the Church of the Holy Communion, we knew very little of the protocols and customs. We must have been quite a sight to some sitting around us as we fumbled through the Book of Common Prayer to find our place in the service. Nevertheless, the time for confirmands to come forward and have the presiding Bishop lays his hands on our head and pray a blessing for us was at the beginning of the service, and we had been previously coached on what to do for that segment.

How wonderful it is to worship in a Christian context that traffics so fluently in history, tradition and symbol. How refreshing it is to be enveloped in the rich living heritage that surrounds and accepts you. How deep it is to worship in ways that can claim nearly two thousand years of continuity. To be "confirmed" into such a setting and community of believers is indeed a privilege that one does not demand, but instead humbly requests out of reverence for a holy God. As a result, the confirming hands of the presiding Bishop seem, mystically, to confer the acceptance of the Apostolic community of the first century. Indeed our family has entered an "adventure movie." Where else would an aspiring "Indiana Jones" worship?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Christian, but Unchurched

What a strange sensation it is to be back seemingly to "square one." Not the least of these strange feelings is the fear of contradiction. Previously I had asserted my Baptist credentials while confessing an attraction to sacramental worship. I admitted the attraction, but resolved to remain faithful to Baptist theology and tradition (the two distinctives being believer's baptism and "spontaneous assembly"). However, significant life events can, at times, serve as a catalyst to evaluation. Our family has undergone such a life event, and the subsequent evaluation has left us confident that a better fit awaits us in the Reformed Episcopal Church than we had previously enjoyed in Baptist subset of the evangelical portion of the Protestant division of Christianity (whew! catching my breath). It has to do with how God, through his Spirit, fashions believers over time to reflect a specific side of the "diamond" that is Christianity.

As a result, we are becoming acquainted with a Christian tradition that, though quite old in its heritage and expression, has many aspects quite new to us. There are no doubt many areas where our submission to the Church will be tested, and our resolve to assimilate challenged. The immediate effects have constituted a sense of wonder at the various Christian traditions that we (my wife and I) are learning for the first time, somewhat frustrated for having not known them already. It's as though we're the "un-churched" seekers that need to learn the basics of Christianity.

Today we drove to the Church of the Holy Communion for some designated time spent in personal devotion and reflection in the sanctuary. This was among our first "wake up calls" that "we're not in Kansas anymore." We previously had not found ourselves in church cultures that emphasized a sense of "sacred space" to the extent that you would drive 40 minutes to the church building in order to spend 30 minutes in quite prayer there. Not to disparage our previous experiences in any way. They just had different emphases. However, the emphasis here is not to deny human desires for:

-designated space for worship,
-designated and tangible elements of worship conveying God's grace,
-designated clergy that humanly convey God's "nearness," and
-designated rites that convey continuity with historic Christianity.

On the contrary, these instincts are seen as God-given, and are therefore redeemed as avenues of enjoying God's grace. This is a previously lacking aspect of my Christian development. Therefore, I'm experiencing surprise at the "newness" of various attributes of ancient worship. The surprise is somewhat fun, but also frustrating. I have been a Christian all my life. There's an underlying assumption that these things should NOT be new to me.

For example today, our drive to north Dallas to spend time in personal, pre-confirmation, devotion felt like the ancient discipline of pilgrimage. Certainly such a drive is less than walking for days or weeks from Wittenburg to Rome, but it nevertheless contrasted with our American instinct for convenience. One may be willing to drive quite a distance on Sunday for a mega-church service, especially if nothing in one's community can compete. However, would we also be willing to drive 40-45 minutes to a church so as to spend less than that amount of time there quietly? Before today I would not have thought so.

When entering the sanctuary, there is a practice of reverencing the Cross with a bow. This practice is often misunderstood by non-liturgical Christian traditions. Reverence for the Cross should not be confused with worshipping an icon, or idol. The Cross symbolizes so much more than be spoken by eloquent orators or written in all the volumes of the world. Some physical reverence is appropriate. Ironically, many an evangelical who could not imagine bowing to the Cross would not think twice about placing their hand over their heart during the Pledge of Allegiance or the playing of "the Star Spangled Banner."

Regarding bowing, I have two frustrating observations:

(1) I should be used to bowing out of respect due to my years in martial arts. This should NOT be foreign to me, or feel strangely new. Yet it does, and somewhere along the line I must have lost some instinct for respect that was previously dear to me.

(2) Christians, of all people, should be used to humbly bowing in the presence of God. The very nature of worship is predicated on the assumption of God's immanent presence among his people. If my acts of worship have not produced a corresponding instinct to "bow in his presence," how mature a worshiper have I really become?

Sacred spaces. Sacred rites. Sacred times.
The place of prayer.
The posture of prayer.
The prose of prayer.

These aspects of Christian identity are being seemingly "discovered" for the first time. It's one thing to have one's spiritual life get a refreshing "shot in the arm." It's quite another to feel like a newcomer to the historic Christian experience. Sure, my wife and I have been Christians all our lives, but we're feeling brought into the Church in a new way. It leaves the uneasy sensation of feeling "un-churched," though Christian. One could take this too far and think they are becoming "truly" Christian through such new experiences. We know better. Nevertheless, it's weird to go back to being the newcomer, learning to assimilate into the Church, coming in from the outside.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Not How It's Supposed to Be

On Monday I went on my first call with the fire dept that included a victim fatality. The man had apparently been driving at a normal highway speed (I cannot speculate as to his actual speed), when something impeded his attention to the road. He swerved into the back of an "18-wheeler" flatbed trailer without so much a hitting the brakes (I surmised this from the absence of skid marks; though I'm hardly qualified to forensically investigate accident scenes). After striking the trailer, his pickup was so crushed that the airbags were rendered functionally irrelevant. The net result was that he seemingly (according to my untrained opinion) died on impact.

The Fate Fire Dept had been at the scene for a while by the time I got there, cutting away the doors to gain access to the victim. When I arrived on scene to offer support, they were in the last moments of removing gnarled car parts in their way. I spent time on the scene praying for the firefighters and those working on the accident, giving them water to because of the heat they were experiencing laboring in their bunker gear. As a result, I saw everything.

At the time it didn't occur to me as strongly, likely because, like the other personnel on scene, I was much more focused on the job. Later though, after some time for the experience to ferment in my mind, there was much that was sobering, and in many ways seemed down right wrong.

I understand, a little more now, the emphasis of Paul in 1 Cor 15:26-58 regarding victory over Death. It is an evil and horrific enemy, layering indignities upon insults at the end of one's life. Few things can scream, "This is NOT how it's supposed to be!" like seeing someone recently dead (or dead for a while for that matter). The sights, sounds and even smells all war with one's perception of how the world is "supposed" to work. While certainly one may become like a machine for the sake of getting the job done while on scene, later you realize that you took a human with you in your skin - a human that took in data through the senses that contradicts many dearly held assumptions about how the world works.

According to these assumptions:

-the body is NOT supposed to bend and flop around that way. Even if a crushed vehicle has left very few intact bones, it's still NOT supposed to twist this way and that way like a lifeless rag doll.

-people ARE supposed to be full of life, not a lifeless body crumpled up behind a crushed steering while.

Who knew that Death has a distinct smell? It wafts on the air; hovers over the scene; attacks the nostrils and leaves the lasting memory of an unnatural stench. No wonder that so much superstition and lore surrounds the specter of Death. Paul understandably personifies Death as an enemy that Christ has, and will, defeat in resurrection (both His and ours).

The nature of our hope in Christ cannot be separated from the resurrection. Rightly do Christians tire of incomplete presentations of the Gospel that offer purpose and fulfillment for this life alone. Death is coming, and it will strip all vestiges of human dignity and importance. Have we a Christ that offers a better experience for this life alone? Do we not also have a Christ that offers victory over this ancient and cruel enemy?

As I reflected further on the man pulled from the crunched vehicle, I remembered several aspects that hit me with bludgeoning force later in the evening.

As I watched the firefighters perform their extrication work, I didn't know not to look at the victim's face. My Captain would later offer the sage wisdom not to do that again. Avoiding that practice has spared him many a nightmare. I'll remember that in the future.

The victim's left arm was pinned to his chest by the support beam. When the frame support was removed, his arm fell to his left side. Oh God! There's a ring on his left hand. Some widow will be getting a call, or a visit from an officer in his hometown very soon. God, please comfort her and his family.

Typically, when someone is a crash victim, pinned inside the vehicle, rescue workers talk to them constantly to reassure them throughout the extrication. Even if the victim can't talk back for medical reasons, the rescuers still talk to them. Oh God, why isn't anyone talking to him? The silence is deafening. There's no one there to talk to. THIS IS NOT THE WAY IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE!

There is no resolution to this until the resurrection. Death is not good. It's not "just another part of life." It's anti-life. It's non-life. Death is an indignity that people were never meant to suffer. The respect that rescue workers show the deceased is laudable, but they cannot reverse the damnable horror of lifelessness. Only the power wielded by none other than the resurrected Jesus Christ can affect such a victory, and we are assured that he will at a timing of his choosing. Until then, we lament loudly, and wail in collective disgust to the One that will bring the ultimate rescue, shouting:

How long, O Lord?! How long?

How long must we endure such things that are not how it's supposed to be?