Sleepers

Silence in the face of evil is evil itself; God will not hold us guiltless.

Not to speak is to speak.

Not to act is to act.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

By Dr. Jim Ferguson

It is now April 1st and Maundy Thursday as I begin this essay during Easter week. I am usually better organized writing my weekly column, but it has been an especially busy week finishing the draft of my novel and sending it to my editor.

Writing a novel is vastly different than writing an essay. I was fortunate to find an editor who enjoys science-fiction. Now, I wait with trepidation for her opinions. But as Rush Limbaugh once said, “You can’t be afraid to fail or you’ll never succeed.”

Every writer wants to be read, so I thank each of you who are surfing my prose. I have never claimed to be a professional writer. Writing is an avocation for me, not a vocation. I enjoy the creative process and I am a teacher at heart. And because Knoxville is a conservative enclave within a conservative state, I risk very little in voicing my opinions which the Constitution guaranteed. However, the radicals in charge are actively trying to suppress media conservatives like Tucker Carlson and political conservatives like Ted Cruze, and they silenced quarterback Drew Brees, who dared voice his non-leftist opinion.

On the Thursday before Easter many celebrate Maundy Thursday. The word maundy derives from the Latin word mandatum which means a command. During the Last Supper with his disciples, Jesus commanded them to partake of consecrated bread and wine in remembrance of him.

The Friday before Easter is celebrated as Good Friday. The name always struck me as odd since on this day Jesus was tortured and crucified. If you doubt me, watch Mel Gibson’s historically accurate “The Passion of Christ.” Good Friday was only good for us because of Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice.

In his book “The Case for Christ,” Lee Strobel presents compelling evidence for arguably the most important event in mankind’s history. Emphasizing “e” words Stobel says Jesus undeniably Existed as a historical figure, he was Executed, his followers and others found an Empty tomb three days after he was interred, then upwards of 500 Eyewitnesses saw Jesus after his death and there was an Early adoption of the Christian message. Typically, myths take generations to develop.

And I offer two other observations. The same disciples who were cowering in the Upper Room from the authorities after Jesus’ execution, emerged boldly proclaiming the “good news” after encountering the risen Jesus. And secondly, I offer my own transformation and redemption. Buddhists hold that ridding yourself of desire is the path to nirvana. Muslims say that everything is God’s will. Hindus attribute everything to karma. Christians are resurrected and redeemed by Christ.

I’m a fan of science-fiction (SF). Some of you may be shaking your heads saying, “I don’t like science-fiction.” That’s fine as long as you’ve tried it. I don’t care for mysteries novels or Brussel sprouts, but I’ve tried them. And you should understand there are many genres or “flavors” of SF. I don’t care for dystopian or apocalyptic, end of the world SF stories. However, I am fascinated by what the world might look like from someone else’s perspective or even the perspective of a non-human. Technology enables this imaginative perspective in my novel.

One of the fundamental properties of the universe is a principle of physics called entropy. Simply stated, all energy systems run down. Clocks run down and stop. Spinning tops slow down and fall over. You get the point of entropy. A SF book by David Brin called “The Practice Effect” described a world where everything was made by “winding things up,” so to speak, and opposing entropy. As an example, chairs were made by continuing to rub pieces of wood together guided by the thoughts of a craftsman. Certainly, a challenging perspective, but I see a corollary in one’s spiritual life. Practicing the Presence makes God more real to me. And ignoring the Creator causes that image and reality to dissipate in my life. I see this as spiritual entropy.

There is a pivotal moment in the magnificent science-fiction novel “Dune” by Frank Herbert where the protagonist has an epiphanal moment and looks to heaven proclaiming, “Father, the sleeper has awakened.” In this non-religious novel, the father is not God, but the protagonist’s father who was murdered. I sometimes wonder if the sleepers in our country will awaken.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran cleric who, in the 1930s and 1940s, challenged evil in Nazi Germany. A novelized story of his life is told in the beautiful book “Saints and Villains” by Denise Giardina. What is happening on our southern border is not a policy controversy. It is evil. Similarly, the Covid pandemic has morphed into the pandemic of fear. In the midst of the Great Depression FDR famously said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” I believe we must recognize and resist the malevolent force that is driving irrational fear in America, and we must resist the minions who march under its banner and articulate its destructive message.

In the depths of winter, I began a New Year’s resolution project. I decided to again read through the Bible this year, and to be more diligent in reaching out to those who have made a difference in my life. In years past I have thanked a high school chemistry professor who taught me how to balance chemical equations which helped me get into medical school. I have also thanked people who made a difference in my spiritual journey. Since I can’t write to my readers individually, I will thank all of you collectively for making a difference in the life of this fellow traveler.

I wish you all a happy Easter. I encourage you to be courageous, “Speak the truth in love” and “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

 

 

 

 

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