An evil man will burn his own nation to the ground to rule over the ashes.

Sun Tzu (Chinese general)

By Dr. Jim Ferguson
I’m reading the Bible again this year, but this time my Holy Bible app is reading it aloud to me.

Humans were once an aural culture, then a written one before becoming a visual culture. Now, we are moving toward virtual realities and perhaps beyond with artificial intelligence or augmentation of humans with implants, as explored in my sci-fi novel “Mantis.”

In antiquity, Biblical stories were told around campfires, during shared meals, and then in ever larger gatherings such as churches where scripture was read aloud. There’s a big difference between reading scripture silently versus hearing scripture read aloud. Similarly, there’s a big difference reading Shakespeare’s Hamlet versus watching Mel Gibson’s movie adaptation of “Hamlet.” Interestingly, 4th century Saint Augustine often shocked his contemporaries by reading scripture silently to himself.

Last week was Holy Week culminating with Easter on Sunday. The date of Easter was established by the Nicene Council in the 4th century AD as the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal (spring) equinox. As a result, the celebration of the most holy day for Christians varies from year to year. But, since timekeeping in antiquity was poor by modern standards, we really don’t have precise dates of Jesus’ birth or death. The precise dates are not important to me.

Admittedly, I’m bookish and supplement my comprehension of scripture with the research and writings of others. No reasonable scholar doubts that Jesus existed and that his teachings changed the world. I’ve read several books by Lee Strobel who was an atheist and set out to debunk Christianity. His quest led to his conversion, becoming an apologist for Christ. Strobel came up with five E’s: Jesus existed, he was executed, there was an empty tomb, there were five hundred eyewitnesses to Jesus’ resurrection and there was rapid early adoption of Christianity across the Roman world. By comparison, myths take generations to become established.

The scholar and author C.S. Lewis was also an atheist who was moved to thoroughly research ancient writings and Biblical accounts. And with study Lewis became a Christian and posited his “Trilema”: Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic or Lord. Since there is no evidence that Jesus was a liar or a lunatic, the logical conclusion is that Jesus is Lord.

Last week I listened to the four Gospel accounts of Jesus’ last week on earth. Two of the Gospelers (Matthew and John) were members of Jesus’ inner circle of disciples and were eyewitnesses to his ministry. Of the other two gospel writers, Mark was probably a more distant follower in Jesus’ entourage, and although Luke never met Jesus, he interviewed numerous eyewitnesses of the Master’s ministry, crucifixion and resurrection.

It may be redundant for some, but Lent is a Christian religious observance encompassing a 40-day period prior to Easter. It is a time for reflection. Some give up things during Lent as a way to help them focus on spiritual issues. Admittedly, I sometimes lose sight of the Presence because I exist in this earthly reality. You might say I exist more in the world than the Word. I probably would be more focused if I lived in a monastery with a cloistered existence. But that is not my destiny. Nonetheless, I exist in God’s Creation which He sustains, whether I perceive the Presence at any given instance. One of my favorite pieces of scripture is Acts 17:28, “For in him we live and move and have our being.”

In years past I have tried to give up something for Lent, but it just never afforded me additional spiritual focus. Instead, I try to do something positive every day for someone during Lent. If I were a better person, I might try to do this all year. However, I’ve found that I’m just unable to sustain that focus, even though it takes so little to reach out to someone given phone, email and text messaging options. I even used to write notes to people and send encouragement by snail mail!

Last week our minister’s sermon focused on the power described in John 19. Pontius Pilate tells Jesus he (Pilate) has the power of life and death over the Lord. However, Jesus responds by telling the Roman Prefect that his power was given to him and it will be taken away, just as power and earthly life will end for us.

Pilate was appointed by the Roman Emperor Tiberius and ruled for ten years. He is most known for sentencing Jesus to be crucified. Pilate should have listened to his wife (Matthew 27:19), but he didn’t. When his sponsor Tiberius died, Pilate was recalled to Rome and disappeared from history.

Unfortunately, too often there is a disconnect between spirituality and reality. There is an old hymn that goes “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.” Yes, we are called to love, but love is not a blank check of unfettered forgiveness. Love encompasses responsibility and consequences. I don’t feel unloving by pointing out the destroyers of our country or those who enable the destruction because of hatred (the Trump derangement syndrome). And I don’t feel warm and fuzzy for liberals who stick virtue-signaling yard signs on their property but reject housing illegal aliens streaming across our borders.

The utter chaos at the border only worsens as Biden fiddles like Nero who “fiddled as Rome burned.” Actually, if Nero played anything it was a cithara because the fiddle class of instruments was not invented until the 11th century AD.

It is said that “politics is all about sound bites and snapshots” (Dan Bongino). And as we listen to the confused Biden’s rambling and watch border agents assaulted by hordes of illegals, a rational person notices. Meanwhile, Biden made non-border fundraising stops in Texas and again in New York with Lizzo, instead of attending the wake for the fallen NYC policeman as President Trump did.

Jesus said in this world, we will always have trouble. He called out the elitist Pharisees in Matthew 23. Similarly, we suffer from “elites” in the media, academia, government and those in thrall to evil. Paul wrote in Ephesians that Christians must put on the armor of God because of the struggle against the powers and forces of darkness. The struggle continues two thousand years later.


Editor’s note: Part of Dr. Ferguson’s column, “In The News,” last week was incorrectly formatted. Please find the correct format below.

I’ve been thinking about big numbers lately. I once wrote a story about big numbers like a googol – not Google. A googol is 1 with a hundred zeros represented as 10100.  I credit my high school physics and chemistry teacher who taught me how to handle big numbers and balance chemical equations. And this allowed me to do well enough in college to get into medical school. Some years ago, I tracked him down and thanked him for helping me succeed.

When I was growing up I did not know anyone who was a millionaire which is 106 dollars. (I don’t think Thurston Howell III on Gilligan’s Island counts.) Now we have billionaires with 109 dollars. And our national debt is over $30 trillion (1012) or 1000 times the number of stars in the Milky Way galaxy.