Two great quotes from the article The Neuro Transformers (here). As I post parts of my research it's good to ask, "How is culture catechising me in ways I'm not even aware? What about my children?"
Culture also affects our brains in less obvious ways. Consider that we tend unconsciously to accept as “normal” that which our culture regards as normal.
Given the way our flexible brains tend to rewire themselves to adapt to our environment, it is easy for us to “catch” the assumptions of false worldviews without realizing we have done so, just as a child learning a language will pick up the right accent without even thinking about it. David Wells grasped this well when he wrote that “worldliness . . . is that set of practices in a society, its values and ways of looking at life, that make sin look normal and righteousness look strange.” The changes in our brains wrought by these societal influences often occur deep below the surface of our conscious awareness, leading us to hold pre-reflective assumptions that are, to quote Herbert Schlossberg. “More powerful than assertions, because they bypass the critical faculty and thereby create prejudice. . . . The simple act of listening to an argument is almost enough to engage it. . . . That bypassed assumption is the pocket of enemy soldiers that was ignored in an effort to engage the main body of the adversary, and it lies in wait to strike from the rear. The false assumption is additionally beguiling because it often appeals to one of the worst instincts—the desire to be fashionable or at least to avoid being associated with the unfashionable or unpopular.
I'm working on a paper to present at the October pastors' conference and I have found this Salvo article (here) extremely helpful. Here are the opening paragraphs:
"One of the themes I’ve been exploring in some of my Salvo articles is how our brains change based on interactions with our social environment.
In my Salvo article ‘The Neuro Transformers’ and also in ‘Sex & the Kiddies’ I explained just how flexible the human brain is and how the messages we are exposed to in our culture actually change the neuro-circuitry of our brains."
Or to put it another way -- you and your children are constantly being catechized by everything that is around you, whether you are aware of it or not. And not only is it catechizing you, it's actually changing your brain.
Here's his concluding paragraph: "Not only can things like memorizing and swimming underwater change our brains, but our brains also change based on the messages we receive from society all around us, and from the cultural environment in which we grow up. This can be a force for good, when the culture around us is wholesome, but it can also be a force for great evil and subversion."
This is extremely important as we consider the environments of our homes and schools. To be continued...
I've been thinking about addressing the current push by the Federal Government to force everyone to bow to the latest fruit of the sexual revolution -- transgender issues. Then today The Federalist posted a fantastic article by a fellow LCMS pastor, Hans Fiene. It is well worth your time to read. It is to the point and pastoral. Here's the closing paragraph:
“So stop flailing around in the darkness trying to escape the sins that Christ has already struck dead and to unlock the doors of the kingdom that Christ has already opened for you. Righteousness doesn’t come ex opere operato. It comes extra nos, from outside of us, from the bloody cross and empty tomb of Jesus Christ that become yours through faith in his promises. Because of Christ, God has declared you righteous. You can stop saying stuff you don’t believe now.”
Read the rest here.
This is a fantastic interview with Pastor Fisk regarding sports, our sports centered culture, and the Christian life. Take a few moments to listen: http://issuesetc.org/2016/04/05/3-pop-culture-a-sports-centered-culture-pr-jonathan-fisk-4516/
Dr. William Weinrich has written an outstanding article on martyrdom (linked here - Christian Martyrdom: Some Reflections) and it is well worth your time to read and contemplate. As we live in an increasingly hostile world it is good for us to reflect on what it means to be a martyr.
Here is a preview:
Christians have faced hostility and rejection at some time and in some place ever since the foundation of the Church. Yet special factors, new to our experience, may be mentioned which make the theme of persecution and martyrdom understandable and pastorally necessary at the present time. A recent report of the Vatican on the persecution of Christians throughout the world makes mention of two of these special factors. In part, the report states the following: “Credible research has reached the shocking conclusion that an estimate of more than 100,000 Christians are violently killed because of some relation to their faith every year. Other Christians and other believers are subjected to forced displacement, to the destruction of their places of worship, to rape and to the abduction of their leaders … In addition, in some Western countries where historically the Christian presence has been an integral part of society, a trend emerges that tends to marginalize Christianity in public life, to ignore historic and social contributions and even to restrict the ability of faith communities to carry out social charitable services.”
Groups such as Persecution.org concur with such findings: According to this group, some “two hundred million Christians currently live under persecution.” And the number is rising. Concerning active persecution of Christians, Persecution.org mentions especially places like Africa and the Middle East. In Egypt, the ancient and traditional Coptic Christians face increasing hostility, and according to one observer “what has happened in Iraq and Syria is de facto ethnic cleansing of Christians” (Neil Hicks of Human Rights First).
There are two major threats in the world to Lutheran churches: the rise of an expansionist, jihadist Islam, which is unwilling to give place to Christian communities, and the increasing dominance of Western secular egalitarianism, which claims that traditional Christian thinking and habit are intolerant and discriminatory, and so secularists also are unwilling to tolerate Christian influence in the public square. Those of us who live in Western Europe or in the United States are well aware of the social and even legal forces which intend to define Christian faith as a mere private opinion and rob it of any legitimate public or social role. This is, to be sure, a new phenomenon, and our people are largely ill-prepared for this emerging challenge.
We need to speak clearly and stand up for our daughters. On December 3rd the Secretary of Defense opened up all combat positions to women. Yesterday there was already a report about military leaders saying that women should be required to register for the draft. This is an important issue for us as Christians to think through -- especially as it regards the order of creation and the roles of men and women.
Please take a moment to read this overture that has been prepared for the 2016 Synod Convention:
Overture to Condemn the Conscription of Women
If you somehow missed it, Life Site News reported:
Two of the investigators (David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt) behind the undercover Planned Parenthood videos face up to 20 years in prison after a Houston grand jury decided on Monday (Jan. 25) not to charge Planned Parenthood with any wrongdoing – and, bizarrely, instead indicted them for offering to purchase human organs from the abortion provider as part of their investigation! (For more please see here)
The prophet Isaiah says, "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!" (Isaiah 5:20)
So the Houston Grand Jury has declared good evil and evil good. The brave and heroic work of David and Sandra is being called evil, while the monstrous and abominable work of Planned Parenthood once again is called good. It really is that simple. Those who are murdering babies in the womb and even selling their body parts are free to continue their slaughter, while the brave people that sought to expose their wickedness have been indicted. The grand jury may have declared good evil and evil good, but God is not mocked. His is the only verdict that matters and He has spoken clearly on all of this.
Now this certainly shouldn't surprise us as this is the same court system that has been defending the murder of babies for years, but it should anger us. We've heard about abortion so much in the last 43 years that there is often the danger and temptation to grow weary in hearing about it. We must remain vigilant though. We must continue to speak the truth in a world that has gone mad. We must speak up on behalf of those little ones that can't speak for themselves and we must speak up on behalf of heroes like David and Sandra. We must speak out whenever and wherever we have an audience because the stakes are too high for God's people to be silent.
We also must act. We must do what we can to help and protect these children. As Luther says on the 5th Commandment in the Large Catechism: Secondly, under this commandment not only he is guilty who does evil to his neighbor, but he also who can do him good, prevent, resist evil, defend and save him, so that no bodily harm or hurt happen to him, and yet does not do it. If, therefore, you send away one that is naked when you could clothe him, you have caused him to freeze to death; if you see one suffer hunger and do not give him food, you have caused him to starve. So also, if you see any one innocently sentenced to death or in like distress, and do not save him, although you know ways and means to do so, you have killed him. And it will not avail you to make the pretext that you did not afford any help, counsel, or aid thereto, for you have withheld your love from him and deprived him of the benefit whereby his life would have been saved.
And we must pray. We must pray for all those involved in the abortion industry. Pray for an end to the slaughter. Pray for repentance: for the doctors, for those who have had abortions, for our own complicity and complacency in this culture of death. Pray that they would know that the blood of Jesus covers even the blood of slain babies. Pray for healing. Pray for perseverance in doing good. Pray for David and Sandra and all those fighting the good fight. For we know that God has commanded us to pray and promises to hear us.
So we pray, Come quickly, Lord Jesus and Lord, have mercy on us all.
A place for Pastor Packer to post articles, links, and his own thoughts.