Sunday, October 31, 2010


The Peter Principle says each person is promoted to their level of incompetence. It is a deeply cynical fear of man, pride and arrogance idea. Like all cynicism it misses the irony that cynics lack faith in their own cynicism. Interestingly for a British soldier being anything other than cynical is considered odd. It's true. If you doubt me try this experiment. Tell a work colleague, preferably a peer or commander that you really appreciate and value their service. Be sure to look into their eyes when you do and tell me that you don't see bewilderment. Cynicism is a lack of faith in mankind, his intentions, motives and abilities and it's growing. Is this intriguing?

Cynics have the privileged and exalted position of being able to see mankind from a lofty perspective. They see that people need to sort out their consciences to find better motives and intentions and thereby improve our institutions. Here is a great example from a website of a comrade in arms, who I admire for his energies but would love him to see his piety:

"My contention is that by concentrating our efforts inward, we will develop leaders of known moral character, with the ability to critically view their environment and make decisions consistent with the values of the nation and the Army and that advance the commander's intent and mission accomplishment. They gain the understanding of why they make the choices or decisions they do and then possess the character to stand by them once made, or adapt them when they become aware that they will not work."

If the condition of the world, if the consistent failure of institutions and empires are symbolic of mankind's inherent rot, corruption and tendency to greed, how will looking inward be of any benefit? Of course, in a culture of strict fundamental secularism, suggesting that we look beyond the material world is the preserve of primitive religions, and not for inclusion in serious dialogue regarding Army leadership. The latest manifestation of this secular atheistic religion is the radical environmental movement that has emerged from the 300 year Age of Enlightenment experiment. Its religious shrines litter our countryside in the form of huge windmills. Daring to challenge the secularist scriptures by suggesting that our thoughts, behaviour and lifestyle are accountable to anything beyond our personal rational and common sense, risks accusations of intolerance by making exclusive claims - And believe me the accusation is accepted because this is complete exclusivity!

My point is to illustrate that we are dealing with competing truth claims. The proposal that good morals can come from introspection is classic eastern religious philosophy. This philosophy is increasingly popular in western cultures. Mankind is essentially good, it just takes enough exploration of a personal paths and peace and harmony will follow. This compliments the idea that there are multiple paths to enlightenment however, to see those paths you already have to hold the high ground. Do you see the dichotomy? These are truth claims in a maelstrom of competing truth claims.

Corporately in the military, we had a broad consensus about the truth. We still benefit from that legacy with our commissioning scrolls recognizing God, our units still having Christian church services and parades, and Christian pastors still being directly employed by the military. However, these components are being marginalized by a new religion that says there are no ultimate truth claims, all judgement and retribution has to take place in this world, mankind's laws and institutions can fix our broken world. We are on a dangerous path believing that the ultimate truth our fathers fought for are wrong, that our more evolved world perspective allows us to see clearer. The deserts and mountains of Afghanistan are littered with the dried bones of men who believed that they had a soul and that soul had an eternal purpose - to love one God. Many believed that there were false gods, prophets and theories and sacrificed their lives to protect their wives, children and families from the lies that would enslave them.

We each see deceit, lies and corruption in our lives each day, let's face it we are even capable of lying to ourselves. What greater evidence that our hearts are deceitful do we need? Is it not therefore sensible to see that there can be only one truth, greed will lead people to lie to you and that any suggestion that you can fix things, that your actions can merit your enlightenment/salvation/happiness are likely lies?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

On My Mind

I fear that there is more on my mind than in my mind. I see youth untarnished by the world, who remain uninhibited by social convention and I just want to preserve it. However, I know that can't be so I must ensure I enjoy it. My hope is that I can point as many as the next generation as possible to wisdom. Not received worldly wisdom but the wisdom that comes from humbly submitting oneself to the truth that we see around us. Of course if i approach each day desperate to cherish each moment I will overlook just enjoying the moment, how crazy is that? I read in Gyles Brandreth's book A Portrait of Royal Marriage that the Queen and Duke of Edinburg are not introspective. That says to me that if they don't spend time pondering their meaning, what all the wealth and pomp and circumstance is about then they must be sincere Gospel centered Christians. Of a lengthy and interesting book that one important fact has stayed with me. That's cool!

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. You represent a worldview that is common in my family and many friends. One thing that unites us is an instinctive animosity to the world's religions. Religion's message is 'join us, follow our rules, pray in this way, read these holy books, undertake a particular task and you will merit your salvation, our god will love you'. We can witness the brutal consequences of religion each day. Of course there are additional religions like sex, worshipped through porn, adultery and perversion; there is success, where it's all about conquering and rising to the top at the expense of family, neighbour and colleague; there is reputation, how people perceive me has value above all else. People's religion is revealed in where they invest their time, treasure, talent and emotion.

The point is that it is not my place to persuade you or set out a series of arguments in support of my particular worldview. I can tell you my story. That being, until about three years ago, I shared a similar attitude as you and now, through a personal relationship with a loving and just God, who is a father, I am much to my own surprise, reporting that Jesus is in fact who he said he was and did what he said he came to do.

Like the early Christian church and Christians around the world today I now get to deal with ridicule and risk persecution. In places like Iran, Saudi Arabia and parts of northern Sudan I would face torture and death by simply loving and serving people as Jesus loved and served them. But when you worship a homeless guy, who was brought up by his step dad in a small middle eastern village, became an itinerant preacher and was tortured and murdered for claiming he was God then it kind of goes with the turf.

Many of the questions that arise about God, whether it's unpacking his character and nature, through understanding the doctrine of the trinity; "how can there be one God but in three persons?", needs to be understood by studying the Bible accompanied by good teaching. There are teaching Bibles, and commentaries to accompany each of its 66 books. People want to know how can a loving God permit suffering in the world? How can the Bible be the infallible word of God in company with scientific research and theory? Answers to these questions help each man and woman appreciate their role and purpose in this brief and uncertain life.

The testimony of several eye witnesses that corroborate each others story is powerful in any court of law. If they testified against a pedophile, rapist or cruel murderer and a judge released him without being held to account there would be a righteous outcry. We expect justice for the victim, anything less would be gross and unloving. Justice and Love are inseparable. You cannot love someone with lies, we need the truth, Jesus said: "Abide in my word......then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32). I do not envy those who face a confusing world of competing truth claims. However, the good news is that there is mercy, forgiveness and hope from our loving Father God who wants and needs nothing from you because he's a dad and all the dad's understand the power of that love. Jesus said, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11,28