Thursday, September 29, 2005

On Pagans, Neo-Pagans, and Tree-Huggers
During our recent trip to Lithuania, Sandra and I encountered much that was wonderful. This nation, so long oppressed, is learning how to be free and to take its place among the sovereign nations of the world.

One of the most important freedoms which was restored after Soviet occupation ended was freedom of religion. Sandra and I spoke at a Christian Living Conference in Silute, visited a Bible-based drug and alcohol rehab center in Klaipeda, and visited with Christian families in Kaunas and Druskininkai. I also preached in a small Baptist church in Silute. People are hungry for spiritual growth. They had questions; they wanted more information, knowledge, wisdom, spiritual growth.

One of the downsides of freedom of religion, of course, is that people are free to explore whatever religion they choose. In Lithuania there is now a widespread movement to return to pre-Christian paganism. These neo-pagans seek a return to something called ROMUVA, which they consider to be the Indigenous Lithuanian Religion.

Frankly, I find very little difference between these Lithuanian pagans and their American counterparts in the New Age religious “movement” in the United States. The extreme environmentalism and general anti-Christ attitude of American New Agers is little more than a return to earth worship.

In these two movements, however, I see positive things. Reacting to a time in which they were allowed no religious expression whatever (save that which may have been offered in the occasional “state church”), Lithuanians are now seeking meaning in things of the spirit. Likewise, slowly recovering from an era in which materialism (in the historic, philosophical sense, not in the sense of overspending at Christmas season) has reigned, many Americans are also seeking deeper spiritual meaning for their lives.

Americans will remember the bumper stickers during the 2004 election campaign which proclaimed, “Anybody but Bush.” Likewise many who claim to be seeking after truth and meaning will declare, “any god but God.” As the Apostle Paul explained in Romans, chapter 1, men will suppress the truth they know about God and create their own, false gods, even worshipping themselves rather that the God who created them. While claiming to be open to all spiritual experiences, many men and women are only open to those experiences which “feel good,” or which require nothing of them. After all, Jesus said, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” Who wants to repent when you can have all those groovy beads and smells and incantations?

Some, however, will be confronted by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and will be moved in their hearts to accept Him and the salvation which only He can offer.

While not enamored of paganism, whether of the Baltic, Celtic or modern American variety, I do welcome the openness with which many today accept that there is more to life than molecules and proteins and acids. It is up to Christians to speak to their pagan neighbors (and they don’t have to be part of some New Age group to qualify) of the True meaning of life. There is an openness to such things today, why should we let the Devil be the only one speaking to these spiritually needy folk?

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Jumping on the Bandwagon
My wife and I were working on some talks we'll be giving next week. One of the topics is home education. As I thought about some of the resources currently available, my mind jumped back a few years. Things were different in the very early 1980s when we started. No, this is not going to be a "back in the day" post. It was different, however.
We had to write our own curriculum - or use Calvert. Jail was always a real prospect - and become a reality for many. And - now I'm getting to the point of the title - home education was not an industry. There are some very big names in Christian publishing and media ministries who have jumped on the proverbial bandwagon today. One very prominent individual, whose name every Christian in America would recognize immediately, was so against homeschooling he routinely spoke and wrote negative comments and kept that lunatic fringe called "homeschoolers" at more than arms' length. Today he is one of the leading lights people look to as they consider homeschooling.
Another group was so enamored of Christian schools that they had no use for Christian homeschoolers. Today homeschoolers appear to be their biggest market. Funny how our perspective changes with time - and a little financial incentive.
Are we being cynical today? Perhaps a little, but I don't let that cloud my view of reality. Homeschooling has become somewhat fashionable. That worries me. People aren't making the hard choices they once made about the education of their children. If Dr. Bob Q Christianleader says it's good - and he has curriculum and co-op, and accepts credit cards -then it must be good - and easy.
Easy always worries me. Easy money. Easy believism. Easy come; easy go.
Those are my thoughts on the subject. What are yours?