Friday, March 02, 2018

Secular Man at the Judgment

And so it came to pass that Secular Man appeared before God in the Judgment.  Now, Secular Man had many college degrees, much money, and vast power and influence, but like all people, his life ended, and now, to his great surprise, he appeared here.

It shouldn’t have happened this way. There was no evidence for this deity he now faced, at least not of the compelling and extraordinary kind that he required considering the extraordinary claims of believers.  Now, it was clear he had miscalculated, and badly.

Perhaps there was a way out this, if he was clever enough..

So, God asked Secular Man if he had sinned against others? Had he stolen? Had he lied? Lusted? and at each question, the clever response that occurred to him in his mind was immediately answered with a view of scenes from his own life. Yes, I have stolen, lied, disrespected my parents, lusted and so much more. Yes, but so has everyone else, he protested. 

God responded to his thoughts: yes, so has everyone else and they have all made themselves unsuitable for eternal life in a place where there is no longer any evil.  Everyone except for my Son. My Son came to earth to offer you a way out of the natural results of your sins; what did you say to Him?

Well, you have to understand, said Secular man, I was raised in a scientific world that had left behind superstition, oh, I'm sorry if that offended you, but the world I lived in, the water I swam in, simply did not include you.  Everything was explained by nature and mechanism in my world, how was I supposed to believe otherwise?  Therefore, how can I be judged?

But you didn't really believe that matter could generate DNA did you?

Well, no, that did not make any sense to me, to be honest.

Worse, you knew that life was unexplainable by any of the science you so fervently believed in, didn't you?

Well, yes, but I had made a commitment to material causes and I didn't want to be disrespected by my glittering circle of friends and then be rejected and lose all those opportunities in life, and after all, what else was there? Where could I turn? You know, those believers really weren’t our type. And say, why didn’t you make them more like us? You know, rich? powerful? shakers and movers? The people who really ran things? Ivy league grads and all that?  Why were they so, so, plain, and boring?

But you knew, you knew that there had to be more didn't you?

Well yes, but I figured that I'm a good person, at least as good as any of my friends.  I wasn't as bad as many of them.  What more do you want of me?

Repentance for your sins, and a total embrace and commitment of the new life offered to you by my Son and His death on the cross for your sins, so that you are safe to take to heaven.

Well who knew? How was I to know? Who tried to tell me these things? Yes, my dull believer cousin tried to get me to go to this Crusade thing.  Crusade! Can you believe it? It sounded so medieval!

Did you not feel a strong pull in your heart saying GO, you really need to go to this?

Well, yes I did feel that, but I thought it was superstition.

No, it was one of Us. He is called the Holy Spirit.

Then God turned to the group sitting near Him saying "I believe you know this man" as God pointed to a frail old man with a head of white hair and a gleam in his eyes.

And Secular Man, remembering, perhaps for the first time in his life fell silent.

So, if you, dear reader, are Secular Man/Woman, if you have swam in the water of our age, believing there was no other option for thinking people, that you could never accept Belief, and after all no one ever stood there, through all of it, telling you of this very day that is coming and of God's great love for you and passion to save you, and then invited you to come to your Creator before it was too late, then know this one great thing; there was someone.

There he is, seated in the great crowd, by the throne of the creator of the universe.

Make the change today. Come to the Lord, fall at the cross, repent. Ask Jesus into your life. Make Him the King of your life.  We're going to heaven. We want you to go with us.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Kids and Violence.

Or why there is no substitute for a good guy (or lady) with a gun.

Don Cicchetti 12.7.17
Years ago, my daughter Samantha and I were home in the afternoon, (she was off school, 2nd grade and I was home with her) when there was a loud knock on the front door.  When I answered, I discovered that there were about a hundred cops, including SWAT (tactical truck and all) at my door and in my front yard and they did not look very happy.
Yes? Can I help you? I asked, as I got about a hundred hard stares from our new guests. 
Daddy, how many cops are out there? Sam asked. 
All of them I think...
Sir, there was a bank robbery and we think the robber is hiding in your backyard, said a highly impatient, and very-well armed young man at my door. Could you open your backyard gate?  Well, I wasn't going to miss this, so I grabbed the key and, with many cops accompanying me, we opened up the gate.  Then I was shooed back into the house and told to stay down.
So, I go back in the house, and get Sam and my nice Ruger 9mm and we sat down on the floor of the kitchen, because that's the place with the most walls between us and the outside world, which could be filled with bullets and anger at any moment.
While waiting, she asked me:
Daddy, what if the robber gets in our house?
Well, he would have to get past all those cops, and they all have guns huh?  Yeah, she smiled for a moment, but then got serious again.
What if he gets past the cops somehow? 
Well, he would have to get past the bars on the windows huh?  The momentary calm was even shorter... and
What if he breaks the bars and gets in the house??
Well honey, what do you think will happen then?
You'll SHOOT him!
That's right. And then a peaceful smile came across her face and we waited for the all-clear sign.  Turns out the miscreant was not in our yard after all but I was proud of the aggressiveness and professionalism of the local LEO's though, and hope they got the guy.
The whole experience got me thinking. 
We Americans grew up in a culture formed by the assumptions of the Ghandian sort of pacifism.  We almost always feel guilty and somewhat tawdry when we consider using violence to solve problems because, after all, all violence is morally equal, right?  And if we didn't believe that, and I certainly didn't, we at least knew that on some level we had been "reduced to the level" of the robber by our willingness to use violence.  Worst of all, we had inflicted our wicked world on an innocent child who now knew that her Dad was capable of picking up a gun and killing someone.   Could she ever trust me again?  Is it not frightening to learn that your Dad has the potential to be a killer? So I watched her closely, and in fact, I noticed that she trusted me more, and even had more affection for me after doing that than before.  Wait, weren't we taught that violence, or even the threat of violence, traumatizes children?  That seeing Dad with a gun means that Dad might shoot them with it?
Now me, lifelong shooter, teacher of other lifelong shooters, am the last guy in the world to buy into all the "all violence is morally equal" rubbish, but I still found myself feeling like it was true on some level.  I would bet that many of you, in my shoes, would feel the same emotions.  It's how we were raised.  

But Sam taught me the truth.  Ghandi was wrong.  Dead wrong.  

No, all violence is NOT morally equal, and as gun guru Massad Ayoob says: "righteous countervailing violence" is indeed the act of a moral person.
Sam wasn't traumatized, she was safe.  She knew, that we adults would stand up and fight the bad guy, and she would be safe, and so she felt safe.  This, my friends, is how the world was supposed to work; before that great brown flood of nonsense and lies taught to all of us since the 1960's washed over our nation.
Some violence is righteous.
Ask your kid. Ask them if bad guys came into our house, would they prefer that Dad had a gun and fought them, or hid under the bed, hoping the cops come in time?  Actually don't ask them.  You already know the answer don't you?  Your kid wants you to make her safe.  That's what being a Dad means. It's what being a Mom means.  Face it. Accept it. Raise up your inner warrior and make your family safe.
It's what we're here for.
Oh, and Sam has since become a very safe gun handler and a pretty darn good shot herself and will be able to make her own house safe some day.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Miracles. Don Cicchetti 10 24 2017

Many of us have seen miracles. 

As a young man of 18 or so, I was the only one in my family who could stay up all night and drive the car.  We are from NYC, so we would often take a road trip from our home in California to NYC in the summer to visit family.  There were four of us kids, and often my Grandma or one of my aunts would come along, so we would have 7 people in our big blue 1963 Chevrolet station wagon.  Being that we had no air conditioning in those days, we would often drive at night when it was cooler and get an air-conditioned motel room (hopefully with a pool!) during the day.  Sometimes we would just switch drivers and drive all day and night. As you can imagine, those trips were kind of a blur, but usually we only drove 10 hours or so per day.

On one of these trips, headed east in the Midwest, I was driving at about 2am.  I can't remember the city, but it was a 3 lane freeway and I was in a long sweeping left hand turn on the freeway, in the far left lane.  Suddenly, a voice, as clear as a bell said "change lanes, now!".   Everyone in the car was still asleep, so I knew it was not one of them.  Besides, the voice had come from inside my mind, not from the car.   I ask "why?", and it came back, only loud this time "CHANGE LANES. NOW!".  It was a voice so full of authority that I did not disobey it any longer.  I moved into the center lane.

At that moment, an old car, with no lights, came roaring around the bend in the lane I had just vacated. Going the wrong way at very high speed...  The combined vehicle speed in that head-on wreck would have been more than 150 miles per hour.  No one would have survived.  It literally appeared a mere moment after I had changed lanes.  I just stared at the road for a while in shock and gradually put the whole thing aside, telling no one.  Until now. 

What happened was as pure a miracle as one can experience.  It was a direct interference in our world by God and it saved all of our lives.

Years later, I realized how profound that experience really was, and I realized how concrete and real God's grace for us is.

Yes, there are miracles. That was one of mine.

Friday, September 29, 2017

We Don't Have to Live Like This

Don Cicchetti  9.28.17

Watching my friends on Facebook debate the meaning of the death of Hugh Hefner has been most engaging on several levels.  I have very smart friends and they run the gamut of perspectives, but there's been something missing and quite noticeably so.  There are things we can no longer talk about.  In my own lifetime, we have become utterly lobotomized on many subjects.  Here's just a few:

Martin Luther King jr. taught us that we should be judging others, not on skin color, but on our characters.  That was called being color-blind.  We didn't see color, we saw people, we saw souls. In the process of coming to this perspective, we all gained a commonality, a shared existence, a brotherhood.  Today, it matters not what our character is like, but very much what our skin color is.  White skin is often assigned to wickedness, prejudice and ironically, privilege, while darker skin tones are assigned the role of victim.  This phenomenon take no account of the actual decency of the white person, nor the natural gifts, money, good looks and brains, (privilege) that a black person may have.  This process, a part of Critical Race Theory (and also Cultural Marxism and identity politics) divides us.  It was intended to divide us.  Our nation being divided serves the grievance industry well, and character matters today not at all, with so-called civil rights leaders now espousing a level of bigotry not seen in 60 years.

My point is not that things are bad (although they are) my point is that we can't even talk about any other perspective today.  King's color-blindness is today a basis for indicting others with the title of "racist" and the very idea of righteous white people, causes a collective gasp that is nearly deafening.  But that is who King was speaking to when he said:

" I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

Black people did not need to "rise up" to this promise of equality and love.  Many white people did, and that's who King was speaking to, because he knew that decent white people were the key to success in reaching the better world he envisioned.  It was a compelling vision, and has succeeded in large part.  The remainder of white racism in America is largely un-amenable to either inspiring speeches, or laws.  Why? Because it is a failure of the heart and soul; it's a sin.

But here's the rub: We can't even speak of such a world today!  To even say "I don't see color, only a child of God" is considered racist.  This is a measure of the success of Critical Theory in our culture, and it is absolutely devastating in it's impact.  Character does not matter; only your identity, your tribe.

Take the relationship between men and women.  There are no more natural allies than men and women, yet we have gotten to the point where a great marriage is difficult to the point of being nearly impossible.  Why?  It started with the phrase "the personal is political", and it ends today, with a level of gender warfare I almost cannot imagine. 

When literally everything is political, is there room for love?  Genuine, world-changing love? 

We start with a "women's movement" that politicizes women's bodies, our love, our children, and our marriages, and then in reaction, we get a "men's movement" that creates a caricature of masculinity that would have been laughed out of even a locker room in 1910.  Worse, everyone knows it's a caricature, and no one really takes it seriously.  How many discussions have each of us seen where some guy says "real men don't drive minivans" or "real men don't go to certain movies", or the classic, "real men don't eat quiche". 

What's wrong with these things?  Real men don't let other guys tell them what to do.

So, we have bro-country caricatures of masculinity marrying women who always have one foot out the door, because after all, he's part of the "patriarchy" and they know the he-man routine is just an act.  Hats and boots; not much more.

Again, there's something we can no longer talk about.  Know what it is?
Genuine, transforming, world-changing love. 

Women are meant to trust, completely, a man, who was raised by a man, who is calm, wise, funny, and decent, and couldn't care less about what someone else thinks a "real man" does.  (Does the image of a Navy SEAL driving a mini-van disturb you?  Go ahead, insult him over it, I dare you)  Women are meant to create the home with their man, to fill in all those things he's simply no good at, and he is to do the same for her.  Allies. But we can't talk about those things any more.  Now, it's feminism's war on masculinity, and the boys-raised-by-boys war on women, whom they alternately lust over and despise.

Which brings us to Hefner.  Hefner made fools of both feminists, who could never explain why the woman in the magazine shouldn’t "do what she wants with her body" and the superficially religious who quietly sneaked a good long peak at Hef's magazines while condemning him out of the other side of their mouths.

Like the other issues above, there is something here we are not allowed to say about all this Hefner business (and the great stinking flood of porn that followed him)  What is it?

We are not our bodies.   Acting as if we are, reduces us to meat. 

Which is right where the secularists (and Hefner) want us.  Nothing but meat.  Not a son or daughter of God, created for love.  Just meat.  That is what Hefner made his women into, and feminists instinctively knew it, (and recoiled) but had no real moral or intellectual basis upon which to object to it because they themselves were, and are, secular. Libertines, of course, were and are thrilled that their pleasures became less shameful, but the result on our culture, in terms of STD's, the horror of human abortion, broken marriages, children, homes that never were, suicides, depression, and all the rest, almost cannot be overstated.

"If it was assumed that the church had essential knowledge of life, without which human beings could not live well, or live at all, there would be no question of separation of church and state. The idea of separating church from state, which means separating religion from political processes, that whole idea is predicated upon the idea that religion has nothing to say about reality.  And if it were thought that, for example, if you practiced a certain kind of religion, that would substantially transform the human situation, there would be no issue about separation of church and state, any more than there is an issue about separating physics from state."
Dallas Willard

"You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies."
1 Corinthians 19:19-20

It's time to start talking about these things again.  we don't have to live like this.  We don't

Friday, July 07, 2017

Smart Growth and the Future of Communities

Here's an oldie from 2003.  (This was an editorial for the Riverside Press Enterprise)

"Smart Growth" and the Future of Communities
by Don Cicchetti

It sounds good, doesn't it?  The colorful descriptions we often hear of the development issues facing Southern California cities and towns.  Usually, the issue is cast as a case of big developers squaring off against small towns, with the quality of life in those towns hanging in the balance. 

It makes for a great story but what is the real-world  result of limiting the building of new houses?   

The movement and desire to master-plan all growth in communities and limit new and individual construction is called "smart growth".   The operative scary-word in the "smart growth" movement is sprawl.   But what is sprawl, really?    Sprawl, is your house, if it is built after the houses belonging to the smart-growth folks and if they have to see your new house while relaxing on their porches with a latte.    Their houses are, of course, "appropriate" to the rural character of the community, while the house you are planning there is damaging and offensive to that character.   Sprawl is anything that is not master-planned, out of place, not perfect, idiosyncratic, owner-built, painted differently, and worst of all, commercial and/or industrial.   "Smart Growth" is basically applying the worst attributes of homeowner's associations to entire communities, and it kills them as dead as Downtown Disney after closing.   They become a prop, a movie set, whose residents demand higher sound walls to protect them from the noise of the poor souls commuting out to where they can actually afford housing.   

The life of communities cannot be so carefully planned out, as anyone who has tried it finds out.

As a recent letter to the PE said, they want to preserve the "rural atmosphere and quality of life" and "the visual qualities of the hillsides".  (FYI, the town in question was Calimesa)  And of course, to do so, the smart-growth folks want to make sure that you do not come live there, by requiring that all future development meet with their esthetic opinions and ever-escalating environmental agenda.   What happens in real communities when these values are enforced is that the cost of property inside the magic "smart-growth, no big-bad developers allowed" line goes through the roof, and those who already live there are instantly rich while all the other poor fools (that's you and me if you don't live there already) can go commute to Hades for all the "I've got mine" crowd cares.

This is exactly what happened to Portland OR. and it has become a distopian nightmare with little 1940's stucco houses inside "the line" going for 400K and above and everyone else commuting down an endless 2-hour line of headlights every day.    You can live in an apartment, forever, or you can commute (unless you are rich of course), but the dream of middle-class home ownership is dead as dirt inside the city.

Let's not do that to SoCal.   It is not who we are.   Do we always build perfect communities?   Nope.  But we build real communities, with room for new Californians and the not-rich who want to buy a house.    After all, what do developers actually do?   They build houses.  For Californians.  That sounds pretty good to me.   I would rather have imperfect communities full of first-time homeowners (some of whom actually work on the car in the driveway!  (horrors!!) than little perfect poodle-towns full of pretentious utopians and the ever-vigilant esthetics-police, as lifeless and quiet as a movie set.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Chris Cornell: This is what it sounds like to be Lost.

Chris Cornell, the multi-octave singer for Soundgarden, Audioslave, and solo work, has died.  It appears to be suicide at this point.  In reading various obituaries and seeing hundreds of forum posts about him, the theme repeats of how shocking such an early death is.  The one word I heard over and over to describe people's reactions was "gutted".   Not one soul, out of hundreds, expressed hope that Chris had gone to heaven.
Now, I am not saying that Chris was lost.  Only God knows that, and I hope, I really hope, he wasn't.  But I can tell you that a lot of his music sounds like someone who once had hope and optimism, but has lost them and has learned to make art out of utter despair.  Yes, much art has been made of utter despair, and some of it is good art indeed, but today's despair has a singular hopelessness.  That hopelessness did not happen by accident.  Theologian Dallas Willard said: "the enemy of souls works through the power of bad ideas, and those ideas are self-perpetuating, being repeated from one person to another". It's the culture.  We often cannot even see these bad ideas because they are the lens we see the world through, being brought up in this culture with this music as the backing track to our lives. But this hopelessness has a source. It is the result of losing Jesus in the name of spirituality and losing the cross and repentance in the name of a false love that never lasts or brings peace.  It's the result of John Lennon singing "imagine no religion" and Bono reducing the Creator of the universe to another nice guy who came "in the name of love", and finally Chris Cornell singing this: (from "Preaching the End of the World")

With no commitment and no confessions and,
no little secrets to keep.
No little children or, houses with roses,
just the end of the world and me.

Cause all has been gone and, all has been done,
and there's nothing left for us to say.
But we could be together as they blow it all away
and we could share in every moment as it breaks.

This is nothing but lonely dancing in a house that is burning down and the only solace it offers is being together as we die.  If that does not horrify you, especially knowing that his death was chosen, not forced upon him by cancer, murder, or stroke, then these bad ideas are invisible to you too.  Yes, drugs were involved and perhaps even prescription drugs intended to help him, but in the end, that only reinforces the concrete reality of our time: there is no hope.  It's a lie.

The culture has lied to us, equating Jesus Christ with the imperfect human church. 

The culture has lied to us saying that there are many ways to God, when that view always ends with their being no way to God. 

The culture has lied to us, telling us that knowledge of God is simply "spirituality" and we are free to make that up as we go along according to our dark and blind expectations. 

The culture has lied to us, saying pot is harmless and psychedelics are here to help us learn more about ourselves and even find the divine. 

The culture has lied to us, telling young people that sex is what you do on the third date (or sooner) leaving us bereft, depressed and suicidal, because no matter what, we always end up alone.

And finally, the culture has lied, a million times, telling us that we are merely meat puppets, having no soul and the universe is purely mechanical, having no miracles in it, when there are miracles every day.
Jeremy Camp is also a rock singer, but he sees the world differently from Chris Cornell.  But Jeremy also knows what it is like to have your heart broken; his young wife died of cancer when she was 21.  Here is what he wrote following her death:

Scattered words and empty thoughts
Seem to pour from my heart
I've never felt so torn before
Seems I don't know where to start
But it's now that I feel Your grace falls like rain
From every fingertip, washing away my pain

I still believe in Your faithfulness
I still believe in Your truth
I still believe in Your holy word
Even when I don't see, I still believe

What is the difference?  Hope.  Knowledge of God. Experience with God.  A future.  Salvation.
“For all the wealth in Europe, I would not see another atheist die.” 
- Famous Atheist Voltaire's nurse at his passing. 
Me neither.  I would love to never again see the hopeless, sad death of a rock star, but I will, and so will you. Right now there are souls at stake, people we know, who have yet to hear the wonderful idea that Jesus was real, that Jesus lives, and Jesus still saves, no matter what John Lennon said.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Cecil Pinkerton Part 1

In 1981, I was very adrift. I realized I fit in nowhere and the liberalism of my teen and college years looked more ridiculous by the week. My role models were my karate teacher and a couple of my professors who would not lie down for the great brown wave of leftism taking over academia, but none of us were close and then my girlfriend broke up with me. Hard times. But I refused to get all depressed about it and kept a positive attitude for the most part. One day, I was at the San Bernardino police pistol range, a lovely facility I went to a few times a month to work on my shooting skills, and my little Beretta .32 kept jamming. Constant failure to feed jams, driving me bats. Out of frustration, I turned to the guy on the next lane, and blurted out "does anyone know a good gunsmith around here?"
Oh yeah... See that old guy down there at the end of the line? He's the best there is. So I made the Beretta safe and went down to the end of the shooting line to ask this gunsmith for help. Wizened old man, clearly in his 80's, skinny arms and liver spots on the back of his hands, shooting a 1911 .45, and all the bullets seemed to be going into the same hole on the target... hmm. When he was done, he turned around and sized me up.. 
Excuse me, I'm Don Cicchetti and my little Beretta here keeps failing to feed, can you help? He took the Beretta, and looking askance at the aftermarket magazine said "you don't need a gunsmith, you need an original magazine. These aftermarket magazines are terrible. Go to the gun show in Pomona and find a couple of original mags and your problem will be over." Wow, thanks I said. He said "if you need a gunsmith someday, here is my card."
Cecil Pinkerton, but they call me Pinky, he said, extending his hand. I shook it and said goodbye. Nice guy I thought and I'll bet he's right about the mags.
Next gun show, I picked up a couple of original Beretta magazines for a few bucks and the gun ran perfectly from then on.
So, when I was looking for a nice .357 I gave him a call for recommendations. He invited me over, and not only sold me a lovely S&W 65 in 4-inch, but he became a good friend over the next few months. Every Friday afternoon, I would go over to his house and shoot the bull and he would tell me stories. He had been a guard (being a Pinkerton and all) on the trains near the turn of the 20th century in the old west. Yes, a cowboy. A real one, not a Hollywood one.
Learned an enormous amount of penicillin-grade wisdom from him, and I never again regretted checking out of the hippie era.
I learned so much from him. Pinky stories? I got a bunch of 'em. 
More to come...