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What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun?  All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless. A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God,  for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?” (Ecclesiastes 2:22-25)

I was recently in the store of a major book seller and noticed these titles prominently displayed:

  • I Can Make You Confident
  • I Can Make You Sleep
  • I Can Make You Rich
  • I Can Make You Thin

I looked above the shelf holding these volumes and noticed this sign:

50% OFF

Obviously the man didn’t deliver!

Most of us in the USA these days are in dire need of what this author is promising.  We Americans seem to be allowing our world to spin out of control.

It’s “do, do,do” all the time.  This aspect of our culture is my main bugaboo about the way we live.

I have really struggled with that tug since I returned from living in Europe last summer. The folks over there seem to have a different mindset.

Yeah, they work hard. However, they also know when it’s time to leave the workplace and enjoy life.

It’s clear that we think that it all depends on us. We’re afraid to give up control.

Yet, we also see at times what abject failures we can be. If we weren’t overweight, financially strapped, insecure and wide-awake in the middle of the night, why would there be book titles like the ones I saw for sale at all. We obviously are lost a lot.

One of the ways we stressed-filled US Americans try to relax is by watching NFL games on TV. Every week they’re rated as some of the most viewed programs.

They’re definitely popular now as the NFL is in the middle of the playoffs.  I confess to being glued to particular contests.

One of most famous of these games took place right before Christmas in 1972. The Pittsburgh Steelers were facing their archrivals, the Oakland Raiders, for the right to advance forward towards the Super Bowl.

What is legendary about this game is one particular play.  It came with 22 seconds left in the match, with the Steelers behind 7-6.

Quarterback Terry Bradshaw took the snap and went back to pass. He faced a heavy rush.  Running to his right, Bradshaw almost slipped to the turf, but he recovered, ran to his right and threw the ball down the field toward halfback John “Frenchy” Fuqua.

Just as the ball reached him, Fugua was smacked by Raiders cornerback Jack Tatum, infamous for his brutal hits. The ball caromed off of Tatum.

What happened next has gone down in football lore. Just as the ball was about to hit the ground, Steelers running back Franco Harris scooped the ball out of the air, ran to his left, stiff armed a pursuing Raider defender, danced along the sideline and ran into the end zone for the game winning touchdown.

As one would expect, the fans went nuts.  They rushed onto the field and mobbed the celebrating Steelers players.

Fuqua told reporters this after the game:

“I can tell you this: I did not take my eyes off the ball, as you can tell from the way that my body was. What happens from that point on was truly Immaculate.”

The event has evermore been known as the Immaculate Reception.

I have been pondering of late why I seem to have little victory in my Christian life. The Immaculate Reception is a fine object lesson for me in my thinking.

You see, the Pittsburgh Steelers were going about their business trying to win the game. Frankly, things did not look good. It appeared that they were about to go down to defeat.

Yet, something extraordinary happened.  When Bradshaw threw that ball, a normal action for him, everyone thought the ordinary would occur. The ball would either be caught by a Steeler, fall incomplete, or perhaps even be intercepted by a Raiders player.

No one expected the ball to take a funny bounce and miraculously fall into the hands of Franco Harris, who was in the right place at the right time. Harris didn’t hesitate, though. He took advantage of the situation and ran the ball in for a score.

Now what did the Pittsburgh Steelers have to do with their victory. Pretty much they were just available to receive the gift handed to them. I figure this must what my role is to getting victory in my Christian experience.

Recently I have been listening to the sermons a preacher from the mid 2oth century at the recommendation of my pastor. Major Ian Thomas was a man who understood what it took for a Christian to live victoriously. Thomas said,”Jesus Himself is the very dynamic to meet all his demands.”

The idea from Thomas is that Jesus doesn’t give us strength, for example. He IS our strength.

Likewise, Jesus doesn’t give us victory. He IS or victory. Thomas likes to say,”We’re just the suit of clothes Jesus wears.”

This is surely biblical. Jesus Himself said,”I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:5).”

Why, what Jesus said is anti-American! Aren’t we supposed to lift ourselves up by our bootstraps?

Even the American hero Benjamin Franklin said that “God helps those who help themselves.” With all due respect to the otherwise admirable Mr. Franklin, this popular sentiment is hogwash and not scriptural.

The other morning I awoke and I believe God spoke to me. Oh, not audibly.  It was just the still small voice we Christians we hear from His Spirit at times.

What  came to me was this: “Cease striving.”  This message has returned to me several times since this week.

When I get anxious, I hear “cease striving”. My only response has had to be obedience. I just tell the Lord,”Ok.”

This may be Un-American, but I don’t care. I am as big a patriot as the next guy, but I have a higher citizenship.

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“The Lord said to my Lord,’Sit in the place of honor at my right hand
until I humble your enemies, making them a footstool under your feet.’  The Lord will extend your powerful kingdom from Jerusalem[you will rule over your enemies. When you go to war, your people will serve you willingly. You are arrayed in holy garments, and your strength will be renewed each day like the morning dew (Psalm 110:1-3).”

Gregory House has fought many battles in his fictional life as the main character on the TV drama named after him. A recent episode called “Body and Soul” served as a microcosm for these conflicts.

One of the political parties in America is currently being accused of a “War on Women”. The politicos accused of carrying out this war are crying foul, saying it doesn’t exist.

For Dr. House, the shoe fits perfectly. He has loved and lost so many times I have lost count.

In “Body and Soul” his relationship with his wife comes to a boil and is then spoiled. His marriage has been a sham anyway and it ends in disaster.

He married Dominika in a bargain which allowed her to apply for a green card. House is getting renumeration for this matrimony.

However, having been caught faking it by Homeland Security, yet given another change, they have pretended to be the perfect couple. Ironically, they actually have begun developing affection for each other.

House in fact trashes the notice from the goverment telling Dominika she has been awarded her green card. He figures she will walk out the door once she gets it and he enjoys having her around.

Far be if from House to actually talk out his feelings with Dominika. His flawed persona prevents him from coming anywhere close to that possibility.

Upon getting a phone call in which she is informed that the government office issuing her card has been waiting for her, she asks how many notices they have sent. Once she learns that House has obviously been dumping  them, it’s hasta la vista Dominika.

In “Body and Soul” House also continues his usual antics with his fellow team of diagnosticians. The normal berating, game playing and prodding goes on, ostensibly as a ploy to help House come to a definitive conclusion as to what is ailing their latest patient.

The doctors engage in the usual give and take over an Asian boy of Hmong descent named Lue Cheng. The boy has had severe respiratory distress and nightmares.

House would not normally take such a case, but when his boss Dr. Foreman tells him the young man is Hmong and has nightmares which include an old hag trying to choke him, House gets interested.  He tells his team about  a syndrome afflicting young Hmong males which kills them suddenly as they sleep.

As the medical case develops a regular pet peeve of House’s surfaces in the form of the boy’s father-in-law, who suggests that the Lue is not ill but under the attack of demons. Anyone who watches House knows that the doctor is completely dismissive of spiritual things, matters of faith and the people who give credence to such things.  

The father-in-law persists in his claims, explaining that he believes his son, and the boy’s father, ended up killing his boss and going to prison because of the same spiritual oppression. At first, the doctors and the boy’s mother refuse to allow the father-in-law to perform a ceremony to ward off these spirits.

In fact, team member Dr. Robert Chase asks the mother, Lida,  if she believes a spirit could be hurting her son, noting that even suggesting that to Lue could cause physical problems.  Lida looks insulted and tells Chase she is an engineer and that she knows illnesses are not caused by evil spirits.

Along the way Lue exhibits odd behavior. He speaks in tongues and exhibits bruises after a dream. House explains these things away medically.

However, the boy gets progessively worse and when Lue is seen levitating in bed by the doctors and his mother, Lida changes her mind. House is of course incredulous and insists that the levitation was some sort of parlor trick, even demonstrating by showing them he can “levitate” a few inches above the floor.

Even so, faced with a legal challenge Foreman allows the father-in-law to perform his ceremony. The father-in-law begins a ceremonial exorcism.

In the meantime, the doctors continue to argue the medical issues. House indicates that since the mother has given up, so has he. He is now worried that even if they can cure the boy, the ceremony will get the credit and the mother will go off into the world having “faith in faith”. 

However, as they continue to talk  House determines that Lue has an extremely rare condition. which Dr. Jessixa Adams believes is wrong. She notes, however, after calming down that the treatment is simply administering Ibuprofen.

 House is obviously angry and his doctors appear to think his diagnosis is spurious.  Chase says,”You’re not gonna let us save an eight-year-old because one more person might embrace religion?”.  (Chase is a fallen Catholic seminarian.)

House replies,”Does anyone here think my diagnosis is right?” When no one moves or says anything, he continues,” Well, then I have decided for today only, to respect your opinions. We will proceed according to your diagnosis and nothing else. That’s an order. Good luck.”.

When the doctors reenter Lue’s room in the midst of the ceremony, the boy crashes. Adams tells Lida frantically to stop the ceremony and then pushes a nurse out of the way and says,”I’m giving him the Ibuprofen.” The end result is that Lue is cured.

Afterwards House barges into the office of his best friend, Dr. James Wilson for solace. House and Wilson have had their battles over the years as well.

Twice their friendship has shattered over actions of House which directly affected Wilson. However, Wilson is a forgiving type and they are now close gain.

House tells Wilson of his problems. Dominika has left. Adas has defied him. “There’s another religious zealot in the world”, he adds.

Wilson replies,”I have cancer.” Wilson himself is an oncologist.

House blows this remark off as a joke, but Wilson persists:

“Stage II thymoma. I didn’t want to tell you until I had it confirmed. I got the tests back this morning. I have cancer, House.”

The news sinks in. House’s world, normally a chaotic combat zone, has just fallen completely apart. His one refuge in the world, his best friend, may also be taken from him.

After eight years of watching House, the end of “Body and Soul” is like experiencing all the air go out of a balloon. How much dysfunction can one person possess and experience?

As noted at the beginning, House has fought many battles. The one he will always lose is the one he fights with God.

It’s too bad House doesn’t have God as an ally. If he did, he still might have to battle his unhealthy behaviors, but God would have his back.

Even in the midst of unspeakable suffering, which unlike House was none of his doing, Job was able to say,”I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth (Job 19:25).

This is a great promise. The army controlling the battlefield when hostilities are over is the victor.  That’s the hope we have if God is on our side during the midst of our battles.

Tanks are one of the amazingly strong and destructive weapons any army has in its arsenal. In modern warfare, soldiers will gather around them and let the tanks lead the way if they know what’s good for them.

If we’re smart. we’ll let God be our “tank” in the battles that we face.

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 “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me.  They confronted me in the day of my disaster,but the LORD was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place;he rescued me because he delighted in me (Psalm 18:16-19).”

Lately, I have had a fascination with the lives of the songwriters and performers of the 1960s and early 1970s. I like to find out what motivated them to write and sing the songs they did.

One of the singers I have become entranced with is Harry Nilsson, and I am in fact working on an article on him, or should I say more like “there is a piece about him sitting on my computer untouched for a long time.” A song he is well known for is “Everybody’s Talkin’ at Me”.

The song is the theme from the movie Midnight Cowboy, a flick popular during the latr 60s and early 70s.  Nilsson didn’t write the song, but he won an award for singing it. 

 The song’s lyrics, as many song’s lyrics have been for me recently, speak to my heart. Here”s the opening stanza:

“Everybody’s talking at me
I don’t hear a word they’re saying
Only the echoes of my mind.”

What got me thinking about this song was a bill. The other night  I went to check the mail an , per usual, my correspondence wasn’t of the friendly variety. I owed someone.

This bill sent me to bed depressed. In fact, I was overwhelmed. It is as if the bill had been put in front of me, I had slipped on it, and I had been swept away in a flood of immense proportions.

A lot of my other problems came washing over me as I lay there in my bed. I mentally saw myself as I was overwhelmed, floating and being pushed along in a river of despond.

Where “Everybody’s Talkin'” comes in is that, in the midst of all these woes, everyone has an opinion as to what I should do. Their voices just add to my sense of drowning.

Songs from the 60s and  early 70s communicate truth to me sometimes. I have a kindred spirit in this in a Dane named Bent Sorenson.

He says, in his blog discussion of  “Eveybody’s Talkin'”:

“I have a lasting fascination with American music from the 1960s. Many of the marquee songs of the era have become short scriptures for a generation of young folks who wanted change (hey Obama, you think you’re so original?) and new values to believe in… “.

In fact, as a university instructor, Dr. Sorenson uses a textbook called “Scriptures for a Generation” by Phillip Beidler. I need to pick that book up because it profiles a many of the musical icons of the 60s period.

What these songs do for me is act as a catalyst to go to the REAL Scriptures. When I did this week, in the midst of my predicament, I was overhwelmed again: this time at the immensity of the living God.

He Himself is overwhelming (Job 9:18). Job experienced the same drowning feeling I did, and named God as the Source.

 So did the Psalmist. He wrote,”Your wrath lies heavily on me; you have overwhelmed me with all your waves (Psalm 88:7).”

As I was being swept away in my river of despair the other night, it wasn’t just my circumstances that troubled me. I had a huge sense of another source of the flood: my own sin.

I pictured them  being piled in a heap and a match put to them. That’s what I wished for. At the time, however, I was overcome by my inability to live up to God’s requirements (Psalm 38:4).

Thus, this week I have had the same sensation the animals must have experienced in an old margarine commercial from the 1970s. It’s the one in which  Mother Nature is reading the story of Goldilocks to them.

When Mother Nature mentions the porridge in the fable, the animals give her a substance and ask her, “Was this was on the porridge, Mother Nature?” She smiles and replies,”Oh, lot’s of my delicious butter!”  

The animals tell her that what she is tasting is the margarine made by the company which produced the commercial. They tell her that the margarine is “so delicious, it fooled even YOU, Mother Nature”.

Up until this time, Mother Nature has been smiling and sweet in temperament. However, when the animals tell her she has been duped, she stands up, spreads her arm and produces lightning and thunder.

Mother Nature’s countenance is stern. She say to the animals,”It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!”

Nice ole Mother Nature was suddenly someone to be feared. It’s not nice to mess with Mother Nature.

That’s how I felt about God as I lay in my bed. I had this sense that He was one awesome Dude who didn’t appreciate my attempts to fake Him out with my pseudo-Christianity.

In modern Christendom we tend to emphasize the love and kindness of God. Of course, these are gratefully key aspects of His character.

However, we tend to dismiss His majesty, awesomeness, and wrath aimed at sin. Include me in this dismissiveness.

Not this week. I now see that God is someone not to be trifled with. It’s not nice to fool God (Psalm 18:7-15).

If I am going to have any chance of happiness, or even contentment, in this life, I have to be in good with Him. I have to quit treating the majestic God like some kind of powerful human grandpa I go to when I want some candy.

The Psalmist wrote:

” If the LORD had not been on our side—
   let Israel say— 
if the LORD had not been on our side
   when people attacked us, 
they would have swallowed us alive
   when their anger flared against us; 
the flood would have engulfed us,
   the torrent would have swept over us, 
the raging waters
   would have swept us away (Psalm 124:1-5).”

I would rather have the omnipotent God on my side than against me. For one, He is powerful enough to deal with the flood caused by my overwhelming trangressions.

The prophet wrote,

 “Remember these things, Jacob,
   for you, Israel, are my servant.
I have made you, you are my servant;
   Israel, I will not forget you. 
I have swept away your offenses like a cloud,
   your sins like the morning mist.
Return to me, for I have redeemed you (Isaiah 44:21-22).”

I don’t have be in the torrential river of my sin. I can just stand by and watch God sweep them away because of what Jesus did on the Cross.

In this passage, I don’t believe it is an accident that God mentions the two names of the patriarch known as Jacob and Israel. The former name is an old Hebrew idiom for “deceiver”, while the latter means “he who struggles with God”.

In the well known biblical story, Jacob wrestles with God all night. As morning breaks, God tells Jacob,”Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome (Genesis 32:21, 22).”

God doesn’t want me to be overcome by my woes. He is the Overcomer and has given me the ability to be one as well.

“I’m going where the sun keeps shining
Thru’ the pouring rain,
Going where the weather suits my clothes,
Backing off of the North East wind,
Sailing on summer breeze
And skipping over the ocean like a stone” (from Everybody’s Talkin’).

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 “The Lord says: ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught. Therefore once more I will astound these people  with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish (Isaiah 29:13.14)’.”

A movie with the title “Snow in August” brings to  mind the idea of a miracle. In reality, this made for TV flick from the early part of our new century focuses more on mysticism and magic.

In the movie, Michael Devlin is a boy living in post World War II Brooklyn. The area is not a nice neighborhood by any means.

While in the local grocery, Michael witnesses the terrible beating of the grocer by one of the local young thugs, a punk named Frankie McCarthy.

As the grocer lingers near death, Michael himself is in jeopardy. Frankie and his gang The Falcons threaten him constantly with dire consequences if Michael tells the police what he saw.

Michael is under tons of pressure. He is caught between Frankie’s threats and the police, who know Frankie did the crime, but need a witness.

Not only is he caught between a rock and a hard place, in between The Falcons and the cops, Michael also feels duty-bound by the warped code of ethics existing in his neighborhood.  “Squealers” become instant pariahs.

Things get progressively worse for Michael. He is cornered one night by The Falcons and beaten so as to require hospitalization. Another night, both Michael and his mother are attacked by the gang while out walking in the ‘hood (if they called it  that back in the 1940s).

What is more, his friends also drop him. Michael thinks this is because his buddies believe he has “squealed” on Frankie, which he hasn’t.

Enter Rabbi Judah Hirsh. The rabbi is an immigrant Czech who befriends Michael during his ordeal,

Rabbi Judah knows trouble. He has experienced the horrors of the Nazis during the war. His wife, was killed by them.

One day, Rabbi Judah tells Michael the story of the Golem of Prague. When Michael sees the picture of the golem in the book the rabbi shows him, his first thought is, “Frankenstein”!

In the Middle Ages, as the fable goes, the golem was created by the late 16th century rabbi of Prague.  The golem defended the Jews from the pogroms and persecutions inflicted upon them at the time.

Rabbi Judah seems to give a lot of credence to this story. However, when Michael asks him why he didn’t make one to fend off the Nazis,  the rabbi is noncommittal.

Eventually Rabbi Judah himself falls victim to The Falcons. One day they beat him to a pulp and he also ends up in the hospital.

Michael then gets wind from his old friends of a final plot Frankie has devised to get rid of him and his mother.  The next Friday night, Frankie plans to come at them with the .38 revolver he has obtained.

Up until this time, Michael has just taken the beatings and provocations Frankie has forced upon him. Now that his mother is thinking of moving because of their environment, and more importantly, because their lives are in danger, Michael decides to act on something he has come to believe: the story of the golem.

Michael goes to the hospital and gets the “recipe” on how to make a golem from Rabbi Judah. He then goes to the empty synagogue where no one comes, where the artifiacts for creating the beast are hidden.

According to the instructions, the golem is to be created out of a box load of dirt. Add a holy scroll to the mouth of the muddy creation, the Hebrew word for “truth” scrawled on its forehead, and some incantations, and the creature is supposed to be given life from on high.

Surpisingly, after hours of hauling soil to the synagogue and following instructions, Michael has his own living golem.  It’s off to the pool hall where The Falcons hold court.

When the golem goes public, snow begins to fall on Brooklyn -in the summer. The golem, a smiling, friendly sort not at all like Frankenstein, follows Michael to meet the gang.

Our friendly golem isn’t so nice to The Falcons, though.  He follows Michael’s charitable instructions and doesn’t do them any lasting harm, but the gang is defeated, preseumably for good.

Although this is not shown, the golem is sent back to its source. Take away a character from the Hebrew word for “truth” and it becomes “death”, returning the golem back to its lifeless form.

I have to admit, I have mixed emotions about this story. This is because its formula is a mixture of miracle and magic.

Miracles are of course good things. The possibility of the miraculous  is one way to  interpret “Snow in August”.  Michael is rescued by his faith in God’s ability to work through the golem.

Indeed, the movie is a lesson in the successes and failures of faith. In fact, it is revealed at the end of the story why Rabbi Judah didn’t give a good answer to Micheale’s question concerning why he didn’t make a golem to defeat the Nazis and save his wife. When Michael conjures up the golem and defeats The Falcons, the rabbi exclaims to him, “God is real!”

It turns out Rabbi Judah had indeed tried to make a golem back in 1939. He just didn’t have enough faith to make it happen.

Thus, in summary, on the positive end, “Snow in August” teaches the power of belief. It  tells us about the power of God to help us in impossible circumstances.

On the other hand, as Martin R. DeHaan II discusses in an article called “Do You Believe in Magic”, what makes one uneasy watching “Snow in August” is the knowledge that trifling with the supernatural has a lot of dangers. DeHaan notes that, especially in our time, what with the interest in the occult, dabbling in such things as Michael did in this flick raises some questions.

DeHaan does mention  that there is a difference between magic and fantasy, the latter which I am a big fan of. However, the line is sometimes not easy to discern.

I not only am a big fan of fantasy, but also of words. Thus, it is a good study to try and distinguish between the meaning of  words like “miracle” and “magic”. As I have learned in my mini-research, the former infers divine intervention while the latter conveys evil origins.

I studied another word, too. What is fascinating is the development of the term “golem” in the Hebrew language. Originally, ancient Hebrew used it to mean, according to Wikipedia, the term “unformed substance”. 

That’s exciting to ponder. The term is used in Psalm 139:16 in the context of God’s forming of us in the womb.

Now, in modern times, the Hebrew term “golem” refers to someone who is “helpless”. It can also refer to a person who is “dumb” (i.e., stupid), “uncultivated’ or “brainless”. But it is the “helpless” aspect I want to look at.

Benedict Carey, a New York Times reporter,  wrote another article with the name “Do You Believe in Magic?”.  This one discusses the modern day clinging to superstitions and rituals.

Carey reports in this article the scientific view of this kind of belief. He writes that our brains actually have networks predisposed for magical thinking.  He also notes that social scientists believe that children transition from “wishing” (e.g., belief in what Santa and the Tooth Fairy bring) to actual faith (e.g., prayer to God).   

Carey adds,”Magical thinking is most evident precisely when people feel most helpless.” It is, he writes, this kind of thinking that gives people control of their lives.

Belief in beings like golems for magical assistance is nothing new. The Psalmist records the theological beliefs of the people of his time, and their effects:

 “Our God is in heaven;
   he does whatever pleases him. 
But their idols are silver and gold,
   made by human hands. 
They have mouths, but cannot speak,
   eyes, but cannot see. 
They have ears, but cannot hear,
   noses, but cannot smell. 
They have hands, but cannot feel,
   feet, but cannot walk,
   nor can they utter a sound with their throats. 
Those who make them will be like them,
   and so will all who trust in them (Psalm 115:3-8).”

These people assigned life and supernatural power to inaminate objects, ones they themselves fashioned.  The Psalmist would have used the modern day Hebrew term “golem” to describe them. They were “lunkheads”.

Could it be what scientists have observed about our brain’s capacity to process the magical is really a God-made ability to comprehend Him? If that is so, then we don’t have to be “dopes” when it comes to spiritual things.

The 1960s group The Lovin’ Spoonful wrote a song called “Do You Believe in Magic” to ascribe to music mystical power. 

” Do you believe in magic in a young girl’s heart
How the music can free her, whenever it starts
And it’s magic, if the music is groovy
It makes you feel happy like an old-time movie
I’ll tell you about the magic, and it’ll free your soul
But it’s like trying to tell a stranger ’bout rock and roll.”

Music is a source of happiness. I enjoy it.  But’s it’s not supernatural.

In our age, though, at least in western society, the philosophers, shrinks and scientists  think of people who believe in supernatural power as “golems” at best. At worst, they believe them to be mentally disturbed.

A trait of the depressed is a feeling of helplessness. A belief in magic and supersitions gives the depressed a feeling of control, and gives them their lives back.

Bernard Carey summarizes the view of pragmatic, secularized people in America today regarding magic and the like:

“Reality is the most potent check on runaway magical thoughts, and in the vast majority of people it prevents the beliefs from becoming anything more than comforting — and disposable — private rituals. When something important is at stake, a test or a performance or a relationship, people don’t simply perform their private rituals: they prepare. And if their rituals start getting in the way, they adapt quickly.”

In our performance orientation in America, we have thrown the baby out with the bath water. This includes those who all themselves Christians.

In our efforts to rid ourselves of “superstitions” and “magic”, we have tossed the truth of a powerful, omnipotent living God down the drain, also.

Indeed, modern westerners by and large are themselves detached from reality. God is the ultimate reality, and His ability to aid the helpless is one of His major attributes. 

Do I believe in magic? No, not in respect to it being a positive influence on my life. I consider the source.

Do I believe in miracles, ones coming from the hand of a living, all powerful God? You bet your bottom dollar I do.

Golems are a stretch in my belief system, and have the taste of extra biblical sorcery which the Scriptures condemn. In this, Rabbi Hirsch was off the mark.

However, the good rabbi does hold one truth I endorse wholeheartedly. God is real! And so are His wonders.

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