Archive for March 22nd, 2018

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About a month ago I started watching “Captain America:  Civil War”.  It took me 4 or 5 times to finish watching it.  Why?  I become bored watching one cosmic slug-fest after another.  The plots of these movies are pretty simple:  evil superheroes are stopped by the good superheroes…sort of. The good powers are the superheroes of the Marvel multi-verse or the Justice League of America.  In so many of these movies, it seems the government can’t control cosmic evil and so you need the good  super-heroes. At least in “Independence Day”, our air force, with the President no less(!) in a fighter jet, did some mighty fine whupping of those aliens and I found that movie to be a feel-good one.  There were no superheroes.  I have seldom  had a feel-good experience watching most of the superhero movie genre.

Back in the ‘30s- ‘50s, it was obvious that Metropolis and Gotham City could not control crime, so Batman and Superman to the rescue and accomplish what the civil authorities are either powerless or inept (or both) to do in protecting the citizenry.   Like the Marvel Superheroes, the DC comics also have super criminals, but all comics have upped in the last 20 years of so these struggles into cosmic battles…especially with DGI. 

This superhero plot suggests one aspect of evil that is correct in these movies:  government may somewhat curtail and curb run of the mill evil, but not cosmic evil.   Cosmic, or specifically spiritual evil is not within our control and cosmic evil is behind even the ‘ordinary’ bad.    We need help outside of ourselves but a guy in tights won’t do, even with superhuman powers.

I imagine myself a man from the pre-information/TV/cyber-age, and what would I think looking at the images of the so-called “superheroes”?  As a man from the past, I might think that  this is unreal. It is as unreal as the four horsemen of the apocalypse in The Book of Revelation…and frightening (Revelation 6:1-8).  Evil is both prowling about, which makes reality unreal, disconnected, complete with superheroes in those capes and wearing colorful costumery. Evil is spiritual, as it affects and infects the souls of all. Evil is as unreal and frightening as the legion of demons possessing the man from whom Jesus casts out the legion into a herd of pigs who lemming like fall off a cliff killing themselves (St. Mark 5: 1-20).

The real battle is not even against people per se. The battle  is against spiritual evil, Ephesians 6:   

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.1

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 

As much as I would like to slug a movie villain, or those who are villains in real life, or the person who writes an idiotic comment on Facebook, the Lord makes clear in His Word:  it’s not flesh and blood we are up against and wrestle.  It is the “cosmic powers”, “the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places”.  The struggle is not physical but spiritual.  Whom does the Lord put into the front lines?  Us…no capes. In some Roman Catholic circles, it has become popular to equate the saints with superheroes, but nothing could be farther from the truth.  It is flesh and blood, us, forgiven sinners in Christ, who are in those front lines and the Lord armors us with the truth.

He puts His Church against the cosmic powers but He does not leave her alone. “He fights by our side with the weapons of the Spirit” (A Mighty Fortress is Our God by Martin Luther).   We are up against the “cosmic powers over this present darkness”.  The Greek word for “cosmic powers” is,  κοσμοκράτορας, cosmocratoras.  This word only occurs here in the New Testament.  It means literally “world rulers”.  The Greek word “cosmos” is “world” and it is used in John 3:16, “…for God so loved the world (cosmos) that He gave His only begotten Son”.  The cosmocrats are everywhere and where they should not be, such as, “the heavenly places”.    We are catechized into falsehoods in many places:  schools, media, internet, advertising, even in churches. The cosmocratic philosophies and theologies are taught as truth:  “If it feels good do it”, “All truth is relative”, “Man is the measure of all things” and the like.  The Christian in the militia Christi, the army of Christ,  is armed, continuing Ephesians 6:

13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. (emphasis added)

Weekly, we must go into a retreat, r and r,  into the Holy Communion of His Church, the militia Christi with our brothers and sisters in arms to hear the Apostolic word from a faithful pastor, eat and drink His Body and Blood, confess our sins and receive His absolution, putting on the whole armor of God.  We are rearmed in the Lord who was no superhero, but He is the Son of God and Son of Man. The Lord’s armor is light and His yoke is easy as we are to pray at all times.  Those under the spell of the “the cosmic powers of this darkness” need to be set free and we can point them to the Lord.  The Lord will make effective His Word from our mouths. We do not have to pay for our salvation because our Savior has bought us, not with gold nor silver, but His most precious blood…and that goes for neighbor as well.  We need so much more these days to stop twittering our lives away and put a deaf ear many times to the din of the cosmocracy.  “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)  We know the outcome of this struggle:  the new heavens and the new earth.  As C. S. Lewis wrote:

“If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this one.”

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“IC” and “XC”  are Greek abbreviations for Jesus Christ and NIKA is a Greek verb, “conquers”

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