Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Cossack Christian Warrior Culture

This post on the Cossacks as representatives of a Christian warrior culture appeared on another blog of mine in 2011. I think it's worth republishing here.

Although I find various aspects of Eastern Orthodox belief & practice foreign to my understanding of Scripture, I do recognize Orthodox culture as one expression of Trinitarian faith in a social context. As a Christian Martialist, I find the Cossack warrior culture of particular interest.

Wikipedia's article on the Cossacks says that they Orthodox, and of the Old Believer persuasion in terms of liturgy and dogma. The way they organized their society appeals to my Christian Martialist leanings.

Wikipedia says,

In early times, Cossack bands were commanded by an ataman (later called hetman). He was elected by the tribe members at a Cossack rada, as were the other important band officials: the judge, the scribe, the lesser officials, and even the clergy. The ataman's symbol of power was a ceremonial mace, a bulava.
. . . . The ataman had executive powers and at time of war he was the supreme commander in the field. Legislative power was given to the Band Assembly (Rada). The senior officers were called starshyna. In the absence of written laws, the Cossacks were governed by the "Cossack Traditions," the common, unwritten law.
Cossack society and government were heavily militarized. The nation was called a host (vois’ko, translated as 'army'), and subdivided into regimental and company districts, and village posts (polky, sotni, and stanytsi).
Each Cossack settlement, alone or in conjunction with neighboring settlements, formed military units and regiments of light cavalry (or mounted infantry, for Siberian Cossacks) ready to respond to a threat on very short notice.

In my fantasies, I see a society of believers tied together by something like the Scottish Confession of 1560, who live in a martialist community as described in the book of Numbers and Deuteronomy and incorporates the best from various Christian Martialist communities of the past (Scottish Covenanters, Cossacks, Paladins, etc.).

Sadly,I believe the only thing that would force us together into such a community is a great upheaval of our civilization.

Oh well . . . a guy can dream, can't he?

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Come O Thou Traveler Unknown

Before wrestling with forces of wickedness in high places, we would do well to wrestle first with God. I could not find a performance of this hymn that included all 14 stanzas, but I have provided them below the video.

Come, O thou Traveler unknown,
Whom still I hold, but cannot see!
My company before is gone,
And I am left alone with Thee;
With Thee all night I mean to stay,
And wrestle till the break of day.

I need not tell Thee who I am,
My misery and sin declare;
Thyself hast called me by my name,
Look on Thy hands, and read it there;
But who, I ask Thee, who art Thou?
Tell me Thy name, and tell me now.

In vain Thou strugglest to get free,
I never will unloose my hold!
Art Thou the Man that died for me?
The secret of Thy love unfold;
Wrestling, I will not let Thee go,
Till I Thy name, Thy nature know.

Wilt Thou not yet to me reveal
Thy new, unutterable Name?
Tell me, I still beseech Thee, tell;
To know it now resolved I am;
Wrestling, I will not let Thee go,
Till I Thy Name, Thy nature know.

’Tis all in vain to hold Thy tongue
Or touch the hollow of my thigh;
Though every sinew be unstrung,
Out of my arms Thou shalt not fly;
Wrestling I will not let Thee go
Till I Thy name, Thy nature know.

What though my shrinking flesh complain,
And murmur to contend so long?
I rise superior to my pain,
When I am weak, then I am strong
And when my all of strength shall fail,
I shall with the God-man prevail.

My strength is gone, my nature dies,
I sink beneath Thy weighty hand,
Faint to revive, and fall to rise;
I fall, and yet by faith I stand;
I stand and will not let Thee go
Till I Thy Name, Thy nature know.

Yield to me now, for I am weak,
But confident in self-despair;
Speak to my heart, in blessings speak,
Be conquered by my instant prayer;
Speak, or Thou never hence shalt move,
And tell me if Thy Name is Love.

’Tis Love! ’tis Love! Thou diedst for me!
I hear Thy whisper in my heart;
The morning breaks, the shadows flee,
Pure, universal love Thou art;
To me, to all, Thy bowels move;
Thy nature and Thy Name is Love.

My prayer hath power with God; the grace
Unspeakable I now receive;
Through faith I see Thee face to face,
I see Thee face to face, and live!
In vain I have not wept and strove;
Thy nature and Thy Name is Love.

I know Thee, Savior, who Thou art.
Jesus, the feeble sinner’s friend;
Nor wilt Thou with the night depart.
But stay and love me to the end,
Thy mercies never shall remove;
Thy nature and Thy Name is Love.

The Sun of righteousness on me
Hath rose with healing in His wings,
Withered my nature’s strength; from Thee
My soul its life and succor brings;
My help is all laid up above;
Thy nature and Thy Name is Love.

Contented now upon my thigh
I halt, till life’s short journey end;
All helplessness, all weakness I
On Thee alone for strength depend;
Nor have I power from Thee to move:
Thy nature, and Thy name is Love.

Lame as I am, I take the prey,
Hell, earth, and sin, with ease o’ercome;
I leap for joy, pursue my way,
And as a bounding hart fly home,
Through all eternity to prove
Thy nature and Thy Name is Love.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Sheepdogging It

I drove my wife and daughter to English Country Dancing last night. The past few months they have gone without me. As an introvert, I get pretty much all the social interaction I need living with my wife and an adult daughter.

Earlier this week, though, Laura mentioned to me her concerns over security during the Friday evening dances. I told her that I would drive and watch the door from the parking lot. During my time in the ministry, I had pulled quite a few security gigs, to support my family (and my preaching habit), so I knew the job description.

I took along my laptop, figuring to connect through the free WiFi at McDonald's right next door to the Baptist Church building where they held the monthly folk dances. The signal proved too weak for me to access the web, so I settled in to spend the next three hours just watching.

There's a big difference between watching and just waiting. When you watch, you notice things.

I had picked a spot where I could monitor the one unlocked door as well as the fenced-in area behind the building. A couple of boys, whose parents had come to dance, played outside, occasionally joined by some other children from inside. I noticed, disapprovingly, that the gates on either side of the area stood wide open.

I knew from past experience that pedestrians sometimes cut through that yard as a shortcut. Did their parents not see the open gates? Did they not think to close them before turning their sons loose outside? Well, no matter. I was there. Standing watch.

Laura later told me that the boys' father kept looking out to check on them. He still should have closed the gates.

After a while, the thunder and lightning started. (Why do we say, "thunder and lightning?" The lightning always comes first.) The boys went inside, and I changed my vantage point. Then came a bright flash followed by loud CRACK, and the lights went out.

The traffic light on the corner still worked as did some stadium lights a little way off, but the parking lot lights had gone black. I got out of the van as the rain began to fall more heavily. I had my flashlight in case folks needed to see to exit the building. When I got to the glass door, I could see through the window in the inner door that the building had not lost its lights.

When I looked up, I could see the sodium pole lamps already starting to come back on. I returned to the van, pelted by cool drops that felt good after the humidity and triple-digit heat of the day.

In the course of the evening, some cars pulled into the lot to drop off late comers. One lady exited the door, got into a car and drove away, evidently after dropping off passengers. Then she returned later to pick them up. I wondered if any of them saw me.

I wondered if any of them questioned the presence of an old guy sitting in a van in the lot, just watching. Did the warning light flash in anyone's head? Not likely. Most folks pass through the parking lot the way they pass through life. Things around them never register.

Last night I stood watch. Not for pay. Not because anyone asked me. I stood watch because . . . it's just. . . what I do.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Kicking and Balance

Years ago, my balance problem became really evident in karate class. At the sensei's command, we all stood on one leg, and I struggled to stay upright. The harder I struggled, the more tense I became, and the harder it was to keep from tipping over.

That's why this video from Vladimir Vasiliev (Systema, the Russian Martial Art) caught my attention. I will have to try this out.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Mark Divine on Emotional Resilience

My barber sent me the link to this.

CAUTION: Some scatological language.

Think (visualize) Psalm 23 or Psalm 144 (below).

Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight:

My goodness, and my fortress; my high tower, and my deliverer; my shield, and he in whom I trust; who subdueth my people under me.

LORD, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him! or the son of man, that thou makest account of him! Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away.

Bow thy heavens, O LORD, and come down: touch the mountains, and they shall smoke. Cast forth lightning, and scatter them: shoot out thine arrows, and destroy them.

Send thine hand from above; rid me, and deliver me out of great waters, from the hand of strange children; Whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood.

I will sing a new song unto thee, O God: upon a psaltery and an instrument of ten strings will I sing praises unto thee. It is he that giveth salvation unto kings: who delivereth David his servant from the hurtful sword.

Rid me, and deliver me from the hand of strange children, whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood:

That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace: That our garners may be full, affording all manner of store: that our sheep may bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our streets: That our oxen may be strong to labour; that there be no breaking in, nor going out; that there be no complaining in our streets.

Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the LORD.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Restraining Orders: Far from Bulletproof

ABC's news headline reads:

Kansas Gunman Issued Restraining Order at Scene of Deadly Shooting Before Killings . . . .

The story underscores the fact that a restraining order represents a judge's declaration on paper. As such, it cannot in and of itself compel compliance. I has no more power to physically restrain someone of violent intent than one of those "Gun Free Zone" signs.

Worse, as Gavin DeBecker has pointed out in his book The Gift of Fear, restraining orders too often precipitate the very violence they assay to prevent. An article by Steve Albrecht in Psychology Today, "Do Domestic Restraining Orders Ever Work?" concurs:

 Restraining orders work really well for good rule followers in general, and for those who fear the consequences of violating the order in particular. Sadly, most dv suspects have already proven they are not good rule followers and don’t always fear the police, arrest, jail, prison, or even death by their own hands or via the police. Someone who says, “If I can’t have you, no one else will,” and means it, is not often deterred by papers, even when they are handed to them through the screen of a patrol car or betwixt the bars at jail. 

If you fear for your safety or that of your family, you need to strongly consider using more than a piece of paper as your first line of defense. The labels at the bottom of this post will take you to some relevant articles.