Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Christians: Strangers In A Strange Land

Fr. Dale Matson

A Stranger In A Strange Land is the title of a novel written by Robert Heinlein and published in 1961. It is the story of a human born and raised on Mars by Martians. He was later brought back to earth. The protagonist Valentine Michael Smith has supernatural powers and intelligence with almost limitless funds. He is attracted to the ideals of a neo pagan hedonistic cult and founds his own cult “Church Of All Worlds”. He is eventually murdered by a mob instigated by the rival ‘Fosterites’ cult, his body is eaten by his followers and he has post death appearances.
It is not an original story with Smith being a pagan version of a Christ-like figure. Even the title is from Exodus 2:22, “And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.”

Heinlein had an interesting remark about his book. "I had been in no hurry to finish it [the book], as that story could not be published commercially until the public mores changed. I could see them changing and it turned out that I had timed it right." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stranger_in_a_Strange_Land

A pagan “Church Of All Worlds (CAW) was actually formed in 1968 using ideas from the book. “This spiritual path included several ideas from the book, including polyamory, non-mainstream family structures, social libertarianism, water-sharing rituals, an acceptance of all religious paths by a single tradition, and the use of several terms such as "grok", "Thou art God", and "Never Thirst". Though Heinlein was neither a member nor a promoter of the Church, it was formed including frequent correspondence between Zell and Heinlein, and he was a paid subscriber to their magazine.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stranger_in_a_Strange_Land

The similarities with the contemporary Episcopal Church  (TEC) and CAW are both striking and unfortunate. “CAW's members, called ‘Waterkin’, espouse paganism, but the Church is not a belief-based religion. Members experience Divinity and honor these experiences while also respecting the views of others. They recognize "Gaea," the Earth Mother Goddess and the Father God, as well as the realm of Faeries and the deities of many other pantheons. Many of their ritual celebrations are centered on the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_All_Worlds

Heinlein was right when he said that the public mores had changed when his book was published in 1961. It was the beginning of the era of sex, drugs and rock and roll. There is a certain irony in this because I was a part of that changing society. I had been raised in a different Kingdom. I was raised in the Baptist church with much of my formation in the 1950’s.  The 60’s transported many of us to a new planet; a new era. I came to believe, that God was dead and that abortion was a good solution to the “Population Bomb” (Paul R. Ehrlich, 1968). My morals changed with this new world of premarital sex, drugs and rock music that promoted a pagan life. It almost destroyed my life and did destroy the lives of many around me. I am a survivor of that era.

Having been rescued by Christ, I became a stranger in a strange land. It is a land on a trajectory of entropy not evolution. The people of this land are rushing headlong into an abyss. One characteristic for the unsaved people today is their state of confusion. No matter how words are arranged, much of what is said is nonsense. It is word salad. It is a kind of “New Speak” lacking meaning. “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” (1st Corinthians 13:1) “At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.” (Matthew 24:10-12) 

Are you a stranger in a strange land? I believe these are the last days, Lord, pour out Your Spirit on all flesh.


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