Tag Archives: power

Power and helplessness

 

powerWhy does Kurtz steal the Russian adventurer’s small bundle of ivory? Because he can. He’ll kill the Russian fellow. There is no law to stop him. Kurtz is his own law.

Power is heady stuff. You can feel powerful when you have limitless money, military power, personal strength, beauty, talent, or whatnot. You’re unstoppable.

Until your mortality catches you. For some, it’s cancer.  For others, it’s addiction. But most of the time when people are brought to their knees, they try keep up pretenses, to project the image. To admit their weakness would be to relinquish power. For many, the illusion of power is what keeps them from seeking God.

Kurtz is broken by sickness — it was something out of his control. Only then does he come to terms with what power has made him. In Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Kurtz is the renegade trader deep in Africa who goes native, becomes a chieftain, raids villages to steal ivory and accepts satanic worship to himself. He has heads on stakes outside his hut to inspire fear in “rebels.”

For someone who began with high ideals of bringing civilization to the Dark Continent, his devolution into savagery shows what can happen to any human heart that lacks restraint.

“The horror! The horror!” he utters on the boat going downstream, as he remembers that he is a European and that he he has become a savage. He never makes it back. Kurtz dies on the boat.

We like to feel power. To feel helpless is to feel despair.

All humans are basically helpless — despite our much vaunted human achievement — and we need God.

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Teasing you to re-think your stereotypes

recitatif

Who is Twyla and who is Roberta? Your guess is still only an assumption, that Morrison has pulled you into to making to expose your stereotypes.

Toni Morrison’s only short story, Recitatif, invites you to guess the race of the two main characters, Twyla and Roberta, because Morrison carefully avoids stating it.

I always ask my U.S. Lit students at my Christian school in Santa Monica who is black and who is white. Results are always divided. Then my students begin to argue and pick out pieces of evidence from the story. This is a useful learning dynamic because it forces students to think, to use evidence to support their conjecture, but ultimately it is futile. Morrison’s genius is such that, being a African American writer, she writes about race with grace and gentleness.

Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison

The story is completely void of bitterness. As a matter of fact, she doesn’t even accept the conventional wisdom about racism. Both girls (all we ever learn conclusively is that one is white and the other is black, and your best guess is only conjecture) attack a mute, bow-legged “tan”-colored cook at St. Bonaventure’s, where they are housed as quasi-orphans. The picture of racism is simple: there is an almost irresistible urge in all mankind to hurt the powerless.

It is a haunting picture. It is a picture of sin. Left unchecked, sin will drive us to evil. Nobody escapes its clutches alone.

Morrison invites us to reflect about racism. It is nothing innate to whites or to blacks. In fact, it has very little to do with skin color. It has to do with the wicked, very human, innate heart condition to flaunt power over another. And in exercising that power, we humans harm.

Wow, this story explains much more than just racism! It explains why there is war.

But it comes up short in terms of finding a solution. In fact, the ending can seem anti-climatic. Roberta agonizes over the memory. She cannot fix for certain whether she and Twyla actually kicked the cook or did they just want to do it in their hearts.

Photo source: I don’t own the rights to the picture, and I’m not making any money on it.

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A lesson in power

Lesson in power

Nothing less

With phenomenal power, God resurrected Jesus. No lesser power is at your disposal when you pray.

He has called you (to) … his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms. — Eph. 1:18-20 NIV.

Ephesians makes it plain. Your prayers have access to NOT an inferior power but the very same might of the resurrection. Now, here on Earth. Is there anything impossible for this power that even undoes the ultimate finality? Devils are dismayed. That’s why they sweat the overtime furious workload to keep you out of prayer — at all costs!

As soon as you prayer, the same power that resurrected Jesus will be channeled toward your needs. Hell trembles at the thought! I’m no historian of revivals, but what I know is that they were fueled by prayer. Do you want revival? Pray.

Do you want finances? Pray. Do you want healing? Pray. Do you want deliverance? Pray. The only thing that can stop prayer is YOU (if you stop praying).

Christian volcanoes

“Let’s get off this volcano! She doesn’t want us here!” said our guide.

I hadn’t worried about the golf-ball-sized rocks that came skudding down the cone, hiccupped from the top of the cone. We had hiked up Pacaya Volcano, one of the few active spewers among the 36 volcanoes in Guatemala. We could feel the warmth of months-old lava flow underneath our feet, its crust just hardened into rock. We could peer in the cracks at the welding red glow of lava. This was all part of the attraction of Pacaya.

But our guide didn’t see the falling projectiles as uneventful. We hurried down the red rock, over the black sand path, and then through the jungle path, to safety. Months earlier, a news crew, wanting to capture gripping footage, died.

Pacaya Volcano

Christians are volcanoes. Explosive power lies within. Some are dormant. They need to be awakened by faith. Others are rumbling, energized by faith, ready to explode with some miracle (of healing, finances, salvation, deliverance, whatever). Some are waking up (in prayer), others are dying down (they don’t pray anymore).

Some people underestimate the power within a volcano. The devil doesn’t. That’s why he works overtime to make us dormant.

Fury from Heaven

When a tornado touches down on terra, it’s power is microbial compared to the fury from Heaven when you simply pray.

Inconceivable power of words

Our words retain far more power than we acknowledge. Consider the Gibeonites (Joshua 9), who through lies and deceit won a treaty with the conquering Israelites. God forbade the Israelites to enter treaty with any of the people in the Promised Land, so the Gibeonites pretended to be foreigners from far away. If this were the U.S., the contract would be null and void because of falsifications.

BUT, God obliged the Israelites to honor that treaty because they had sworn with their mouths. God’s concept of words is vastly different than our own. We think, “I’m just saying…” as if our words were nothing more than sound vibrations, the product of vocal chords, breath and mouth formations. But God sticks with words.

Think about the implications for prayer. Whatever you utter will be upheld by God. They spoke lies, yet the treaty was upheld. You pray with sincerity. Have no doubt your utterances will come to pass. It’s just a question of time, but faith should remain absolute. Obviously, the tongue is more powerful than we conceptualize.