This exchange from Spinal Tap came to mind after reading that a city in Germany plans to install drive-in wooden “sex garages” in order to keep prostitution off the streets during the 2006 World Cup.
DEREK [the bassist]: Now, I mean a song like “Sex Farm,” we’re taking a sophisticated view of the idea of sex, you know, and music…
MARTY: …and put it on a farm?
Malcolm Muggeride in conversation with God:
And you… I never caught any glimpse of you in any paradise, unless you were an old shoe-shine man on a windy corner in Chicago one February morning, smiling from ear to ear. Or a little man with lame legs in the immigration department in New York whose smiling patience as he listened to one immigrant after another seemed to reach from there to eternity. Or whoever painted the front of the little church in the woods at Kliasma near Moscow, painted it in blues as bright as the sky and whites that outshone the snow. That might have been you. Or again in Kiev, at an Easter service, when the collectivization famine in the Ukraine was in full swing. . . newspaper correspondents were telling the world of the bursting granaries and apple-cheeked dairy maids there. What a congregation that was, packed in tight, squeezed together like sardines. I, myself, was pressed against a stone pillar and scarcely able to breathe, not that I wanted to particularly. So many gray, hungry faces all luminous, like an El Greco painting and all singing, how they sang, about how there was no help except in you. Nowhere to turn, except to you. Nothing, nothing that could possibly bring any comfort except you. I could have touched you then. You were so near… It was strange in a way that should have found myself nearest to you in the land where for half a century past, the practice of the Christian religion had been most ruthlessly suppressed.”
Satan’s seeming peak, at the Cross, was actually the crippling blow in a downfall that will culminate in him being hurled into the lake of fire (like Sauron’s ring). Again and again in Scripture we see a Lord who enjoys “catch[ing] the wise in their own craftiness” (Job 5:13), frustrating and mocking their evil schemes. “And the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us break their bonds in pieces and cast away their cords from us.’ He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision.” (Psalm 2:3-4)
Sin is the desire for cheap goods. Sin is settling for second best.
Every few years I re-read Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago for its chronicle of heroism and mind-boggling wickedness, its powerful phrasing, its uncompromising honesty and moral beauty, its vicious wit and wisdom. It describes the criminality and crushed lives, the rottenness, and colossal scale of murder and mayhem in this sinister era of Russian history. Gulag is one of the greatest books ever written.
And there are many lessons to take from it. The easy one is an abiding thankfulness that we walk freely, that we can do simple things, like drink a beer, that a prisoner could only dream of. And maybe after a deeper reading it is evident how evil so often backfires, that it cannot shake the good that attends it despite evil’s worst intentions.
After this reading, however, another more practical thought took hold. It is unlikely that we will ever live in conditions like the Gulag in this lifetime. So why is this book so relevant? Maybe because Hell is worse. Yes, Hell is worse. It’s worse than the starvation and torture and filth and treachery in the worst prison of the archipelago. It has none of Gulag’s rare conveniences such as friendship and a bit of water. And it is everlasting. We ought to heed the call of Isaiah 55: “Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. “
When the devil throws our sins up to us [Christians] and declares that we deserve death and hell, we ought to speak thus: “I admit that I deserve death and hell. What of it? Does this mean that I shall be sentenced to eternal damnation? By no means. For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction in my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Where he is, there I shall be also.”