Marriage, Sex & Age

I pastor many people of many different ages. One of the realities of age is the changes it brings in our bodies on spiritual, mental, physical and hormonal levels. Everyone is affected in some way, some more than others.

The norm for anyone has to be walked through with grace, wisdom and whatever help one can find to deal with whatever their new issues the seasons of life may bring. Injuries, health challenges of disease, sickness etc can impact the whole person.

Our sex lives are obviously impacted, altered or injured by all these realities. One’s psychological life impacts one’s sex life too. All kinds of life events, abuses or stages can influence this part of ourselves and our marriages.

So even in our attempts to foster healthy and fruitful marriages, we also know that it looks different for each person or couple.

What doesn’t change is the fact that every person in a marriage is supposed to attend to the needs of their spouses.

How you figure that out has to be navigated with love, understanding, intentionality and selfless care for one another.

If you run into dead ends, difficult issues, problems of heart, mind or body, that is where reaching out to professionals that focus on your mental, physical, sexual or relational health can be the next step. Doing nothing and not attending to one’s self or the other, is not caring for each other in a loving way.

We live in an amazing time where one can find a lot of help for things that used to be hidden in silence, shame, stubbornness or sin.

Open and honest communication in a gentle and helpful way can ease the embarrassment, release the tension of unexplained actions or patterns, bring light to lonely darkness, attend to unmet needs, reorient sexuality back into togetherness; instead of unhealthy or unsatisfying alternatives and bring the couple back together in heart, body and soul.

Answering one of the Hardest Questions my Son has asked about life.

“How does it feel to be at an age when you are losing everything that matters to you?”

That question was asked of me by one of my sons. 
Not the easiest question to answer on a day that you find out your grandfather died, but I understand the question.

I often fume about how it feels midlife so quickly turns from incoming tide to outgoing tide more quickly than you ever imagine. Sometimes the sand under my feet is moving in a manner that funks with my inner equilibrium.

C.S. Lewis wrote in Letters to Malcolm:
“Of course I pray for the dead. The action is so spontaneous, so all but inevitable, that only the most compulsive theological case against it would deter me. And I hardly know how the rest of my prayers would survive if those for the dead were forbidden. At our age the majority of those we love best are dead. What sort of intercourse with God could I have if what I love best were unmentionable to Him?”

I understand those prayers now way more than I ever did in earlier days.

There has been a lot of goodbyes in this season and I know that only increases. But what also increases is the ability to see and hear things you couldn’t before in life, even when your natural sight and hearing lessen.

Life is full of loss but it’s also full of receiving, even from what you lose. All that passes through your hands, head and heart leave you different. I have found that age and faith have a transformative power in life. So much so, one can keep growing even among the battering of winds. It may be a twisted growth but all that bears down on it shapes it in a manner that leaves it more beautiful.

Just as the body enhances or compensates for parts that may be injured or lost, so our soul expands and deepens in such a manner that we grow younger even in our aging.

That renewed youth is very experiential.

-You soften, even as life gets harder in many ways and you feel it more profoundly.

-Your delight in small things amplifies.

-Pleasure becomes more broad and accessible.

-Joy becomes a surprise again instead of pursuit.

-People matter but not in a way that is just utilitarian.

-Memory increases in animating power, like incense, even if accuracy diminishes.

-Silence expands and that can be mournful in many ways but it also enhances one’s ability to truly treasure what is said or heard in a manner that a previous loud life couldn’t.

-Meditation and prayer are no longer an act of survival or duty but a movement of desire from a smaller and calmer life.

-When others leave, the ones who stay become more full of glory.

It may appear that midlife starts to become an undertow but it actually just becomes a more strong tide that can seem to withdraw way more than we want but then comes rushing back in with unforeseen ecstasy and revelation.

The wonder of new marriages. 
The birth of grandchildren. 
The loss of concern over everyone’s opinions and demands. 
The freedom of thought and living that wisdom brings. 
The grace of boundaries that purpose, pain, and age bring. 
The immovable strength that conviction and time build. 
The power of prayer that builds over the years. 
The delight of simple things. 
The gift of quiet. 
The surprises of discovery that slowing down gives. 
The freedom of wealth from living responsibly.

Yes, loss is real, but not all the tears are those of sorrow, many are the result of seeing what is most meaningful, true, good and beautiful…like never before.

Art, Tolstoy & Murder

“Art should cause violence to be set aside. And it is only art that can accomplish this.” -Leo Tolstoy

Hosting a multi-racial, trans-generational, inter-denominational evening of music, visual arts, crafts, poetry and culinary cuisine one block from where a murder and another attempted murder took place a few weeks prior, is a radical act of intentional defiance.

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

– Romans 12:21

When people ask me if the art has to be “religious” at these events, I always say no. I do so because I know that general question is arising from a type of ideology (known or unknown)that often misunderstands or misses some of the most meaningful power and purposes of art.

If someone asked me if the art being considered for the show had to bring people together and that’s what they meant by “religious” than I’d heartily agree. But too often these days, art divides, denounces, denigrates, demands and despairs and that’s true, even of much “religious” art.

Our ARTattack event was striking at the core of our community’s cultural and moral cancer by bring people together around the shared values of truth, goodness and beauty.

We celebrated life together, on the same sidewalk where death sought to tear us asunder.

But…we will persist, because there is greatness in Americans and together, we can overcome.

Below are some selections from: ‘What is Art’ by Leo Tolstoy that express this vision.

“The task of art is enormous. Through the influence of real art, aided by science guided by religion, that peaceful coöperation of man which is now obtained by external means—by our law-courts, police, charitable institutions, factory inspection, etc.—should be obtained by man’s free and joyous activity. Art should cause violence to be set aside. And it is only art that can accomplish this.”

“The task for art to accomplish is to make that feeling of brotherhood and love of one’s neighbor, now attained only by the best members of society, the customary feeling and the instinct of all men. By evoking, under imaginary conditions, the feeling of brotherhood and love, religious art will train men to experience those same feelings under similar circumstances in actual life; it will lay in the souls of men the rails along which the actions of those whom art thus educates will naturally pass. And universal art, by uniting the most different people in one common feeling, by destroying separation, will educate people to union, will show them, not by reason, but by life itself, the joy of universal union reaching beyond the bounds set by life.”

“The task for Christian art is to establish brotherly union among men.”

“A real work of art destroys, in the consciousness of the receiver, the separation between himself and the artist.”

“…thanks to man’s capacity to be infected with the feelings of others by means of art, all that is being lived through by his contemporaries is accessible to him, as well as the feelings experienced by men thousands of years ago, and he has also the possibility of transmitting his own feelings to others.

If people lacked this capacity to receive the thoughts conceived by the men who preceded them and to pass on to others their own thoughts, men would be like wild beasts… And if men lacked this other capacity of being infected by art, people might be almost more savage still, and, above all, more separated from, and more hostile to, one another.”

Nakedness

Nakedness

There is something profoundly provoking, powerful and perilous about a naked human body. Its unclothed reality is something that is mesmerizingly earthy and otherworldly. Its beauty is an icon that often reveals more about the person witnessing it, than the person displaying it.

It’s often the bane of the pious and the pulpit, the altar of the pornographer, chain of the prisoner and dream of the lover.

We enter this world and leave it naked and in between, we wrestle and worship it. Some see it in shame, others with disdain, others bewail its inability to live up to one’s demands or desires and others have set the world’s armies against one another to hold it close.

In studying the gospel of Mark there are moments of short narrative that are easily moved past that capture the attention of the curious.

Why mention seemingly insignificant observations?

What is behind Mark’s storytelling?

What is it about us and our nakedness that finds a place in the final moments of redemptions zenith?

At the dusk of the Old Creation, we read of naked humanity fleeing from God’s presence. 
At the dawn of the New Creation we see humanity fleeing in nakedness.

At the cross Christ is stripped of His robe.
On the cross Christ hangs naked. 
In the tomb He is clothed in a linen burial cloth.
At the empty tomb, in another garden…the garment is left on the ground.

Nakedness redeemed…?

Genesis 2:25 
“Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”

Genesis 3:8-11 
“And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked?

Mark 14:34-35
“And He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch.” And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by.”

Mark 14:51-52
“A young man was following Him, wearing nothing but a linen sheet over his naked body; and they seized him. But he pulled free of the linen sheet and escaped naked.”

Mark 15:46
“Joseph bought a linen cloth, took Him down, wrapped Him in the linen cloth and laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.”

Mark 16:5
“Entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed.”

(Artist: Italian painter Roberto Ferri)

The Power, Privilege & Provocations of Washing Feet

“Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you?

You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.

For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.

Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”

John 13:5, 12-17

I watched a handful of Jesus disciple’s respond to this passage last night at our Thursday Holy Week gathering.

It’s one of the most perplexing and provoking teachings of Jesus in my estimation.

It’s an act that challenges us in ways many other Christian practices do not.

-It pulls us out of our comfort zones.

-It messes with our heads.

-It crosses all kinds of lines.

-It’s dirty and awkwardly, public.

-It’s vulnerable and intimate.

-It’s a cultural tradition that we can’t seem to find an equivalent.

Yet, it’s moving to watch and experience in its genuinely humble simplicity.

There’s a sacred and subversive power that is touched in doing, that invites us to experience Jesus in a manner that helps humanize us in love.

But it cannot be forced, love is freely given and overflows gently and purposefully from one to another.

It’s a sacred act that’s profoundly important in preparing us especially to care for life as it enters the world and exits.

Loving the unlovely, the messy, the stink, the dangerously vulnerable and the dependent is a profoundly Christlike posture.

The servant…is king.

It’s a message and practice we desperately need in our culture, churches, homes and hearts.

Bunnies, Peeps and Pagan Oh My!

Every Easter there’s a need to respond to the folks who have genuine questions about the ‘origins’ of Easter celebrations. Some years I do better than others in addressing those concerns, others I poke fun, either way, I make someone mad.

You are free to believe what you want about Easter, Christmas, Mary, Adam’s Belly Button, Moon landings, the origins of the KKK, the second shooter or the duplicity of marrying “good’ with ‘Friday’ a word that comes from the goddess Frig.

Your scruples matter but they are not gospel and for most of us, they are probably rooted in the notes of a heretical hobbyhorse of some Kook, Crank or Cult, but…that’s for another post or book.

In the spirit of the gentle evangelical side-hugs, youth group backrubs and Junior High shoulder punches, I offer up some of the best advice Paul ever gave to Mr & Mrs. Persnikittey:

“One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind.” -Romans 14:5

With those few words, I offer you my theological and cultural magnum opus on the issue of the pagan roots of Easter, my poem:

The Easter Battle of 733
In 733 the hamlet of Brusselsprout was all astir, church bells clambered with fearful ferocity, the apocalypse’s rumored eve was near, for the nearby village of Dingledort was surely burning!

Hordes of menacing fluffy beasts, stampeding hedges, leaping across porches, scurrying over shuttered rooftops, zigzagging neighing ponies feet!

The night full of screeching and scratching, the battle of ‘aggedon was upon them! Flashes of yellow lightning, over-taking every hollow and hill! Talons and beaks flashing, frantic fluttering scampering, clucking the prophesied doom!

Springtime horror! Diabolical dress! Yellow as bile, green as dragon’s breath!Devilishly sweet to the taste, ancient poison of the soul.
Sister Sauerkraut wielded her broom, like gallant St. George on his steed, fighting the invading hordes hell, the furry and feathered…Mephistopheles!

Before each Easter, the diabolical tale is told, by pulpit and paper, whisper and whimper, of masses driven mad by the devil’s goad, beware the bunnies, chicks, and sweets, heed the warning of this frightening ode!

A Prayer for Missionaries

A prayer for our friends in gospel mission beyond our borders.

Jude 1:20-25
“But you, dear friends, as you build yourselves up in your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting expectantly for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life. Have mercy on those who waver; save others by snatching them from the fire; have mercy on others but with fear, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh. Now to him who is able to protect you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of his glory, without blemish and with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority before all time, now and forever. Amen.

Father 
We pray in the Holy Spirit that our friends serving beyond would be ‘built up’ in their holy faith. That they would be strong to withstand all that discourages, destabilizes and seeks to displace them from their set places of ministry and mission.

May they experience the love of God and may that love keep them in whatever ways they need to be kept, as they wait for the mercy and life of Jesus to unfold in them and through them.

Jesus, 
We pray for the wavering among them. You know how difficult life and mission can be and how many times one wants to give up, give in or get out. Grant them stable hearts, heads and hands and feet as they regain the perspective needed to face what is before them at this time.

Grant them the joy of seeing people saved from the fires that consume them. The fires of mind, heart or flesh. The fires that burn uncontrollably and the fires that smolder, yet consume, sometimes unnoticed for a while. Save them from the fires of persecution that can break instead of build up. Save them from the fires of loss, the heart-wrenching attacks or tragedies that take from us that which we love or that which we have spent so much time investing in and building. Save them from fire merciful Lord.

Grant your workers wisdom as they work with others who are entangled in contagious matters. You know how easily we catch things that others have Lord. In Your mercy protect them from anything that could poison or pollute mind, heart or body.

Holy Spirit, 
Protect them from stumbling. Give them feet like mountain goats, able to climb seemingly unconquerable heights and able to flee trouble with quick, sure-footedness. Protect them from all the small things that seem to catch our feet when we are trying to run after You and Your promises. Keep them upright in all things Lord.

May they stand before You in joy, not perfect, but cleansed and sustained by Your grace that covers our sins, failures, faults, and fantasies and protects them from evil, in others, and in themselves.

May the end of all their lives and labor be an offering that burns eternal to the Sacred Trinity.

Amen

The Best Advice Ever…

I’m going to be your nicest buddy right now. What I’m going to do for you should cause you to send me whatever amount of money you consider an evening of your life worth.

You should curtsy to me, kiss my ring and give me the center of every cinnamon roll you ever eat from now on. You should name your next child after me, no, you should rename your current child after me.

My advice is going to be like getting Hillary prosecuted or elected depending on your political madness.

What I’m about to share with you is so important to know it’s worth going without sex for a month or as joyful as finally having it.

Trust me this is such valuable information you’d choose to get a Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tattoo above your butt crack, visible enough to create shock or awe.

Please, stop pooping, pay attention and read this carefully….don’t watch this movie. Ever.

In fact, go to your kid’s room, grab the Lego box go out to a hard floor and pour them on it. Take off your shoes, turn on a song you loathe and dance until you bleed. You need that kind of memory to prevent you from ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever giving up and hour and a half of your most precious life to this terrible movie.

Oh by the beard of Zeus heed my Apocalyptic word and banish the thought from ever coming into your brain meat. I don’t care if you’ve watched every movie available on Netflix…don’t do it. I’m talking like don’t look into the Ark of Indiana Jones level of don’t. Seriously…doooooooon’t!

Barren Wombs and Cold Marriages

Provocative thoughts on Sexuality, Marriage, Childbearing, and Contraception in the writings of C.S. Lewis

I’ve been struck by these provocative passages in the writings of C.S. Lewis regarding marriage, birth, contraception, and chastity. They touch on sensitive subjects, but I think we need to seriously think about in this culture.

In today’s Western culture morality, sexuality, marriage, biology, and gender are being reshaped by Pharoah’s magicians. The Secular State has produced increased economic hurdles to marriage and continues to prescribe anti-creation ideologies and philosophies through the Public Education System that are shaping a generation to embrace non-procreative sexualities.

Sex education is increasingly an anti-marriage, pro-contraception and abortion platform that has normalized a life of indentured servitude to self, sex, success, and money. We are living in a moment when the “civil” masks that Abortion has worn for the last decades are being proudly removed and the hideous reality of its intentions and actions are being celebrated by the deceived and the godless.

This has produced a growing mass of the brainwashed and debt-enslaved among the emerging generations, resulting in a prolonged childhood and adolescence phase going way pass what use to be considered and expected as adulthood. Too many are sidestepping the traditional life stages of maturity that used to force through necessity, men and women to grow up, support themselves and others and devote their lives to the needs and betterment of the next generation.

Colossians 2:8 warns Christians: 
See to it that nobody enslaves you with philosophy and foolish deception, which conform to human traditions and the way the world thinks and acts rather than Christ.

Lewis tackles these ‘philosophies’ in his writings from many different angles. He attempts to challenge the worldly presuppositions and conclusions of these arguments and works to equip thinking Christians with solid reasoning and truth.

We would do well to examine our own thinking regarding marriage, procreation, contraception, and abortion. Making sure that we are not passing along the same type of thinking and actions that build a type of tomorrow that undermines the Biblical values and beliefs we say we believe in.

I understand that there are sins, sorrows, and sufferings connected with many people’s personal stories. Our fears, failures or frustrations are real and require pastoral care and personal growth and healing. But the overall cultural issues must still be addressed and what is wrong or harmful has to be exposed to prevent those we love from following our own paths or falling into the trap of the enemy of their souls. If you are someone who is struggling with infertility, post-abortion trauma, sexual abuse or some other related matter, I want you to discover the healing, grace, and forgiveness of God. To be sustained by His wisdom and comfort through your trials or blossom into a satisfied life that has embraced and submitted to the limitations of His sovereignty.

These issues are discussed not to shame or exalt a reality of living that you may or may not be able to experience at this time, but are intended to equip us to escape error and thrive in life as the flourishing people God intends us to become in soul, home and community.

That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis:
“The Stranger mused for a few seconds; then, speaking in a slightly sing-song voice, as though he repeated an old lesson, he asked, in two Latin hexameters, the following question:

“Who is called Sulva? What road does she walk? Why is the womb barren on one side? Where are the cold marriages?”

Ransom replied, “Sulva is she whom mortals call the Moon. She walks in the lowest sphere. The rim of the world that was wasted goes through her. Half of her orb is turned toward us and shares our curse. Her other half looks to Deep Heaven; happy would be he who could cross that frontier and see the fields on her further side. On this side, the womb is barren and the marriages are cold. There dwell an accursed people, full of pride and lust. There when a young man takes a maiden in marriage, they do not lie together, but each lies with a cunningly fashioned image of the other, made to move and to be warm by devilish arts, for real flesh will not please them, they are so dainty (delicati) in their dreams of lust. Their real children they fabricate by vile arts in a secret place.”

Shortly after this, when the others in the house meet Merlin, the following discourse occurs:

… the Stranger [Merlin] was speaking and pointing at her [Jane] as he spoke.

She did not understand the words; but Dimble did, and heard Merlin saying in what seemed to him a rather strange kind of Latin:

“Sir, you have in your house the falsest lady of any at this time alive.”

And Dimble heard the Director answer him in the same language:

“Sir, you are mistaken. She is doubtless like all of us a sinner; but the woman is chaste.”

“Sir,” said Merlin, “know well that she has done in Logres [England] a thing of which no less sorrow shall come than came of ‘the stroke that Balinus struck’. For, Sir, it was the purpose of God that she and her lord should between them have begotten a child by whom the enemies should have been put out of Logres for a thousand years.”

“She is but lately married,” said Ransom. “The child may yet be born.”

“Sir,” said Merlin, “be assured that the child will never be born, for the hour of its begetting is passed. Of their own will they are barren: I did not know till now that the usages of Sulva were so common among you. For a hundred generations in two lines the begetting of this child was prepared; and unless God should rip up the work of time, such seed, and such an hour, in such a land, shall never be again.”

“Enough said,” answered Ransom. “The woman perceives that we are speaking of her.”

“It would be great charity,” said Merlin, “if you gave order that her head should be cut from her shoulders; for it is a weariness to look at her.”

…[Dimble] thrust Jane behind him and called out,

“Ransom! What in Heaven’s name is the meaning of this?”

“…And his appalling bloodthirstiness.”

“I have been startled by it myself,” said Ransom. “But after all we had no right to expect that his penal code would be that of the Nineteenth Century.”

…”The Pendragon tells me,” [Merlin] said in his unmoved voice, ” that you accuse me for a fierce and cruel man. It is a charge I never heard before. A third part of my substance I gave to widows and poor men. I never sought the death of any but felons and heathen Saxons. As for the woman, she may live for me. I am not Master in this house. But would it be such a great matter if her head were struck off?”

Two chapters later, Merlin is asking if they can’t enlist the Christian kings and knights of the day in their fight against “That Hideous Strength,” and Ransom informs him, quite prophetically, of our present reality:

Ransom shook his head. “You do not understand,” he said, “The poison was brewed in these West lands but it has spat itself everywhere by now. However far you went you would find the machines, the crowded cities, the empty thrones, the false writings, the barren beds; men maddened with false promises and soured with true miseries, worshipping the iron works of their own hands, cut off from the Earth their mother and from the Father in Heaven. You might go East so far that East become West and you returned to Britain across the great Ocean, but even so you would not have come out anywhere into the light. The shadow of one dark wing is over all Tellus.”

“Is it then the end?” asked Merlin.

The Pilgrim’s Regress by C.S. Lewis:
Mr. Sensible:
“That wild impulse must be tasted, not obeyed. The bees have stings, but we rob them of their honey. To hold all that urgent sweetness to our lips in the cup of one perfect moment, missing no faintest ingredient in the flavour of its µονόχρονος ἡδονή(fleeting pleasure), yet ourselves, in a sense, unmoved—this is the true art. This tames in the service of the reasonable life even those pleasures whose loss might seem to be the heaviest, yet necessary, price we paid for rationality. Is it an audacity to hint that for the corrected palate the taste of the draught even owes its last sweetness to the knowledge that we have wrested it from an unwilling source? To cut off pleasures from the consequences and conditions which they have by nature, detaching, as it were, the precious phrase from its irrelevant context, is what distinguishes the man from the brute and the citizen from the savage.

I cannot join with those moralists who inveigh(vigorously denounce) against the Roman emetics* in their banquets: still less with those who would forbid the even more beneficent contraceptive devices of our later times. That man who can eat as taste, not nature, prompts him and yet fear no aching belly, or who can indulge in Venus and fear no impertinent bastard, is a civilized man. In him I recognize Urbanity—the note of the centre.’

[Roman emetics: It has been traditionally believed that the Romans would eat to excess, purge themselves, and then eat again. By approving of Roman emetics and modern contraceptives, Mr. Sensible suggests that one may seek physical pleasure without bearing the natural consequences.]

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, p. 49:
“Chastity is the most unpopular of the Christian virtues. There is no getting away from it: the old Christian rule is, “Either marriage, with complete faithfulness to your partner, or else total abstinence.” Now this is so difficult and so contrary to our instincts, that obviously either Christianity is wrong or our sexual instinct, as it now is, has gone wrong. One or the other. Of course, being a Christian, I think it is the instinct which has gone wrong. But I have other reasons for thinking so. The biological purpose of sex is children, just as the biological purpose of eating is to repair the body. Now if we eat whenever we feel inclined and just as much as we want, it is quite true that most of us will eat too much: but not terrifically too much. One man may eat enough for two, but he does not eat enough for ten. The appetite goes a little beyond its biological purpose, but not enormously. But if a healthy young man indulged his sexual appetite whenever he felt inclined, and if each act produced a baby, then in ten years he might easily populate a small village. This appetite is in ludicrous and preposterous excess of its function.”

So Who was “Balinus” and what was “the stroke that Balinus struck?Balinus (Balin) was a would-be knight of King Arthur’s Court. At one point in the legend, he sets out to avenge a man slain by an invisible knight traveling under his protection. The villain turns out to be the brother of the Grail King Pellam, and Balin kills him at a feast in Pellam’s castle. Pellam goes to avenge his brother, shattering one of Balin’s swords. Balin then goes from room to room in the castle to find another weapon. Though a voice warns him not to, he enters the room where the Holy Grail and the lance used to pierce our Lord was kept. Balin seizes the lance and runs the weapon through both of Pellam’s thighs. This “Dolorous Stroke” maims Pellam, and turns the Grail kingdom of Logres into a barren land for years to come – the curse for using this sacred spear as a weapon.

Charles Spurgeon on Salt vs Honey Preachers

Leviticus 2:11-13

“Do not use yeast in preparing any of the grain offerings you present to the Lord, because no yeast or honey may be burned as a special gift presented to the Lord. You may add yeast and honey to an offering of the first crops of your harvest, but these must never be offered on the altar as a pleasing aroma to the Lord. Season all your grain offerings with salt to remind you of God’s eternal covenant. Never forget to add salt to your grain offerings.”

I bade you note that you were not allowed to present honey before the Lord. I really wish that some of our brethren who are over-done with honey would notice that.

There is a kind of molasses godliness which I can never stomach. It is always, “Dear this,” and “Dear that,” and “Dear the other” and “This dear man,” and “That dear woman.”

There is also a kind of honey-drop talk in which a person never speaks the plain truth. He speaks as familiarly as if he knew all about you, and would lay down his life for you, though he has never set eyes on you before, and would not give you a halfpenny to save your life.

These people avoid rebuking sin, for that is “unkind.” They avoid denouncing error, they say, “This dear brother’s views differ slightly from mine.” A man says that black is white, and I say that it is not so. But it is not kind to say, “It is not so.” You should say, “Perhaps you are right, dear brother, though I hardly think so.”

In this style some men think that our sacrifice is to be offered. If they hear a sermon that cuts at the roots of sin, and deals honestly with error, they say, “That man is very narrow-minded.”

Well, I have been so accustomed to be called a bigot that I by no means deny the charge. I feel no horror because of the accusation. To tell a man that, if he goes on in his sin, he will be lost forever, and to preach to him the hell which God denounces against the impenitent, is no unkindness. It is the truest kindness to deal honestly with men.

If the surgeon knows very well that a person has a disease about him that requires the knife, and he only says, “It is a mere trifle: I dare say that with a little medicine and a pill or two we may cure you,” a simpleton may say, “What a dear kind man!”

But a wise man judges otherwise. He is not kind, for he is a liar. If, instead of that, he says “My dear friend, I am very sorry, but I must tell you that this mischief must be taken out by the roots, and painful as the operation is, I beg you to summon courage to undergo it, for it must be done if your life is to be saved.”

That is a very unpleasant kind of person, and a very narrow-minded and bigoted person, but he is the man for us.

He uses salt, and God accepts him, the other man uses honey, and God will have nothing to do with him. When honey comes to the fire, it turns sour.

All this pretended sweetness, when it comes to the test, turns sour, there is no real love in it. But the salt, which is sharp, and when it gets into the wound makes it tingle, nevertheless does sound service.”