Archive for February, 2021

Considering Mark 10:45

This is our congregation’s verse of the month for memorization and meditation.

45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10

The context of this verse was the sons of Thunder rumbling with a request to the the best seats when Jesus sits on the throne to judge the tribes of Israel (see the parallel passage of the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:28). The disciples seem to think that when Jesus gets to Jerusalem the work of judgment will begin. They couldn’t be much farther from the truth as it turns out. Jesus returns to the work of Messiah in His earthly ministry.

The greatest in the kingdom is the one who serves according to Jesus (vv. 43-44). It is the one who puts aside his/her will for the will of God and the interests of others (Phil. 2:4). The disciples might think that the Son of Man is exempt from this.

Even the Son of Man” is how Jesus begins this statement. The Son of Man, Himself, was not exempt from this but will actually be the greatest example of service. Jesus serves His people. Even Jesus.

Caesar wouldn’t think of serving his people. They existed to serve him. He had any number of servants to clothe him, feed him, clean the palace, fight in his armies, provide resources for the empire and on and on. Caesar wouldn’t wait on tables as the word to serve indicates. He wouldn’t be a slave to all.

Jesus, on the other hand, don’t equate greatness or dignity with being served. The Son of Man came to serve, not be served.

The form His service takes is paying a ransom.

He didn’t pay that ransom with gold or silver. He’d pay that ransom with His life; His blood (1 Peter 1:18-19). He service was His death, or should I say culminated in His death. He served in many ways before that: teaching, healing, casting out demons, providing food, saving people from storms.

Paul follows this line of thought in Philippians 2 as well. He became as a slave and was obedient even to death, death on a cross.

No one forced this out of Him; He gave it.

Ransom: the price paid for the release of a slave, prisoner or debtor.

We were slaves to sin, prisoners on death row because our life was forfeit, and have an incalculable debt. Jesus paid it. There are no more sacrifices left for sin. Faith embrace Christ and His sacrifice as paying our debt in full. It rests in that payment instead of trying to add more.

WSC Question 86: What is faith in Jesus Christ?
Answer: Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel.

WSC Question 87: What is repentance unto life?
Answer: Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, doth, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavor after, new obedience.

This ransom doesn’t feel necessary or important unless you feel a sense of your slavery, debt or recognize you are on death row. This is not something we can conjure up. It is something the Spirit works in us when we hear the law which can only be alleviated by the Gospel. People generally fight a sense of guilt. We don’t want to feel guilty. If we do we try to talk ourselves out of it. We can be fighting the work of the Spirit intending to draw us to Christ. Submit to the work of the Spirit revealing your never-ending need for Christ as you read the Word and your sin is exposed.

The Green Mile Photo: Dead man walking | Dead man walking, Miles movie,  Mottos to live by

“… a ransom for many.” Many stumble over this. It is a text that figures into the debate over the intent and extent of the atonement: for whom did Jesus die? In rabbinic usage it refers to the elect of God, His eschatological people. This would be consistent with what we find in John as Jesus lays down His life for His sheep (10), those who were given to Him. There are particular people in view, a definite intent.

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I’m reading faster than I’m blogging on The Wonderful Works of God. Such is the nature of life. From Christ’s nature Bavinck moves to Christ’s wonderful works in successive chapters on His humiliation and His exaltation. Christ’s incarnation, by itself, does not save us but make our salvation possible in that it makes His saving works as Mediator possible. It is a necessary condition, but not a sufficient condition. He then must do certain things to accomplish our salvation (not simply making salvation possible).

The Wonderful Works of God by Hermann Bavinck Cover Image. Westminster Seminary Press.

The incarnation of the Son of God, therefore, without anything further, cannot be the reconciling and redeeming deed. It is the beginning of it, the preparation for it, and the introduction to it, but it is not that deed itself.”

The Work of Christ in His Humiliation

The death of the Son is just as necessary as the birth of the Son for our salvation, and not simply a death of due to illness or old age. Bavinck follows Calvin in discussing the work of Christ in both humiliation and exaltation through the lens of the three offices (munix triplex): prophet, priest and king. This view has received criticism at times, largely rooted in misunderstanding. Just as we struggle with understanding the two natures and the one person, we struggle with the three offices and the one person. Jesus didn’t take these offices on and off like a pair of clothes, or some hat, to indicate “now I work as priest”. Bavinck notes that “essentially Jesus was at all times and places busy in all three offices simultaneously.” There are some moments when it is more clear that He is busy in a particular office.

“Because He Himself is prophet, priest, and king, He in turn makes us prophets, priests, and kings unto God and His Father.”

God the Son subsisted eternally and prepared a human nature for Himself through the Spirit in Mary; Jesus was not subject to the covenant of works. By this Bavinck means He was not subject to original guilt and corruption. I’m not sure he intends to say that Jesus didn’t fulfill the covenant of works for us. Jesus didn’t inherit a fallen condition because Adam was never His covenant head. Yet, Bavinck still affirms the weakness of His human nature that He might be tempted, learn obedience, struggle in order to empathize with us as a compassionate Great High Priest. Jesus is not some kind of hero who “overcomes every obstacle, and finally achieves the pinnacle of his fame.” The incarnation was the beginning of a long humiliation, a long descent, that ended with His death upon the cross bearing the curse.

The anointing for office was at His baptism. The Spirit came upon Him to fulfill the duties of His three offices. His “emptying” was one of dependence upon the Spirit showing us how to live as redeemed people.

He was not simply one prophet among many, the latest in a long line of prophets. He was the Prophet to whom the others testified and from whom they received their message. He is the perfect revelation of God not only in His message but also in His person. He fulfills the earlier prophecies. Jesus didn’t abolish the law but purified it from “false interpretations and human additions, and by bringing them to their full actualization in His own person and work.” While earlier prophets preached the Gospel, Jesus was the Gospel. He is grace and truth, not merely a preacher of them. In this way the priestly office is related to the prophetic office.

The priestly office is also related to the kingly. Israel was called to be a kingdom of priests (Ex. 19:6), and Jesus will make us such a kingdom (Rev. 5:10). His kingdom is established by the sacrifice, not the sword. He doesn’t supplant Herod or Caesar in His humiliation. In His exaltation He will bring all His enemies under His feet, but we’ll get there later.

“During His sojourn on earth, too, He never yielded any of His Divine or His human rights. He did not try to get His rights by violence, but wanted to arrive at them solely by way of a perfect obedience to God.”

His whole life of prophetic, priestly and kingly activities culminated in His death, and as I noted a specific kind of death. Jesus surrendered Himself to death, and death on a cross. It was not a death He sought, but one which was inevitable due to His faithfulness to God and His mission. The disciples struggled to understand this mission, this impending death, until after the resurrection and the pouring out of the Spirit at Pentecost.

The words of Samuel to Saul, that to obey is better than sacrifice, mean that Jesus’ obedience was vital to His sacrifice having any meaning. Jesus must die for our sins, not His own. His obedience merits eternal life for all those who are united to Him by faith. The covenant rests upon God’s gracious election, but the law and sacrifices serve the promise of salvation. They reveal the guilt and corruption of sin. They reveal the necessity of ransom. This shed blood of Christ is the “effective cause of the atonement, forgiveness, and purging of our sins.”

The church, Bavinck notes, has struggled with the active and passive obedience of Christ. Various generations tend to emphasize one over the other, sometimes at one’s exclusion. It is like a see saw back and forth. They go together, however. Both are essential to our salvation. The perfect, unblemished Lamb of God would die for our sins, to remove our guilt and pollution.

The Work of Christ in His Exaltation

The salvation accomplished by Christ must also be applied. The benefits achieved by Christ must also be applied. Christ continues to work in the application of redemption in His exaltation. He seems to shift back and forth between the offices much more in this chapter. Here, oddly enough, Bavinck speaks much of propitiation. One statement caught my eye that I wish were expounded upon more clearly as to what he did and didn’t mean. That is this:

“Because Christ by His death has covered our sin and averted God’s wrath, God changes His attitude towards the world into one of reconciliation, and He tells us this in His gospel, which is therefore called the word of reconciliation.”

Truly, we are only accepted in the Beloved. Apart from Christ’s death we are still in sin and under the wrath and curse of God. But, did God change His attitude? Does this undermine divine simplicity and immutability? Or does he mean it in a way in keeping with them? I honestly don’t know and can’t tell from this text. God’s attitude toward the elect never changes. God loved and sent the Son to be our propitiation. He states this elsewhere but doesn’t necessarily connect it to God’s attitude. The Father sent the Son because He was mercifully disposed, not that the Son might change His attitude towards us. Our disposition changes as we see the kindness and mercy of God (as well as His justice) in the death of Christ for our propitiation.

Perhaps Bavinck is guarding against the idea of eternal justification. That, I think, would be noble, but not the best way to explain it. Justification, as an act, is applied to us at conversion rather than when the decree was made in eternity. Those elect will surely be justified but they aren’t yet justified until the instrumental cause effects the change in our status.

Bavinck does not use election to avoid the proclamation of the gospel but sees it as the justification for the promiscuous preaching of the gospel. He advocates a preaching without distinction to all whom He sends us. The preaching of the gospel is accompanied with the twin commands to repent and believe. Jesus then sends the Spirit to empower His people to bear witness to those nations as part of His exaltation. As He completes the New Testament through the Apostles who wrote it under the power of the Spirit, and proclaims the message through us, He exercises His office of prophet in His exaltation.

“Jesus by His Spirit Himself continued the work of prophecy in the hearts of His disciples.”

The recipients of Christ’s blessings are the church, the true Israel, the true seed of Abraham: Jew and Gentile. There is no sharing in the blessings apart from Christ, and apart from the church. His application of the blessings to His people is His wonderful work in His exaltation. This work is just as essential to our salvation as the work in His humiliation.

In this context he addresses “the descent into hell” providing the interpretations given by Rome, the Lutherans and the various views within the Reformed heritage. The Reformed view has abandoned the view that Jesus traveled to hell to set the prisoners free for either experiencing the agonies of hell on the cross (Calvin) or being under the power of death (WLC). He also delves in to false views of the resurrection since the resurrection is the beginning of the exaltation of Christ.

Jesus goes before us in His resurrection, guaranteeing our resurrection. He paves the way for humanity’s presence in heaven with His ascension as well. “Therefore the conquest of death could take place only by a man. A man had to effect the resurrection of the dead.” He’s not being Nestorian but pointing out the necessity of Christ’s humanity in accomplishing these wonderful works. The Son must be the God-man to die and rise for us. No mere man can do this, but a man must. There is not simply a spiritual resurrection but a physical one.

He expresses a “double grace” like Calvin in that there is “no forgiveness without a succeeding sanctification and glorification.” Okay, a “triple grace”? All those who are justified are also sanctified in the same Christ who cannot be torn asunder.

In Christ’s ascension we discover a triumph over creation, over the laws of nature. It is also a triumph over the forces of evil who become captives. The ascension sees Christ seated at the right hand of the Father to rule over all of creation, heaven and earth. This is Christ fulfilling the office of king in His exaltation. He works to subdue His enemies by converted the elect through the gospel and putting the reprobate under His feet. He will continue this great work in the exercise of judgment at the end of time.

In terms of His priestly office, the emphasis is on intercession in His exaltation. Bavinck begins with discussion of Melchizedek to point us to Christ as the priest who lives forever to intercede for us. He no longer offers sacrifices for us, but pleads the one sacrifice for us as we continue to sin. His one sacrifice gained Him entrance into the true & heavenly tabernacle in order to appear before the Father on our behalf. Our Great High Priest also grants us mercy and grace in our time of need from His throne of grace.

Bavinck returns to the kingly office of Christ, and makes a helpful distinction for us.

“Within the pale of this one kingship Holy Scripture makes a distinction. There is a kingship of Christ over Zion, over His people, over the Church, and there is also a kingship which He exercises over His enemies. The first is a kingship of grace, and the other is a kingship of power.”

There is Christ’s rule as Creator over all things which He rules by power or providence. There is also His rule over His people by grace. Here he delves into the union of Christ and His Church. Each local church is a body of Christ. We are related to one another as members of that one body. Christ brings each body to maturity as we work for one another’s benefit. Through the Church He gathers, rules and protects His people. As He does this He will also triumph over His enemies through His kingship of power so that every knee will bow and call Him Lord either willingly (thru grace) or unwillingly (thru power).

There was plenty of important material here. At times Bavinck reminded me of The In-Laws, moving serpentine in fashion. He moved back and forth instead of straight ahead. At times it is difficult to address one office without address another. There were also a few ambiguities and potential problems in this material. I do stress potential over actual. We must guard the immutability and simplicity of God. We must also, I think, guard against eternal justification (though many of my continental Reformed brothers will disagree). We must not sacrifice one for the other. I’m not sure he did that, but we shouldn’t.

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I took a short break from Bavinck’s The Wonderful Works of God in order to finish up some books I began during Study Leave in December. This week I returned to reading Bavinck, but I still had an unfinished blog post since I read The Divine and Human Nature of Christ back in December. I vaguely recall it being a very good chapter.

The Wonderful Works of God by Hermann Bavinck Cover Image. Westminster Seminary Press.

We must begin with the testimony of Jesus regarding Himself which was developed and confirmed by the Apostles through their preaching and teaching. The disciples struggled with the reality of Jesus’ two natures prior to Pentecost, and so do many people. “By nature everybody stands in enmity to this confession, for it is not a confession natural to man.” The Spirit must enlighten our understanding. And even with enlightened understand the Church spent time trying to understand this confession: what it meant and didn’t mean.

Jesus died for blaspheme and sorcery. He claimed to be God according to the priests and elders, and performed miracles by the power of Satan. That the Church claimed Jesus was God and man should not surprise us. Until regeneration people only know Him according to the flesh- and see a man, just a man.

“But before the resurrection He was Messiah in the form of a servant, in a form and shape which concealed His dignity as Son of God from the eyes of men.”

Christ testified that the Son of Man would be seated in glory, and the Apostles declared He was seated at the right hand of the Father. He has been exalted, not to a new place, but to the former glory He enjoyed prior to the Incarnation. We can see it is greater in the sense that we now see more clearly He is Redeemer. Bavinck then moves to the great works and attributes given to Jesus, which make sense in light of His high place. These are divine attributes and divine works which together help us recognize He is divine. The invisible God made Himself visible in Christ. He is the exact or perfect image of God.

Even during the days of the Apostles we see that false views of Christ crept into the Church. In 1 John we see him arguing against a form of docetism. In Colossians there were false teachers advocating additional mediators as though Jesus wasn’t supreme and sufficient.

Bavinck explores the heresies to come in terms of the tension between His humanity and His divinity. Each heresy stresses one at the expense of the other. He puts it this way:

“At one time the Divinity of Christ is sacrificed to the humanity; at another it is the humanity that is sacrificed to the Divinity. There are always extremes which sacrifice the idea to the fact, or the fact to the idea. They do not comprehend the unity and harmony of the two.”


The Arians stressed the unity of God. God was coterminus with the Father. The Son therefore was not God and was a creature like us, though apparently better. As the first creature He was the greatest creature, but still a creature and therefore to worship him would be idolatry. For Arius there was a time when Christ would not exist. Arius, and the cults today that espouse similar doctrines, the divinity was completely sacrificed for the humanity.


Modalism is an attempt to maintain the divinity of Christ, and the unity of God. Reactions often fall into an opposite error. Sabellious is the most famous of the modalists and so it is often called Sabellianism.

While Arius, so to speak, identified the being of the Godhead with the person of the Father, Sabellius sacrificed all three of the persons to the being of the Godhead. According to his (wrongly spelled “His”) teaching, the three persons, Father, Son, and Spirit, are not eternal realities, contained in the being of the God-head, but they are forms or manifestations in which the one Divine Being manifests Himself successively in the course of the centuries: …”

Taken at face value we should not worship the now non-existent Father or Son. We may worship the Spirit or just plain God. But we don’t see the Apostles, living in the age of the Spirit speaking or acting this way. They affirmed the continuing subsistence of all three and the worship of all three in the present.


The Council of Nicea rejected both of these positions but did not fully resolve the issues involved in understanding and expressing the reality of the Trinity and the two natures of Christ. There were new questions raised, and other unsatisfactory answers. Notorious Nestorius is known for arguing that two natures must mean two persons. The unity of the person of Christ was sacrificed for the distinction of the natures in his thinking.

Image result for conor mcgregor strut
Did Nestorius strut like Conor?


Eutyches also wrestled with questions pertaining to nature and personhood but came up with an opposite error. He affirmed the unity of person (good!) but therefore the unity of nature (bad!). The two natures were co-mingled to form one divinized man or humanized God. He was a blending or fusion of the two natures into one new unique nature. Eutyches maintained the unity of the person but lost the duality of natures.


The Church responded with the Council of Chalcedon and the resulting Chalcedonian Formula. It addressed the Christological controversies by affirming two distinct natures that remain unchanged and unmixed (contra Eutyches) but not divided or separated, rather forever united (contra Nestorius). These two natures exist, united in one person.

The Church struggles to understand this and apply it. Reformed Protestants are called Nestorians for affirming the two natures are distinct and don’t share attributes in the one person. This is in light of the Roman doctrine of transubstantiation and the Lutheran doctrine of consubstantiation. This view also draws the ire of the Eastern Orthodox Church. The Reformed Church sees their views as falling into a form of Monophysitism since they think that human nature has been divinized since it can be omnipresent. Isn’t Church life fun sometimes?

Bavinck reminds us that neither Council, while ecumenical, can claim to being infallible. They use terms not found in Scripture to express concepts found in Scripture.

“All those expressions and statements which are employed in the confession of the church and in the language of theology are not designed to explain the mystery which in this matter confronts it, but rather to maintain it pure and inviolated over against those who would weaken or deny it. The incarnation of the Word is not a problem which we must solve, or can solve, but a wonderful fact, rather which we gratefully confess in such a way as God Himself presents it to us in His Word.”

Banvinck tells us that history teaches us that those who attack the Doctrine of the Two Natures use terms far poorer and value and strength. They often do injustice to the incarnation as found in Scripture. Some liberals deny the divinity of Christ altogether. Others may see a divine grant given to a man (a form of adoptionism). Mormonism for instance sees a man who became God rather than the Eternal Son becoming flesh. This denies the incarnation.

“The separation between God and man is not a gradual difference but a deep gulf. The relationship is that of Creator and creature, and the creature from the nature of his being can never become Creator, nor have the significance and worth of us human beings of the Creator, on whom we are absolutely dependent.”

As Banvinck expresses it: “Christ was God, and is God, and will forever remain God.” He did not stop being God when He became man. He remained the Only Begotten. Prior to the incarnation, the Son was the brightness of the glory of the Father. In the incarnation He was unrecognizable for one only saw Jesus expect by faith. The incarnation, according to Bavinck, also means that He remained what He was when He became man. This is a positive expression.

The incarnation is a great work of God by which He reveals Himself to humanity is a new way, and in a way that enables His death as Savior and Redeemer. The human nature of Jesus did not exist before the incarnation. It was not brought down from heaven into Mary. He notes that the Anabaptists use this to explain His sinlessness. This is Gnostic, not covenantal. Scripture teaches us the goodness of creation, and that sinfulness is connected to the headship of Adam. Jesus took His humanity from Mary. Bavinck distinguishes between assuming a human nature and assuming a human person. We affirm the former but not the latter to maintain the duality of natures and unity of person. Passages like Colossians 1:19 and 2:9 can only be upheld if both natures are distinguished, and they place their properties and attributes in the service of the one person.

As he ends the chapter he notes that the gifts of the Spirit were not give all at once, but “successively in ever greater measure.” He had to learn things. He possessed a “not-able-to-sin” nature, yet due to a weak human nature could be tempted, suffer and die. This was a common view until later in the 20th century. Sproul, among others, would argue that a “not-able-to-sin” nature cannot meaningfully be tempted. We are deep in a mystery here. Is Sproul overly distinguishing the two natures or are others communicating the inability to sin to His human nature thereby confusing the two? If His humanity was weak, how was it not able to sin? We will not resolve this, and perhaps should not try for rocks seem to be on either side of this conundrum.

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Animal Farm: A Fairy Tale by George Orwell comes to a crescendo. Unlike the ad for the old animated movie, it doesn’t make me laugh. Orwell intended the end to fill you with fear.

Image result for animal farm

Chapter IX

The animals have just rallied to repel an attack from the men but not before they had destroyed the windmill. It had come at a cost. Boxer was one of the injured animals. He took no time off and hid his pain from everyone but Clover. Benjamin advised him to slow down. Boxer wanted to push through until he reached retirement. The age for pigs and horses was 12, but no one had actually enjoyed the rather liberal agreed upon pension. It would be another year before he could retire.

The winter was as cold as the previous one. But the rations were smaller. Except for the pigs and dogs. Squealer was busy convincing the animals that the ration was actually the same as before. When he read the production reports the numbers were better than in previous years. Lies become second nature when you aren’t held accountable for them. Lies become easy when the people can’t remember history. It is frightening how short people’s memories are these days. For example, some people not much older than me claim to not remember the rape allegations against then-candidate Bill Clinton. I am astounded that so many don’t know this. It also speaks to the power of the media to control what you do and do not know, especially if you rely on only one source.

The population of the farm had grown, but the resources hadn’t. The school for the young animals had not yet been built. Napoleon instructed the piglets. One day in February the animals enjoyed the aroma of what they thought was warm mash. It was actually beer. The pigs had claimed the barley production for themselves and enjoyed a ration of beer.

Napoleon declared “spontaneous celebrations”. Napoleon and Clover carried a banner declaring “Long Live Comrade Napoleon” and the sheep bleated “Four legs good, two legs bad”. The celebrations took their minds off the fact that they were hungry.

After Boxer’s hoof healed he worked harder than ever, some people feel a heightened sense of responsibility even in the face of diminishing returns. But he was aging fast. As spring approached their hopes for Boxer to regain strength were squashed. Still he declared “I will work harder.” One night during the summer Boxer collapsed, blood trickling from his mouth. Napoleon promised to get him into the best of hospitals. The others were skittish because the only animals to have left the farm were Snowball and Mollie. When the truck came to bring Boxer to the hospital, it had “Alfred Simmonds, Horse Slaughterer and Glue Boiler” on the side. Horror spread through the animals on the farm. Spin control went active- the hospital bought it. And they animals bought the tale he spun. On the evening of the funeral, a case was delivered. Somehow the pigs got the money to buy themselves some more whiskey.

Chapter X

Orwell hit the fast forward button for a few years. The only animals left that remembered life before the Revolution were Clover, Benjamin, Moses the raven and some of the pigs. Snowball and Boxer were forgotten. Napoleon and Squealer were older, and fatter. Squealer was so fat he could barely see.

But the farm was more prosperous. There were more horses, and they bought some fields from Mr. Pilkington. The windmill had been completed, finally. Unfortunately it was not generating electrical power as promised. Instead it was used for milling corn. Another was in the works, which would be used to generate electricity. Would it be another in a long line of broken promises, changed stories and mental manipulations?

“Somehow it seemed as though the farm had grown richer without making the animals themselves any richer- except, of course, for the pigs and the dogs.”

The pigs and dogs didn’t produce anything themselves. There were many of them and their appetites were big. For the rest, life seemed to be as it always had been. Their memories of the past were largely constructed by others. Benjamin was the only one who claimed to remember the old days.

After all these years, and the hope of spreading the revolution, had come to nothing. Animal Farm was still the only farm to follow the tenets of animalism. Unlike other animals, their fate was in their own hands not those of humans. They solace in the fact that “all animals were equal”.

One day the sheep followed Squealer to the other end of the farm. The sheep were there for a week, and Squealer spent most of the day with them.

Just after the sheep returned, the Farm was unsettled by Clover’s neighing. The animals gathered to see what Clover had witnessed: a pig walking on its hind legs. Not just any pig, but Squealer. Then a long line of pigs walking on two legs emerged, followed by Napoleon and his dogs.

“There was a deadly silence. Amazed, terrified, huddling together, the animals watched the long line of pigs march slowly round the yard.”

Suddenly there was bleating. “Four legs good, two legs better!” The bleating continued for 5 minutes. The reason for Squealer taking them away was clear.

When it was over Benjamin felt Clover nuzzling his shoulder. She brought him to the barn to look at the Seven Commandments. To her aging eyes the wall looked different. On her request, finally he broke his usual practice, and read. All that remained was one commandment.

“All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.”

Image result for animal farm

The next day the pigs were carrying whips. Napoleon was wearing the Joneses clothes. A week later a group of farmers arrived and entered the farmhouse. The noise piqued the curiosity of the other animals who discovered 6 farmers and 6 pigs seated together at the table. During a toast Mr. Pilkington expressed his admiration for the farm, and its ways. Some of their techniques would be introduced to their farms.

In response Napoleon announced that it was no longer Animal Farm but once again Manor Farm. The other animals walked away until an outburst drew them back. Both Pilkington and Napoleon had drawn an ace of spades prompting the argument.

“Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the face of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

The pigs became the new boss, and the new boss was the same as the old boss. The majority of the animals were still enslaved, but by other animals instead of humans. The pigs had become the new ruling class.

In Russia the Politburo had replaced the Tsars. In China the Party had replaced the Emperor and nobles. They were just as cruel and oppressive, perhaps even more so when you consider how many millions of their people were killed in gulags and “re-education camps”. Revolutions generally replace one tyrant with another.

In this fairy tale the farmers are impressed with how the pigs got the animals to get so much done with so little in return. In other words, they were even more shafted in communism than in capitalism. The principles of socialism began to be adopted by neighboring European nations. In both systems the ruling class only cares about the ruling class. As long as they prosper it doesn’t matter how well or poorly the masses do.

Today it is common to hear promises of utopia, a tearing down of the system to build a more equitable one. History indicates that the result is not a more equitable nation but a new ruling class as oppressive as the first. The promises are false but they find fertile soil in disaffected hearts. Beware, the dream inevitably becomes a nightmare.

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You can’t gather 2 or 3 pastors together these days without someone mentioning The Care of Souls: Cultivating a Pastor’s Heart by Harold Senkbeil. This 2020 Gospel Coalition Book of the Year winner is a hot read right now. Perhaps it is a result of the effect of Covid on pastors and ministry. It is also because this is an excellent book.

One of my ruling elders gave me a copy. I looked at the subtitle and wondered, “Is he trying to tell me something?” No, he’s not. He’d been reading it and found it both convicting and encouraging. That is a good way to sum it up.

The Care of Souls: Cultivating a Pastor's Heart

The Author

Senkbeil is a Lutheran pastor. As a result he holds to a simple “Word and sacrament” view of ministry. That isn’t all we do, but he does keep bringing us back there as the two main tools Jesus has given us to care for His sheep. He’s not writing to Lutherans. He tries to avoid Lutheran slogans, phrases and terminology so those not in his tradition can understand what he is talking about. The one exception is probably his baptismal language. Lutherans make much of the Christian as a baptized person. They speak of “improving” your baptism which can best be understood as living as a baptized person. This is connected with our union with Christ, which he also mentions at points. One point of disagreement I had was concerning “private communion.”

Senkbeil is an old-school Lutheran pastor. He is an older man with tons of experience. He is not advocating new methods. It isn’t trendy. His approach has stood the test of time. It is person-centered, not event centered (aside from the corporate worship of God’s people). This is a book that has stick-ability.

Senkbeil is a conservative, old-school Lutheran pastor. He communicates solid understanding of doctrine like justification. He speaks of the double transfer (double imputation). The Word is communicating these doctrines to people according to their need. One other thing I noticed is the exclusive use of masculine pronouns in speaking of pastors. It is common now to alternate genders, recognizing that egalitarians will read your book too. Not so with Senkbeil. I am not sure if this was conscious or not, but it communicates a complementarian view of ministry.

Senkbeil is the son of a farmer and it shows. He draws much upon the nature of farming to illustrate the nature of pastoral ministry much like Jesus and Paul. He speaks much of habitus throughout the book. Growing up on a farm he understood the habitus of farming, seeing it through his father. He didn’t just do farmer things, he understood and lived as a farmer. New pastors do pastoral things and hope to develop the pastoral habitus: intuitively or unconsciously thinking and acting like a pastor. You do it because it feels natural to you rather than something you are trying to do. This is because of extended periods of time doing them.

“Christ’s sheep are not all that easy to tend. They have minds of their own. They tend to wander off in strange directions and get lost in the most dangerous predicaments.”

What is a Pastor?

He begins with the true center of pastoral ministry: Christ. While we have a vigorous Christology in Scripture, the creeds and church history, if you were to meet Jesus you wouldn’t know it. You’d see a man. You’d hear an amazing teacher. You’d see some amazing miracles. The God-man is a mystery revealed to us in Scripture, not according to flesh and blood. Pastoral ministry is mysterious too, he says. God moves, as Cowper wrote, in mysterious ways; hidden ways. We don’t see all God is doing. He is much more busy than we give him credit for. He reminds us that we are called to both evangelize and shepherd, not one or the other. He will repeatedly assert that much of our work is in the area of sanctification, however.

“No pastor can give to others what he himself has not received. Turn that around and you have the very core of what pastoring is all about: giving out the gifts of God in Christ that you yourself receive by faith.”

As stewards of God’s mysteries, we are servants of Jesus. Senkbeil warns us not to simply see ourselves as servants of the people, satisfying all their whims. We are to give them what they need. And love them through that process instead of being deaf to their feelings. Being servants of Jesus means we serve in the Spirit.

The Word of God

As part of a classical view of ministry he holds to the importance of the Word of God. It is the source and standard of ministry. All our teaching is centered on the Word of God. He also discusses Jesus as the embodied Word and the Reformational stress of Word and Spirit. Senkbeil reminds us the Jesus’ ministry was founded in the Word of God. This is not the strongest chapter in the book. It is foundational but there was nothing that made me go “I hadn’t thought of that.” The rest of the books has plenty of those though.

We pray by means of the word; we bless by means of the word. God’s word is the golden thread woven through the tapestry of all pastoral life and work.”

The Cure of Souls

Sadly ministry has been reduced to managing programs. Not for Senkbeil. This is an important chapter. We offer people the Word of God, especially the living Word Jesus, to people for the cure of their soul. Curing souls requires accurate diagnosis and then applying the proper cure from the Word. Proper diagnosis takes time. Pastors often don’t take the time to make a proper diagnosis. They have more meetings to get to. As a pastor in the PCA, I think we need more men like this. We’ve been too captivated by the business model of ministry. Our people expect the business model, which complicates things. We may need to re-train our people.

Faithful pastoral care of the soul starts when one heart discloses itself to another heart- then the healing ministrations of God’s word and sacraments may be most effectively applied.”

Listening is an important part of the pastoral habitus. But this means we must learn to listen, and Senkbeil provides us with some direction. Listening helps us get to the core problem, not simply the symptoms. The cure of souls is not symptom (or sin) management. It is not the interrogation of a lawyer, but the care of a doctor. Too often we seem to act as though we are going down (or afraid to go down) the road to discipline instead of care.

Pastoral care also addresses providence as people struggle with not only their sin but the sin of others. Our job isn’t to peek behind the curtain to give them special insight into their suffering. We do call them to entrust themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. We do help them see their sinful responses and call them to repentance. We help them to know God better in the midst of their affliction.

Senkbeil then gets into the cure, seen as intentional treatment, developed thru a series of theses. The cure is not you- or your insight. The cure is Christ and discovered in his Word. This calls the person to faith apart from which there is no cure applied. His next thesis that faith comes by hearing. Our job is to speak God’s word to them which creates faith in them. Another reality is that “the devil, world and flesh conspire against faith.” There are many obstacles to faith as a result, and these are addressed with the person. We seek to speak the right word that addresses these obstacles as well. He notes that we aren’t simply addressing emotions, but souls. Here he brings in baptism, reminding people to live by “daily repentance and baptismal living.” The Lutheran tradition focuses on the words of absolution more than the Reformed tradition, and here he makes much of their need to hear words of absolution as part of the cure of their soul. They also need the Table (here focused on as communal in contrast to our culture’s focus on the individual). We also teach them to pray in light of God’s promises.

Sheep-Dogging and Shepherding

Much of pastoral effectiveness is hidden. This can create issues for the pastor struggling with a sense of futility and apparently fruitlessness. Into this he brings the image of the sheepdog. The dog aids the shepherd in his work. The sheepdog serves the shepherd, not the sheep. This means he serves at and for the pleasure of the shepherd. Pastors need to remember they are sheepdogs, not the Shepherd. The sheep are not ours, but His even while under our care. The authority is not ours, but delegated from Him. Caring for the sheep is an act of love for the Shepherd. This is one of the most helpful chapters in the book. He delves into the application of justification in ministry to the conscience of sheep. Without referring to Calvin, he essentially discusses the double grace since those who have Christ’s righteousness are also being made holy.

Every baptized believer lives each day on a battlefield in this fallen world, contending not just against the devil but also wrestling with the compulsions and obsessions of his own sinful flesh… the Christian is always under siege and at war with the devil, this sinful world, and his own sinful flesh.”

As sheepdogs we gather the sheep and tend to them. As noted already, “mission and ministry go together”. He gets into more theology to be applied in pastoral care. This time it is the atonement as he discusses propitiation and expiation. He removes God’s wrath and the reason for God’s wrath. This leads us into another helpful discussion, this time of guilt and shame.

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Sam Always Protected the Sheep

Guilt and Shame

This pair go together just about everywhere. His working definition is: “Guilt is sin committed; shame is sin suffered.” It is a bit more complex than that, but it is a good place to start anyway. Much of pastoral care is addressing guilt and shame. Shame is more connected to the pollution of sin: you feel dirty and worthless either as one who has sinned or as one sinned against. He does spend time with Adam and Eve’s sin and how both guilt and shame result.

Senkbeil returns to the baptismal fount as the cleansing portrayed in baptism is essential to dealing with both. We’ve been forgiven and cleansed by the blood of Christ according to John (1 John 1:9). As a pastor it can take listening to the message behind the message to know which they are dealing with. In discussing addiction, which is often driven by shame, he brings us to the active and passive obedience of Christ.

For cringing, cowering hearts bearing wounds of shame deeply engraved in their souls by the sins of other people, baptismal therapy brings cleansing and renewal as they are enwrapped over and over in the royal robes of Christ’s own holiness.”

Holiness and the Cure of Souls

“Pastoral work is carried out routinely in the realm of sanctification.” This is because we all sin daily in thought, word and deed. We therefore struggle with guilt and shame, feeling defiled and unworthy. In light of this he begins with our objective and positional sanctification. Christ provides holiness to us, and sets us apart as His.

It is in this context that he delves into the topic of sexual sin. The society in which we serve is returning to the sexual chaos of the Roman Empire. Internally our hearts are tempted to sexual sin of all kinds. Temptation is internal and external not only for the parishioner but also the pastor. God’s will is our sanctification which includes controlling our bodies (1 Thes. 4). The word used there was often used for “penis”. Paul is being blunt to these Christians. Sanctification includes our sexuality and sex organs. Our society privatizes sex, but Paul doesn’t. It affects our brothers and sisters in Christ. Faith in Christ does not deny our desires but seeks to be faithful to Christ in light of our desires. Discipleship will include talking about sex and sexuality, bringing them under the yoke of Christ.

Drawing Near to God

He continues with sanctification as he begins to talk about our emotions. Without saying it, this is Relational Wisdom’s other- and self-awareness. We must be aware of their emotions and ours to correctly diagnose and cure. Lack of self-awareness often results in either retreating in man pleasing or attacking in judgment instead of coming alongside to help. But he also brings us to the temple to understand drawing near to God as an aspect of holiness. There is talk of sacrifices as well as a liturgical life. When God is near things are different. Our goal is to see them draw near to God, and to remember that we need to keep close to Jesus.

Your job is merely to bring people to Jesus and Jesus to people. If you do that, though you may be hard at work, Jesus is working with you and through you all the time. And he does all the heavy lifting.

Invisible Powers: Spiritual Warfare

I’m glad he included this as a chapter. A number of books I’ve been reading lately have been on this subject and reminding us that all of Ephesians (and therefore life) is about spiritual warfare. He takes a more defensive posture in his approach. For instance, the word used for sword is that for garrisoned soldiers. Yet, I consider that the Gates of Hades shall not stand, and those gates are defensive. That means we are also on the offensive. Unlike Powlison and Duguid, he doesn’t bring us back to Isaiah and the armor that Jesus as the Servant wore. His emphasis on ministry as spiritual warfare and that the people we serve are engaged in similar warfare is important. Ministry hassles are part of that battle. There is more going on than meets the eye in our congregations. In this context, following Paul, he speaks of the importance of prayer.

One less than helpful thing for this former Catholic is the section on the sign of the cross. Luther’s instruction about beginning and ending the day with the sign sounds like warmed over superstition to me.

Far more helpful was his discussion of acedia or a lack of care. Pastors can begin to go through the motions, just like everyone else. Autopilot isn’t made for battle. He gives some helpful warning signs that you are struggling with acedia.

Christ’s “Other Sheep”: Mission and the Care of Souls

He has earlier mentioned that we both gather and tend the sheep. With our culture’s increasing specialization pastors are subtly forced to choose one or the other. Senkbeil’s goal here is for us to return to gathering the sheep as part of our calling. It can all blend into one. To gather effectively you need to tend to them as well. Formerly gathered sheep can also wander off and need to be re-gathered. This means we deal with their sin and their suffering. We make both law and gospel known to them for faith and repentance.

Mission is nothing more than the church in motion to dispense the gifts of life and salvation that in Christ Jesus.

Shepherding the Shepherds

Pastors need shepherding too. Our should I (he) say that sheepdogs need care too? Covid finds weakness in a body and seems to attack there. Culturally is also exposed many weaknesses. This is true for pastors. So many pastors are hurting. They’ve sought out idols and addictions to numb the pain they feel. As lockdowns began I knew that I’d experience these temptations and needed to pray and be vigilant lest I drink too much and too often, or put on a Covid 15, 20 or more. Until about mid-summer my wife and I walked together most mornings, which was good for us and me.

Covid overwhelmed pastors with decision fatigue as well as being in the middle between the people demanding our churches conform to either of the two extremes. Pastors are depressed, stressed and coming part.

It is important that we utilize wise practices of self-care, but also that we have people to watch over our souls. Not just “accountability” but providing care. This is difficult for pastors. People know we struggle but don’t necessarily want to know how we struggle. Some friends can’t handle it and begin to take the role of the accuser of the brethren instead of those holding up Moses’ arms. We need to find men who will love us and speak truth to us.

He returns to the topic of prayer here. He advises that we pray out loud. All I can think of is Ladyhawke, as Gaston carries on a seemingly endless conversation with God. His goal is developing the habitus of prayer in us. He encourages prayer kneelers and advocates for Luther’s prayer wreath as we read Scripture (instruction, thanksgiving confession and supplication). He also encourages regular exercise, particularly since our jobs mean we sit. A lot.

Ladyhawke Poster

Always be Steady: Equilibrium in Ministry

We need a healthy balance regarding the past while in the present. He speaks of the power of memory. He seems to remember all the good times of his youth. He waxes nostalgic. He and I are different. I remember the traumatic at least as much as the good stuff, maybe more.

His point is that there were no glory days of the church. If we think they were we will be overwhelmed by that fact that we are in declension now instead of realizing the church is always in some state of declension. We are called to minister in the present, not the past, as we lead people into the future. We neither follow the culture nor react to the culture but say along the road laid out for us. Without saying so, he points us to Luther’s theology of the cross opposed to the theology of glory.

Steadfastness doesn’t leave the path when a storm arises, or during hardship. It stays the course because you know that there are good and bad days, seasons and years in ministry. We can’t control outcomes but we can control whether or not our hands remain on the plow.

I was preparing for what I imagined a fruitful time of ministry when Covid hit. We had been pruned, so I thought, and we developing some new processes to be more effective in discipleship. Then we weren’t meeting. I was preaching to our music team and tech crew as we figured out live streaming. I began to do nearly daily Facebook live devotionals. I stayed steadfast though it wasn’t easy. His grace was sufficient even though some days I was filled with fear including when a wildfire raged in the mountains near our facility. Like everyone else, I had to fix my eyes on Christ or I’d get lost.

I’m reminded of a car ride many years. I was a senior in high school and my first girlfriend was in college. I went to visit her in Keene, NH shortly before she dumped me. While I was there, the snow began to fall. By the time I left there was plenty on the roads. It was getting hard to see, and drive, and I was in unfamiliar territory. Then came the plow. All I had to do was follow the plow and driving was much safer and I’d stay on the road. Steadfastness only comes from fixing your eyes on the trailblazer, the Author and Perfecter of our faith. Ministry is a long-haul. As a sheepdog you stay in earshot of Jesus, and keep the people close to Him.

This was the Gospel Coalition Book of the Year for good reason. This is an important and helpful book from an experienced pastor. You won’t always see eye to eye with him but he keeps bringing your back to the ordinary means of grace and pastoral care to real people. This is an honest book, and a book that keeps pointing you to Jesus.

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As we’ve seen, Gaslighting, was a feature of the Animal Farm. It is a common feature in totalitarian states. The government controls the media (in soft totalitarianism they can be in cahoots), and therefore the narrative. It can be as simple as selectivity: which stories will and will not receive coverage. Sound familiar?

More dangerous, and part of Gaslighting, is changing the narrative. This can be leaving out pertinent facts, changing facts and the like. We see this in how Squealer contradicts everyone’s memory of Snowball’s heroism. Slowly Snowball is turned into someone who was a traitor from the beginning rather than someone Napoleon removed from the community with his dogs. If you speak the lie often enough people start to believe it is true. That is Squealer’s role: to tell the lie early and often.

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Chapter 7

The fairy tale resumes in winter, and a bitter winter it was. The work to rebuild the windmill was slow. Snowball was blamed, as you may recall, for the destruction of the windmill. The humans believed otherwise, or at least stated so. That Snowball was in league with them was part of the report Squealer repeated. The humans claimed that the walls were too thin, but the animals knew better.

See how lies take over a community. The conspiracy theory has taken root and the far more common sense cause is rejected. The pride of the animals ties into an openness to conspiracy theories. When you don’t want to admit the truth because it makes you look bad you settle for the scapegoat to blame all the problems on. Snowball was that irrational scapegoat despite the sacrifices he did make for the community. He was not the domineering figure that Napoleon was but we know not what he’d become.

Despite the fact that the humans were just plain wrong about the walls they made the walls thicker this time.

The food supply was failing. Rations were being cut. First it was claimed that potato rations would increase to compensate for the smaller corn ration. Then it was revealed that the potatoes were not covered in time and frost damaged the crop. The story keeps changing, as well as the expectations. 2020 was filled with similar events. But at Animal Farm, the reality of starvation was staring them down.

Not only can the other animals not know the truth, but the rest of the world cannot know the truth. Why? It would reflect poorly on our beloved leader. After all, “Napoleon is always right.” The Soviet Union frequently kept the truth from its people and the world. Admitting famine was not an option. The Grand Experiment must succeed. China still hides the truth about many things from its people and tries to control the news in the rest of the world. The glorious leaders must not be exposed for the cruel and incompetent lot that they are.

Napoleon decided to use Mr. Whymper to tell the “truth” about the farm in order to combat the rumors flying about the humans. They used a ruse to convince Mr. Whymper that they had plenty of grain. Napoleon was in as short a supply as the grain. Squealer would speak for him, but on rare occasions he would appear with his dogs surrounding him. In order to get grain until summer the hens would have to surrender even more eggs in trade. This led to the first rebellion as some hens protested. Their rations were stopped and nine hens died before they relented.

The hope was grain was tied to the story about Mr. Pilkington and Mr. Frederick competing to buy some aged wood. When Napoleon leaned toward one farm, Snowball was said to be hiding at the other. Enemies and alliances seemed to change often. In the spring it was “discovered” that Snowball would infiltrate the farm at night.

Not only is Snowball the scapegoat for all their ills, but he becomes something of a boogeyman. The threat posed by Snowball, through no action of his own, kept the people focused on something besides the failures of Napoleon and the other pigs. You won’t think about his inability to sell the wood for grain if you are worried about Snowball. He was everywhere! The cows were claiming he snuck in and milked them in the middle of the night. While they were asleep. The rats were claimed to be Snowballs allies. Napoleon would claim to be able to smell him- he was here last night!- cue the growling dogs.

Totalitarian leaders focus on the dangers posed by some other leader. The other leader is real, but the threat is largely imaginary. The “Great Satan” really isn’t trying to destroy you but it is better than allowing people to realize the glorious leader is the great pretender.

The lies were getting so thick that even Boxer “Napoleon is always right” the horse began to question them. Squealer spoke of how the wound Snowball suffered in the battle was part of the ruse and plot against the Farm. Snowball was a spy for the humans long before the rebellion, claimed Squealer invoking Napoleon.

When some of the pigs began to question Napoleon, the dogs dispatched them. When the lies don’t work, they result to brute force to maintain control by spreading fear. But the dogs even went after Boxer who pinned one under his hoof while the others ran away. The four pigs, it was alleged, were part of a rebellion. They needed to confess their crimes. Their confession and execution began a series of confessions by the people.

The Cultural Revolution in China witnessed similar forced confessions. Dissenters in Russia were sent to the gulags where many millions would die for the high crime of disagreement. Purges are another great way to maintain control over a population that starts to question you.

The bloodbath was a boundary breaker. No animal had killed an animal yet. The enemy was “out there” but now the enemy was “in here”, even if it was only in the illusion put forth by the leadership. Many of the animals gathered on the knoll by half-built windmill to lament this turn of events. As they began to sing Beasts of England even this was taken from them as Napoleon declared it be sung no more. Challenge the elites and they keep removing the things you love, the things that build community. Could things get worse?

Chapter 8

After the trauma, some of the animals regained their senses in a few days. They remembered the 6th commandment: No animal shall kill any other animal. They didn’t dare mention this to the pigs, but Clover asked Benjamin to read it to her. The stubborn donkey refused to get involved, but Muriel read it to Clover. It was not as she remembered.

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Clover and the others wondered why they didn’t remember the “without cause.” It didn’t dawn upon them that the commandment had been changed to fit the circumstances. The pigs had altered the law to excuse their actions rather than living within the law or suffering the consequence for breaking the law. But they didn’t just change it, but did so secretly. This continued the institutional assault on their community’s memory. They animals thought it was their fault for not remembering rather than the pigs’ fault for changing the law without notice. While this happens in totalitarian regimes, it can also happen thru bureaucracy. Laws are not changed in the way prescribed but thru a bureaucrat. With no legal recourse, the citizens suffer for the convenient changes made by the ruling class.

With the massacre legalized, the animals worked even harder. The actions of the pigs we accepted but the fear lived on. This could happen to any who challenge them.

Squealer would give reports each Sunday on the incredible increases in production. Their ever-weakening memories no longer had the capacity to determine if Squealer told the truth or more lies. When the people can’t tell truth from a lie, the government can do whatever they want. They can lead the people into thinking that life is far better than it really is. The rise of “fake news” should frighten us. People have no way of knowing when they are being lied to. Ever-changing pronouncements by government agencies have the same effect. Was the CDC right in March? Or in July? What about now?

Napoleon became even more distant from the animals, even the other pigs. His living quarters were separate and he took meals alone. He was like a king in a palace utterly disconnected from the circumstances of those he claimed to serve. He was much like those in Washington who are clueless about the heartland of America and seemingly concerned only about the needs of the cities on the coasts. This separation between Napoleon and the others was codified in his title: Our Leader, Comrade Napoleon. They were not his equal. A poem was written declaring his praise to further the internal propaganda.

Still the pile of timber remained unsold as negotiations continued. Three more hens “confessed” to a plot to assassinate their Leader, Comrade Napoleon. As summer wore on rumors swirled about an impending attack from Frederick and Pinchfield Farm. The animals so distrusted and hated him, based on rumor, that “death to humanity” became “death to Frederick”. After weeds were found in the wheat, sown no doubt by Snowball, a gander confessed to being party to the plot and committed suicide. This, of course, before the community could learn of his treason and he could be put on trial. How convenient.

Things seemed to be on the upswing as the windmill was completed. Two days later Napoleon announced that the timber was sold … to Frederick. The ‘friendship’ with Pilkington had been part of Napoleon’s ruse to get a better price. Now it was “death to Pilkington”. The higher price would allow them to buy the machinery for the windmill. The cache of banknotes was ceremoniously displayed before the animals as Napoleon was “enthroned” on a bed of straw. It was only a few days later when Mr. Whymper arrived in a rush to reveal they were in fact counterfeit. Once again the cry was “death to Frederick.” My, how could these poor animals keep up?

It was the next day that the attack finally came upon Animal Farm. Fifteen men, 6 with guns, stormed through the gate. The animals, many wounded, were forced into retreat. They watched helplessly as the men put holes in the windmill in order to plant explosives in the wall. Their labor, and supplies, were all for naught as the blasting powder did it’s dastardly work. Enraged, the animals charged despite the guns. A number of them would die but the men were chased off.

Squealer framed this as a victory for the animals despite the windmill being a pile of rubble and the casualties. The party line was “we’ll just build another.” Boxer was disheartened by the prospect of building yet another windmill.

The pigs discovered some whiskey. It seemed that Napoleon was near death at one point but recovered after a day or so. There was a commotion by the barn where Squealer was found sprawled next to a toppled ladder with a lantern and paint brush. In the dead of night. Later the animals were puzzled. The Fifth Commandment read “No animal shall drink alcohol to excess.” They couldn’t remember those last two words being there. If a play works, you keep running it until it doesn’t.

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Ad for the 1954 animated film

Orwell’s tale of a farm portrays many of the patterns of government run amok. This is not a government for the people, but people existing for the needs of the government. The government, however, is able to maintain the charade that it is for the people through the manipulation of memories with false accounts, deception and controlling the flow of information. Dissent is no longer tolerated but crushed lest it spread.

But Orwell’s fairy tale is not through. You probably won’t laugh, but cry, if you have any empathy for the animals..

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