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Saturday, 8 April 2017

A Lesson from Mars.

I have a pretty good idea how famous author H. G. Wells must have felt about his environment he grew up in. Living at a posh area in Surrey, in the Woking area to be more precise, how he must have felt disillusioned over the might of the great British Empire which held sway throughout his Victorian era. Not that he was one of the subordinate indigenous nationals living under a subjugated realm of a faraway colony, but as one of a privileged Englishman whose residence was at the heart of the crème de la crème of imperial motherland. Day after day he was subjected to a vigorous social class system, where to give full honour to the King, or for that matter, the Queen, was paramount to earning your own salvation. On the other end of the scale, children of impoverished working class families were to be seen and not heard.

It was a country where rickets was common among working class children living in run down districts of many cities, due to its lousy climate, a lack of sunshine, smog created by black smoke from the chimneys of nearby industries - the "satanic mills" of Blake's poetry - the grime, the dirt, and the squalor, such a life of grim hardship. It was quite a contrast to the rich and the well-to-do living in the country or rural village. Having had enough to pay for a Doctor to call round whenever feeling unwell, they had no truck with the city commoner. Whilst child prostitution was something not uncommon among urban grime, in the countryside, village churches were always full on a typical Sunday. Such self-righteousness felt among them resulting in having harsh, judgemental opinions against the unruly commoner, along with a Pharisaical back-patting among themselves whilst cultivating a near-miraculous double notion of holding adoration for the Monarch and despising the poor at the same time.

Living in such an environment must have caused some level of resentment in H. G. Wells' heart. Because from his experiences he wrote his novel, War of the Worlds. So successful was his book, that after it was first serialised in 1897, it remains in print to this day. From it, various movies bearing the same title were made, and Hollywood Americanised the story. Also a musical version was created by Jeff Wayne in a form of a two-disc vinyl album, one which I have owned for several decades. With Richard Burton narrating as the journalist who was the first-hand witness and survivor of the alien invasion, it featured the Justin Hayward song Forever Autumn, which became one of Britain's top tunes.

The story is about an invasion of Martians into Britain, after years of examining human life on Earth from Mars. This was very much like a scientist examining bacteria thriving in a single drop of water. And that is a good comparison, because the Martian's brain was so huge by comparison with the human brain, that their minds and their intelligence were immeasurably superior. And these creatures were predominantly of brain, robbing their bear-sized bodies of agility and the vitality required for a healthy existence on our planet, especially one with a stronger gravitational force. All this was based essentially on Darwinism, with its concept that the larger the brain, the higher the intelligence. The biological cost to this was whilst the brain grew in size and intellectual power over the generations, there was in turn a gradual diminishing of strength in the wholly red body, which by then consisting of a wet-leather like skin, a partially visible pulsating bloodstream, flailing arms and legs and an enormous head bearing a face of two large, disc-like eyes and a lipless mouth which quivered and slavered, with drools of saliva hanging. Such a disgusting sight seemed to indicate entropy at work over the generations, contradicting Darwin's theory of upward evolutionary development for a puny physique with very limited athletic qualities.

But their technology was vastly superior than anything mankind can think of. Their tripod Fighting Machines with their heat ray and black smoke chemical weaponry were able to annihilate whole crowds of people in one swoop, demolish buildings, sink warships, and causing whole cities like London to be entirely deserted of people. And that was the point of the whole story.

The tale was all about the head of a mighty worldwide Empire falling on the mercy of a hostile alien power from which they had absolutely no means of defence. I believe that Wells would have secretly loved to have seen the fall of such an Empire. But the one consequence of such a hostile invasion was that every human being totally forgetful about his wealth, his social standing, his level of education, his profession, and the importance of Empire, to unite as one man for survival.

As the leaderless crowds fled the streets of London dominated by the tall tripods of the Martian Fighting Machines, there were aristocratic lords and ladies, politicians, doctors, businessmen, magistrates, bankers, craftsmen of all vocations, traders, chimney sweeps, layabouts, beggars, the elderly, along with housewives, housemaids, nurses, carers, students, boys and girls - children of wealthy families, children of road sweepers - all mixed within the crowds fleeing the city pell-mell, disorganised, terrified, to the coast for temporary exile to mainland Europe with a hope of being out of the Martian's reach. It was at the coast where a group of Martian tripods successfully sunk a warship which was engaged in full battle, bringing down a tripod and momentary offering a hope of victory for humankind. Instead, it was the beginning of the Massacre of all Mankind.

The journalist who narrated the story has had enough. Broken and without hope, he saunters back to London - enveloped in deep silence, passing deserted jewellers and grocery shops plundered and looted, to surrender himself to the Martians and to let them take his life. All of a sudden his attention was alerted to Primrose Hill, just north of Regents Park. There a cluster of tripods huddled together, one of them uttering one final gargled howl of despair, followed by a deafening silence. The journalist, his hopes suddenly rising, realised what had killed these unearthly creatures. Bacteria in the air. The humble bacteria attacking where no human was able to attack. Whilst the Empire lies in smithereens, it took our invisible, microscopic invaders to penetrate into these pitiful alien bodies to breed and contaminate their blood. It was a tremendous humiliation for the entire human race - with any sense of imperial pride, conquest, and military power shattered. The vast knowledge these Martians possessed had given them the ability to eliminate all bacteria from their home planet, resulting of the decline of their immune systems over the generations to the point of non-existence. So the moment they took their first breath of our air, they were doomed.

I find it amazing how the world of fiction can accommodate scientific facts so seriously. Maybe that what makes fiction so realistic to life that it can be given a level of credibility. It is very unfortunate though that far too many academics take the Bible as a book of fictional myths, and discredit any truth in it. One example is the reality of the Cross of Christ, his Burial, and after three days and three nights, his physical Resurrection, followed some weeks later by his ascension to the right hand of his Father's throne in heaven.

It is ironic, coming to think of it, that the Easter holidays are rapidly approaching, which is recognised by hardened atheists such as Richard Dawkins. Here in the UK the Easter break consist of four days off work - Good Friday, Saturday, Easter Sunday and Easter Bank Holiday Monday. As I see it, and perhaps as the majority of us British sees it, Easter is the gateway for the approaching Summer months, when thick woollies, heavy raincoats and galoshes are finally left in the wardrobe for the lighter apparel of tee-shirts, shorts, singlets, and the anticipated day trip to the beach. Sure enough, on Easter Sundays our traditional churches are prone to be packed, yet it is a shame that there is only one other day when churches tend to be full, and that is during the Christmas season.

And whilst churchmen and academics argue whether Easter should be regarded as a Christian or a pagan festival, various sects such as Jehovah's Witnesses regard the holiday as pagan and therefore condemned by Jehovah, as with Christmas and even individual birthdays themselves. I am also aware of various English families celebrating the Jewish Passover here in the UK, and that despite not only uncircumcised non-Jews are forbidden to eat the Passover in Holy Scripture, but the Bible insist that if one attempts to keep just one of the Laws of Moses, he is obliged to keep the whole Law, which would include annual blood sacrifices offered to a Levitical priest, himself a direct descendant of Aaron, in addition to the triple-tithe made to the Sanctuary, plus the annual waving of the first of the harvest crops to God at Pentecost, and the keeping of the Day of Atonement, along with the Feast of Tabernacles. Failing to keep the whole Law, even by stumbling on a minor issue, will result in eternal condemnation.

And so division exists between churchgoers and the non-churched, and among churchgoers themselves. Divisions, disagreements, bickering, fault-finding, judging one another, along with political and cultural issues - for example the political issue whether to leave or to remain in the EU, and the gloating and sneering of Brexit voters over those who had preferred to remain, as well as contending on which political party should be in power. On the cultural issue, its whether us strong bulldog Brits have lost our stoical self-reserve for a more emotional, sentimental, and mawkish attitude when facing a crisis, with interviewees shedding tears whilst in front of a television camera.

There is only one very specific need, not just in the UK but worldwide. That is to be under the shadow of the Cross, as well described in Acts 1:13-15. Just like the crowds fleeing the Martians in London, these people, about 120 in all, confined in a large upper room, were all united by a common bond. There were no disagreements among them, no gender divide, no class divide, no age divide, no educational divide, and most important of all - no theological divide. All were so bonded together that they were all as one man. Their conviction of sin, their sense of unworthiness in the presence of God. As Abraham once cried out, "I'm but dust and ashes." (Genesis 18:27). And as David declared to Saul after finding the King asleep in a cave, "I'm but a dead dog, a flea." (1 Samuel 24:14, 26:20). And Isaiah himself, when confronted by the very glory of God, cried out, "Woe is me, for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell among a people of unclean lips..." (Isaiah 6:5). Such strong men could be brought to such a state of awe when faced with the glory of God.

These 120 men and women in the upper chamber were in exactly the same state when confronted by the Glory of God, which was in the Cross of Jesus Christ, and confirmed by his Resurrection from the dead. Compared to God's glory, every dividing issue evaporates. Every issue which causes divisions of all kinds - melted into thin air at the glory of God's presence. Really, it is a wonderful state to be in!

The crowds fleeing London were bonded together by terror. Those in the upper chamber were bonded by awe. But both groups were bonded, with every divisive ethical, religious, and social issue evaporated. Perhaps this is the greatest need for our churches at present, my church included. The special presence of the glory of God which would bring us all to our knees in awe and to forever change our lives.


  1. That is true,
    without the presence of the Holy Spirit and the church gathering operating as they are supposed to, as written in 1 Corinthians ch. 14 v. 26:-
    'What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up,'
    then the Word of God is made void by mans' traditions.