Russell and Duenes

Archive for May 2017

Malcolm Muggeridge: There is No Escape

leave a comment »

In 1970, Malcolm Muggeridge wrote an essay, The Great Liberal Death Wish, which puts its finger on the pulse not merely of 1970, but of 2017 as well. Change a few historical referents, and it may as well have been written yesterday. For it lays bare the understanding of the “sexual revolution,” under which we are currently hurtling toward the abyss of human degradation and misery. He wrote:

Sex is the only mysticism materialism offers, and so to sex the pursuers of happiness address themselves with an avidity and dedication seldom, if ever, surpassed.

By “mysticism,” Muggeridge means that the secular man has sought to de-mythologize and de-spiritualize everything and proclaim that we are nothing more than highly evolved mammals brought to this point by random mutations. Yet at the same time, modern man wants to hold on to some sort of meaning, a transcendent experience beyond the grinding reality of everyday life. Having jettisoned the Triune God of the Bible, rapturous orgasms (and they are always “rapturous,” are they not!) are supposed to put us in the throes of a mystical, magical reality. It is the new god, and must be ardently promulgated and worshipped, and dissenters must be stamped out. So Muggeridge goes on:

Who among posterity will ever be able to reconstruct the resultant scene? Who for that matter can convey it today? The vast, obsessive outpouring of erotica in every shape and form; in book and film and play and entertainment, in body and word and deed, so that there is no escape for anyone.

Heh! Muggeridge didn’t even have the internet.

The lame and the halt, the doddering and the infirm, equally called upon somehow to squeeze out of their frail flesh the requisite response. It is the flesh that quickeneth, the spirit profiteth nothing; copulo ergo sum, I screw, therefore, I am – the new version of Descartes’s famous axiom.

Yes! Participation is not voluntary. Each of us is conscripted into action. You WILL respond with approval and join in the celebration. If you want to use the internet or watch the television or drive down the street or simply stand and pick your nose, you cannot avoid the new god. He’s in your face at all times!

All possible impediments swept away; no moral taboos, no legal ones, either. An orgasm a day, however procured, keeps the doctor away. Pornography, like Guinness, is good for us, as numerous learned doctors and professors have been at great pains to establish.

He goes on, but you’ll have to read it yourself. Certainly the legal landscape has been utterly rearranged so as to punish the dissenter, the Obergefell decision being one of the most momentous, lawless, and horrific, in the Supreme Court’s history.

Every paragraph in Muggeridge’s essay is eminently quotable, because accurate and pointed. If only one could find it on the internet. It’s found in the book: Things Past.



Written by Michael Duenes

May 20, 2017 at 10:30 am

When He Killed Them, Then They Sought Him

leave a comment »

“In spite of all this they still sinned and did not believe in His wonderful works. So He brought their days to an end in futility and their years in sudden terror. When He killed them, then they sought Him, and returned and searched diligently for God; and they remembered that God was their rock, and the Most High God their Redeemer.” (Psalm 78:32-35)

The Israelites rebelled against God, sought their own selfish ends and desired their own ways, to the point that God had to kill them to get their attention. They were so hard-hearted that nothing short of putting some of them to death would effect repentance. They forgot God until they were brought to the point where they simply could not forget Him.

Must we reach the same point? St. Paul told us that what God did to the Israelites “happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved.” (1 Cor. 10:6).

God was mad because the Israelites “did not remember His power.” (78:42). We, too, have forgotten God’s power. We do not call upon Him. We come up with all sorts of man-made contrivances, or ridiculously convince ourselves that some politician, some corrupt man like Donald Trump, will deliver us and make up for our lack of godly character.

The Israelites provoked God with their idols. They “did not keep His testimonies.” (78:56). We, too, have not been careful to keep God’s Word. We have exchanged the pursuit of God and the commendation of Christ for continual acquisitiveness, covetousness and upward mobility. We have said that we love God in our hearts, but this has meant that we have a certain “feeling” about God, rather than that we have intended to obey what He says.

Yet for all this, God still “awoke as if from sleep” and “drove His adversaries backward.” He gave them King David, and ultimately, David’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. (78:65-72).

Let us turn to Jesus, not with words only, not with self-deceiving thoughts that our hearts are “all that matters,” such that we exempt ourselves from obedience, not with the mentality that “God never said I can’t have x, y and z,” but with sincere hearts that seek to honor and enjoy God in all that we do. Forgive us, O Lord! Turn our hearts to You.


Written by Michael Duenes

May 19, 2017 at 4:43 am

Posted in Duenes, Psalms

Your Name is Near

leave a comment »

“We give thanks to you, O God . . . for your name is near.” (Psalm 75:1)

“As for me, it is good to be near God.” (Psalm 73:28)

“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)

“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8)

The “nearness” of God to those who call on Him is a very precious reality. No matter our circumstances; indeed, when our circumstances are at their worst, God promises to be near. He promises that He is “a very present help in times of trouble.” (Psalm 46:1). And God’s nearness is better than any human nearness, for God has all resources, all power to comfort emotionally and physically, all authority to keep the spiritual forces of darkness at bay.

With God near to us, we will not be shaken. So let us draw near to Him and rejoice that He is inexplicably near to us.


Written by Michael Duenes

May 16, 2017 at 4:28 pm

Posted in Duenes, Psalms

Mother’s Day, 2017

leave a comment »

I’ve paid tribute to my own mother on numerous occasions, and of course, I still marvel at all the diapers changed, baths given, meals cooked, laundry washed, items sewn, beds made, floors vacuumed, kitchens cleaned, carpools driven, homework assisted with, financial assistance rendered and ten thousand other things my mother has done for me throughout the course of my life. I simply cannot imagine a greater mother than my own, and I don’t know how, humanly speaking, she has done it.

I also recognize that her becoming a great mother was no accident, for her mother, who is still with us at almost 101 years old, is similarly the kind of mother who needs too many superlative adjectives to describe.

And my mother’s grandmother, who I had the privilege of knowing until I was 17 years old, was also a woman of virtue and excellence in every way. So it runs in the family, and not by accident.

My mother will never have fame. She never ran a corporation or served in political office. She has not thrown herself into some “cause” for which she will be recognized. She has no PhD or advanced educational degrees of any sort. She never tried to “have it all.” She is simply a highly intelligent, diligent, patient, glad-hearted, constant, compassionate, giving woman who knows what it means to be a woman and whose legacy will be children well-loved in every sense of the term. I will also remember the many mornings she got up looking rather bushed as she prepared to go to school as a long-term kindergarden substitute teacher.

My mother has also loved my wife as a daughter from before we even got married. My wife is truly a third daughter in our family and my mother could not love her more had she given birth to her.

At 48 years of age, I find that I speak to my mother now more than ever. It’s not so much that I need advice with my 4 kids, though I do need it. Rather, I simply realize how valuable and special my mom is, and I want to enjoy her life as much as possible in the time she has left on this earth.

Our lives are all short, a “vapor,” God says. And in her short life, my mother has given herself to that which is most important: Trusting God, loving her husband, and raising her children faithfully with love, grace, care and truth. For this, may she receive “the fruit of her hands” and may “her works praise her in the gates.” (Prov. 31:31).

Happy Mothers Day, Madre!


Written by Michael Duenes

May 14, 2017 at 5:07 am

Book Review: God’s Smuggler

leave a comment »

Just finished God’s Smuggler, by Brother Andrew. What a phenomenal book. Five stars.

The book tells the story of Brother Andrew’s profligate life before his conversion, his conversion, and his years of visiting and encouraging believers in communist nations. It’s a wild and moving story of Brother Andrew’s constant and evident trust in God’s promises and God’s overwhelming and supernatural providence. The story is a living testament to the truth that “all things are possible with God.”

Brother Andrew is in the vein of Hudson Taylor and George Muller. The way he and his wife lived their lives will challenge the individualistic and acquisitive habits we American evangelicals have imbibed.

If you have a heart for God at all, you cannot read this book without being moved to greater prayer and practical confidence in Christ. This is a book I will be reading to my children. Highest recommendation.


Written by Michael Duenes

May 12, 2017 at 3:54 pm