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Out Our Way: Even a griz is no match


Out our way, there hasn’t been a grizzly bear sighted in the Bear Paw Mountains for a few generations or more. Yet it hasn’t always been that way. Years ago, when I was manager at the H. Earl Clack Memorial Museum in Havre, however, we got in a book written at the turn of the last century about officers from Fort Assiniboine hunting grizzly in the Bear Paws and the surrounding area. Many tourist we had in the museum were surprised to learn that the Glacier Park and Yellowstone area was not their original habitats. If you check out the Charlie Russell museum or go online, you will see at least one painting of cowboys up here in the Missouri Breaks roping a grizzly. Indeed, griz have lately been spotted near Fort Benton and east of Cut Bank in recent years and have tobe rounded up and returned to the parks for they are endangered species.

Now,I have seen stuffed grizzlies in museums, been up close in various zoos, and seen a few wandering wild in the national parks. They are huge and can be ferocious. But there are those more powerful than the largest griz — and that is man. When my former father-in-law was a boy living near the Glacier Park, he used to wander without fear because in those days, grizzlies backed away from humans. When a bear ran amuck, the Forest Service sent hunters to track and kill marauding bears — and the bears knew it. They avoided man for they knew here was a power greater than their own.

Now, granted, movies about demons and devils, like the “Exorcist” and “Amityville Horror” are frightening — but that’s show biz and fiction. What about the real deal, if it exists? Do we have any records of real exorcisms and casting out of demons? Indeed we do - and most are not overly spectacular. There were indeed rumors of hauntings at the house in Amityville, but the folks who bought the place say they called in a priest who, in the Name of Jesus and in his strong faith in Christ simply went inside the house and told whatever spooks or haunts might be to “git.” Never a problem since.

The Bible is obviously filled with such stories and again, Jesus says “git” and they go. No fuss no muss and no contest. You never read of any struggle between Christ and the devil or his minions — for there is no question about Who is in charge. Folks who have the false “ying-yang” view of good and bad in the world have not yet discovered the truth. Yes, there is a balance between good and evil in all of us and we have to decide which way we will go — to go with good or to go with evil. In our present day where “the end justifies the means” mentality in the pop culture and in the government, one might indeed believe there is a struggle whose issue is in doubt. For those who acknowledge no power greater than their own egos, there is indeed a struggle as the devil tempts them as he tempted Christ in the wilderness. And, as God gives us free will, the devil is able to fool many whose own egotism, pride, and self-centeredness make them deaf to the call of Christ.

The individual souls of us all may be up for grabs if we are foolish enough to believe the Serpent’s lies as did Adam and Eve — but the world itself and the human race? Not even close. I shared with you the point made by Philip Yancey in “What’s So Amazing About Grace” in which he reminds us of Stalin’s empire and his murder of far more people than Hitler managed. When confronted about the evils of his regime he pointed at all the “liberal progressives in America and Europe” who had swallowed his lies whole and asked, “How many divisions does the Pope command?” Well, he got his answer and perhaps God allowed him to see it from the other side as his “empire” collapsed after 70 years and the Church he had persecuted arose from the ashes in Russia and throughout Eastern Europe. Indeed, when the Czech republic was freed, the new president spoke of Christian reformations sweeping through Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Bloc. The speech was censored by the New York Times but even Pravda carried the speech in its entirety in the Soviet Union. On YouTube you can even see the Russian President Putin in Church services. He needs to read his Bible more as do all politicians — but it is not Stalin’s atheistic Russia any more. How many divisions does the Pope have? None that I know of, but how many legions does Christ have? Beyond counting.

In the text today, as we approach Holy Week, Christ told His disciples of His coming death. Indeed it did seem the powers of darkness were to triumph. But Christ knew better. There was and is a far greater power out there than death or the devil. Evil will not triumph in the long run and in the time of testing, we need to remember that. But it is not politics or even region that will triumph — it is Jesus Christ. The “prince of this world” — the devil — can fool many and in the past has fooled whole governments and cultures, but has never been able to hold on for long.

The griz is huge, ferocious and overwhelming. But even the griz is no match for the power of a skilled hunter with a heavy caliber rifle. The devil is terrifying and the powers of darkness overwhelming — but even the darkest night has no power over a single match. Darkness thrives in the vacuum of social and moral emptiness. But kindle the light of Christ and it cannot stand. Like the griz learns to fear the hunter, so the powers of darkness fears the Light of God.

“The Prince of this world will be driven out.” As George Santayana noted — a favorite of mine, obviously — “Those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.” Many in our culture and government have ignored Santayana’s warning and we shall all suffer from it for a time. But the Light will dawn and those who have succumbed to its lure will either repent of it or be consumed by it. I have read my history as well as my Bible. “Be of good cheer, I (Christ) have overcome the world!” John 16: 33.


Brother John Bruington


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