One of the books I read during my summer is one I’d like to ponder with you here. Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat has spent many weeks on bestseller lists, and no, it is not about new scientific discoveries that prove the earth is unspherical after all. It rather explains how the economic world works today in and around the advances in information technology. A number of striking things jumped out that have implications for understanding the Catholicist Nation and the entrenched mindset within it.
After comprehensive exposition Friedman lists a number ways that companies must now cope in a “flat world.” Two of the critical practices they must adopt to effectively serve their customers are collaboration and specialization. What is so interesting about this is that this is the model for economic prosperity already set up in Scripture. Throughout it you see collaboration: all the stakeholders in community vibrantly working together if they are to flourish, and specialization: each individual highly valuing what each other can do by God’s generous infusion of talent and gifting to accomplish great things.
This sounds like standard fare, but Friedman’s treatise is as much about the persistent problems that keep us from actually doing those things, even as the “flattening” forces us to confront them. He defines the excesses of the “unflat world,” namely that we are all too sick (literally), too impotent (politically), too frustrated, too selfish, to consumptive, and too fearful. Virtually every economic and sociological expert concedes that in this environment, the most important requirement to overcome these impediments is a rigid system of laws that most effectively govern private property protections.*
Funny, he could have found all that in the Bible too.
It’s all there: Man jerks his fellow man around in horrific ways, and many of us turn our faces away from some of the worst of it and pretend not to see, insisting that “well, we’re not like that.” And yet the excruciating deceit and murder still abound.
God steps up and first says, “Here’s the way you should be doing it,” and when we still don’t do it that way and deserve to die because of it, He points us to His Son who took that death penalty upon Himself because of one thing: He loves us.
That first thing God did? The Law. An absolute requirement say all the experts. No problem there. We certainly have large powerful institutions with people running around like crazy trying to kick the stuffing out of those who do the most egregious jerking around.
That second thing is something they know little about: Truth and Grace.
Friedman most likely thinks of Christ as any devout Catholicist does, just another pithy religious icon, perfectly fine for those churches way over there, but meaningless to our really serious people’s efforts to fix the world.
The way Friedman gives himself away is his frequent reference to “creating value.” This seems wholly uncontroversial, but what does that mean, “create value”? If I invent the perfectly safe, cheap, and effective teleportation machine, with the capacity to transport an individual from one place to another in a matter of moments without physical conveyance—you know, “Beam me up Scotty”—have I created something of value? Have I somehow created a once non-existent desire in an individual that may now be fulfilled with the new device?
Friedman seems to think so. I say no, because we’ve always valued ways to travel that are quick and cost-efficient. One of the book’s most highlighted examples is the commercial supply chain. When one innovates at any point in that system, did he “create value” or did he just make possible something we’ve always valued anyway but couldn’t yet have? Furthermore, if we’ve always wanted it—if that value has always existed however long it has been dormant—who put it there?
I don’t believe Friedman is consciously trying to make a theological point, but he does in the language he uses. The fact is God is the only One who creates anything. We may invent, imagine, innovate, compose, devise, plan, and program. We only do any of that because God graciously gave us the capacity to think and dream and envision. To presume, however, that we create anything is to take the place of God.
And this is precisely how the Catholicist Nation works. The first Catholicist, Eve, thought as long as the fruit gave her some kind of special wisdom, it was okay. (“There is power in knowledge.”) The second, Adam, followed right along with that idea. (“There is power in numbers.”) The third, Cain, created his own offering because the one that God favored was not his. (“There is power in human sacrifice.”)
Catholicist behavior is rife with “creating value.”
“I can do this because I think its okay.”
“I don’t feel so good about myself, so I need someone to feel better than.”
“When I do something new or better, it’s mine and no one else’s. My tribe may have some but only if they all say it’s mine.”
I once heard someone say that the idea of creating our own values was the essence of hell. It is indeed putting oneself in the prison of the self with all the commensurate loneliness, boredom, and despair. The Catholicist Nation is packed with people overwrought in this internment.
As I moved through the book, a thought formed prominently in my mind: The Tower of Babel. What was weird about that was that all the way out on page 438, Friedman addresses this exact thing. His religious teacher had told him he’d thought of it when reading the book, and added, “The reason God banished all the people from the Tower of Babel and made them all speak different languages was not because he did not want them to collaborate, per se. It was because he was enraged at what they were collaborating on—and effort to build a tower to the heavens so they could become God.”
Friedman then asked him if the Internet would then be seen as heresy.
“Absolutely not. The heresy is not that mankind works together—it is to what ends. It is essential that we use this new ability to communicate and collaborate for the right ends—for the constructive human aims and not megalomaniacal ends. Building the tower was megalomaniacal. Bin Laden’s insistence that he has the truth and can flatten anyone else’s tower who doesn’t heed him is megalomaniacal. Collaborating so mankind can achieve its full potential is God’s hope.”
Excuse me, God’s hope? Does God just wait around hoping for us to shape up? Not only does this smack of tikkun olam pap, but something like this is said frequently by someone who, oblivious to our abject hopelessness, does not know a loving and active God who’d send His Son to die for us so we actually have hope.
And who’s going to swat Bin Laden except someone who has enough power to do so? Say, seven-fold power? Cain is just as megalomaniacal, but to challenge him is to invite harshly severe and wholly justified retribution. The World System is by definition megalomaniacal, and God sent it off to be that way.
And what about these “right ends”? While we may know what they are, we are far from being able to get to them, as Friedman himself details for pages and pages. Right after the Babel reference he concludes the book with his solution, an expansive exhortation that we should do much more to use our imagination.
Now God made our imaginations—that’s fine. They can be very good things.
Except that imaginations can be made into gods. When we “create value” we make idols of our imaginations, and the god of one’s imagination is the most oppressive, merciless god there is. It's kind of why God made the First Commandment the first one.
Look closely at this. Each individual with a god of his own making. What happens when all those individuals join forces? And what happens when it reaches critical mass? Wow. Sounds a lot like the Tower of Babel.
“The world is flattening and rising at the same time,” Friedman quotes Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen, there on page 231. It is simple, really: Man still wants to do things man’s way. However much he gives lip service to God, he still does it, whether he’s going up, down, right, left, sideways, whichever way. All the awesome imaginative "creative" things Friedman speaks of man doing, even if he is compelled by a flat world to do them, ultimately mean nothing—
Unless they are done with the Son.
Yes, He does like supply chains. But they must be His.
As it is they are Mercury’s. You remember Mercury—the god of commerce.
Lot’s of commerce, lot’s of cool stuff made and supplied and bought and enjoyed bringing greater and greater glory to man, with bigger and better dissension and jealousy and fits of rage.
That’s not life. It’s not life unless you’ve got the God of Life.
He is the One with the Value.
The libertarian voice in this country has gone postal over the recent passage of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which sets up a system of prosecution for apprehended terrorist suspects. "Our civil liberties are toast!" they cry. "You can kiss your individual freedoms good-bye!" they screech. The best one is, "George Bush is now a dictator!"
All the vitriol heaped upon the president belies the fact that Congress put it on his desk. The House passed it 253-168. The Senate by a vote of 65-34.
This means that, really, it was the voter who made the decision to enthrone the autocrat. In fact, the U.S. has never not had one. Republican government is merely one form of girding the Agency of Cain. The voter never unwittingly casts a ballot for autocracy; he simply sustains it, succumbed by the deceptive arts used against him. The condition of believing this country's freedom is waning—as if the sinner is ever free from enslavement to the World—is evidence of his complicity.
In their revealing book Spychips detailing the increasing use of radio frequency identification (RFID), authors Katherine Albrecht and Liz McIntyre share a fascinating metaphor from nature offered by RFID marketer Kevin Ashton. He relates the following story:
It is perfectly understandable that being targeted by government for some kind of prosecutorial purpose would make anyone uncomfortable. If you've idiosyncratically transgressed some rigid social norm then, yes, being singled out for dinner would make you a bit nervous. This is why expansive Americanist cultural indoctrination has been going on for centuries. Gotta be in the herd for the stripes to work.
Another reason for the anxiety is that most people typically proclaim, "But I've done nothing wrong." This is where it gets a bit dicey. Of course you may have done nothing wrong—but couldn't one protest a bit much, like the Pharisee contrasted to the publican in Jesus' parable? So vehement is the insistence to not be identified that an entire wide-release motion picture was made about that very thing.
The Wachowski brothers' V for Vendetta was about one man's crusade to mobilize the citizenry in rebellion against the oppressive identification procedures of Caesar. The seminal point in the film is the epiphany of Inspector Finch, who realizes that it wasn't as much a single-minded disaffection as it has been the systematic activity of turgid law enforcement through the ages. For your edification, that scene is here. (A note: there is some raw language and violence. A few expository notes are below.*)
What is so telling is that "V"—the epithet for the heroic protagonist—issues a copy of his mask to every citizen. He moves them to don the attire of the zebra. Near the end of the film the V-masked Guy Fawkes-caped hordes proudly march past Sutler's security forces to witness the event that would supposedly free them: the explosive destruction of the Parliament building, the one grand symbol of their subjugation.
Problem. Their oppression comes not from the legislature, or the security forces, or even Caesar himself. These are all just instruments of judgment.
It comes from their own hearts.
I think about all the people there watching the conflagration, taking off their masks. The threat has been removed, the zebras need no longer fear the lion. Oh my, Sutler was certainly a vicious ruler, what a relief he's no longer on the prowl.
Question. Who's now going to protect them from the threat posed by themselves?
Certainly they may all turn to Christ, the One Who Loves So They May Love One Another, but funny, V for Vendetta didn't say anything about that. All I saw was everyone smugly preparing to swear the Pharisaic creed. Ouch.
All those libertarians. Every November 5th they commemorate the Gunpowder Plot and shout "Don't tag me." But on November 7th this year they'll cast a vote for their preferred taggers. Hmm.
It gets worse. Brace yourselves. (And as you will see here, that may be literally...)
Spychips describes new RFID technology that features a small amount of anesthetics packed in an irremovable arm brace. Whenever the wearer does something prohibited by the authorities, bam, the microchip detecting the infraction pumps an incapacitating dose into the individual, knocking him out. How proficient! How convenient! How cost-effective! And certainly how sinister!
But that's just it. Government must be such to go after evildoers. It's just doing its job. Whether it's local police, military commissions, or even incapacitation braces, government must do prosecution.
So then it's simple: don't be an evildoer. Oh, don't look at me as to whether you're one or not. I'm not the one to say, and I don't presume to be. But the law is. And just like the brace, the law condemns. It does tag evildoers, as intrusive as that may be.
As insightful as Albrecht & McIntyre and the Wachowski brothers are at defining the condition, they just as stridently champion the libertarian cause: Fight it! Challenge it! Rebel against it! Do not go gently into that good night! —All and all they are just as venomous in tagging the taggers!
Do they know that the only thing that would eliminate the whole system, take it out like flash paper on fire, would be for everyone to demonstrate that they actually love? Think about it, if everyone loved as they'd want to be loved, really cared for each other person, would never have even a chance to harm any single individual ever, then Caesar would evaporate—poof, just like that. Come on, with every single person loving every other person all the time, what would be his reason for existence?
But the libertarian crusaders know that won't happen, and they've got a point. Short of everyone coming to Christ, it won't. So if that's the case, then what are they all complaining about? What can they really accomplish in their revolution?
It really comes down to this:
You're identified. By Caesar. Get used to it. You may as well accept the arm brace, and have your boundaries efficiently checked by fear.
Or you may have Christ, and have them joyously secured by love.
Who did Jesus say was the one tagged by God as justified? It was not the one who said, "Look at those government guys, taking away our freedom, going after us as if we've done anything wrong."
It was the one who said, "Thank you Lord for the law and its overarching enforcer, because by it I stand convicted—I have no excuse. But I thank you even more for your Way out of my own evildoing and the just condemnation that comes with it. Thank you for your Son who frees me to now live in genuine joy and move by authentic love."
There's just no other choice.
There's the law, and ultimately the knockout-drug-spitting brace.
And then there's Him,
And real freedom.
Film star George Clooney is well-known for being politically active. Recently he’s been making forays into the international realm to bring attention to the horrific situation in Darfur, the war-ravaged region of Sudan where a true humanitarian crisis festers.
It seems so few are paying any attention to it that a Los Angeles Times letter writer addressing the Clooney efforts remarked, “I do have to ask: Is that all we can do – send an actor to deal with this real and very serious problem?” (Dec 15 2006)
Well, yes! Yes there is, in fact!
There is an individual who can do wonderful things for those people! Not only can He throw a mountain into the sea, but He can heal the worst disease or disability. He can even—get this now—He can even
Give people a reason and purpose for living, one which lasts an eternity.
Now, this particular person is not George Bush, but you’d wonder after reading what the “Save Darfur” people have said. “Save Darfur” is a now somewhat prominent movement that is supposedly all about helping the people who are being methodically murdered in the region. They’ve even put an ad on national television in which a number of ordinary people-types each read brief accounts of the horror. It closes with this plea: “Somebody, somebody, somebody come and save us.” In order to give them the fairest consideration, I went to the website SaveDarfur.org to find out precisely who they think that “somebody” should be.
Ah, why of course. It is George Bush.
What is it that these people are asking him to do? As good Catholicists they are putting their trust in the president to fix all bad things, and as good republican (small “r”) Catholicists, they know that getting him to save Darfur means urging the rank-and-file to firmly tell him what’s what. They’ve even done the hard part for you: When you reach the home page, right there is an e-message for you to sign and send off to the White House. Here are the four key things they are requesting:
I’m always amazed at references to “peacekeeping forces,” as if that means sauntering into the belligerents’ offices with lit candles singing “Give Peace a Chance.” What abjectly distended naiveté. If they really wanted effective peacekeeping forces, they’d urge Bush to do three simple things. (1) Capture the top leader—I imagine in this case it is Omar al-Bashir. (2) Blow the living snot out of anyone else remotely associated with any unfavorable activity he engenders. (3) Get a slew of cameras and microphones pointed at Bush collaring al-Bashir and asking him who he is with. If he says he's with the U.S. of A. then great, he’s good. If not, then execute him then and there.
Caesar can certainly do that, but he doesn’t. Why? Much of it lies in the duplicitous complexities of covert high-level political behavior. To some major degree, his strings are being seriously yanked. After all, every country in the World is under the thumb of the Romanist autocracy anyway.
He is then certainly allowed to enjoy the pretense of being a nice guy, taken by the folly of all the Cain wanna-be’s including the “Save Darfur” people. Why damage that impression with any action that would make him look like he is the brutal legacy of the Roman Empire? Keeping all these zealots devoted to their crusade is skillful administration of the Catholicist Nation. By continuing to lie to them all, they’re just that much more likely to stay in the fold.
The ingratiation among world leaders may also be so obsequious because they are all afraid of starting World War III. This in and of itself doesn’t explain enough, but I believe that may be because the Spirit of God is restraining them and it is not yet His time. When World War III happens, Jesus will return. At that point they’ll really know Someone with power.
Very compassionate indeed. I’m not being wholly facetious about that, humanitarian aid is great. People should be helped. Jesus said “Get a thirsty person a glass of water.” The funny part that’s not so funny is that all the “Save Darfur” stuff—all the “We can be good without God” stuff, being as institutionally Catholicist as that is—actually complicates it, and is even itself a tragic detriment to actually, truly doing what they want. This is not even to mention that, again, how’re they going to “ensure access for aid delivery”? By smiling at those machine-gun toting warlords and asking politely?
That’s really nice that they don’t want any flies to buzz around those desperately poor and hungry people. I mean, hey, those things carry diseases! At least they’re starting somewhere, good for them.
Really, all of this ludicrous rigmarole was detailed two thousand years ago in The Aeneid. The enduring classical epic is all about the use of deceptive arts to reach one’s goal. The pious intention of the glorified protagonist, Aeneas, is to set up his base for empire in Italy. Any impediment is met with the appropriate type of violence, and if it isn’t physical it is certainly emotional or spiritual. Rally your tribe and invoke your gods to the cause, that’s the Catholicist way.
Don’t think this is a purely Romanist operation? “Save Darfur” has its tribes, identifying itself as a “coalition.” The website lists about 200 diverse organizations signed on to this project, everything from well-established churches and temples to simple groups with the word “peace” in their name. Here’s what gets me: How many people then, total, are involved here? Several thousand at least? And all these bright, enthusiastic movers-and-shakers can’t help Darfur? They’ve got to plead with George Bush to do the dirty work they revile themselves? There is no doubt that they too have their gods: the leaders of those spiffy clubs, power-brokers sold out to the World System.
Just like in The Aeneid.
Let’s face it. This is all just a game. They’re playing the cruelest game imaginable because they’re boasting that they’ll lead a blind man across the freeway but they just stumble around banging their walking stick on the concrete before them. What is so silly is that they behave as if there are no seeing people at all and therefore they must join together to accomplish this. I guess a lot of people with walking sticks will get you across the freeway, if they don’t end up hitting themselves with them along the way. Whatever the case, this isn’t merely one blind person leading the blind, but a whole blind nation.
Through and through the “Save Darfur” people are just as Roman as the George Bush people. The way to tell? Hypothesize what they would do if they were given the reigns, if they were in George Bush’s shoes. My consideration? They’d do nothing different. Then all this vicious “Get going you leaders and do something about these horrors” is truly meaningless when envisioning them in charge. In fact, we don’t even have to go that far. Just look at what they’re doing now. Those things are wholly Romanist.
So what about Darfur? Believe it or not, there is another option. It is not the World option, as described a bit here, but the Kingdom option. Oh I’m not against all the extraordinarily well-intentioned things these people want to accomplish. I’m simply stating that the World’s way is like curing their illness by injecting them with excess potassium chloride from a syringe marked “Really Good Things.”
Look at what the 72 followers of Christ did in the tenth chapter of Luke. Why did Jesus send them out? It was so the Kingdom would be explained to those they’d encounter. They were also expressly instructed to carry nothing with them—no bag or money or even extra sandals. No World stuff in their possession. (How many of those coalition groups have with them a nice little non-profit tax deduction?)
It wasn’t even enough for the Ethiopian eunuch to have the book, to merely read Scripture. He did need someone, eagerly asking Philip: “Who will explain it to me?” * He wanted to know Truth and Grace. "Save Darfur" wants to help those Sudanese victims, but most people in the World don’t know the real Jesus, only straw-man Jesuses. The former actually saves. The latter only bring endless, pitiful pleas for somebody to save them.
Who will explain it to them?
Those 72 guys returned from their mission and beamed that they could command both natural and supernatural forces. They explained the Kingdom to those who actually wanted to see—and for those who didn’t, they let them be and they did so demonstrably. Hey, why try to give sight to someone who doesn’t want it? Jesus added a not-so-incidental comment about the “Save Darfur”–type people—they’re too smart for Him. Look at it for yourself, right there in Luke’s tenth chapter, verses 21 to 24.
The most important thing Jesus said to these disciples was, essentially, “Yes, you did do miraculous things, but that’s nothing.” (Huh? Nothing? Stomping on poisonous snakes and calling out demons is nothing? Is He crazy?) He continued, “What’s way better is that you know you are part of the Kingdom.”
Wow. “Rejoice that your names are written in heaven” —Jesus’ exact words.
That those people in Darfur would know they are part of the Kingdom.
The “Save Darfur” people want to give them George Bush. The World. Yeah. Cool. They’ll get all the World has to offer: lots of jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions. That’s nice.
Jesus wants to give them Him, and this means nothing less than the entire Kingdom along with Him. The beauty, the glory, the joy, the mercy…
Thing is, He does this through those who’re His.
After all, who will explain it to them?
What is truth? – Governor Pilate
Where, except in uncreated light, can darkness be drowned? – C.S. Lewis
A while ago San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom got into a bit of trouble involving drunkenness and adultery, and after some conjecture about what happened he said, “I want to make it clear that everything you’ve heard and read is true, and I’m deeply sorry about that.”
Three things in the statement struck me. There was stuff about clarity, stuff about truth, and stuff about regret.
It seems that the idea of truth has been somewhat pronounced of late. PBS recently televised an awards show for journalists titled “Telling the Truth…” I’ve seen a few bus stop posters for the top local talk radio station that blare, “Truth Be Told.” An op-ed eulogy for acerbic columnist Molly Ivins referred to her as a “truth-seeking missile.” And many seem to be quite enamored with Al Gore’s self-aggrandizing “An Inconvenient Truth.”
Thing is, I don’t think much clarity is coming from these places, and I don’t think much regret is being considered over its more harrowing characteristics.
For one, the powers-that-be will only ever send vetted truth over the airwaves. They have many forms of severe retribution for slips of meaningful truth. This is not even to mention the ways the disseminators are supremely Americanized so their entire disposition is to blather the authorized version from the get-go.
It cracks me up to see the coverage about leaks such as those outing CIA operatives or revealing phone company complicity in espionage activity, as if we’re really getting at any truth. That a leak only has value if it is true seems to amplify its veracity and as such draws attention away from what’s really going on. “Hey, a leak!” the New York Times screeches, and sycophantic scribes from all around pucker up like lampreys.
More unabashedly, the media love Al Gore and his Hollywood alarmism, but revile anyone who highlights the deception behind what really happened on September 11, 2001. That’s the real inconvenient truth. Splashed in our faces is a convenient fiction (incidentally the very name of a counter-documentary to the hyper-environmentalist zeitgeist). What may surprise many anti-government types is that the mythology must be conceived and widely marketed as part of Rome's task of sin management.
This doesn't make it any less foolish. “The debate is over” was officially declared on February 2nd by the United Nations commission that issued the final word about global warming. Shortly thereafter these words were trumpeted by all who seemed to know for certain. I just wonder if the irony was lost on them that the regal pronouncement for cogitating our greenhouse gas doom was made on Groundhog Day.
Speaking of debate, some of these same dogmatists were U.S. Senators who walked right across the hall and said about Iraq: “Let’s have a debate!” Some of them even boasted about it as the cornerstone of democracy, when really they haven’t a clue about what to actually do. In fact, for quite some time they were having a debate about the debate.*
One such popular politician running for president even belched it this way: “Let’s have a conversation.” No wonder so many young people latch on to Nietzsche when they find him, because they know that this candidate will never, ever listen to a single word they say. At least Nietzsche is honest about how pointless it all is in this atmosphere.
But then, what’s that? Being “honest” about it? Honesty is nothing less than respect for truth, and that truth is… that there is no truth? And if there is no meaning, then what is that statement? The World’s ludicrous incoherency is on bright display in virtually every college classroom today, where the professor will proclaim to his or her eager students that there is no objective truth, and then later that afternoon will labor assiduously doing research to find out—what?
None of these people have the teensiest conception of how to speak about meaningful truth. They all flounder in a vast ocean of putrid folly.
The truth is that the most meaningful regret always comes from being left to our own devices—we destroy ourselves and others. Those who deny this are afflicted with either delusion or amnesia. Only two choices are before us to rein us in: The Law and The Grace. We may have one or the other, and both are things that are very real and very specific.
The problem is that the clarity of this is clouded by people assigned the task of administering the law. Pilate’s question before Jesus was not one of desire to know but confession of ignorance. As Cain’s servant he could never know it, but then, he's not supposed to. Furthermore, such minions naturally don’t want people choosing The Grace because they’d be out of work. No evildoers to go after and punish with the full force of the law?
In a Newsweek piece titled “The Limits of Democracy” (Jan 29, 2007), Fareed Zakaria comments on the woeful conditions of politically backward nations and makes this interesting remark: “The basic problem confronting the developing world today is not an absence of democracy but an absence of governance.”
Americans claim they are free, and President Bush uses the word “freedom” an average of 18 times every time he opens his mouth. But you know?
If you're not in Christ, you’re not free.
You’re just as much under The Law as anyone. It’s just you’ve been so deftly inculcated with Catholicist cultural mores that your enslavement has a splendidly American fragrance. Even our churches are securely moored to the World with their 501c3 incorporations. Worse, each grafted church gives homage to its own idol it may or may not call Jesus, someone who’s a boffo guy to have at the head of the club and certainly good for rallying behind when the violence gets a bit testy.
Still! Awright! It’s the American way to buck up and tough it out! Grin and bear it as you take on those bad guys! Grrowwlll! And hey, look! How great it is to have this Jesus here to whack them upside the head!
That truth hurts.
When scores of people try to whack the government with their Jesus—"We must fight to make the U.S. Christian..."—they only get whacked back seven times more. The mythology just helps keep them from knowing how beaten they are.
When will people regret being in this body of death enough to get out?
This is where the clarity comes in.
Without the clarity, this truth of regret is unbearable. It is not enough just to get out, no one can do that. There is nowhere else to go (remember Nietzsche?)
Unless—you go Somewhere specific.
To the place with the Light.
Clarity is something that comes with light, and the only real Light is the Son of God. He is in the Kingdom. He is nowhere in the World. God said the World’s ruler would be out of His presence. Jesus told Pilate that His Kingdom was not of the World.
Many believe they can get out without the Son, that they can go where the oppressive judgment of the World cannot find them. Of course there are lots of neat clubs for people to frequent, clubs for every persuasion, from those who think Rome is synonymous with God to those who rail against the regime with every fiber of their body. They may get a band-aid for their gaping, gushing wounds, but without the Son and His love, His power, what difference does it make?
Without the regret being changed into authentic joy, and the clarity amplifying the fact, the truth, the reality that
He did what it took to embrace you,
He does what it takes to completely heal your wounds,
He is doing what it takes to fully liberate you from the bondage of the World,
Without that—who cares what anyone says, whatever brutal truth is told?
Nietzsche, Pilate, Bush, Gore, the United Nations, the New York Times, even Gavin Newsom—they’re all into truth. And people like truth, they really do.
But I’d bet they like meaningful truth even more.
That can only come with Jesus. He’s truth, sure He is.
But He’s also The Grace.
Every time I see that word set alone, I can’t help but think of the follow-up words from the 1970 Edwin Starr anthem: “Huh, yeah, what is it good for—absolutely nothing.”
Certainly war has exceedingly violent aspects in which mind-bending numbers of people are brutally slaughtered, so, yeah, it makes sense. Who wants that?
It is still around.
All over the place. All over us. Everywhere we look. In everything we hear.
So, is it then good for something?
I’d wanted to address war after getting scratched a bit by all of it, but as I contemplated how to approach this it became more a bit more frustrating. Volumes have already been written about it, so what could I add that isn’t too elementary, too pedantic, or too redundant?
I feel a few important things must be said, however, from the context of the Catholicist Nation perspective, and I only share those things because I firmly believe few people see them. You’ll see what I mean in a moment, but again, the question: from what context do I begin?
Then I found it, coming out of nowhere. God does amazing things in sharing the wonderful matters He does.
I was driving home from work and happened to flip on KPFK radio’s Maria Armoudian, who was interviewing two of the most prominent scientists researching peace. What I heard just made me shake my head. These guys did have brilliant insights about the core reality of war, but as committed humanists their conclusions woefully lacked any effectual substance. This fine forum is but one place where they spout about things that matter and offer nothing.
Being of the World it’s what they do.
I wanted to use their remarks as a thread to address those critical truths that people pay little or no attention to, at their dire spiritual peril.
The first one:
Everyone is in the war somewhere.
I say this because when asked, “Are you at war with anyone?” most reply, “Of course not, I get along with most everyone.”
The shortsightedness of this response was exposed well by Armoudian’s guests, Los Alamos physicist Stephen Younger and Stanford psychologist Philip Zimbardo. They both elucidated the pandemic aspects of the war, the one that’s all around us. In fact, for our purposes here, let’s call it The War to distinguish it from any pronounced manifestation of it like Iraq.
Now some may say that I’m stretching the meaning of the word, that when we speak of war it must be narrowly defined as soldiers on opposing sides somewhere shooting bullets at one another. The most destructive aspects of war, however, are never physical but psychological.
One of Aesop’s little known fables is “The Dolphins, the Whales, and the Sprat.” The dolphins and whales are at war, and the sprat peeks in to make an offer to both parties. “I’ll end your war, but you must make me your umpire.” The dolphins and whales both refuse, wanting to continue their hostilities. Why?
Could it be because they are both too proud? If this is the case, it is indeed reflective of every individual’s desire to get what they want no matter what the cost. Could it be because they like being with others of their kind? Sure, then it suggests everyone’s inherent need to be with other like-minded people. Could it be that they don’t trust the sprat, for he could be just as conniving as the enemy? This then would highlight the real thrust of any understanding of war and all people’s complicity with it:
The World has a zillion different ways to address this issue in whatever way it frames it, but none include consideration of the One that stops it—indeed one of those critical things that I’ll share in a moment.
Just the other day as I was polishing this piece, I came across the recent Newsweek magazine about the Virginia Tech slayings, and prominent in their coverage was a feature attempting to answer that one question everyone asks. Yes, you got it,
“Pathological genes, a disturbed mind, social isolation and a gun culture are not enough. Mass murderers also need an individual to pull the trigger.” This was the subtitle, and I looked through the article to find anything of note beyond those typical culprits. A seemingly exhaustive analysis of all those things was summarily detailed, but little else. So what did Newsweek conclude then? Well, here it is, their answer:
“…Even as science identifies the forces that sculpt the mind of a mass killer, explanation is neither excuse nor exculpation. Somewhere in all this is the will, the decision by the gunman to pull the trigger. Understanding that is the greatest challenge of all.”
Oh, for those who think with the mind of Christ, it is not a challenge at all. It is simple.
Everyone is a murderer.
We would all murder in a second if left to our own devices protecting our interests, our ideals, our desires, our possessions. We just don’t seem do that very often because the violence is now so systematized, a lucid point Younger and Zimbardo made. In other words, government has mitigated the violence you would do by constructing an elaborate system of laws and their enforcement so your sin may be kept in check from the get-go.
In this sense the law is very good because it mitigates this violence, and many willingly submit to it because they know they are murderers. This does not mean they’re righteous. Just neutered.
At first glance, then, it would seem that the Newsweek writers don’t know diddly. But I think the more harrowing possibility is that they do, but won’t share it with us. They like to keep us in The War, indeed perpetuating the ruse that keeps many denying they’re in it.
This leads to the second important willfully ignored principle of war:
The General’s most lethal weapon is deception, and he uses a dozen different forms to keep people waging The War.
Who in blazes is “The General”? Think about it, if we presume that The War is being waged, and everyone is in it in some capacity, then it must follow that there is an individual who by definition must be at the top of the militant organization assigned the task of cracking the heads of those who’d do harm to others.
A popular book making the rounds is Ron Suskind’s The One Percent Doctrine. This "doctrine” is the idea that after 9/11 the war-wagers in the White House considered if a terrorist event had a one-percent chance of happening, it must be considered a certainty and dealt with accordingly. More than that is the conception that if that is the case, then action should trump analysis. What this means then is shared by Kevin Drum in his “Political Animal” blog at The Washington Monthly:
“After all, nearly anything has a one percent chance of happening, and if that’s the threshold for action, it means we can take action anytime we want.”
This truth is lost on so many people because they refuse to confess that they too are warriors with guns blazing. They may not be firing physical bullets, but they fire emotional and spiritual ones all the time, and they leave a huge swath of devastation.
In order to control this conflagration, the General must use Sun-Tzuan arts of war to reign them in. One of the most effective tools is to convince the people that they have no real enemy, or that the force they are battling is not what it actually is. In executing this task, the General ultimately makes everyone at war with him, so that he may be justified in carrying out his terrible but justified retribution. It is very effective in keeping the World from presently destroying itself, but it does make things quite excruciating for those continuing to try to wage The War.
In book after book and website after website, bright people rail like mad against the “powers-that-be.” The media are happy to showcase the most colorful rants. The gallant detractors actually think they can do something about bad things by firing their intellectual BB guns at the Bushes and the Cheneys and it'll have any of the tiniest effect.
They just don’t get it. War-haters wage war against those who like it. Lysistrata waged war against warring husbands. Even the Edwin Starr fan wages war against those who think war is good for something.*
The War rages on.
What is The Answer? The third principle:
You don’t have to be hurt by The War’s reach.
How about that. You may ask to be under the protection of the One strong enough to hold you firmly, to keep you—as a good friend of mine always says, “in His mighty grip.”
He is none other than Jesus Christ.
But note, this is the Jesus Christ who has the universe in His hands, who made creation for you to enjoy but you decided you like The War better. In placing the General in his office to constrain sinners, He gives you time to turn back to Him, the One Who Loves. If you choose not to do that, that’s okay, He’ll give you up to your true love, the World, and with it your favorite thing to do, wage The War.
I must note here that with this engagement are hundreds of Jesus Christs for you to admire and with whom to pretend you’re not in The War. They all represent one of the greatest deceptive strategies the General utilizes, and virtually every church in the world has them.
They have them because they’ve given up their devotion to Christ, their “first love,” and signed on with the World through their 501c3 incorporations, making them beholden to the law. A church that is in the law means it is not in Truth and Grace, and as such it is emasculated in reaching people with the wonderful force and strength that is the saving work of God Almighty.
Yes there is great pretense about salvation. But it is all just religion, really.
Recently a lot of Christians deluged Washington with objections over Section 220 in Senate Bill 1, designed to limit lobbyist influence. It would have required churches and ministries to divulge every single contact or activity with any lawmakers or their interests.
Why were they so upset? It's easy.
Rome is their god.
If they belonged to Christ, they’d have no problem with this requirement, because it is indeed a vital part of the General’s duty of sin management, using the law to do what it is supposed to do. Really, how foolish are these people: if Section 220 wasn’t prominently in place, he’d still get the information he needs from the World's membership.
If you are a genuine follower of Christ, you’d acknowledge this and still love others anyway. In the Kingdom you'll do your thing, while those in the World will do their thing as they do. If you're signed up with that World yet chafe at its practices, then you must have something to hide or you wouldn’t so raucously protest. Do you fear that you’ll hurt others, in whatever way that is? If you do then the General should watch you.
Finally we come back to Younger and Zimbardo, and their answers to The War in that radio interview. Younger concluded “We have to take peace seriously,” intimating the need for a “new formula” for peace. Hey Dr. Younger, how about the One Who is Peace? Oh, forgot, you want to stay in The War.
Zimbardo said “You’ve got to be a hero and challenge the system,” that we must “promote the heroic imagination.” And this is not more war? He then made mention of one of humanism’s most enduring recommendations, Kant’s “categorical imperative,” essentially trying real hard to do good things because we’re all just supposed to. The only thing about this is (ahh, here’s that question again—)
Why work so hard—fighting That War, even braying endlessly about it—when you will never be convinced that Someone loves you past death?
Not a single expert in the World can answer that question.
When Gideon dedicated the Lord’s work he named it The Lord is Peace, and that was after God promised him he would not die. Jesus said He leaves a peace the world cannot give, and what is the essence of that peace? That you cannot hurt another or be hurt for eternity.
As it is, I just think of the words in the 49th Psalm: Those devoted to the World live without understanding, and will perish like the beasts.
I don’t know. It is sad—when I look at The War, it seems they like it that way.
Last year at this precise time I tried to put together a home page piece about the subject of immigration. (Is there a reason it always foams up in summer?) I sifted through the dozens of pithy things said about it, and made a valiant attempt to work it into one boffo expository essay that would get at what it is all really about. I abandoned it because it just became too monstrous—I was simply wrapping my mouth around far more than I could chew.
I’m back at it again, and I only introduce this go-round with the disclaimer because I’ll never get it all down here. I only offer this modest effort, about a few things to consider, and—as I hope to do throughout my website—encourage the reader to go to the one place where he may find the Complete Answer. That is in the pages of God’s very words.
I’ve heard about some things said and done recently that have crystallized much of the issue for me, anyway, and I thought I’d share some of those things with you.
It is obvious that the people of a given geographic region get nervous about an excessive and unintended increase in population because it puts great strain on resources and services. Because so many have emigrated from Mexico to the U.S. (upwards of 20 million undocumented) or would like to do so (by one study’s estimation 70 million—two-thirds of that country’s population) it is obvious that only two options are available for the U.S. to truly solve the problem:
For those who think I’m being ethnocentrically narrow-minded, please note that I have no opinion one way or the other here. I’m merely stating the practical implications as they are. (I might add the historical ones as well—Rome in fact used option #2 for its neighbors quite often.)
What you have so far is the recently proposed congressional legislation, a humongous immigration reform package being put through the ringer by federal lawmakers. It hasn’t yet been passed because these guys are heatedly trying to incorporate as policy virtually every single thing that's uttered, ranging from “We’re a nation of immigrants,” to “We must protect national security.” You could get either a whoop or a holler from “Look! Cheap labor!” These sentiments reverberate through the discourse, all very well-intentioned. But—whew! Good luck with that.
One thing is for sure. It is a mess.
What is not being shared is the viewpoint from the mind of Christ. Oh, don’t worry. I don’t presume to be Him. I just read what He says. You are quite welcome to tell me if I’m wrong, because you may read Him and know what He thinks, too.
On a radio talk show the other day a stridently conservative anti-immigration-to-the-point-just-before-he-waffles-because-it-chafes-at-his-Catholicist-sensibility guy said: “This country’s motto is E Pluribus Unum! ‘Out of Many, One!’ What happened to that? These pro-immigration/amnesty guys want to make it ‘Out of Many, Many!’”
Well, he’s right, but I don’t think he knows how right he is, in the sense that it does keep the conflict going right in our own backyards. Sinful people just can’t get along with others. They get along a bit better when they are among like-minded folk, which is why people in the debate plead for things like “integration.” It can’t truly happen for devout Catholicists needing more enemies not like them, addicted to the bellicosity while at the same time imploring government to mitigate their agony.
It is all in the General’s plan of attack.
Everyone has an anecdotal story about the once vibrant downtown turning abjectly moribund while just a mile away the brand spankin’ new shopping complex is thriving. Downtown is that way because the people who’ve moved into that area just don’t have the skill, experience, and wherewithal to sustain it. The region where I live is just such an apartheid.
It is now axiomatic that the culturally attuned power-brokers have abandoned those people and are pursuing residential and commercial ventures elsewhere. That’s the Americanist way—live free and independent, do your own thing among your own kind. Nothing really wrong with freedom of association, it’s just that it frequently comes with such rank duplicity.
No wonder people need to have drilled into their psyche over and over again the grand Bacchic creed. In a wholly Catholicized society Out of Many One will never happen, but there will certainly be bold chest-pounding about great tolerance and inclusion.
What is the truth here?
One of the most profound utterances in all of Scripture is Cain’s “Am I my brother’s keeper?” A more penetrating question cannot be asked of any individual, particularly when it comes to immigration. Jesus shed His blood at the hand of Caesar because He loved His brother, suffering a felon’s death to usher into the Kingdom those who’d humbly follow.
Cain’s way is the World’s way. His agents erect lofty ivory tower institutions and parade about brashly proclaiming, “I shall be the one to fix your problem, my brother.” The media are pleased to showcase this elaborate grandiosity and highlight the playful jostling that often occurs between more spunky officers.
But just as it was with Cain, they don't mean it. Underneath the façade they bumble around with meaningless reform platitudes and the product is the status quo—everyone fearfully confused.
Recently a former Mexican foreign minister remarked that Congress should pass some compromise, even an imperfect one, or the U.S. will be left with the status quo. Excuse me, the compromise is the status quo. If they meant business they’d either seal the border and deport every illegal, or annex Mexico because letting them all in would be no different.
Really, though, what am I saying? None of this my affair. The raging conflict over those two options would make a fine culture war. The General will accomplish his ends anyway for firmly Catholicized peoples wherever they are, however that is. The typical violence will swell among people who can’t live without it. It’s not hard, really—it seems every day some new immigration angle ignites those passions!
What is my affair is to contemplate these things with the mind of Christ. What do you think He would say about E Pluribus Unum?
I think He’d say that’s all fine for the World, they can pretend to be one—it’s what they’ve done from the time of the Tower of Babel. I’m pretty sure, however, He wants interaction with people who live in the Kingdom, and wants these people to interact with one another from that place. Furthermore, because you’ve got two categorically distinct places here, I believe Jesus would say “Among the Many, Two.”
His references to the Kingdom contrasted to the World can’t be missed. He said clearly there are the sheep and the goats, the wheat and the tares—among all people there are really two kinds. But before you get riled up about how divisive He really was, He also said something very interesting.
These two types of people would be all mixed in together until the last day. So much for Christians physically isolating themselves from the World. Jesus wants His own in among them all, being His flesh and bones just as He was when He walked on the earth. The purpose of this is simple:
People tired of the World and its body of death would find rich fulfillment of their truest desires.
How great is that? That’s what we all want, right? —For all of us, right? —In and around all this immigration pap, right? The trick is those who are His must be His living words if they hope to drop the scales from the eyes of others to show them what vibrant life is like.
As much as they try, those doing it the World’s way can’t match that. Regrettably, many of them operate out of 501c3 incorporated churches, grafted to the World and holding up their straw-man Jesuses. They’re among some of the best pretenders, for when they've signed on with the World they're just a heap of Christians thrashing about for some nebulous “unity,” enlisted in a place wholly incompatible with the Kingdom.
Jesus said that those who are genuinely His can no longer be Jew or Greek, barbarian or Scythian, slave or freeman, and I presume from this context, Mexican or American, citizen or immigrant, legal or illegal. The World deals with these distinctions, and they must. They’ve got to make sure they all know who’s who so they don’t tear each other apart.
In the Kingdom one is free to be a child of God, joyous heir to all He has, longing to let others in on the bounty.
So there is the World way, and the Kingdom way. Two ways, two groups of people. In the end, really, these distinctions are all that count.
World operatives, however, know so well about the brilliant glory of the Kingdom and offer a spectacular Walt Disney simulation. The Catholic Church is wonderfully adept at providing sanctuary for immigrants—hey that’s gotta be wholesome. The problem is that a temporal sanctuary is just a holding cell for getting people to join the club.
And the club looks so attractive. It’s almost like the Kingdom!
Wow. How do you know the difference? For the one committed to staying in the World, it is impossible to tell. Such an individual can never discern of the identity of those who drive immigrants to “sanctuary” to begin with. It's not just the immigrants; think of the millions of displaced, imprisoned, impoverished, and exploited people covering the globe. There are a few sincere folks who cringe and scream “Why can’t something be done for them?!”
Now, here's the question: Are they so sincere that they'd actually want to see?
Want to see what that is?
Want to see to find what really can be done?
Ask the One who makes it so people can see.
This page was originally posted by David Beck at yourownjesus.net on October 26, 2006