The latest sci-fi horror film out is The Invasion, an expensive remake of the whole “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” pitch wafting from the paranoia enflamed 1950’s. The idea is that aliens from outer space gestate inside giant pea pods until they emerge in the night and replace their targeted hosts as perfect replicas.
It is easy to understand why this concept is so frightening. Humans thrive by immersing themselves in three things:
When these things are in place, we feel it deeply.
Note that we feel.
What do pod-people aliens do?
They don’t feel.
Not only that, but they look like us and actively seek to derail those things we like to feel. I can’t help but picture Donald Sutherland at the very end of the 1978 cinematic rendering of the pod-people—pointed finger outstretched, gaping mouth open from which came a terrifying screech.
I’ve discovered that one of the worst things anyone can hear from someone else are these words: “I don’t understand you, nor do I care to.” No wonder God said that what He wants the most is not that we give Him glory, as many Augustinians so often claim.
It is simply that we understand and know Him.
These innately detached automatons are all around us now. No no no, I’m not saying that we’ve had aliens in our midst all along and that it’s about time we sprung the truth about Area 51 and Roswell and the X-Files and Apollo 11 oh my.
What I am saying is that those who assemble, enforce, and adjudicate the law must by definition behave like pod-people. Unfeeling. Unmerciful. Ruthless. Hunting us down like the howling pod-man and summarily effecting the just due for those of us who murder one another. That the best law administrators can so blithely dismiss the nature of our God-given talents is harrowing enough.
They sure understand our evildoing.
In many ways the story of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” is just a fanciful allegory of Frederic Bastiat’s The Law. Written in the mid-1800’s, it is the darling paean of conservative polemicists the world-round. Bastiat makes the case that government should just get out of the way and let people be. We would then flourish and make all things great and wonderful and fabulous.
Drat those rotten pod-people government guys. They just want to take away our fun. They’re just a bunch of—oh, a term that is far worse than pod-people—they’re just a bunch of
I thought of a few key truths that the whole Bastiat’s law-pod-people-getting-in-our-way thing reveals to us.
The law is good. In its best form it nails us for the wretched things we do to wreck other people’s lives. This is obvious, but so many slough off the brutal truth that if the law did everything it was supposed to do, we’d all be convicted, sentenced, and executed. Awright! (And I’m not being wholly facetious about that…) Just a point of fact—anytime one willfully lies, cheats, or steals, he is effectively murdering someone. There's no difference, at least that’s what Jesus said.
In fact, it is funny—I was channel surfing just the other night and happened to come across an obscure news story. There on my TV was a shot of a woman walking around with a sign. She held it up in such a way that it shielded her identity from the camera. No wonder, the sign read, “I stole from a local store.”
When asked about this unusual punishment, the sentencing judge drawled with a smile, “They hate it. That makes it good. If they hate it, that means I’m doing something right.”
It’s only good if it’s hated.
That’s the law. Seems to me Bastiat and the zillons who adore him cry about the very same thing. “Oooo we HATE that the law condemns us so proficiently!”
God says something different. Oh yes He does speak about the law and how terrible it is—and how good it is. (What kind of crazy deity is this guy?!) But He also says all that is a body of death, and that the only way out is through Him, and His provision of escape, rescue, deliverance, whatever you want to call it.
Yes yes yes, that is Jesus Christ, but the tricky thing about this is another item about the Bastiat-pod-people thing:
World operatives must still administer the law at the direct behest of those who refuse to accept Christ’s invitation to the Kingdom. We all know that government guys do law stuff. What is less understood is that those guys realize they can’t allow it to look like it does there in that first truth. If people were left to plainly see it that way, even more how much it shines on the deep reaches of their souls, they’d actually go to the Kingdom.
Uh-oh, that means fewer people in the World, and—oop, there'd be more governing agents out of work.
Their real job then?
Make the law look like it is something to like.
It is easy to see why Bastiat rails so much against the pod-people law administrators. Who wants the force of the law cracking down on them all the time? And who doesn’t know how awful it is when a politician behaves like, well, a politician?
What he doesn’t get is that the people actually welcome pod-people sin management, even the most socialist kind. They do because they know how capable they are of murder, and how comforting it is that those sweet and kind people are actually restraining their evildoing. They say “No, no,” but their hearts mean “Yes, yes.” Many times the most strident objections work best. Violent rebellion is good for optimum sin management.
It generally goes something like this:
Lie, cheat, steal, murder, something like that - get reprimanded by law enforcement of some kind - feel regret - get absolution - sin again - get nailed again - feel a bit badly once more - do the absolution thing, this time involving some expensive indulgence... (Quite often a good fist-shaking is mixed in there—bitter denial always pleases World operatives, especially when one makes a career out of it.)
Round and round it goes.
It’s the way of the World. And it’s different each time! How fun! You may visit the Sin Management Theme Park often enough, what keeps you coming back is the chance to ride the Carousel’s new horsy. The more intense experience is called the “Codependent Whirlwind”—that’s an “E” ticket ride.
Those pod-people are so good at it, that:
Most simply cannot recognize those whose job it is to make it that way.
I am convinced that World inhabitants and operatives are both completely oblivious about what the Kingdom looks like. When they look at a joyous follower of Christ—someone who has been freed from the lethal merry-go-round—all they see is someone from a piously schnazzy God club. Because sinners and sin managers alike are completely out of the presence of God, they go crazy trying to make enjoyable the only thing they do know—the law.
One who knows Christ can see that the law is good but good only when applied to lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and molesters, for slave traders and liars and perjurers. (This inventory of “law-abiding citizens” is straight from Paul's first letter to Timothy. Read it right there in chapter one.)
I am tickled a bit whenever I see people remark on the Federal Reserve System, the central bank of the United States. I bring it up because the Fed is indeed the economic branch of law administration, and it has a history of being one of the most elaborate rules-making operations ever.
Those who claim to “really” know about its nefarious doings step up and tell us what’s truly going on, whining about how it is robbing us of our wealth, charging interest and creating inflation and silently taxing us and so forth. The Chicago School and the Austrian School and every “free-market” school growls about it just like Bastiat did—“Oh those evil socialist pod-people, if only we had the gold standard back.”
The fact is it doesn't matter, shiny yellow rocks or pretty green papers— it is all law to those who ask it to govern them.
If you lie and cheat and steal (and overassess your productive value) then praise God for the Federal Reserve! It is there to oppressively keep you from doing those things should you choose to remain outside His Kingdom. Sure the Fed bankers get their cut for this service, which naturally involves lots of lying and cheating on their part—a full seven times as much as anyone else.
If you've peeked at what's going on in the Middle East lately, terrorist groups like Hamas not only provide “security” but also health services, transportation, and a host of other cool things to keep people under their thumbs. They get their cut too. Who in the World doesn’t?
Really though: Fed, Hamas, judges who slap scarlet letters on thieves, even Bastiatite libertarians and their schools—what's the difference? Someone without Christ will murder. The law says as much. Thing is, if you stay there
You will formally select some racketeer to manage your affairs.
Ed Brown has gained a bit of notoriety as a zealous tax protestor holed up in his home in New Hampshire because the federal authorities are after him for tax evasion. He may certainly have a fine case, for it is true that many people in this country pay taxes they don’t owe.
The problem is that he put himself into the middle of this ludicrous siege, proud to be a symbol of all Bastiatites everywhere, with one simple pronouncement.
“Show me the law.”
Now I hope the very best for Ed Brown. I wish him well.
But his case is foolish. In one breath he spews “I want liberty!” and in the next “I want the law!” His visible racketeer of choice is a commonly adopted one: the IRS. He simply doesn’t know that those assigned the job of law administration are going to prosecute the hell out of him because he hasn’t appropriated what Christ offers. Furthermore he doesn’t seem to have a clue that they are going to do everything they can to make him think they’re the ones with the freedom. All that will happen is Ed Brown will spin faster and faster on the Carousel, getting sicker and sicker.
That’s the World Ed Brown is in. The one Frederic Bastiat ranted about. The one law-abiding pod-people everywhere forage through.
Sadly, it’s not anywhere close to the Kingdom.
That’s the place where they would know the difference.
And feel true joy.
I esteem right all Your precepts concerning everything, I hate every false way.
- Psalm 119:128
(Postscript: On the evening of October 4, 2007, Ed Brown and his wife Elaine were both arrested when federal marshals disguised themselves as supporters and were allowed entrance into their home. They were taken into custody peacefully.)
Every September 29 Argentina celebrates Inventor’s Day, the birthday of Hungarian-born Argentine Laszlo Biro. He’s the man who, in 1945, perfected and patented the ball-point pen for popular use. Before the invention, writers had to endure the frustration of inkwells and blotchy text. Biro’s role in making the pens more easily manufactured and widely available may well be as significant as Gutenberg’s—it is quite significant: “The pen is mightier than the sword.”
I myself enjoyed September 29th of this year experiencing such a breathtaking vista of Catholicist articles that I couldn’t help but assemble an entire homepage piece from it all. Thank goodness there are now Word Documents, because even the great ball-point pen doesn’t allow as much dissemination of information as the web. With Biro in mind, however, I here narrate the contents of the day, transcribed for all with the hope that readers would see the harrowing folly of the World, and think deeply about asking God if they may humbly enter the Kingdom.
I took a van of eager high school freshmen to visit the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The featured exhibit was “Latin American Art, 1492-1820,” which I was itching to see. It was quite phenomenal, as I had expected, but I simply never could fathom how virulent the whole Roman Catholic operation truly is. You just have to see it to believe it.
Until 2:00 pm I steeled myself to behold the magnitude of it all. It was quite crowded, many museum-goers appearing as they usually do—scanning things with the typical “Hmm” and “Uh-huh.” Many certainly brought their robust Romanist sensibilities and marveled at its perverse beauty. I presume many others had that standard “This is just one religion’s take on things” disposition, and/or the consideration that they are so intellectually cultured that they are above it all. I wonder, did anyone actually ponder the full meaning of what they were viewing?
Before delving into the delectable details, I should exposit a bit about the event. Taking up an entire floor of the museum were many works, mostly paintings, which emanated from the Catholic Church: either from the Church itself, by artists commissioned by the Church, or merely from devout Catholics doing art. Beyond the obvious fact that the art was showcased throughout the region to promote the missionary efforts of the church in Latin America from Columbus to the mid-19th century, much of it was sent to patrons in Europe for marketing purposes to convince them to continue funding the venture.
Some works are worth a mention:
Jesuit founder Ignatius Loyola shows up a few times. In one painting he is busy doing what he wants us all to believe the Jesuits are humbly best at: teaching. He presides over a number of children, all of them well-to-do dutiful Catholic trainees. The striking thing is that a long rod leans against the front of his body.
In another work Thomas Aquinas is sitting regally in a scholarly setting, and his foot is on the head of a prostrate Averroes. Also known as Ibn Rushd, the Islamic philosopher was vociferously critical of the Catholic Church. Interesting to see the fully raging Culture War so graphically depicted even way back then.
Another features two priests, I believe they were Dominicans, shown in a large painting with a background portrayal of their murders at the hands of Americans Indians. The men are prominently filling each side of the painting, standing piously but depicted with the still gaping, gushing wounds of their demise.
The one that blew me away was the depiction of a baby crucified. Not a painting, but a full sculpture. Here is the “Christ child,” hanging lifeless on a cross exactly like the crucifix’ adult figure with blood streaming from all wounds. Sure, the idea is that Christ was born to die, that’s a given. This is just repulsively demonic.
The murder cult was reflected in dozens of other such abominations, however magnificent the artistic pageantry: There was a gigantic altar of Mary with her clothed statue as a centerpiece, a tear on her cheek and a knife handle sticking from her chest. There was a twenty-foot high crucifix with the most ornate embellishments you could imagine. There was painting after painting of what amounted to apotheoses and the splendidly elaborate celebrations of each one—Disney could not have done as well.
The entire exhibit was one spectacular paean to the grandest institutionalized idolatry, by way of the dazzling marketing campaign of the duly authorized sin management enterprise that is the Agency of Cain.
As we drove from the museum, we got snarled in unusually heavy traffic going around the city. Listening to the radio I found that part of the reason was an anti-war demonstration being held downtown.
Just interesting to note that the fruit of Cain’s work is still being born. The promotion displayed back there on Wilshire; the pay-off measured here on Figueroa—give or take a few hundred years after the fact. Hey, it’s all good for Peter-Hans.
After arriving home I happened to flip on the PBS interview show Bill Moyers Journal. A re-airing of Friday evening’s show, this one featured revered index fund manager John Bogle, who, by the way, gave the commencement address to MBA grads at Georgetown this year. Moyers asked Bogle to specifically address the “financial crisis” in the world today.
“Look at how evil the financial exploiters out there are!” was the gist of the interaction. The only question was “What do you think about that?” and it was asked about a dozen times in a dozen different ways. The answer was always the same.
“Here’s how it is really bad—people being ripped off this way and that way, and the answer is to stop these people, mostly with more government regulation.”
The question that didn’t get asked was one the World inhabitant can never ask, simply because Cain’s minions are as much outside the presence of God and beyond His wisdom to understand as Cain was.
That question is, “So, why exactly is this happening?” Should this ever actually be broached, the pointless blab would be something along the lines of “Rich people are greedy,” or “The system is to blame.”
Nah. The answer is simpler.
People willingly ask them to do their business as they do it.
Bogle mentioned that upwards of $560 billion is siphoned from the financial stakeholding public by these fund managers. Um, ahem, (as I scratch my head here…) they did not quite sneak into so many homes and pilfer the contents of the wall safes.
A while ago I saw a commentary on PBS’s Nightly Business Report by a schnazzy-suit exec-type who spoke glowingly of private equity firms. Why should he have to say as much? It is obviously because many think these people are nefarious predators swindling average Joe Q. Public. The fact is Joe Q. Public without Christ will scheme just as much. To claim that his take is not in the billions of Joe Hedge Fund Manager doesn’t change the equation.
All are under condemnation of the law, both exploiters and exploitees. The $560 billion is merely the price of formalized sin management. It is quite expensive indeed, and a legitimate service for those who refuse to make God preeminent in their affairs, especially the commercial ones.
Thank goodness there is a Roman murder cult institution to reign them all in.
(Oh, there is another option, one in which people wouldn’t lie and cheat and flat-out insidiously mismanage wealth, but that would require something else. Or, excuse me, Someone else…)
I thought I’d go see a film (this day the wife and kids were out of town), and I arrived a bit early so I trekked over to the Ontario Mills mall where I ventured into the Virgin Records store there. You could probably say it is the modern-day version of the Latin American Arts exhibit.
I never go into stores like this except when I have these spare moments, but when I do I like to peek around at what’s new (just like we did with what’s old at LACMA earlier).
I happened upon a video playing on a small digital screen there in the middle of the store, some merchandise of some kind on the table around it. Here was some DJ of some kind, situated in a sort of saucer type area with neon-type lights all around it. In front of him were an array of buttons and knobs and levers, and all around this saucer area were a zillion people all bouncing and smiling and dancing.
It was clear that this DJ character was the center of attention, and my take was (correct me if I’m wrong, please) that this guy was “spinning” the music everyone was enjoying.
Now, bouncing and smiling and dancing and enjoying music is a fine thing, but my question was, to what extent did this DJ become an idol? Oh sure I could be overreacting— "Come on this is all just fun..." I got that. But still I thought, “Would these people be having as much fun if he wasn’t there?” What if they were just listening to the music, just, listening to it, just—there, pounding around them?
I don’t think so.
Ya gotta have the person.
Next door at the very postmodern Abercrombie and Fitch were pictures of people without a lick of A&F clothing on (waste or neck up, at least the shots here). Huh. Pictures of people without the clothing that you’re supposed to be selling to them—what’s with that…
The film I saw was Transformers in IMAX. Thought the gargantuan screen would make it more, more, you know, “Wow!” but it really didn’t. I’ll briefly mention it in a moment.
But first, after the film I stood there in the lobby of the Edwards movie theater multiplex, which, since we’re talking about it, didn’t look much different from the glittery narthex of the typical large Roman worship edifice. I watched the parishioners walk by, streaming from their respective sanctuaries, and I glanced down at the decorative floor mural right smack in the center of the lobby.
A gold-inlaid star with eight points was surrounded by white, within a circular band of an outer space field containing stars, planets, comets. Extending out on all sides to the walls of the lobby were eight more rays forming one great iconographic Annu signature.
I looked at this, then looked up at the numbed expressions on the people, and then thought about the movie I’d just seen. Transformers was really just comic book stuff, but while I actually like good comic book stuff, this was just plain vapid from start to finish (but with boffo special effects—yowie!). Are we at the point where people actually believe they are getting anything of value from these places, when they’re just having their intellectual and spiritual essence sucked dry?
Or, what am I saying—didn’t I just witness the extent to which this has been happening for hundreds of years, at least since the time of the summary colonization of Latin America by Rome and its fancy paintings?
So much more happened to augment the revelatory episode that was this day, but I can’t get it all in here. I must conclude with this final vignette—the irony is just too sweet.
I’m a big original Star Trek fan, and as I was winding down at home again I flipped the television back on and, hey, there was Star Trek. It wasn’t any old Star Trek, but it was the very first episode of the entire franchise ever broadcast, an affair titled “The Man Trap.”
Captain Kirk et al make a routine check-in on a scientist and his wife doing work on a distant planet, and we find that the wife appears differently to each of the crew members present. How about that, each person sees her the way she wants them to. I never thought about how much this particular story is a dead-on metaphor for the World. All the gods of the Catholicist Nation each putting on their best outfit and make-up to be sure their suitors dote after them.
Of course, the first crewman is led into the wilderness by the wife, who of course looks to him like his own personal babe, and later his dead body is found with vital minerals extracted through his skin. Turns out after about 46 minutes of television drama, they all finally discover that the wife is not really the wife. It is a hideous beast that not only changes appearance to disguise itself but must feed from salt and is out to drain it from the ship’s crewmembers.
It is just too ironic.
This was, like, the fifth time I'd seen this (hey, come on, three of those times were when I was 14), and for the first time I got it: as I watched the creature steady itself for a sodium feast courtesy of a screaming Kirk—there it was…
The World operative at work.
Sucking the very life from those under the power of its attraction.
It’s all there in the LACMA exhibit, and in every World church. It’s all there in Bill Moyers' Journal, and in every secular media journalistic endeavor. It’s all there in the pounding pounding pounding Virgin Records shop, and in every idol with flesh who sings that siren song. It sounds a lot like this:
“Come to me, all you who are good and wholesome, and I will give you pleasure. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am bold and sturdy in heart, and you will find gratification of your desires. For my yoke is comfortable and my burden is compelling.”
What she's really singing is this:
“Come to me, all you who are brash and boastful, and I will give you anguish. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am exacting and proud in heart, and you will find indulgence of your obsessions. For my yoke is onerous and my burden is severe.”
That World operative.
Man, she can really look like someone else.
And she can really suck.
We get Reader’s Digest, a gift subscription from my mother-in-law, and I leaf through it every once in a while. A recent issue had a thumbnail Denzel Washington in the corner of the cover and something caught my attention: “The one thing he’d change.”
I flipped around inside to see what that one thing was. I was curious, what is that one thing not-good that Denzel says needs to be good?... Turned out this was it: “I’d ask to change more than one thing! There are consequences for everything. What’s the domino effect? Start with slavery.”
I’m pretty sure he meant the prominently black enslavement that wove through the mid-millennium eventuating rotten things like inner city decay and despair. But I wonder, would he be as willing to say something about the slavery that still destroys people in droves, one worse than the typically considered slavery?
Two Sundays ago the Opus comic strip was a perfect picture of the Catholicist Nation. It is here if you wish to be edified. While a cartoonist drawing bow-tied flightless water fowl may not be as glamorous as an Oscar-winning actor, he still deftly elucidates the nature of that slavery. It is none other than institutional insincerity, as Berke Breathed called it. For those of you who don’t get that, he also referred to it as something a bit simpler.
To get a visceral feel for what that doo-doo is, you could have flipped on your local PBS television station on a weekday evening this past November and watched Nova's "Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial," a two-hour special addressing the controversy of whether or not schools should teach alternative views to evolution in science classes. The title of the show was certainly a play on Darwinism debunker Phillip Johnson’s ground-breaking work Darwin on Trial.
“Ground zero” was Dover, PA, where a culture war skirmish grew into a raging battle. The program detailed the Dover story and tried to be detached and unbiased in sharing both sides.
Still, it couldn’t help but show its hand. In the end it was the same old institutionally-sanctioned pap: Evolution is what all of us smart enlightened people grounded in reality know is true, while any thought that some “intelligent designer” had a hand in putting things together is the fanciful belief of the uneducated religious folks.
As I lay out this critique here I must offer a disclaimer. I will not get into all the arguments or ramifications of the evolution debate, there isn’t room here. I do wish to share a bit of the silliness that came across the airwaves that night. Things were revealed in the Dover proceedings that stretch credibility—it is amazing how even the most hard-core Darwinist could think they’ve got the goods. The holes in their logic were so big an ocean liner could rocket through them. Momentarily we'll we take a tour down a few infrequently traveled historical paths, and you'll see how this is.
First, if I may, a bit from the television program.
It was pointed out that apes have 24 chromosomes and humans 23. The Darwinist position: If we can find that humans once had 24, then evolution is proved. Through some amount of investigation, it was discovered—Voila! Chromosome #2 was once two and is indeed now fused. Thuh end.
Problem: What exactly does that prove? Many will cite that we have in common with primates something like 99 percent of our DNA make-up. Again, does this prove apes led to humans? That we share so much should not be so surprising—we both have two eyes, two ears, four limbs, and so forth. Why wouldn’t the coding be similar for those things? The key is in the one percent that is different and how that is arranged. An even better question is why were those two chromosomes fused and for what purpose? This was never addressed.
Michael Behe testified at the Dover hearings, elaborating on the principles he put forth in his book Darwin’s Black Box. He found that irreducible complexity demonstrates that changes over time could not have happened by pure chance. The classic example is the bacterial flagellum, which is the flailing appendage that transports the organism. This organ operates because of a finely tuned motor and a number of different parts that must work together at the same time for it to function.
Aside from illustrating the Dover proceedings, the Nova episode itself tried to discredit Behe’s claim by presenting a scientist to explain that another bacterium has a similar organ with only a few of those parts, and this particular organ injects poison. Conclusion: you can have an organ function that is almost identical to the flagellum without all the parts.
Um, is the profound inanity of this argument not obvious? The plain fact is that these two organs—the flagellum and the poison injector—have completely different functions. Their elaborate sketch of the poison injector feature proves absolutely nothing—it is just like saying a coin is metal just like a carburetor, without all the parts!
The very real actual factual fact is that the flagellum for transportation still would not work without all the parts. I have to add here that the whole point of irreducible complexity is that such designs in place and fully operating must mean some intelligence outside of man’s had to have constructed them, and done so in a very short span of time. By fundamental scientific inference this completely discredits Darwinism.
What makes this all even goofier is the judge who ruled against teaching intelligent design in Dover’s biology classes said these words: “Intelligent design is not science.”
The next question: How did he come to this conclusion, when that statement itself is not scientifically verifiable?
The truth is that it is a religious assertion because it comes from the premise that God did not act as the intelligent design evidence says He did. Cornelius G. Hunter, author of Science's Blindspot, calls this position, “Theological Naturalism.” In other words, these people are all proudly proclaiming the very religious doctrine “Something Not-God made things happen.”
It is one thing to highlight the folly of Darwinist theology, it is wholly another to look closely at where those ideas came from. At this point many Christians, whether old-earth or young-earth, would join in a chorus of “Yay-hey-yeah! We got you stupid evolutionist guys!”
Looking at naturalism's deep roots and identifying why precisely so many hold to such beliefs goes a long way to liberating oneself from the slavery of condemnation, a condition that only produces “institutional insincerity.” Sadly many take great pleasure from attacking these people and driving them further into their intellectually decrepit inner city. Those who authentically know the One Who is Freedom seek the joy of engaging people who may be reconciled with Him Who is also Truth, who themselves also honor the viscerally compelling practice of discovery.
That doesn’t take much, really. The Darwinist world view has actually been around for millennia.
Few who’ve taken the most basic college science classes do not know about Titus Lucretius Carus, an ancient Roman writer who among other things popularized the idea of atomism, the proposition that the only ultimate reality lies in the contents of the smallest particles of matter. In some ways it is the most pronounced bridge between the physical and metaphysical, but in practical terms it makes perfect sense as a rationale for Darwinism. All the life things around us must have come to be merely because of something in the bits that make up those life things.
It is the bits that are important, not God. In fact, Lucretius lived in a time of rampant henotheism—much like our time, really—where each nation or community had its own personal god or gods that best represented its idiosyncratic characteristics. The pantheon was merely the preeminent civil religion’s categorizing of the lot.
Lucretius put all of his thinking into the materialist epic De rerum natura and argued a number of things: All those gods and their elaborate stories merely comprise fairy tales concocted to frighten, and nothing more. Once an individual accepts this fact, he will be more inclined to live the good life without those fears. To keep his position in high society, however, he emphasized that one is more than welcome to hold his beliefs as long as he ultimately acknowledges the gods’ meaninglessness and holds a solemn commitment to that good life (the premise of Epicureanism). In other words, if your fantasies give you pleasure, who is anyone to say anything about them? Just don't go around being narrow-mindedly delusional by saying there is any truthfulness about them.
To get a close-up view of this at work today, listen to what the highest ranking Americanist Agents of Cain say about their religious beliefs. Every single one of the current candidates for U.S. president says something like this: “I have my own particular faith, yes, but it will never affect my political behavior.” Even devout Mormon Mitt Romney and devout evangelical Mike Huckabee spout some version of this Epicurean creed. Those shopping for a new lord over their affairs think deeply about their sincerity, for after all, nothing has any meaning anyway, really, outside that sincerity, and, really... Um...
Still, though, where did Lucretius' ideas come from? For that matter, where did the whole row of dominoes start?
The Bible tells us the answer in the fourth chapter of Genesis. Because he was so intimately knowledgeable of the murderers he must prosecute, Cain was sent out to be the World’s first governor, and was completely exiled from God and His domain. This meant that for Cain and his followers, God has no meaning in reality at all. To them He doesn’t exist, can’t possibly exist, and any thoughts about Him must be mere brain waves sputtering about in grey matter.
To facilitate his duty of managing the sin of the World’s inhabitants, Cain then built a city, and in doing so erected two critical institutions to ensure his success: a large and quite strident network of media, and an educational system devoted to marketing the glories of man even amongst grand ecclesiastical pronouncements about God. Both are loud and clear about the one dutiful Catholicists are to pay attention to, someone the aforementioned Phillip Johnson called "The Grand Sez Who."
Talk about institutional insincerity.
One may find the Agency of Cain’s history of spreading Lucretius' gospel quite rich if one chooses to look. The celebrated Roman mythologist Virgil spoke most highly of Lucretius—apparently Epicureanism was found to be a useful tool to maintain order throughout the empire. In the Renaissance, Catholic priest Pierre Gassendi gave humanism a robust platform by cataloging all of Lucretius’ work for formal introduction to the modern world.
Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin made quite a name for himself by helping to unearth an important evolutionary missing link, the Peking Man. To add extraordinary repute to his name, the Vatican roundly censured him, giving him the impetus to contrive a whole spirituality around Darwinist thought.
The domino effect carries into the future.
Recently David Levy wrote a book called Love and Sex with Robots in which he makes the quite striking claim that by the year 2050, people will be regularly having amorous relationships with robots. Sure this has been the stuff of science fiction for eons, but Levy makes a detailed case for the arresting reality of such a world.
If you think about it—and this rumination just isn’t that strenuous—it makes perfect sense. The current film Lars and the Real Girl is a charming tale about a pleasant but socially awkward man who, fearful of relationships, makes a blow-up sex doll the object of his completely Platonic affections.
Now, take the same doll, stick a gazillion gig processor in its rubber cranium, add state-of-the-art voice-activation and—zowie, you’ve got a real companion. Every possible response synthesized in some coherent manner, wired so it isn’t completely predictable, so it can initiate some actions, and there you go: Gleeful interaction with—ahem—a person who can make delicious apple-cranberry muffins while at the same time opining about the geopolitical impact of the Berlin airlift. Of course the more libidinous patrons will cherish other, shall we say, functions.
Those who aren’t completely intractable materialists may see the one tiny flaw in the value of android conviviality, and it isn’t even the HAL 9000 unpredictably murderous malfunction issue.
It is merely that such a “person” is still programmed to do what a man has programmed it to do.
It has no free will expression of love one way or the other.
No matter how much of that specific programming is jammed into it, it still isn’t a human person individual who can give and receive love. This is not the place to get into free will vs. determinism issue (another several volumes for that!) The point is that it is one thing that makes an individual fully human and not a robot. Humans and robots may share the same kind of arms legs eyes ears and even brains. The only thing humans may have that robots cannot is
Many theologians have posited that God is pure subject while all others are mere objects. God exists outside, beyond, and irrespective of any other, but chooses to allow others to relate to Him. We are all objects to one another, only able to fully thrive by God and with one another. What makes us human is that we can associate with God, if we so desire—to vibrantly, joyfully, even rapturously connect with the One Subject, with the I Am.
To convince us otherwise, the World's movie producers splash us with boffo images and sounds of its robots, and its college professors dunk us with turgid stories about them they say are the most real. Non-meaning is meaning, and robots have hearts. Rachael sure looks like she's real, she sure acts like she is.
Fine. The capacity to consider what is truly make-believe and what isn't, though, must have originated from an Original Originator at some original point. They can say it is all the work of some smart alien zipping around the galaxy populating planets, that it is the heretofore undiscovered great invisible pink unicorn, that this is just one in an infinite number of universes so the odds are good there'd be one with the complexities of life we have, or even that it's all the work of tiny atoms industriously finding their way together to form gazelles and spleens and Pat Sajak.
Gather the plain evidence and you'd see the answer.
That Originator is God.
Thing is, the devout follower of Cain simply cannot see that evidence. He must then live in a world of very elaborate make-believe. The Institution pays the best Darwinists very well to make up the most truthful looking scientifically verifiable fairy tales.
At the Dover PA court hearing, widely sought-after Darwinism expert Kenneth Miller took the stand to address the most commonly cited example of irreducible complexity, the mousetrap. Like the bacterium’s flagellum, it cannot work without all its parts simultaneously operating. Miller proceeded to take a mousetrap, remove two or three of the parts and demonstrate how the new contraption would be useful as a tie clip, “if an inelegant one” he added.
Very nice. Problem though: It still cannot catch mice!
Miller’s absurd exhibition is actually an insightful metaphor for the human condition, as harrowing as it is. How many people are nothing more than robots, simply because they've vowed to serve Cain and worship in his temples. Thoroughly outside the presence of God they are missing the part that imbues them with any meaningful essence.
In Eden we threw that part away, and began inventing clever deceits to make it appear it's all there. Oh, the wreckage that has been wrought since—the folly that has kindled it right there in plain view at the Dover hearings.
This could all conclude with the most abject resignation, but amazingly, right there out of nowhere is the one verse that reflects the hope for the human-would-be-robot. At the very end of that chapter, chapter four of Genesis, the one that summarily describes the establishment of the ruthless World System—after 26½ verses of harsh truth there it is. Verse 26b, by His mercy occurring not long at all after we first relegated God to mindless atoms.
“At that time men began to call on the name of the Lord.”
Who is the one you’ve called on? The One who died Himself to see that you’d live as a full human restored in His image? Or the one who vainly insists half-a-mousetrap represents fashionable accessorizing?
It is ironic, really.
Lucretius thought pronouncing the truth of Not-God would rid the world of fear. Modern-day Darwinists are just as zealous in this righteous cause.
Turns out, by definition, if the Not-God principle were true
All you’d have is fear.
A world outside of the presence of God?
Cain knew. Look there at how he felt, look at what he said. There in the fourth chapter of Genesis—it is quite clear.
It is hell.
Like Cain, the Darwinists are also terrified, and they know the only way they can have any pretense of meaning is to lie about it all.
Wholesale bulldoo-doo is hell too.
An old Roman maxim goes like this, Tam Marte quam Mercurio, which literally means “as much by Mars (the god of war) as by Mercury (the god of commerce).” However much the power brokers of the World do business, they do the brutal work of warfare more. Sun-Tzu was all over that, assembling a comprehensive guidebook for the most proficient bellicosity. The essence of this activity is the character of Mercury, for he not only holds the mantle of messenger but also divine protector of thieves.
What is the weapon the thief uses the most? It is none other than deceit, and when properly employed no one can perceive what he is doing. How could you, you are being deceived!
This was played out in grand fashion recently when Jerome Kerviel, a middling broker of one of Europe’s most renowned banks, Societe Generale, lost $7 billion in reckless trading activity. I’d venture to guess that most people scratch their heads wondering how exactly $7 billion can just be “lost.” They are much like the gentleman asking the question of an MSNBC pundit about the housing market:
The sad fact is that many who are not well-versed on how such a sum can “vanish” are generally those who refuse to pay any attention to the simplest facets of life, all of which are laid out rather plainly in the Bible. Oh. Right, forgot, the Bible, that’s just a book of one of those intolerant religions. What does that have to say about these weighty matters of high commerce and grand larceny?
To find out it is sometimes best to look closely at what those sworn World power brokers are saying contrasted to what they are doing. It was quite typical, and certainly expected, for everyone who knows anything about financial affairs to question what kind of leadership allowed a relative office drone like Kerviel to make $7 billion disappear. Societe Generale chairman Daniel Bouton, who has at least feigned some contrition throughout the mess, said, “The transactions that were built on the fraud were simple, positions linked to rising stock markets, but they were hidden through extremely sophisticated and varied techniques.”
Extremely sophisticated and varied techniques?
While indeed a bit complicated, it pretty much amounted to a gambling binge with eye-popping sums. Kerviel essentially guessed about what would happen with any number of investment instruments, made specious attempts to hedge those bets, and used more and more bank capital to cover his tracks. His rationale, in so many words: "As long as I'd get more for the bank no matter how much I spent, I thought it'd be okay."
That’s it. As Bouton himself said, it was “simple”:
Somebody guessed poorly and then lied about it.
But the question remains,
What was being guessed about? There’s still $7 billion “missing”!
The amount wasn’t some gigantic wad of cash flowing out of Societe Generale’s vaults. It was tallies on a sheet of paper. Oh, wait, sorry, that’s what they did a long time ago—today it is electronic entries in a database. What those entries mean goes a long way to understanding who an individual worships in the depths of his heart. They could be one of two things.
One, they could indeed represent someone’s actual value, the very meaning of their personhood and the manifestation of their productive capacity. If you have a dollar, that means you’ve done a dollar’s worth of something valued.
Two, they could be the lie about someone’s value, existing only in the words of a World power broker and believed by enough people that the words are themselves turned into dollar figures.
While each person desires to have his real productive essence sustained in some way, it is quite possible to have it increase. This increase is nothing bad in and of itself, because an individual and his work are not static but dynamic. His interactions with others actually augment that value because the use of talents in community exponentially amplifies the value of what people can do.
Capital movement is a fine thing. When true God-given value is accurately assessed and individuals genuinely respected, it is a wonderful thing. The trick is (oh there’s Mercury again, sly devil) when people guess at what that value is going to be, and proceed to ferociously wrestle for claims on that value however real or imaginary. Often they bet the farm on their guesses and can't figure why they are off by miles. Yet they still go back for more, to get more—to get more from... where?
World operatives can't get enough of this, really nothing but an endless Bacchanalian orgy in Vegas. The World has so many priests of Mercury rabidly drawing millions to worship at his altar that they have erected massive institutions to glorify wild conjecture. Wall Street is just as much the religiously hypnotic multiplex as the Roman Catholic Church, and as such it markets its product with the same kinds of sophisticated claims about how wholesome and legal it all is. After all, the FBI currently has no fewer than 14 criminal investigations of lenders in this country—that has to be good!
What is fascinating is that you could see this operation plainly laid out at one of those rare and revealing events where all parts of the World Iron Triangle—Catholic Church, federal government, banking and finance network—came together at a sort of nexus of vital dissemination on Mercury’s modus operandi.
On May 18th 2007, John Bogle gave the commencement address to graduating MBA students at Georgetown University. One the world’s most renowned finance brokers, he spoke about one of the most insidiously horrific practices I’d ever come to know. He not only referred to it specifically by the term I share with you now, but he elaborated on its function in the affairs of World administration.
That practice is value extraction.
The idea is that when a bank, finance company, investment firm, or even a Jerome Kerviel is asked to manage money by the World, they can’t help but extract value from the individual requesting the service. Money, really, is nothing more than the representation of someone’s value, and when a financial officer takes his cut he is doing nothing other than slicing off a good piece of the customer’s value.
When it is done the World’s way—and I presume Bogle and all World power brokers know only of the World’s way—then it amounts to nothing less than human sacrifice.
Isn’t this what Aztec chieftains did to hapless prisoners-of-war back in the day, up there at the top of the pagan temple, yanking out that heart and offering it to some deity with a name having too many x’s and z’s? Isn’t that something a civilized society reviles, and properly so?
Ah, you have not then heard about a particularly gruesome form of contemporary human sacrifice, rather novel actually, something called collateralized debt obligations. Getting a bit of attention because of the housing crisis, a recent AP story referred to them as “complex financial instruments that combine various forms of debt.”
Nah. Wall Street has merely realized that it can package people’s massive debt, turn it into bonds, and sell them. Hey, let’s be serious, why futz around with the heavy aggravation of mortgages? The guys in the Armani suits today are value extraction pros. If people have value fearfully wrapped up in their debt, let’s just carve it up and throw the slabs to salivating speculators. To keep all of this in-line, all of this "on the level," they're now utilizing the benefits of advanced information technology to signal any "improprieties." Watch out, Jerome Kerviel, they're now really cracking down on this monkey business!
In fact why even bother with the latest and most fashionable value extraction. Just look at how it’s happened for millennia, prominently exhibited in one simple statistic:
The inflation rate.
Right now about 3% of everyone’s value is being chopped off by the exploiter’s wieldy meat cleaver, and even though most yawn, they keep putting parts of themselves there on the block. Ever look at the fluctuations in the interest rate? (I know of very few people who don’t.) That’s merely the plain evidence of the rapt attention directed at this phenomenon.
All of this exposes the truth about what is truly valuable.
Is it gold? (“Shiny yellow rocks—now there’s security.”)
Is it currency? (“Our green slips of paper are better than your green slips of paper!”)
Is it land, real estate? ("Look out for the bubble! Buy? Sell? Aaagh!")
Is it stocks and bonds? (“Damn those 3rd quarter earnings weren’t what we thought…”)
Is it a tax bracket? ("I'm in real good with Caesar. Really, we're like this.")
Is it electronic blips in a machine? ("No one can touch it now that it's in the database!")
These things only nebulously represent that which is truly valuable, indeed the only thing on earth that has any intrinsic value at all:
The human soul in God’s eyes.
One can assess the value of that item from one of only two lenses: God’s or man’s—from the vantage point of the Kingdom or the World.
If you assess value from the World, you’ll experience all sorts of risk management witch doctors hacking out pulsating chunks of the soul from flailing exploitees and lifting them up to the gods that will gratify them the most. If that’s too unpleasant, don’t worry, there are a variety of human sacrifices for you to do and many gods to appease.
To assess value from the Kingdom’s perspective, however, requires something quite simple actually, but something entrenched World inhabitants tend to reject with great revulsion.
It requires sacrificing oneself.
What is amazing is that God knew that this in and of itself would be terribly difficult for anyone to do, and that is the very thing that makes it so simple.
He did the sacrifice Himself.
And because He did it Himself, we can then effortlessly give up our own need for human sacrifice and give of ourselves from the love we have for others, sowing what we can do exceptionally well in community to see all are abundantly fed and cared for. This is basic gospel stuff, as extraordinarily profound as it is.
What many don’t get is that quite a few of those who know this—those who are at least a bit acquainted with this Christ fellow and may even understand that compared to Christ’s shed blood, $7 billion of anything is a pittance—they desecrate that beautiful value consideration by signing contracts with a World System that wholly indulges the very human sacrifice that is completely apart from God and outside His Kingdom.
As a church, do you have a 501c3 contract? You are in the same league with the value extractors. Do you gird an incorporated business entity with federal demands for W-4 obligations? You are on the cutting edge of human sacrifice. Fiercely clutching your Social Security guaranty? You are engaged in the razor-sharp slicing up of someone somewhere.
Some of the most pitiful exploiter trainees are new homeowners heard saying things like, “We knew we couldn’t afford the house, but got an adjustable rate mortgage thinking we could pay it off when the value of the house went up.” There ya go, that’s it, that’s the way to work it, that’s the way to get a piece of someone’s value.
No matter how innocent and victimized they sound, if they refuse to assess value by Christ they will be subject to the World’s value extractors, who’ll do it with seven times more force than they ever could.
Jesus’ conception is one of value enhancement, for you may always take what God has given you and increase it for the benefit of all around. You’d even want to do that because it is so damn fun, and the increase will be seventy times seven.
Jesus said that, by the way. The seventy-times-seven thing. Yes, I know this was about forgiveness, but that is the vital component of the increase. Don’t you think Jesus knows what you want? (Matthew 7:7-11) Food? (Matthew 14:13-21) Clothes? (Matthew 6:25-34) Family and friends? (Mark 10:29-31) Purpose? (Romans 12:6-13) Community? (1 Corinthians 12:12-27) Even a beautiful mansion (John 14:1-3) in a glorious city?! (Hebrews 11:10,16)
Jesus spoke of this value thing quite often. In fact, the most important economic treatise of history is in the 25th chapter of the book of Matthew, verses 14 to 30. Read it. Soak your soul in it. Pound every word of it into every brain particle you have. (Since it so significant, you may get right to it here.)
I’d mentioned earlier that one’s value is dynamic, it is always changing with the possibility of bringing great increase. But this should be qualified.
It is really not as much that our productive capacity is dynamic, but that so many see it as static and they do this to the degree that they don’t see it the way God does. The talents in Jesus’ parable are a form of money, meaning they are a measure of the investors' values. The increase is boldly manifest when a community is authentically serving God. When they serve Mercury it remains stagnant, and his priests maniacally tug and pull at it—“On sale now! Low low interest rates! Get your money now! What a deal! Come on!...”
What’s the limit of what you can do by serving God?
You mean there’s a limit?
With His presence, power, and passion coursing through you, He said you’d move mountains.
And even then.
Couldn’t we do even more than that? Could we actually love one another in community, using our bountiful talents to make it vibrantly flourish, all the while rapturously worshipping the One who gives it all to us to begin with?
It should be added that a slight ancillary benefit is disabling Mercury's main weapon. Yes, that's right. Very sweet. You are fully on to him and what his officers are doing.
The value extractors, though. They like it when we’re happy stacking mud pies.
How do they rake in the millions from such efforts, then? How is that possible?
It is sad, actually, if not downright frightening.
There are just so many people who are doing it.
"As long as the bosses pretend they are paying us a decent wage, we will pretend that we are working."
- Soviet workers' saying from the 1970's
"...You were led astray to the dumb idols, however you were led."
- I Corinthians 12:2
The racetrack tout has a job to do. His sworn duty (that means it probably involves lots of swearing) is to convince as many people as he can what he thinks about any given racehorse’s chances to win. He may spread the word about a horse he feels is a sure thing, and when others bet and win they’ll reward him.
He may also plan to bet on a horse but to move the odds a bit more in his favor, he’ll tell as many as he can what a terrible horse it is. If he is successful, people refuse to bet on the horse, the odds get longer, and when the horse wins (surprise!) the tout gets a nice payout.
In the most basic sense the tout manipulates the perception of value, and to make it meaningful he’s got to do this with as many as he can. While he may sincerely help people know what’s true, he may also shift their attention in a way that benefits him at others’ expense. Sometimes he may even do that through, shall we say, less than honest means.
Yes, mm-hmm, he may lie.
The individuals who get the nice payouts at the betting window these days are the fund managers in the world of high finance. One of the most controversial of their investment vehicles is hedge funds, raising concerns in large part because of the way they work, the challenge to understand how they work, and the large compensations that go to those managers.
In 2007 John Paulson was the king of hedge fund managers, earning a paycheck of $3.7 billion. His job was to take capital from extremely rich clients and do that magic he does so well—make them more money. Theoretically any fund manager’s job is to move capital around—seems wholesome enough. Find worthwhile investment opportunities, lay that cash down and watch it turn those opportunities into something better. The fund customarily takes its cut.
The truth is that this is not quite the way it happens. Fund managers are nothing but racetrack touts with nuclear capability. They have operations that utilize sophisticated information technology and employ the services of dozens of financial whizzes to look for anomalies in value assessments around the globe. Whenever they see one, they jump on it and make a claim to it.
It may be helpful to elaborate on some of the more basic techniques of fund management, such as the spurious practice of short selling, but the essence of this piece is not to detail the Rube Goldberg contraptions hammered together by Wall Street. It is only to pull back the drapes a bit in order to highlight the contrast between the way the World looks at value and the way the Kingdom does. Don’t know the difference? Stay tuned.
Some will jump in and point out that John Paulson had just as much of a chance to lose than to win. Not really. With super-advanced computer programs humming away, gobs of rich people’s cash splashing about, and the mega powerful in Washington toadying along, it ain’t gonna happen. What do you think the John Paulsons and their genius financial wunderkinds are doing at their jobs? Swiveling in their office chairs throwing pencils on the ceiling?
They’re fully aware that their knowledge of investment instruments is better than anyone else’s, and they ruthlessly exploit that difference.
This actually arises from a very typical economic condition known as asymmetry of information. It is quite a problem for some, most notably when it comes to how much the owners of a given firm know and what its managers know. It is troublesome for any common person, for you yourself may be taken in the market simply because another individual knows you don’t know any better.
Many pipe in, “So what? Losers weepers, finders keepers.”
Ah yes, one of the great lifestyle principles of the age. Indeed, hedge fund operations are really nothing other than huge institutionalized losers weepers ventures. They are experts at using asymmetry of information to their advantage.
You must note that I have nothing to say about John Paulson one way or the other. Some may easily revile him or any of the other fund managers and corporate executives who make their billions. What few understand is no matter how repulsed they say they are by it, people ask them to do this work for them. These are not just the funds' clients but all people whose god is Mammon.
It is indeed a very twisted codependent relationship based on the principles of value extraction, or what truly amounts to nothing other than human sacrifice. Its ugliness is not so much in the asymmetry of information, but rather the asymmetry of value assessment.
It is simple. People just don’t have the faintest idea how to value things, and must enlist the services of experts to do it for them. Shylock has always been famous for demanding his pound of flesh, but today’s skilled value extractors not only ask for pounds and pounds of the human soul, but do so with the quarry handing it to them on a silver platter. Since it is now a thriving industry—$2 trillion now in hedge funds by some estimates—the commodity is trucked in by the ton.
When people get really nervous about typical fluctuations in those assessments ("It's a complete meltdown!"), you’ll hear loud cries for more regulation. That’s it! Better laws, tighter rules, heavier oversight, stricter enforcement, gobs more of all that.
World inhabitants can be quite foolish.
First, it is impossible to have a law against asymmetry of information. How can you know what those who know more than you before you know it? Caesar’s minions put on a good show, though, to keep us believing they do know. The photograph here from the front page of the April 4 New York Times features the top financial industry federal regulators testifying before a scolding Congress. It is really just a promotional print showing our gallant value enforcers bravely tolerating "the American people want to know" umpteen times.
That’s Timothy Geithner there at the forefront, by the way, starring as president of the New York Federal Reserve. “Bravo, Master Tim, fabulous performance! How you shook your head so despondently, your exquisite exasperation—the inner turmoil that exuded from your pores, it looked so, so authentic. Marvelous, just marvelous!”
Second, the highest powers-that-be aggressively avoid enacting into law any such measures that would accurately assess the value of things. Come again? —You mean when it comes right down to it they can’t really peg what's valuable? How they do that (or can’t do that, as it is) can be found in what they say about value itself.
Let’s start with the Federal Reserve Board, the very institution charged with managing the value of the nation’s currency. Its chairman, Ben Bernanke (the bald and bearded gentleman there in the Times photograph) has expressly declared that part of its mission is to make sure that there is always at least some inflation. Huh? The explanation is to mitigate the shock of deflation—wouldn’t want people to know they’re worthless too quickly now.
The truth here is that the Fed does human sacrifice as a matter of institutionalized practice, and anxious constituents like it (“Gotta have my house, my car, my retirement—show me the money!”)
What does the law say about this? In and around a gazillion arcane regulations (with more to come!), federal statute holds that the Fed can use anything it wants as collateral, which means anything of yours the Fed says has value is what they’ll confiscate for the use of their fiat money. That collateral is almost always your future productive capacity, reflected by the part of your income paid them in interest and the reason they’re so obsessed with “stimulating” the economy. President Bush is even helping out this month by sending all taxpayers a nice beefy $600 check, money he so graciously borrowed from, you got it, Ben Bernanke.
To the courts, where cases are frequently heard about whether or not a company is gypping the government in paying its taxes. In these instances the economic substance doctrine is applied, which says that a firm may only write off losses if they result from some actual value shortfall. Most large firms have a peculiar habit of trying real hard to pretend they’re invisible when they prosper (“Sorry, Sam, but we have no idea why you’d think we sell anything except to a few people there in the Cayman Islands”), and they have a penchant for fibbing a bit about their losses in order to keep their tax breaks ("...And if you ever thought we ever did sell anything, we really suck at it, really, we do, way more than you think.")
The problem is that there is nothing legally binding about what precisely that value is. Any suggestion to put "economic substance" on paper is rejected because, in the words of Harvard professor Bernard Wolfman, “Codifying it into law will cause us to look to the words and letters, rather than underlying spirit. Tax lawyers have no limits in their imaginations, and once there’s a rigid statement of it, people will seek to get around it, and there will be an ‘it’ to get around.”
Then there is the Securities and Exchange Commission—ahh, that bastion of Draconian constraint against the unbridled powers of the perfidious fancy-suited—mmm—big shots, yeah. The chairman of that agency, by the way, is Christopher Cox, there in the photo next to Mr. Bernanke. I believe the number he sang was Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “We’re In Charge, Really, We Are.”
In light of the dubious bailouts for those on the losing end at the investment blackjack tables, so much stress was put on trying to identify marketable assets that the SEC officially proclaimed, “Only when actual market prices, or relevant observable inputs, are not available is it appropriate for you to use unobservable inputs.”
The feds and the firms, dueling dissembling, their guts splayed all over the casino floor. Of course the funds and their fawns are right there to gorge on it all. (“I don’t care if it is something for nothing, I’m retiring on that, dammit!”)
An important thing to note in all of this is that this silliness is not new. It has indeed been going on for millennia. Powerful people shift around value assessments to suit their desires, counting on everyone to follow right along when they obediently listen to what’s uttered through the World’s megaphone. Some do profess a bit of bewilderment when the value assessments don’t jibe. Joseph Stiglitz, none other than Columbia professor and former chief economist at the World Bank, had this choice remark: “We really don’t know much about the values assigned to the collateral, and what the risks are.”
This inspires the value extracting touts to turn up the volume on their hypnotically seductive tales. “You really want your money on this horse,” they say with such riveting authority. You bite and they chomp. Oppenheimer analyst Meredith Whitney observed, “A company is only as solvent as the perception of its solvency.”
Newsweek’s premier economics analyst, Robert Samuelson, wrote, “Market sentiment—what sends prices up or down—is heavily shaped by the financial populists operating through the business channels, Internet-distributed commentaries and print press. There is a vast echo chamber in which if something is repeated often enough, it becomes its own reality.”
It becomes its own reality.
There are definitely two different value assessments that exist, the perceived one and the actual one. Most believe these are always the same, at least in the long run. With information technology the way it is today and the soft underbelly of the economy being exposed to the blazing sun, some are questioning that assumption, and asking a quite pointed question.
What is the reality of value?
Some elucidation may help from a few who saw all of this happen quite some time ago.
One such perceptive individual was Ezekiel. He described those who deftly performed financial human sacrifice as wolves. These animals characteristically single out the weakest in the herd and, after attacking, sever the Achilles tendon so the prey must lie there to be slowly devoured. It'll probably twist around a bit trying to get to its feet, that's certainly part of the fun. But, really, it is quite dead. The barely hobbling dead—that's the value extractee all right. To get the full picture, read about it in his book from the Bible, chapter 22. There’s a part there as well about the brazen complicity of the government. Not much has changed in three thousand years.
Another perceptive one was Job, who was the object of the most renowned short sell there ever was. The fund manager was Satan. He went to God and said, essentially, “I think this guy’s value is going down. I wanna bet on that.”
God said, “You’re on.”
Satan sure looked like he was going to make a mint during the first leg of that horserace. How did Job end up winning? After he lost what seemed like everything, he kept his trust in The Faithful One. He still desired God and His provision of all good things, spiritual and material. The key was that Job made what he valued the very things that God valued.
And we can’t overlook what the most perceptive Person of all said. Jesus had many things to say about value, but two of the most intriguing are in chapter 17 of the book of Luke. The first is, “The Kingdom of God does not come through careful observation.” If you’re valuing things the way the World tells you, you won’t have a clue about the Place where the real valuable things are. No matter how hard you look, fughedaboudit, you’re not gonna see it.
The second is a bit more cryptic, a statement that just sort of comes out of nowhere, there at the end of the whole chapter. “Where the dead body is, there the vultures will gather.” Isn’t there some deprecating title given to the value extractors who don’t do a very good job of hiding their intentions—what is it? That's it, vultures.
They're looking for dead people. Hey, that’s fine if you’re into that. Some people like being dead, fearfully trudging through life, letting the John Paulsons and Ben Bernankes feast on their souls. You’d even find a whole horde of them at one recent event, an exhibition in Italy showcasing the exhumed body of the highly revered Padre Pio. The Catholic faithful came by the thousands to worship him—well, what was once him, something that featured a spiffy new silicon facial with a near-perfect likeness including full beard and bushy eyebrows.
Only by the One Who Gives Life can you be alive, and it is then you’ll be immersed in the rich perspective of genuine value assessment. The way to enjoy this kind of rapture is not by raging and rebelling, sneering at your own chosen priests, effectively facilitating the value extraction process—just as much blood is spilt in the Culture War.
It is to get out of this body of death all together.
This home page exposition and the entire Catholicist Nation webzine speak of how awful that is, but does so with no intention of changing it whatsoever—
Human sacrifice is what the World does.
I only share it to extend the same invitation Jesus did. For those who accept His offer, they will see that the purest love is the basis for His value assessment. By Him they know actual value.
While the World grinds along by the law of “Loser weepers,” those in the Kingdom thrive in the grace of “I was once a loser of the worst kind, and yet God embraced me. I have found the best thing and now I can fully love others with His love.” Because they now so accurately see with His eyes, He liberally gives the Kingdom to them—and they may eagerly share that bounty with others.
Many look at all of this and shrug. So what. None of this God stuff means much. Completely outside of the Kingdom they will continue to be slammed against the walls of the World no matter how much the Echo Chamber’s value blabbings convince them things are fine. They may even be the ones in the really nice suits who do the slamming, but in the end, they are all just a wisp.
Others have some idea that World powers do exploit, but wantonly dismiss it—“Don’t understand it, don’t care, don’t think it matters as long as I’m a dutifully religious church-respecting individual.” They hunker down behind their incorporated status—commercial or ecclesiastical—and rally with the wolves that look great in sheep outfits. Their pronouncements to others about being on Christ’s side are merely pleas to join a different hunting pack.
Some will say that the answer to the asymmetry of information problem is education. Know just as much as the exploiters—“Knowledge is power.” Yeah, that’ll get ’em.
Sadly, it won’t. Education is a fine thing, but trying to outsmart the Agents of Cain by my own wits is just too much work. God has made a world with something else economists study a lot, the principle of comparative advantage. I don’t have to know everything there is to know about everything in order to do productive things to help make my community vibrant. I’m too busy concentrating on my own small part in that to try to guess what everyone else knows.
It is way easier than that, simply by letting Christ be my value assigner.
At the beginning of every Economics class I teach I have my students do an exercise about scarcity in which they must make a list of everything they’d want if they could have anything they wanted. I tell them to pretend a genie appeared to them and would grant them all the wishes they could ever want, under one condition. They have to write them down. The list may be as long as they want. The assignment gets them to think a bit, practice their writing, and it is easy for me to grade.
The last time I did this, I was going through all the suped-up cars, mansions on islands, and time machines, and I came across a wonderfully revealing request from a quiet young gal. Right in the middle of a whole bunch of boffo things she wished for herself, she wrote these words:
“I want to know what I want.”
What a confession. It blew me away.
John Paulson has $3.7 billion dollars. Wow. A lot, yeah.
Does he know what he wants?
More significantly, do you know what you want…
And how do you know that?
In a scene from the epic film Ben-Hur, an elderly truth-seeker extends an invitation to the main character played by Charlton Heston. Throughout the story Judah Ben-Hur had sporadically seen a man who many were saying was the real deal. Balthazar asks Judah to join him to go hear what that man has to say.
Still seething about a government official—once his childhood best friend—for unjustly condemning his mother and sister to a hellish existence, Judah dismisses him by saying, “I have business with Rome.”
To which Balthazar says without a beat, “You insist on death.”
You insist on death.
A month ago I came across this print from the Los Angeles Times Book Review, and immediately recognized the figure there digging at the top.
It was Judah Ben-Hur.
At least the Judah Ben-Hur with the bitter desire to exact revenge against a power seven-times stronger. The Judah Ben-Hur before he actually did see the work of God in his life.
The print accompanied a review for the new book Moyers on Democracy. Bill Moyers is an exemplary civic crusader who hasn’t just jaunted over to Rome but has burrowed a nice hole there for himself where he can crawl around and get really dirty. His entire life is “business with Rome.”
Here is everything that Moyers’ book is about. (Hey, I provide a great Reader’s Digest service—why should you shell out thirty clams when you can get the whole thing condensed right here in a single sentence?)
So, ahem, here we go, ahem ahem…
“There is this ugly thing government does, this awful thing the rich do, these rotten things the entrenched special interests do, all of which make everyone unequal and exploited, and the answer is to get educated, get active, and get slapping them around so they’ll get with it.”
It is not just liberals like Bill Moyers who do this—conservatives are just as strident. While the people they target are different, it is still the very same thing.
“I have business with Rome.”
There are a number of reasons why this kind of digging is so popular.
First, they rationalize it with a lot of “Put this statistic with that statistic and this other statistic and you get a bad thing. Ohhh, very bad. You should be very afraid.” It all sounds very authoritative, and the facts may certainly be true. The question is, what are you going to do about them?
In and around all the numbers are the stories. The “evil power-elite” tomes are chock full of anecdotal stories designed to shock and disgust. Today’s postmodern world has made a god of the story. Only after you’ve heard the 457th heart-wrenching tale, the one that gets you so enraged you’re outta there to actually do something for cryin’ out loud—
What is the thing you’re going to do?
The agents of Cain in every domain—political, economic, religious—are deputized Jesuits sworn to do what they are trained to do: use every tool of deceit and dissembling to sustain rule over everyone who’s enlisted their services to manage their sin. When some of their clients get edgy about it, they squawk. And when they squawk they feel the need to dig.
Why? Those agents are doing nothing their superior hasn’t already commissioned them to do.
The humble 501c3 pastor is doing precisely what the IRS tells him to do, which is what Congress tells it to do, which is what—hmm, which is what who tells it to do? If you’d like to know who that person is, you can see it in the code book, or, as some know it, the Bible. That person is not God, by the way, although God sent that person out to establish a World System so that humble 501c3 pastors may ferociously wave that shovel around too.
Yes, Moyers is down there already, he has been for years. He’s such a superbly skilled megaphone holder that a soul unsaturated with God’s word will do whatever he says. He’s always down there, at the feet of his master, getting instructions for “The Answer,” that wonderful thing we’ve all got to do about all rotten things. It is probably something like this, from Moyers’ book: “Our challenge is to create a political culture that nurtures obligation, reciprocity, and trust, to bring about policies that have wide public support.”
Yeah. That’ll do it.
“Get with it because [INSERT OBVIOUS HORRIFIC THING THAT YOU CAN’T IGNORE HERE] will doom us all unless we all have culture and obligation and trusting.” I just don’t know how many more of these I can take before I shake my head right off my shoulders. This typical blithering has been spouted for eons, with all kinds of righteous shills like Moyers digging waaay down deep to corral the baaad thing in [CIRCLE YOUR DESPISED EXPLOITER: (a) Congress (b) President (c) Established Church (d) Mainstream Broadcast Medium (e) Global Megacorporation (f) Banking Cartel (g) Other ___.]
Reminds me of Voltaire, kind of a Bill Moyers of the 1700’s. You know Voltaire, the guy who made ribald fun of every fancy powerful dude and dudette there was. He had a cadre of muckspewing writers whose job it was to do exactly what Moyers is doing now, captured in Voltaire’s simple signature line:
“Crush the evil thing!”
Voltaire was an expert at stirring things up in an entertaining way. Trained at the Jesuit Collège Louis-le-Grand in Paris, he would make people proud to be diggers. “As long as we virtuous folk root out the arrogant scum, the world will be perfect!” How grand it is to put those rich big-shots on the spot, cut them down to size, and in the long run legitimize their activity.
Come to think of it, this is precisely what the recently passed Tim Russert did, also as a Jesuit educated pundit of great renown. Celebrated politicians would come on his television interview show Meet the Press, and he would ask one question in a zillion different forms. That question:
“You once said this—here it is, show everyone that quote from last year—now you say this other thing. Which one is it? Are you a liar or a waffler? Which one?” After the interrogated hocked up the vetted response, the viewer then could decide which answer was the least awful. I guess there’s that. [See special note below.]
Russert, Voltaire, Moyers—any who deftly plow their way through the World System earthenplex all provide a two-pronged service that is invaluable. They keep World inhabitants hypnotically gazing at their own fear and bitterly embracing the System’s regimented task of sin management. Ironically they also highlight this body of death so magnificently that someone actually paying attention may decide to get out.
Getting out doesn’t mean squirming over to a different part of the ditch.
It means being up out of it altogether, leaving the shovel behind.
“Oh but we must dig down, dig deeeep if we want to make any change.”
What will you accomplish?
If you are in the World, you will live by the World. Everything about you will be infected with the World no matter how much you deny it. If you yell at the World it’ll smile just like the World does. Your cause may be most holy, but slithering through the soil of Caesar’s domain does nothing to transform its nature. It just makes it less uncouth.
This leads to another thing that keeps these valiant champions of quasi-goodness prominent in the World consciousness. Catholicist laborers like Moyers and his conservative counterparts have done such excellent work drawing people into the nether reaches of World drudgery that their followers scarcely have a clue how to get out. All they know are Moyersesque voices.
They’ve become completely beholden to the God of Cultural Reform.
Like those pale bugs that have never seen the sun, they thrive on wiggling around in there devoted to the exhilarating cause of reformation. “Ee-yack how awful! Here’s what you should do. Ahr-ralf that’s horrible! Try doing it this way. Hey, look there! Down farther! More shoveling, more, almost got him, here's another one we need to reform!"
My word. A worm would certainly look nicer with a shirt and tie, but it will still be limp and slimy. A rat is much more graceful doing a beautiful waltz, but he’ll still scurry through garbage. You may have eloquent conversation over brandy with a snake, but he’ll still swallow you whole.
Hmm, just thinking about it, what else is down there with the worms, rats, and snakes?
I imagine being so far down there it is impossible to see that Christ would wipe out any and all bad things with a snap of His fingers. Don’t need a petition drive, don’t need a voter rally, don’t need an spiffy 30-second spot, and you really don’t need another payment for the racket to keep it from hurting you.
But yeah, not surprised.
It is kinda dark down there…
I wonder what it would be like if Jesus stepped into the print, confronting the digger there just starting out.
Jesus: What are you doing?
Digger: Gotta change the world you know, those guys in Washington, ergh, they need to do what I say, what our group says, then things would be fine.
Jesus: Isn’t death down there?
Jesus: And you want that?
Sounds very much like the Judah-Balthazar scene from Ben-Hur.
When will people stop insisting on death?
I’m pretty sure it is when they actually ask for
This page was originally posted by David Beck at yourownjesus.net on October 25, 2007