For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory.
-2 Corinthians 3:9
I just returned from a walk through an "old town" in a small suburb city near where I live. It was splendid to see several quaint "main street" businesses still thriving on the extraordinarily well-manicured, tree-lined street. High-end clothiers and jewelers, hair salons and spas, the typical idiosyncratically characterized diners, and quite a number of real estate offices peppered the strip.
I eagerly anticipated the one shop I knew I'd been before. I was hoping it'd still be open, even though it was only 5:30 on a late Friday afternoon. It was the bookstore, and anywhere this type of establishment appears I always step in for exceptionally edifying browsing.
As I came upon its location, I found what was certainly not a surprise.
It was completely empty.
It had been abandoned, just as all traditional print merchandising efforts have been or very soon will be.
Not surprising, but not any less distressing.
A book, a newspaper, a bound periodical of some repute all still say something tremendously sublime: that those who consume their substance have streaming through the soul rich and meaningful truths making them worthy of delightful companionship. I say this because all the other shops that do remain are those that only fill the stomach or adorn the body.
The mind and the soul are left to atrophy at the hands of intellectual and spiritual shysters bent on their own brand of value extraction.
Thus the key to the grandest fulfillment lies in your answer to the question that has woven its way through everything this site has shared through the years. That question is most prominent in the video I produced and is displayed for your viewing pleasure at the very top of this page. The work is a humble first effort, assembled with the smattering of images and music with which I'm relatively familiar. (I will add it isn't that one video I'd been promising for a couple years now — that's still in the pipeline...)
The question itself is the most important one anyone can answer.
Yes, much of its exposition comes from a book, the Bible, but that has its most critical limitation in one significant way. Those of you who zealously revere God's word, please don't go apoplectic on me.
That limitation is that this word cannot go forth unless it is on the lips of a flesh and blood person. I recognized the limitations of my own piddly sentiments regarding the vacant bookstore when driving home from my jaunt and past a Christian Science church with its ubiquitous "reading room."
Oh my, do I love reading rooms, libraries, balconies, gardens (those are the best) — any locale conducive to the most rapturous reading experience. But a worthless cult like Christian Science can only offer a cold, heartless room, not to mention a poisonous diet of Gnostic dreck.
Christ seeks the merciful. Encouragers, teachers, prophets, givers, organizers. Servers.
Those who step out and touch hearts and spark minds and yes, sorry for the cliché,
Another church there near that downtown mall had a message on its marquee, you know the kind, the one on which they form pithy sayings with the manually arranged bold-print Arial letters on the slightly smudged translucent squares. This one actually looked like it had been there for a while, I don't know. But it struck me.
"Just cause [sic] your message may not be received, doesn't mean it's not worth sending."
I read this and think about this webzine, my blog, all the ways I want to be Jesus' flesh and blood to another — at least on-line here, with these words here. I realize the yawning throes of the present information age demand a lot of the on-line stuff be visually engaging, spectacularly multidimensional, frenetically interactive — all that. And hey, I'm happy to do it. I actually love doing stuff like you see above, and hope to get better at it.
But more than that I long to hang out and work with people who want to do it with me. Even more, in and around that I desire simple fellowship — in actual physical proximity — with others to worship Him in Spirit and in Truth, as He Himself says we can sometime, someday.
I've discovered that to do this, however, you've got to make Him your Lord. I mean really make Him your Lord.
Lately the term "champion of mercy" has been resonating in my heart. I mention this because I see so many in the church just so putridly wimpy. It is awful. We're so tied to the World that the things we say and the things we do to blow people away are just so pathetically puny. And it isn't just people being milquetoast. It is far too many people being granite — just having no conception of what it means to be mercy.
It is axiomatic to say it is the right mix of truth and grace, every seasoned Christian knows that. The trick is seeing it manifest in ways in which people can't help but be — ergh, I'm going to use the idiom again, forgive me — blown away. As it is we defer all the substance of any impact we could have for Christ to the World Lords, the Obamas or Romneys, the bankers and bureaucrats, the priests and prophets of World dogma — if not explicitly for sure implicitly through the contractual obligations we make with them, through them, by them...
Sometimes it just boggles the mind to note how many know so little about what their Lords are doing to have them for lunch. Much less do they see what the Lords of those more visible Lords are doing to have them for breakfast and dinner too. My video is the barest surface-scratcher in light of all that. The greater challenge is to elucidate those evidences and, yes, pray that a good number will see and know and turn to The One Who Shepherds from the Kingdom.
I've just started reading the graphic novel A League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, a lot because I like Alan Moore (you can see more of my take on his work here), a lot because I just want to get into some invigorating reading (I'm a very visual person, see the video above), and quite a lot because
I just want to see, hear, experience people who take care of business.
It is phenomenally sad that I have to keep my hopes alive for a bit with a piece of dime-store fiction. Is there simply no way the spiritual virility of the Kingdom can find its expression so people are actually living out His adventure?
I have hope. I always will. It is why I keep doing all this.
That enough people will get off the mat and be that champion.
But He's got to be Lord.
In the ebb and flow of rabid attentiveness to the latest media spewdom, someone always leaps to the front of the great American imaginarium. Taylor Swift has her new fast-selling album out, one called "Red." Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are being heavily showcased in the political boxing match of the day. And some character named Psy is getting everyone going "gangnam" about things.
One of those celebs is a gentleman named Greg Smith, and these days he's being awarded rock star status by everyone in the world of finance. Well, they're at least saying they are — I'd bet some don't think so much of him. A few months ago Smith resigned from his cushy exec job at Goldman Sachs, very publicly then in the New York Times editorial page. Now in order to sell his book, he's making encore appearances in Time magazine and on 60 Minutes .
His schtick is simple.
"Goldman is rotten to the core."
Yeah, heh, that's pretty much it.
Funny, if he says such ugly things about an investment firm that holds bazillions in most folks' retirement funds, how on earth did he get to have such a large megaphone to speak through?
The answer is quite simple, but completely baffling to those who worship themselves and the World System operatives who say very sweet things about those selves in spite of their horrifically reprobate condition. In fact "baffling" is too considerate a term, because the answer isn't even in the same solar system of understanding. It would be as if you spoke Venusian to them with vulgar Venusian swear words. (Whoops, sorry, Venus is in our solar system. Didn't mean to insult our fine fellow Venusians...)
I'm going to share the answer with you here anyway, maybe you'll figure it out. It is the same answer for why the Roman Catholic Church still remains "healthy" in spite of its extraordinary sexual and spiritual crimes. It is why the federal government dutifully and dexterously commits all kinds of deception, theft, and murder in the name of "truth, justice, and the American way."
First, these institutions have seven times the power that any person or any organization has, all under one overarching agency originating millennia ago with the first World governor, Cain. They do so for the perfectly legitimate purpose of cracking heads of those who wallow in their sin.
Second, their deepest politics operatives know that Jesus Christ does indeed rule all things and is infinitely more powerful than anyone in Cain's agency of governance, and as such they recognize that the only way they can maintain their viability is to provoke people they know haven't a clue about this Jesus Christ fellow.
So shoved up to the front of the mass media massiveness comes Greg Smith. The sexual abuse victims. The Pakistani girl who recently was shot and critically wounded for blogging about educating girls. And anyone else who can be paraded before the camera to get people riled up about any given World agent so the culture war can continue unabated to fully empower those operatives, energize their puppets... and of course enable their muppets, as Goldman would call those they serve.
Is Smith's account a terrible indictment of Goldman, indeed of all the misbehaving financial institutions? Of course it is. But the purpose of all this is not what most think — again, the complete disconnect here. The World only wants the most scintillating Greg Smith's helping it keep people in the fold no matter how loudly it says it's getting on with reforming things.
Smith says, as he did on 60 Minutes (pretty close paraphrase here), "I'm speaking out boldly because you've got to do that to get things changed."
Well, yeah. That's nice. Except...
Nothing will change except for the window dressing.
Funny thing is that many people do know this.
Among the most strident this particularly ridiculous silly season are the presidential candidates of minor parties who will screeech that they're the ones to reeeally fix things. The Green Party gal will shout "Let me make laws about environmental protections!" Environmental protections are good, that's nice.
The Libertarian Party guy will shout "Let me make laws about making fewer laws!" Having a kinder police state would be very nice. There are even Marijuana Party and Beer Drinker Party people who think getting pasted with whatever ingestibles they favor would be just fine. And for many that'd probably be very nice indeed.
But none of them know about the Real Answer.
It starts with getting out of this body of death completely.
But how many people actually understand that?
What is so mind-blowing is that this answer and the understanding of that answer are not some crazy ideas from the blue.
They are right there in the Bible that sits on the shelf of almost every home in the United States.
Here's the main Bible thing. It is really simple. God demonstrates His love for us this way: While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. But what I see is — this is just me, I don't know — what I see is that all these people think the way to fix things is to have more law somehow someway. Please understand that the law is good. Cain's agency is good, perfect for reprobate individuals who'll have nothing to do with Christ. That's all in Scripture too.
But the significant truth here seen zipping past the souls of so many is that to change the law, to mess with the law, to get better and better laws, to pick people who'll do all the spiffiest law stuff for us — none of that is what God wants ultimately wants for the crown of His creation. The law only shows us what wretches we've become! And if we don't get out of the being-wretches part, that law is right there to be used by Caesar to summarily crack our heads.
What God wants is people who live by two different things that are so far beyond the law it isn't even funny.
He wants people who are truth and grace.
Mitt Romney is of course one of those currently very high profile celebrities and someone who millions want to hammer them on the head with his brand of law administration, and a couple months ago he got into hot water by the rage-inciting media when they found him making remarks that were essentially, "47% of Americans are losers."
The tricky thing is that the reasons he gave are actually quite veritable: they will always vote for governing agents who'll be most generous with lots of cool stuff they don't really have to pay for.
But if this is true, then the number is not really 47%.
It is closer to 100%.
The New York Times even ran an op-ed piece shortly after the discovery of Romney's remarks, declaring that if you really want to get down to it, that 47% is more like 96%. Their number, the 96%. Now the Times is doing that to demonstrate that any who say they're not among that downright ugly 47% should hold their tongue because we all glom guv stuff in some manner.
The ones they say are in the remaining 4% are a handful of the young adults who don't qualify for the things the Times says are the most obvious forms of "public assistance": directly paid benefits like Social Security or unemployment insurance, discounts through tax code deductions or exemptions, or benefits that help people afford college, housing, and health care.
What we most get riled up about, depending on your ideological stripe, are the poor who suck up welfare-oriented items and the rich who suck up rent-seeking privileges by the ton. No one is exempt, but in a land of rank extremes a winky-dinky little-wittle mortgage deduction is okay. So many have one — it is no big deal.
That's a whole heck of a lot of people whose faith lies pretty squarely on the World System. Sorry, I just don't see a whole lot of people doing the Kingdom thing. I myself even thought that the number is 100% but to be gracious, how about we say it is only 99.7% who just can't get out of their addiction to the World. There are 300 million people in the U.S, so that leaves a whopping (but relatively scant) 900,000 in the U.S. who are actually living from the Kingdom.
I don't dismiss all the people who do nice wholesome godly things, but if they're done from the World for the World by the World which is gone tomorrow, what of it? All the great achievements of the public sector or anyone enlisted by the public sector to make things safer faster better nicer are terrific, but in the words of John Maynard Keynes, in the long run we're all dead.
Are there even 900,000 out there? I can't help but think of Abraham's question in Genesis when God addressed the situation in Sodom. "What if there are 10 people, just 10 people who are even a little bit righteous, would you spare the city?"
There weren't even 10.
Well, what of the 99.7%? Here, now? Why aren't they Kingdom people?
Let's look at the criteria. Go ahead and critique it, I'm great with that. But here's just the way I see it from what Scripture says.
For an individual — or let's get to it, any group or ministry or worship assembly — to do authentic Kingdom work, the people in it must:
So ask yourself the question: Do I live out these basic life principles in nurturing my relationship with Christ? You may indeed ask this question of me: How can you be so cynical as to dismiss these things in the lives of others around us? There is a simple way to find out. Renowned Christian pollster George Barna has already done a lot of that, and the results can be very discouraging.
Just ask yourself if you're doing those things, and ask others about them to see if they are. Listen carefully to their answers. They will tell you a lot. For most you don't have to directly ask anything — you just know already. And I'm not even counting the vast number of those who straight-away have no compunctions about telling you this Jesus dude is a wise but whimsical character in a hugely popular fairy tale.
This is not about whether or not people are good. The planet is ripping at the seams with good people.
This is about whether or not people love, and whether or not they are up and about sharing with others the life that only comes through Christ.
Are there a lot of church people out doing splendidly wholesome things? Yeah. I just think that so many of them haven't a clue about what's going on regarding their illicit relationship with the World. More harrowing is how many church leaders do in fact know and keep their congregants in the dark about all of this. It is very lucrative to be Caesar's agent of goodness!
With the current economic malaise still raging and attention still searing at who gets what from government and how much how often, a number of pundits have chimed in with remarks about "makers and takers," pretty much telling us that we're all a bit of each. That's it, they say, just accept it. Oh well, make and take as you go through life, but just remember that keeping it all looking as even-steven as possible are those powerful but very nice World institutions. The World administrators are all we've got, so if you want to live well ya gotta pony up with your vote or your tribute or perhaps even some blood.
The Kingdom way is far different. Very different, but you have to ask Christ to speak the language of the Kingdom to get it.
Makers and takers. How awful is that. We make to take. We slog through life to try to keep too much from being taken. Whoa.
What about this? What if we had a whole bunch of
Sowers and growers.
Thing is, this kind of economy is incredibly hard to see with 99.7% of the people fearfully making and taking and taking and taking and trying that much harder to take however much more they can.
Can you imagine, though? Can you imagine what would really happen if among that mere 900,000 there'd be groups of 50, 20, my word even 10 actually, vibrantly fellowshipping together in the active, buoyant commitment to make the Kingdom happen? That even those few would be working charitably and sacrificially to sow, using the gifts of one another and then beholding the bounty that grows exponentially all around them.
Can you imagine watching that 900,000 increase by a hundred-fold? And then again when they keep doing His ministry fully ungrafted — and that increase was a hundred-fold?
From just ten people gathered to begin authentically living out the righteousness of Christ.
The spectacular value of that is only meaningful when all can fully soak up the heart-rendering truth that
They are loved by Christ.
Otherwise it ends up being ravenous taking all the way into hell.
"The Lord abhors the man of bloodshed and deceit."
- from the fifth Psalm
"If I had a rocket launcher, some son of a bitch would die."
- from a popular song by Bruce Cockburn
A short while ago twenty schoolchildren (and a few adults) were gunned down in their small-town Connecticut classroom. As soon as information began spreading, the response was horror, shock, numbness, grief, anger, and a lot of media attention to provide the proper forum for mass national catharsis. A good long discourse about guns, mental illness, movies, video games, and youth degeneracy came right afterwards.
Wow. Good thing that these kinds of things rarely ever happen.
Except I seem to recall that just a few months ago some young man fancying himself a "Joker" type shot up a movie theater—and all the same kinds of things resulted. And some time before that, didn't some army counselor of some stripe shoot up a room full of patients on some military base? Same things followed. And then there was that guy at Virginia Tech who did it too, same response from all. I also happen to remember that Columbine incident when a couple kids shot up the high school. Same thing happened afterwards. I even still have memories of some guy running his vehicle into a Luby's cafeteria and shooting a bunch of people there, and a bit longer ago a guy at a McDonald's near San Diego shot and killed a lot of people there.
Everyone around the country reacted exactly the same way.
Now I could've easily looked all these up and easily noted any and all vital information. There're a lot I've missed and could've added, but that I have these several stuck in my mind is amazing to me. Everyone's the same: a bunch of these incidents occupy some small part of our grey matters. Of course there is no way anyone can keep track of the whopping numbers of less publicized episodes where just a few people were murdered, where someone's gone "postal"—this is the now-widely understood term for these kinds of instances. I guess it does happen a bit more often than we'd like.
This violence thing.
What's with that? How much can we take? And the main question is what can we do about it?
A few months ago I was intrigued by Harvard professor Steven Pinker's take on it. He'd put out this book called The Better Angels of Our Nature in which he makes the case that violence everywhere has actually gone down. Pinker tries to answer those questions by exhaustively analyzing every social historical political psychological institutional cultural statistical philosophical theological legal sociological biological neurological anthropological pedagogical logical rational financial martial etymological ecclesiastical and just about any other -ical factor there is to get at what's what about the thing violence.
He does do a bang-up job of scouring a lot of stuff to write about, ultimately coming to the conclusion that we're less violent because we're all better with our reasoning, we use "gentle" commerce a bit more, and we're more feminized. Okaaay, don't think that quite helps the parents of those murdered children. The problem is he really misses badly regarding the most important facet of this question.
It has to do with the spiritual dimension, and he misses so abysmally because he's not only a confessed atheist, but he's resolutely in that Noam Chomsky-Howard Zinn-Amy Goodman-Bill Moyers camp of Radical Selfists who insightfully elucidate the overarching Power of the Man, but foolishly campaign like the proverbial headless chickens to Fight the Man.
They all commit Cicero's fallacy: There is such thing as a good commoner. Their solution to the violence problem is to painstakingly expose the evil that lies within the activity of Caesar, then bellow loudly about how that needs to change. "If we just got back to splendid roots of democracy and the power of the people was truly manifest, then all that violence would dramatically decline!"
I happen to wonder as Jesus did.
"Who in the world is good?"
The humanist approach presumes enough people are good enough to shout fiercely enough at everybody else who're yet to be good enough but will be when they finally see how good the shouters' vision of society should be. The searing truth is that no one is good no matter how much window dressing we put on our sin.
I wonder though, Pinker et al are so strident about their arguments that I fear what they'd do should they encounter those who'd categorically refuse to buy into their proposals. He rips Christianity a new asshole for all the awfully violent things he sees in the Bible—things the Bible merely describes as men doing to one another or God doing to men who run off to commit the violent acts Pinker himself so reviles. Then he calls those who like this Bible thing but don't really see it all there, "benevolent hypocrites."
Really, though, who are the hypocrites here?
I've just watched what seems to be a whole nation transfixed by yet another Quentin Tarantino violence-fest, this one called Django Unchained. Tarantino is a famously pompous filmmaker whose career consists of taking one of the standard types of evildoer scorned by World inhabitants and making a movie featuring a few good wholesome folk blowing the snot out of said persons. His last one was about Nazi's—oh my, who couldn't hate Nazi's enough to see many of their heads blown off with blood spewing in all directions.
This latest one features slaveholders in that role. I can't think of any people the Society tells those in society to loathe more than 19th century slaveholders—except I think maybe 21st century child molesters are now getting right up there high on the list, but I'd bet a Tarantino film with a lot of them getting shot up is in the works.
What is insane about this is that Django Unchained has been met with tremendous critical acclaim and financial success. The reason is that Tarantino does a spiffy job of mixing the hyperbolic displays of violence with riveting predicaments among his idiosyncratic characters who effusively spurt cleverly ironic wisecracks. The scary thing is that the only real publicized critique is that it makes light of slavery and the N-word is used quite liberally.
That's it? That's the criticism?
Never mind this disturbing fact: First, a bazillion people express tremendous anguish over the Newtown massacre, then the very same bazillion tolerate with the greatest glee the latest major motion picture blood-and-guts splaying extravaganza.
Who are the hypocrites here?
But what's new. People zealously beholden to the World do that. What can you do. Well, I just try to write a bit about things here, scribbling a note of truth, slipping it in the bottle and dropping it in the vast ocean of deceit hoping someone will pick it up, read it, think about it some.
Maybe even get with a few others and actually do it.
What is the answer to the violence question then? Obviously the most comprehensive answer would take volumes, and attempts to answer it already have. The wonderful thing is that the Bible does do the best job of it in light of all the violence described there, but then part of the point is to understand what the deal is about it. Funny, Steven Pinker makes such rigorously detailed assessments of what he thinks God should do while at the same time insisting there is no God.
When I started thinking about what to share in this piece I found myself going crazy trying to slim down concepts like free will and justice, and you just can't do it on one home page. What I did instead is to briefly focus on the key parts of the violence answer that people simply refuse to cogitate.
The first is that the institutions of Cain were established exclusively to use violence to mitigate the effects of a wretchedly reprobate populace from destroying itself. It is comprised of many different strata of sin management organizations including the federal government, the banking system, and the Roman Catholic Church with all its subdivisions around the globe—religion is an extraordinarily powerful force for summary condemnation. All of them are administered quite proficiently by whichever minions of Cain are assigned to do that present work, which they can't do unless people move them to do so. The fault, dear Brutus, lies not with the stars, nor with the refusal to act subversively against Caesar. It is that so many too imprudently don't refuse to...
Secondly all of the violence done is wholly an expression of human sacrifice. Everyone believes this thing "human sacrifice" is something primitive tribes do with all sorts of chanting and blood-letting involved. But most contemporary human sacrifice is merely the confiscation of value from one person transferred to another by robustly exploitive individuals. When executed by a World inhabitant it takes the form of deceit, fraud, or murder. When working valiantly to keep tabs on the violence, System operatives employ taxes, tithes, and interest payments to do the sacrificing. These operatives are not beyond authoritatively using the deceit and murder to accomplish their ends, and they frequently do.
Thirdly the violence does not have to be physical. Emotional and spiritual violence is committed against people all the time. Those steeped in their sin can't help but do this kind of violence to others all the time. Seems to me Jesus said something along the lines of "Even if you murder someone in your thoughts, you're still committing murder." And it is human sacrifice to the extent that we all direct our violent actions towards another individual human being whoever it may be. If we're angry why don't we go yell at a tree, a rock, the sky? No, we yell at a person. Or, in extreme cases, some go shoot at children in a classroom instead of at some empty soda cans.
Fourth, too many people just don't get the truth that physically you're dead in a hundred years anyway. Why do so many so rigidly believe the mere handful of years they have are enough to try to be a god? I know some of why—World operatives do such a fantastic job of getting them to believe it. Those with any kind of spiritual maturity realize the folly of such a belief, and many do turn the tables on the Society and turn to Christ. From Him they actually have eternal life beyond the physical death that happens to everyone at some point. For now, how are you going to reach that inevitability? There are only two ways: be an other-sacrificer frantically working to stay off the altar yourself, or be a self-sacrificer sowing everything you have into the lives of others.
Finally there is the reality of life before your physical demise and that is one of slavery anyway. We'd like to think furious people like Django have done away with slavery once and for all, except that an unchained Django is a fantastical Hollywood myth—The Great Hero of Exacted Vengeance looks so free! The fact is everyone is chained to their sin and to the legitimate and quite violent forces assigned the job of cracking heads. Think about it, it is way easier for human sacrificers to do their work when you so willingly step right up and lie on the altar yourself. Do you know how much goes into forming and shaping and encrusting your beliefs to get you to do just that?
Those in Christ are enslaved too, but to the Holy Spirit who guides them in the way that they should go by a God who made them, redeemed them, and loves them with His life. By this marvelous irony they are the ones who are truly free.
Django blowing away the nasty cruel exploiters. It is so entrancing—don't you detest those shameless political and financial con artists? Or, ahem, do you need them around to proficiently do your human sacrifice for you?
Which is it?
Some particularly Christian-minded observers may respond, "What's this have to do with me and my Christian faith and church involvement? I know that stuff is of the World."
The answer is in whatever the answer is to this question: "How tied are you to the System, obligating yourself to its laws and by-laws as signified by your engagement with taxes, tithes, and interest payments you wouldn't have to address if you were authentically living by the Kingdom?" The extent to which you use the law—even Caesar's—to regulate your behavior is the same extent to which your witness for Christ is just another part of the World's condemnatory practices, and by default its indissolubly violence-oriented activity.
The Kingdom way is to live by Christ's truth and grace, and for those living this way it is about taking all the wealth represented by our value in Him to sow into the lives of others. This self-sacrificial sowing—not mere giving but sowing—enhances the value of things so there can't be violence, only joyously charitable agape. And for those who still appreciate that masculine characteristic of our communitarian existence, Kingdom work does unequivocally require the contributions of those who are energetically virile!
The key is that this can only happen in Christ.
All the loud bleating done by Steven Pinker doesn't mean a thing because too many still like their chains as well as getting a brief thrill when a bad-ass lookin' dude comes off the screen to put a bunch of bullet holes in their exploiters. Too many of us feel most righteous taking that rocket launcher and putting in the crosshairs the next Adolf Hitler or Simon Legree or Adam Lanza or even the guy on the freeway who abruptly cuts you off and shows you his extended middle finger. Erghck! What do you do with that? Isn't this justice stuff true and right and immensely gratifying???
The critical aspect of God that intractable World geniuses just won't get is that He is perfectly just towards every person who deserves it—ouch! But isn't that what you want? Oh, sorry, it's just you don't think you deserve it, I see.
Thing is He's not just about justice.
He's about mercy as well.
And the two only have their fullest expression in Jesus Christ and His work at Calvary.
Every question of life is answered right there. Every one. Every person is critically and inescapably subject to justice yet may still find that mercy. The issue is completely resolved at the cross, and only there. Doesn't matter if you're a Steven Pinker who refuses to look or a Quentin Tarantino just cuttin' loose with it all, every question—especially the ones about violence—
They're all answered by Him.
Every once in a while I'll peek in on CBS' Sunday Morning show to see how the World System wants to mold our minds. Most of it is mildly amusing, sweetly touching, pretty innocuous stuff. At one time it was even quite well-respected for concluding each week's edition with as much as five minutes—an eternity in broadcast time—to show nature scenes with no voiceover at all throughout. It just doesn't do that any more, now it's about thirty seconds. Still, it's all generally tame stuff.
Occasionally they'll toss in an opinion piece, and sometimes it gets rather edgy. The one they featured on January 27th had a scholar type basically offer up the idea that we should scrap the U.S. Constitution altogether. I don't think there is any question mass medium apparatchiks surround this kind of proposition with fluff to make it more palatable, more likely to sink deep into the psyche of the average World inhabitant.
What was it this gentleman said to justify such a claim? The things he found objectionable were very politically correct, items that require no real skin in the game to censure. He doesn't like the electoral college (who does?) or the requirement the president be born in the U.S. (too archaic). He agrees with the second amendment but thinks radical reassessment regarding what we do with this whole gun thing is necessary—wow, that's really saying something... um, not exactly.
His ultimate point is that the thing was written over 200 years ago by old-fashioned long-dead colonial-day farts who didn't have a clue about what life is like right now. Hey, today we're obviously more enlightened, progressive, noble-minded than anyone was back then, so what's the use?
He doesn't really say much more than that, so what's he really getting on about here?
To answer that question, we can easily examine the reasons the U.S. Constitution came into existence. It just isn't hard to read the words of the people who actually wrote it, to study the actions they actually took, and to analyze the events actually occurring at the time. Quite contrary to what the Sunday Morning commentator implied, the deeply held considerations of flesh-and-blood people back then were just not that different than those of people today.
I've been perusing William Hogeland's Founding Finance to richly discover those things. He plainly elucidates the truth that the primary tactic for best instituting this enterprise loosely titled The United States was turning those with the most martially-oriented sentiments into bondholders and, by default, tax collectors. The Newburgh crisis was probably the least known of the many aggravating rebellions in that day, and it was chiefly about the stridently disgruntled men who gallantly led the American Revolutionary war effort.
They were a tad dissatisfied with the excruciating discomfort of their economic situation.
Deft exploitation of this led to the emergence of the Society of Cincinnati, arranged to help bolster the country's tepid financial standing. A hereditary organization named after the famous Roman general whose endearing determination held Rome together at a critical junction in its history, the Cincinnati was comprised of extraordinarily patriotic military officers who would firmly sustain the nation's stature by maintaining the payment stream on U.S. debt owed to... them.
It was the ingenious brainchild of Robert Morris and Alexander Hamilton, two hugely instrumental founders, who themselves derived their thought from renowned philosopher David Hume. Those acquainted with Hume know he's the one who managed to inject into the mainstream the idea "There aren't any miracles because there can't be any miracles," contributing greatly to the evisceration of the impact of biblical truth throughout the western world.
I wouldn't have thought much about how Hume managed to wiggle his way so prominently into the nascent Americanist efforts, until I read Hogeland share his own dismissal just before railing home the particulars of firmly girded World System establishment in North America. He shrugged, "Intellectual history notes that Morris read David Hume on the national benefits of a public debt, but his actions seem to me more important to our founding than the reading that helped inform them."
It is because so few do see the critical importance of insightfully identifying the origins of the ideas that have the most brutal consequences that the meaning of the World System is rarely ever contemplated, much less discussed with any rigor.
In doing a simple search on the life of David Hume with the intention of ascertaining those origins, I came across a fascinating exposition from an obscure scholar named Michael Turnbull. He goes into great detail about the social and religious influences on David Hume, and writes of Hume's at best indifference and at worst distaste for the Catholic Church. What is most telling is that as early as his twenties he found himself in the favorable company of Jesuits, becoming pleasantly acquainted with them and even serving their immediate political needs. This resulted in a mentality that is quite common even today: a comfortable revulsion of organized religion but a felicitous attachment to those with seductively delightful dispositions no matter what the station—the perfect environment for proper Jesuitic activity to breed.
Turnbull's conclusion has this: "Hume repeatedly made use of Catholic authors and institutions, since they so often provided him with the resources he needed to bring his philosophy to fruition." Some may certainly be much more well-versed on Hume's relationship with Rome, but I can't see how this is not yet another defining instance of the truth that the entirety of the United States political system is an invention of the Roman Catholic Church and its brilliantly administered and dutifully executed military operation, one which remarkably also has "Society" in its title.
The even more fascinating question is, from where did the Jesuits get their thinking? I believe that can be found in the Bible, where the essence of what Rome did, does, will always do is splashed throughout the world around God's chosen beloved, Israel. Scripture interestingly does not speak much of Rome, but it does spend a tremendous amount of attention on how Jerusalem has prostituted herself to him.
Thing is, from where did this new suitor come, vying with God for Jerusalem's affections? I don't think there is any question it began with Cain, sent out as an instrument of judgment by God to discipline people who would never call on His name. It has been easily sustained through the millennia because he has had seven-fold strength of anyone else, and today it manifests itself in any governing institution given the task of restraining the evil behavior of reprobate men and women. How proficient Rome is through all its tentacles—Washington, Wall Street, Hollywood—to hypnotically captivate those attracted to that power. Yes, Scripture very clearly declares that it was rather successful at wooing Jerusalem. It does the very same work today to flatter churches that consider themselves resolutely Protestant and evangelical.
All of this is the bold and quite necessary work of the Legacy of Cain. Incisive administration of strategic wealth concentration in the hands of the best value extractors is indeed a compulsory routine, rewarding the vast amount of rent-seeking throughout every strata of the System keeping the human sacrifice machine humming along smoothly.
The U.S. Constitution simply helps grease the gears.
I thought, what would an alternate view of this guy who opined on Sunday Morning sound like? If it was given by someone with the Society of Cincinnati's sentiments, I can't believe it wouldn't be pretty heavy with the "Abandon the Constitution?! ARE YOU NUTS?!" kind of rhetoric.
It all sounds so scintillatingly righteous, but the same affliction plagued the people of the early U.S. as it does today. The populist egalitarians hollered a lot and the genteel elitists hollered a lot, and their counterparts do so just as much today. The thing to observe is where their wealth is directed, however concentrated it is. When you find the end of that trail, that is where their heart is. Funny, when I read about those early social/commercial/political skirmishes, through the maelstrom of dissent and destitution I think the only people who never had a bad word about their lot were the gun manufacturers.
So the Radical Selfists have an enormous megaphone through which to speak, the Devout Romanists have one too. What if a genuine follower of Christ put in a word about all this?
Might it sound a bit like this?...
"The wonderful thing about the U.S. Constitution is that it is in place to mitigate the effects of evildoing by a society of people who only know deceit and murder, and who labor incessantly to smile and do good deeds through it all. The document was indeed arranged to serve that purpose for both the governor and the governed.
"Sadly this is the most woeful thing about it. Written all over it is the power of temporal government to use exceedingly violent force as the most prominent tool for these purposes. Indeed the most harrowing parts of it are precisely the reason it should be so respected. It is then not surprising there is such wrenching ambivalence about it.
"The most awesome thing is that it will indeed one day be obsolete, but that day will be when God in the person of Jesus Christ returns to reintroduce Himself, this time as the final arbiter of man's behavior. The U.S. Constitution is a pale instrument for the legacy of Cain in the hands of Caesar, and when Jesus administers final justice that document will indeed be summarily discarded.
"The key is that Jesus will first gather up the elect, those who've realized the brutal impact of their evildoing, given up the pretense, and humbly turned to Him to worship Him and only Him by fulfilling the only requirement asked of them—love God and love others like God does. Any law, statute, constitution, ordinance, rule, restriction, legality, or liturgy is meaningless to them in that circumstance.
"If you are watching this opinion piece right now, think deeply about what the U.S. Constitution is really all about, and then ask God for understanding. That's what He really wants—He said so: 'If a man boasts let him boast that he understands and knows Me.' Seek salvation from Him through Christ, and He will give it to you.
"True fulfillment can be found nowhere else, not in Caesar or any of his minions, nor by the document that pretends to provide sweet comfort through the merciless apprehension of such vain affections.
"It is only in Christ—as He is Who He is, as He does what He will do, as He loves with His life. Believe on Him.
"Then live in rapturous joy forever."
The guy in the Sunday Morning opinion piece could never, ever say something like that. The only reason he spittled stuff about the uselessness of the Constitution was to promote humanism—man is good anyway and doesn't need this old stuff any more—and to keep mesmerized Catholicists in a state of rabid rebellion. What more could Caesar like than lots of people viciously posturing against him.
And how do I know this with such certainty?
Because this guy was also a professor from Georgetown, the preeminent university for establishing U.S. public policy at the behest of the most skilled World operatives there are. As such, sent out from the presence of God several millennia ago with a mark to identify them as those who may use as much deceit and murder as they can to govern man, there is no way in the universe this guy—or the spokeshole for the System, the network broadcasting it—would have the faintest idea about anything said in the alternate opinion piece that should be as graciously and truthfully shared.
But now you've read it. It's right there for you to consider.
For you to gain understanding. To know God.
And be alive.
This quote has always been sobering, reminding me that good thinking takes work. It also keeps me humble, understanding that I am always prone to nasty bouts of foolishness. It is axiomatic that the smartest people make the stupidest errors in thinking. I am not exempt from this affliction.
I've also discovered in my 20+ years of teaching economics that everyone is an economist—you're good or bad at that, too. Can't help it, you're one or the other. Sure all economists are philosophers, but when you do economics you are more specifically doing the heavy work of value assessment.
And wow, are there a lot of poor economists.
I should say there are some good ones. Like Matt Taibbi, the muckraker extraordinaire who famously gave us all a splendidly handy epithet for Goldman Sachs top man Lloyd Blankfein. You know it—it sits there on the end of your tongue for ready use: "Vampire Squid."
Next week's Rolling Stone hits the streets with its latest expose, another Taibbi shred job that essentially makes the point that the reigning value assessors' work is really just a single grand monolithic effort. A couple years ago I'd worked on an unfinished home page piece about how the entirety of the World System is indeed just a gargantuan monopoly. Didn't flesh it out well enough—someday maybe I will.
One of my inspirations was Arnold Kling's quote, "Price discrimination explains everything." There is a lot packed into that, but one thing I do see is the System laboring tirelessly to assess the value of every single person. You see, perfect price discrimination is the holy grail of the monopolist, and it requires identification of the buying preferences of every single person in a market. That's every person on the planet.
Yeah, it's really hard to do.
So, what you've got—as Matt Taibbi so blisteringly details—is the cabal, the cartel, the group of twenty or so cigar-smoking value assessors utilizing the System to do it as best they can.
And of course, they get paid very, very handsomely.
Thing is, they're not the only ones getting paid. Taibbi rips new assholes for all kinds of people on the take, but he does so with the intention of getting us to shake our fists more vigorously at them all.
We're all on the take as well, including Matt Taibbi.
People like Lloyd Blankfein, the interest rate manipulators, and all those who run "The Institutions" are all the legitimate, authorized, ordained, reigning, official, enthroned assessors—enlisted, entrusted, employed, and empowered by every World inhabitant to do exactly what they ask them to do.
The Rolling Stone piece highlights a frightening panoply of the most entrenched value extraction practices, but the real question Taibbi will never ask is, who are the ones governing the assessors? The reason he will never ask it and the reason very few every ask it is because the answer will lead them right to the very people with whom they've had a wickedly codependent relationship, one that keeps them in a perpetual state of nervous comfort and crushing fear.
A weekend ago I took a number of students to the Future Business Leaders of America state conference, and the opening session featured a keynote speaker who made his millions as a self-made entrepreneur. His presentation had the standard stuff about our history of people overcoming tough times to work hard and make it in life and all that.
Two things he said were striking to me, things most wouldn't bat an eye hearing, but then so many—including these thousand students listening—are so indoctrinated with the World's economic thinking that it is all accepted as given.
One, he said that he did things to create value. He boldly encouraged the students to get out there and create value. In fact you see it everywhere in these kinds of discussions—be on the economic cutting edge out there and create value!
I see it this way. I see all the value we're ever going to have, need, want, address, understand, see, identify, appropriate, and enjoy is already created. God's already done the work. The issue is whether or not we discover it, and then be valuable people and do valuable things.
To say that you can create value is to claim that you are a god, actually. It is to implicitly confess that one does not believe in The God who's already done it for us and who'd like us to just be in line with what He wants for us. And yes, that does very profoundly and very necessarily require His Son who established the value by redeeming each individual with His gift of salvation by His shed blood.
The second thing was his insistence a number of times that these students all get going and get out and get a job. Now, many of these students are very busy learning key professional skills which Joe Entrepreneur here has always needed from other people so he could get his millions. I'm sure he was just encouraging them to get their feet wet, that's fine.
But each time he said "Get a job," he also said "Fill out a tax return." Ahh, I see. Sure he's saying "See what it's like," but he's also saying "Make sure you have the power of temporal government regulating your behavior, because you're all pretty rotten people and if you're dutifully up on your tribute payments, then things should be kind of okay for you."
Funny, during my downtime at the event I'd continued to skim through a new book by David Wolman called The End of Money. It's a mildly interesting look at what money has been historically, what it is now, and what it may be. It's more of a breezy anecdotal treatment of the subject with some elucidating introductions to the more novel ways money is being considered, you know, bitcoins and all that. Sadly his concluding chapter is merely about is his experience at a coin show, regaling us with his thoughts on that eternal question about whether money has value that is intrinsic, instrumental, numismatic, aesthetic, whatever.
I must say that he does give bright shiny elucidation of the myriad ways this "trust inscribed" makes it so easy to do human sacrifice, and it all reached a head with one item I came across as these thousands of extremely intelligent high school kids all around me were busy consuming the World's meaty instruction. Right smack in the middle of his explanation that government-issued money is traditionally the only one ever widely accepted is this extraordinary observation from media theorist Douglas Rushkoff, coming off the mundane idea that money is merely used for transaction purposes:
"[It is] also being used by speculators to extract value from communities."
After this Wolman enters that "There's got to be a better way" trance by suggesting we think seriously about using energy units like kilowatts as currency. Yeeeah. Seriously.
People do see human sacrifice happening around them all the time. They're very smart people foolishly dismissing what's really going on. Meanwhile they ceaseless wave about their heads the metaphorical hammer screaming and hollering... about what? They all just whack themselves and end up bloodied and bruised.
A few months ago regularly well-received Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein did this very thing, ranting and raving and <<smack>>— <<smack smack>> "Ouch that hurts."
In his piece "Occupy Wall Street? Just Defund It" —a comical suggestion to begin with considering that it is eagerly funded by everyone anyway—he closes with a remarkable recommendation.
To strike hard against the baaad stuff going on in that ugly value assessment world, how about we all "band together to launch cooperatively owned pension funds, mutual funds and private-equity funds to serve their customers, in effect creating an alternative financial universe with different values and a different culture."
That universe already exists.
It is the Kingdom.
It is made up of people who have not sold themselves out to the World through 501c3's and W-4's and SS ID's and all the other things which bind people to the law and confirm that they need powerful restraints against their reprobate behavior.
It is made up of people who having abjured themselves from the World and turned to the mighty embrace of Jesus Christ do the Kingdom work of sowing all that is valuable into the lives of all they encounter—a total productive measure at least a hundred times that of the World.
Pearlstein and the hundreds upon hundreds of millions of people haven't the faintest idea about this Kingdom. For one, they are so hypnotically obedient to the Operatives pulling the strings of the institution men described in Taibbi's piece that what Pearlstein suggests is just a fanciful dream. Oh, the System will industriously work to arrange something with information technology and information mobility to make tribute-schlurping hyper-powerful folk look ever more respectable.
But it will all still have the mark of the beast, and it will all still revolve around the most proficient human sacrifice. This is the other thing so disturbing about Pearlstein's plaint. So many, so many people are perfectly happy to shrug off the value extraction they practice that it is very hard to find and interact with those who actually do that Kingdom work. Where are they? Where are those who speak with Jesus' words and get in the mix with His hands and feet? No wonder Pearlstein and many others lament so deeply.
As I thought about that inextricable philosopher and economist in us all, I realized that while there are indeed good ones and bad ones, it may be more succinctly meaningful to say that people do economics either by the World or by the Kingdom.
The other day I was browsing at the local library as I oft do, and came across an interesting title. What's Behind the Numbers is a tome co-authored by an investor and a Motley Fool guy, and it turgidly interprets the underlying meanings of all the financial measures and Wall Street gyrations. Nothing new, really—for eons people have been trying to find and share and nail the way to get the most from the World's human sacrifice machinations.
But that title.
What's Behind the Numbers?
The numbers about
About exploiting value assessment? Is that it? Isn't that what this is all about? How you can hack off other people's numbers so you can get more of your own? How best to do value extraction? How to get it done within the barest margins of legal acceptability?
Or might the numbers be about being self-sacrificial and sowing so everyone you love would have way more? How you can love because Jesus Christ loved you first? How you could actually be Jesus with skin to others? How to see the beauty, glory, and wonder of the Kingdom rapturously manifest in the lives of those around you?
Thing is, that involves being good at identifying that critical facet of value, indeed the most important one of all—the spiritual one. It isn't as much what's behind the numbers but Who's behind the numbers that matter. And that means that as much as everyone is a philosopher and an economist, everyone is also a minister.
Are you a good one or a bad one?
No worries, though. I know ::whew:: —it's really hard to be a good one. Too much work. Amazingly, God knew you couldn't do anything yourself about being a bad minister.
Want to not be?
And find the value of who Jesus is and what He wants to give you.
This particular home page piece, "On Disinformation," has its own page. You may link to it here.
This page was originally posted by David Beck at yourownjesus.net on October 31, 2012