Archives V  

The Catholicist Nation

 

Archives Menu

 

September-October 2008

“‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’”

- Mark 7:6 from Isaiah 29:13

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

- Upton Sinclair

Pastor Eddie Perez Romero of La Puente Hacienda Christian Fellowship was so incensed about China’s human rights violations that he went to Beijing during the 2008 Olympics and vandalized two hotel rooms, scribbling anti-China messages and biblical verses on the walls. At the time of this web publication he was in hiding, waiting until the games were over before he turned himself in. I imagine he was hoping for enough press to get China spotlighted and sympathizers rallied behind him that his prosecution would be relatively painless.

Rage is a funny thing.

Everyone has some of it for unsavory things that affect them, but most deny that they do. I’d figure Pastor Eddie would say he was not as much enraged as “righteously indignant.” The connotation of rage is indeed one of an unbridled anger that moves people to violence.

Eeyew. No one likes someone else’s rage. When someone blows a gasket about something that you happen to be pretty okay with, it is very uncomfortable. “Calm down! It just isn’t that big a deal!” you cry, without the teensiest bit of rage against the rage, of course.

There is one exception to that truth, however, and that is when you can connect with another’s rage and the enraged appears to be a reasonably principled individual. It’s even better when you can identify with an entire group channeling its rage—you now have a cause.

When that rage is packaged institutionally, you’ll join a whole nation of a valiant culture warriors in a holy crusade. What’s neat is that you can vent with impunity because your rage is indeed much more noble than your adversary’s, and you can get a lot of people joining you in rationalizing it as not real rage after all for you are so above that kind of thing.

 

I confess I have a bit of rage bonking around in my soul at times.

I came across this splendid image of Ice Cube in the entertainment section of the Los Angeles Times, featured with an article about N.W.A’s groundbreaking 20 year-old album expressing the visceral disaffection in the urban population. At first I dismissed the image as a depiction of the ugliest wanton rage, but after thinking deeply about the raw emotion it conveys, I’ve embraced it.

The reason is simple.

I’m just being authentically honest—I too feel that way at times. My insides look exactly like Ice Cube does here, particularly any time I discover yet another virulent dimension in the Catholicist Nation.

But yeah. Wait a minute. Rage. Goodness gracious, that’s not good. That’s not Christian-like. (And if you are a bit familiar with N.W.A’s lyrics, you’d get the idea…)

Thing is, Jesus felt rage. He felt deeply in this vein quite often in fact, deeply about the exact same things that we all see today in the World, so deeply about it that He gave every last measure of His devotion for those savaged by those things. As point of fact, check out these Jesus emotions, gathered just from the book of Mark:

Infuriation: “He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts…” (Ch. 3 v. 5)

Incredulity: “He was amazed at their lack of faith.” (6:6)

Exasperation: “He sighed deeply and said, ‘Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to it.’” (8:12)

Whoa. Pretty harsh there, particularly the part about this Jesus who is kind and generous and all that effectively giving them squat. “You want a magic trick? Take a hike.” Ouch.

What was it that got to Jesus? From the text there it seems the thing that had Him looking a bit like Ice Cube Himself was the people’s

 

Failure to understand.

 

That failure has come out quite plainly in the latest from the Barna Group, those stat mavens who incessantly take the pulse of contemporary Christianity. Their new book is unChristian, and it is getting a few look-sees from pastors who are waving it around at their parishioners shouting, “Look at the harvest! Look at how miserably we’re doing! Now get going!

The book details six main areas where the “Christian church” is failing in its task of reaching the lost with the gospel. Each is focused on a common perception many have about “the church,” and those perceptions are so entrenched it is virtually impossible for churchgoers to truly minister to them. Those six are (“The church is…”) hypocritical, too focused on getting converts, anti-homosexual, sheltered, too political, and judgmental.

After the opening line of the book, “Christianity has an image problem,” it regales us with all the awful things Christians do to derail their effectiveness in truly loving others. All of these things are certainly true, but the crucial truth that the Barna Group and 97% of Christians out there just don’t get is that the “church” to which they refer is not Christian.

 

It is Catholicist.

 

That term refers to an institution that is very Christian-looking but it is actually a fantastic counterfeit, a contracted subdivision of the World System working in the ministry of condemnation. This is in contrast to the true community of Jesus Christ, made up of people living richly in the Kingdom and expressing such love to one another that they do not need to shack up with the Catholic Church—the ecclesiastical branch of the System—to ensure their sin will be kept in check. Formal obligations like W-4 tax commitments and 1023 non-profit incorporation divulgences and even elaborate mortgage and property tax arrangements all pronounce that you are a sinner in need of legal constraints against your dangerous behavior.

I mean, I thought Jesus shed His blood to take out your sin?

Or did He?

Maybe He didn’t. Maybe you just worship another Jesus in a World System God club. If that’s your choice, that’s your choice. Anyone can choose to worship whatever god he wants to, and the god you follow can order you to do anything he wants you to do that you’re okay with. Whatever floats your religious boat.

 

It is just that this is not Jesus, and the city where Your Own Jesus reigns is far, far away from His Kingdom.

 

Barna’s own figures bear out this striking contrast. The two most telling:

  1. 84% of those surveyed among the general population said they know a Christian personally. 15% of them said they actually see any lifestyle differences that would demonstrate their faith in action. In other words, 85% of those who know a Christian see that “Christ” does diddly to affect their behavior. Essentially, “The church is no different from the world.”

  2. Among those ages 18-41, 65% said they had made a commitment to Jesus Christ at some point in their lives. 3% of those have a Biblical worldview (as determined by criteria cited in the notes below). In other words, two-thirds of the population say they are Christian but a tiny fraction of those actually believe and live by the things Jesus said. This belabors the point: Which Jesus is the one they're talking about?

The thing that is so pronounced here is simply the complete abject failure to understand. This is not the same as inability to know—Jesus never censured the genuinely uninformed, we all have things to learn. The problem is the willful smothering of the spirit: being blind, staying that way, and wreaking havoc as a result.

Not-blind, here is what you'd see: there is a Kingdom and there is a World, and within the World are two large factions brawling against one another in what many call “The Culture War.” I’ve loosely identified the two camps as Radical Selfists and Devout Romanists. When people see that it is these armies who are waging the emotionally and spiritually violent battle, then the “unchristian image problem” starts to make sense.

Jesus and His followers have no image problem. The Catholicist Nation’s church has the image problem, and the Radical Selfists—even in their most rabid denial of God—are making penetrating assessments of that place. Many Devout Romanists will soon show their colors brilliantly with a mega-rally at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego to promote passing a California anti-same-sex-marriage initiative. While it is true that homosexual activity is execrable, these fuming Christians are sincere in their ruthless cause, wholly embracing Cain's legacy to hammer others with the force of law.

More lives laid waste on the vast battlefield that is the Culture War.

unChristian is really just the latest kick-in-the-Christian-pants books to come along. These tomes have been spit out for eons. The latest is The American Church is Crisis, chock full of facts, numbers, and graphs that tell Christians how deficient they are. A popular one that’s been out for a couple years is Simple Church—same approach, same heaping piles of “Here’s what you should really be doing.”

In fact, a whole movement (inspired of course by the commensurate volumes of spiffy literature) has been sweeping across Christendom moved by such precepts. The Emergent Church seems to feel that if we could just get more churches to have low lighting, tables with candles, contemporary art, music with bongos, and pastors in Hawaiian shirts then we’d really see people come to Christ. Now those things are really cool things, they really are, but, errgh—

Come on.

All these people use hundreds of pages to tell you some perfectly fine things to do, but they have to use so much ink because so much of it comes from a patently Catholicist perspective. Fine things to do with no power to do them.

What should the church be doing? I can tell you in one sentence:

 

People who have Christ’s name on their lips must completely divest themselves from the World and give 100% devotion to Him, and see that their assembly is doing the same thing.

 

I guess I just happen to have this ludicrously naïve idea that Christ-followers may actually do that if they began to truly grasp how much Christian church leaders get paid to fail to understand. By officially claiming to be a state-qualified religious minister, a pastor has his tax bill virtually wiped out. Churches get gobs of goodies from government who won’t charge them as long as they follow the IRS rules. Even the rank-and-file delight in the nice tax discount they get when they tithe. All of these represent “payments” to keep World inhabitants in a state of contemptible ignorance about those things God would like them to understand.

 

The only way for a Christian to touch people with Christ is to get out of The War altogether. Many screech with every fiber of their being that they are Christian but insist on staying. They’re so Catholicized that they can’t imagine what it would be like without the law whipping them to the front lines of the Culture War. They’ve been so bludgeoned and beaten by their rage it’s become an addiction, a rush they can’t push away because it’s all they know.

How about my rage, mentioned at the beginning of this piece? What about it? Where does it go? Aren’t I just a susceptible to being sucked into the maelstrom?

Yes, certainly, if I choose to get back into it. My Lord has said, however, that Truth can indeed have rage written all over it, but to be meaningful it must be saddled with Grace. No one can behold the hideous naked reality of their own spiritual destitution. Ice Cube and his friends sang about the rage and captivated millions. I don’t believe grace was shared a whole lot in Straight Outta Compton, but I do believe that authenticity in community can only happen once people are honest with one another.

This certainly involves how angry they are, but it also means incisive discernment and genuine transparency about how thoroughly infected the church is with the World.

After all, what was it that Jesus wanted more than anything else?

 

People to understand.

 

Sure I rage when people don’t do that. I simply feel it when I see people not understanding to their own destruction, and I really don’t think I’m any different from anyone else. There is, however, a critical distinction between the World’s rage and the Kingdom’s. Kingdom people, knowing Christ and His heart, recognize that any rage is really just sorrow with a fist. As such they understand that people need grace with truth, a gentle touch to go with the patented Ice Cube scowl.

In essence, He mends my heart after every moment of rage I feel.

Then I can do real grace.

Jesus did it this way:

For one crucial moment in time, He let the Agents of Cain have their way with Him.

He was a servant of the highest order, putting Himself last as far back at the end of the line as anyone in history could ever be. So far back that it cost Him His life.

We too are to be crucified with Him and identified in His death. It is only from there can we love with both stunningly profound truth and intensely rapturous grace.

Does this require scouring pages and pages of Christian church do’s and don’t’s? Nah. Enabling zealous pastors to scurry off and scold big overbearing countries? Uh-uh. Filling a stadium for people to yell at sexually confused but deeply hurting people? Hardly. Reciting raps about rage until our throats bleed? Not really.

 

It just requires talking with Him.

 

Try it.

Talk with Him instead of Your Own Jesus.

I think you’ll be blown away at what’ll happen.

 

 

***

             Notes:

  • The books mentioned in this piece: unChristian, What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity and Why It Matters  by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons. The American Church in Crisis by David T. Olson. Simple Church by Thom S. Rainer and Eric Geiger.

  • Here is the link to Amazon's list of books led by Simple Church. It features book after book about how much churchgoers need to get cracking to be good Christians again. I would bet not a one of them speaks about what matters most: How to be ungrafted to the World.

  • Barna established the following criteria for defining a Biblical worldview:  1. Jesus lived a sinless life. 2. God is the all-powerful all-knowing creator of the universe and He still rules it today. 3. Salvation is a gift from God and cannot be earned. 4. Satan is real. 5. A Christian has a responsibility to share his faith with others. 6. The Bible is accurate in all the principles it teaches. 7. Unchanging moral truth exists. 8. Such moral truth is defined by the Bible. Barna considered that all eight propositions needed to be affirmed for an individual to qualify as having a Biblical worldview. Barna also asserted unequivocally that those who hold all eight do indeed live lives that are markedly different from those of World inhabitants.

  • A fuller treatment of the Culture War is here. A bit more about contracts with the World is here.

  • Don't think understanding was that important to Jesus? Read carefully through the gospel of Mark to see it, it is all over the place. Also look at chapter nine of Jeremiah to see what God really wants, and yes, it does have to do with understanding.

  • And for those who think it audacious of me to claim to know what God wants us to understand, I merely read what that is, that's all. I'm not special, anyone may find that out. For Bible-respecters, see what that is here. For non-Bible-respecters, some thoughts are here.

 

#

 

November-December 2008

This is what the Lord says: “Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the sky, though the nations are terrified by them.”

– Jeremiah 10:2

“Does the human heart know chasms so abysmal?”

– Dr. Manhattan, as he hovers in his glass city over Valles Marineris

on Mars, the largest canyon in the solar system

I am fascinated by the fixation people have with superheroes.

A while ago a friend and I visited Six Flags Magic Mountain near Los Angeles, a theme park showcasing a dozen roller coasters. As we strolled around I noticed banners on all the poles, each with an image of a curiously outfitted, finely muscled, sometimes masked superhero. I thought, “What is the deal with this? Why are we so enamored with these peculiar individuals who can presumably rip open our guts in the name of truth, justice, and the American way?”

We’re so consumed by the idea that superheroes are such wholesome avengers that we never think about what it would be like if such persons actually did jaunt about exhibiting their daring-do on our behalf. One such individual did, the quite renowned and enigmatically eccentric Alan Moore, and in the mid-1980’s he wrote one of the greatest graphic novels ever, one that will be released next March as a major motion picture.

I’m speaking of Watchmen, and since the trailer started appearing a few months ago in theaters preceding showings of the latest Batman feature, subversive comic fans have been going ga-ga.

Watchmen is a brilliant caricature of the superhero as savior. It depicts a parallel universe containing all the same historical belligerencies among nations but a President Nixon serving a fifth term of office. The novel weaves a number of storylines through several decades to elucidate the base nature of power, indeed the whole concept of “watchman duty” even as the watchmen are decked in splendidly idiosyncratic crime-fighting uniforms.

I should graciously announce SPOILER ALERT here before I go any further. In a moment, pertinent elaboration about Watchmen’s meaning will require me to address its conclusion, so you are now forewarned. In the meantime, some brief comments are in order regarding the core problem all crime-reduction crusaders must face.

One way evildoing rears its boil-pocked bottom is through economic indices, and the current financial whirlwind provides a fine pretext for understanding law enforcement's prime quandary. A recent Los Angeles Times op-ed by Claire Berlinski was a typical “Here’s what really must happen for everything to be all good again” blab entitled, appropriately, “What the Free Market Needs.” She included an exhaustive list of all the institutional pieces that must be in place for markets to function smoothly. She seems to feel these are provincially derived, but they are universal necessities for thriving economies. By her notes they are:

            Less cronyism

            Effective judicial system

            Trusted judiciary

            Enforceable contract law

            Disinterested civil service

            Modern bookkeeping

            Accurate property records

            Rational system for tax collection

            Successful education system

            Clean police

            Clean politicians

            Transparent campaign financing

            Responsible news media

            Wide-spread sense of civic responsibility

Really, now. Hmm—ya think? The entire list was there, as if these things are revolutionary ideas. She could have cited one thing and saved a ton of ink.

 

No lying, anymore. By anyone. At every level of society.

 

The real question is, how do you get that? What is so silly about Berlinski’s piece is right before she rifles off each item, she says this: “[We do] not need more government interference in the marketplace.” Huh? To take liberty with a certain politician: “What does she expect to use to stop the rampant abuse of those things, spitballs?”

 A real-life example of this clumsiness is the case of those particularly despicable super-villains, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. From what we’ve been told these mortgage management behemoths have been allowed to stomp through the crystal shop while everyone gasps, “Somebody save us!”

Lo and behold, there had been someone assigned this duty! The World has a special name for its brand of valiant superhero, they call him “Regulator.”

I can even share with you who this one is! Right here! His name is Jeffrey B. Lockhart III, and he kind of looks like a superhero, don’t you think? He is a bit balding, yes, has poor eyesight, and his outfit is unimpressive—but he’s got a lapel pin!

The fact is he heads something called the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, a $60 million, 200 employee agency (a fine Justice League operation if I’ve ever seen one), and they have one assigned task:

 

Keep Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in line.

 

Oh.

 

Obviously the watchmen are not being watched very well. Or are they? We just don’t see the deep machinations involved. I don’t think Jeffrey B. Lockhart III is impotent (after all, the White House recently awarded his office the highly prized “adequate” rating). He is just incapacitated by his superiors, who themselves are yanked about by their superiors, who in turn… and so it goes.

Now there is an alternative to this body of death, but I think someone like Berlinski is typical of most who’d brazenly dismiss it because the first half of the title of her latest book is There is No Alternative. The times I’ve heard people sigh, “If not the government, who can you trust?”

 

Watchmen goes deep into the nature of this intractable problem.

These crime-fighters do their duty, which as you know consists of slapping around the riff-raff of society, including some run-of-the-mill mob figures. That’d be terrific, except they realize it’s all a whack-a-mole game—there’s always someone popping up doing some awful thing somewhere else. And then there’s the politics—these superheroes do such a great job that the police refuse to work. This puts so much pressure on the superheroes that the government bans them. Sheez, whaddya gotta do to avenge things!

Most of Watchmen’s superheroes have no exceedingly unusual powers much beyond a fine capacity for kick-boxing bad guys (sometimes with the help of spiffy gizmos) and I’m sure this contributes to their exasperation about the sustained inefficacy of their efforts.

Two of them are notable exceptions.

One has the title “Dr. Manhattan,” and early in the novel he endures an unfortunate radiation accident that turns him into a kind of nuclear super-being, so super that he can command molecular arrangements with a thought. He uses this ability to manipulate objects, sense impending events, or transport himself or others somewhere else in an instant. The irony here is that even with this phenomenal power—truly greater than any superhero in any other superhero story—he realizes he still cannot alter man’s free will. This brings great distress to those near him who know he can stop bad things but doesn’t...when you think about it, kind of the way people often think about God. I mean, Dr. Manhattan did end the Vietnam War in a week, at least God didn’t do that.

The other has the superhero moniker “Ozymandias”—real name Adrian Veidt—and he brilliantly exploits his illustrious reputation to sell literature and merchandise related to his popular method for health and prosperity. Granted, these “skills” are nothing beyond-the-ordinary, except to the extent that he eventually recognizes there is only one temporal way he can affect true superhero vengeance, and he cleverly uses his billions to employ extravagant new scientific techniques such as cloning and teleportation to achieve it.

Last spoiler alert, for here’s how it all plays out.

Veidt creates a hideous beast so disturbingly foreign expending such immense psychic energy that its sudden appearance in the middle of New York City causes a slaughter so great that the rest of the country rallies to fight this common enemy. The idea: instead of fighting one another, everyone fights the alien threat and this concerted devotion to the noble cause brings lasting peace.

What a concept.

Why again is this so extraordinary?

It is simply because this is the way the highest law enforcer does indeed operate today, extraordinary because so few people seem to know this and so few seem to understand—

 

There is an alternative.

 

Pearl Harbor, Kennedy Assassination, Nine-Eleven… You know the catalog, all spectacular dramatic productions to facilitate the chief means for managing a populace wholly given over to evildoing. No one is exempt, all are liars, and the superheroes in Watchmen were deeply troubled knowing that.

In fact, after Veidt murders half of New York to achieve his noble ends, the others resign themselves to the dilemma that faces them. Reveal the truth and destroy the peace that Veidt hath wrought, or hold their tongue because they consider Veidt’s plot the only way to save mankind. One of these superheroes, Rorschach, is so pathologically obsessed with the brutal truth that he’d casually break one’s extremities to get even a modicum of information he needs. Naturally he can’t refuse to expose what he’d just witnessed, and this necessitates his elimination by a conciliatory Dr. Manhattan.

The brutal truth still remains: the highest ranking agents of Cain use the most sophisticated, systematic, and often staggeringly inventive forms of deceit as a matter of duty. It is what they do.

 

What is amazing about this dynamic is that the Bible speaks of it, most evocatively in the second chapter of Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians. The entire concept of a “restrainer” is a mystery indeed, puzzling scholars through the ages. Paul makes it clear, however, that those who truly understand and know Christ can see it. All it takes is a reasonably deliberate reading of Scripture and moderately perceptive observation of current events.

Even though the man of lawlessness is charged with restraining evil behavior and accomplishing that with a deftly concocted fantasy world for those who refuse to see truthful things, evildoing still hammers the world. Frequent events designed to catastrophize the imagination are proficient at reining it in a bit, but the real-life counterpart to Adrian Veidt will never eradicate it no matter how well he does his job.

What is troubling to many who even nominally like this Jesus fellow is that Jesus Himself set all this in motion shortly after evildoing began in earnest millennia ago. In this sense God is the big “R” Restrainer using the small “r” restrainer to keep men from destroying themselves for one purpose:

That they'd have a shot at genuinely turning to Him.

 

All the federal government / banking system / state-church gymnastics are merely part of the show. Those with lots of contracts with the World—I’ve listed them many times before: W-4’s, 501c3’s, Social Security commitments, mortgage debts—they're all just doing a song-and-dance routine. Often enough they get to be a bit player in those necessary catastrophes the restrainer stages.

The most pressing question then is, when the small “r” restrainer is removed and people are free to give complete reign to their abjectly murderous behavior, will they still be so hypnotically entranced by the show that they can’t leave it, or will they have asked the True Alternative to open their eyes to see Him and everything that they’d ever authentically want?

           

I happened to come across a song by Devo I’d first heard years ago. Yes, Devo, that goofy very early-80’s punk band. The words made me think about the spectacle created for World inhabitants:

It’s a beautiful world we live in,

A sweet romantic place,

Beautiful people everywhere,

The way they show they care

Makes me want to say,

It’s a beautiful world

For you

For you

For you

It’s not for me.

Those who faithfully dwell in that culturally dissident underground, the punkers who revel in the Devo-types, the pop cultists who riff on Alan Moore and his stuff—they seem to faintly see the façade for what it is. They just know the World is shitting them and their avant-garde dances are simply visceral railings.

The World God they observe is considered some kind of Evil Genius, tormenting us with twisted perversions of what life should really be. Interestingly this is something the famous philosopher Descartes also thought about way back in the 1600's, and his cogitation produced an intriguing idea about truth.

He said that if God were actually an Evil Genius always deceiving us about everything, then there must be an antithesis of the deception, namely, the truth. Therefore, truth exists even in the face of a lying God. He added that if God was deceiving someone, there is still a someone who is being deceived, an individual existing in truth however he is addressed by a lying God.

Sadly many of these insightful individuals still cower in their existential huts, some even making a god of the torment itself. With so many Jesuses out there, the quasi-savior regulators and financiers and ministers doing the things they do so well, I can see why it can be a challenge for them to step out and even breathe.

           

One last thing.

I haven’t told you how Watchmen finally ends.

Sorry, not going to tell you here. You’ll have to read it. Or catch the film next March.

But I will tell you that following that tremendous despair, the feeling of repugnant disappointment that the grandest deceit won the day—there at the bottom panel of the last page of the entire novel, right there at the tail end of the most mundane epilogue you could possibly ever endure, buried in the deep recesses of “the crank file,” is truth.

 

Not quite The Truth yet. With that also comes The Grace.

But it's a start.

 

At least for those who want to see what is real.

 

 

***

 

“Why is my language not clear to you? It is because you belong to the father of lies.”

– Jesus, from John 8:43-44

 

***

 

Catastrophizing the Imagination  A Mildly Applicable Nine-Eleven Blog Post  |  Watchmen Trailer

 

The Alternative to the World

 

#

 

January-February 2009

 

In a couple of recent high finance web items I found these words.

“The dollar lacks definition.”

One writer spoke about working our way back to the gold standard, the other highlighted questionable things the Federal Reserve does. Both of these arguments can’t be spouted enough by well-intentioned conservative economists. The frequently screeched answer to the weakly-defined-dollar problem is “Let’s return to a precious metal standard damn it!” or “Let’s get rid of the central bank damn it!” or both.

When I look at this I always ask, “What is truly being said, here? What is the underlying meaning?” A dollar is only as good as the thing it represents, it is just a symbol of something else. Could be shiny yellow bars of metal. Could be what some authoritative government-contracted banker says it is. For it to be anything truly meaningful, however, the only thing a dollar can represent is

Someone’s capacity to make someone else’s life better.

Really, that’s it.

The guy who wrote about the Federal Reserve criticized the monetarists and brought up a kind of reverse version of the diamond-water paradox. You remember this question from your basic college economics class: Why are diamonds so expensive yet no one really needs them, and water so cheap yet everyone needs it to live? The answer is simply that the effect on the market here is not demand but supply. Even though we need water, it is cheap because there is so much of it. Diamonds are expensive because they are so scarce yet just enough people want them so badly.

The monetarists have applied this principle to money. Put a lot in and it becomes cheaper. Take out some and its value goes up. Recently the Fed has slashed the federal funds rate to effectively zero yet the economy still stagnates. What gives? The problem is that it is not nearly as much the money as it is the particular thing that is considered to have value, and exactly how respected that thing is.

Look at it this way—in a sense, the diamond-water paradox expressed differently. What would happen if suddenly there was quite a bit less pocket lint than there was before? Would it suddenly gain value? No, because no one wants pocket lint to begin with. By the same token, what if there was a sudden increase in safe well-managed tropical island beachside properties? Would they become less expensive? Not necessarily, because I’d say pretty much everyone would love to have a nice home in one of those places—they are highly valued no matter how many there are.

By the same token, if a central bank puts more money in the economy and it is already worth little, it’s nothing but the famously silly helicopter drop of fancy looking green rectangular papers.

It's all meaningless unless the thing we think has value actually has value.

 

God made it so everyone has immense value. The problem is that each individual has messed up that value so much that anything he or she does actually has such little value in the end. The only way it can be back the way it was originally is for God to make it that way, and He did in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ.

It is Jesus who bestows upon us any value that is worth anything. Sure someone can build a great bridge spanning a large river, but in the end, it is dust. Sure someone can write a wonderful novel stirring the soul, but on the last day, it's also dust. Sure someone can sing a marvelous song, paint a beautiful landscape, construct a magnificent monument touching the sky for all good things everywhere, but really…

All of it, dust.

All pointless unless it is about how much we love one another, and the only way that can happen is through Christ. You’ll never get that from the World, although it does have its brilliant counterfeits, and many of them are very pronounced anti-Christs.

An interesting graphic appeared in the Los Angeles Times business section for Sunday, December 28, 2008. Above it were the words “Waiting for Obama.” There he is, president-elect Barack Obama, bigger than life, preparing to lift us and our value (note the dollar sign) out of our despair into the nether regions of light and glory and whatever.

This was all surrounded by stories from the Times top economic writers.

           

David Lazarus spoke about powerful businesses selling us products that can actually hurt us. Did Lazarus write about Jesus Christ freeing us from the tyranny of fearful exploitation of others? Not exactly, he only mentioned the need for stronger law enforcement. Can’t wait for Obama to start that…

Tom Petruno spoke about restoring faith in the economy, smothering us with nifty strategies to help us maneuver through the troubled economy. What precisely is “the economy” except people who either lie or don’t lie? Did Petruno suggest that there’s this savior, Jesus, who’d move us with such compassion that we wouldn’t need regulators to whack us about to stem the virulent deception that results in deafening shouts of “We need to restore confidence in the market!”? Nah. Just need more law enforcement. Obama, you go, you get going on that…

Kathy Kristof spoke about her desire to see the tax code simplified—as if we haven’t heard that eight trillion times before. But now we have Obama to fix up things! He’ll tax fairly and push a just social agenda. Never mind that both are simply ways for government to enable more exploitation—exploiters exploiting exploitees who’d rather be exploiters themselves. Kristof concluded by pleading (her word) with Obama to massively increase subsidies instead of creating more tax breaks. Um—yeah. It doesn't matter how much you rework the tribute system, it still results in entrenched World inhabitants declaring that as sinners they must have masters around to bridle them.

Jesus Christ is never mentioned in any of the above pieces because He will never be a part of any of this, so it is indeed quite fitting. These experts in World ritual and those who salute them most likely read His name here in this writing and presume I refer to a straw-man character who only shows up in the middle of some pithy saying blurted in church to give us warm fuzzies about good things somehow.

           

As it is, boastful clever World inhabitants right now are going crazy working the system more, trying to get that boffo investment plan going, recruiting stoog—er—members, looking to be the next Bernard Madoff (only with a lot more respectability of course). The twist is that they’re getting their value hacked off by more powerful human sacrifice priests, paying tribute through their noses in taxes, interest, and tithes just as much as they’re flailing about trying to hack off value from someone else somehow.

It is because of this unfortunate fact that the World must have a precious metal standard or a central bank to manage the value of a dollar. It must be one or the other. Both do a rotten job of it, as history has shown through the ages. When it comes right down to it, it is only one’s veritable consideration of what another does to make life better that determines value. When most value perceivers are habitually practicing rank value extraction of their neighbors, it will show up in brilliant colors through the macro indices. This predictably fosters great worry about the dollar and moves Caesar to pop up, Johnny on the spot, waxing gloriously about how he’s taking care of things.

Jesus is the only, the only answer to the “dollar lacks definition” problem. It is because He made the one required sacrifice that makes it so no more sacrifices need be done. Everyone would be producing in great abundance fully able to utilize their gifts for the benefit of all around. No more investment schemes need be managed. No more law enforcement penalties need be levied. No more severe penances need be paid.

No more tribute need be handed to Caesar that he himself knows he can’t collect from those already clothed in the righteousness of Christ.

Sadly these things must reign in lives of World inhabitants refusing to accept the complete freedom Jesus offers. Cain’s agency of oppressive governance in whatever form it takes was put in motion by God for a reason. Sadly there are so many who rationalize their need for it and boast about their trust in a fake Jesus whether it is Obama or a plastic half-naked guy hanging on a cross.

In the meantime they will wallow about with the typical World mantra streaming through their psyche: “I can’t be sure of my value. Who can I get to assess that—who can I get? The only people out there to do that are liars. I must then be a liar myself, and do it as imaginatively as I can with the best liars I can find. I’d like to think Barack Obama will keep it all from getting out of hand, at least in my favor.”

Put everyone together chanting this and you've got one gigantic body of death, fueled by the most fetid fear, and however much they fear is the measure to which they will deny that they do.

Unless…

          

Unless they see it for what it is, turn around, humbly come to the One Who is Love...

And then, the miracle.

Whatever currency is used to measure love will bring the greatest, widest, deepest wealth to everyone.

 

***

Notes:

  • The financial web piece on restoring the gold standard was written by derivatives trader Carlos Pedrera. The one on the inefficacy of the Federal Reserve and the monetarists' diamond-water paradox was by trading firm senior economics advisor John Tamny.

  • Some may say the answer to the diamond-water paradox is marginal utility. But this principle is merely a way to look at value assessment regarding numbers of people and length of time utility is considered.

  • The columns from the Times writers are linked to their names in this note: Lazarus, Petruno, Kristof.

  • Bernard Madoff is the renowned investment manager who ran a fund that had money in nothing but his pocket. If you haven't heard of him you certainly will over the next few months, as he will be summarily prosecuted in what promises to be one of the most highly publicized criminal cases in financial history.

  • The way most Christian churches devote themselves to Caesar's service is by holding 501c3 incorporation contracts. More on this is here.

  • A couple other previous home page pieces here address the idea of value extraction. A rough sketch of human sacrifice is here.

  • For a comprehensive exposition of how modern governance is the legacy of Cain, please read Tupper Saussy's book Rulers of Evil. The link here is for a page to take you straight to it.

  • How valuable is man, rich or poor? Look at Psalm 62:9, quite sobering. Want to see a striking contrast of value? Check out 1 John 5:12. Interested in browsing the riches one has in Christ? They're there in the first chapter of Paul's letter to the Ephesians.

 

#

 

March-April 2009

 

"All the world knows how profitable this fable of Christ has been to us and ours."

- famously attributed to Pope Leo X, better known as the chief prosecutor of Martin Luther

 

The latest brilliant move from the World’s ivory tower to reverse the economy’s freefall is to issue “stress tests” to the major banking interests. These are designed to determine whether or not a given bank may survive the future financial uncertainty, and if it is proven it cannot, the federal government will prop it up with fresh capital.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has added that he has been very offended (his word, shared with the commensurate expression of disgust) by the behavior of these banks’ managers, so naturally the proper thing to do is to hand them gobs more money courtesy of the next generation of exploitees.

All the gyrations affecting the market these days have thrust the most cherished theories of economic behavior under widespread scrutiny, and I thought it would be good to briefly examine these queries and identify the stark truths in each.

 

1. The Theory of Efficient Markets.

The original idea: A market price will always emerge as an optimum value assignment because all the necessary information will eventually enter the price-establishing pot. The consequence of this theory is mostly wrestled with in financial markets, where a given player always wonders whether he or she can really get any substantive, sustained return on an investment. The theory says they can’t. In a more sophisticated way, all economic “profits” gravitate to zero because eventually everyone finds out where the action is.

The current thinking: The theory has been pilloried over the past several months because so many of the most powerful players stretching their value assignments for so long have been summarily exposed. Many surmise, then, that efficient markets aren’t, and government must be in the mix to regulate these regrettably inefficient environments. In short, markets cannot keep people from lying, and since the best liars do it so well some powerful regulatory entity must step up to stop it, and that can only be Caesar. Thus is the World perspective.

The brutal reality: Caesar is a cruel task-master for those who challenge his reign, but a soft-hearted dragon for those who pay handsomely for their deception to be enabled. It matters little which camp they are in, their relationship with Caesar simply confirms their wickedness, so why blame the market? It quite efficiently exposes this truth. Sin management is a service very much in demand, and it always carries a stratospheric price.

Hmm, the market efficiently exposing one for who he or she really is. Very discomforting.

 

2. The Theory of Rational Expectations.

The original idea: People act very rationally based on their expectations, or in more specific economic terms, what they believe the future value of a thing will be. Simple enough. People behave rationally.    

The current thinking: About as reviled now as the idea of efficient markets, the apparent problem comes from the observation that so many people can be so far off with their value assessments. The theory does consider that people will be off even if they thought they were on, as well as the idea that they will never knowingly be off. The great puzzle is how so many can be so off, and—ouch, this is where it gets touchy—how so many can so willfully deceive and are themselves so deceived regarding those expectations.

It seems people are just not very rational at all.

The brutal reality: The most insane criminals act very rationally, and every single individual behaves with the purest rationality in every single decision they make, no matter how deceived they are. Indeed, there is truly nothing that is irrational, ever, anywhere.

What’s more—this is the beauty of the theory. It exposes the fact that man’s value assignments are woefully deficient, and will indeed be off quite often. Not only will they be off, but they’ll be deliberately off in order for the most underhanded to cleverly exploit those who let them do so.

Wait a minute, didn’t I just say everything is rational? Elaborate institutional theft does not seem to be very rational.

Oh, but it is. It is wholly rational.

It is just not righteous.

It is at this point the World inhabitant’s mental processor malfunctions.

Righteous? Oh don’t get religious on us now.

I’m not being religious, just truthful. I don’t have to say a single thing that could be considered religious.

The World says it all already.

It’s just those so beholden to its liars can’t help but go to other liars when the liars they’ve been following are found out to their detriment. But then, if the liars deftly lying about their lying are all they’ve got, then that is—yes—

Perfectly rational.

 

3. The Theory of Financial Innovation.

The original idea: Not as much a “theory” as that valiant free enterprise quest for the one formula that would do value extraction best. In other words, just as automobile designers are plugging the newest GPS devices into their latest models, capital movement gurus are sweating out better ways to get a return on their investments. Go to any financial advisor’s office and it’s like the high-end mall’s shoe store—so many boffo styles to choose from!

The current thinking: Fears are stoked about the questionable ways power brokers have used “financial innovation” to pad their own bank accounts. Some say they’re just caught up in the moment, victims of misfortune that impacts everyone. Some will say they’re innocent fools, only doing their jobs as best they can. Still others will unabashedly call them the worst criminals. But most all the detractors are anxiously restrained in their censure simply because they consider there is no one else who can extract value for them and their retirement.

The brutal reality: Value extraction is just human sacrifice. Certainly if one labors legitimately to aid capital movement in some productive way, he or she should be rewarded for that. Honest work for the benefit of both buyer and seller is value enhancement.

But no value extraction technique comes without its due reprobation. It is easy to revile the Bernard Madoffs of the world for their brazen duplicity, but what do we say about arguably the most innovative financial instrument of them all, those thoroughly innocuous index funds, the proverbial throwing-the-fleece over the whole lot? No matter how small the individual returns are, is this not also a form of value extraction? (Top index fund manager John Bogle has himself declared it is nothing other!) Added together they bring billions of dollars for those making claims of ownership to the wealth of others for doing nothing but… making the claim.

And we all thought slavery ended after the Civil War.

 

Geithner can so appallingly hand out cash to such incompetent-slash-iniquitous value assessors simply because so many believe these guys are the only ones who can store their value. They only know of them, those authoritatively assigned the job of exploiter, and they shrug in resignation. They perk up a bit when being assured those guys will be bridled by Caesar’s minions, but then again, who is watching the watchmen?

Through this body of death they openly reveal that the god they worship is decked out in a $2,000 Armani suit, gold watch, and beaming smile, exceptionally adept at convincing you that he is your preferred value assessor and that you are quite privileged to be a member of the exclusive club. As the god of commerce, he sees that you get your modest cut, and as the god of thievery he ensures you pay him handsomely for the service. By enlisting so many to look exactly like him he can seal the deal with his “strength in numbers” feature—how else can highly leveraged funds work?

One looking through the World lens is left with the sincere despair so eloquently expressed by financial reporter Tracy Corrigan: “We have no choice to but to embrace our collective ignorance and accept that the best we can hope for is a series of complex, detailed measures which will take time to be effective and even then will only provide help rather than a cure.”

Oh my.

This perspective is not uncommon from those who see only through that narrow lens. It is easy to see how “stress tests” and “financial innovation” can be so confusing, indeed fertile ground for liars to thrive. The critical factor in all this, however, is always what is truly, objectively, veritably valued.

In his new book Elsewhere USA, Dalton Conley acutely addresses the very issue of just how woeful we are at assessing value. He writes, “Value is elusive in our economy. Often we are just guessing. So our own worth is therefore elusive too. Anxiety about that worth is thus a rational response, as is our suspicion that we may be frauds.”

 

All of this makes perfect sense to those who look though the Kingdom lens, because they see authentic value by the One who is the true Value Assessor, and He is such by the very definition of His character—the Living Word.

Mention His name, however, and the mental picture projected against the inside of the soul is likely to be of someone else. It is as if someone said “The solution to the financial crisis is Rumpelstiltskin.”

Huh? Get out of here with your fairy tales.

Funny, the story of Rumpelstiltskin is a perfect metaphor for what is going on here. Think about it.

Some conniving people in the tale want to spin straw into gold. Kind of sounds like our professional value extractors dutifully on the job. Some guy then pops up who apparently can do just that. Name is Rumpelstiltskin, but might as well just call him “Jesus.” This straw-man's mask is put in front of the World’s god often enough, and he can sure turn that straw into gold all right. He sure can.

Turns out the daughter sees this clown for who he really is, pronounces his true identity, and he gets so angry that he tears himself in two.

Ah, the wonderful insight of an iconoclastic fairy tale.

 

It’d be nice to hear a few more articulately pronounce the World Jesus for what he is. Instead the World megaphone only blares story after story about the effects of rationalizing mounds of straw as if they were gold. All the rank deceit does is bring sustained agony with pasted smiles—a perfectly rational existence, by the way, for those without God dwelling in their hearts.

And that’s just it. What of it?

If they like their own fantasy life, what is it to me?

 

Except that, yeah, I just have a penchant for humbly introducing them to the Living Word. He's kind of the "financial innovation" who's been around for a long time already, forever actually. Sorry, He won’t turn straw into gold.

 

Just death into life.

 

***

 

Notes:

  • The above photograph was scanned from the March 23 print edition of Newsweek, accompanying an article on Swiss bank UBS. It has no attribution even though every photograph in the magazine has one, even the stock images. If it is hard to see, that's a statue of Mercury in what appears to be a vault. I cannot see how this may be interpreted as merely an ornamental feature.

  • The quote from Conley's book Elsewhere USA was introduced to me by Gregory Rodriguez's Los Angeles Times column from February 2, 2009.

  • The concept of someone watching the watchmen is addressed here, with the new motion picture Watchmen addressed a bit.

  • John Bogle's lucid explanation of the fund manager's role in value extraction is here.

  • A rough sketch of human sacrifice is here, and how that relates to the way people assess value is here.

  • This is the way churches make their lord Mercury instead of the Jesus of Scripture.

  • Some thoughts about the Living Word are here.

 

#

 

May-June 2009

 

“Too big to fail.”

This epithet is quite maligned among the enraged set, appalled that some firms—AIG, GM, every major bank—are somehow so sacrosanct that they must be rescued with gobs of taxpayer money. But I wonder. Are there any individuals living richly in the grand Americanist enterprise boasting that they themselves are in that class? Come on, really, what else is Barack Obama for, except to hoist as a figurehead for championing everyone’s preferred TBTF status?

If you look deeper at the machinations involved, you’d discover that when the powers-that-be declare a given institution TBTF, they are really saying “We don’t want the people to think that they are failing.” It isn’t really that the people are TBTF, it is that Caesar wants them to believe that they are for the purpose of legitimizing their enslavement.

Please do not misunderstand me, none of what I say here is in any way a censure or protest of Caesar—I’m just pointing out that this is what he does. If you are contracted to be in his service, you are under his thumb no matter how much you say you are part of the whole “people power” thing.

People power.

How very democratic. Quite inspiring, too, in many circles, manifest in many splendid ways through all strata of society.

 

In thinking about this I thought I’d peek a bit at where this idea originated, and how Americans have been subjugated through the centuries simply by being convinced that they actually have power through numbers. Many proudly presume that the founding fathers were gloriously responsible for our “freedoms,” and many of them point out the influences of Enlightenment thinkers. The most renowned people-power guy from among them was Jean-Jacques Rousseau, one so enlightened that he expressly considered himself above the Enlightenment itself.

We all know Rousseau said everyone was naturally good and that civilization kept him in chains. All that was needed was a healthy dose of fine education and the learned individual will be free again. He further posited that no monarch should have autocratic authority and that the people should be the ones deciding things.

Extraordinarily controversial in his time however orchestrated that controversy was, Rousseau was a functional vagabond his entire life. Early he migrated to and from the Catholic dominated Savoie region in southeastern France and Calvinist controlled Geneva. The culture war was so intense between the two that operatives worked openly in each locale to convert, reconvert, and if necessary re-reconvert itinerants. Rousseau’s surrogate mother was one such helpful individual, a dutiful informant on the king’s payroll for the Catholic cause.

Young Jean-Jacques never had any formal education, but he devoured the classics and any humanist literature that was available. “[I was] constantly occupied with Rome and Athens," he wrote in his Confessions. "I enflamed myself with their example. I believed myself to be Greek or Roman.” He referred to Plutarch as his “master and comforter,” and read Virgil’s Eclogues twenty times, only because he struggled with learning foreign languages. We aren’t sure how much Scripture he consumed, but he did get heaping servings of the World’s interpretation of things.

Conflicted constantly about his place in life, Rousseau flitted among many pursuits, and is widely considered one of the most original thinkers in political science. He tackled the liberty vs. authority questions with vigor, yet he was no one special in this regard. These questions had already been prodigiously addressed by privileged wonks for ages. (In Rousseau's lifetime the Jesuits even made great sport of it all by toying with the Jansenists—quite fun for a while, until the Jesuits stop playing the game in the late 1700's and Jansenism faded into obscurity.)

 

What matters is that we like to revere mythmakers close to our time and tastes, so the flesh-and-blood Rousseau morphed into more of a legend. And because he had the unusual treat of watching this occur in his lifetime, he spent his last years trying to justify his authenticity. Confessions was one such effort, lauded as the first modern autobiography, but his pathological introspection was also exhibited when he unsuccessfully attempted to deposit his Discourses: Rousseau Judge of Jean-Jacques on the altar of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame shortly before his death in 1778.

A fellow collaborator on Encyclopédie even observed that when “Jean-Jacques” drew a crowd in Paris most had no idea who he was, just that it was Jean-Jacques. It was essentially the simulacra Rousseau that made up the expansive marketing program to further the cause of “people power” among those who really had the power.

Rousseau’s fame was not undeserved. His opera The Village Soothsayer was widely enjoyed and his novel Julie attained a great deal of popular acclaim. His two greatest works Emile and The Social Contract were the most scandalous, but the threat they posed to the ruling elite was greatly exaggerated. It was the nobility in France who wanted to exploit his works to bolster their tepid challenge to the royalty’s power. Although the official censor approved them, the books were banned in some quarters—there is nothing more favorable for a book’s image than to have it publicly condemned thusly.

The nobility was being played like a cheap fiddle, however, for the Jesuits were quite visibly buddy-buddy with the French royalty. Not only did that coziness spell doom for the kings, but their fate was sealed with expulsion of the Jesuits from France—in 1762, by the way, the very same year both Emile and The Social Contract were published. How exquisitely Sun-Tzuan for the Company to use Rousseau to marginalize the nobility, eviscerate the monarchy, and then quietly slip away, all the while sowing the philosophical seeds for a raging populist conflagration that would ultimately result in more power for… the Company.

How were those seeds sown, precisely?

 

Trenchant critiques of the divine right of kings came from a few voices but its true source, at least for the purpose of actually effecting the doctrine’s demise, was a neo-scholastic Jesuit scholar named Francisco Suarez.

Suarez nurtured his political seedlings with De Legibus (“The Laws”) an elaborate rationale for resistance to authority asserting there is an “original contract” between the people and a duly sworn potentate. Its foundation was the idea that people are inherently free and equal and that there is natural law that governs all—sort of a “people’s law.” The only true authorization for a sovereign to do anything is that it is derived from the consent of the governed. It is not hard to see these principles woven through The Social Contract as well as deeply embedded in the United States’ Declaration of Independence.

Suarez practically invented international law, and as a Jesuit he had the channels through which it could jostle uncooperative provincials. He was summarily honored by having his work ordered to be burned by the Parlement of Paris on the grounds that it was inflammatory and encouraged regicide. James I used it to warm the throngs on the steps of St. Paul's.

Ironically, it was two notable Protestant political philosophers who picked up these concepts and gave them further traction. Hugo Grotius esteemed Suarez (though he hadn't a clue he was doing so—perfect for Suarez) with his De Jure Belli ac Pacis, or “The Laws of War and Peace,” and Samuel Pufendorf did the same with his De Jure Naturae et Gentium, or “The Laws of Nature and of Nations." Rousseau critiqued both in The Social Contract, and by arguing with Grotius and Pufendorf while animating Suarez' thesis, he gave tacit endorsement to popular Roman Catholic governance.

For his part Rousseau declared rights so sacred that no authority may abridge them, even if a dictator is required to see that through—the essence of the notoriously perverse “You must be forced to be free.” How much should a dictator do to achieve this? (Robespierre, if you recall, was a rabid follower of Rousseau.) And how long must he work before the “republic” may take over? An examination of institutionalized political intrigue shows that a republic in every age of history is merely a cover for a lasting autocracy.

To avoid relying too much on this troubling necessity, Rousseau recommended his infamous “civil religion” for all to follow so popular passions are mollified and the governor’s job made easier. Is this so important that the people must be forced to give allegiance to the state religion, or are they actually free from that obligation? Rousseau gave lip service to religious freedom, but still insisted on the need for some form of cultural coercion. His written pledge of allegiance for the budding nation of Corsica went like this:

“In the name of all-powerful God and of the holy evangelists, by a sacred and irrevocable oath, I unite myself to the Corsican nation with body, possessions, will, and all my strength, so that I may belong to it completely, myself and all that depends on me. I swear to live and die for it.”

How stirring! How rousing! How impeccably Jesuitic! Nothing speaks Catholicist like a solemn oath filled with God language directed at something not-God.

 

The Legend Rousseau‘s most triumphant moment was the French Revolution, a spectacular soap opera with a star-studded cast featuring a sophisticated head-chopping device as comic relief. One of its greatest ironies occurred when Notre-Dame was impounded by the sans-culottes, who proceeded to replace the saints with busts of Rousseau and Voltaire. Suarez had been dead 170 years, but I can only think that he was smiling in his grave.

Furthermore, a celebrated propaganda piece for those who enjoyed frequently shouting “Égalité liberté fraternité!” was Allegorie Revolutionnaire, displayed on the right. Its most prominent feature is the fasces upon which rests a Phrygian cap, attire that signifies one’s freedom is conditioned on the master’s prerogative. A rendering of Rousseau is there at the top, right above that all-seeing eye—a suggestion, perhaps, that the Unknown Superior is truly arranging things even as The Legend is given top billing?

 

This is not the place to delve into the turgid complexities of political theory one way or the other. The thesis here is that the common thread in all of this is the law, and that the law is so excruciatingly opprobrious that it must be adorned with magnificently fabulous dressing. Rousseau was just one among many who’ve been exploited to do that by the ones assigned the task of administering the affairs of the city through the millennia: the militant operatives working in the Agency of Cain.

Holy Scripture also has much to say about the law, and it even says much about its goodness. But ultimately it is good for only one thing, really, and that is to demonstrate quite proficiently that we cannot follow it. Whole forests have been sacrificed so the World’s political philosophers may pontificate on the hows, whys, and wheretofores of following laws, and more forests are still required to inscribe them all.

Christ says one simple thing.

Follow me.

Give up all that self-rationalization even in the most wonderfully eloquent expositions of our rights and natures and desires for the most idyllic existence with one another. Instead be honest and confess that you actually like to murder others, and turn away from that to God.

The law will then be of no matter.

Yes, Rousseau and all the rest of them knew man has murder in his heart, but their solution was the grand combobulation of the law. God is not only fine with that, He made it that way specifically for people who refuse to come to Him, for the purpose of exposing their true natures and highlighting the inherent folly of throwing themselves into Caesar’s whirlwind. Francisco Suarez should be commended for doing nothing other than Cain’s work, but it should be seen for what it is.

 

The distinction can’t be more profound:

  • The agents of Cain (speaking through whomever, from Plato to Rousseau to Obama): Here’s the plan for you to follow the law. Pages and pages of things to do, rules to follow—even though it won’t make you good, it’ll all just make you feel like you are.

  • Christ: Go beyond the law by abiding in Me, then you will love and in turn make the law obsolete. You’ll have authentic community, and being among people will actually mean something again.

The incestuously matted relationship churches have with the state by being incorporated can only indicate that they are not doing what Christ has said. They are instead doing precisely what Rousseau suggested, plugging themselves into the World and working ever-so gallantly to do law. As long as it is wholly infused with "people power" talk, it's gotta be good. The American Civil Religion is thriving, as it is supposed to be.

But it won’t provide what people truly want...

One with Skin who loves.

The law, that just checks murderers—for a while. Have you looked at all that law stuff through history? Whew! It’s a lot! So yeah, I’d say they’re definitely TBTF.

 

People who love, though, they know they’re “Too Small to Win,” sincerely broken and asking for grace. They are then are gently lifted up by Christ in the Kingdom. The TSTW political philosophy is unthinkable in a TBTF World, but there you go.

Hey, Jesus said it, not me.

You want to pretend like you’re first? Go ahead and pound your chest that you’re first. Write spectacular political treatises with lots of name-dropping—wait! How many times did I mention Rousseau in this piece! That has to get me in with the top people!

 

Want to really be first?

Be last.

 

Then you’ll have true people power.

 

***

Notes:

  • What does Caesar refer to? A bit more explanation is here.

  • Who is the "Unknown Superior"? That's here.

  • Jansenism was the Catholic version of Calvinism. It should be noted that in some sense Jansenism survived in the rigid Calvinist mentality found in many modern Protestant churches, and because it was birthed by the great Catholicist church father Augustine, Calvinists are still today being played by the Company. The Company, by the way, is simply a reference to the Jesuits.

  • Emile was Rousseau's pioneering treatise on "natural" education. Robespierre was the administrator of the Reign of Terror in the 1790's resulting in thousands sent to the guillotine (with he himself subjected to its blade) and the emergence of one of the most notorious dictators of history, Napoleon.

  • Here is more about how churches in America make themselves branches of the nation's civil religion.

  • Don't think you murder? This page cites some ways people do that, and why.

  • For an entire page of Scriptural references on the follower of Christ's relationship to the law, go here.

  • I am indebted to Leo Damrosch and his comprehensive biography Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Restless Genius for his very engaging information about Rousseau.

  • For a much more expansive treatment of the Jesuits' hand in the formation of the modern world, read Rulers of Evil by F. Tupper Saussy. A page is provided to link you to his works.

(November 1 2011 note: At this time the "Occupy Wall Street" phenomenon is getting some media attention. It is simply about another round of common folk shaking their fist at powers-that-be. What is funny is that I found this photograph of a makeshift protest placard, something I had to include here for obvious reasons.)

 

#

 

July-August 2009

 

"The Word became flesh...full of grace and truth."

- the Apostle John

 

"Many will come in my name."

- Jesus

           

As a teacher of Advanced Placement U.S. Government and Politics, I belong to an email forum of AP Government teachers from around the country. Virtually every thread of discussion has to do with what to teach in the class, how to teach it, and what a given school’s AP program should look like.

Occasionally there is a stream that strident Government teachers like to swim in, and at times it becomes a torrent. One recently revolved around that eternal pedagogical question: “How much should I reveal my own political leanings to my students?” So far I have seen about thirty different posts, each with a confidently articulated response to the question. Every one of them assumes the ideological camps must be liberal and conservative, and it is unsurprising that most answers have been along these lines:

“I think it is best to refrain from divulging my ideological slant. My classroom is a forum for open discussion, and students should be allowed to make up their own minds.”

This is undoubtedly the most applauded position to advance in a relativist, subjectivist, deconstructionist, humanist, tolerance-worshipping society such as the one that reigns today.

My question is this.

        

What if something is true?

           

Oh, yeah, truth.

That thing that is up to the individual.

That thing that can’t truly be known.

That thing hopelessly obscured by the words we use to describe it.

That thing that must be subservient to the mental health of the individual.

That thing no one can speak of at risk of prosecution by the thought police.

 

See, I tend to be a teacher who simply, plainly, and graciously shares the truth. I’m pretty sure I’m expected to qualify that with “as I see it,” but my seeing has nothing to do with it.

I want to know the truth and I want my students to know it too.

I'm not so obtuse to foolishly dismiss the fact there are many things I don't know. A truth nonetheless. I also know many issues are very complex and contain yet-discovered truth facets. Another truth still. Furthermore my ignorance of some things does not disqualify me from firmly knowing other things. Yet another truth.

Finally it is true that I may know the most important truths with a limited faculty to know because that truth is not a thing but a Person, from Whom I may know any truth to begin with. I don't have to know everything, but He does, and He shares some of that with those who'll listen. After all, one of the most important characteristics of this Truth is that He is as much Grace.

 

A few weeks ago I found a terrific demonstration of these truths about Truth when I took a number of students from my high school to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. I brought along my young daughter, and as the students went their way, we went to the children’s room. It had been arranged with cubicles of different interactive attractions related to items in the museum, the most prominent the first one near the entrance. Next to a large replica of a Getty work were roundish white papers with two little holes, crayons, and elastic strings—craft materials for making a mask.

The featured artwork here was James Ensor’s Christ’s Entry into Brussels in 1889, something I’d never seen before. At first I didn’t pay much attention to it, but as I gazed at it I became quite intrigued. After our time here I went to see the real work to learn more.

Christ’s Entry is a huge painting displayed on one wall of a room mostly devoted to the piece. I could elaborate on all the artistic evaluations, but many others have done that and done it better. I am not an expert and would certainly like to take more time to find out more of what others have said, including Ensor himself. I shall merely share my humble thoughts about it and add what it has to do with truth.

 

 

The most striking part of the painting is all the people filling the foreground, many of them ugly grotesque figures being led by the man with the baton, a depiction of a prominent social reformer in Belgium at the time apparently a highly regarded clergyman no less. People fill the scene, they are in every part of it, and again most are jarring unsettling images. It is interesting that most of Ensor’s other paintings reflected his obsession with skeletons and masks.

Ensor’s works were some of the first in the expressionist movement, which emphasized subjective feeling using bold colors and strokes. Christ’s Entry hung in Ensor’s own living room for much of his life, a testament to the deep connection between the work and his feelings illustrated through it.

Ensor declared himself an atheist, and his familiarity with Belgian political events make the meaning of this piece so profound. The figure of Christ riding the donkey is thoroughly underwhelming, and while he occupies the center of the painting he is completely marginalized. His presence is so minimal that an entire military band is required to infuse his appearance with any gravity at all.

The focus is clearly on is the dizzying parade of individuals rallying to the cause, “Long live the social!” All the banners and slogans amount to the common World charge:

We are the ones who are the gods! We are great enough to change things through numbers and a bit of inspiration from a charismatic leader. Oh, and yes, we like this Jesus fellow too.

 

It seems those figures on the right are government officials overseeing the whole affair. I wonder, if all these marchers are truly free to do as they please in service of the Grand Noble Cause of Goodness for All, why must they be supervised so vigilantly? And what is with the characters standing (and squatting, it appears) behind these imperially upright officers? Are they clowns? Why are they there with them?

One more noteworthy part is what the people are doing in the upper left corner. It is hard to see and I admit I would not have been able to get it if I hadn’t been told what it was. They are doing nothing other than vigorously vomiting and defecating. Many truth seekers who can make out the rank façade below and react viscerally may identify with them. They rage and screech and flail against it all — and perhaps puke a bit, too.

I’ve seen that Kingdom dwellers react a bit differently.

They know of this deception because they know Truth, and from that they not only weep but give their lives to let them know about that Truth.

 

Now, I should make the disclaimer right now that I may be completely wrong about Ensor, I may be. That’s fine. Let me know what you think, what you know, that’s cool. But I can’t see how Ensor is not saying quite plainly, “Everyone is off on their merry jaunt, and joining others in it is like a hysteria-inducing drug. Over here is their Jesus, a meaningless, impotent caricature. It is all about them and their glory — Jesus, he’s someone neat they can put on a poster.”

I’ve found nothing that indicates Ensor himself had any idea who Jesus really was. Later in life when he gained some acclaim for his art, he gladly accepted all the accolades the World affords such individuals. He may have sincerely tried to portray Jesus there as best he knew him, and immersed in a fully Catholicized society how else would he draw him?

What strikes me is how similar this whole thing is today — really, none of this is any different from any other age. Millennia ago all the respectable and industrious stakeholders in the Tower of Babel project did the same thing.

As always, there are many Christs providing emotional substance to the tower building. All too often I hear about the Anti-Christ, as if he is some lone grinning fiend in a really nice suit pacing along his penthouse office window glaring at the subjugated humanity below. Jesus said, however, that there would be a lot of them. Not just one, but many. He even said there would be quite a few who’d look and speak and do similar things. Many fine churches have their Jesuses, but as much as those churches still contract with Caesar as incorporated “non-profit” entities they are betraying Jesus’ words about the freedom that comes from the Spirit.

So many of the most fervently avowed Christians

Believing the lie.

 

Ensor’s painting so brilliantly depicts a whole nation given over to lie. It’s almost as if those officials there on the right are saying, “Splendid, all madly devoted to their futile crusade, and — let’s see — that Jesus there? Yes, still just a phantom. We will still be employed tomorrow.”

Every thought, idea, consideration, feeling, or desire will either be ultimately directed toward The Truth, Jesus Christ, or the deceit, another Christ. As much as it is about The Truth, the more the law becomes obsolete and the more capacity one has to love and be loved. The more another Christ is worshipped the more consuming is the lie and the more justified the oppression from Caesar.

How often I hear the common refrain, “You’re a liberal, I’m a conservative, you say tah-MAY-toe, I say tah-MAH-toe, let’s call the whole thing off!...” In other words, “Let’s not talk anymore about any of this ‘truth’ stuff,” precisely what World operatives shaping the sentiments of “mainstream society” want to hear. I enjoy nurturing the most vibrant engaging discussions in my classroom as much as the next teacher, but I also know where they all must lead if we're actually interested in the truth. After all the “Then what?”s and “Why?”s are exhausted, there is only one final place to be, and that is facing The Word. For all too many, finding Christ the God of the Universe in really real reality is simply too threatening.

The lie just feels better.

World inhabitants are just skeletons, fearing everything. They're proficiently taught to put on masks with smiles and shrugs in spite of their raging terror. They rigidly cling to their straw-man god like it is a stuffed animal, whether it is a picture of Jesus to pity or the sweetest sounding champion for the righteous cause, or both. Cain’s agents are right there to manage it all for a reasonable price.

Ensor saw this brilliantly, and showed us with Christ’s Entry.

 

Does anyone have any idea what would happen if Jesus really did show up?

I shudder to think.

 

By the way, the title of Ensor’s painting, if you didn’t quite catch it, is not merely Christ’s Entry into Brussels, but rather Christ’s Entry into Brussels

 

In 1889.

 

He did the thing in 1888.

 

So really, I should ask,

 

What will happen when

 

***

 

Notes:

  • A website with some of Ensor's other works displayed, a veritable panoply of masked individuals and skeletal figures, is here.

  • The biblical passage that clearly speaks of Jesus as The Truth is in the first chapter of John's gospel, those very initial words there in verses 1 to 18.

  • The Word became flesh verse is John 1:14. The "Many will come in my name" verse is Matthew 24:5. Attribution of John 1:14 to the Apostle John merely refers to his transcription of God's word.

  • I do use the convention of capitalizing personal pronouns that refer to Christ, but at times pronouns are not capitalized in this piece because they are referring to another Christ. How do I know the difference? I simply read His words. If you believe I've misread those words, please email me. I'm wholly open to correction.

  • What is the deal with the identity of Jesus? Some thoughts, and a link to a list of a few of those anti-Christs.

  • Here are some details about how churches betray the freedom Christ says they may have in Him. The Catholicist Nation is described a bit more here.

  • Another home page piece I wrote about art is here.

 

 

#

 

Scripture   |   Homepage   |   Site Map

Archives VI

Archives Menu

 

This page was originally posted by David Beck at yourownjesus.net on October 28, 2008