28 May 2013

Truth, Myth, and the Baptizing of Lies in the American Church

Part 3 (Final)

Even supposed America-hating liberals praise the military. Just tonight Admiral Stockdale came up in a conversation. For those who don't remember he was Ross Perot's running mate in 1992. He was also a Vietnam POW who with John McCain participated in Operating Rolling Thunder. By the time Johnson ended the campaign in November 1968 somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 Vietnamese were dead. Long before its conclusion both McCain and Stockdale were rotting in the Hanoi Hilton.


I pulled up a YouTube clip of the 1992 Vice-Presidential debate and watched it for a minute with my kids. That's when Stockdale made his famous opening quip "Who am I? Why am I here?"

Al Gore, the liberal vice-presidential candidate and fellow Vietnam War veteran just lavishes praise on Stockdale. This man who murdered Vietnamese in a country (North Vietnam) that never posed any threat to the United States was awarded the Medal of Honor. I try and sympathize with his and McCain's injuries and imprisonment and yet find it hard to do so. He was just doing his duty many would say and was treated badly for it. Did they think the North Vietnamese would thank them? What would Americans do to the pilots of an invading army? Would it be any different if thousands of American children were incinerated? That question can't be asked. It's out of bounds. Today I was called 'ungodly' for raising these questions at another website and blocked from the discussion.

Americans can't see those held in Guantanamo, Baghram, Abu Ghraib or the archipelago of Black Site prisons around the world in the same light. Many of these people really and truly did nothing. They just were in the wrong place at the wrong time or had the wrong last name.

But these Americans...they killed children. To expect lost people to not respond with violence is asking a bit much. I pity their torturers and the men who endured it...but in another sense when they demonstrate that they've learned absolutely nothing from it and show no remorse and in the case of McCain still love and celebrate war at every turn. Then no, I don't feel sympathy.

McCain perhaps more than anyone has led the charge to intervene in the Syrian Civil War. Just today he snuck across the border to meet with some of the rebel groups. He either understands next to nothing of the demographic situation, or he doesn't care. And like Vietnam he's more than content for even thousands more to die so that his game piece in the geopolitical chess game can make a big move.

A lot of Vietnam veterans are bitter right now because in the post 11 September world American soldiers are so praised and fawned over. Many people were upset with the war protests and the rejection of American soldiers returning from Vietnam. And so when the Gulf War buildup started in 1990, many people celebrated the way the military took control of the media and prevented them from reporting the truth. Even the media were eager to kow-tow to Colin Powell and other propagandists for the military. Since then this has only increased and Vietnam veterans are astonished to see American soldiers applauded in airports.

On the one hand I can sympathize with an 18 year old that gets drafted, believes he's doing right, goes over to Vietnam, sees it for what is and comes home disillusioned. But they're not going to celebrate it. Those walking around today wearing the Vietnam Veteran baseball caps are to me worthy of no respect at all. Sometimes I wonder how many of them actually saw combat? Normally those who went through those things are reticent to talk about it. I think of the one fellow I heard on the radio talking about how his unit was burning a village and he all worked up. A buddy had been killed recently and they were frustrated. An old woman grabbed the sleeve of one of the American soldiers imploring him not to burn her house. The soldier smacked her in the mouth with the butt of his rifle leaving her a stunned and bloody mess. Laden with guilt the soldier admitted that it was he who had done it and talked about how war really is and how you do things you didn't think you could do. He talked about the push for 'body counts' during the war which he and many others have said led to nothing less than wanton mass murder.

I don't know if this guy was a Christian but he demonstrated sober reflection. Parading around in your veteran hat shows something else. Obviously the vast majority of Right-wing Christians are completely unrepentant. Even worse they've baptized their deeds. US policy led to mass slaughter in many places, El Salvador, and Indonesia just for starters. Literally hundreds of thousands died. If you add in Vietnam the tally stretches into the millions.  Our 'liberal' media fails to report any of this and I was astonished a few years back to learn how violent destructive the Panama invasion was in 1989. We were never told.

Few Americans realize their American Dream is an absolute hellish nightmare for many others around the world.

And the Christian thing to do, because it's the Patriotic thing to do is be 'proud' of it all and if there's a twinge of guilt...explain it away or better yet get someone to whitewash the history.

And now more than ever I'm seeing Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom hats, 'I Served' bumper stickers etc... I suppose some of it has to do with the narcissism of our age.

Who did they serve? They ought to read Smedley Butler one of the most decorated Marines in history who came to reject his entire career. In "War is a Racket" he rightly says:

"War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small 'inside' group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes."

And,

“I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”

Butler was right and it's only grown worse over time. These pitiable fools haven't 'served' their countries. They're dupes for the Empire and even the citizens of the Empire don't benefit from Imperialism in whatever form it takes. The massive profits end up in the hands of a few.

When the British Empire was at its height did the citizens who had been forced off the land by The Enclosures and were now living in the slums...did they benefit? They didn't but the wealthy grew fabulously rich behind anything ever seen in the history of the world. Remember that the next time you're watching a BBC period drama. While those flitting about and strutting in aristocratic clothing are certainly intriguing...remember the morality it's all built upon.

Has the American citizenry benefitted? Economically in terms of cheap consumer goods yes, maybe the average citizen has benefited from Empire. Of cause it could also be argued this economic set-up has also allowed wages to stay low. The middle and lower class can buy things cheaper, of course they're also cheaper made. The low prices and consequent low quality of goods grants some short term satisfaction, but in the long term is actually harmful to them and the overall economy.

Another economic sector that has benefitted the population at large is in the realm of retirement accounts and investments. About half of the country holds an interest in the stock market and gains some financial benefit by the strength of the empire and its ability to dominate global markets. Military contractors and energy companies play no small part in the American economy and they have done very well as the Empire has expanded.

In the end though, the Dick Cheney's, Bush's and others have made the lion's share. Overall Globalism has not been very kind to the American middle class while it has made the wealthy far more so.

Many lament the decline of American society and often associate it with the abandonment of God. They seem to have missed the fact that America's moral decline has tracked equally with its growth in terms of power and its exercise of domination. Those who think this started with the 1960's don't know history very well. The 60's did not just magically appear. Cultural forces were long at work going back many decades. Society had long been undergoing upheaval and even the golden age of the 1950's produced Marilyn Monroe on the cover of Playboy, the birth control pill, Rock and Roll, Beatnicks, Teen culture, and beginnings of mass consumerism. I could cite many more reasons why the 1950's were a time of great immorality and hypocrisy and why not quite everything in the 1960's counterculture was bad. But for the sake of argument, I wish to emphasize the moral decline was well underway even when America was strong and supposedly moral.

These soldiers are servants of empire and are sacrificing their own lives and the lives of others not for you and me, but for the wealthy interests that actually steer this country.

But people are far more eager to embrace myth.

'If you can read this thank a teacher. If it's in English thank a veteran.'

Maybe you've seen this bumper sticker? Pure propaganda and yet so many believe it. I guess the power elites can be thankful for such a pool of simple deceived people. Empires can't survive without them.

They haven't served society in any kind of moral terms. They haven't protected anything. In fact they're part of a machine that if anything makes us less safe. Their participation and sanctioning empowers an evil government and often their actions 'serve' only evil purposes. Many of them are murderers and nothing more. For many and sadly many Christians, the old 'baby killer' epithet is quite appropriate.

These people are unrepentant should be put out of the Church but instead they will be asked to stand and will be applauded. Memorial Day sermons and those in the weeks that follow will decry as evil and sentiment lacking a proper patriotic and military zeal.

In fact you'll be hard pressed to find any other issue that gets Christians so readily upset.

Let's be candid. Many Christians in the United States would happily see me die or hopefully beaten for what I've written here. At the very least deported. I wouldn't object the latter. It's not that other countries are so much better. It's the hypocrisy in our society and the way it is wedded to American Christianity. I can't take it.

How many churches will praise these former and current military members and hallow the ancestors who 'died for you'? ....a total myth.

How many churches will sing patriotic songs, celebrating tribe and nation over Christ, or as the Brethren leader said last week, "Let's sing some hymns to our country."

At least he's honest about what he's praising and worshipping. I stayed only a few minutes more.

Jeremiah 12 says:

Righteous are You, O Lord, when I plead with You;
Yet let me talk with You about Your judgments.
Why does the way of the wicked prosper?
Why are those happy who deal so treacherously?
You have planted them, yes, they have taken root;
They grow, yes, they bear fruit.
You are near in their mouth
But far from their mind.

In Isaiah 5 we read:

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
And prudent in their own sight!

And in Revelation 17-18 we read of the Whore which rides the Beast. Keeping with Old Testament language and imagery we define the Whore as the covenant people, the Church in a state of apostasy. The false Church rides the Deified Imperial State, the Beast. The Beast couldn't destroy her (Chapter12) but instead apparently pursued her and won her over by enticing her to play the harlot.

And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird! For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.”

And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. Render to her just as she rendered to you, and repay her double according to her works; in the cup which she has mixed, mix double for her. In the measure that she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, in the same measure give her torment and sorrow; for she says in her heart, ‘I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.’ Therefore her plagues will come in one day—death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her.

 When the Beast turns on the Whore and destroys it we read in chapter 18.20:

20 “Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you holy apostles[f] and prophets, for God has avenged you on her!”

Rather than celebrate the victories of either the Whore or the Beast we are exhorted to 'Come out'. Consider that as you watch these proceedings in your local church.

What God do they serve? If you choose to stay and make a difference, then be careful not to deceive yourself and remember you will meet hostility. They will realize you're trying to make a difference and they will surely want you gone.

As it was in Jeremiah's day God (it would seem) is removing the oracle/Word from among them. (Jeremiah 23)

Being in the grip of false teaching and no longer able to see or understand the Word is judgment from God. He threatens in Revelation to remove the candlestick, the light, the Word-legitimacy that makes them legitimate congregations.

Perhaps America is in decline because the Church in this land has embraced evil and called it good? Perhaps the church in wedding itself to the Beast is helping to bring curses down on it and the nation it worships. Who can say?

Perhaps success, wealth and power are part of the curse? Who can say? We cannot read the secret counsels of Providence and neither can those who claim God is on their side or the side of their nation throughout history.

But think on these things as you watch the church play the harlot, or think about it as you're walking back to your car and listening to the muffled sound of people singing about the American army crushing the head of the serpent with a gospel of steel, a terrible swift sword, dying as Christ did to redeem men. Think about it as you drive away looking at the sacrilegious messages on the 'church sign' or the flags planted at its base or in the flower beds.

When you grasp it, the scope of this becomes overwhelming leaving you stunned and speechless. And even then you're only beginning to see. In time with open eyes you will start to see the bleeding pulsating cancer permeating the American Church and you realize this isn't the Body of Christ at all. This is a cheap sham, an evil deception.

You begin to understand what the New Testament teaches about the Kingdom's warfare and the nature of the war we're fighting. These evils can only be defeated by proclaiming the Word of God, worship, faith, repentance, and prayer.

Then you start to 'see' the real body and you realize we live in a dark time and the only sun on the horizon is our Coming Lord.

Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
 

13 comments:

Cal said...

I know I've posted on every single post in this series, but it gets me going. As you were, I was a full practitioner in the cult of Americana. Thankfully, I never fulfilled my contract I signed with the Marines to be on the front-lines. I made an oath to demons, frankly, and I'm glad that the blood of Christ purged me of that.

My congregation I tend to attend, while PCA, has some interesting streams running through it. However, the standard fare of American evangelicalism is also present and one of the elder is more in line with this. He called up veterans to be publicly thanked, I felt my heart drop. Thankfully we have none, as no one walked forward. I might have walked out.

The proud veterans, really how many of them really fought? Reminds me of Full Metal Jacket: the only one singing the propaganda line was the blooddrunk military reporter, all the people doing the killing were reticent at best. I have a friend who was a medic in Vietnam. He lost his whole unit. When he came back to the States, disillusioned, he eventually came to Christ. But he did so in the context of a Mennonite Peace church. They had their problems, but he absolutely needed to detox from the bloodshed.

I found Stockdale interesting, especially as a pagan. He was a soldier-citizen in the guise of a Cato, one who practiced a form of stoicism. I read some of his addresses about Stoicism and it use to get me going. He frankly considered suicide in the Hanoi Hilton, following that old dictum: the door is always open. More noble than the christianized murderers.

It is argued that there were soldiers in the Roman Army during the Early Church. Justin mentions the 'Thundering Legion' myth that saved Marcus Aurelius' army. However, it is made explicitly clear in the narrative that they won because of prayer. These soldiers had all refused to use the sword.

Oh how vicious America is. I am a violent man, and my quest to be a peacemaker is more often understood by non-believers. Sad.

Cal

jesusandthebible said...

Who can say whether success and wealth is part of the curse? Jesus. "Woe to you who are rich" and "Woe to you when all men speak well of you" (Lk. 6:24,26).

Your quotes of Butler, that pinpoint the main ones directing the violent American "beast" as big business, Wall Street, and the bankers, could also point to the ones especially portrayed by the great harlot, who rides (and directs) the beast in Rev. 17-18. The harlot "Babylon" is identified as "the great city which has dominion over the kings of the earth" (17:18). In the first century, that would have been Rome, to which all the luxuries of the Empire were sent by the merchants of the earth (18:11-13); for the merchants of the great city were "the great men" of the earth (18:23). But already back in 6:15-17, when the great day of the Lamb's wrath comes (in the end), first in line to be condemned are the kings of the earth, "the great men," the generals, and the rich and strong. These are the ones steering the greed and violence of the Empire and its showcase city.

The great city is also the mother of harlots (17:5), other rich cities--like some in Asia Minor, where the churches are. Thus churches that tolerate rich and greedy leaders like "Jezebel," or that boast of their wealth (as in Laodicea) have become part of the ("sexual") immorality of the scandalous "desires" (greed) of the harlot and her children; this greed depends on, and thus cheers on, the violent beast that keeps the kings and merchants of the earth in line with the wishes of the empire's "great men."

Protoprotestant said...

Cal,

wow I'm surprised you know about Stockdale. Most folks don't remember him. You've obviously done some reading on the topic.

I totally resonate with your last statement about unbelievers.

Protoprotestant said...

JesusandtheBible,

Interesting. I looked around at your site and I'm not quite sure where you're coming from. Normally I can tell pretty quick but the way you're explaining your position it's not clear. For a minute I thought perhaps you were a Preterist and the perhaps a Historicist. I realize of course that you're going to say you just follow the Bible...as we all do. But perhaps a little more framework would be helpful.

I think we agree??? on the following.

The Beast-Whore arrangement is not something that's particular to the past or the future but something characteristic of the entire Church age.

So for example I can point to Tsarist Russia, the British Empire, the Holy Roman Empire/Medieval Catholic Church and of course to the United States.

I would say the USSR was an example of the Beast destroying the Whore which ironically in spiritual terms was a mixed blessing/curse. Idolatry was being eliminated but the perpetrators were wicked men who weren't glorifying God.

I don't think I would be as specific in naming New York or Washington. I think these symbols are generalizations, not something that can be pinpointed.

I look forward to more interaction.

Cal said...

Yeah, before I was a disciple, I got impassioned for philosophy. Because of Cato the Younger, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius, I fell in love with stoicism. I wasn't totally on board with the deterministic/eternal-return-of-the-same aspect but I loved the core: your self-discipline is all that matters. It was will-worship. What made a man great was not circumstances or natural-gifts but his ability to refuse to bend.

I stumbled upon Stockdale by doing some research. Read his speeches at the Naval Academy about his stoicism and how it was put to the test in Vietnam. I was impressed.

Took me awhile to abandon Stoicism. When I first came to Christ, I was trying to synthesize. Thankfully, and it took some time, I realized they were incompatible. The Lord was not a World-Soul, nor was He passionless but impassioned. The World did not turn on Fate, or a faceless decree. The greatest scandal in the Gospels was its shortest verse: Jesus wept. Never could understand it until I abandoned the stoic path.

jesusandthebible said...

Yes, my interpretation of Revelation in general doesn't fit into any hermeneutical box; it's somewhat eclectic, as far as the boxes go, but above all focuses on visionary symbolism that reveals, warns, and challenges churches that need to repent (even in the seven seals and trumpets). As far as leaving the symbolism as generalizations, it appears we agree that the beast (from the sea) has been specific empires in history; so I would say that it is also appropriate to pinpoint specific cities (symbolized by the harlot). Indeed I am much more willing than most interpreters to see allegorical details throughout John's visions. As far as the USSR destroying the harlot, I guess you are still thinking of the harlot there as the "church;" I think the harlot symbolizes the showcase city of the beast/empire; I agree with Butler that it is the big bankers and businesses of Wall Street (and Fifth Avenue, Madison Avenue, etc.) that epitomize the (harlot) "rider" of the current beast. Yet since the harlot is the mother of other harlots, other "magnificent" cities also can play a part in this symbolism.

eliyahu said...

It's so frustrating that so many Christians can't see it. It's right in front of us all and it's largely unseen, or unspoken. The Christian leaders won't dare to take such a position publicly, but claim they're so brave in being "politically incorrect" while preaching the republican gospel to the choir . Because this is the matrix we live in, these false beliefs lead Christiandom into many sins and harden men to repentance-believing they're doing God service.

One day listening to a Vietnam vet on the radio describing his POW stay at the Hanoi Hilton, it just hit me out of nowhere; I was so angry with the Vietcong guards for their cruelty to him, then I suddenly realized, he was shot down in the process of bombing them! Had he killed their relatives or friends? They might be a bit angry; what would New Yorkers do if they got their hands on one of the WTC bombers if one survived? We'rre furious at those who attack us without provocation; but when we do the attacking, we're shocked and horrified at their barbarism toward us?

I feel terribly sorry for them all on all sides, but just frustrated about how American Christians can't even see that what they're doing is wrong and that other people are reacting the same way we are! They just lack the technology to conduct such destructive wars.

Proto, Christiandom has been in this sin since Constantine's time; the 1960's are a blip on the radar (as I'm sure you know plenty well). At least they're not gutting each other in the streets over denominations today; though many would like to try it on Muslims, since we've run out of Indians.

E

Protoprotestant said...

jesusandthebible,

Let's see... I guess I would say the only specific empires we're told about are those that concluded the OT era. I don't think America, Britain or whatever other empire are specifically delineated. And yet, Rome being the final Biblical example has cast a long shadow and in one sense all the empires of Christendom (sic) are patterned after Rome. From Charlemagne to Byzantium, to Britain, Russia and America....they all live in the shadow of Caesar.
Yes I definitely believe the harlot is the Church in a state of apostasy. I think the OT makes that imagery pretty clear. Yet you're not alone. Have you ever read 'More than Conquerors' by Hendriksen? It's a good little commentary on Revelation. I don't agree with him 100% of course, but it's still a good work. If I recall he defines the harlot as basically the enticements of the world system.
I still think it has a covenantal and thus apostate aspect.
And I agree we can't restrict this to just America or any particular country. It just so happens that at present the old USA happens to be the most obvious candidate. No other nation or culture blends the symbolism quite like what we find here.

Protoprotestant said...

Eliyahu,
Yeah you want to talk about politically incorrect? Wow, they get downright violent with you when you won't bow down to their beast. It's real brave to denounce Obama when you're preaching to the choir.
It's funny but all the 3rd party candidates will talk about how as much as the Republicans and Democrats are at each other's throats when there's another party trying to enter the fray they become best buddies, circle the wagons and do everything they can to keep other opinions from even entering the arena. They do all they can to keep them off ballots and out of the debates and they refuse to interact with them. Hopefully that will change a bit.
They seem polarized but in the end they both are still operating with the same paradigm. Once you step outside the establishment circle, you're not allowed to speak. The Church has embraced this because it's wordly and has bought into the world's lies.
You're right about the Vietnam/Hanoi thing. But they consider empathizing with other people to be treason. Well sorry I'm a Christian and I want to call a spade a spade and if that wrankles their vision for America, then perhaps they need to check their allegiances.
It's so obvious once you see it. The problem isn't a lack of information. It's a heart problem. A big one. And like you, once you see it you want to scream. Your eyes are opened and you start hearing the news differently. Just talking to people, you hear them differently.
Praise the Lord. We're being sanctified, our minds and hearts are being renewed.

jesusandthebible said...

I have just glanced at Hendrikson's book.

Eliyahu BenYsrael said...

Keep writing brother; and all you commenting here too; it's refreshing! Good stuff

Protoprotestant said...

jesusandthebible,

I was just curious if you knew the work? I'm not trying to impress you with terms here but are you familiar with Progressive Parallelism or Idealism. I'm speaking in terms of just the book of Revelations. I don't get the impression you read it like a Futurist tends to....chronologically progressive.
And I don't think you're a preterist. Are you familiar with any of that. If not, and you're interested I'd be happy to give a quick explanation.

I read some of you stuff but I just couldn't quite make out how you're putting it together. Sometimes I've run into people who are holding back for a reason...they're JW's or SDA's or something that are trying to lure you in. But you don't seem to be doing that. Just interested....

Protoprotestant said...

Thanks Eliyahu. Your comments are appreciated too!