04 February 2014

Angels of Light / Agents of Babylon (Part 3)


Power, Not Truth

Their teachers don't want them to know. Their teachers don't want them to learn that many of the ideas they promote are not from the Bible but are rooted in political history....sometimes less than ancient to be sure.

In fact they fear them learning real history from a wide range of sources. Every viewpoint that doesn't serve the cause is labeled as biased or liberal. Rather than teach their people to gain perspective by reading and thinking widely, they teach such thought is dangerous, sinful and unfaithful. Fidelity seems to be gauged by one's zeal for the propaganda.

That may seem unfair but I've had too many conversations and interactions with both leaders and followers to think otherwise. I'm generalizing but I believe this is the norm. They want people to read, but only the 'right' books. That's not how you learn. The Truth isn't afraid to be challenged. Reading or listening to another point of view is not questioning your faith...it's refining it.

In many cases the goal is not to help people to figure out and learn the truth, the aim is control and the goal is the acquisition of power. For many church leaders their greatest fear is losing people and losing a job. For so-called ministries and lobbyists their fear is that people will realize the world is a little more complicated than the simple picture they paint. Fear is tremendously effective when it comes to fundraising.

They don't want their supporters and adherents to think about the nature of power and how that relates to the Kingdom of God. How is the Kingdom advanced? Is the Kingdom only successful when a culture is affluent and powerful?

Of course not they would say.

Really? Everything they teach points to the fact that they believe it to be so. The lunatic televangelists are not the only one's teaching a prosperity gospel.

These 'teachers' have pushed many in the Church to the brink of political revolt and the consideration of violence. They hate the government they say.

But do they? Or do they just want to be the one's running it?

Freedom is doing what I tell you...

Rarely do I encounter any of these folks who have considered the fact that their own views are statist. They want the state to intervene and censor, restrict free speech and control private activities and behaviours in the home.

They want the state to shut down the press and the airwaves when it contradicts their views. They want the state regulating morality from the bedroom, to the bar, to the doctor's office, the school and the movie theatre.

They want a state that's empowered to regulate pregnancy but then they don't seem to want a state that intervenes when the child is abused by the parents.

It's ironic, but many work for companies or own stock in organizations that push for regulations that actually take away freedom. Banks and insurance companies push for building codes and uniform standards in every industry across the land.

People blame the government. They're blind. The politicians pass the laws they are told to pass by the people writing them checks.

An 'efficient' society will allow certain institutions to rake in amazing profits. But it destroys freedom. Is profit always good?

Do these people want a lack of regulation? I don't think so. The bankers want you and me to be regulated when it comes to what we can do with our home, property and business because it provides them security.

It's permitted if it's rooted in a profit-motive. If society regulates for other purposes like justice or mercy... that's an intrusion.

An Almost Childlike Understanding of the World

Freedom and Democracy. Are these concepts even compatible with the notion of a Christian State? If not, what does that do the Christian Right's narrative concerning America? Is Morality something subject to popular opinion? If not, what does that say about the principles of democracy? Is the Bible using the word freedom to mean civil freedom?

But we're a Republic not a democracy. Right, so when people in congress are voted in to represent their district, do they not try and change the law to fit the need? When the social consensus is lost do you set up some kind of guardian council to review and reject any laws not approved?

That's the Supreme Court? Well, what if they insist the Constitution is subject to interpretation, and that Originalism is an absurdity in light of the possibility of amendment, the vagueness of language, the complexities of industrial and technological society, and the unresolved conflicts of interest contained within the founding documents?

Do we have Un-constitutional Amendments? Some think so. This is highly problematic and simply exhibits deep problems with the whole American political framework. It's flawed, has never worked properly and has only remained useful because it has been treated in a flexible manner. If applied in the rigid fashion some Conservatives wish, the political and social fabric would quickly collapse. In fact it can be argued that it did at one point. The 1861-65 war was in many ways a referendum on unresolved issues and tensions dating back to the Constitutional Convention.

Have these people thought about these questions? Do the lawyers on the radio talk about these things? Do they want people to wrestle with the 10th Amendment's application after the Civil War, the fundamental change to the Constitution with the 14th Amendment? They don't want people to think and deal with tough issues. That doesn't sell. That doesn't get things done.

Do they talk about the battles within the Congress and Court over the theory of the Unitary Executive? Are they or their followers aware of this struggle? Do they discuss the Reagan's attempt to re-assert the doctrine through Signing Statements, a practice eagerly embraced by every subsequent president?

Why don't they discuss this with their 'partners' in ministry? Are they afraid some would become uncomfortable with its implications and the militarization of American society?

And then to top it off... the power-mongers will hire others who will attack the very notion that an issue is more complicated than their simple reductionistic framing of the argument. They pay people to write papers and books, give symposiums and serve as 'experts' in the media... paid to produce idealised ivory tower dreams. They are little more than propagandists arguing for social and economic models that can be argued on paper, but are an absurdity in the context of the real world.

What is a Christian State or Society? Can that be defined in Biblical terms? Where can I read about that? Don't point to Old Testament Israel. If you do, then you've misunderstood many of the fundamental teaching of the New Testament. In addition you've misunderstood what Old Testament Israel was meant to symbolize. I think the book of Hebrews may be the most neglected and (next to Revelation) misunderstood book in the New Testament.

Is there a single verse to be found in the New Testament that urges us to transform or sanctify culture... or acquire political power?

What do these words even mean? What is culture? I don't agree with how the Christian Right intellectuals define it. They're notions are reductionist and self-serving. What is the state? What is the Church? I could go on ad nauseam. Their positions are assumed. I assume mine too... but I'm willing to discuss them. Their followers are unable. Sadly many of the 'intellectuals' are also unable. They're unaware that there's even room for discussion. They're not taught to think it through, but to spout mantras.

The average churchgoer has not (in many cases) even thought about these basic questions. People will provide answers...sometimes. But when pressed they will often admit they've not thought about it or they don't know. Or, if they're a bit more attuned they will spout the memorized lines from their favourite teacher.

The world is no different. I recall seeing a high ranking police official become agitated when a journalist referred to the police as the wielders of legitimate violence. The cop got upset and argued they're not in the business of violence. They protect and serve the public! Amazing as it is, this leader with all his responsibility could not grasp what government is, what it means to 'enforce' the law. I found it to be kind of frightening. But that was some lost pagan. Should this kind of thought-vacuum be widespread in the 'renewed minds' of the Church?

The average Christian is flying blind and completely manipulated by the hacks and propagandists running the worldview, legal and political 'ministries'. These people are writing letters into the paper, fighting on the Internet, going to rallies, and writing checks to both ministries and political groups.

And then they insist they're not trying to acquire power. They don't want to tell anyone what to do.

They are sheep being shepherded by wolves.

They have no understanding of how the state, law, economy or society functions. It staggers me and I find myself hardly able to stand the radio hosts, authors and others who lead these people down this road.

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