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Archive for the ‘Social / Political’ Category

I didn’t begin writing until I was almost 40 years old, which was about the time I began to discern the Lord’s voice more clearly.  As such, my motivation to continue has been centered on sharing what I believe He is saying at any particular time.  Within a few years I began to get regular downloads on subjects like relative truth, humanism, cultural revolution, and moral relativism.  Though I felt sure these insights were from the Lord, they seemed strange and rather worldly.  At the time, I didn’t see or hear anyone else talking about such things, and I wondered if I wasn’t just being pulled off track.  These topics seemed more rooted in sociology than spirituality, and generally garnered little or no response within my sphere.  Even so, the downloads continued to come.

Over time, I began to understand that God was giving me discernment of the emerging transformation.  To the naked eye, America didn’t look or sound much different, but beneath the surface there were monumental shifts taking place.  Our collective view of truth was being radically altered, and for the most part, we didn’t even notice.  Even those who did recognize the change didn’t necessarily understand the long term implications of it.  After all, humanism’s promotion of concepts like the intrinsic value of a human being, community, and social justice, seem to be very compatible with a standard Judeo-Christian value system. Indeed, many mainstream denominations appear to be predisposed to a sort of religious-humanist perspective, where tepid religious tradition is tolerated like a neutered dog, who sleeps in the breezeway, but never actually comes in the house.

With all the supernatural elements stripped away, God becomes more mythological than real (like Mother Nature); Jesus becomes little more than a revered historical figure (like Gandhi or Mother Theresa), and the Holy Spirit remains a ghost in the relentlessly pragmatic religious machine.  Effectively, such religion becomes two-dimensional and paper thin, but it is kept around to retain the sense and appearance of being good and moral.  The upside to such an arrangement is that it doesn’t interfere with a burgeoning friendship with the world.

With the benefit of almost two decades of hindsight, I can see that the repercussions of this shift have been far more profound than I first understood.  This change in course was not circumstantial or incidental, it was birthed in the spiritual realm, and the spirit behind the philosophical construct of humanism is not a passive or mild entity, it is an Anti-Christ spirit.  In its purist form, humanism is secular, with no allowance for anything supernatural, spiritual or transcendent.  It seeks to exalt man to the position of creator, ruler, and judge; which is as appealing to our human nature as it was to the first man (in the garden).  But these are all roles the Lord has reserved for Himself.

Compassionate, and well-meaning believers can easily be pulled into the idea that humanism’s emphasis on human rights might simply be viewed as an extension of God’s love and concern for people, but that is problematic.  Within this doctrine there can be no accommodation for the eternal, and no assent to a higher power.  It seeks to explain our origin as anything other than coming from a Creator, to promote the idea that we evolve as opposed to being transformed, and to replace the power of the Holy Spirit, with the power of the human spirit.  As John Lennon mused in his masterful ballad, “Imagine” we must rid ourselves of notions like heaven, hell and religion, so that we can all live together as one.  Indeed, humanism has so much faith in the virtue of mankind, that it presumes that left to its own devices, and separated from its ancient religious ideas, it will quite naturally arrive at a utopian society.  Of course, this is diametrically opposed to scripture’s assertions that apart from God, we can do “nothing”. 

While some might argue the Christian heritage of the United States, there is no doubt about where our society stands in this current age.  It is a culture steeped in humanist thinking, where the emerging generations are taught that evolution and technology have exempted them from the lessons of history, and where young children are taught that they can determine their own gender.  Like ancient Greece, we’ve become a nation filled with false gods, and altars to worship them at.

Perhaps no scripture makes the contradiction more plain than proverbs declaration that there is a way that seems right to a man, but it ultimately leads to death, while humanism purports that there is a way that seems right to a man, and it ultimately leads to paradise.

After a disheartening season of watching brothers and sisters on the right exalt a man as though he were a priest, a prophet or a king, and make it seem as though God desperately needed him (instead of the other way around), we now see brothers and sisters on the left being taken captive by a hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.  Indeed, many who are called by His name are likely to perish from this lack of understanding, and many is the teacher leading His little ones astray. 

There is no man-made system that can produce or orchestrate real unity, true peace, authentic justice or genuine freedom.  If we continue to look to the world for such things, we will continue to be disappointed.  We need to quit fighting amongst ourselves, and begin to engage in the battle against the spirit of this age, which is devouring the world around us.

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I grew up in a military family, normally living on Air Force bases with other military families. After high school, I joined the Navy, and for another decade lived/worked amongst people with differing backgrounds, diverse ethnicity, and varying belief systems.  The military made little allowance for our differences; once you donned the uniform you were expected to work together toward the greater mission.  I didn’t recognize it at the time, but this dramatically affected my understanding of community and family.  Even decades later, I still have many friends (and family) who don’t necessarily believe the things that I believe.  They grew up differently than I did, their life experience has led them to draw different conclusions than I have, and ultimately they view the world through a different lens than I do.  To me, this is not only how it’s always been, but also how it ought to be.  This doesn’t mean that we have nothing in common.  They love their families, value their communities, and hope to live in peace, just as I do.  I find my life is enriched, and my understanding is expanded, by remaining engaged with people who don’t necessarily think, act and live like I do.  Thus, I continue to seek the common ground that we all share.

 

When social media platforms like Facebook emerged, I found them to be a great way to stay connected, especially with friends and family who are literally spread all over the world. At its best, it has allowed us to remain connected in ways we couldn’t have otherwise.  No doubt, I want to celebrate their joys with them, and pray for them when they’re in a struggle, and to honor them when they’re gone.  But these days there seems to be a lot of pressure to use social media (and every other available platform) as a bully pulpit, where we exalt our preferences, ridicule those who have a differing point of view, and dare people to “Unfriend” us if they don’t like what we have to say.  People who refuse to participate in this battle of angry rhetoric are increasingly being criticized for not taking a side, accused of remaining “neutral” on the important issues of the day, and even being compared to those who stood by in Nazi Germany, doing nothing to stop the Holocaust.  As it goes with all the other points of view floating around cyberspace, they’re entitled to their opinion, and they’re also entitled to express it, but I don’t find their arguments compelling.

 

I believe that finding and cultivating the common ground that we share makes for stronger and more united communities. Building and strengthening these bonds of community is an essential first step in addressing the larger social issues we face.  Standing on opposite sides of the street, throwing rocks at each other isn’t going to achieve anything other than our eventual destruction.  I’m not sure what people think their vitriol achieves, but if posting an angry meme on social media is the extent of one’s activism, they’ve not done much.  Getting a bunch of folks, who already agreed with you, to “Like” your post doesn’t really effect change. If there is genuine oppression, it’s going to cost a lot more than some heated words to stand up to it.  If we are successful in alienating everyone who doesn’t look, think, and act like we do, we’ll have simply set the stage for civil war.  If we want to better understand the issues, we need to engage in meaningful dialogue with people of diverse viewpoints.  If we want to battle racism, we need to engage in meaningful relationships with people of other races.  If we want to battle poverty, we need to engage in the process of creating opportunities or providing aid to the underprivileged…  If we were that committed to change, we’d probably be too busy to spend so much time on Facebook.

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One of the more positive effects of the technology revolution has been the flexibility it affords us in handling information; but this free flow of data hasn’t been without it’s perils. Accessible from so many different sources, stored in countless locations, and available in such diverse formats, we’re seeing that information is highly susceptible to corruption and manipulation.  Indeed, the emerging generation has grown up in an era where those who don’t like the history of something, can easily edit it, or simply delete the file altogether.  You see this tendency in personal interactions, where “Friends” are unfriended, conversation chains are deleted, and any photographic evidence is scrubbed from the memory card.  On a larger scale, there is a growing trend toward expunging the names and memories of those historical figures that don’t measure up to current sensibilities in regard to what is acceptable.

 

To be sure, I can understand the desire to avoid the uglier aspects of our history, both personally, and as a culture. Yet, I’m concerned that the unwitting consequence of so effectively erasing these unpleasant chapters is the likelihood that we will fail to learn the lessons taught by them, thus dooming us to repeat them some time in the future.

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The proverbial “We” or “Us” (i.e. people who share our values/worldview) have a tendency to put our hate in a different category than the hate spread by the proverbial “Them” (i.e. people who don’t share our values/worldview). We see “Them” as haters, and view their hate as toxic. While we consider our brand of hate as being justified, and maybe even virtuous. Whether it is a hatred of Donald Trump, or Nancy Pelosi, of religion, or godlessness, of Socialism, or Capitalism, of Conservatives or Liberals or any one of the million other things we choose to hate, it all mixes together to create the same poisonous atmosphere. Martin Luther King Jr. observed that, “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that”. We won’t get better as a society by continuing to berate, mock, taunt, protest, boycott, slander, threaten and attack each other. As Dr. King rightly concluded, “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”   

 

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A popularly held idea is that protests draw attention to an issue and create dialogue; but I’ve noticed that depending on the nature of the protest, it more often distracts us from the real issue and creates rhetoric. Dialogue is talking to each other, presumably with the intent of reaching some new level of agreement, while rhetoric is talking at each other, generally used to establish the superiority of our position.  One has the potential to move us forward together, while the other can become the basis for civil war.

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It is not wrong that institutions aspire to build a track record of effectiveness, thereby gaining a reputation for success.  But when protecting the brand becomes more important than protecting the people who inhabit the group, damage is inevitable.  It begins subtly, as a disparity develops between the picture presented in front of the stakeholders, and the reality of what goes on behind the scenes.  The longer that gap is allowed to exist and grow, the greater the depths to which an entity is bound to fall.  While we may rationalize that the prosperity of the brand benefits everyone, an organization’s legacy is ultimately rooted in how they treat their people.

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Our human nature tends to be drawn to the idea of being in control, while it is generally repulsed by the concept of being held accountable. Yet the inevitable consequence of gaining control is making ourselves accountable.

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Too often our pursuit of the spectacular causes us to miss the profound. Similarly, the cost of “having it all” is frequently everything that truly matters.

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Lately, I’ve pondered whether the mocking, taunting and belittling of those we consider to be hateful is the height of irony, or the height of hypocrisy.  I suppose it could be both.  Either way, disparaging people who don’t share our particular point of view seems to have become our new national pastime.  So much for all that pretentious rhetoric about tolerance, diversity, unity, and taking the “high road”.

 

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This weekend (January 1st, 2017) I heard many a person bid good riddance to the year that just passed (2016).  No doubt, it was one of the most contentious 12 month periods I’ve experienced in my fifty plus years.  But if we want 2017 to be markedly different, we’ll need to handle some things differently.  Here are some suggestions:

 

  • Spend more time and energy engaging the people in our community, and less time protesting the things we don’t like.
  • Recognize that hating on people that we consider to be “Haters” or “Hateful”, only promotes more hatred.
  • Look for things to be inspired by instead of focusing on things to be offended by.
  • Find new and better ways to express love and hope, and give less voice to fears and opinions.
  • Make a conscious effort to leave things better than we find them.

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