Posts Tagged ‘humanism’

I recently saw a quote which I believe beautifully encapsulates the prevailing spirit that hangs over the western religious landscape.  The words were attributed to Bishop John Shelby Spong, and though I was not able to confirm that they were his, they did seem to be indicative of what I know of his particular worldview.

Ostensibly, he said, “I do not think of God theistically, that is, as a being, supernatural in power, who dwells beyond the limits of my world.  I rather experience God as a source of life willing me to live fully, the source of love calling me to love wastefully, and to borrow a phrase from the theologian, Paul Tillich, as the Ground of being, calling me to be all that I can be.”

I believe that many who would heartily endorse these concepts would also count themselves as “Christians”.  Still others might not find these ideas particularly troublesome, despite their distinctly anti-Christ nature.  The author embraces a nameless, faceless, person-less power, who will not contradict his sense of what is right, or hold him accountable in any way.  Indeed, he’s found a god who will empower his sense of “self” instead of demanding that he die to it.  This would seem to go well with much of what passes for “Christianity” in the west.

Recently, the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University published findings from their survey of over 1,000 “Senior Pastors”.  According to their results, one third of the pastors believe that “good people” can earn their way to heaven, that the Holy Spirit isn’t a person (just a symbol of God’s power, presence, or purity), and that having faith matters more than which faith you have. 

Perhaps more alarming, is that almost 40% of the evangelical pastors surveyed believe that there is no absolute truth, and that individuals “determine their own truth”.  It’s impossible to reconcile that paradigm with a Jesus who claimed to be the truth (John 14:6), and who declared that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb.13:8).  The overarching conclusion of this survey was that only about 37% of US based pastors hold a worldview that might be considered “biblical”.

Within this off-brand of “Christianity” (i.e. Humanism dressed in religious garb), which doesn’t include the fundamental principle of taking up our cross and following (i.e. dying to self), Christ becomes little more than a tool for our endless pursuit of happiness.

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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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The Greeks had a god for everything, and temples were erected all over their cities to facilitate the worship of them.  As time goes by, America is becoming much the same.  Here is a list of a few of the most popular gods within our culture.


  • Self– Certainly self absorption is nothing new for mankind, but previous generations didn’t have the amazing technology that we have to assist them.  American’s are completely consumed with making sure everyone knows their status (Facebook, Instagram), hears their opinions (Twitter, the Blogosphere), see’s their images (selfies, YouTube, Snapchat) and is appraised of their likes and/or dislikes (all social media).  The cumulative effect is that it keeps most people focused on themselves, and on what everyone else is thinking & saying about them.


  • Technology– Americans pay billions of dollars a year to be a part of the newest technological craze.  Whether it be the latest i-Phone, or a hover-board, or a GoPro, or self-driving cars… we can’t stand the idea that there is something newer, and possibly more advanced, than what we have already.  Sadly, the emerging generation has so much faith in the power of technology that they’ve become largely disconnected from the lessons of the past.


  • Humanism– We’ve become a society that willingly disparages the character of God in order to substantiate the inherent virtue of mankind.  We shun the “Holy Spirit” and celebrate the “human spirit”.  Collectively, we’ve decided that if God has a problem with us, He must not be as loving as we’ve been told, and thus we have every right to ignore Him.


  • Convenience– Our culture is absolutely obsessed with making everything fast, easy, and achievable with the touch of a button.  We have an “app” for just about anything you can think of, and a huge amount of an average person’s life is channeled through their electronic devices.  But with every advance in this direction, we become less tolerant of things that require any sort of sustained effort on our part, or things that take time.  We also become more dependent on the technology for even the most basic of functions.  Given the fact that life is a long journey, which requires genuine determination, perseverance and patience, this trend doesn’t bode well for our future.


  • Sensuality– Without a doubt, sex is meant to be one of life’s great pleasures, but just as doubtless, there is a context within which it was meant to fit in our lives.  In the decades since the “Sexual Revolution” began, our culture has found ways to inject sex into all sorts of settings, circumstances, and contexts where it doesn’t belong.  This has not only resulted in confusion and dysfunction, for many it has reduced sex to little more than a bodily function.  That’s sad, because it was intended to be so much more.


  • Voyeurism– My kids have no idea what a “Peeping Tom” is, and I would submit that this is due to the fact that (figuratively speaking) peeking into people’s windows has become a national pastime.  While it may have started with a litany of “Reality TV” shows, there are now surveillance cameras everywhere, a host of scammers combing the web for personal information, and millions of would-be photographers/reporters carrying portable electronic devices, and looking for that next viral sensation.  Indeed, there is little within our present culture that could accurately be characterized as “private”.


  • Celebrity– The insatiable craving for notoriety within our culture continues to fill our screens (both large and small) with images of people willing to eat bugs, wife swap, gender swap, submit themselves to dangerous circumstances, fix bad tattoos, torment their kids, wrestle alligators/snapping turtles/wolverines, bully their wedding planner, search for Bigfoot…  And all of this has created a new breed of celebrity that includes people like the “Reality TV Star”, and the “You-Tube Star”.  Many of these folks are not known for a specific talent, or some meaningful contribution to society, they’re simply famous for being famous (e.g. the Kardashians); which somehow manages to take the superficiality of “fame and fortune” to a whole new level.


  • Autonomy– In our culture, we don’t generally admire people who follow the rules.  More typically, we revere those who make up their own.  Increasingly, people don’t feel as though they should have to abide by a rule that they think is stupid, or unwarranted, or that they simply disagree with.  This trait is commonly reflected in the people our society raises to the level of “hero”, and in the characters popular entertainment presents as “super-heroes”.  While a life with “no boundaries” may sound appealing, it is by definition a state of lawlessness.

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It may come as a surprise to some, but today is the National Day of Prayer.  I can’t blame anyone who hasn’t heard, after all, it is no longer covered by the media.  Like most things that pertain to the name of Jesus, it has been relegated to the fringe of our national consciousness.  Ironically, a quick check of the Internet will remind you that it is Cinco De Mayo, and I’m sure that if it were “National Wash Your Pet Day”, that would get a mention as well.  For (at least) the last 20 years the site where I work has held a National Day of Prayer gathering, where employees come together around the flagpole and pray for our nation.  Not that many years ago it was a rather notable event, with the full support of management, and well attended by employees.  But in recent years it has become a very intimate gathering, held in the parking lot.  Though we were granted permission to meet during our lunch break, there seemed to be grave concern about the potential that someone might use a government owned printer to produce a flier for the event.  Though I understand that there are rules about such things, I couldn’t help but notice that the level of concern wasn’t nearly so keen when it came time to printing bracket sheets for the NCAA Basketball Tournament (i.e. March Madness) a couple of months ago.  But such is where we’ve arrived.  I don’t say all of this to imply that people have become evil.  In fact, had this been a hot dog fundraiser for someone with cancer, people would have gladly come and supported it.  It’s not that our culture is embracing evil, it’s that we’re steadily redefining what is “good”.


I wrote the following article about five years ago, and at the time, many seemed to feel as though it was a rather harsh assessment.  But as I re-read it today, I couldn’t help but feel that it is a shoe that fits us rather well.


America’s New National Religion


As I come dangerously close to reaching the half century mark, it is amazing to ponder the dramatic cultural changes that I have witnessed.  As a child of 1960’s, I was born just as the counter-culture movement was reaching full swing and to be sure, those were tumultuous days.  By the end of that decade it seemed as though the revolution had truly begun; but in just a few short years (i.e. by the mid 1970’s) the movement seemed to fizzle into a haze of disillusionment, cocaine and disco music.  Initially, it didn’t seem as though this war on the “establishment” had been very successful in significantly transforming “mainstream” thinking; but with the benefit of hindsight, it has become clear that the impact was far greater than anyone could have imagined.


Considering the forty years that proceeded that period, it’s easy to see that the stage was set for something dramatic.  The people had grown weary from decades of constant struggle (e.g. World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, the Korean War…) and they were restless to break out of that cycle.  As the country found itself on the threshold of yet another significant conflict (i.e. the Cold War / the Vietnam War), the collective fortitude began to waiver.  Many weren’t sold on the idea that America needed to engage in this latest battle, as the voices of dissent began to grow louder.  After years of largely standing united against the external forces of adversity, many started to doubt the wisdom of that approach for the future.


In many ways it was a perfect storm and it ushered in a decade of great cultural upheaval.  Most Sociologists would likely characterize this as a time of “enlightenment”, whereby traditional doctrines and values were questioned; and where concerns over the rights of the individual began to gain traction against the concept of what might be needed for the good of the whole nation.  Amongst those cultural elements that were challenged was the largely Judeo-Christian based value system that had been so prevalent during the war years.  From the earliest days of the movement, the seeds of secular humanism began to find fertile ground in the minds of its purveyors.  One aspect of this assault on traditional values was the overt sexuality that would eventually become a hallmark of the movement.  While the general public did not necessarily embrace the hedonism of the counter-culture, there is no doubt that there was a definitive shift in mainstream ideas about what was both normal and acceptable.


Although there is no doubt that the culture was changed by those years, I would submit that the greatest impact was still yet to be seen.  By the late 1970’s America was fully emerged in the Cold War era and seemed to have returned to some new state of normal.  At least on the surface, our national trajectory did not appear to be greatly altered; but within the collective consciousness, the seeds of this revolution continued to germinate.  Culturally, as we opened our minds to “new truths”, our belief in absolutes progressively eroded; and with the explosion of new technologies, our sense of self-reliance continued to grow.  With each successive generation, our thinking moved steadily toward moral relativism and secular humanism.  Truths that were once perceived as etched in stone became like balls of clay, which could be molded and shaped into whatever form might suit us.  Our concept of freedom shifted from maintaining a national landscape of opportunity to establishing an atmosphere of personal autonomy and entitlement.  Little by little, who we are and what we stand for, steadily migrated away from where we’d been as a nation.


Despite this migration, I do not believe that it would be accurate to say that we’ve arrived at a purely secular humanist point of view.  As an inherently religious nation, we’ve retained many of the trappings of our Judeo-Christian past; and instead of becoming a culture of atheists and/or agnostics, we’ve simply revised our brand of religion.  Despite our pension for rationalization, the vast majority of Americans still consider themselves to be “spiritual” and to believe in some form of “higher power”.  In keeping with the theme of moral relativism, we’ve chosen to retain those aspects of God and religion that we feel comfortable with and to disregard the rest.  This has created a strange amalgam of beliefs that are based on wildly diverse concepts, such as the Bible, Hedonism, Capitalism, Marxist Socialism, the “American Dream” and Darwinian Theory.  Despite the confusion caused by attempting to merge these disparate views, our culture seems to pursue this ideology with such fervor that this hybrid of religious-humanism should likely be characterized as a religion unto itself.  Though many still identify themselves as being a part of one of the more established religious traditions, this new paradigm has largely replaced anything that might pass for an orthodox theology.


In this new religion, we still extol the virtues of faith; but now that faith is rooted in the basic goodness of mankind, in the advances in our technology, in the power of our self-realization and in the superiority of our ideologies.  It also acknowledges the value of hope; but that hope is based on the idea that every generation should do better than the one that came before it, and that America is somehow destined to live at a level that is far beyond what the rest of the world does.  It also believes in the concept of love, but does not bind itself to the constraints of things like loyalty, self-sacrifice or turning the other cheek.  Ultimately, this new theology will accept a god who “is love”, but not one who would attempt to hold a man accountable for his deeds.  It will embrace things like angels and prayers and heaven; but it will not accept any orthodox view of sin, hell or judgment to come.


Despite the fact that many of these ideas (e.g. enlightenment, humanism, socialism…) are old and have a track record of utter failure, our new found faith frees us from feeling bound to their history; as we are confident that we have somehow evolved beyond the level of those cultures that came before us.  Because of the numerous contradictions inherent in this patchwork of philosophies, it seems almost immune to rational criticism.  After all, if one can reconcile this belief system, it seems doubtful that facts or logic would hold much sway.  If anything, our culture seems to be aiming for ambiguity, as a means to head off the potential for accountability. Within our new value system, the only thing that is truly sacred is our right to choose our own way.


Even those who perceive themselves as the guardians of orthodox religion have largely compromised the purity of their message in an attempt to remain “culturally relevant”.  In Christendom, the gospel has been blended with the “American Dream”, to create a message of endless, God ordained, prosperity; or with secular marketing strategies, in the name of evangelism or with futurist doctrines, under the guise of advancing the kingdom of God.  A recipe that’s proven successful at many of the country’s most popular ministries is to mix a little motivational talk, with a pinch of self-help seminar and a cup of musical theater; all served up in the comfort of a posh coffee bar.  It’s all about making the people feel comfortable and to keep them coming back for more; which just happens to play well with the populist view.


For the remnant, who still stubbornly cling to the ancient texts of the Bible, this all should come as no real surprise.  The Apostle Paul told Timothy, “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.  Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.  They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths (2 Tim 4:3-4).”  In his letter to the Colossians he warned, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ (Col 2:8)”; and in speaking of the end times he said, “There will be terrible times in the last days.  People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness, but denying it’s power (2 Tim 3:1-5)”.  As I turn on the television or listen to the radio or look at my computer or even just attend one of my kid’s ballgames, I can’t help but think that this is becoming a pretty fair description of our culture.  Ultimately it is the fruit of our new national religion.

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I’ve always considered myself to be a fairly average guy.  I was a pretty average student in school, (at my best) an average athlete on the field, a somewhat average looking guy, whose built a rather typical middle class life.  Or so I thought.  I guess that all this averageness caused me to assume that my beliefs and values were to some degree typical of the average American.  But with each passing year, it becomes clearer to me that, somewhere along the line, my worldview has slipped to the fringe of our culture, and that my value system has become so out of step with the norm that it could now be viewed as radical.


I was raised to be a “God fearing” man, which didn’t mean that God was going to reach out of heaven and squash me like a grape if I screwed up.  But it was with the understanding that God’s ways are higher than my ways, and that just because I don’t understand doesn’t mean that He’s not doing what’s best in the long run.  Though the Bible wasn’t thumped in my house, no one would dare consider disregarding the parts we didn’t like.  So when we were collectively described as a “God fearing nation” I just assumed that this is what other people believed as well.  But from what I’ve seen and read in the last few decades, it appears that most people in our culture feel as though they get to dictate to God what they’re willing to accept and not accept.  Though the vast majority still believe in some sort of higher power, and consider themselves to be “spiritual”, few would claim to “serve” God, or to know Him in any sort of specific way.  He has largely become a nameless, faceless entity, who has little or no say in the daily affairs of men.  My radical position is that God is a person, He has a name, and that I am here to serve His purposes (while He’s under no obligation to serve mine).  No doubt, to many I would be considered a fundamentalist.


I was also raised to believe in right and wrong.  Which meant that there were definite standards for behavior and consequences for not adhering to them.  While we understood that everyone didn’t believe the same things we did, there was a “common decency” and “common courtesy” that most folks abided by.  We were taught that every person was made in the image of God, and therefore worthy of respect.  But our society’s embrace of humanism and moral relativism have made that an antiquated viewpoint.  In today’s world insinuating that something is wrong gets you branded as “a hater”.  After all, who are you to judge someone else’s choices.  Ironically, I’ve found that those who vehemently preach “tolerance” end up being the least tolerant of those who disagree with them (e.g. berating and mocking them on social media).  My radical position is that there are definitive standards for right and wrong, and that the failure to recognize them brings about inevitable consequences.  No doubt, to many this would qualify me as both judgmental and intolerant.


Because I was raised during the Cold War, I got to see first-hand what it looked like when a government gained control of its people.  Witnessing the oppression of those living in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and hearing how their government controlled media perpetuated the illusion that the government was serving the people (as opposed to the other way around) left a lasting impression on me.  Being born at the tail end of the Baby Boom, my parents lived through the second World War.  Their generation witnessed one of the most accomplished, progressive, and democratic republics in the world fall under the spell of a mad man (i.e. Adolph Hitler), based largely on his criticism of the incumbent regime and the promise to make their country great again.  Thus, I find myself wildly out of step with both those who wish to invite the government into every aspect of their lives (e.g. give me a cellphone, pay for my groceries, give me health insurance, find me a job, pay for my college…) and those who have staked their hope in a man of questionable character, who claims that he can somehow make our country great again.  Ultimately, which ever candidate ascends to the White House will do so beholding to the Political Action Committees (PACs) and Super-PACs that funded and facilitated their victory.  This is why, despite every candidates claim to be “for the middle class”, the rich keep getting richer, and the poor keep getting poorer, and the middle class continues to evaporate.  My radical position on this is that neither the Republican nor the Democratic Party truly represent me, nor do they really serve the best interests of their constituency.  I suppose this makes me a skeptic, and at the very least, an Independent.


As someone who’s lived more than a half a century, I’ve learned that simple solutions are rarely effective in addressing complex problems.  More often than not, the person who starts the sentence with “all we have to do is…” has failed to grasp the intricacies of the issue.  Problem solving is more like working with a Rubik’s Cube; about the time you get one side red, you’ve screwed up the blue side.  An example of this would be the movement to raise the minimum wage.  Since you can’t really raise a family on a minimum wage salary, popular logic is that we need to increase that amount.  Which seems pretty simple, until you consider the implications of such a move.  What does doubling the salary of all their employees do to most small businesses, which tend to operate on the very edge of solvency.  And if all those friendly faces at your local McDonalds are getting paid $15.00 an hour, how much is that Big Mac going to cost.  Do people really believe that the cost of this won’t simply be passed on to consumers.  I would submit that the real problem is that minimum wage jobs were never meant to be a means of supporting a family.  They were designed for young people working their way through school, or as second jobs to supplement income.  The actual issue is the lack of substantive employment (e.g. factory jobs, trades…) for adult people who are trying to make a life for themselves.  This shortage of real jobs (with real benefits) has caused people to take jobs (e.g. delivering newspapers, cutting grass, delivering pizzas…) that have traditionally belonged to the kids.  Raising the minimum wage won’t fix that issue, it will simply drive up the cost of everything associated with those businesses, and once again, it is the middle class who will absorb that loss.  This is just one of many issues where our government officials continue to fail us.  Whatever the solution, it won’t be found by bi-partisan bickering and name calling.  My radical position is that until we find some representatives who are willing to address the real issues, in a constructive and meaningful way, we are doomed to continue down the path toward a third world economy.  And as long as the electorate continues to buy into the empty rhetoric that passes for political debate, we should expect nothing better than what we’ve got now.


I’m not sure what that makes me, but it’s definitely not an “Average Joe”.

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Though it was still early, the day seemed to be off to a dreary start; especially for the 1st day in May. Low clouds clung to the mountain peaks and a steady drizzle came down, as it had for the last several days.  The chill in the air, and the dimly lit horizon seemed fitting for the somber gathering of spirits that made up the war council.  It was indeed rare that they would gather together, especially in an earthly location, but it was as the Overlord had commanded.


Each warlord eyed the others warily, wondering if one of them might know the reason for this sudden gathering. They were all keenly aware that the master wasn’t one to seek input from his subordinates, or to give them praise, so a weighty sense of dread draped their processional into the abandoned shaft opening.  It wasn’t a very hospitable setting, but as spirits they tended not to pay much attention to aesthetics, and thus it served its purpose.  They arranged themselves as they knew the master would expect, and they braced themselves for the inevitable unpleasantness to come.


The Overlord’s entourage arrived with surprisingly little fanfare, and he quickly moved to his station at the head of the council. As the warlords began their customary declarations of worship and submission, the master waved his hand to stop them.  “Enough!  I don’t need any of that right now!” he snarled.  He shot them a brief look of contempt, but he seemed more distracted than angry.  He sat, staring at his hands, as though he were deep in thought.  The warlords sat in complete silence, afraid to arouse his anger.


After what seemed to be several minutes, and without raising his eyes from his hands, the Overlord muttered, “It’s over”.


Again, the warlords sat in silence, too petrified to ask what he was referring to. Finally, Nardus, who was the oldest of the warlords, spoke.  “What is over, sire?” he asked timidly.


At that, the master’s furious eyes rose toward the council as he hissed, “this insidious little game of war you’ve been playing!”


Nardus was clearly confused by the statement, but measured his words carefully as he declared, “My lord I can assure you that we have not retreated on any front, and I feel certain that we are on the brink of yet another great advance in the west.”


With his words dripping with sarcasm, and a strange half smile on his face, the Overlord replied, “Ah yes, the west. You’ve certainly invested heavily there haven’t you?  Unfortunately Nardus, you’ve just lost your queen in the west, and you’re rapidly backing into checkmate.”


Confused, Nardus said, “I don’t understand sire?”


With his expression becoming more serious, the master said, “It’s your boy Adolph, he’s dead.”


A low hum of murmurs rose from the council at the news, and Nardus failed to conceal his shock. “How did it happen sire?” he asked.


“He did it himself. Not surprising really, I mean you can only contain so much insanity in a man before he destroys himself.”


Again the room was silent for an uncomfortable amount of time before a young, aggressive warlord named Lymbach spoke up. “There is still the war in the east sire!” He said in an optimistic tone.


Again, the Overlord glared at the council, “It’s over you fools! ‘The Allies’ have developed a doomsday weapon and it’s just a matter of time before they use it. Your pawns will fall in the east even faster than they have in the west; and before you know it your ‘World War’ will give way to world peace.”


Every member of the council hung their head in shame, knowing better than to utter anything more that might appear to contradict the master’s conclusion.


After several more minutes of silence, the Overlord rose to his feet and began to speak. “It is unfortunate that I have allowed you to be called ‘Warlords’, because it is so clear that you have little understanding of how to wage war.  You’re all so eager to make it a show of brute force and that is a war we cannot hope to win.  Don’t you see how attacking from outside one’s borders causes the citizenry to unite and galvanizes their resolve.  It stirs up all sorts of virtuous sensibilities and minimizes their more base instincts.  Instead of taking advantage of their natural depravity, you are cultivating what makes them our adversaries.  Instead of using them as puppets, you are making them into formidable foes.  Enough of this foolishness!  If you want to bring a house down you don’t throw rocks at the windows, you go after the structure that holds it up, and that sort of attack must come from within.”


The members of the council were now hanging on his every word, as he continued to pace and speak. “This idea of fighting toe to toe and face to face is much too civilized.  It makes the distinction between what is good and what is evil too apparent to them.  The way you win at war is to get them to the place that no one is really sure who the enemy is, or what the truth is.  That’s when you can get them to fight amongst themselves and where their natural sense of self-righteousness will guide them.  Never allow the battle lines to be clearly drawn.  Once you achieve that kind of ambiguity, you can sell them anything as long as it comes wrapped in a package that keeps them stirred up.”


The master paused to look into the faces of the council members, as if to see whether they were grasping his words. Nardus again spoke. “Sire, I can certainly see the wisdom of your words, but how do we move them from the place of their impending victory to this place that you have described?”


His question caused the Overlord to smile knowingly as he said, “It is much easier than you’d expect. If there is anything worth taking from history, it is that mankind cannot handle prosperity.  Just as the battle galvanized them, victory will surely make them proud and complacent.  It is fertile ground for their vain imaginations.  You need not dissuade them from their celebration, indeed you ought to encourage them to celebrate excessively.  Encourage them to feel good about themselves, to feel as though the days of sacrifice are over and the days of reward are at hand.  Help divert their dreams of freedom to dreams of prosperity; their covetous nature will make it easy.  Slowly redefine their most sacred tenants; reduce peace to nothing more than the absence of war and peace loving to nothing more than a lack of willingness to fight for what they believe.  Encourage them to view freedom as nothing more than the absence of constraint and to mistake winning for victory.  Inevitably their carnality will carry them along with very little effort on your part.  Give them catchy little phrases like, ‘Make love, not war!’  They will use such ideas to justify the exploration of their lusts and for their unwillingness to reach beyond themselves.  The generations born to such a people will have no concept of the truth or of sacrifice or of the eternal battle between good and evil.  Indeed, the very concept of good and evil will become abstract to them.  Believe me, if we are dutiful and patient, there will come a time when they doubt our very existence.  Without a shot being fired, this new empire will crumble from within, and ultimately be devoured by a people who truly understand what is good and what is evil.”


At these words, the entire council broke into cheers and exuberant praise. Moments later, as the Overlord’s entourage departed, every member of the council was awash with a fresh sense of hope for the future.


That is what I remember of my first council meeting, and I must admit that as a young demon I was somewhat skeptical about this plan. But in the relatively short period of time that has passed since that spring day in 1945 I have come to see the genius of the Overlord’s tact.  Indeed the young republic of that day did go on to become the most powerful nation on earth, with no foe on the horizon with the capabilities to bring it down.  Even so, the steady erosion of their own national character has weakened them from within, and they have now come to the point that they stand divided and on the brink of collapse.


I remember the master talking about attacking the foundation of a structure and it occurs to me that for a nation built upon Judeo-Christian ethics that is exactly what we’ve accomplished. Their Jesus claimed that He was “the way, the truth and the life” and yet in these few short years we’ve convinced them otherwise.  They’ve exchanged the belief that He is the only way for the belief that there are many ways (i.e. pluralism); they’ve exchanged the belief that He is the embodiment of truth for the idea that every man gets to define truth for himself (i.e. humanism) and they’ve come to a place of such low regard for life, that thousands of lives are destroyed each day in the name of personal freedom (i.e. abortion).  It’s not that they’ve stopped believing that there is a God; it’s just that He’s become irrelevant to them.


The generations born into this culture tend to have voracious appetites, under-developed consciences, and little sense of obligation toward their fellow man. They tend to believe only in what they can feel or explain, so just as the master prophesied, most cannot even fathom that we demons exist.  I’d love to take the credit for these rapid advances, and to be sure we’ve made our suggestions, but in truth they’ve really done most of it themselves.  Had they even resisted a little bit, we’d have had to take a step back; and I shudder to think of what might happen if they’d ever unleash the whole arsenal of weapons they’ve got at their disposal.  But for now they’re too busy battling each other to bother with us.  For us it’s a lot like watching a beautiful sunset.

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