Archive for October 13th, 2009

Sucking the Public Tit[This post is -possibly, depending on how things go - the beginning of a short series]

Item I

In 39-40 AD, the Emperor Caligula was determined to set up his statue in the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, and dispatched his Syrian governor, Petronius, to do so. Distraught over these events, the farmers and fishermen of the Galilee region – who provided most of the food in Palestine, including the Roman armies – met Petronius and half a legion of Roman soldiers on the road from Caesarea to Jerusalem, where they laid down on the road, threatening mass-suicide (followed by starvation of the people in the region) if the mission to desecrate the temple continued.

Petronius stood down and retreated, while in the mean time Caligula was assassinated, and the desecration of the Temple was avoided…

Item II

In 1957, Ayn Rand published Atlas Shrugged, considered one of the greatest fictional works of the 20th Century. In it, Rand visualizes a future America, in which the government has intruded on almost all aspects of life, and forcibly extracts the wealth of “producers” to distribute to the masses (who, generally, are not producers), as a moral imperity.

One of the protagonists of the book, John Galt – an inventor and influential ‘producer’ – quietly organizes a strike of all of the key producers in the country against the corrupt masses who use the law and guilt to confiscate the fruits of their labors (thus the image of Atlas – who holds the world on his shoulders – to “shrug”).

For a brief time, the government drastically tightens its grip, which is really just the beginning of its inevitable collapse. With this as a backdrop, Galt emerges as a unifying figure to remake society in a more fair and equitable fashion.

Tytler CycleItem III

Alexander Tytler, an Eighteenth-Century writer, is credited with making the following observation of the historical cycles of government:

A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

  • From bondage to spiritual faith;
  • From spiritual faith to great courage;
  • From courage to liberty;
  • From liberty to abundance;
  • From abundance to complacency;
  • From complacency to apathy;
  • From apathy to dependence;
  • From dependence back into bondage.

A number of modern philosophers have studied the “Tytler Cycle”, as it has come to be named, and tend to believe that America is moving into the final stage of the cycle – from dependence back into bondage.

I would agree with them.

Obama Budget BEFORE Adding in Health 'Reform'Item IV

The US government is poised to bankrupt itself in an orgy of spending, by taking over 1/6th of its economy (under the half-baked guise of “moral imperity”) and imposing $300-400 Billion in new taxes on those who can least afford it, along with new fees/taxes on its society’s “producers”. Central banks are dumping the dollar and looking for ways to supplant it with a mixture of other foreign currencies. Smart investors are putting their bets on precious metals and hard commodoties. The Obama administration has placed its bets on grossly obscene spending – like a junkie on a payday coke-bender. And that’s all before we even discuss its upcoming astronomically misguided budget busters – cap-and-tax and a VAT Tax.

Meanwhile, a growing number of conservative/libertarian bloggers lend some support that now may be the time to start “Going Galt”

Item V

In the latter-Twentieth and early-Twenty-First Centuries, the American church predominantly vacates the Democratic parties and moves past healthy support into allegiance with the Republican party, becoming an enabling entity to the GOP, for which it will receive lip service and scraps – much like the monolithic support of the Dem’s by African Americans. Increasingly, moderate-to-liberal Mainline and Evangelical Christians see this support for politics as unhealthy – serving as an appropriate critic to the blind service to the GOP. Then, upon the election of Barack Obama, these groups just as quickly become sycophants of the left – blind to their own equal-and-opposite idolatry.

In the end, it is revealed that far too much of the church – both right and left – have corrupted Psalm 121

lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?

My help comes from Washington,
(left) the guarantor of fairness and redistribution.
(right) the protector of ‘Christian values’

In either case – whether seen as pledging allegiance to the flag on Sunday morning, or blessing our new ‘hope and change’ from the pulpit – the salt has lost, or is losing, its saltiness when it sees Washington as anything more than a necessary evil with a VERY limited purpose.

Where From Here?

I have recently been mulling on all of these “Items” – and their obvious connectedness:

  1. I believe that cycles in human history do repeat themselves – even when recognized
  2. I do believe a crash – a huge one – is on the way
  3. I believe that the current administration could do very little, apart from what it is already pushing, to make this crash come sooner and harder
  4. I believe that, the longer the crash lasts, the longer the period of “bondage” will be, and the bloodier its demise will be. In the Tytler Cycle, the transition out of bondage is historically Revolution – often quite protracted and bloody.
  5. I believe that “Going Galt”, as a strategy, has the ability to hasten the crash, but lessen the period of bondage – because it preserves the underlying mechanics of the market while destroying the mechanics of government. In itself, it can create – and bring to a quick end – the Revolution.
  6. Even so – true “Going Galt”, in its purest sense – will result in a LOT of people being hurt…

The question becomes – how does a Christian deal with this situation? Can we “Go Galt” and show compassion in such a way that the next cyclical step – “Spiritual Revival” – be one rooted in a healthy balance between temporal and eternal emphases in orthopraxy?

What would this look like?

In the next article (tentatively), I will try to examine some underlying precepts on a Christian’s “Going Galt”…

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I thought you might like to read this short article.  When the Poor Die.

Our first day in Swaziland Pastor Gift told us about Maswane and asked if we would be willing to go pray with her. When she was five years old she was raped which is how she contracted HIV.

She was raped again when she was seven and has never once consented to sex with a man. One of the men who raped her has died, and the other is free; he escaped to South Africa. Her virginity as well as her life has been brutally ripped away.
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So the other day I was out at the Half-Price Book Store browsing, touching, wallowing in the beautiful shelves of books all lined neatly inside the building when I came across Jesus For President by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw. I literally cannot put this book down. What is amazing to me is that many of the things they are writing, and were fortunate enough to have published, are things that I was saying in the pulpit for the last several years–especially things about God doing bigger things with smaller people, or doing better things with worser things, etc. (See also my series 90 Days with Scripture.)

I love the idea that God is not, in any way, shape, form or otherwise, dependent upon the power structures of the political machines (or machinations) of this world to bring about his vision for what this world is, should be, and was supposed to be. I’m anxious to see what Claiborne and Haw do with Jesus; I hope I’m not disappointed.

So here’s something I read just today and find intriguing and worthy of a reprint here.

We wave the banner for Jesus and not for Rome, the United States of America, or any other nation or empire that vies for our allegiance.

But it wasn’t as if Jesus, in using such language, wanted Rome’s power or wanted to gain a foothold in the culture wars of his time. He didn’t want to climb Caesar’s throne. This political language doesn’t harmonize with the contemporary church project of ‘reclaiming America for God.’ Precisely the opposite: Jesus was urging his followers to be the unique, peculiar, and set-apart people that began with Abraham. He didn’t pray for the world in order to make governments more religious; he called Israel to be the light of the world–to abandon the way of the world and cultivate an alternative society in the shell of the old, not merely to be a better version of the kingdom of the world. (71)

The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that much of my life has been spent in pursuit of the wrong idea when it comes to allegiance–I think of all those times when I ‘pledged allegiance to the flag’ or went to the ballot box to vote someone into power or stood to sing the ‘national anthem.’ After all, it is my civic and American duty to vote and any real American must do those things. (There’s not a little sarcasm there, but hey, some habits are hard to break.)

Just so there’s no mistaking my intentions here, I’m not displeased that I was born in America (although, to be sure, I was actually born in Japan). All I’m saying is that I agree with Claiborne and Haw that winning America back for God is certainly not, in any biblical sense, the point of Scripture or Jesus. And the church must resist the temptation to project that onto Jesus’ agenda: “It wasn’t long, though, before the Hebrew people were tempted to be like those other nations and wanted a human king, one they could see and touch and worship. With growing fear of neighboring empires like Assyria and Babylon, they succumbed to the empty dream of domination” (33). We must resist the temptation to make Jesus’ work anything that closely resembles what we think matters. Furthermore, we must resist the temptation to use those power structures that Jesus exposed and destroyed on the cross.

I only hope that Claiborne and Haw don’t conclude that the best way to accomplish what they are suggesting, and what I agree with, is through the political systems or through important and powerful people. I so hope they don’t conclude for a liberal agenda as opposed to a conservative agenda as if the former is somehow a righteous version of God’s plan and the latter is merely a bloated, ‘friendlier’ version of Babylon. I hope they realize that both agendas are opposed to the Kingdom of Christ because both stand only for their own survival and perpetuation.

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