Why are you always pushing people in your interviews and writings to read books, or what you call “serious books” and associated reading material and journalism in general? Welcome to the Twenty First Century, bud – people are too busy to sit down and read, and there is just enough time to see headlines in a social media news feed to see what quickly grabs you (plus, for many of us, video games, sports, streaming movie and TV services, binge watching, chatrooms, golf, long gym sessions, get the longer duration slots in our schedules). There is no time these days to read long boring blather full of facts, history, names and statistics – nor is there any interest to. I get my news like everyone else who is not elderly or Amish – from quick news feed headlines I pick or someone picks for me, Youtube videos recommended to me, or what pops up on social media when I quickly scroll through it (fast enough so I subliminally pick it up, like the long list of podcasts I listen to at triple speed). Frankly, your long-winded approach and exhaustive documentation (not to mention your long, complicated sentences and evidentiary hotlinks) is kind of boring, and certainly not entertaining; it loses my attention span after a couple of minutes. Thankfully, popular Christian media has “gotten with the times” and communicates in fast, hard-hitting memes, catch phrases, fancy graphics and concise clips, and tells me how to be wealthier, feel better about myself and coddle me and my personal problems, or even scare me (like an entertaining scary movie) on what groups to distrust or with apocalyptic scenarios better than any dystopian sci-fi movie. Meanwhile, you just make me feel bad, and suggest I have some responsibility to take tedious time to be better informed and even take action or speak up about how others are being mistreated or slandered, even if they are different from me, and even to care about their feelings and empathize with them! Honestly – with all this commitment to boring study, buying stacks of books and advocacy for others – what’s in it for me?
I guess I stand guilty as charged. Back in the early days of the church, the Apostle Paul complimented the members of the Berean church, explained in the book of Acts that “the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11). Paul also told future church leader Timothy to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15). On the other hand, the influential religious leaders the Pharisees did not encourage people to study and discern scripture on their own, rather relying on them and the talmudic sages before and after them to pre-chew the meaning out of scripture, because it is shown in the Gospels and Acts that they were contemptuous of the common folk like the Galileans and the apostle fishermen as being “unlearned,” who did not have their intellectual grooming and pedigree, and most of all, their cultural establishment stamp of approval. God was not at all against learning, even secular learning, even though later Jewish Diaspora settlements forbid any non-Talmudic readings, without the oversight of the domineering local rabbi, of things like math and history, which could only be read in the latrine; alternatively, God used the secular learning of Joseph in Egypt, and particularly of Daniel in Babylon, the latter being one of the most broadly learned men in the world (and best role model of Christ in the Old Testament). Paul himself was highly educated and a Roman citizen, and his most loyal confidante was one of those “now-distrusted” medical officials, Luke. Paul showed off his learning of Greek culture, philosophy, and literary archetypes in his most important theological teachings; Greek in turn became an excellent language to communicate complex thoughts that expressed the ramifications of the New Covenant and its implications and relationship to the Old, far better than the more primitive Hebrew language, just like the roads of Imperial Rome were the best means for apostles and missionaries to spread the gospel worldwide (and its widespread peace and Roman police protection saved Paul a number of times). Except for the Dark Ages and up to the Reformation, the church by and large promoted learning, reading and formal education. A fundamentalist, paranoid reactionary strain emerged within Christianity as it had in Judaism (and in Islam, for that matter), which distrusted all secular education, and preferred that history, science and social studies be taught by theologically-trained preachers. It made a name for itself in being anti-science and anti-education, in defending the earth-centric solar system, or right here in Tennessee with the Monkey Scopes trial. Now in the Information Age with almost all historical and global data at our fingertips, it is even worse, with flat earth teaching and conspiratorial, evidence-free science rumors becoming the “education” of most Christians. They get their detailed science lessons, refuting the global academic community, often from Christian high school teachers with their own popular public “brand,” or maybe those with an honorary “doctorate” from a Christian school. I find few Christian students willing to study the “hard stuff” like engineering, medicine or law, and fewer churches who encourage Christian missionaries in those fields, or Christian schools who offer advanced degrees in those fields (and in fact, almost no Americans even apply for doctoral degrees in fields like engineering any more, being minorities in comparison to to hard-working foreign nationals). Our modern American culture doesn’t want to invest any “sweat” or “dues paying” or even aspire to a goal to maximize one’s potential and societal impact; they rather seek “short cuts” with dubious, easy (often unaccredited) degrees from diploma mills (many of them “Christian”), easy jobs rather than careers, risky and shady “get rich quick” investments like the old “Iraqi dinar” scheme in Christian circles, the old multi-level marketing of dubious products, and now crypto-currencies and the like, rather than a life of steady, hard work. And Christians wonder why the world doesn’t respect us and “picks on us” by criticizing us – it must just be an “attack on the Gospel”!
Alternatively, what used to be the local “Christian bookstore” (and now online, and in a myriad of Christian media outlets) offers a veritable “candy store” of spiritually nutrition-free delights these days – with the most popular, front-shelf stuff being outright intellectual and spiritual fluffy “cotton candy”; I say that as one who has some credible academic training in a specific field, but certainly does not fancy myself as an “intellectual” in any form. As I have written about before, these outlets feature “best sellers” like a woman who died and went to heaven, and saw seas of Jello, free hair salons and cows driving tractors (I’m not making that up); other “best sellers” involved children with similar near-death visions, with some later admitting they were coached into a lucrative fantasy. They do focus on the latest ways to become rich (ignoring how hard Jesus said it was for such to enter heaven), how to lose weight or particularly, excuse their personal problems and focus exclusively on self-absorption. When the Kingdom of Heaven on earth has enemies of the gospel (many wearing suits and holding Bibles) pouring into the frontline trenches as the handful of true-believers wage physically-peaceful but spiritual “hand to hand combat,” most of conservative American Christianity (what I have grudgingly in recent years conceded to addressing as the “Religious Right,” a worrying term for some, but accurately excludes some evangelicals of dissident mindset, and does include right-leaning Catholics, Reformed believers and even Mormons and others of like values) not only spends periods of life in crises in spiritual warfare “sick bay” far behind enemy lines, but has turned it into a perpetual “sick bay lifestyle” of never-ending personal crises that need continual self-absorption and nurturing, with no time left to focus on the needs of a less-fortunate neighbor, the problems in the community, society or the world, or the needs of refugees or others we will never see face to face, nor any feeling of responsibility to address it and be part of the solution. For all the faults of the previous generations, with their minimal discernment of their demagogue-led exploitation during the Cold War era, their ignorance of the civil rights struggle or considering the sometimes legitimate points about meaningful lifestyles and war made by their children, they did, by and large, abide by commitments and social responsibilities to be self-sufficient, frugal and thrifty, faithful in relationships, and in their financial and service commitments to their local churches (however off the mark those institutions may have been at times), and even to charitable community organizations. These were manifestations of their being “others centered,” even in their ignorance of some others and their needs.
In contrast, rather than making society smarter, more informed and better vetted against disinformation and aware of local and far-flung needs and injustices, based upon the near-infinite access to data in the Information Age of the Internet, we have instead become slower-witted, with shorter attention spans and greater stimulus needed to maintain attention and focus, and more subject to online “click bait” and other forms of psychological exploitation, and a gravitation to pabulum rather than substance. While the dawn of the Internet Age afforded me an opportunity to leave the confines of an institutional office and conduct my consulting work with major players like Boeing in conferences while in sweat pants, and the ability to conduct amazing research even unavailable to academic institutions in the past by finding historical books on Amazon, out of print works on Archive.org as well as the history of even websites that have covered their tracks, archives of articles generations ago on major newspaper websites, and even general introductory topical material on sites like Wikipedia, I think this orgy of information and the online “manipulation-sphere” has also made me less focused, and needing more stimulus to maintain interest and concentration, and very easily distracted with new news reports or favorite website updates, and the constant interruptions. I even find it harder to concentrate on books with important information with a television nearby or a computer screen within reach. It has been harder for me to write lengthy manuscripts as the distractions have increased in recent years, and heaven knows how I would have gotten through the rigors of a doctoral degree or other advanced science degrees with all the sources of distraction now available (although my advancing age and its mental attenuation must play a part as well).
In a book manuscript I plan to publish shortly, I wrote about the effects of a visual medium like television, and why it is used for exploitation of public opinion, where part of the reason may even lie in the unique biomedical response humans have been reported to give when exposed to its unique electromagnetic signature and multi-sense dimensions. In a landmark experimental study program, Dr. Herbert E. Krugman, General Electric’s manager of corporate public opinion and advertising research, studied the effects of the television signal and image on the human brain, publishing his work in 1965 in the paper, “The Impact of Television Advertising: Learning Without Involvement,” for the Public Opinion Quarterly journal. In the paper given by Dr. Krugman and Prof. Eugene L. Hartley, Dean of the College of Community Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, at the 1969 World Association for Public Opinion Research conference in Amsterdam, Netherlands, called “Passive Learning From Television,” they focus on what they call “passive learning” derived from watching television. Under its influence, knowledge and traits are “caught” rather than “taught,” and is a response to animated stimuli, and “characterized by an absence of resistance to what is learned, thus opening up possibilities that, depending on one’s point of view, one may welcome or deplore” (p.184). They contrast this with active learning, which is associated with motivation, practice, achievement, new skills or insights obtained, as active and purposeful behavior. They add that “Much of what is taught by the mass media does involve passive learning, and especially among young television viewers”, and that “later events or situations may trigger what has been passively learned and lay dormant.” They note that under such viewing environments, learning is achieved not by active stimulation and excitement, but rather by relaxation (p.187). This produces the dominance of lower frequency alpha waves in the brain, as opposed to the higher-frequency beta waves generated during other learning environments. They report that these alpha waves can be stimulated by “appropriate external rhythms or frequencies.” They also add that “The most special quality of passive learning is, by definition, an absence of aroused resistance to what is learned…This means that passively learned material has an important ‘advantage’ which some have also associated with so called subliminal perception, extrasensory perception, or hypnotism” (p.188). They note that such alpha wave states of subjects, and the associated learning states with it, have been enhanced by artificially inducing the Alpha rhythm with a flickering light, and as a technique where people have given up smoking when under the influence of suggestion in this state. As a result, they surmise that “the time may come when the mass media may create special programs to help people modify certain attitudes or behavior” (p. 188).
Dr. Krugman continued his groundbreaking research by performing more detailed experiments on the human brain under such stimulus. In his 1971 paper for the Journal of Advertising Research, “Brain Wave Measures of Media Involvement,” it is headlined by the statement that G.E.’s latest study finds that “We act on print, but TV acts on us”. It described brain monitoring tests (using an electroencephalogram (EEG)) during television viewing by the Neuropsychological Laboratory of New York Medical College in 1969. They found that the passive, alpha brain wave signals began to dominate after 30 seconds of television viewing, regardless of the content being shown, in contrast to the highly alert, engaged and discerning beta waves which dominated when reviewing print material (p. 7). In comparing their findings to similar results by an earlier researcher (McLuhan), they comment that “Our initial EEG data supports McLuhan in the sense that television does not appear to be communication as we have known it” (p. 8). They noted that McLuhan had also noted that television was a “cool” medium, in which “television as experience is deficient in that reality is presented minus the feelings”. From these findings, they inquire, “What shall we say of it, a communication medium that may effortlessly transmit into storage huge quantities of information not thought about at the time of exposure, but much of it capable of later activation?” They surmised that generations of television viewers saw in the real world events and experiences and noted that they had encountered them before on television, but “with a tendency to act or react in a variety of new but faintly recognized situations where purpose or intent has not yet crystallized,” which they associated with the “younger generation,” raised on television at the time. They note that in contrast, a print viewer has paused while initially considering the information, and has then “formed an opinion or mentally rehearsed a plan,” and then, when encountering the situation in real life, is able to react with a “mature” response. This explains why the television medium is the instrument of choice for intelligence agencies, the government at large or other segments of the establishment (including Madison Avenue, and even the religious establishment) to covertly groom the opinions and thinking and associative processes of the mass public, particularly for “high stakes” issues like building a consensus for war and other extreme measures. Can you imagine what government agencies and the corporate world have done to advance their exploitation and advancement of these skills in the roughly 50 years since this data was published? This electromagnetic subliminal attribute is equally valid for the flickering screens of our computers and smart phones, and since then, they can do individual selective targeting with ads, pop ups, feed stories, search engine findings and suggestions unique to each one of us, but programmed by a stranger whom we do not know nor wishes to be known, with an economic or other agenda. This is why, with the world of information we can exploit and share via the internet, we must make book reading a centerpiece of our learning and development of understanding.
In a more practical, non-scientific sense, books provide us a private encounter experience, which is ideal for being exposed to provocative material that can potentially “rock” our worldview or paradigm. The medium itself provides for careful discernment of ideas that need to be carefully vetted before being adopted, and it also provides us an opportunity to concentrate and not be distracted by peer pressure to respond to dissonant data in a “pushback” way that our peers in a group may expect. It also does not provide a forum for one to engage into a partisan, tribal shouting match like social media, without thinking. The material can initially offend the reader, without “cornering” them, allowing them to stop and reflect, pause and gather oneself, or set it down, meditate on it and resume reading at a better time. It will not insult or embarrass a reader in front of their peers. This is why I recommend people give my books or ones like it to their parents or family members, who would not buy a rival argument from a child or younger sibling, feeling obligated to reject and take a custodial role, but a private exposure in a late night read or early morning outside creates a different environment for considering the “unthinkable.” A book reader should not be rushed, as we do with online articles, feeds and the lineup of quick topics to digest in our routine before moving on. It can always be revisited at any time in the future, as it will not be taken off the web at the whims of some stranger. Furthermore, the world of old books provides timeless and often lost information, history, wisdom and perspective borne from “another time,” or one like our own in some way in which crises have progressed to the point that it offers a warning for us to not repeat history (I am think of the Christians of 1920s-30s Germany, and the parallels for America today). I have found old topical books in archive.org, Amazon, EBay or used bookstores routinely that blew me away with their perspective, being far advanced in their sophistication from what is written today, and populates a central and most important role in the arguments within my own written works and their contents, and gives them legitimacy and societal and cultural continuity.
As a last matter, in addressing the skepticism of the questioner here, I think one must decide if they choose to exist in this life as a “terminal recipient” of information, or rather feel a calling to process such information into actionable intelligence, in the duty and responsibility to their neighbor and their needs, and to “be their brother’s keeper.” I define a “terminal recipient” or reader as one whose digestion of information stops with them. As stated in the question, they may ingest enormous amounts of information in some form with the “newsfeed culture” today, but how much of it boils down into mere entertainment, even if in a ghoulish sense, as opposed to actionable intelligence that results into a call for action? Is digesting high speed, scrolling headlines going to change the world, or even one’s fundamental paradigm, or just reinforce stereotypes and biases? What is all the effort of rapidly consuming such information accomplishing? How is it being put to use? It may just be a calling to educate others, with a blog, podcast, and hopefully for some of you to take the effort to vet the material and carefully document it sufficiently to be able to publish it yourself with your own insights, with the legacy to educate others long after you are gone and the Internet is locked down, even if it is only for a person who picks up your dog-eared book in a used book table, Goodwill or a yard sale, and has their own world “rocked” – this is ultimately what I feel called to accomplish. Others of you may be more ambitious and feel called to be an activist, legislator or visionary philanthropist, risking life and limb on behalf of the weak and defenseless, and being a role model for others. Whatever your role, in begins with educating yourself carefully and in high-quality fashion – not just from Youtube videos – and deciding if you are going to just be a spectator in life, focusing on leisure, fun and entertainment, or if you are going to be your brother’s keeper.
In conclusion, I confess that I do write VERY long sentences in writings (both in books and blogging), with lots of dashes and semicolons, that are complex. However, the concepts in these works ARE complex, and its sells them short to decouple the complex interrelationships between the elements cited just for the satisfaction of concise sentence structure. That may work for Tonto or Tarzan in their style of communication (or the simplistic meme zingers circulated today), but not for me. It does require some concentration, dedication and “buy in” on the reader’s behalf. Try reading books of earlier generations – they are far more opaque, and have much deeper and valuable things to say! I know I also “overshare” with excessive documentation and exhaustive references and lengthy exact quotations. I don’t apologize for that either – I feel I owe that to you for agreeing to take a number of hours to read a work it may have taken me a year to research and prepare, and I write for skeptics that will have a hard time accepting the data and ideas I share with them, in an attempt to help them consider it by “checkmating” all their objections, if possible. It does not make my life easier, but in the long haul I hope it helps my work stand the test of time (and the test of vetting). However, I have listened to my younger good friends and followers, and accept that modern communication intake is centered on podcasts, Youtube videos, and even Facebook and similar forums, and I have been drawn, kicking and screaming, into that realm, even with all the time away from REAL research it forces me to commit (and honestly, I do thank them for their intervention with me, to try to keep me “relevant” and reaching the greatest number). Thus, you will now see more audio and video elements of shorter duration as time permits, and forums for such, although I don’t do anything “seat of the pants” and extemporaneously (although it may seem as such when you are exposed to it), so what you do hear and see will have some time of preparation behind it, for this aging, fading mind and memory has to compensate for a growing lack of improvisation. Although I will try to meet the modern consumer of information “were they are at,” I will not concede the role of written work in making the long-term contribution, by myself and in the reader and what they do with it, and what a lifestyle of classic book reading does to the intellect and wisdom of the participant who, unlike me, might be able to change the world.
Are you trying to attack the Christian faith?
Not at all! I was raised in a Christian home , have made a profession of faith to follow Christ at a young age, and have served Him in good standing in Bible-believing churches my entire life, right up until today. In fact, the opportunity to further prioritize the primacy of my Christian calling in my life, at this time in recent years when I am blessed to not be distracted by a career, was the catalyst for me to tackle these controversial and misunderstood topics, with the intention being for the glory of God. The years since 2005, when I began my Future Quake volunteer radio ministry, right up through the many recent years of writing manuscripts on similar controversial spiritual and historical topics, have afforded me the enviable opportunity of time to test the merits of the principles of my evangelical faith, along with some of the Bible Belt cultural “baggage” picked up along the way, and to sift out “the bones.” With the goal being the pursuit of truth (and “The Way, the Truth and the Life”), it is an honest (however faulty) attempt to assess the features of our faith culture which further the Kingdom advance, and those cultural relics which impede it. I do feel a calling, much like the prophets, to often focus on the “downer” aspects of assessing our own culture of professing Christians, rather than seeking the faults of those outside the Church, or as Paul told the church at Corinth, “For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? Do ye not judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth” (1 Cor. 5:12–13). However, when “the world” judges and critiques the church, even when rightly, they often seek to discredit it, and through it, its message and Founder (although many of them secretly wish to witness a true authentic faith they can believe in); conversely, my desire is that my fellow believers might seek to cling to the authentic and constructive message brought by our Lord, even when it proves challenging to all of us, and that the world can see the sweet and healing “good news” they so desperately need and often seek—all for the glory of the Lord. Lastly, I subscribe to the adage of “That which we do not critique, we worship”—that is, whatever is raised beyond the point of being critiqued (rather becoming the standard by which everything else is critiqued), is in essence making it an object of worship. I assert that only the Lord Jesus Christ deserves that unique status—not my nation, its political system, any political party, church denomination, or even pet doctrines deserve such recognition, rather being judged themselves by the Chief Cornerstone. As such, when I critique the most revered traditions and values of my religious heritage and even national culture, I consider that act itself an act of worship of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Is your book(s) just an exercise in promoting liberal politics and religion?
I was raised in a blue-collar family in the Bible Belt, “Baptist town” of Louisville, in a family conservative in both its Christianity and politics (although my parents weren’t particularly politically active). I was raised in a religiously conservative Southern Baptist church, continued in conservative, Bible-centered churches, and in recent years have attended and serve in one. I subscribe to the Bible as authentic, accurate and authoritative and my primary means of spiritual rule and practice as led by the Holy Spirit. I further subscribe to the classic tenets of the orthodox Christian faith, centered on the finished work of Christ on the cross, to atone for my sins, to ransom my soul from the Devil and to reconcile me to God. I believe in the “born again,” elective experience of choosing to repent and to turn to following Jesus, believing both in His bodily resurrection and my future resurrection from the dead. I read, study and quote from the Bible regularly, and believe in a daily lifestyle of prayer, and faithful, continued service in the local, Bible-believing church, and sharing of my faith, to invite others to the “Master’s wedding supper.”
Regarding politics, I voted Republican as long as I have been voting as a high school graduate. My wife and I were regular viewers of Fox News, even appearing on camera outside the offices of their “Fox and Friends” morning program. However, after the 2004 election, I began to have significant misgivings about the justification used for the Iraq War, as I became more aware of the lies and misrepresentations it had been built upon, and the true long term agendas it served, as such information became more accessible. Furthermore, my process of focused analysis of the forces dictating our culture, including what could be described as its Religious Right aspect from which I hailed, was facilitated by my production of my Future Quake radio program I began in 2005. It enabled me to be exposed to new perspectives and data for which I had not been cognizant, including that from other Bible-believing Christians who raised credible questions and doubts, which initiated a lengthy process in my thinking and life to begin sorting out the essential and credible core elements of my faith, values and ethics from the baggage I had inherited. This ongoing process continued on in more depth as I transitioned from my radio program to my focused Christian book-writing pursuits in 2012.
As one example, one basic premise of the Bible teaching that changed my views in recent years, which I had easily skipped over (along with my church peers) within its pages but which becomes front and center in my new book writing, is the plain fact that both the God revealed in the Old Testament, and that revealed in His Son in the New, simply has a special love for the poor and the “stranger” (the immigrant from another land), giving them special honor and deference, and no amount of conservative fast-talking or rationalization can explain it away. In other words, when one is confused on an issue as to the mind of God, simply side with the poor, the stranger and anyone else who is vulnerable and on the margins (the “widow and orphan”), and you are likely to fall on God’s side. To dispense with an important misunderstanding I often encounter, which is cultivated by deceptive conservative and Christian media figures, it should be clear that tangible mercy and compassion for the poor and downtrodden, and personal accountability for their well-being as prescribed by both the Mosaic Law and Christ’s Kingdom teachings, does not preclude holding deceptive or intentionally-lazy and exploitational people accountable, although as I cite in my recent book, we have been led by wealth class-underwritten media to presume this fraud and exploitation is much more rampant than it normally is. For example, I was raised in the era of believing that food stamp recipients were very widespread, and that “they all drove Cadillacs and used their stamps to get T-Bone steaks,” rather than knowing that the common food stamp recipient is a newly single parent (often a victim of spousal abuse, or the death of their breadwinner) or a victim of a debilitating illness, with assistance only available for a short period (by statute), such as to buy time for them to get an education and re-start a career. It is prudent to use reasonable measures that, while not destroying the dignity of an unfortunate soul that could be any one of us, still weed out fraudulent exploiters of the system. Policies that feature government “investments” (with returns on that investment for the greater public interest) rather than handouts are certainly preferred, that facilitates assisting those becoming productive citizens, and in making good decisions that promote self-sufficiency, self-respect and societal as well as personal benefit (would it be that we also applied the same principles to the much larger budgetary item of “corporate welfare”!), and avoiding the suffering of innocent collateral victims within their sphere, such as their dependent offspring.
Even with those prudent measures, one of the hallmarks of any “civilization” – particularly a self-described “Christian” one – and not a mere libertarian, Darwinistic jungle, is in the mercy it shows to its weakest and most feeble. This not only includes the elderly, and those with severe disabilities, but even those, for various reasons you and I may be blessed not to have experienced, who have found themselves in bondage to addictions and life-controlling issues, such as drugs or alcohol, and to some extent (within the bounds of their not being able to harm others), deserve at least actual charitable pity. It is desired that all such wretched souls, no matter how much we may see their problems as self-inflicted, be assisted with counseling (spiritual and psychological), half way houses and intervention, and medical care to free themselves from such shackles of control by their biological and psychological impulses and cravings associated with addictions, or at least managing them. However, in many cases such liberation will be unsuccessful, and we will need to resort to the ground-state acknowledgement that such people are still created in God’s image, and loved by their Creator (and maybe by their “momma” or another loved one as well (even a child)), and thus are due at least the basest mercy of a safe bed off the street and a meal, and a kind word and spiritual ministry, as evidence of our culture’s spiritual heritage, our own humility, and state of civilization. What I really want to emphasize here is that the sincere critique of the management of welfare programs to improve their efficiency and benefits is not the real problem, as is defended in conservative circles, but rather that general attitude and mindset – and heart – of arrogance towards and contempt for those less fortunate and with needs, and an always-underlying assumption in their discourse and analysis that such people are undeserving and exploitative, as a baseline instinct that is ugly, and unbecoming a supposed “bible-believing” follower of Christ. I hope through my writings and other statements to expose the culprits I uncover in research that cultivated this evil mindset into generations of gullible and prideful Western Christians, and what their true agendas are for such historical psy-ops as “hirelings” to lead away the flock from the True Shepherd.
Furthermore, many serious Christians today simply cannot acknowledge that their Lord explained that God Himself speaks of the “weightier matters of the law – judgment (i.e, justice), mercy and faith” (Matt. 23:23), and that not all laws, commands or principles are created equal, and some take precedence over others, in the reasoned judgments and balancing governing principles of a mature follower of Christ. As opposed to simple rote compliance to a dogmatic set of commandments, like the “elementary” process of simple law-compliance like children (Gal. 4:3, 9, Heb. 6:1, ESV), we are to mature into the “mind of Christ” and thus “rightly judge,” with any judge routinely required to balance the conflicting rights and priorities of differing principles and parties, and determine the “higher rights” which dictate the ruling, and which any mature Christian desiring to represent the priorities of Christ in complicated social circumstances of competing spiritual agendas will routinely encounter. We are further guided within scripture to be subject to further witnesses of God’s will in our lives even beyond the limited scenarios covered by the commands within the biblical record, that being the complementary guidance of the Holy Spirit, and even our own conscience (Romans 2:15, 9:1, 13:5, 1 Cor. 8:7, 10, 2 Cor. 1:12, 4:2, 5:11, 1 Tim. 1:5, 19, 3:9, Heb. 9:9, 14). If acknowledgements such as make one a “liberal,” then so be it.
Your criticism of conservatives may have some merit, but why don’t you criticize liberals and the left as well? Your lack of balance makes me suspect your discernment and ulterior motives.
On my blog and its description at the top, I explain why it is called “The Two Spies Report” (under the menu title, “Why a Blog?”). It is intended to be a Christian, Bible-based “minority report,” to supplement the majority views of God’s people like the Ten Spies in the Bible. As such, and as I describe within my blog posts and interviews, I do not rehash the common conservative Christian media views that despises and distrusts the poor, minorities (of race, religion and everything else), immigrants and other outsiders, because Christian conservative media is a hundreds of million dollar a year industry, paid for by corporations and wealthy patrons whose message they project (making these Christian leaders multi-millionaires), which has a stranglehold on the hearts and minds of the majority of Christians, without any critique, so what good would one more redundant small voice do to add to it? It really doesn’t need any more promotion, because Christians are already saturated with its message, and in lockstep with its views – including some sometimes well-deserved critique of the left, which they are already well-versed in. I have felt called to walk the lonely path and narrow way to be one of the sole voices in the historically-conservative “bible believing” community (in the midst of my prior radio show supporters who are still largely very conservative, and often hard-right) critiquing this pro-corporation, anti-government, anti-public assistance, anti-outsider prevailing view, and examine it from what the Bible says, and what Jesus said were the “weightier matters of the law.” The vast conservative Christian media do an excellent job holding the left over the fire, night and day, so would it not be useful to supplement our knowledge by critiquing “our side”? Shouldn’t self-reflection not be a common attribute of thoughtful Christians? I also try in my blog to provide information that is verifiable that I know is not being provided to my friends that listen to conservative Christian and secular news exclusively, that could radically change their views of our situations, and after reading my blog over time I think it will cause some doubts in you as well, but all for the glory of Christ and the Gospel. If we will not allow a basic Bible teaching (Old Testament and new) and contemporary evidence to change our world view, then what kind of stronghold is in our mind, and who put it there? If it is sound and “cannot be shaken,” should we not “shake” it from time to time, as God says He does in scripture, to prove such to ourselves, and so that “that which cannot be shaken remains”? (Heb. 12:27)
Nothing I say challenges the Gospel message or the Bible in total, but only strengthens it and tries to give it consistency, and tries to expose where our other cultural ideas really came from. This should be a painful but maturing process of necessity. I have dedicated my time day and night, seven days a week for years to glean this information, for many, many years without financial remuneration or other ambitions, to help other believers follow me in this painful process, and they can retain whatever data or ideas here they find useful or thought provoking, but I at least guarantee that I am not a mouthpiece for a rich patron or corporation, and only seek to advance the Kingdom, and I need others to help me. I try to get others to focus on book reading (often in vain as a waste of my time), because in my book I lay the case out methodically, much better than I can in a brief interview, with ample scriptural and historical backup, methodically laid out – I am fine sending any of you a pdf of it if you will read it. I think asking “which side are you on” or criticizing from merely a partisan viewpoint is missing the whole point; the real question for Christians is – what opinion does God say He is on in these issues from scripture? Who is misleading us to take secular sides, exploiting our psychological weaknesses, and what are their motives? Can I stand to consider scriptures or evidence (or sources) that challenge the narrative given by strangers or hirelings in talk radio and cable news (even Christian varieties, and pastors and friends, who speak “Jesus talk” and are often browbeating in their views that often don’t stand muster), and pick my own path? That is what I am trying to accomplish, and it is a harrowing, misstep-laden narrow path in a day of mass media sorcery, and I would sure like you to join me in salvaging a soul-winning witness in our nation today, by defending and illustrating a genuine loving and humble Kingdom of Heaven worldview in our conversation, actions and even social media postings.
Your ideas about how we should deal with our fellow citizens and others in society, such as giving extra grace and respect, understanding, and even assistance at times to the poor and immigrants and other minorities of race, faith or culture, and those who are different, must come from some liberal media or sources. Which ones formed your opinions today?
Actually, what came first with me is that I finally began (as a lifelong Christian raised for 50 years in the Baptist and other conservative churches, and having read the Bible through many times during my life) to really read the Gospels and words in the Bible “straight up, as is,” for myself, to ascertain my own understanding, led by my reliance on the Holy Spirit, my God-given conscience and comprehension (hopefully with the maturity of a lifetime of scriptural and historical study), and seeking a consistent perspective and value system of an individual Author throughout its vast period and era of written revelation, and not through the lens or filter of some popular “teacher” or even influential mentor. I have found that, like a Christian mentor once told me, there is indeed even an unwritten “subtext” that weaves its way unmistakably through scripture and harmonizes and transcends its individual words, reflecting a Character and their nature and values, much like a “subtext” in a movie or book that leaves a more lasting impression or message to a viewer or reader than mere words or commands, even if the exact words were not transcribed as such.
Regardless, what I discovered clearly in its exact words, without ambiguity, was that I was sold some cultural views I never questioned for decades, and how I looked at the poor, immigrants and who the Bible calls the “anawim” (“lost and forgotten ones”) in a disparaging way as lazy exploiters, as I was told to do (a message paid for by the wealth class, I later discovered, through our clergy and Christian and conservative media), that is in no way “biblical,” nor the views of God nor in the Old or New Testament. This led me to better understand how God would have us look at our neighbor, with a straight reading of the Bible, as well as the consistent spirit, attitude and even recurring subtext the Bible message clearly portrays, and I realized I was fed a “bill of goods” by the supposed “sola scriptura,” “bible believing” crowd and the strangers we all know as “Christian celebrities,” who would have us be either contemptuous and derogatory of those different or outside our circles or otherwise not measuring up, or rather fearful, paranoid and eventually hateful towards those we have been cultivated to view as existential threats (for the benefit of demagogues who sell this message to us gullible Christians). When this creates an understandable and inevitable backlash of criticism from those outside their ranks, or even resistance to the “culture warrior” control-freak legislative “dominion” by Christians over the personal lives of those not equally yoked to their same personal vows and covenants, even mild protests, critiquing and exposure of hypocrisy or non-compliance to their coercive decrees do not generate humble self-reflection, “eye beam removal” and “chest smiting” by the economically and socially (and politically) powerful conservative American Christian community, but rather “Chicken Little” squeals of the routine apocalyptic “Christian persecution,” as they run to their bunkers, embracing their prophecy charts (and guns and survival food) – at least until the next messianic political figure fills them with swagger and exploits them cynically with cries to “make America great again.”
This process has not weakened my faith, but made it more consistent, easier to explain to unbelievers whose souls I want to reach, and brings peace to my conscience – I feel I am more orthodox in my faith than I have ever been, and with the clarity of the lifetime goal of maturing in Christ to be a humble shepherding leader, role model and “judge” in the afterlife Kingdom that Christ wants us all to aspire to, and as His teaching and Spirit leading desires to impart to all of us! As part of my maturing in the collection of quality “knowledge” from sources to facilitate the process of developing an “understanding” of worldly, heavenly and internal psychological system relationships and then the “wisdom” to take proper actions based upon it, I have sought investigative journalism sources with good reputations to deliver facts and evidence I can vet, and in particular that data which can hold accountable those of our faith, which Paul says we are to do, rather than evaluating the “world” (1 Cor. 5), so that our testimony has respect by others and can win souls.
So, I cannot attribute any leftist media source or even individual person to have led me to espouse views reflecting a biblical understanding of individual rights and collective responsibilities, respect for those different than me and even being worthy of extra grace, giving preeminence to the Golden Rule and what Jesus called “the weightier matters of the law” as a preferential application of Kingdom priorities as mature leaders-in-training and not just immature, rote legalistic “rules for children” (or the “elementary things of this world” (Gal. 4:3, 9, Col. 2:8, 20, Heb. 5:12, 6:1, NASB)), and caring about the welfare and even self-respect and dignity of those I am told by other Christians are my cultural “enemies”; no person or media influence made me espouse these values as evidence of being a “liberal” – if that is what these values are supposed to reflect to many Christians who have been told such. In fact, I have been told by a number of Christians in the online community, in this internet age of superlatives and hyperbole, of my hopscotching well over being a liberal or even socialist, to being an outright “communist” – all while espousing the Word of God and its tenets as my value system and standard, but I do admit citing biblical guidance that is conveniently omitted in their own popular “Christian” and conservative media influences. I think this is a case of my personal adage that “an opinion says as much about the opiner as it does its subject.” While many participants online these days are not familiar with the throes of the post-war “Red Scare” Cold War and both its paranoia and legitimate concerns, I suspect they would not possess the educated comprehension of what truly makes things “communistic” or where its legitimate philosophical concerns lie. Rather, I think that the internet and conspiracy-driven social media, Youtube and message boards have driven so much of the public (conservative Christians in particular) to the extreme right (as I document extensively in my writings), even from someone like myself who has been a “classic conservative” for most of my life (and dabbled in conspiracy stuff from time to time), from their extreme perspective I sometimes jest that they would now view the John Birch Society as communist sympathizers; they would even view the tax brackets of Ronald Reagan’s landmark 1986 tax reform plan as socialistic government overreach! I’m sure they would view these historical conservative stalwarts’ acceptance of polio and smallpox vaccines, and even their support for Republican election officials’ unbiased polling processes and their acceptance of election results as Illuminati, socialistic and globalist sellouts, so why should I be immune!
I want my faith to reflect solid Bible teaching on my view of my neighbor and society, as my book writing clearly lays out (and I really hope all of you read it), and I also compliment it by seeking solid contemporary and historical data in my research to help my knowledge (again, to then lead to understanding and wisdom), particularly of corruption and deception in our own ranks, as Christ focused on in the letters to the churches in Revelation, and not the doings of the world. As I have stated, the Two Spies Report is dedicated to the “two spies” with a “minority report” from God’s people, with God’s agenda, that you will not hear on conservative Christian or secular mass media and that our fellow Christians are not exposed to, to help round out their perspective, and with a biblical emphasis. I am not called to add to the untold millions of dollars in conservative Christian media that is well funded to give a pro-business, pro-wealth, hate your neighbor perspective well funded by corporations to serve their interests. That’s where the money is, but it would not be me serving my Christian brethren, or my other neighbors. Use the data I find and write in my books and elsewhere, in comparison to the data and message from the conservative Christian media that you might frequent, with your Bible in hand and looking for the spirit and attitude that Christ emphasizes as the “weightier matters of the law,” and see where it all stands! Just prepared to be (initially at least) routinely offended when you read the information on my blog and books, because it is geared to challenge our inherent biases to say something useful versus being a “dittohead,” but if you keep an open, inquiring mind with the findings of a brother on the “same team” with a heavenly agenda, I think over time (and after much reading of the blog and my book) with much patience, I might win you over just a little bit!
Don’t let the left/right secularists and their agenda, and Christian pundits who profit from it, set the table for you in how you are to approach each social topic, and look at others as an enemy. You are a citizen of another Kingdom, and you are instructed to love your neighbor (including those who are different, and even your “enemies”) from cradle to grave, and put them first. Spend your time knowing how God wants you to regard your neighbor (my book might help streamline your biblical research in documenting what role God established for government and those less fortunate, for example), and then make your own choices, not what the pundits tell you or even how they tell you to look at others. See government, for example, as another tool God has established as a mechanism for you to bless your neighbor in different ways, just like the money and time God gave you to use, voting for the well-being of the poor, stranger and weak, and not for your interests or wallet. Get to know their real struggles and their humanity, not how the robber baron media tells you to look at them, and who give the “Ebenezer Scrooge/Jacob Marley” view of society – see where that got those guys in the world to come?
What makes you think you are so high-minded and holy to think you can criticize those who are some of the most beloved Christian leaders, much less our evangelical culture as a whole?
I certainly am aware that I am saddled with numerous struggles in the flesh and other sins and shortcomings, and many more of which I am not aware but many around me can see quite clearly, and some that only God knows. I also know that in times past, when I have gotten on my “high horse” and railed against some great sin of others, oftentimes I have had to “eat my words” and later confess my own ignorance on a topic on which I spoke, or my own hypocrisy; in fact, I sometimes joke that my Bible “life verse” should be the words of Job in Job 42:3: “I have uttered what I did not understand” (Job 42:3, NKJV). Therefore, it would be much less stressful to merely keep my head down and out of the fray, or maybe focus on “feel good” and inspiring pronouncements (for which there is a time and place), like many of the spectacularly successful (and wealthy) “positive message” TV preachers, who don’t confront, divide or make anyone uncomfortable or have to sort things out. However, the prophets (as well as Peter, James, John and Paul) would have liked to have had such a non-confrontational assignment as well. As such, their earthly rewards were such that they “wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented,” and “wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth,” but about whom heaven decreed that they were those “of whom the world was not worthy” (Heb. 11:37–38, KJV). I am sure John the Baptist might have preferred not to condemn the Religious Right leaders of his day, forcing him to live in the wilderness in poverty and obscurity, nor condemning the political head of his religious people (a case where he truly “lost his head”). I assert that I am only trying to emulate the approach of Jesus Himself, who was very accommodating and deferential to those outside His religious circle, such as the Roman centurion or the Samaritan woman (or even the figurative “Good Samaritan”), but saved His biting criticism for the leaders within His own religious tradition, for which He had a right to expect a higher accountability, just as I do with my own. All men and women have blind spots and shortcomings, including religious leaders, and many temptations beset them, but with their leadership come great responsibility, so that they do not provide a “stumbling block” to the sheep and spiritually weak. It might be said to be commendable or prudent for one to give empathy to a religious leader who succumbs to a moment of temporary fleshly weakness (including their cooperation with restoration, although assignment again to the very position that gave them the temptations to which they originally succumbed is another matter). However, those who use their power and spiritual influence over others for their own personal enrichment, or otherwise demonstrate knowing corruption and exploitation of their influence, is a matter for which I do not apologize for exposing, for the sake of the integrity of the Gospel message, and to protect weak brethren who might fall away (and often do) after witnessing or being victim to such hypocrisy, or the outside world who experiences yet another stumbling block to their consideration of the sincerity of the Gospel message. Most of the “world” knows of these matters long before the church members know or acknowledge it, so “covering up” such matters only expresses a wider net of corruption and accommodation than could otherwise be remedied with a quick if painful disclosure and remediation.
In any case, we should not gloat when we see public Christian “celebrities” exposed and embarrassingly fall, out of some subconscious form of envy or salacious malice; rather, we should solemnly reflect on the sins in our own personal lives that, if exposed, would bring heartbreak and shame not only to ourselves, but also to our loved ones. In other words, such public displays of judgment should cause us to be “scared straight,” and to be grateful for yet not tempting the longsuffering hand of God to take painful acts of correction in our own personal lives, and see today as the “day of salvation” to deal with our personal sins, while there is still time.
If you have issue with some of these Christian leaders, why don’t you follow the biblical mandates of Matthew 18:15-17 and settle the matter with them privately, followed by a few brethren if necessary, rather than airing out all our “dirty laundry” out amongst the already-mocking “heathen”? What is your real agenda, anyway?
This point has been made to other Christian writers and commentators in years past, when they critiqued others as to what they thought was their faulty theology, or more so when they pointed out aspects of corruption, compromise or deception of the public, particularly when the target was a beloved Christian celebrity and national figure. Sometimes these accusations came from “left field,” and are due to personal “bad blood” between the accused and accuser, sometimes stemming back to perceived slights or betrayals decades ago. A classic case of such occurred in the mid-1980s when televangelist Marvin Gorman apparently gained revenge on fellow televangelist Jimmy Swaggart for exposing his affair and ending his ministry by having his sons photograph Swaggart evidently meeting with a prostitute and confronting him outside the motel, with Gorman’s offer to keep quiet if Swaggart would help him get denominationally reinstated, such offer being ignored until Gorman forwarded their investigation of Swaggart to their church denomination, which was made public (all according to biographers and those connected to the incident). Sometimes it’s due to less spectacular incidents of rivalries or internal denominational or church politics. However, in many cases it does not involve any personal feuds or agendas.
In my own case, as a “small potato” of no religious leadership position or clout, such prominent religious leaders I mention in my writings would not give me the time of day (as I can attest from my own experiences), and furthermore, I do not think those Bible verses apply in any shape or manner to my scenario anyway. This is not a case of a “trespass between a brother and me” (v. 15), and in fact it is not addressed to me at all as a personal matter. It is rather a clear case of false doctrine or corrupt practice, and such circumstances were addressed publicly by the apostles, and even Christ addressed it in the letters to the churches, because the damage had impact on not just an individual but also the masses inside the church, as well as the “Gentiles” outside the church (because word gets around eventually, even in those days, whether the church admits to it or not), and had to be addressed as such. These are not the case of private and discreet moral failings, which can be remediated privately to protect the victim and promote restoration (as Joseph tried to do when he mistakenly but understandably thought his betrothed Mary had such a failing that resulted in her unplanned pregnancy); even when such efforts are made to minimize the impacts in a local church or ministry, the sudden (even if temporary) absence of a leader, or other aberrant behavior, usually send tongues wagging, and discretion is often a lost cause. At that point, religious leaders risk the appearance of excusing or intentionally concealing some widespread corruption or conducting a cover-up operation, even if their motives are sincere, and often such unknowns lead people to assume circumstances that are far more severe than reality. As I note in one of my books, in the letters Jesus wrote to the seven churches, His main concerns were the corruption and false doctrines within each church, just like when He rebuked the Jewish leaders during His ministry, and not some external threats to the Church itself. When Paul addressed the church at Corinth, as I discussed to a greater extent in my book Two Masters and Two Gospels, Volume 1, he explained that the church had to deal with immorality and not excuse it or exploit it to show their piety in contrast, because not only had it become blatantly obvious to church members, but it even disturbed the “pagans” outside the church, and caused a bad reputation of them to be adopted by the latter. Thus, Paul recommended that the offending and conspicuously and intentionally defiant brother be publicly ostracized for however long it took him to repent, as a hopeful catalyst for the brother to get set straight and then restored (and not destroyed, if at all possible), to serve as a lesson to church members that intentional rebellious sin is not to be tolerated (and to do so would imperil them as well eventually). The other intention of Paul was to preserve the integrity and respect for the Church in the outer community, and the Gospel message it proclaimed, since its primary role was not to defend its own ranks, but to be “salt and light” and to undergird its Great Commission aim to “rescue the perishing” by means of its offering of the full forgiveness, restoration of intimate fellowship with God and eternal life, a purposeful earthly calling and loving fellowship and support from other believers, and a transparency and consistent defense of the truth, honesty and integrity in a world where it is hard to find.
In like fashion, the issues I address with well-known Christian leaders do not directly involve me, nor a private matter between us. I am not a rival of theirs, and their success does not in any way impede mine. I do not have any major underwriting of powerful or wealthy figures whose attacks on these others would serve their interests as well, and I will never be in a position, even as a cog within a powerful institution, to struggle with these figures as peers. I do have to be careful that such criticism is not derived from any sense of my envy of them and their “success” of wealth, fame or respect, or resentment of such if I deem our relative fortunes as unfair, and I can only try to repeatedly remind myself of such a possibility, search my heart and regularly address it in prayer, to attempt to prevent such, or repent of it when it does. As it turns out, the corruption I point out of these prominent Christian leaders in my books is already well-known by those outside the church, not only by means of the ample reporting from respected sources that I cite (which few Christians take effort to read), but also further evidenced when I speak to such people outside the church, whose cynicism (often to their own lament, I might add) is somewhat justified by their knowledge of such, or provides them a convenient excuse to avoid the lifestyle decisions of surrendering to the will of their Creator. Alternatively, the well-meaning Christians I know are often the only ones to be ignorant of such corruption, particularly since they are too lazy or paranoid to read even prominent investigative journalism or books, and have conveniently accepted the excuse that it is all “fake news,” just like a brainwashed cult member. Being the “last to know,” when such failings are exposed they feel the need to “defend their clan” and circle the wagons to defend one who professes themselves to be a Christian (regardless of their actions), in defiance of overwhelming evidence, even though such tribalism is not defended anywhere in the New Testament, rather than wisely cautioning that all sides and evidence should be considered and weighed, and “heard out” before drawing conclusions. In most cases, the most damning evidence is derived directly from the statements and videos of the offending leaders themselves, who in their hubris feel unaccountable and above such critique, often surrounded by opportunistic “yes men” whose own ambitions preclude them being wise (and sometimes rebuking) council.
When fellow Christians feign ignorance, dismiss its significance or simply deny such misdeeds that are commonly known outside the church (even attacking both secular and Christian whistleblowers), they sabotage the integrity of the Gospel the world needs so desperately. Of course, those (including sincere Christians like myself) who point out such commonly-known willful corruption and greed (at least to those outside the church), as opposed to temporary “besetting sins” that bring shame and repentance upon exposure, are “not without sin” and have their own hang-ups. However, if “sinlessness” of the whistle-blower was the required standard for raising concerns that are already known, there would be no means for acknowledgement of any troubles, with the constructive intention to remedy them to restore the offender if they are willing, and seek forgiveness from worldly observers who have a right to expect more for them, and for them to observe us Christians hold fast to a higher standard ourselves if we are going to “preach at” outsiders as a requirement of integrity for us and the Gospel we preach. This thankless role (as opposed to the inspirational, uplifting message to which some are given (and others exploit) which is well-received (and often lucrative to the deliverer)) not only grieves the sincere Christian who feels called to give it, but also should cause them to routinely “smite their own chest” like the publican who asked God to “be merciful to me, a sinner.”
Your content and tone in your book seems like a real “downer,” always seeing a “glass half empty” and gloomy assessment of American Christianity. We need more upbeat, inspirational expressions of faith, which unites and not divides. Do you personally have any type of joyous faith and spirit, or are you one of those dour, humorless judgmental Christians that always see the skies falling all the time?
Those who listened to my Future Quake radio show over the years already know that my true nature is to be fun-loving, and even goofy and silly much of the time, and trying not to take myself too seriously. However, they also know that when it is time to tackle spiritual issues that are “high stakes” and particularly impactful to others and the vulnerable, no one will find a more serious person, and these topics are often what I cover in my books, with the strenuous efforts required to produce such works leading me to focus on issues that I feel an imperative to address by such exhaustive means. I would occasionally tackle a topic on the show that was somewhat fun, although it usually had some spiritual, intellectual or even sociological/pop culture lesson or insight, to be worth the effort and time of the guest, myself and the listener. My personal friends, of whom I have been blessed with many, know that my goofy and silly “button” gets “stuck” at times, and is probably too much for them, but that is actually my true nature, and not the stern, dour Puritanical nature that might come across in the books. Even my own household with my wife is playful and childlike (sometimes just childish), to a point that would cause eye-rolls in many who wouldn’t understand. Having been raised in a “Bible Belt,” evangelical, Southern Baptist culture my whole life, I see many cultural spiritual elements that could be seen as solemn and sacred by many (and folks like Baptists and other evangelicals pride themselves on having no complex liturgy or rituals, but in reality have their own unofficial, biblically-murky ones that they vigorously defend), but as I grow older and even settle in to a slightly different evangelical culture, I can look back and detect the irony and humor in some of those cultural relics, and even see the absurdity of some of such views and practices, particularly when they can be stumbling blocks for outsiders or give undue guilt to those raised in it, even though in many cases it is harmless, and for which I still have a certain sentimentality.
For example, I will still shed a tear when a see an “old school” altar call given by a country preacher at the end of a sermon during the singing of the fifteenth verse of “Just as I Am” from the hymnbook, and see the “sinner” rise from the pew and come to the altar, giving their life in surrender and tears, just like I saw countless times in my upbringing. I also admit that I possess a taste for what folk would call “dark humor,” or what our British friends would call “gallows humor,” which I think I inherited from both sides of my family, as we siblings would try to break up our father with “gross” but harmless subject matter, or intensive needling of someone seated at the table. Many a time have my extended family (including my father in his upbringing) been comforted by passers-by during serious times at the hospital or funeral home, when our tears were from simply laughing uncontrollably from a joke one of us had just told. My dark (and some would say tasteless or inappropriate at times) humor that would instinctively note the irony or absurdity of an otherwise serious spiritual moment, in a sincere attempt to keep melodramatic circumstances that are common in “revival style” evangelical expressions in context and perspective, often would rub serious-minded radio listeners the wrong way, soliciting some tongue-lashing emails from folks who didn’t understand. This instinct comes out in lesser fashion in my book writing, which will likely cause folk unfamiliar with me to have similar consternation with me, but alternatively many long-time friends who know me from the radio and interviews expect such perspectives from me, because most know it is the “true me” and even find it endearing, and helps us all laugh at ourselves, which is what we all need to do at times. I can’t help it—it’s just who I am, but I have good intentions, and I want people to know that with my friends, I try to be uplifting and fun. However, when comes to serious matters, both physical and spiritual, when a vulnerable soul is suffering, ripe for exploitation, anxious or in peril, one won’t find a more serious person than myself.
I am not a Christian, or at least not of the fundamentalist type, and am interested in knowing about what you’ve found regarding the history of corruption of the Religious Right crowd, more specifically areas you suggest you might have uncovered that reveals their hang-ups. However, I don’t want to be “preached to” and get down into the doctrinal “weeds” and in petty inter-Christian theological spats, and I suspect (or have observed) that you spend a lot of time talking about Bible guidance and matters (including in your interview emphases), in addition to historical and sociological facts that are my real interest. I am okay with people of faith who happen to “part of the solution” to real social problems along with the rest of us, whether we be secularists or non-Christian people of faith, but I am not interested in all the “Jesus talk” along with all these good points and interesting facts. Why do you have to “muddy the waters” and divide people by bringing up religion, and Jesus in particular, so much in the midst of all these important matters of mutual concern, and if I read your book, will it become so tiresome and frustrating that I am likely to toss it?
First of all, let me say that I am flattered that you would take your time to consider my musings, be they from my radio show or interviews, my book writings or articles, or any other venue. It reveals that you are quite an open-minded and sincere person to even consider a person whose religious convictions you might find dubious, yet still consider whether they might contribute ideas, perspectives or data that you might find constructive. I find it even more convicting that you might be more concerned by integrity, decency, morality, honesty, and taking care of your brothers and sisters in need, even though you might not have any consideration of any afterlife or a creator to whom you would otherwise be held accountable within it, and take effort to pursue such convictions simply because it is the “right thing to do,” whereas many Christians who do believe in such ultimate accountability lamentably seem often to have less concern for such important matters, which calls into question the degree of their own real belief in such a reckoning.
It is true that I “carry on” quite a bit in my books on the spiritual duties of Christians specifically as to their responsibilities to “go the extra mile” and to be expected to set a superior example of sacrifice and concern for others, and use their own scriptures which they claim, in “sola scriptura” fashion, to be the sole authoritative reference of their behavior and attitudes. Such a source may not be of direct relevance to you, but I believe that you have the right to hold Christians you know to be accountable to it, and it’s best you know what those passages are and what they say, because maybe they will be shamed to listen to people like you more than people like me (and don’t let them call you any kind of “hypocrite”—you did not sign up to any of those Kingdom values like they profess to do, although even Paul acknowledged that when the “Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves” (Romans 2:14)). Having said that, I ask for your patience and oblige me and my fellow Christians as we work out our “dirty laundry” in overdue fashion in my books, and I might suggest that you might be refreshed by the intended humble tone and respectful attitude toward others that I intend to rightfully express, and it might give you a glimmer of hope that the “religious zealots” might have at least some in their midst that are not going to be catalysts of harm and disaster to everyone else—particularly when they would try adhering to the “founder” of their faith and beliefs, Jesus of Nazareth. His words are particularly apt for you to consider in my books when I quote Him, as opposed to what you hear religious people say or insinuate He said or taught, because many people who sit in church evidently do not let His plain teachings sink into their minds and hearts, rather saving that place for what they hear in Christian media, talk radio and cable news—which is the main premise of Volume 1 of my Two Masters and Two Gospels book series. When I see people confronted with what Jesus really said and taught, I find almost no one, no matter how far from classic Christian belief they are, really have any major problems with it, if they are generally moral and care about their neighbors, and are not so consumed with selfishness or intentional spiteful rebellion against God that they do not wish general good; it just seems to me that us Christians tend to muck up His teachings so much.
So, I have to confess that I feel compelled to oftentimes speak about what Jesus had to say on certain topics, or other virtuous people who think like Him, because that is the primary motive that keeps me “keepin’ on” with the strenuous tasks of researching, writing and processing these manuscripts, and talking in the media with everyone who will have me—it certainly isn’t for the money, I can assure you. I am ashamed to admit that if I wasn’t already shamed by Christ’s loving and sacrificial nature and teaching, I selfishly probably wouldn’t take much effort to look out for the less fortunate or care about them, and probably would rather pursue my own interests and agenda; I am glad and respect that you do so without such prodding. I also candidly admit that I really do believe that one day after this life I will be held accountable to how I spent my time in helping the less fortunate and confused, perplexed and enslaved (mentally and physically), with real consequences, even if my eternal residence is not in jeopardy; I particularly fear that with so many blessings I have been privy to in my life, such as health, good parents, good spiritual instruction and role models, and material blessings and provisions made available, and blessings of my labors, that His reminder that “to whom much has been given, much shall be expected” soberly warns me that I have much to be expected of me, and little time to address it in the waning days of my life that remain. There is no other motivation that I feel that justifies all of my devotion and effort in these pursuits, to the degree in which I attempt them, and I am not inclined to “de-spiritualize” the projects to which I apply my limited and transient resources, although I reserve the right to do fictional projects or parables that might serve as “doorways” to my deeper convictions and objectives, if such approaches are prudent in the coming days. Again, I salute all my fellow citizens who try to make the world a better place without needing such motivations, but I do encourage good people like themselves to reconsider the long-term aspects of their fate after this life, when a consciousness that no one seems to rationally explain that was created merely by new organism cell division and growth, and accordingly has no explanation as to why it should cease to be when such cell propagation ends at death, and the possibility that our consciousnesses may be in greater contact with the Source that fashioned it to begin with.
So, for my non-Christian friends, I ask you to tolerate my style and “hang with me,” and keep an eye out for information in my writings and talk that might intrigue you, even in the “religious stuff,” and in any case I hope to always show you the respect you deserve and not be condescending or patronize you, for that is my real hope and intention in my heart.
I have heard you in interviews on shows, appearances at conferences, and even interviews on your old radio show, and noticed that you have appeared on stage with people having non-Christian views, and even forbidden behaviors such as attempts to commune with spirit powers. Even on your show, you have had on such people, and did not strongly rebuke them with biblical admonitions, and were kind to them. However, you not only strongly rebuke those who do such as yourself in your writing, but also condemn other Christian leaders who have associations with such folk, and who quote the tenets of such people. Aren’t you a hypocrite for doing such (and in condemning others who do so), and pose a danger by your apparent “endorsement” of these forbidden pursuits?
Actually, such criticism goes way back to the days of Jesus, when religious observers and leaders accused Him of “eating with sinners,” like prostitutes and tax collectors. Paul instructed church members in Corinth to not associate with fellow church members who are “a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater,” etc. (1 Cor. 5:11), but “Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world” (v. 10, NKJV). Jesus even passed through the lands of the Samaritans, whom those of His religious community viewed as apostates of the true faith, and even when these people were skeptical of Him and His motives (like the “Woman at the Well”), He still chose to seek to minister to their needs.
It is fair to posit the accusation that I have, and will continue to point out when prominent Christian figures appear to endorse or promote those we would consider to be possessing clearly aberrant spiritual views, such as those who specifically demean and publicly renounce Jesus, like the Orthodox Jewish rabbis who are invited to preach from American Christian pulpits, or those who promote the communication and guidance from other spirits, as I will show some prominent conservative Christian leaders have done in Volume 3 of my Two Masters and Two Gospels book series. When they have merely appeared on a non-Christian stage of a specific public issue that features both Christians and non-Christians, I have tried to limit my criticism to when prominent Christians have chosen to endorse specific anti-Christian doctrines which could be harmful.
The Future Quake radio show that I produced from 2005 to 2012 was not originally designed to be specifically an exclusively Christian doctrine-teaching program, and more generally a show that discussed future societal trends, with both secular and religious implications, and was founded on a secular, non-religious radio station. In fact, after three years the topics of shows began to be so overwhelmingly religious in tone that management made some overtures about concerns as to the show’s orientation (although, I should clarify that the most troublesome guests for them were hard-right, anti-immigrant or secessionist guests for which I hosted to merely find out what they were about and the social significance of their movements, but upon reflection I believe they were right in that I did not take a more skeptical tone with them), and as a result the show was only revived and sustained as a more explicitly-Christian radio station carried the show for its additional years.
Throughout the history of the show, Future Quake cultivated a unique reputation as a “safe zone” for listeners, particularly Christians, to encounter sometimes-“taboo” topics, from a host of whom they were assured as to my foundations—in fact, that was a common compliment I received from listeners to the show. Although the overwhelming majority of the guests were Christian in orientation—even though often forwarding minority and misunderstood views that listeners were able to hear about objectively—we did feature an occasional non-Christian guest. Why? Because they were viewed as someone who was a subject-matter expert on a topic that would be of interest and educational for all listeners, Christian or not. A rare set of guests might even have views that might be considered rival worldviews to the most common Christian variety, but most commonly because their information would be of interest to Bible students, particularly those interested in Bible prophecy and current events. This information would prove valuable whether the listener agreed with the worldview of the guest or not, and could alert them to views that were now influential, or clarify misunderstandings “from the horse’s mouth.” In those interviews, I truly tried to treat them as guests, with a modicum of respect, even when I asked probing questions that were often more understood as to their rationale by the listeners than the guests themselves (the one time I recollect asking a more pointed question that irked a guest was a prominent conservative Christian media leader who admitted his nonchalance over the government’s admission of the existence of innocent individuals at Guantanamo Bay that they had no intention of releasing). Almost all of the tens of thousands of listeners “got” what we were doing with Future Quake, and were grateful for access to information they could not obtain in objective fashion elsewhere and the intelligent, adult tone that was pursued, however from time to time there were a handful of listeners, mostly older Christians from a more traditional culture, who might become confused or uncertain as to our agenda. As I tried valiantly to answer every email sent to me then (taking often 8-10 hours a day—crazy time), even with multiple responses and emails from the same folk, I usually was able to explain the “method to the madness” and the orthodoxy of my faith, and the spiritually-wholesome yet truthful nature of my agenda.
This risk was particularly troublesome since the show almost exclusively focused on controversial topics, and would intentionally explore a minority view, like my blog, The Two Spies Report—in essence, “asking for it.” Furthermore, I have spoken at venues that sometimes had Christian views that I sharply opposed, and sometimes more extreme cases, such as when by a serendipitous set of circumstances I was able to give a talk at a United Nations-affiliated conference on religion and spirituality (populated with a near-uniform community of spirit channelers and mediums, excepting myself), and in that experience I gave a bold Christian defense that warned of spirit communication, the directness of which surprises me even today, and facilitated an impromptu debate on the stage of my assertion of the supremacy of Jesus Christ over other gods and spirits. Although most of my old show listeners fully endorse my Christian commitment and the nature of the style of discourse the show exhibited, new readers of my books might not be familiar with that material, nor myself and my reputation. If they do their “due diligence” and seek out my legacy of views (while giving me space to have grown in maturity over the years, which my online archive of radio shows would attest), including my radio show archives, I could foresee how those unfamiliar with me or my values would take a glance at those shows, in a vacuum, and maybe be concerned about one or two of those guests, such as those who talk about possible interactions that some viewed as extraterrestrial but with spiritual messages (a topic I do not emphasize at the time, I might add), and the fact that I gave them a forum for discussion. Accordingly, I grudgingly decided to add a disclaimer at the top of the archive of show audio files on the Future Quake website, rather than merely removing those shows, including those on topics I have merely “outgrown,” or found over time would not provide constructive fruit for most or be worthy of their time. I decided after some contemplation that it would be better not to send the erroneous message that I was deceptively trying to “cover my tracks” and erase my history by deleting those shows of marginal merit in hindsight, even though it reveals that I had to mature even as a grown Christian, hopefully like the rest of us. I hope this disclaimer puts the new reader or listener into the proper frame of mind, and places these very unique radio programs (which I was surprised to learn over the years many people listened to the fully assembly of roughly 300 multi-hour shows in their entirety, even years after I left the air, and found them spiritually edifying when considered in total) in a far better understood and accurate context.
In conclusion, while I admit that I have “rubbed shoulders” with those who have views, Christian or non-Christian, that I do not endorse nor share their beliefs in whole or part, my motives were to be “salt and light” in any forum in which I was allowed to speak, both to the listeners and the other speakers, and heaven forbid, not “sell out” on Jesus, the Gospel or any teachings of the Kingdom of Heaven. I typically do it with respect, kindness and consideration of others, trying to be wise and discerning, yet not always gravitating to the worst opinions of others that the Internet rumor mill creates, rather judging them by their own words and general spirit. I encourage Christians to “grow up” and interact with such of those outside our cloistered ranks, which requires a maturity spiritually as well as “horse sense,” and when one risks reaching out and in compassion. Sometimes we’ll get “burned” in our naivete, or exploited, but if we do it in love and for heavenly aims, I think God will forgive us for our well-intentioned shortcomings. My bigger challenge in these recent years is to not be unfairly harsh on other Christian leaders I write about that do the same, and try my best to be fair, and sift out when they are similarly trying to positively influence others, versus revealing their own hidden agendas by their clear words and teachings, taken in concert with their associations. When I am overly-critical and unfair, I trust that not only the Holy Spirit, but also my loyal mature listeners and readers will point this out to me as well (sometimes gently, sometimes not so much). All in all, the bold and cutting edge Christian life, living out the Great Commission with gusto, will automatically be filled with risk, as Paul and others before us have experienced.
Do you hold the view that the Feds rightfully wield the power of the Constitution to take from people in order to give from others, such as in “public assistance”?
To first answer you directly, let me say that I believe that the government has such a privilege, and even mandate, to “provide for the general welfare,” as per the Constitution. It regularly does so to provide for a common defense, build interstate highways, make sure Wall Street sharks are not committing fraud to consumers (at least they’re supposed to) when other safeguards are not practical, sometimes to take from some to give to others when they determine stealing has previously occurred in some unjust form or other crimes, as well as inspect meat so we are all not poisoned, and the like. Pure libertarians would argue that the government does not even have the right to give veterans health care or other benefits from funds taxed coercively, but I disagree with them (governments already draft people coercively at times to force them to kill, but few Christians have problems with that). Every citizen should have a proportional right to decide how these decisions are made, and whether it comprises the “general welfare,” and we will never get a unanimous vote on such matters, so at least some will be “coerced.” These rights of government have existed since the dawn of recorded history, even in the most libertarian societies. It can also be argued that the “general welfare” is also relevant when prudent government assistance is provided, not only to address the negative position of a nation’s moral standing in the world and its moral force and credibility and its ramifications, but at least the ability to avoid a far more dangerous revolution of a desperate, starved people with nothing to lose, as has often happened in recorded history, not even counting the moral imperative that is held by a wide swath of people of different ideologies far beyond the Christian ethic. What I am more interested in is beyond the legal requirements, to what we feel are the obligations of government as Christians, and what is a universal value and ethic that embraces most moral people of good will, and how we came to be so repulsed about the assistance to the less fortunate by that means.
You and I both know we have benefited in many respects from our acquaintance with libertarian ideas. I now refer to it as the “libertarian garden,” and we all found some real “flowers” of concepts within its midst. Amongst those are the principles of the rights of free association and self-determination, and most importantly (in my view), the essential of non-coercion, all of which such “flowers” of ideas and principles I have still kept and cherish, and it would do all Christians good to value these, as I feel they are biblically-supported. However, as I often say, I am now of a frame of mind that everything in our lives, principles and values, including those basically good and generally noble, must be critiqued honestly as a Christian (the best we can), for I believe that “that which we don’t critique, we worship,” and that is a position that I believe only Christ deserves, as the “cornerstone” that is beyond further critique, and rather the standard for all other things, even good ones. I find this process to be particularly painful when regarding things I have cherished, at least for myself, but Jesus has a right to expect such due diligence from us. Having said that, I have stated that while I found legitimate “flowers” in the libertarian “garden” and still cling to them, as a follower of Jesus and as I dug deeper, I also found many “weeds,” including an Ayn Rand-admitted hyper-selfishness and disregard for others that could well be described as a Luciferian-consistent self-deification in terms of disregarding the needs of others, as she professed not only her atheism as essential to her ideology, but also she and her organization philosophers officially tell the public that they must reject Jesus and His Sermon on the Mount, the Golden Rule and “turning the other cheek,” stating that plainly on the Fox News website as well as elsewhere, as I document in Volume 2 of my book series, I believe. On the other hand, later in Volume 1 I show that many of the other founding fathers of American libertarianism veered towards New Age Gnosticism, and disregarded things like the Atonement. I want to make clear that these facts do not diminish the value of the “flowers” I cited before that I think we can use to enrich our Christian understanding, but we Christians should incorporate truths and wisdom large and smaller into an ever-larger cosmic and eternal “worlds-view” that acknowledges even vaster truth of this reality and God’s nature and His goals, values and motives, and the roles of others in this drama played out in the universe and our destiny, while still not coercing others beyond a general and commonly unavoidable level that is universal to men and respectful to them, and not dependent upon a particular spiritual worldview, as I will now explain.
We all have our ideological blind spots (particularly me), and while libertarian ideals have elevated my understanding in many areas, they also have their own dark side. I would assert that libertarianism is a sometimes well-meaning (depending upon the practitioner) pure yet utopian ideology, that is often good to instruct one into some wisdom, but more difficult in world history to pragmatically practice. I think these limitations are based upon two fundamental oversights, beyond the sometime Christian conflicts with it, that being the their overlooking of the role that (a) the work and sacrifices of others and their neighbors and predecessors that has led to the lifestyle that they feel that have earned independently by their own works, and (b) how their lifestyles are not just merely independent “self-expression” and “freedom” that does not impact others, but often does impede on the rights and well-being of their neighbors (i. e., insisting on their “rights” to drive gas-guzzling and polluting cars, or dirty factories that pollute their neighbor’s air, ground or water, or consume limited resources (and maybe even affect the climate or their productivity of their neighbor’s crops) that are then deprived to their neighbor, which is a particularly culpable status here in the materially-blessed West). They often cling to the principle, not really borne out by honest logic or history, that a man can be an “island” unto himself, not rather being blessed by the works of others nor taking advantage of anyone else (even unintentionally), and while subject to the unearned blessings of health, a reasonably financially and socially secure family with good values in which to be raised, being born into a culture in which there are economic and even political opportunities, healthy role models, and an abundance of material goods, educational opportunities and advancement, clean water and food, and even physical security. We Christians should in particular be ashamed to think that we did not receive some things we did not deserve from others, God or maybe just good fortunes, in addition to our hard work, and that we are entitled to all of its provisions while we see those with lesser fortunes strive even harder, yet with difficulty.
Another myth that I feel libertarians often fall for is that we can truly live in a fully non-coercive world, free of all its forms (while it does serve as an ideal in many respects), and that all men operate in hermetically-sealed environments and rise and fall solely on their own merits, with the fate of those who falter being their own problem, not ours. In reality (at least in my emerging understanding), we are borne into a coercive world, and our question is how we respond to it. We cannot flee the innate coercions of threats to our health by disease organisms, even wild animals who seek us for food, environmental threats to our well being (such as sun exposure, extreme weather, droughts, etc.), and particularly other people who may be stronger, smarter and more ruthless, and even have strength in numbers, who can threaten our access and needs for food, shelter and security. This is the “jungle,” and it obeys the “law of the jungle,” where only the strong survive until overcome by the yet stronger, who stays as “king of the hill” as long as possible as the survivors dwindle further and further. This environment still exists in the modern, sophisticated eras that are libertarian ideals, like Dickens’ London in the era of Ebenezer Scrooge and Oliver Twist, with a small elite circle of the most ruthless, and streets full of street urchin kids and tuberculosis-ridden workers in squalor; in America the ideal would be the similar condition in our era of the Gilded Age and robber barons, under the same conditions of the common folk (with the average life expectancy in America in 1900 being less than 40), until Social Gospel-styled Christians waded into these hell-holes to minister to these pitiful people, and fight for their rights for health and worker safety that their own pitiful economic state could not do for them.
Libertarians cling to the myth that a regulation-free “jungle” marketplace will lead to a Golden Age of all people prospering, and in places like America the poorest have had some modest improvements in certain eras, but mostly due to an abundance of natural resources and lack of war on our soil for the most part, and internal minimal interruptions to our peaceful operations (except for the Civil War, obviously), as opposed to being attributed to any libertarian ideals. In reality, their era of libertarian ideals have ruled in America until some time in the 20th century when it began to be challenged, and yet data shows that with minimal to no regulation of the capitalistic marketplace by (hopefully) defenders of the less powerful, the nation’s wealth distribution is aggressively accelerating in the redistribution of wealth from the poor and middle class to the wealthiest, to soon reach crisis levels that will likely cause a French Revolution of our own, from a desperate people, because our own aristocrats don’t wish to share the wealth. That is the real “redistribution of wealth” that the hard data has shown us has occurred, with government collusion from the politicians the wealth class has bought, via “welfare” in the form of lucrative government contracts with high profits and salaries allowed, business credits and deductions achieved by lobbyists, profits from the war machine, etc., all of which dwarfs the pittance provided to the elderly, blind, disabled (mentally and physically), and even those in the bondage of substance abuse, while the same wealth class invests a large sum (but small portion of their largesse) in public relations and “think tanks” and paid media to convince us that the poor are our real enemies and trying to steal our wealth by “redistributing income” to them.
As I discuss in my book, God both recognizes and took actions against the inevitable concentration of wealth in the hands of the richest in unregulated capitalistic markets, which is otherwise inevitable. When he set up the ideal government, He made it part of the coercive Mosaic Law – a command, not a suggestion – that people leave the produce of the land for the poor and immigrants one year out of seven – in essence, a 15 percent tax just for the poor, in addition to the ten percent for religious/spiritual affairs – which presumably would be enforced by their “rulers” or government, with no worthiness “litmus test” for the poor or undocumented immigrant passing by, as well as the Jubilee Year, which we would see today as an egregious “redistribution of wealth,” but was really a “restoration of wealth” to the people, to keep society from eventually imploding, which unregulated capitalism will inevitably produce by those with economic power in the marketplace and over the workforce. As I say in my book, God also says repeatedly through the prophets that God will primarily judge the nation (and nations) for the exploiting the poor in the marketplace with “dishonest weights and measures” and other exploitation of the common man like the “Stalls of Annas” or the “den of thieves” at the Temple, exploiting the poor in the courts as the rich buy their protection there and raid the wealth of others, and the failure of the “rulers” to protect the well-being of the poor, widows, orphans and the “stranger” immigrants, or give them equal rights, for as God repeatedly warned Israel, you were “once were strangers in Egypt.” God even says He will judge the “sons of God” appointed over the Gentile nations (including our own) for not looking out for the poor, weak, vulnerable and widows in Psalm 82. God further says He sent Israel to captivity in Babylon not primarily for idol worship (other than of themselves), but because they did not honor the Sabbath Years and Jubilees (which was also supposed to forgive all debts), because they were so greedy, according to Jeremiah. Since we live in a participative democracy, with our elected officials serving as our proxies, the biblical commands to “rulers” to do these things now rests squarely on our shoulders. In other words, when Cain asks God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”, the libertarian says “No,” while the Father and the Son says, “Yes.”
I would further add that from the time people began to populate the earth, men began to force themselves coercively on others, because of their greater numbers, strength, weapons or ruthlessness. Government was formed as a collective of the people to stop this exploitation. Whether it was a posse, town council, elders or whatever, it was intended to restrain the coercive power of the lawless, and the only way to stop them was to give the power of coercion to the government to arrest their power. Now, the major power of exploitation is by the ownership of money (capital) and its control of negotiations with the working man (who has to feed his family soon and has little negotiating leverage) in wages (the fairness of which God demands in scripture), the controls of the marketplace, and the courts (and now the media). The common people have no say over what the corporation does – it answers only to the whims of the shareholders (and in reality, the board members), and has no morality, whereas our elected officials are to be accountable to us at the ballot box to protect our interests.
The real enemy is not government, but corrupt government, and it is our responsibility as our own “rulers” to enforce its integrity. And we must be careful not to resist God when God clearly tells us to share some of the wealth He gave us, even by our own hard work, with the poor, sick, elderly or scared “stranger immigrant,” because in truth He gave us our health and blessed us with where we were born and the fruit of our hands, no matter how hard we worked, and He has decreed such a transition of blessings between citizens, and expected rulers to enforce it. We should be glad He gave us a government to fight the forces of the Great City Babylon with regulations in marketplace, as He told Israel to have, and environmental regulations like He established in the Mosaic Law, to let the land “rest” and stay fertile for future generations, and for us to fight the government corruption that will happen in the fallen world, until Jesus comes to run it with full integrity. It would be nice if our private Christian charity would meet the needs of the needy without the use of government “rulers” as God previously decreed, but we can see that millennia of Christian societal domination and wealth did not eliminate poverty or destitution, and it has only grown, so we cannot count on the guilty consciences of people (particularly Christian ones) on Christmas Eve to meet the massive needs for food, housing, health care and such that keeps getting worse.
Particularly, we cannot listen the the Great City Babylon wealth classes to tell us that their resister who is supposed to stand in their way, the government, is inherently evil, or that coerced help for the poor and helpless is wrong – it is what makes us a “civilization,” the level thereof defined by how we treat our most vulnerable and weak; otherwise, we live in the libertarian, Darwinistic, every-man-for-himself “jungle” – a nightmare world without mercy or justice, which becomes particularly important when we are inevitably the “weak.” As I said to a Christian friend who said that I worried too much about the “weak,” that there are two world views – the libertarian, Darwinistic focus on the “ninety and nine” herd, where each member thinks itself strong and self-sufficient (at least for today), and doesn’t mind losing the stragglers in the herd, or that of Jesus Christ, who leaves the ninety-and-nine to go find and rescue the weak straggler, who otherwise does not contribute to society – a wretched state that at some time will be every one of us. This does not preclude sensible and reasonable standards to screen out cheaters or exploiters of assistance, which I fully support so as to not dishearten workers who are called to help, but the presence of a small number of cheaters even then does not absolve us of the God-mandated duty to help the poor, widow (or single parent), immigrant “stranger,” physically or mentally impaired, or in any other form of bondage. Some Christians have told me that this understanding I have expressed here has been very liberating for them, to be free to be compassionate about those less fortunate than them, and seek to be the champions of the desperate who are counting on us.
I hope this lengthy discourse on some of the general questions I have fielded from my older radio show, blog or book(s) in recent days has answered some of your basic questions about my views and assertions given on air or in print. You may still not agree with many of them, but at least you have more information as to the rationale and influences that inform my position, and hopefully with greater clarity. Having a clear understanding of our views on complex social and spiritual challenges goes a long way towards finding commonly shared values and sometimes even consensus, if even in a partial sense, but at least a greater understanding and mutual respect. I will add to this lengthy list of questions and answers as I encounter new common questions or to clarify additional misunderstandings as they arise. If you did not see a very basic question or two you have, emanating from my work or a similar relevant public issue addressed in this disclosure, that is of interest to you, feel free to forward it at the “Contact” page at www.mikebennettbooks.com, or even my old radio show email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your patience in this lengthy discussion, and much appreciation is extended for your serious-minded investments in seeking real and compassionate answers in this very complicated world, but one with many simple basic values we all (hopefully) share!
J. Michael Bennett, Ph.D