January 26, 2008

Bible Describes End-time Church

Probably no book of the Bible has received as much speculation-- idle to bizarre-- as the enigmatic book of Revelation. The most credible scholars recognize that the entire book is written in symbols, using vaguely familiar images from the Old Testament re-worked and imbued with new spiritual significance. It presents insights of value to Christians of all ages, but is considered primarily as some kind of screenplay of the future, complete with science-fictional overtones in some readers' mind (not mine). Among the more accessible passages of the book are the first three chapters wherein John envisions Jesus providing specific messages to the 'seven churches of Asia Minor;' which most scholars take to represent seven ages or facets of the Christian Church, from post-apostolic to the 'latter days.' While these verses appear to address historical issues, there are still numerous overlays of symbolism that puzzle readers to this day. One of the sparely worded descriptions that Jesus levels at the last church, the Laodicean congregation, is the term 'lukewarm.' I would like to discuss that single, simple-looking term.

While the casual reader is tempted to dismiss the word lukewarm as self-evident, or insignificant, or even opaque, the fact is that this one word has enormous significance for the Christian Church of these apocalyptic times. Various theories have been advanced to describe the underlying meaning of the symbolic term lukewarm. Let's consider the more common ones before I get to a new analysis.

One theory, perhaps the most obvious, is that it refers to insipidness, that is, to a lack of zeal, a listlessness that characterizes the people who nominally profess faith in Christ. Well, it's easy to agree that this view makes a lot of sense-- on the surface. We live in an era of enormous wealth and general ease of life, amid a secular, multicultural society; therefore it is difficult for churches to motivate their flocks to promote the Christian message vigorously. That's a rather superficial understanding, but it has some validity. An obvious flaw with this literal view is that it hardly conforms to the generally symbolic or metaphorical tone to the overall book.

Another theory, that I have only heard from one erudite pastor, makes some sense on first examination. He proposed that the lukewarm condition is really referring to the motivation of the believers' heart. Noting that Jesus' words admit of 'deeds' by the Laodiceans, he claims that the deeds are being performed largely out of 'fleshly' motives-- i.e. for personal prestige, to promote denominations, to gain new tithe-payers, for bragging rights on new converts, and so on. Again, there's a lot of credibility to this outlook. We've all cringed at those TV evangelists who seem so transparently phony, and who've been uncovered as self-indulgent, hypocritical multi-millionaires. But not all Christians are like that, even among those in the spotlight. And besides, that condition is not easily allegorized as lukewarm, since it is really hypocrisy. Could there be more to the metaphorical condition than that?

To understand the third explanation for lukewarmness, we first need to grasp some important background. We have to consider how the gospel of Christ is understood, and promoted to the world by the mainstream organizations that profess to be Christian. First, what is the 'gospel?' Well, the word means 'good news,' right? But what is that good news? Christians would recite the rehearsed line that it's the teaching that Jesus died for our sins and opened the way for mankind to have eternal life. 'How do we get that eternal life?,' people want to know. We respond, 'by believing in Jesus Christ.' 'Is that all?,' the hearer inquires. 'Not quite,' the evangelist replies. Once you've confessed your sins, and accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, you must live the rest of your life in obedience to the Ten Commandments. There may be various ways of formulating (or disguising) this 'packaged gospel,' but basically, those are the elements that 'official Christianity' proclaims. You may argue that this isn't so. My counter-argument is that, if it isn't so, it is certainly the picture that the vast majority of people understand to be the Christian message, as numerous polls and interviews demonstrate.

Many readers will accept that version of the gospel with tacit comprehension, and never notice something peculiar about it. The main churches have been promulgating that gospel paradigm for centuries, and it rarely is challenged; certainly not by insiders, those employed by the denominations. So, what's the problem? Well, the problem is that this bifurcated gospel is a non-scriptural hybrid. It states, on the one hand, that salvation is attained through faith, through belief in Christ; and then appends, on the other hand, that after exercising initial faith, the believer is thereafter under obligation to 'keep the Commandments' in order to ensure their salvation! This desire to have it all, the old ways plus the new, was the very problem tackled by Paul in his straightening letter to the Galatian believers. Once made explicit like this, the two-pronged gospel must be admitted as 'problematical' at the least. Yet, I know from hard, first-hand experience that legions of 'scholars' have worked feverishly over the centuries in Herculean efforts to square the theological circle, and justify the imposition of this crossbreed gospel. [*]

Now we are in a suitable position to discern the true intent behind the application by Jesus of the word 'lukewarm' in describing the end-times church of emblematic Laodicea. The 'Alpha and Omega' states [3:15] "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!" He goes on to state his utter disgust with this loathsome condition; he wants to vomit this congregation from his mouth! What is it about this condition that is so abhorrent to our Lord? Is it merely a lack of zeal? In his address to the church at Sardis, he admonishes their flagging company as 'dead' and advises them to wake up; but he certainly does not indicate guttural distaste for them. Is it worldly motivation that so disgusts Christ? Again, rather dubious. My thesis is that the lukewarm condition is referring to the unscriptural hybrid gospel being promulgated by the mainstream churches of today.

Lukewarm means neither hot nor cold, a mix of the two extremes of heat and cold that results in an insipidness that is muddled and impotent. Worse than that, this chimera really casts aside the ineffable sacrifice of Jesus and his boundless grace toward us (Heb 10:29). Why does Jesus say that he wishes 'you were either one or the other'? Well, if this church were 'hot,' that would mean (in my analysis) that they were committed to the true gospel of liberty that he proclaimed in his earthly ministry, and in that case, they are already full citizens of the heavenly kingdom. On the other hand, if they were 'cold,' that would mean that they adhere purely to law-keeping as their mode of salvation. (And remember, most world religions fall into this camp; besides Judaism, there's Islam, Sikhism, Hinduism, etc.) In this case, the Holy Spirit has scope to exercise His influence in convicting their hearts and leading them towards truth. They are reachable. In between those extremes, exist the pseudo-legalists-- they deny they are legalists because they "accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior;" but, just to be safe, they also accept the yoke of Moses Law! Hence, their lukewarm condition.

These lukewarm people-- those who mix Jesus' gift with Judaic law-keeping-- are in the most miserable state because they are so difficult to reach. Jesus states '[17] You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' In other words, this group believes they have acquired the riches of all truth, already, and have no further need of anything. That's why Jesus admonishes them bluntly: 'But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.' That is a damning condemnation that our Church leaders of all stripes do not seem to take very seriously! The worst aspect is their self-righteousness and self-satisfaction, so that they do not realize their terrible condition! If any extra proof is needed to support my view that lukewarmness relates to mixing law and grace, it is found right in that verse and the next (17,18), where Jesus refers to the necessity to cover their 'shameful nakedness.' As is well known by Bible students, Jesus used this same metaphor in the parables ('the wedding feast,' Matt 11-13; the prodigal son, Lk 15:22) to symbolize the covering garment of God's grace provided by the shed blood of His Messiah. And blindness is precisely the same charge Jesus leveled at the Pharisees on numerous occasions, for their unwillingness to see beyond the surface and to discern with spiritual insight how he fulfilled 'the Law and the Prophets' (Lk 16:1).

What can be done with such a congregation? Jesus offers his remedy: [18] 'I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.' It seems odd to advise people to 'buy' gold if they are 'poor,' doesn't it? Yet Jesus is obviously advising his hearers to purchase, by whatever sacrifice required (perhaps pride), the purified gold of the blood-bought gospel, the gift of inestimable value. Those white garments are, as we know, the symbol of his salvation that covers the stained rags of our pathetic self-generated righteousness. And the salve, like oil in the parables, seems to point to the unction of the Holy Spirit, who alone can impart the insight necessary for man to see the gospel in its pure light. The message to Laodicea ends with the admonition to 'be earnest and repent.' It is a hard thing for the legalistic mind to repent-- just think of how many Pharisees became Jesus' disciples.

The cure for spiritual blindness-- the 'salve' of the Holy Spirit-- is a curious thing in itself. Notice that the word, salve, comes from the same root as 'salvation!' I suggest that it is no accident that this word was employed in this context. Again, it provides yet another clue in decoding the hitherto hidden meaning of the term 'lukewarm.' When the legalist finally recognizes from where his salvation originates, and the futility of looking at the Law, then he or she can start to understand the everlasting gospel of Jesus. I know the neo-legalist position that 'we don't observe the Ten Commandments to merit salvation, but for other reasons.' Those reasons can sound plausible at first glance. 'We keep the Commandments to evidence our faith,' is one of the most laudable-sounding. Yet when you think about it, much of the worst atrocities committed worldwide springs from a desire to enforce compliance with 'God's laws!' Before the European 'Enlightenment, there were the Church Inquisitions. Today, it's Islamic fundamentalists desiring to impose 'sharia law' on whomever they can. American Evangelicals are just as zealous in wanting to impose 'God's laws' on the USA, and then exporting the cause abroad at the end of a gun-barrel. Extreme examples? Not really, when you consider the homes where legalism has turned children away from anything to do with religion. Turn the notion on its head. Wouldn't Christians attract far more interest if, instead of obsessing about law-keeping, they would give 'positive evidence' of faith in the form of loving their societal neighbors, instead of judging them?

Another argument I've heard from legalists is that we 'need the law to show us what sin is.' That statement betrays a very na•ve, superficial understanding of the concept of sin and salvation. Yes, Paul seems to say something like that, but if you put it in context, you will see that he is saying that the law makes knowledge of sin unavoidable; but we were sinning before that awareness, regardless (Rom 3:20). Paul goes on, almost in passing, to acknowledge a basic comprehension of sin (that can also be found in the Old Testament)-- that it is not a matter of mere behavior, but that 'whatever is not from faith is sin' (Rom 14:23). I used to argue with legalists that we are no longer under the Ten Commandments of Moses, but rather, under Jesus' law of love (e.g. Matt 7:12; Jn 15:17). That is true, in a sense. But I have come to realize that it doesn't matter whether we think of 'the Law' as ten commandments, or 613 rabbinical laws, or just one law; our sole duty as Christians is to 'keep' our eyes on Jesus, that's all! (Jn 6:29). That's the beauty of the eternal gospel that is just so hard for people to accept-- that it's all about a person, Yeshua ha'Mashiah, (Jesus the Messiah), and nothing else is to interfere. If the believer could focus his/her attention on Christ, then-- don't you see-- everything else falls into place! This is the one, enormous characteristic that is supposed to distinguish the Christian faith from all others-- that it is based on a personal relationship with its 'guru'-- while all other systems depend on some kind of performance from the adherent in exchange for divine favors. And yet Christians too find it so hard to let go of their neurotic need to 'do their part' in gaining salvation.

This whole insight into the lukewarm condition came about for me thanks to a telling demonstration that came through a one-time friend, a charter member of the Laodicean church. Ironically, said friend had been instrumental in helping me escape the legalistic system of modern 'churchianity.' Yet, when I pursued this path to its logical conclusion upon realizing that the New Covenant life cannot be lived with an Old Covenant mindset, this friend (and his fellow-travelers) parted company with me. It was not without some unpleasantness, as they labeled me 'antinomian' and an anarchist. A recent attempt, after several years, to re-establish contact, ended in like fashion when this person rejected some books I'd left for him to read, after perusing them for 'ten minutes'. The worst part was the note he included with the books, which was the rudest letter I have ever received, and whose tone can be summarized in the word 'indignation.' He was absolutely indignant that I had the temerity to even suppose that he'd lower himself to read such patent 'garbage.' Another observation during this visit emerged when my 'friend' expressed his disgust with the municipal government for providing housing for homeless people. This harsh attitude towards life's 'losers' is typical of the legalistic spirit; the reasoning seems to be, 'if I can succeed, why can't everyone else?' Now I don't want any reader to surmise that this fellow is malevolent; he's not. That's why his note was such a shock. What you should perceive here is the 'spirit of legalism' acting through an unwitting, virtual member of the Laodicean church. Like most legalists I've met, he is so enthralled with his supposed wealth of Bible knowledge that he refuses to remove the blinders from his eyes long enough to expose them to (the possibility of) some genuine illumination. Ironically, I am now indebted to him again for confronting me with a situation that sent me searching the scriptures!

Unfortunately, if Revelation is indeed a book of prediction, it does not reveal whether the Laodicean church succeeds in shaking free of the chains of legalism intermingled with the gospel. It is entirely in our hands, the members living in the era of Laodicea, to sound the alarm, to entreat the Holy Spirit to break through the stony shell of righteousness that insulates the Laodiceans from truth that challenges them. If only they would accept that challenge!

[*] Every skeptical reader is urged to check the Bible for themselves. You cannot find a salient enunciation of the gospel that mentions anything about the law... anywhere. The arguments of the legalists (or pseudo-legalists, the lukewarm) rest entirely on assumptions and fabricated inferences. They will claim that the Commandments aren't explicitly cited because they are 'understood' or 'implied.' My response is that they are omitted quite deliberately... God does not imply what is essential to human salvation! And incidentally, but importantly, you can clearly see why the scriptures are so often written in symbols, which are a kind of code that is only decoded spiritually. The Divine author ingeniously hides His vital messages in a form that is opaque to the worldly and malicious editor, to protect them from tampering, and preserve them for those being saved. Pure genius!

January 19, 2008

Harvest Time!

We are living in truly 'apocalyptic' (ie. Revelatory) times. It is the time of the great harvest described in Jesus' parable of the wheat and the tares (Matt 13:24-30).
Both species have been allowed to mature, historically, and are now visible to the reapers for exactly what they are. Ready for harvest, there will be no more mistaking weeds for good grains. All lies will be soon be exposed; the tiger is showing his stripes, the skunk exuding his stench. Truth is waiting patiently in the wings of the cosmic stage, to be finally crowned with long-denied glory.

You can see it happening all around. The cancerous blight has been in our midst for eons. Over the centuries, a few perceptive souls recognized it before they died, and some tried to describe it in general terms of 'evil.' Most of us prefer to keep our minds busy with the minutia of life, and just ignore those annoying episodes that evidence satanic activity behind the illusions of normalcy. Our parents, God bless 'em, raised us to think that this was basically a decent world, occasionally punctuated by the terrors of war or whatever. These latter days, though, the veneer is spitting; the facile facades of glee crumbling. We are seeing the true dark force that has permeated the fabric of human existence like a stinking mildew thru a fog of cheap perfume. The Prince of Darkness knows that his benign mask is morphing back to the underlying grotesquery. In desperation, he is cranking up the volume of sensory distractions: more loud music, more gross movies, more toys, more wars, more death, more... of everything than ever before in this poor planet's history.

It's happening at the highest levels-- the public, political world of national leaders and bureaucrats and sycophants. Those of us who have eyes, nay, even one eye, can see the rotten web of lies that has sustained the Bush administration over the past eight, deplorable years. We've had to watch and weep as he ignited a pointless conflagration in the Middle East, causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis who just wanted to live a decent life like us pampered citizens of the so-called free world. The Bushmen arrogantly assumed they were above all law, acting as gods, doing as they pleased. Yet, there is Karmic law, and we can expect to see much more, and greater calamity strike the USA, as nature itself seems to shudder at the predation of the American military machine. Having had our innocence shattered by the blatant actions of the last administration, we can now look behind with 20-20 vision and see the depraved intervention of previous American governments in tumultuous world affairs. The horrible Vietnam War, for prominent example, as well as bloody revolutions in numerous poor countries around the world, and even the assassinations of the Kennedy brothers, were all brought about by the machinations of the CIA and its covert cohorts.

The hidden hands of the secret manipulators of history are being uncovered, by their ever-bolder transgressions, their insatiable blood-lust, and their growing desperation as they realize that they have only limited time to accomplish their mad, destructive, malevolent plans. While the darkness increases, many individuals are starting to wake up, to peel the rosy shades from their eyes, and to see the horrible blight in the grain-field for what it is. Many of those still haven't put all the pieces together to see the big picture... I mean, the really big picture. They may still be focusing on the obvious-- Bush is the worst president in US history, American prestige has been set back decades, etc. They may still think that a new occupant of the White House will somehow set things right, and we'll all go on having a great life of 'more.'

It isn't that pathetically simple. (Would that it were.) The evil abroad in the earth is so malicious, so horribly malevolent, that we innocent inhabitants literally can't imagine it. We think Hitler is about the worst world leader that existed; yet the cabal that almost controls the world is populated by numerous sick souls who make Hitler look like a boy-scout by comparison. Without a sniffle of remorse, these fiends would happily authorize the murder of a few billion of their fellow humans in order to reduce the global population to numbers they could more easily control. Fortunately, many of the newly awake have connected the dots, and realize how ruthless and malignant is the conspiracy behind current events. They are making valiant efforts to awaken the rest of the slumbering citizens of this planet. It is a daunting task, for the Dark Side has control of the huge media machine that has been conditioning our minds for decades. Today, the best weapon the insurgency has at its disposal is the Internet. The Cabal knows this and they are trying to find 'democratic means' to grab control and surveillance of the Net and co-opt it to their Evil Empirical Ends. It will unfold as a hi-tech iteration of the classic battle between good and evil; but we can expect much mayhem and destruction in the unfolding.

Take note: we're also seeing the revelations at the personal and private levels. People we thought were friends are caught up in circumstances that reveal their true nature-- which is often not friend-like, after all. It can come as a shock, a disappointment, an aggravation, to discover that one you trusted to be there for you, even if you didn't share full agreement on all matters, turns out to be ready to disown you for your views. Sure, it's upsetting; but it has to happen, in these 'latter days.' Other people whose loyalty and amity you may not have been sure of may similarly reveal their steadfastness in these times. The wheat and the tares-- even in your own little 'field' of endeavor. Keep your eyes open; the revelations are occurring all around you!

Political Olympic Games

Here we go again--just like the Olympic games every four years, Americans have their Presidential race every four years... and notice, it's called a race for good reasons. To the rest of the world, the US system of electing a president appears in that domain where curious encroaches bizarre, and complex blurs to incomprehensible. The very idea of a campaign that lasts for a whole year could only occur in America, land of unlimited money. No other country would countenance the enormous waste represented by having a dozen or so candidates stomping all over the nation for 12 months, repeating the same lies over and over, ad nauseum, before crowds large and insignificant. Probably not many Americans think a lot about their electoral system; just as not many of them turn out to vote. Come to think of it, there may be a connection here. In any case, there are a number of unfortunate consequences that arise from the convoluted process involved in finally arriving at the next president.

First of all, since the campaign is so excruciatingly drawn out, it requires vast amounts of money. After all, the candidates have to pay for salaries and travel expenses for a year for their team of handlers (a considerable retinue in today's political wars). They also have to pay enormous sums for those damnable mass-media advertisements that have to be so carefully crafted to present their 'star' as wonderful while all their opponents are total, evil morons... without actually saying it.

A year of 'stumping'--visiting all the electoral districts in all the states, shaking untold thousands of hands, kissing all those babies, making innumerable speeches, and enduring all the bad food and drink--is enough to break anyone down, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Yet every four years, enough Americans willing to subject themselves to this inhumane 'iron-man marathon' can be found that it becomes of game of weeding out the weak and the halt in order to leave two survivors to battle it out in the final round of actual casting of ballots. Lord! The reasoning seems to be that anyone who can survive the campaign must be capable of running the country... curious logic that seems lost on other civilized countries.

And then there's the odd phenomenon that in the bastion of 'democracy' it always boils down to just two opponents. It's either Tweedle-democrat or Tweedle-republican, who over the decades have been revealed as almost identical twins in terms of policy records. Where are the third-party candidates, the independents? Again, as a result of the marathon campaign process, few are the agents who can afford to join in the race. Any such candidate would need the backing of a very large organization that could supply the funds and the popular energy needed to play in these Olympian games. The USA simply has no tradition of more than two parties, who are supposedly at opposite poles of the political spectrum, but who are, in reality, just two faces on the same dark horse. It behooves the true but concealed puppet masters who really run America to offer only two choices to the stupefied citizens--the Hegelian choices of 'thesis' and 'antithesis.' Any more than two is considered confusing. This way, the voters think they are making a real choice; while those who don't vote have already concluded that there's no difference in any case, so why bother.

Finally, there's the media machine, the true king-makers of US politics. And they are the reason why we don't see third-party candidates--the media moguls don't like 'spoilers' butting in on the two-horse race, so they simply ignore them. If the public communications media do not report anything to do with independent candidates, then how can those interlopers ever get their message to the electorate? Unless they own a TV network, they might as well pack it in and stay home. The same pertains to the so-labelled 'fringe candidates' running in the race for the big-two parties--they just get ignored by the media, and eventually have no choice but to withdraw from the games. In these 2008 American Political Olympics, it is clear to onlookers that the media want to keep the public ignorant of the sole candidate in each party who promises any true repairs to the corrupt system of contemporary US politics.

As the marathon grinds on over the months, the signals get stronger and stronger as to which candidates are being anointed by the media manipulators. They pick their golden boy or (lately) girl, from each of the two political corporations, and present the great, American presidential race as 'A or B' to the bemused voters to select between. In fact, someone behind the scenes has already decided who is going to get the office, and now it's just a matter of cooking the books to ensure the result.

It's no mystery why the last two presidential elections were apparently so 'close' that the final outcome depended on just one or two states, and might have been swung by a legitimate recount. First, there's the fact that the two runners are really two sides of the same coin, so it's heads you, the voters, lose, and tails, the corporatocracy wins. Any statistician will tell you a coin toss has a 50% probability of either side coming up. Second, there's the unmistakable stench of vote-rigging in the election air; rigging that has become all the more convenient with the use of electronic voting machines in many polling stations. The machines have been demonstrated as vulnerable to hacking; they are supplied by corporations with known ties to the Repugnicans; and entry and exit polls have repeatedly shown discrepancies with the machine-tallied results. If those things happened in some 'underdeveloped' nation, the US government would be howling with righteous indignation about election fraud. But in the Incorporated States of America, it's just business as usual, and let the media deal with the allegations. And they have dealt with those criticisms byÉ simply ignoring them. After the cliff-hanger of 2004, the mainstream media reported virtually nothing about the evidence of vote-rigging that the Internet was absolutely abuzz with. And the public, already super-saturated with election non-news, just had no further interest in more bad news about their marvelous democratic system.

So, 2008 is an Olympic, 'oops, I mean election year in the Excited States of America, and the media have no worries about what to report for the next many months. For the audiences, it's a marathon for them, too. After all, listening to a seemingly endless barrage of hot-air rhetoric ("I'll get bin-Laden if I have to follow him to the ends of the Earth!"... ya, sure, senator) and constant carping at opponents' concocted gaffes, and escalating one-upmanship, can all wear you down, right? Seriously, it's a mental stress mechanism that seems deliberately designed as part of the overall conspiracy to 'break' both candidates and voters. By the time the election is held in November, everyone is in a 'dissociative state' of mind, having either congealed their opinions long ago in January, or else still hopelessly baffled at the shell-game that offers the same pea under each choice. In this state, everyone just wants to get it over with, get on with normal life. It's small wonder that the voting public has little interest or energy left to engage in second-guessing, judicial recounts, meticulous (but meaningless) analyses of voting patterns... or reflection that the whole exercise was an orchestrated illusion, in the style of a David Copperfield spectacle, with the object of 'democratically' installing the next front-man of the ultra-monied plutocracy. Better to just sit tight and wait for the inaugural revelry with its celebrity performances and empty speeches, to follow in the new year. To the rest of the world, the whole electoral cycle represents a demonstration that epitomizes America in all its crazy self-absorption.

In these quadrennial games, the last act of the outgoing president is to abuse his executive privilege by granting pardons to those fellow criminals whose misdeeds happened to be discovered during the preceding electoral term. How one man can grant absolution to someone for crimes that would land anyone else in prison is totally incomprehensible to the rest of the world. Nonetheless, ordinary citizens will be waiting with mixed emotions to see who will get the blessing in the remaining days of the current administration. More than that, it is positively baffling to external observers how this system--with it's consciously engineered structure of 'checks and balances'--could end up so visibly amenable to political blackmail and dirty tricks that a brazen gang such as the recent Bushmen could pass legislation that flies directly contrary to the letter, as well as the spirit, of the founding constitution. That document used to be upheld as a pinnacle of human political achievement... Now it's looking pretty sad after enduring eight years of constant battering by the White House. That it survives at all seems to be due to the rear-guard support of the Supreme Court; but let's not forget that those judges can be 'stacked,' over time, so don't get too relaxed.

Yes, this is the country that is so cock-sure of the righteousness of its fabled democratic system that it wants to politically evangelize the whole world with the gospel of American democracy. Obviously, the events since September 11, 2001, have revealed some glaring flaws in the veneer of the US political mechanisms, and have made the sales job of American marketers all the more difficult. People used to pray 'God bless America;' today it should be 'God help America!'

January 11, 2008

The Rational Mind

The Rational Mind is really the programmed mind. The 'educated person' is really the indoctrinated person. You see, the problem with human education (at least, 'public education') is that it is inevitably a form of mind conditioning. In packaging information for mass consumption, the facts must be standardized, and even formulized, so that the same message goes to all students. To standardize information, someone must decide what is the 'official story' that is to be delivered to the classes. That 'someone' is often a committee made up of 'experts' who themselves are all products of previous 'education.' What are regarded as facts is a matter of contemporary thinking-- of fads, in other words. As the machinery of public education becomes more bureaucratized and centralized, the committees and their output become more subject to political and/or socio-economic pressures. Recent fads have embraced 'political correctness' and related orthodox views that demand certain pre-approved portrayals of history, of nations, of peoples and of individuals. Deviation from the official story by maverick teachers is strongly frowned upon, and squelched and revised with great haste.

And so, we arrive at the present, where these trends in education have attained an extreme, and we are seeing what some observers have labelled a 'dumbing-down' of graduates of the modern, Western education system. Lest you suppose that this de-skilling affects only students in primary and secondary schools, I assure you that it is a prime feature of the self-exalted university system, as well. Anyone with school-age children understands the idea of the committee-designed curriculum, and the onus placed on teachers to 'deliver the message' as it is prescribed by 'the Ministry,' or 'the Department,' or 'the Board.' At the post-secondary level, the pressures are different. Here, it is the tyranny of academia that dictates what is acceptable orthodoxy. Whether in the sciences or the arts, a group-think mentality determines what a professor is allowed to profess at the front of a class. The faculty members all learn that despite all the pious BS directed towards the god of free thought, if they want to be successful, to progress, to get the coveted tenure, then they must spout the politically-correct, universally-acknowledged orthodoxy that everyone expects to hear and read. Of course, they are also expected to produce original research on their thesis topic within those unspoken but unbreakable limits; and so the academics end up churning out endless variations on a theme, examining the subject in minute, stultifying detail, expressed in the jargon of their chosen niche.

The graduates of this 'education assembly line' go out into the work world, full of the sure knowledge of their selected path, and ready to regurgitate it to whomever needs to hear it. Many become the experts who are interviewed by the media when 'background' is needed for a breaking story. Others become the media reporters who do the interviews and then synthesize a story to be broadcast to the great masses of TV viewers and newspaper readers. They both are products of the system, and already have been hard-wired with a world-view that has been carefully crafted for them. The stories of the reporters are then edited by another specialist whose job is to repackage the information in a format considered acceptable by the standards of the particular medium being exploited. In doing the editing, it is possible for a story to be radically altered in terms of its core message. In countries we consider dictatorships, the editing step is fully critical to the governments' ability to control and manipulate their populations. The mass media play a vital role in delivering a consistent message to the citizens, whether the subject is economics, politics, or science or the arts. The one who controls the message, controls the national character or atmosphere.

In a populace that is aware that the media are really organs of government propaganda, the situation is somewhat mitigated. For example, in the now-defunct Soviet Union, everyone knew that 'There is no pravda (truth) in Izvestia ('the News') and no izvestia in Pravda!' But in modern America (and much of the Western world) most citizens are under the dangerous illusion that the media are supplying news that is both factual (ie. true) and largely complete (or comprehensive in scope). Neither assumption is correct. In fact, it's worse than that-- the media, particularly in the USA, are deliberately massaging the news that reaches our senses with the aim of achieving certain results. In the last few decades, ownership of communications outlets-- newspapers, radio stations, and TV networks, has become concentrated in the hands of fewer, and bigger, owners. In yester-year, there were 'captains of industry,' dominating the industrial era; today, we have the 'media barons' owning the organs that shape the opinions of whole nations. Rupert Murdoch owns newspapers around the Anglophone world, and has a definite message he wants them to deliver. The Disney empire embraces publications and television networks as well as the original movie studios. Most citizens, like the proverbial frogs in the saucepan, have not noticed the gradual change in the character of the media.

In America now, there are only a few major media players, and they are firmly in the hands of big corporations that are intent on promoting the corporate agenda. That means they are strongly pro-capitalism and big business, and strongly anti-socialist. Their allegiance is ultimately to the bottom line, profit pure and simple. They are comfortably in bed with their friends in governments that are similarly 'business-friendly' and socially regressive, in a symbiotic relationship. Since the directors on the boards of these media giants are often the same individuals who sit on the boards of other businesses, the media are far from objective, but they are decidedly communications channels for the entire business world. That explains why 'investigative journalism' is essentially dead. What we get instead, is a few in-depth reports into celebrity misdeeds, or TV-suitable murders; that sort of thing. But rare are the attempts to probe the improprieties of politicians, except where it involves sex but not serious policy areas. Just watch '60 Minutes' to see what I mean. While the major media were virtually united and unflinching in their support of Bush's invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, not one of them has done any serious investigation of the egregious inconsistencies in the official explanations for the attacks of 9-11-2001.

Those are just two examples of how the media manipulate public opinion, but the list could be endless. If Americans could (or would) check what citizens of other countries read or view in their local media, they'd be shocked. The news content is quite different, and the slant or interpretation of the stories is also quite different. Americans would learn things they never knew... or else they would retreat into traumatic denial. Depending on what foreign sources they checked, Americans would discover that their good friends the Israelis are not the white-cloaked heroes valiantly defending God and democracy in the midst of hostile ignorant fanatics. They might be amazed to discover that Arabs are mostly decent people, and Palestinians are kept in virtual 'national prison camps' while being stealthily 'ethnically cleansed' from their homeland.

Perhaps I've strayed from the rational mind theme; but the reader must begin to glimpse the notion that the world is a much different, more complex place than their favorite talking heads have been assuring them all these years. It matters not how much education one has; mind conditioning does not respect graduate degrees. The ugly specter of 'professional politics' and opinion programming appears in every field of knowledge, science being no exception. There is an orthodoxy in every branch of science that cannot be challenged except at peril of one's career. Every pioneer who questions the current state of knowledge in a science is regarded as a trouble-maker, a maverick, and his/her views are discredited in every way possible, including ad-hominem attacks. Yes, you can find scientists priding themselves on their objectivity, while defaming the mental health and personal circumstances of those whose views they happen to dislike. Not very scientific, in my view... but of course, I'm not a scientist, so what do I know?

Our most fundamental beliefs about the universe, our paradigm, has been and is being manufactured by our indigenous media. For example, if you're a typical 'westerner,' you simply take it for granted that democracy is the best system of governance possible; that capitalism is the natural order of the economic universe; that communism is of the devil; that Islam is a violent, fundamentalist religion; that all religions are the same; that Israel is a poor victim nation bravely defending democracy against overwhelming Arab enemies; and so on. You may be saying at this point, 'Duh... of course-- it's self-evident!' Is that so? Ask yourself why, after each of those sample phrases. Who says it must be so? Who told you that is the 'way it is?' All of those assertions are highly arguable; none of them qualifies as 'fact.' But those are the kind of messages that we in the industrialized countries have been fed for decades. In many ways, the messages have been reflections of our own civilization, the zeitgeist of our society, and to that extent, it is understandable and 'rational.' However, there has also been a lot of conscious propaganda imposed on the underlying stories, all designed to condition our minds for acceptance of the hidden agenda.

Over a lifetime, the western rational mind has been craftily trained to be well disposed towards a desired paradigm, and to be ignorant of, or prejudiced against, alternative views. We are even 'encouraged' to be inquisitive, to look at alternative sources; yet it is done in a controlled manner wherein the questions are assumed to have predetermined answers, and the alternatives are pre-discredited by implication. Moreover, the system makes sure that its subjects are aware of the rewards for endorsing the favored reality, and of the punishments for straying into forbidden opinions. Thus, no matter how many persons, in however many locations, with whatever qualifications, have been brave enough to report seeing a UFO, we all know what the correct answer is to the question: 'Are UFOs real?' The 'rational mind' is expected to simply 'know' that UFOs can't possibly be extra-terrestrial in nature, therefore they can't be real, end of discussion. The so-called rational person is expected to dismiss the evidence of history, the testimonies of thousands of credible witnesses, the radar and photo images, and conclude that the official de-bunking must be correct because.... Well, because what? Because our governments never lie to us? Because the scientists say UFOs are just optical tricks? The situation regarding extra-terrestrial life has become truly ludicrous with the close scrutiny of Mars currently underway. We have the spectacle of NASA officials getting excited over 'evidence of water' on the 'red planet'.... while amazing artifacts that could only be created by intelligent beings lie all over the surface! Their own photos show all kinds of weird and wonderful objects, yet NASA spokespersons stick to the rigid party line that the objects are all natural formations and we're still looking diligently for evidence of microbial life. Incredible; and, irrational.

The wacky world of UFOlogy provides a particularly salient example of the entrenchment of irrational orthodoxy within our conscious minds; but there are numerous other instances. Even in the field of health, we are conditioned to believe that the allopathic model for medicine is superior to all others, which are dismissed as primitive and backwards. This western arrogance greatly benefits the industries that manufacture drugs of all kinds, and huge, complex (and expensive) electronic diagnostic machines that need three-letter acronyms to label. But does it benefit the patients needing treatment? According to some sources, misdiagnosis and medical mistakes such as incorrect administration of drugs actually kill more persons each year than all but the deadliest diseases. Our much-vaunted western medicine may be killing more patients than would so-called 'alternative treatments;' but we continue to be told that it's the only system that works. And most of us quietly go along with it, like good sheep.

What the truly rational mind should observe by now is that the common denominator in our false illusions about reality is that they all serve the cause of big business interests. On looking into all the fables of our times, it appears that it almost always has to do with money; someone profits from keeping our perceptual blinkers focused a certain way. (The case of UFOs may not be about money, but almost certainly is about power, the power of hidden knowledge, if nothing else. I think we will learn much more on this account in the future.) Big industries, big corporations reap huge revenues from the mental prisons that keep us enslaved to a prescribed world view. But their illusions are so cleverly designed that the vast majority of prisoners genuinely feel that they are quite free, and that the system is truly benevolent... or at least contains enough built-in checks and balances that it cannot be fully corrupt. Well, the point of this essay is to get you to question those innate assumptions and to subject them to some rigorous cross-examination. The rational mind is an abstract concept, conceivable in theory, but impossible to fully attain in the real world. However, we can go a long way from the prison of our historical-social context toward a more conscious, awake state of reflection on the paradigm we possess as our cultural inheritance.

The first step toward freedom that must be taken by the awakened rational mind is this: to rise from our slumber and acknowledge that we have been mesmerized by a lifetime of subtle and blatant conditioning of our very thinking and our views of how this world works. Once one has experienced that 'aha moment,' various options become open that were previously closed. I won't try to prescribe a path for the neophyte observer, but will suggest that you will take a quantum jump to a new state of perceptual 'energy.' In that higher state, you will now be able to make much more informed decisions on what you believe and how you will act. You will see things that were previously invisible, or inconspicuous, to you; and many of them will enrage you, while others will frighten you. You will have to decide what to do with those feelings; how to react appropriately. Like me, you may be moved to try to wake up everyone else. Like a scenario from a sci-fi movie about survivors in a post-Armageddon future, you may feel like the last sane person trying to wake sleep-walking zombies before they all die from their morbid condition. That is one of the main pitfalls of the rational mind-- you can be very lonely, very misunderstood, and in the extreme, ostracized or even persecuted for your 'weird views.' Make no mistake-- being awake in a land of lotus-eating dreamers is frustrating at best, and dangerous to your health, at worst.

Those readers who are on the edge of wakefulness-- can see that the consensus reality has a lot of gaping holes and distortions-- may rightly resist full awareness because of another, final hurdle. We have been conditioned to believe that to give up one paradigm, we must jump to another, ready-made paradigm... or else we will drift aimlessly, like disembodied spirits trapped between worlds. We must not let that fear hold us back. It is the classic bogeyman conjured by manipulative pastors trying to keep their sheep shackled to a religious denomination-- 'Don't be foolish enough to abandon this stout ship, or you'll drown in the seas of doubt and confusion that lie beyond!' Take it from one who has done exactly this-- more than once-- you will survive the initial period of perplexity, for your boldness will summon ethereal forces to your aid, and if you are stalwart and patient, you will achieve a new paradigm, one that works for you at that moment in time. You could say that 'Sufficient unto the day is your paradigm thereof,' (to borrow and rephrase a biblical aphorism).

Most people can show more physical courage in their lives than emotional or mental courage... for reasons unknown to this writer. Yet, it's our mental landscapes, our background assumptions that mold the course of our lives and determine, largely, our fate. Those hidden views can hold us in bondage, or push us to heights of achievement. But the first step is the most crucial, and most difficult-- almost like pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps-- to allow ourselves to imagine that the world does not operate the way we have been told it does. That is the mental equivalent of jumping the prison wall. Once over, we are free to move off in any direction in a suddenly much bigger world. The biggest danger is to let ourselves march voluntarily into another, albeit different prison. This happens repeatedly in the religious sphere, but theoretically, it should be somewhat easier to avoid in the secular realm. The whole world of religion consists of pre-packaged belief systems, lurking like monsters eager to absorb any soul that ventures into their outwardly friendly mausoleums. In the secular realm, there are fewer obvious 'packaged paradigms' seeking new adherents. One can think of 'science' as a major paradigm, itself divided into a number of sub-paradigms, such as the various disciplines that try to interpret all of reality through the optic of their particular field. For the better part of a century, scientists have adopted (or been expected to adopt) the dogma of 'Evolution,' as if this materialistic view could somehow explain reality by simply ignoring the nagging question of 'How did the Big Bang come about in the first place?'

The awakening rational mind must not fall willy-nilly into the next convenient prison-paradigm that seems opposed to the last one! So, you have realized that 'religion' is a game... so, you think that the obvious refuge is science and the embedded dogma of Evolution. Well, hold on there! You've just jumped over the wall... and landed in another wing of the perceptual prison system. There may be some 'truth' to the reductionism of western science, maybe even to Evolution; but there's no guarantee that all of it, as a package, possesses all truth. Far from it. Science-- as understood in the present era-- doesn't even have the self-defined tools necessary to discover all truth. The more science discovers, the more it discovers that it doesn't have all the answers. Who told you that science and religion are irreconcilable enemies? Why should they be? They both purport to treat of ultimate causes of reality; ergo, don't they overlap at the extreme? Shouldn't the two disciplines be regarded as complementary? In any case, science-- as it is practiced-- is hardly in better shape than religion in terms of objectivity and openness to truly new insights. (I say 'hardly' because science prides itself on its purported objectivity, which is severely compromised by human nature.)

For a rational mind in search of truth, there is no choice but to become a philosopher... of sorts. Not a 'lover of knowledge,' per se, but a lover of truth; for the truth is not confined by the a-priori categories of human thinking. You must become devoted to that one principle, the pursuit of truth... whatever that means, and wherever it may take you. Nothing else must be allowed to capture our allegiance, enslave our free thinking. The first thing you must do is to disabuse yourself of the modern fiction that, outside of your narrow field of knowledge, you are ignorant! In other words, forget about the authority of the experts and their treasured degrees trailing their names, in alphabetic gibberish. Some of what they say may (sometimes) be correct; but do not assume it is automatic. Sure, we live in a constant barrage of information, so the psy-ops manipulators want you to believe that, therefore, you can't know anything unless you are told by an expert. What they are doing is destroying the innate power of common sense, a faculty that was hard-wired in our brains from antiquity. We are told that ancient man was a superstitious, ignorant being who only smartened-up with the dawn of the Enlightenment in Europe. This is false. Ancient man was endowed with powers of mind that most of us would be in awe of today. But back in the days when Christianity was spreading into Europe from the Middle East, certain agencies took steps to 'dumb-down' the populace, as we are seeing in today's world, with the aim of corrupting the new religion before it could begin to pull down the old power structures based on 'might is right.' The sad demise of true Christianity meant that when thinkers began to wake from their centuries-old slumber, they saw the prostitute of Revelation 17 sitting in place of the heavenly woman of Rev 12, and they rightly rejected her. Which is an allegorical way of saying that religion as a source of truth was spurned in favor of a new system, that of knowledge or 'enlightenment.' (Dare we call it 'illumination?')

Our modern truth seeker must re-learn to trust his/her common sense, and subject every proposal or assertion to the primary, basic test of innate practical evaluation. For example: does it make sense that not just one, not two, not three, nor even four commercial airliners could fly over the busiest, most populous corridor in the Americas over the space of about an hour and a half, after it was confirmed that they were high-jacked... and not be intercepted by a single military aircraft, despite flying within range of some 22 air-bases of the most militarized nation on earth? Does that sound remotely reasonable? Or; does it make sense that in almost a century of construction world-wide, not one sky-scraper had ever collapsed due to fire; yet on Sept. 11, 2001, three of them all collapsed as if in controlled demolition, at the same location? Does that sit quite comfortably with you? Does the notion make sense that all life evolved from primordial amino acids... when scientists point to numerous species and proudly tell us that 'they haven't changed in x-million years!'? If all life is evolving, why do some species stay unchanged after a certain, convenient point? For decades, bogus scientists insisted that there was no link between smoking and disease. It sounds ludicrous today-- like blood-letting to cure headaches-- but we were being stymied in exercising common sense. Today, it's studies by the mobile-phone industry that assure us that there's no link between cell-phone use and brain tumors. Common sense must be aided by a bit of knowledge on radio-wave emissions, but the connection is hardly rocket science. By now, I hope you get the point-- it's vitally imperative to free ourselves from the mesmerizing jargon of the experts, and simply trust and exercise the built-in 'truth-detector' that we were born with.

Fortunately, there are other inherent faculties of the human mind that we can employ in our bid to become rational thinkers. The writer, John Ralston Saul, enumerates six qualities of human cognition which are: common sense, creativity, ethics, intuition, memory, and reason. Altho he lists them in alphabetical order, he makes it clear that he ranks reason last, insofar as it has been horribly corrupted and misused since its exaltation by the Enlightenment philosophers. Perhaps the most useful partner of common sense is memory, as embodied in the adage 'Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.' It's so obvious that our politicians have come to depend enormously on the well-developed inability of modern, urban homo sapiens to remember anything beyond a few months at best. By flooding our environment with an unending torrent of entertainment, sports, and 'information,' the powers that be can be confident that our memories simply unload anything that is not absolutely essential to our daily, harried survival. Those who provide the most threat to the governing parties are those who have made it a priority to remember. Do you remember that the Vietnam war was instigated by the US administration on the pretext that a US Navy ship, the Maddox, was attacked by a North Vietnamese patrol boat? Do you remember that the incident was later revealed as a complete hoax, simply used to start the war that killed some 58,000 American soldiers and millions of Vietnamese? That's why the elite fear and loathe memory, and do everything possible to keep the entire populace in a short-term memory loop.

It is cogently noted that the first casualty of war is truth. The point we miss is that we have been in an endless war between the few who want to rule the world and the rest of us who just want to live a quiet, decent life. Hence, truth has always had to struggle to be heard, has always been in short supply. Raised in a culture of intrinsic mendacity, the rational mind similarly struggles to emerge from the cocoon of illusion spun stealthily around each citizen. We are unconscious victims of our own basic decency: we simply cannot imagine the extent and depth of the web of lies in which we carry on our daily lives in blissful innocence. Only those who face the horror of disaster-- as in war, crime, social collapse, etc.-- start to realize that the world is not what we've been told. Consider the poor of New Orleans who waited long days for relief and rescue that could have arrived within hours of the passing of hurricane Katrina. What kind of lesson did they learn? Or what did we onlookers learn? Some 'ordinary people' started to wake up; started to have the blinkers taken from their eyes; started to get rational. The same could have happened with the '9-11 false-flag assault;' we could have been shocked by its very inconsistencies into waking from our slumber. That was the big risk the perpetrators took-- that it would back-fire on them. Instead, tho, the media went into overdrive, pounding the official web of lies, as it had been carefully prepared beforehand, and squelching every hint of rational enquiry from the 'little boys' who noticed that the emperor wore no clothes. To this day, the media complicity has maintained the stone-wall in the face of every attack by people who know that the whole story is a monstrous myth... so monstrous that the average citizen, sitting at a safe remove in front of the glowing screen of the truth-box, simply cannot allow his or her mind to entertain the horrible prospect that '9-11' was nothing at all like the government version.

Yet, 'the truth goes marching on,' and it will always, eventually, prevail. It is not due to mystic reasons. Truth prevails because it describes reality; deception self-destructs because it must inevitably crash headlong into traps of its own design. If fascism hadn't been defeated in WW-II, it would have finally fractured under the in-fighting among competing strong-men. Communism disintegrated without a war because it became so built on institutionalized untruths that the tissue of lies just snapped apart. (This happened, for example, when party apparatchiks persistently misreported their unit production figures to the central planners.) In the end, then-- whenever that may be-- evil and deception must be destroyed by natural process. But in the meantime, we citizens of Earth must endure the ever more desperate attempts by the ruling elites to entrench their neo-feudal system over the masses of ordinary people. The drama is unfolding as you read. Will you be one of those caught completely unaware by their final totalitarian moves? Are you still stuck in your atheistic paradigm despite the elaboration of this apocalyptic drama in the pages of the Bible? These days of history are called apocalyptic because it is a time of revelation-- the time when the evil that has pretended to be good all these years will finally be shown for what it really is. This is the time of the great harvest portrayed by Jesus in the parable of 'wheat and tares,' where the weeds will be gathered up for burning, and the wheat claimed for harvest. It is a time to use your rational faculties of mind, and listen to the intuition that whispers the truth to you. Jesus prayed: '[God] Sanctify them [those who believe] in the truth; Your word is truth.'