Substituting factions for faith

A person’s life is meant to have meaning, and for that meaning to derive from a relationship to their Creator.  It’s no surprise, then, that those who reject God are driven to seek meaning anywhere they believe they can find it.  Some turn to self-destructive vices in an ever-more-vain pursuit of moments of perceived happiness.  Other alternatives, though, while not as immediately and physically destructive, ultimately lead to the same futility.  One important current example is in our political climate.

Seduced by scientism, distracted by materialism, insulated, like no humans before us, from the vicissitudes of sickness and the ubiquity of early death, the post-Christian West believes instead in something we have called progress — a gradual ascent of mankind toward reason, peace, and prosperity — as a substitute in many ways for our previous monotheism. We have constructed a capitalist system that turns individual selfishness into a collective asset and showers us with earthly goods; we have leveraged science for our own health and comfort. Our ability to extend this material bonanza to more and more people is how we define progress; and progress is what we call meaning…

But none of this material progress beckons humans to a way of life beyond mere satisfaction of our wants and needs. And this matters…

[S]ocial-justice ideology does everything a religion should. It offers an account of the whole: that human life and society and any kind of truth must be seen entirely as a function of social power structures, in which various groups have spent all of human existence oppressing other groups. And it provides a set of practices to resist and reverse this interlocking web of oppression — from regulating the workplace and policing the classroom to checking your own sin and even seeking to control language itself. I think of non-PC gaffes as the equivalent of old swear words. Like the puritans who were agape when someone said “g–damn,” the new faithful are scandalized when someone says something “problematic.” Another commonality of the zealot then and now: humorlessness.

The same cultish dynamic can be seen on the right. There, many profess nominal Christianity and yet demonstrate every day that they have left it far behind… This is why they could suddenly rally to a cult called Trump. He may be the least Christian person in America, but his persona met the religious need their own faiths had ceased to provide. The terrible truth of the last three years is that the fresh appeal of a leader-cult has overwhelmed the fading truths of Christianity.

This is why they are so hard to reach or to persuade and why nothing that Trump does or could do changes their minds. You cannot argue logically with a religion — which is why you cannot really argue with social-justice activists either. And what’s interesting is how support for Trump is greater among those who do not regularly attend church than among those who do…

And so we’re mistaken if we believe that the collapse of Christianity in America has led to a decline in religion. It has merely led to religious impulses being expressed by political cults… And this is how they threaten liberal democracy. They do not believe in the primacy of the individual, they believe the ends justify the means, they do not allow for doubt or reason, and their religious politics can brook no compromise.

I found these to be interesting thoughts, particularly coming from a writer who seems to believe he can reconcile his Roman Catholic practice with being an openly gay political pundit.  One of my first thoughts is that perhaps the Spirit is getting through to him.  I hope that’s the case.  He is correct about politics replacing theological faith as a source of meaning in our culture.  He is also correct about the effect of that on both Left and Right.  I supported Trump in 2016 because I thought that, even with his personal baggage, he’d do less damage than Her Hillariness.  I still hold a modest hope that he’ll be able to enact long-lasting reforms in some critical areas.  But unlike other Trump supporters I’ve encountered (who’ve made me very uncomfortable at times), I do not see him as America’s secular messiah, and I remain well aware of his flaws.

Sullivan may or may not have grasped the deeper point of his ponderings.  Reading the entirety of the piece, I’m not sure.  He compares the “Great Awokening” of modern times to the “Great Awakening” of old.  Only if we have another “Great Awakening” will our people once again channel their energies toward pursuing Christ.  And it is that pursuit that produces the fruit which previously sustained our society.  May God grant us revival, from “Awoke” to “Awake.”  As we’re painfully finding out, finding our identities in anything other than Him is a very poor substitute indeed.

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The asylum racket

Across Western Civilization, the Left demands entry for anyone “seeking a better life,” often promoting the use of ‘asylum’ claims for situations that are anything but systematic oppression.  Simply being born to a lower standard of living than is found in the West does not an asylum claim make.  If it did, we would have no choice but to accept the wholesale migration of most of the world.

Being a Christian in Pakistan, however…

A Pakistani Christian woman’s appeal to Britain for asylum has been denied because her arrival in the country may stir civil unrest, HuffPost UK has been told.

Asia Bibi, a Christian farm labourer, was released from prison in Pakistan on Wednesday after being acquitted of blasphemy. She had spent eight years on death row after an argument with a group of Muslim women in June 2009.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan overturned Bibi’s 2010 conviction for “insulting the prophet Mohammed” last week, saying the case against her was based on flimsy evidence.

But her acquittal sparked violent protests led by Islamic religious hardliners, and the government has now agreed to try to stop her leaving the country.

On Saturday her lawyer, Saif Mulook, fled Pakistan, saying he feared for his life. Bibi’s husband, Ashiq Masih, has also released a video message saying he too fears for his family’s safety.

“I am requesting the Prime Minister of the UK help us and as far as possible grant us freedom,” he said.

But campaigners working to secure Bibi’s move abroad said the UK government had not offered her asylum, citing security concerns.

The frankly surprising ruling by Pakistan’s Supreme Court merely makes it more likely Bibi will be killed by Muslim vigilantes instead of the state — which may be the intent, since it would relieve the government in Islamabad of some of the international condemnation it would receive.  I’ve personally spent time in Pakistan, and can say the Christian community there is under constant pressure.  Wild accusations of “burning Korans” and other unlikely inflammatory actions are often used to justify hurting or killing Christians in the country.

The cowardly capitulation of the British government is another matter entirely.  It’s not as if there is a policy of restricting immigration from Pakistan — far from it.  More than a million Pakistanis live in the U.K., the largest such population in all of Europe.  Roughly half of that group are people born in the U.K. to Pakistani immigrants, while the other half — roughly 500,000 people — are first-generation immigrants.  The community makes up a third of Britain’s roughly 3.4 million Muslim residents.  While they will not say so directly, it is the reaction of this group the British officials are concerned about, if they were to allow Bibi asylum.  Such concerns are not unwarranted.  The irony is that Britons have been convinced to allow in tens of thousands of immigrants with an alien worldview, but now refuse to allow entry to someone closer to their own.

This is not an accident.  The deliberate dilution and dissipation of Christendom continues.  The enemies of Western Civilization rightly recognize the Christian worldview as one of the essential pillars, even as our own intellectuals try to deny it.  This is why there is a pattern of policy geared toward letting anyone in, except those who would be spiritual kin.  This is one reason why the neighborhood YMCA where I took swimming lessons almost 40 years ago is now a Buddhist meditation center.  As Western governments yield to pressure from the alien populations they’ve already admitted, those pressures will only continue to grow.

At the founding of our nation, there were aspirations for us to be a “city on a hill,” a Christian example to the world.  Instead, we’ve allowed ourselves to become a microcosm of the world.  When our society does recall Christian virtues – charity, mercy, and so forth – they’re often cynically manipulated to cause us to act against our own  long-term interests.

This needs to stop.  Light has no fellowship with darkness, and it’s time we stopped pretending otherwise.

“No borders, no wall, no USA at all!”

That’s what Antifa hoodlums chanted in Washington D.C. last weekend while trying to pick fights with anyone who looked remotely to the political right of them. While they were mostly mindlessly chanting as directed, one could give them credit for succinctly expressing the formula they and their fellow travelers are using to kill the United States. Because without any borders, without any walls, there won’t be a U.S.A. at all. Or any other nation, for that matter.

And that’s the real goal of the globalists. Too many people think “globalists” is just a quasi-conspiratorial term, but it’s a very real phenomenon. A significant number of Western leaders act as if they owe more loyalty to their transnational peer group than they do to the people they supposedly serve at home. The same holds true of most transnational corporations, whose leaders are more concerned with international access and profits–even if it means bowing to autocrats–than they are with domestic considerations or notions of representative government. This has created a political and technocratic worldwide “ruling class” and, as writer Sarah Hoyt points out, a developing version of the same sort of neo-feudalism that existed under communism:

…communism was not discredited where it counted. There were no long-running exposes of exactly how bad it was in the Soviet Union, or the other communist countries, nor of the massive number of people – at least a hundred million, but quite likely more – that these regimes sent to their graves. There was no explanation about how imposing this kind of regime from above always leads to a quasi-feudal existence, in which the functionaries at the top are kings and everyone else serfs because it has to. Because the people at the top are still human, which means they not only have no idea what is “each’s need” or “each’s ability” but they have their very own greed and desire and other issues the same as any robber Baron. Only at least the robber Barons had to establish some industry, create some empire, finagle some monopoly. Those at the top of the planned economy have full power and cart blanch to JUST rob.

The development of this international club goes a long way explaining the horrified reaction to the election of Trump. The constant harping on his personal moral failings conceals the real anger: he doesn’t play “One World” with the other would-be aristocrats. From all appearances Trump is implementing the promised “America First” policies he campaigned on. Such nationalism—particularly from a key center of power like the U.S.—is intolerable to the globalists.

So they have unleashed their modern brownshirts – the Antifa (another Orwellian misnomer, since they are quite fascist in their attitudes and activities). These street brawlers, like their Nazi forebears, are an army of “useful idiots” to break down the fabric of representative governance so it can be replaced with something more to the totalitarian’s liking. Most of these black-hoodie footsoldiers have no idea they are helping destroy the very system that makes their self-absorbed grievance-mongering possible:

…Antifa, an assemblage of the psychotic and the helpless and mostly both, people who couldn’t catch a clue if the clue was on crutches, people who – from the exemplars caught and exposed – either exist in the sheltered bubble of Academia or in the equally sheltered bubble of their parents’ basements, people who, if they have any job it’s the equivalent of barista.  These people, who would have trouble existing in the relatively harsher environment of Europe… only survive because the US is so prosperous and so secure that – outside of a few Democrat fiefdoms like Chicago or East St. Louis — it’s almost impossible to get yourself killed for gross and offensive stupidity…

Perhaps Antifa activists should reflect on the fate of D.C. denizens Lauren Geoghegan and Jay Austin, whose belief that people everywhere enjoy the same basic goodness and resulting security led to their deaths on a bicycling trip through Tajikistan:

…Evil is a make-believe concept we’ve invented to deal with the complexities of fellow humans holding values and beliefs and perspectives different than our own [wrote Austin] By and large, humans are kind. Self-interested sometimes, myopic sometimes, but kind. Generous and wonderful and kind.”

This same misguided idea that “people are basically good” – which runs completely counter to the Christian worldview – is the foundation upon which the idea of communism (and globalism, its current incarnation) is built. It fails to take into account, as Hoyt pointed out, the inherent fallibility of our decisions, as well as the self-interested motives that often color them. This is one of many reasons globalists are opposed to authentic, evangelical Christianity. The Bible makes clear “there is none righteous; no, not one,” and the litany of accounts in its pages go on to prove even the most well-intentioned people will always be flawed.  As a result, the Founders understood that nobody should wield unchecked power over others.  Barack Obama’s famous “I have a pen and phone” statement of intent to use executive power to achieve what he could not through legislation ran completely contrary to American tradition.  And yet he had his supporters, his own cult of (manufactured) personality.

Perhaps, then, from a Christian perspective Antifa is best understood as a cult. They have a worldview, require professions of “faith” from their fellow travelers, and viciously ostracize any who challenge their viewpoints. Unlike other cults, however, this one is not just a danger to its own members. Left to themselves, they will bring our nation crashing down.  They seek to erode patriotism, faith in our Constitutional institutions, and any sense the U.S. is special.  Nations cannot survive without these.

The United States has never been perfect. But it has resulted in more opportunity, peace and prosperity for more people than any other nation in history. It has yielded to the temptations and sins of great-power politics, but nevertheless on balance has been a positive influence in the world. The system of human organization from which it springs is an infinitesimal rarity in all of history. As such, it is worth defending, lest this part of the world cease being the “last, best hope for mankind,” and revert back to what history shows is the default result of unfettered power over the masses.

Christians in the crosshairs

The Supreme Court ruled in June, by a vote of 7-2, that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had violated the First Amendment rights of the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop after he refused to bake a cake celebrating a same-sex wedding. The owner, Jack Phillips, repeatedly made clear he was not denying service in general based on sexual orientation. Rather, he was refusing to participate (by creating a custom cake) in a ceremony that ran contrary to his Christian beliefs.
Phillips was subjected to a lengthy six-year process of hearings and appeals before receiving vindication from the Supreme Court, which strongly rebuked the Colorado Commission for clear “religious hostility” to Christian beliefs. While this was a judicial victory for Phillips, the phrase “the process is the punishment” is appropriate here.

End of story, right? Wrong.

Just as the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, a caller to the cakeshop requested a special cake celebrating a gender “transition.” It shouldn’t be a surprise at this point that Phillips politely declined that order as well. The result? The Colorado Commission has initiated the same type of proceedings that were invalidated in the previous case! On that basis of that fact, Phillips’ attorney has filed suit against the Commission in Federal Court. The result of that action is still pending, but it’s safe to say the Supreme Court’s view of the Commission’s bias has been confirmed.

This is by far not the only example of Christians being targeted. The wholly misnamed “Military Religious Freedom Foundation has demanded the removal and arrest of an Air Force General assigned to Edwards Air Force Base in California. Why? Because he’s had the audacity to do things like ask people to pray for wisdom for his leadership. He also shares his beliefs and experiences with other Christians via a personal website. This is only the latest crusade by the MRFF to create a military environment where one can only have beliefs if they keep them wholly to themselves. That’s far from religious freedom. The group should go by the name “freedom FROM religion foundation,” because that’s what their track record shows as its goal.

Vocal atheists still like to laugh at the idea Christians are persecuted in the United States. Granted, American Christians have yet to be subjected to the level of cruelty inflicted on their brothers and sisters in other countries. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a pronounced and growing hostility to the Gospel. That official hostility is the wellspring from which persecution can grow.  The seeds are already sprouting in America.

Christians in the U.S. do not have a special immunity from the schemes of the Ruler of this Present Darkness. Only vigilance and vigorous defense can protect the unusual freedoms we’ve enjoyed through our history. As the fabric of the Surveillance State model becomes tighter and tighter, we need to understand there will soon be no middle ground or choice of apathy. We will all either profess Jesus as our Lord, come what may, or else deny Him at our eternal peril.

Watch and pray, brothers and sisters. And seek discernment how you can engage, for the battle already rages around you.