Taming the Beast Outside

Posted in Humble musings on today's culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2014 by jcwill5

What does one do when his or her government is too big to work?

How do we get out of the dead end we find ourselves in:  expecting too much from our government and getting an increasingly incompetent, overwhelmed government instead.

Part of the answer is understanding what we have lost

Our government didn’t exponentially grow for no reason at all.

It grew because there was and is a moral vacuum in the lives of its citizens.

As we retreated into ourselves, it advanced.

As we withdrew from the moral sphere, it occupied it.

But we were also led into that moral retreat.

Having worked (and continuing to work) to destroy the moral center and break free of all constraints, our out-of-touch and pseudo-sympathetic elites have nothing viable to replace it with.

They have expanded their importance, intruding into area after area of life with greater and greater regulation, and like it that way!

Following their lead, the majority of our citizens have also broken free of all restraints and have enthroned their Self at the summit of all meaning and importance.

So now both the elites, and the lawless masses, have a vested interest in personal irresponsibility and an all-responsible government.

Our Founding Fathers warned us that our system was predicated on a moral citizenry, a system that balanced liberty with God’s Law.

They predicted that when the citizens realized they could use the government to enrich themselves, to take money from others and give it to themselves, the end of true liberty would soon come.

The missing something is a repentant, morally responsible, caring citizenry under God.

The reason we are in this predicament is because a critical mass of individuals no longer have a moral center, and no longer come from families that instill that moral center early in life.

It is why more than one Founding Father noted that our system is built entirely on the premise of a moral citizenry.

Children no longer memorize and live by the Ten Commandments, and no longer taught to practice the Golden Rule.

Their Lord is no longer God but self, so their Savior is no longer Jesus Christ but the government.

So the first step towards changing things is repenting of our autonomy, our moral lawlessness, our abdication of personal responsibility for the welfare of others, and our all-consuming, devouring from within, self-idolatry.

It’s not “the government is the problem” or “they are the problem.”

It’s “I am the problem.  Neither Government nor I can solve the problem of me.  But God can!”

It’s turning our life and our will over to God, and taking ourselves out of our own care and placing it into His care.

My Story

I grew up a very privileged child of affluence, to parents who pretty much left me alone and who left me to fend for myself.

I was raised to cherish privacy, personal autonomy, and self interest.

By the time I was in my late teen’s, I was a lawless, vicious, grasping person with no mercy and no concern for others.

But I was also an addicted, miserable, out-of-control person that tried belief after belief looking for a way out.

Then Christ chased me down and began to introduce Himself to me–giving me the space to hit bottom and the freedom to realize turning over control to Him was the only way out.

And when I did finally surrender, He filled me with His compassionate, uplifting, caring, honest Self, making me a new person.

Unlike the man I used to be, I began to care about others and serve others.

I began to be a force for goodness and healing and reconciling people to God, because I was under His influence.

I began to obey laws, respect boundaries, and be a man of peace.

I became a low-maintenance citizen that met needs and decreased the crisis in others.

Which is why, in all honesty, I confidently say that the only cure for bloatocracy and anarchy is conversion.

When a critical mass of people aren’t just religious or moral, but converted by Christ and turned into new people, then the goodness rippling out from them will begin to repair, restore, and heal the broken moral foundations of our society.

There won’t be nearly as much for any government to do.

Instead of overthrowing a government, conversion makes it morally redundant.

The inner government of God, restraining evil and releasing His goodness through willing hearts, tames the beast within, and therefore tames the beast outside.

So the challenge isn’t out there.  It’s really in here.

The challenge is on all of us and each of us:  be converted into new people by Christ, and regaining a living, free moral center, or go on as we are and ending up in a failed stated in a failed society.

There is a solution!

Bloatocracy and Ineptocracy

Posted in Humble musings on today's culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 17, 2014 by jcwill5

The recent Ebola follies of the U.S. health care system has me asking a question:

Is it possible for a government to attempt to do so many things all at once and grow to such a large size that it’s beyond the capacity of human beings to manage it?

Infinite ambitions to meet an ever expanding circle of needs (or clamp down on an ever expanding circle of rebellion) requires an ever expanding number of  laws to create programs or enforce boundaries.

All these legally mandated programs and limits require an endlessly growing number of ever minuscule and exacting laws, regulations, policies, procedures, court rulings, etc.

All these multiplied, ever specific, always expanding spheres of governmental provision and supervision require increasing amounts of people to design, implement, and maintain them.

So these ever growing bureaucracies themselves require ever increasing amounts of supervision so they do what they’re supposed to do.

So, again, is there a point where no single human being (like the U.S. President) or group of human beings (his cabinet and all department heads) can possibly manage it?

What we have, in such a case, is bloatocracy.

In a bloatocratic system, it is beyond the capacity of the ordinary citizen to be aware of, keep track of, and do all the laws, rules, regulations, policies and procedures that are required of him or her.

In a bloatocratic system, more and more is expected of the central government by a citizenry accustomed to doing less and less and marked by a mentality that says, “Things are too big and too entrenched to change, so why bother?.”

In a bloatocratic  system, the multiplied laws, rules, regulations, and policies of the central government force private enterprises and subsidiary institutions (like local schools or hospitals) to themselves multiply laws, rules, etc. to comply with the bloatocratic State’s multiplied mandates.

Making junior bloatocracies out of them as well.

Workers, employees, customers, and users of these businesses and institutions find themselves increasingly frustrated and unable to walk through the paperwork required to do even the most basic things.

Creativity, initiative, and flexibility are all stifled and chocked off.  Frustration and rage skyrocket.

Then people find loopholes, ways of evasion and avoidance, to get their necessary business done.   Abuses multiply.

So the loopholes are closed, evaders are chased after, and the bloatocracy grows some more.

It would be scary indeed if not for another reality:  bloatocracy breeds ineptocracy.  

Because no one person or group of people can possibly manage all these governmental systems simultaneously and well, they break down.

Necessary, even crucial, tasks aren’t done.

The system is overwhelmed, works at cross purposes, and breaks down at numerous points.

It becomes stunningly incompetent in sphere after sphere, in crisis after crisis, no matter who is elected or which party controls which parts of the system.

Which probably keeps all of us from being locked up in jail.

Instead of being too big to fail, the government has become too big to work.

And, if not checked and reversed, it will risk becoming too big to work at all.

Haven’t you ever noticed how often decaying dictatorships are followed by failed states and anarchy?

It is the easiest thing in the world to transition from being too big to function to not functioning at all.

Bloatocracy breeds ineptocracy, and ineptocracy eventually breeds mass disregard, mass resignation, mass dissatisfaction, and mass rebellion.

Ineptocracy breeds anarchy in the end.

So, like turning around a poorly managed restaurant with poor service and demotivated employees, the key is doing fewer things and doing them outstandingly and consistently.

Which means vastly scaling back our out-of-control expectations and accepting hard limitations on our government.

It means closing whole departments and agencies, and eliminating unenforceable regulations and vastly simplifying whatever remains.

It means we need a Chef Ramsey-like approach, not another Oprah self-esteem session.

But that will create a vacuum.  And something needs to fill the vacuum.

And what will that something be?

Complicated Columbus

Posted in Humble musings on today's culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 13, 2014 by jcwill5

It has become as fashionable now to demonize Christopher Columbus as it once was to lionize him as a hero.

For example, Seattle recently voted to substitute Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day.

Poor Christopher Columbus has gone from discoverer of America (which he thought was India) to genocidal despoiler of the happy, innocent, idyllic, native American peoples.

The holiday, which banks, post-offices, and government offices celebrate, was created to pay tribute to Columbus’ role as a discoverer and to please the large Italian-American voting block.

The Scandinavian-Americans, of course, would say Leif Erickson is the true discoverer of America and have their own Leif Erickson Day.

But that’s another story.

I have two problems with turning Columbus Day into Indigenous Peoples Day.

First, as a truth-seeker, I loath revisionist history.

Revisionist history is a re-writing the history books to advance a political agenda, usually on behalf of a victimized group the historian want to champion, or a class-based economic theory-of-everything (like communism) the historian wants to advocate.

So everything is run through the grid of this agenda, and the result is a “reinterpretation” of people like Christopher Columbus.

Many of the revisionists hate the United States and our capitalist system with a rabid kind of hatred.

Our country does nothing good and never did anything good.

We are always the villain in their story, always a force for oppression and destruction, and ought to be ashamed of ourselves for being either male, white, European-descended, or middle class.

We are the oppressor class or race, in other words.

And these self-appointed champions of the oppressed are going to punish us and keep us down.

So history is their weapon to bludgeon their target group by championing the opposite group.

The second and most important problem is revisionist history does justice to nobody.

Christopher Columbus, for example, was neither the all-good heroic discoverer of the New World nor the all-bad destroyer of the native peoples.

He was a little of both.

He had mixed motives.

He promoted his own glory, and yet worked for his royal patrons Ferdinand and Isabel.

He lusted after gold, yet wanted to bring the gospel to lost peoples.

He displayed undaunted courage in navigating the Atlantic, yet lied to his crew to protect his own position as captain.

His life contained both stunning triumphs, and terrible tragedies.

He was honored by Spain, yet stabbed in the back and intrigued against at Court.

His men did some good things, and yet committed outrages.

He was a truly great explorer of oceans, and a really lousy governor when on land.

Like it or not, Columbus did indeed open the door to the European mass migrations, and therefore to the noblest and foulest deeds done by all who followed him.

He opened the incredible exchanges of culture, agricultural produces, and advancements, and opened the door to new diseases, vicious conquistadors, and the destruction of advanced civilizations.

The truth is Columbus mirrors all of us, and it’s not comfortable viewing.

He mirrors back to us both noble traits we wish to emulate, and horrific evils we wish we could deny.

He shows us both the best and the worst about ourselves and our ancestors who came here.

And, by the way, the native peoples were equally cruel, enslaving, war-like, and vicious to their enemies on many occasions.

Imperialist historians of yesteryear and revisionist historians of today are white-washers of their favored group.

The truth is the human race is a decidedly mixed bag, a frustrating combination of the best and the worst.

Even the best of us are sinners who sin greatly and often and who have tragic flaws.

Even the worst of us are redeemable and made in God’s image.

There are no pure heroes without a streak of hypocrisy, nor are there any one-dimensional villains who were weren’t hurt in some way before turning to evil.

So we can rightfully celebrate the discovery of the New World, and humbly own the sin that marks our ethnic and national history.

It’s a cause for great joy, and for a broken heart, too.

And that, my friends, is the messy, uncomfortable truth!

Jerk-ocracy

Posted in Humble musings on today's culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2014 by jcwill5

It won’t surprise anyone reading this blog to be told we are a dangerously and deeply divided people.

Americans have always had their deep differences, but this is only the second time in our history so many of us have formed our deepest personal identities around our political ideologies.

In the run-up to the Civil War, Northern and Southern folk began to base their identities around pro- and anti-slavery ideologies.

They stopped socializing with people holding opposite views, and began to see everything happening in Washington D.C. as advancing or blocking slavery.

Congress was stalemated and irreconcilable.   Tempers began to increase. Tensions kept getting more inflamed.

Attempts by moderates to compromise only made each side angrier and backfired.

Eventually, each side viewed the other as “the enemy”, as monsters who had to be stopped no matter what.

Sound familiar?

What changed between 1810 and 1860 was the growth of abolitionism and succession/pro-slavery views into all-encompassing ideologies in a critical mass of people.

Each side saw the opposite ideology as aggressive, as a threat to their livelihood and cherished way of life, as a moral evil they could not abide.

There was and could never be a middle ground.

So each side began to use legislation and the courts as a tool to impose its agenda on the other side.

Each side began to seek enough seats in Congress and enough spots on the Supreme Court to obtain final victory.

People stopped thinking of themselves as Americans and began to see themselves as Northerners or Southerners, and the other side as hated foreigners.

It made the Civil War not only possible, but inevitable.

And it’s not something we ever want to repeat.

So what we need right now are leaders who don’t merely pander to ideologies, or who inflame divisions to obtain power, or who demonize the opposition for short-term political gain.

What we need are leaders who help us re-discover our shared core as Americans, and build it up over a long season.

What we need are leaders who can can persuade their own side to take the humble road.

Leaders who can craft over-arching, long-range settlements that address the worst fears of the other side.

Leaders who will work with their side to never impose their ideology on the unwilling, however great their side’s majority in Congress or on the Supreme Court.

What we are talking about here is respecting the conscience of others who disagree with us.

For example, it is sheer stupidity to require pro-life taxpayers to subsidize abortions, to require traditionally moral people to subsidize the morning after pill, etc.

It is folly to require people who cherish traditional marriage to accept, pay for, and enable cohabiting, homosexual marriage, or promiscuity.

Since so much of our ideological polarization is rooted in deeply-held religious (or non-religious) beliefs, the smartest move both parties can make is to craft the broadest possible exemptions and conscience clauses in matters of greatest contention.

And this area, to nobody’s surprise, is centered around sexual practices and religion.

And, most controversially, in order to work these religious exemptions and conscience clause opt-outs need to be allowed even in matters of housing, hiring, service, public accommodation, and employment.

Such a generous policy would eliminate 99% of the contentions on these issues, calming everyone down and deescalating the situation.

It would get the government out of the business of coercion, of using the law to force people of sincere conscience to pay for or enable what they morally abhor.

It would cut off the ability of activists to use legal methods to attack those they disagree with, taking away the incentive for doing it.

Which is precisely why the odds are greatly against such a sensible, board, long-range solution.

Fanatical people don’t want to allow others to be left alone, demand that everyone conform and even applaud their views, and go hunting for fights to silence or intimidate their foes.

They don’t respect consciences, and their goal is not to persuade, but to punish those who disagree and who won’t conform to their ideological, rabid agenda.

Sadly, there are fanatics on all sides.   The old-fashioned word for them is jerks.

Instead of unleashing the jerks, the grown-ups in each major party need to side-line and restrain them.

Each side’s jerks are provoking the other side’s jerks, and it is tearing our nation apart.

Most of us are tired of living in a Jerk-ocracy.  Which is why this election continues to zig and zag.  And why neither party gets it.

Meanwhile, the larger, long-range issues the national debt are unresolved, festering, and becoming exponentially more difficult to remedy with every passing year.

The alternative?

A second Civil War.

The Courts Won’t Save Us

Posted in Humble musings on today's culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 7, 2014 by jcwill5

Yesterday the Supreme Court declined to hear any appeals about cases pertaining to gay marriage, in effect legalizing it in five states and, very soon, in twenty-five more.

Homosexual marriage will soon become the law of the land with no appeals possible.

I have a couple of observations:

First, our ruling class no longer has any passion, will, or intent to uphold traditional morality–particularly in setting any limits at all to sexuality.

The courts are reflecting this new indifference to morality, this battle fatigue in the aftermath of the culture wars.

Most citizens don’t want to be bothered, don’t want to fight about it, and, if given the choice, will side with those who want be free to practice their sexual proclivities without any limits.

“Whatever” is the new mantra of our times.

Therefore those who are pushing to topple any remaining bastions of sexual morality will find it no more difficult than pushing over a rotten fence.

The courts will no longer deliver us from evil, in other words.

Second, our ruling class has little tolerance for anyone dissenting from the new mandated tolerance.

If we won’t acquiesce to the new normal, if we refuse to accept, approve, and endorse the new amorality, they will not leave us to ourselves in peace.

The will use force and legal coercion to make us tolerant…or else.

Paradoxically, in their quest for an absolutely tolerant society, they have erected an idol and are requiring everyone else to bow down to it.

And, if we won’t go along with this project, if we persist in discriminating against evil and in non-participation in evil, there will be lawsuits, firings from jobs, hounding on social media, bullying, and an attempt to put us in “the closet”.

The courts will no longer protect us, in other words.

They will grant less and less religious exemptions, and overturn those that already exist.

A change of a single vote on the Supreme Court is all it will take.

They will deliver us over to evil.

The price of maintaining a good conscience will be increasingly high.

Those of us who remain faithful to unchanging biblical morality out of our love for Christ will either be forced for economic reasons to lead double lives, or to exist underground, off the grid, and under the radar.

The end result of homosexuals coming out of the closet and successfully persuading society to view them as normative is to put us into the closet.

However, in this new bullying there is a marvelous opportunity to turn tables.

A recent survey showed that support for same-sex marriage had begun to decline, particularly in areas where anti-discrimination laws where being used to silence and/or bankrupt objecting Christian business owners.

What if, instead of two or three cases, there were a thousand such cases?  Ten-thousand?  One-hundred thousand?

What if there was a mass civil disobedience campaign against all anti-discrimination laws that have either no or inadequate religious exemptions?

And what if Christian business owners practiced non-compliance with the serene smiles and non-violent, non-cooperation?

History tells us two things:  the authorities will get increasingly frustrated and commit more and more outrages, and they will lose the moral high ground and their hostility will be exposed for what it is.

We will be in a win-win situation.

If they don’t force us to comply, we will be free from being required to violate our consciences and the laws will become unenforced dead letters.

If they try to force us to comply and fail, they will have to come to the bargaining table–and hand us a broad, religious exemption even in public matters like business and accommodation.

Unfortunately, the Christian church in the USA is fragmented and evangelicalism itself is decentralized and disengaged, making a grand, long-term strategy difficult to develop, unite around, and put into action.

We have had an isolated, piecemeal approach.

We have had a few courageous individuals standing up and taking all the brunt of this hostility.

It’s not fair to them and it’s not likely to succeed.

What we don’t yet have a strategic, well-thought out, however-long-it-takes basis for mass action.

Instead of passively relying on courts, we need to empower our business people to uphold their consciences with full community support and quietly build an infrastructure of sustained, purposeful, civil disobedience.

Remember, however, that the key issue isn’t discrimination, but idolatry and the requirement that we bow down to something our society has placed in the ultimate place instead of Christ.

Many an early Christian could have escaped economic loss, jail time, or losing their lives in the Arena with a single act of worshiping the emperor or a single offering to the Roman genius.

But they wouldn’t and didn’t.

And neither should we.

Healing Religion-Based Anger

Posted in Humble musings on today's culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 3, 2014 by jcwill5

We American Evangelicals have become an increasingly angry people.

Once on top, we are now on the bottom.

Once in the majority, we are quickly becoming a hated minority.

Once honored, we are now despised.

Once protected, we are now being attacked more and more.

All this loss and all this hostility can and does produce a lot of anger.

And because there is no easy or quick remedy, our anger is not easily resolved by correcting the wrongs.

There is little we can do.  We have little choice but to bear with much we don’t like.

So how can we avoid serving the tyrant of anger?

How can we be freed from being anger-driven, anger-controlled, and anger-colored in all we say and do?

How can we avoid becoming angry people who damage our own families and the cause of Christ?

Right in Front of Us

In my own recent journeys, I realized that I still had some buried anger from an unjust situation from a few years ago.

It was lurking within, chocking off my heart’s freedom, and had turned inward into depression.

The Spirit of God put His finger right on it and exposed me as an person carrying a load of unresolved anger.

My only choice was to get open about it, or to continue to bury it and turn my anger inward.

If anger was one-dimensional, it would be easy.

But anger can go outward–being taken out on others.

Or it can go inward–taking it out on ourselves.

It can be hot and eruptive, or icy and buried deep.

But whatever our style of anger is, admitting we are angry is the necessary first step.

So many of us are trained that all anger is bad, and all anger must be concealed and we must therefore pretend it’s not there.

But God isn’t fooled by our mask.   He rips off our masks and outs our angry selves.

So my first step was to admit the obvious–yes, I was angry.

The second step was to let Christ carry the load of injustices and the wrath that those who wronged me deserved.

I rehearsed the biblical teaching that Christ bore the wrath of God against all sin on the Cross.

He experienced the full force of divine punishment in His person for me.

He resolved all injustices there, and exhausted all of God’s anger there.

So there is nothing left for me to carry.

I had this load of unresolved injustice, of wrath without a good outlet, upon my own shoulders.

It was crushing my spirit, weighing down my soul, and flattening my countenance.

It was an anger turned inward–which is a major source of depression.

My depressed state was actually a disguising a load of piled up anger that had no outlet.  So I took it out on myself and put myself on a twisted cross.

It was a horrible tyrant.

But God opened my eyes

So I transferred this load to Christ and let Him be my wrath-bearer.

It was extraordinarily freeing.

The weight was lifted, my heart woke up and could feel again, and my mind cleared.

It was not an intellectual discovery.   I had mentally known this truth for years.

It was a heart transaction–I surrendered emotional ownership of my load, and emotional responsibility for resolving it, to Him.

For many months, I had under a growing conviction that the urgent task of our times was to entrust our loads to Christ, exchange sin’s side effects for the blessings of His righteousness, and thus encounter His love.

And now it was my turn to personally apply this truth to my own soul in an area of life called anger.

So I don’t write this as a moral superior, but as a rescued captive.

Until the American church collectively repents of its Christless anger-bearing and transfers it to Christ, and until we individual Christians do this personally, our religion-fueled anger will eat us alive and destroy our witness.

Though it sounds like a cliche, Christ really is our only solution.

He has already shouldered all the wrongs that others have done to us, every bit as much as He did for all our own wrongs.

He has already carried the wrath these wrongs deserved, leaving no wrath left for us to carry.

And that’s really great news!

Our Anger Problem

Posted in Humble musings on today's culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2014 by jcwill5

We Americans are an angry people.

We’re increasing unable to have civil debates, or even calm discussions, when a subject is near and dear to our hearts.

We are quickly becoming a nation of trolls who flame each other anonymously.

Left and Right are increasingly vehement and vicious.

But society is only made up of individual people.

Our society isn’t angry.   It’s full of angry individuals who are part of collectively angry groups.

In a fallen world of broken systems and of sinful and selfish people, unresolved injustices are the norm.

And injustices which hurt produce anger–especially when they are unresolved injustices.

God gave us anger as a tool to motivate us to remedy unjust situations in constructive ways for the good of all (as He defines and exemplifies the good).

We, however, use anger to force compliance upon the unwilling and to punish those who hurt us or who get in the way of gratifying our passions.

Which inflicts new injustices, which motivates the other person to force our compliance and/or punish us for blocking their passions.

In other words, we are in a negative feedback loop of escalating anger which backfires and which produces more of what we hate.

The religiously angry

My main concern in writing this blog is not the anger which is outside the church, outside the souls of Christians.

My main concern is the anger within us, within the community of saints.

What are we going to do about this socially acceptable and growing sin problem?

I ask this question because it seems to me that being angry about wrongs has almost become a religion in itself.

It is almost like we have a growing subset of saints, fueled by talk radio and by outrage highlighting news shows, who are in a state of perpetual outrage and militant anger.

They see the world going down the drain.

They see their beloved nation turning into the moral opposite of what they fought for and believe.

They see paganism winning and traditional American and family values fading.

They see their grand-kids going to pot–literally.

They see music and styles that symbolize what they are against entering their churches.

And they are furious and are marrying their fury to their faith.

But reactive anger and genuine faith are like oil and water.  

Which is why the Bible says, “The anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.”

The danger here is, because we believe we are right, we are therefore entitled to say anything and do anything to protect and preserve our heritage.

We become one-man punishers, enforcers, and policemen–fueled by unresolved anger and the unholy energy it produces.

We end up doing damage to our own families because angry people are hellish to live with.

We end up doing damage to our own churches because we take it out on each other and use the church as a proxy battle for the cultural war we are losing outside its walls.

And, most importantly, we end up subverting Christ’s cause and denying the faith itself because we are lacking in kindness, devoid of serenity, and unwilling to bear up under injustice for His sake.

In our anger we say and do things that repulse the lost, damage the collective witness of believers, and undermine the credibility of the gospel.

In other words, anger-ruled Christians are helping to harden the lost and are actually accelerating the moral decline because of the backlash their hostility produces in others.

The way home

So what do we do with our justifiable anger?

How can we, blessed with a high sense of morality and justice that’s so easily and so often thwarted, escape the tyrant of perpetual anger?

More on that subject the next time!

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