Time for Civil Disobedience?

Posted in Humble musings on today's culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 8, 2014 by jcwill5

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday declined to hear a case from New Mexico where a photographer was sued and fined over her refusal to take pictures of a gay wedding.

Which means….

Our society is quickly moving from allowing homosexuals to marry to requiring everyone in society to support these marriages–overriding all objections of morality or conscience or free speech.

The last few years we have seen photographers, florists, and other associated with weddings refuse to use their artistry to support these ceremonies, and get sued.

In all cases, the parties were easily able to find an alternative provider to perform these services.

So where does that leave a businessperson, an artist, or anyone else whose conscience tells them it is wrong to be a party to such ceremonies?

It leaves us in the position of suffering for the sake of conscience.

The truth is nobody can force us to violate our conscience.

They can take away our money.   They can take away our property.   They can even take away our lives.

In the case where the laws and courts refuse to provide relief, the individual always has the ability to quietly defy and refuse to be coerced into performing an offending requirement.

And entire groups, as well, can adopt this approach to uphold their conscience and their shared moral views under assault.

What would this look like?

First, those artists and business people of conscience could continue to graciously decline to participate in these ceremonies.  And if sued, refuse to back down.   If fined, refuse to pay.  If jailed, stay there and contribute to massive overcrowding.

Second, many, many more such individuals could be recruited to defy these laws and openly announce their convictions for all the world to see.

Which, of course, will generate far more complaints and suits in far more places.

Then the authorities, being defied,  over-react.

The consequences escalate to the point of ridiculousness and viciousness–exposing the real agenda behind those attempting to force or require compliance.

No matter what they say or do or threaten or require, we just don’t do what they want and keep on not doing it.

And when enough people do that in enough places in spite of all consequences, the system gets overwhelmed and reasonable people start to question if it’s worth all this conflict to require people to violate their conscience.

The key is massive civil disobedience where many share this load–not just an isolated few individuals to bear all the weight of the law.

And if enough people refuse compliance long enough to the point where society gets sick and tired of it, then that’s when laws change and space is created for dissenters of good conscience to live in peace.

The other approach is this:  mass withdrawal and non-participation in the system.

We who believe in truly Christian, Christ-and-the Church modelling, male-female marriages stop registering them at the county clerk on a massive scale.

We still have our church ceremonies, but don’t buy into the newly redefined brand of marriage society is now requiring us to embrace.

We drop out of the system entirely, in other words.

Neither pastors nor participants in our ceremonies obtain marriage licenses, sign them, or file them with the county clerks.

The State finds it impossible to track marriages and know who is married or not, collapsing the system.

Then they come to the negotiating table and work for a settlement.

Here’s the settlement I would propose:

Get the government out of the marriage business entirely!

The government could have a Civil List of people in committed relationships, with various check-boxes to indicate what kind of relationship they are registering.

One of those boxes would be exclusively for people who still believe in the male-female, historic morality, Christian view of marriage.

We self-identify as such, without having to identify ourselves with those who advocate or practice diametrically opposite views as ours.

It allows room in a pagan society for many, many views and types of committed relationships without requiring anyone to identify with any, some, or all of them.

So why not?

The Appalling Treatment of Brendan Eich

Posted in Humble musings on today's culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 4, 2014 by jcwill5

Mozilla, the non-profit corporation behind the popular browser Firefox, recently promoted Brendan Eich to CEO.

Mr. Eich had risen through the ranks, and had both pioneered and produced many features we enjoy today in computing.

He more than amply demonstrated a capacity to work with diverse groups of people, and, by all accounts, had treated everyone with civility, respect, and graciousness.

Then it came to light he had donated $1,000 to the Proposition 8 campaign in 2008.

You’ll recall this initiative sought to preserve the definition of marriage to be that between a man and woman, and that a majority of Californians voted in favor of it.

Several Mozilla board members resigned in protest.  Several app developers publicly said they’d never develop apps for Mozilla.   An online dating service, OK Cupid, began a public campaign to oust him.

And, within a week, this supremely qualified person who both lived well within and promised to uphold a welcoming, diverse corporate culture, had “resigned”.

Sadly, he had asked his opponents for time to demonstrate that he could both hold his personal views and practice corporate and professional tolerance with those who disagreed with him.

But no such decent, civil, fundamental courtesy was extended to him.

Here is some opinion pieces by both the Wall Street Journal and  the New York Times that sum up the controversy:



Which raises some disturbing questions:

Is it now the goal of the gay rights community to purge everyone who disagrees with them about homosexual marriage from all positions of public life, corporate life, etc.?

Is there any room for legitimate disagreement with them?

And if not, what do they propose to do with those like me who will never agree with them?  (Are they going to build a cage and put us all in it?   A concentration camp, perhaps?)

Are those who disagree with them still allowed to hold their views, even privately, without fear of bullying, retribution, and being hounded out of jobs and/or deprived of their livelihood?

Are we going to have thought police in government, schools, and businesses–or neighborhood cadres like they do in Cuba–who monitor our conversations and private views and turn us in for punishment?

Where will it end? 

Even some champions of gay marriage are worried.   Here is what Andrew Sullivan says on The Dish:  http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2014/04/03/the-hounding-of-brendan-eich/

I wish Mr. Eich well, and guess it’s only a matter of time before someone of his exceptional achievements either starts a company of his own or is snatched up by a company that values exceptional achievement over political correctness.

But what we are seeing at work here, folks, is a form of totalitarianism–where one ideology holds supremacy and allows no dissent and requires all fields of society to conform to it–or suffer increasingly vicious consequences.

There is no room for dissent–even in private, in any sphere of life–is such a system.

It requires people to live double-lives– one in public, another in a closely guarded circle.   One must go underground to think and express one’s real views.

But instead of being imposed by a revolution, we have a creeping kind of totalitarianism that is relentlessly pressing and pushing out all dissenters from all positions everywhere.

Under the banner of tolerance, there is exactly none–only bullying hostility instead.

Meanwhile, most of us continue to watch mind-numbing screens full of dancing images and will do absolutely nothing about it.

Unleashed Identity

Posted in Humble musings on today's culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 1, 2014 by jcwill5

If the church is such a force to be reckoned with, such a positive unifying force among people, why don’t we see it living up to its potential?

I supposed some will give economic explanations–rich people oppress the poor.

Others will give sociological explanations–people of certain classes and colors prefer gathering with those who look like them or belong to the same class.

Others will give a political explanation–the church as been co-opted by political parties and movements.

And there’s a grain of truth in all of this.

But I believe the main factor behind our failure is we simple don’t know how to release the God-given good in one another.

We focus on managing the bad.  

So we develop elaborate policies, procedures, programs, and systems designed to contain the bad and keep things on an even-keel.

We make a religious system out of it.

And human religious systems do what all systems do–favor some and disfavor others by creating an identity in some ritual, practice, era, achievement, distinctive belief, or larger-than-life personality.

Then most people put a lot of energy into performing and conforming to the system.    The Person of Christ has little to do with it.

What if, instead, we listened to each others’ life stories for signs of God’s activity and hidden presence, and pointed it out to each other?

What if, when we confessed our sin and failures, we reaffirmed each other’s new identity and reminded each other that we’re still saints?

What if, when we noticed something good of God in another person’s life, we pointed it out to them and encouraged them to run with it and move with it?

What if, instead of being kill-joys and complainers, we were catalytic encouragers that called out of people all the goodness of Christ that Christ put within them?

It’s almost like we enjoy pointing out each other’s sin far more than we enjoy seeing Jesus at work in other people.

It’s almost like we’ve made a competition out of it–with few winners and many losers–instead of a race that everyone–especially the least likely–can win.

It’s almost like we taken all the adventure, unpredictability, and serendipitous surprises out of being new people, and settled for cheap security, deadening predictability, and surprise-free boredom–then called it “church”.

It’s as if we’re in Satan’s POW camp, waiting out the war in a stated of dejected defeat.    Or on KP duty far behind the front lines, spewing bad attitudes at the unfairness of it all but not wanting to fight in the war either.

The truth is, as new people with a new identity, we are behind enemy lines doing missions of significance to prepare the ground for a massive invasion of God.   Like Green Berets of God’s Kingdom.

The risk and the significance are exhilarating and more adventure than we can handle.

Sign me up!

It is pure stupidity that we’ve turn church into such a dull, institutionalized part of the establishment.

And totally unnecessary.    And utterly tragic.

So let’s suit up.   Pack our packs.   Board the airplane.   And jump and hit our targets behind enemy lines.

Let’s start being the Church God meant us to be, and not this toothless, feckless, embarrassing religious game we’ve made it into.

And it begins with speaking life into each other, and releasing the good in each other.

Point out what’s right, and go with it!

Shared Identity

Posted in Humble musings on today's culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2014 by jcwill5

God not only gives individuals a new identity.

He creates a new group composed of all those who share in this new identity–open to all races, genders, nationalities, cultures, and languages.

It’s actually a new race of people, a brand new and different kind of humanity.

The earliest members no longer thought of themselves as Jews or Greeks or Romans–they called themselves the “third race”.

A group composed of all races yet a member of none of them.    A group from all tribes and people yet no longer defined by any one of them.

A group from all classes and all strata of society–yet defined by none of them.

They care for, love, and welcome into their ranks anyone from any group, but they themselves belong to no group.

The especially care for those rejected by the current world order, neglected by the present state of things, and who receive the short end of the stick under “the system”.

They live under governments and belong to specific nations, but owe their ultimate allegiance to none of the above.

They are under the Ultimate Monarch in an everlasting Kingdom not of this present world order.

They are citizens of a perfect Nation that is yet to come.

So who is this group of people, you ask?

Are you ready for this?

They are…

The Church.

What?!   Those people?!   What you’re describing is nothing like those people?!

Maybe not in the hyper-affluent, secularized and co-opted United States.     But in most places in this world–the Third World–they are exactly that.

And when they aren’t–it’s because representatives from the West failed to see them and themselves as part of a third race.

Strangely enough, even though they are a threat to nobody, regimes everywhere see them as a grave, existential threat to their power–from the Romans down to the Communist Chinese.

The reason is this:   they give their ultimate allegiance to no state or empire or nation and are under the control of Another, far more supreme Power.

When push comes to shove, they obey Him instead of them.

So all control-obsessed governments view this new identity with alarm.

Because, strangely enough again, people who are freed from all earthly identities are the most free on earth.    Free to speak their minds.  Free to tell the truth and live differently and better.   Free to cherish and help those the regime despises and scapegoats.

They are free also to die without fear, having a far better country to go to afterwards.

So the regimes can neither bribe them nor threaten them into conformity–driving them nuts and working them up into a frenzy of persecution.

I say all this because, yes, there is a high price under the present world order for receiving a new identity and gathering together to share this identity with others who share it.

The church is terribly subversive, in other words.

The grace of God is a corrosive acid that elevates the lowly and humbles the arrogant–equalizing all in the presence of God.

It dissolves all man-centered, artificial distinctions we make and build identities upon.   Which causes some to do cartwheels of frustration and rampage against us.

Which is why many isolate and are afraid to openly identify with others sharing the new identity.

Next time I hope to highlight how catalytic our new identity can be, and how we can stir it up within each other when ever we gather.

Identity Recovery

Posted in Humble musings on today's culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 25, 2014 by jcwill5

The paradox of our times is this:   the very things we most often build our identities upon are things we end up losing ourselves to.

Nationalism and racism and liberalism and conservatism and every other “ism” under the sun is an idolatry.

We each make an idol out of something good, and, like all idols, it demands more and more from us while giving us less and less.

Until it demands everything and gives nothing in return.

But all “isms” and idols have another, even darker impact:  they warp us.

We become like whatever we worship.

Those who worship alcohol, for example, become alcoholics and, as such, their emotions, vocations, positions, and relationships get warped and bent and eventually break and die.

The same thing happens to those who worship power, or sex, or material goods, or their own culture, or a cherished activity.

Sooner or later, they grow more and more warped by it.

Instead of becoming more like their true selves, they become this distorted, bloated, foul caricature of their selves, conformed to the idol’s image.

Therefore, we desperately need to recover our true, true-God-given identity.

We need to let the right Person and only the right Person–who is infinitely good and supremely excellent–be our object of worship and our character transformer.

So we come to Him powerless.

We admit to ourselves, to Him, and to at least one other that we are enslaved to whatever “ism” or idol we had previously chosen.

We confess we are warped beyond all recognition and unable to extricate ourselves from the tar pit of enslavement we are in.

So we quit.   We throw in the management towel.   We resign our self-god position.   We fire ourselves.

We stop playing all those little control games we play.   We renounce all those little survival techniques we use to get what we want out of God or others or our selves.

We literally come naked and exposed–like a hermit crab coming out of its shell–utterly vulnerable.

The next step is mysterious kind of coming to believe. 

We come to believe there is a God, infinitely above, beyond, and outside of us, who can restore us to sanity and liberate us from bondage.

We don’t define God or stand over Him.    We don’t make Him in our image and design Him to suit our preferences.   We don’t put Him in our box and prepackage Him.

He is above us, free of us, and unbound to us–totally outside of our control and at whose mercy we are.

He is infinitely pure and unsoiled and is justice personified–He literally is the Standard by which all of us are judged.

Yet He is also concerned for us, loves us, and is seeking us out as well.   We would not be calling out to Him if He were not summoning us for mercy.

This is where Jesus–the God who came down and lived among us and took all our bentness and foulness and evil upon Himself–comes into the picture.

The key in my life was to stop letting other people define God or do Jesus’ speaking for Him, and let Him speak for Himself.   So I read and read and read the gospels.

I happily found in Christ a far different, far better picture of who God really is.    This is a Person to whom we can utterly entrust our selves.

So the third step is entrusting ourselves to Him.

We turn our life and our will over to Him.

He takes over the management of our lives, and gives us an extreme make-over from the inside out.

The old person we used to be has died and been buried.    A new person we were always meant to be is born.

We literally become His and find our life in Him alone.

As a result of this transaction, we experience a spiritual awakening.   And everything else flows out of this new state.

The sin-monster is deposed and shunted aside–still able to do mischief and very much eager to entice back into its sway through lies and plan old-fashioned rebellion.

But we ourselves are new.

And there is no need to ever look back and vastly, unspeakably good things to look forwards to for all eternity!

Identity Surgery

Posted in Humble musings on today's culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 21, 2014 by jcwill5

There are literally millions of ways to lose our identity.

And there is one way to recover it:  remembering whose you are and therefore who you are.

I say this because the central debate of our times is a debate over identity.

Are we self-made or do we have a Maker?    Are we a purposeless accident of chance, or created with the definite purpose to find joy and identity in our Creator?

The self-made camp defines themselves.  

The “Great I” is over everything and everyone else.    The “supreme self” governs the universe and is “over all”, picking and choosing from worthy candidates to condescend to “identify itself” with or not with.

Two problems immediate arise:    what if there’s 7 billion “supreme selves” out there vying for primacy and supremacy?    How does one handle the pressure of running the Universe, even a private universe?

Whoever has the throne, has all the pressure!  And whoever has the throne, must always watch their back!

The impossible pressure of making life work–all circumstances and events.

The impossible pressure of dealing with all the other willful wills who are trying to force us into cooperating with their plans for us to fit into their universe.

What a mess!   What a miserable position to find one’s self in!

The “I belong to nobody and “I am my own god” mandate collides with “I can’t control another person” and “I can’t control any events” reality.

The result is heaps of conflict, and bucket loads of pain.

Being over everything, occupying the highest heights, simply doesn’t work.  All we do is set ourselves up for a precipitous fall and a smashing, shattering collision with the ground.

The Alternative

The other option is to face the fact that we are “under” Someone vastly greater and higher than we are.    Someone to whom we owe allegiance.   Someone to whom we are responsible and answerable.

This Someone has all the rights of Creator and Maker.   Like any Artist, they have “creative control” over all their handiwork.

And therefore, getting to the point, Someone in whom our true identity can be recovered and found.

We are His.   And it is His will that we receive Him as ours.

The fact is Pascal was right–we really do have a God-shaped hole inside of us, a vacuum trying to suck meaning and completion and identity out of events and other people.

But it’s more like a black hole–an insatiable void that would (if it could) suck in the entire universe and all others and still not be satisfied.

The problem is we have a bloated ego, a grandiose and sinful play-god, a corrupting monster who is a born rebel, a born competitor to God, and a born generator of evil thoughts, attitudes, words, and deeds.

We not only need to find our true identity, but we need an outside power to intervene and overthrow the willful, fist-shaking monster within us.

We need a total change of management.    We need a complete regime change.

But we can’t manufacture this change or concoct a plan strong enough to pull it off.

Forsaking our ego-monster’s chosen, false identity is like losing the only friend we thing we’ve ever had and the only thing that brings order to our chaotic lives.

It’s a shocking cure that calls for a terrifying level of vulnerability.

There is one thing that scares us above all other things–to entrust ourselves into the care of Another and take ourselves out of our own care.

The path to a new, God-given identity involves a “throw all caution to the wind” level of trust.

It involves recognizing we have no control and are powerless.

It is allowing God to love us where we are most afraid to be loved and therefore most resistant to losing control.    It rightfully can be compared to a dying process.

All we can do is remain on the operating table where He put us and allow Him to perform heart transplant surgery.

Next time I will attempt to answer, “What does this new God-given identity look like?  How can I tell if it’s happened?”

The Identity Theft of Losing Ourselves

Posted in Humble musings on today's culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 18, 2014 by jcwill5

I’ve been thinking a lot about identity.

What do we build our identities upon?   Is there such a thing as a false identity?   Where does one find one’s true identity?  How how do we maintain our true identity and not lose it again?

Let’s take the first two questions.

Human beings can build their identity upon everything and anything!

Some build their identity upon their race.  

They define themselves by the color of their skin, or by being of the “right” skin color and not the “wrong” skin color.  Racism, in other words.

Think how much of our national history is centered on racial identities, or, better,  a clash of racial identities, stemming from 350 years of slavery.

Some build their identity upon their ethnicity and their tribal membership. 

They cherish their own group and look askance at all other tribes and groups.   “Our ways are best and right” is their creed.    All others are outsiders and bad.  Ethnocentrism and tribalism, in other words.

A subset of this is cultural identity.    Our place’s way of doing things and how we view life, in contrast to all others.

Defending one’s own culture is not just about good taste, it’s about maintaining a sense of unique personhood.  Just ask the French, which are resisting the influx of English words and phrases.  Culturalism, in other words.

Still others build an identity around their nationality.  

Being a member of a certain nation, and often, not being a member of another nation, drives their sense of personhood and purpose.  This is often why nations next to each other on the map are often scenes of colliding national identities.   Nationalism, in other words.

Much of what has destroyed Europe over the past century, and much of what is driving the Russians and Ukrainians, is driven by a wounded sense of national identity.

Some build their identities upon gender.    

Macho-ism and ultra-feminism are two of the more extreme expressions of those who craft an identity of being male or female, or, better not being male or female.   Or even being anti-male or anti-female.   Genderism, in other words.

Some build their identity upon their sexuality.

Sex isn’t just a behavior that they practice, it becomes what they build their whole life upon and what they demand the world recognize as most essential to who they are.    Heterosexism and Homosexualism would be placed here.

Some build their identity upon politics.   

They don’t just prefer to be conservative or liberal, they ARE conservative or liberal.

All of life is seen through the lens of furthering and protecting this political identity and thwarting the other side’s all-encompassing vision to remake society into a conservative or liberal world with no room left for their opponents..

This is more than just preference–it is a totalitarian, identity-driven ideology that claims the center of a person’s being and works to bring everything into conformity with it.

And that is the biggest clue, is it not, that we are building our identity upon something false.

Whatever that “ism”  is, it claims all of us down to the center of our being.

Whatever it is, it tries to shape the entire universe to protect itself from the opposite and aggressively seeks to bring everything into conformity to it.

In other words, whatever we claim our religion might be, the truth is this:    whatever we build our identity upon is what we really worship.

It’s what we fight for and die for.  It’s what we cheer for and jeer against.

It’s what can be most threatened if taken away, and most satisfied when it prevails.  It’s what we live for and seek to convert others.

We have let “it” define us.

Whether it’s a certain music or a favorite sports team, an addiction or an hobby, a disability or a super-ability, people build their identities upon such things.

When their team loses or their favorite band breaks up or the supply is cut off or an injury happens, their world is undone!

And being undone is another clue that we have lost ourselves to  human-chosen or human-born identities.     And why so much damage is caused by false identities such as these.

The truth is this:    anything less than the infinite God is unworthy of our worship, and if we build our sole identity upon anything self-centered and human, it will ultimate destroy us in the end.

Who are you?  Who are you really?   Who are you at the center?  What’s left when all on earth is lost?

We think we’re arguing about politics and morals and culture and world affairs when what we’re really arguing about identity.

Identity is the defining issue of our times!


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