So, at last week’s Grace Agenda, we concluded the event with a giant Block Party. The evening was fabulous, just like last year, and one of the crowning blessings for us this time around was that our goings-on were surveilled by the FBI. It is a dangerous world out there, and when people start singing psalms on the street, and handing out free tri-tip, it is nice to know that the Feds are on it.
But Seriously . . .
There are a few good things about the times we are living in, and one of them is that the regime has been forced into acting more like a regime. I mean, when you use federal law enforcement to raid your principal political opponent’s home, in order to kneecap any possible presidential run that might challenge you and your cronies, one searches around for a suitable thing to call it, and everything we can think of rhymes with topallitarian.
First they were the deep state that nobody knew about. Then they were the deep state that people starting talking about, having put some key pieces together. And now, here we are, with the deep state right there on the surface, like a dead mackerel washed up on the beach. And it hasn’t been that long yet, but it is already starting to stink.
But if it is right there on the surface of the beach, why can’t some people see it yet?
In a recent fascinating book, The Psychology of Totalitarianism, written by Matthias Desmet, he describes the prerequisites of mass formation, and he does a really good job with it. I don’t buy his epistemology, or his solutions, or his postmodern uncertainties, but he does a superb job describing how the global population is currently being “worked.” We see deep loneliness everywhere, a result of the disintegration of true communities. All of us now live in clouds of free-floating anxiety, where people don’t know what exactly is wrong, except for everything. Everything is wrong. When a population consists of such isolated, atomistic individuals, all of them worried about the nebulous threat, it is entirely predictable what will happen when a threat is finally identified and named. This time it was a VIRUS, and the result was that the entire global village went nuts, and descended into a warp spasm of irrationality.
Now when in the grip of this kind of irrationality, which runs from the lone bicyclist out in the sunshine of the countryside wearing a mask, up to the highest echelons of the medical establishment issuing contradictory edicts, it is not really possible to have a discussion about the evidence. Any attempt to have a discussion about the evidence will be taken as a clear sign that you want to kill grandma, and you clearly need to have your posting privileges revoked.
This level of panic and fear justifies, in their minds, an absolute need for censorship, along with the demand that we gladly accept the loss of our privacy, and the following demand that we, for the good of our neighbors, surrender our freedoms. In such a time, the totalitarian moment has arrived. We are currently in that moment, and a widespread refusal to acknowledge the obvious is one of the more obvious traits of that moment. Deny it all you want to, there really is a cabal of globalist elites in the middle of a gargantuan power grab, and they want the power to control everything that you are allowed to say. Their counterclaim, of course, is that for you to say so is outrageous, and that you ought not to be allowed to say it.
And, of course, we also need to recognize that those who refuse to accept this official narrative are also susceptible to mass formation delusions of their own, albeit on a much smaller scale. This is where the screwball conspiracy theories come from. For the establishment, such folks provide the very useful function of making every dissenter look like an idiot—connecting all the obvious dots to various non-existent dots. One almost suspects that Alex Jones is on their payroll. Hmmmm? What if absolutely everybody is the controlled opposition? Except for me of course.
This kind of mass formation is a true contagion, resulting in a high fever for society. This high fever will either kill the patient, or the fever will break. Either way, these times of delusion are going to be over at some point in the near future. When that happens, ordinary politics will still be with us, and so there will be a scramble for the good words, and many political leaders who led the way in promoting panic porn will have to pretend to have been virus-deniers from the very first. For most, those who were craven, that will be a hard sell but they will still attempt it. For others, for those who were actually courageous, they can just tell the truth. They can just point to what they did.
But Back to Our FBI Guy
These principles do not just apply to governors of various states, or to media pundits, or to authors of penetrating books. They also apply to churches and Christian organizations. And let us be frank. When the societal conditions for mass formation took shape, most Christians did not belong to organizations that had any kind of immune system. They just went along.
They were not being good citizens, driving on the right side of the road like everybody else. Rather, they were simply cattle, herded into their pens at the stockyards, where they could quietly muse on what they imagined Romans 13 was about. But it isn’t that. It is not about waiting quietly for the slaughterhouse.
We had a Block Party, and thousands came to it. We sang psalms, we heard good music, there was a lot of free food, and there was dancing. Not only was there dancing, there was dancing in the street. And the FBI thought that it represented a potential danger. They needed somebody to keep an eye on it. And you know what? I don’t blame them because as far as their way of doing business is concerned, it really is a danger. The only answer to their totalitolerance (with regard to social relations) and their totaliterrorism (with regard to viral infections and climate change) is for good people to have a good time, and to do it coram Deo.
The early Christians were killed because they were a threat to the regime. It doesn’t count if you are killed because you were taking up space, increasing your carbon footprint by breathing out through your noses at Big Eva conferences. And so credibility doesn’t come from writing balanced and winsome articles. Credibility doesn’t come from quietly cooperating with totalitarian moves. Credibility doesn’t come from being unable to notice totalitarian moves. No, credibility comes from speaking prophetically—which means speaking against the wolves who are harassing the sheep. Harassing the sheep yourself is not what it means to be prophetic. Credibility comes from having your people arrested at one of your psalm sings. Credibility comes from having the FBI surveil your church potlucks. Credibility comes from speaking against Ahab for stealing Naboth’s vineyard. It does not arise from a long think piece that wonders whether Naboth was perhaps guilty of some heart-idolatry in that her perhaps cared too much about that vineyard.
In short, let me borrow and repurpose a great title from a Von Balthasar book—Love Alone is Credible.
A few years ago, a man from California came to a wedding here in Moscow, coming for a relative’s wedding. As he watched the festivities at the reception, his comment was really poignant. He said, “I didn’t know that this America still existed.” It still does, it really does. But it cannot continue to exist on the basis of inertia alone. It will not continue to exist unless Americans turn back to Christ. America is in desperate need of salvation, which ought to be pretty obvious by now, and it is not possible to have that salvation without calling upon the Savior.
And this is why the FBI was there, watching our church celebration. They were watching it carefully because Christ was there.
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