Posts Tagged With: politics

Why I’m Not Voting

In next week’s election, I do not plan on voting for any federal or New York State officials, obviously including President of the United States of America. I have been asked by a friend to explain my choice. To my best understanding, the reason he is asking me to explain is because traditionally we conservative evangelical types see voting as a civic duty. We have learned from when we were wee lads and lasses that voting in democratic elections is a near-sacred duty, wrapped in all the somberness and ritual of a religious sacrament.

And therein is my first issue with voting for federal and state office holders. As a Christian, my primary citizenship is in heaven, where Christ is. He is preparing the New Jerusalem—the eternal city of God—and He will bring that consummate kingdom upon His appearance and judgment of the living and the dead. You’ll notice I said “primary” citizenship, and that’s because of course we are also citizens of the nations on earth as we live here. In simple terms, Christians are dual citizens, and we have duties in each realm. And what is our most important duty in the civil realm of this age? It is to be salt and light—to stand out. We are to be a different, holy people, and we are to be the fragrance of Christ everywhere we go, and in all we do.

What am I getting at? Only that in all areas of our lives, we are to show our pagan and post-Christian neighbors that we have a better hope, a higher kingdom, and accordingly, a fearless posture toward the evil in this world. Now of course none of us does any of this perfectly, which is why we keep returning to the church gathering each week where we hear of our sin, the forgiveness we have received, and the promises of the age to come. We are often fearful, though our Lord commands “fear not.” We are often mired in the same idols as the Gentiles, though our Lord commands “come out from them and touch not the unclean thing.” I think many wonderful Christian people in America have succumbed to the fear of man, namely, the liberal and Progressive man, and are placing their hope in democratic elections as a temporal salvation. In a narrow sense it is true that good civil policy saves us from lawless men, so I understand the need for the State in our present world; however, I think the manner in which our politics have become all encompassing and overwhelming shows the idolatrous fear and rage intrinsic to this present system.

Today we can and should repent, re-form the line if you will, and face the world as a fearless, holy people.

And I believe abstaining from the vote is one of the more powerful means to do so right now. nopeAsk yourself what drives 90+% of the voting in federal and state elections today. You know what it is: fear. And not only fear, but jealousy, rage, insecurity, and tribalism/racialism (in all directions). Why are Christians blending in with this portrait of ungodliness? I’ll tell you what I think—I believe we’re in a rut of tradition that we can’t see from above. We think voting always helps secure liberty and justice for all.

We think it’s our sacred duty to cast our ballot because men shed their blood to give us this right. We think we owe it to the brave guys who charged the machine gun nests on Normandy’s beach, we think the 58,000+ who never returned from Vietnam cry out “go! Go to the voting booth and vote! We died in a jungle ditch so you could do so!”

We think we must make our voices heard.

And on that last point, I fully agree. We must make our Christian, fearless, faithful voices heard to those in power, and I propose our message be something like this:

We are not your slaves, and we are not afraid of you. Do what you will to us, but we will serve the Lord Jesus Christ, promote His kingdom, and speak out against your ungodly policies. We will no longer be complicit in propping up this sham democracy.

This nation is captured by an oligarchy of lifetime politicians, corporate pirates, and usurious thieves on Wall Street, and voting has only distracted us from your injustices, as if we ever had a chance in a rigged game. We are tired of having our income stolen to propagate antichrist doctrines in the schools, violence in the womb, violence throughout the world in conflicts that are unjust and unnecessary, and general economic discord domestically.

We protest the system of credit and debt that is forced upon us, we protest the postmodern worldview of our leaders, and we refuse to participate in a system that fingers the wind in making law. Our vote will not save the United States of America, only mass waves of confession and repentance in the churches will begin to turn the tide of evil in this land.

We now turn to our families and to our churches to each show the way of confession and repentance, and to take responsibility for all the injustices that we have allowed in our name, and worse, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe that to any longer participate in this democracy is to betray our profession of faith in the One who is able to protect, provide for, and to keep His people while in the valley of the shadow of death during this evil age. We will submit to the authorities as He has commanded, but we will no longer sign our names to the vile means and aims at work in the places of power.

Justifying this View

First, the old Christian republic has long since passed away, and the Enlightenment constitutional republic that replaced it is also long dead. We have been living in a straight-out democracy for a long time; we are at the mercy of the majority of voters, and the rule of law is a mere phrase in the imaginations of optimistic, flag-waving patriots. Ever since Lincoln denied the South the right to secede, we’ve all been living in a post-constitutional democracy, now fatally compounded by 1,001 unjust decisions by the Supreme Court and Congress.

Second, what is left of law and order in this society is rapidly being folded into the tyranny of a man-centered foundation for law and justice. From the time merchants began arriving on the heels of the first Puritan pilgrims, the law of man (unjust and ghastly in any society) has been warring with the law of God for the central place in American law. We have always been a flawed, inconsistent nation whose lust for happiness has led to countless crimes against God and man (think chattel slavery); yet there has also been a remnant of the Christian instinct to hold our society to the standards and mores of the Scriptures. Now in 2016, this instinct has been suppressed and defaced to the point of utter mockery—we have pretty much fully embraced a culture of corruption, radical subjectivism, and self-serving. Sure, there’s a remnant of Christian and civil people who wish no harm to their neighbor, but we’re outnumbered, and we have almost zero representation in the halls of power.

Even where decent men and women inhabit an office or two somewhere in Washington DC, the system as a whole is oriented toward injustice at every level. There is no saving it. There is no political solution left in these United States. Let’s read that again. There is no political solution left in this nation, or in our individual states. We have been given over to the full measure of our wishes, to have the riches and blessings of freedom and liberty become the slaves of our lusts and evil desires. The only outcome possible for such a people is total slavery and war.

And so let’s talk about what it means for a Christian to vote in 2016. When we vote for federal and state officials, we are explicitly stating with that vote:

–          I believe that participation in this democracy will somehow promote justice and equity under law.

–          I believe that choosing new individuals to occupy these specific federal/state offices will create better representation for me, my family, and my clan of people.

–          I believe that by my vote I am securing my right to redress of grievances, representation in legislation, and financial entitlements.

–          I believe that without my vote I am somehow made responsible for the injustices of the tyrannous majority.

–          I believe that voting pleases my Lord.

And I do not agree with any of these points. I hesitate to attempt to fully bind other Christians’ consciences with this same conviction, so I will simply state how I see things, and allow the Holy Spirit to work in you as He does in me.

We are Samson with his eyes scooped out, pushing the Philistine grinding wheel. We have been with the Philistine prostitutes, and our Christian souls have clung to them under the sheets of comfort, entertainment, career, prestige, cultural acceptance, and academic clout. We have been fooled—we have been fools. In this last hour of the American experiment in democracy, I would wish for us to press the pillars of the Philistine temple, to bring down the weight of this corrupt nation upon its head… but unlike with Samson, I am not wishing for the death of our enemies, but only for the end of their sin against our holy God. The only way this world will see its sin is for the church to be the church, and that will require a great cost be paid by us, as it was by Samson in his last act.

If all true Christians in America quit voting, within a short while we would be standing in the place of greatest influence of all people, even while the roof of prosperity and comfort was falling on our own heads. The voting booth is a substitute for Christian courage in this day of moral anarchy.

If I am wrong in my framing of the issue, you are welcome to bring a loving rebuke in the comment section.

In Christian charity,

Adam

 

Categories: Interpreting Christian Hypocrisy, Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Reading is Boring and We’re All Gonna Die

Mark Twain

“Classic’ – a book which people praise and don’t read.”
― Mark Twain

If you don’t think reading is one of the top five most important things a human being can do in this life, you’re thinking is wrong. Reading grants more power for human flourishing than anything else. It is the glue of a healthy society. The fact that today we have more books than ever, and perhaps a lower interest in reading than ever in modern society… tells me we’re all gonna die soon.

Now, I know that there are hundreds of things that we all have to do which get in the way of sitting down to read, but if we all don’t begin to read well, read deep, and read long, we’re all gonna die soon.

James Baldwin

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.”
― James Baldwin
Of course, there’s the audio book these days – just hit a button and go – you’re reading. No. Stop counting it as reading. Open a book and read it. I’m sure we all have a long list of books we intend to read, but then there’s Netflix. Downtown Abbey. Walking Dead. Movies. Porn. Everything we need in visual form. Everything a dying, distracted, emaciated, emasculated culture needs, anyways. Gonna die soon.
Joseph Brodsky

“There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.”
― Joseph Brodsky
How might a power-hungry elite, hell-bent on devouring the most productive, educated, intellectually rich, innovative nation in human history go about cracking the people right down the middle? Move them away from books. Teach facts and memorization, and move them away from critical thinking. Tell them they are beautiful, wonderful, and attractive… just stay away from all those boring old books. Steal the minds of the young by training them in entertainment learning. Forget reading Tacitus, just watch Gladiator. Russell Crowe and all. Forget reading the Bible. Don’t want to be a bigoted caveman. Greatest book in human history and all. Forget studying real science and history. Get laid. Drink a lot. Smoke a bong, maaaaaan. Comic books. Halo. Movies. Getting ready for the slaughter, we are.
Ray Bradbury

“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”
― Ray Bradbury
After the next big political speech, ask a neighbor how the politician looked and performed. They’ll be more likely to remember that than what was actually said. Critical thinking. Who knew? We’ve all been fooled by comfort, luxury, and leisure into thinking that reading and critical thinking is for weird people. Paranoid people. People who don’t have any life. Too many times I’ve watched leaders (pastors in many cases) brag that they are just as stupid as the next guy.
In other words, don’t worry (wink, nudge), I’m just like you. You can trust me that I didn’t get my head all fulled up with ideas. No no. I’m ready and willing to party right along with you all. We’re here for comfort, we’re here for fun. Everything will be just fine, if you’ll just stop talking about things that make me have to think. If you don’t stop, we will not be friends. 
Gustave Flaubert

“Do not read, as children do, to amuse yourself, or like the ambitious, for the purpose of instruction. No, read in order to live.”
― Gustave Flaubert
Read for life. Read to live. Read to give life to others. Read to grow. Read to survive. Read, because soon we’re all gonna die if you don’t.
Thanks for reading,
Charles William Eliot

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”
― Charles William Eliot
-Justin
P.S. I write because I love.
Categories: The Arts, Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Israel and Gaza at War

Three years ago I had the privilege of visiting Israel and the West Bank.

It is a fantastic land full of the world’s most important history, and having visited I will never be the same. As an American Christian, I also must say I will never understand the mindset of the Jews and Muslims in the land of Israel.To be clear, I believe Israel has the right of a nation to defend her citizens against legitimate threats. Rocket attacks from nearby is a legitimate threat.

I have been following the Twitter account of the Israeli Defense Forces, and they make it out to be like they are on a humanitarian mission in the dropping of bombs all over Gaza City – and in their minds they may be. The Palestinians don’t see it that way. If Hamas truly is hiding their weapons and personnel nearby schools, hospitals, and residences, then they are bringing the carnage upon their own people. Knowing a little about the mindset of Islam, there is little value placed on human life in comparison with the urgency of Jihad.

So what is to be our worldview conclusion as we watch this war?

Probably sympathy and grieving for both sides, but for slightly different reasons. We are to sympathize and pray for Israel in their spiritual darkness. They missed their Messiah now almost 20 centuries ago. They need to be grafted back into the tree of Abraham and the blessings of covenant with God. In their land today, they are surrounded by enemies and have nothing except military might. They need the good news of the risen Messiah! Pray for our Israeli friends (both Jew and Arab).

For the Arabs, it’s got to be a hellish life in the Gaza Strip. It is poor, isolated, and infested with terrorists. The population there is at the mercy of a big, angry military in Israel, and a small, crazy band of terrorists within them. There is a sizable Christian community within the borders of Gaza as well – they need our prayers and love. Who are we to condemn these fellow humans in any way? I am rarely more ashamed of American evangelicals than when I hear ignorant war talk about beating down and/or wiping out the Palestinians. Have the heart of Christ, friends, and pray for both sides.

Both people groups are made in God’s image; the lost Muslims in Gaza who are dying and entering God’s presence without a mediator, and the lost Jews who are lording their military might in paranoid fits – as is understandable in light of the, you know, whole thing 70 years ago in Europe where 6 million of them were murdered… but neither side is “on God’s side” here, friends. There is only a broken, cursed human order of nations which cries out for redemption.

For every people group, there is only one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus, and there is only one hope for all of war-impoverished humanity: the gospel of Jesus Christ.

And by the way, for Christians there is only one concern in any turmoil between nations: that the gospel and glory of Jesus Christ be made known. Rooting for Israel to flatten and destroy the Palestinians is the quickest way to dishonor and conceal the glory and gospel of Christ. I hope each of Christ’s sheep is praying for the peace and redemption of all people in this conflict.

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

Categories: Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Ron Paul’s Farewell Speech: A Serious Warning

Dr. Ron Paul is retiring from the U.S. Congress after a career spanning 36 years. The unique thing about him is that he didn’t become a power-mad, money-hungry monster of a human being – and to his last days in government is issuing a clarion call to us, the people, that we are losing our country. Whether or not you agree with the man’s policies, you have to respect his honesty and lifetime of faithful service to the country. Watch this speech. The whole thing. With family. Possibly twice or five times. Understand what he’s saying. Start facing what has happened to our nation, and be ready for big changes. The coming decades will be a time of strong testing for the American nation, and for those of us who are concerned with interpreting the cosmos; having a worldview which reflects truth… we cannot pretend these things are not happening. We must pray to the Lord of the universe, we’ve got to seek Him and ask His forgiveness…. It’s time to be brave and to speak boldly in the public square for truth and justice.

May God help us.

 

Thanks for visiting,

-Justin

Categories: Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Government in the Image of the People

Bob Lonsberry WHAM 1180

Local Rochester radio talk show host Bob Lonsberry recently hung up on me on air when I suggested that Americans get the government they deserve. Bob is a professing far-right wing Republican, the kind with more kids than rooms in his house, more guns than kids, more gallons of gas in his SUV than guns, and more opinions than gallons of gas in his SUV (all in a good way). He lives in the All-American town of Mount Morris, NY, where the climate is noticeably conservative, familial, and country. So when I got on his radio show and added my two-cents about bad government, I thought I would have a new friend and ally. Bob and I share a love for fairly strict constitutionalism, as well as having strong personal faith (albeit in different faiths – evangelical and Mormon). He’s usually cool with me – we’ve even had some friendly conversation at the annual Wellsville Ridgewalk… So, why did my friend Bob end my call?

I’ll tell you what – it wasn’t a problem with philosophy of government, it was the fact that Bob believes people are basically good, and deserve good. I believe, as per the Bible, that people are basically evil, and deserve evil.

The idea that the American government has become tyrannical and corrupt in response to the corruptions and license in the hearts of the people was enough to have the good Captain Lonsberry throw me overboard.

Government of the People, Right?

Wasn’t it the Founder’s intention to give us a representative government? A government which would be of the People, for the People, and by the People? In my opinion, we have today in Washington DC and the State capitals a fairly close reflection of the governed. True, the politicians tend to be wealthier than the average citizen, but I am talking morally and ethically reflective. The American form of government creates a unique type of ruling class, “made in the image” of the people, if you will.

Not everyone, of course, is living in unrestrained debauchery as there are many noble Americans out here who work hard, love their families, accept responsibility, and fight for justice… but there are people like that in the government too. The issue is that both in the citizenry and in the government it is a small minority which truly tries to live out the best of America’s values and even less who are following and obeying Christ.

I (Sob) Love New York

For us who live in New York State, there could not be a more deserving people for the government we have in Albany. Everyone from Australia to the North Pole knows that the NYS government is the most corrupt and inefficient band of crooks there is, yet every November New Yorkers go to the polls and vote the same people in over and over and over.

Ummm… Please don’t ask me that.

Just take a glance at the photographs of any random legislator in Albany – it’s like they have “guilty” written all over their faces. They know they are criminals and derelicts, but they are getting paid well to do it with very little chance of consequences.

But the point here is not to bash our government – I only hope to point to the correlation here. Look at what the Word of God says in a Proverbs 28:2 warning:

When a land transgresses, it has many rulers, but with a man of understanding and knowledge, its stability will long continue.”

Do you see the order? When the people are wicked, the government grows. Bad people, bad government. This is my attempt at a rebuke to the militant political wing of American Christianity. Stop focusing on the government as the disease. The enormous, foolish, wicked bureaucracy that rules America is a response to the unfettered sinfulness of her people. If the churches would perhaps stop entertaining themselves to death, stop trying to be “relevant,” stop trying to fit in and impress the culture – and return to the bare naked old gospel proclamation, return to the simplicity of Christ crucified, buried, resurrected, and soon to appear in glory, and return to our commission to make disciples… then maybe we would over a very long time begin to turn the tide on what has happened to our once great nation.

We otherwise continue to rail against the symptoms of the disease, i.e. Big Brother, and look away from the bacterial infection in the hearts and homes of the people. That way of thinking will wipe the snot off the nose and let the national body continue to die her slow, grotesque death.

For Bob, I’m sorry to say, the hope and belief that there is some inherent goodness in the American people is an empty hope – the goodness and light and peace this wonderful country has had is all, I repeat, all due to the grace and to the glory of God Almighty.

Thanks for reading,

-Adam

Categories: Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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