It’s Thanksgiving Day here in the US and I’m already full; I woke up full.
Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” So the disciples began to say to one another, “No one brought him anything to eat, did they?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to complete his work. Don’t you say, ‘There are four more months and then comes the harvest?’ I tell you, look up and see that the fields are already white for harvest!” (John 4:31-35 NET)
Missing a meal won’t hurt your body much. Despite my enthusiasm for food, even I manage to lose track now and then and miss a meal. We who are spiritually aware operate on multiple levels simultaneously. The body has its own chatter, as does the reasoning mind. But then there’s the moral considerations of the heart along with the ineffable moves of the Spirit in our spirits. Each of those is theoretically separate faculties, but the mind can have a tough time figuring out which is which and struggles to organize a meaningful response.
I went through US Army Basic Training twice. It’s a long story, but during that second episode, one of the few intelligent instructors said something about watching your bunkmate climb inside his locker and shutting the door. It’s more than needing time alone; it’s the necessity of processing things. Basic Training is meant to churn out thousands of minimally conditioned folks in the shortest possible amount of time. It’s supposed to be cost effective, but the failure rate is atrociously high. Not in terms of wash-outs, but it’s more a problem with those passed through who never actually adapted. The Army is a place where the few normal people can excel or go nuts, and often both. Too many people have no idea how to process reality, so they keep dumping huge amounts back at us regular folks who do process.
Jesus went often into the wilderness areas for prayer and contemplation. Near as we can figure, His ministry ran about three years. His work seemed more days in solitude or alone with His select few associates, punctuated with brief periods of hectic activity among the masses. A critical element in His work, particularly the miracles, was restoring divine moral justice. That is, He put things back where they should have been if only Israel had obeyed the Covenant. The blessings of covenant obedience included reasonable levels of prosperity, security and health, but most important was social stability. Those were summed up in the word shalom. Jesus put some shalom back into the lives of the people who didn’t have the power to influence the bad leadership of religion and government. Those people suffered from the curse of others’ disobedience.
We note the Gospel writers often mention in parabolic language how Jesus felt compassion for the sheep of Israel. In moral terms, they were scattered by evil shepherds who refused to shepherd them.
In our virtual world, it can be much the same. On FB, some of my friends are like bleating sheep. They are obviously concerned about a lot of things, scampering from one threat to another, so they don’t feed on grace and don’t drink from the Spirit. It’s really hard to project a shepherd’s presence in the virtual atmosphere, yet people tell me they can sense it. So while some of my FB friends post tons of distracting shit, I try to be a lot more selective. I’m trying to restore some peace and open their minds to the other faculties God gave us for handling this world.
Most of the time I don’t react to the noise. If someone asks for a response, I’ll gladly give it. However, most of them are too busy scampering around a jillion different competing issues and posting tons of links, images, etc. It takes time and my own sense of internal order to filter through it all. It’s a load of crap mostly, but how else can I feed the sheep? How else do I get their attention to things that really matter? I have to tolerate a lot of crowding with unwashed bodies and senseless chatter and constant interruptions of my own needs.
Be strong, for the fields are white unto harvest.
If you take yourself too seriously, you cannot follow Christ.
Holy Cynicism is not dismissive of humanity, but of human motivations. When we keep in mind that this entire universe is a deception, locked under the Curse of the Fall, we can to train the mind to operate for Christ’s glory. His glory for you is wherever He calls you. All human rules about religion are inherently bogus because humans keep trying to change reality. Not just in the particulars, but it’s fallen human nature to ignore God’s revelation of reality and to keep trying to fix things that God says cannot be fixed.
That sort of mistake leaves little room for focusing on things Christ said can be fixed inside of us. Christ redeems individuals, not human institutions or systems. Human systems are doomed and damned, belonging to this world which has a distinct expiration date known only to God.
Holy Cynicism says you can join the military and bless His name. Not because you believe the relentless bullshit of the official narrative, but you let it slide and pretend to care. Yeah, the officials take it seriously — maybe. Meanwhile, you know that you wear the uniform of Heaven first, and the rest is just the context of your service in Christ’s Kingdom. His Kingdom manifests on earth through individuals walking by His illumination and power, but is not rooted on this earth. So we allow fallen and blind men to assert their human authority and play along because it’s where the Lord wants us.
Holy Cynicism allows you to see that the training and experiences of such military service can help you overcome your flesh. It can teach you to discount the cry of the flesh for comfort, in favor of pursuing something bigger than your self. You learn to tolerate discomfort and Spartan conditions because some things are worth doing at almost any cost. It doesn’t make you a hero, just useful for certain objectives. That’s good enough to earn your keep while chasing Christ’s glory. While the worthy pursuits are seldom what the military officers say they are, that’s not the point. If you feel called to serve in a military uniform, by all means, seek Christ there, because the whole earth is the Lord’s domain. Manifest His glory by how you go about the task.
Trust in God. If He allows you to face those impossible decisions along the way, you aren’t alone in them. There is precious little moral difference between that and serving as a peace activist and anti-government protester. The ostensible aim of both occupations is just more of human politics. You can learn the same self-denial and Spartan comfort either way, but if you take the official narrative seriously, both are sin for you.
The difference is in you, not in the activity itself. Making room in your mind for tolerance of human futility is a necessary element in bringing Christ and His glory to human awareness. People are going to do stupid shit and devote vast resources to lies. That is the norm of human existence. Yes, it’s evil, but it’s not your problem. Your problem is your self; therein lies something you can change with the help of Christ.
It only sounds like moral relativism if your moral frame of reference is here rooted on earth. If you can understand it with your mind, it’s not worth your care. The only things truly worthy of devotion are beyond your mind. Stop serving your intellect; make it serve you in following Christ. Your intellect is under the Curse of the Fall. Don’t trust it. You must unseat the mind from the throne of your soul, or Christ cannot rule. Your mind is arrogantly convinced it can handle ultimate truth, that it can measure and grasp reality.
You can’t handle the truth, but you can let Him handle you.
If we understand that God’s Laws predict a general non-compliance by humanity, if not open hostility, then our efforts to live His Laws begin to make more sense. We are not the Truth Police and there is no human on earth appointed to enforce God’s Laws on other humans, only on our individual selves.
We surely expect with great cynicism that human governments will always arise, always be held accountable to the Covenant of Noah, and always fail. There may be periods of partial compliance, but the general run of human government is more a matter of God’s inscrutable plans for fallen humanity as little more than smart animals. Further, while we can gain an understanding of God’s preferred intellectual culture, we can rest assured it is wholly unlikely to ever return to earth in the sense of restoring what once was. The ANE (Ancient Near Eastern) epistemology of Scripture will ever remain the open secret of those few believers who try to understand the Bible from its own viewpoint.
It’s not hard to find in Scripture places where Christ and His Apostles warned us to stay out of attempts to govern, to steer government, or to rebuild the intellectual foundations of the Bible outside of the church fellowship. We are most certainly required to implement those things inside the church as a key issue, a central function of what churches do. Right now this would be a monumental task, since it would mean starting from scratch with our own congregations, because I cannot imagine a single established religious institution making room for what we believe. That’s because we must understand we cannot enforce God’s Laws outside our own calling and the domain God grants to us.
The revealed pattern for understanding that domain is the family household, either blood kin or spiritual kin. The latter is by covenant restricted to those who voluntarily remain within the covenant. If God grants us by some miracle a wider influence in the secular society, they still must submit to the covenant in order to receive the blessings of His Laws through us. There is plenty of room for ANE feudal fealty to grant provisional coverage to those unwilling or unable to accept full covenant membership, too, but it remains a matter of recognizing that you and I cannot exercise dominion in any other fashion. ANE feudalism is fundamental to human nature, and spiritual birth does not change what is required of your flesh.
We live these ancient precepts because that is how Creation is wired. ANE feudal organization is the fundamental organizing principle of the universe. It is an expression of how God Himself operates throughout His entire Creation. When fallen men seek every other possible means of organizing, it is the natural fallen response to flee the Garden entrance and the Flaming Sword of Truth. As time passes under the hand of God, mankind will wander farther and farther away.
With each succeeding generation of believers, our part in the task of revelation gets more difficult from the human side of things. We will of necessity rely ever more on the miraculous power of God to change hearts and minds. Insofar as we implement any human authority at all, it must rest on the divine model of ANE feudalism. That model presumes a tension between human volition and the move of the Spirit of God. Yes, there is a time and place when God requires of His servants to use plain old physical force, but it always answers to God’s Spirit and Law. It does not ignore how such might conflict with secular governing force, but pays it little heed.
When conflict between divine command and secular authority is certain, we generally expect to hide, flee or submit as required by God for His glory. Actual armed resistance is highly unlikely, though not entirely forbidden. You as an individual believer will have to decide in the context. Chances are, actually taking up arms will have little to do with direct conflict between the rule of God and that of human government, and more to do with simple contextual necessity. God does not forbid us joining armed revolt or suppression of revolt, but we are forbidden investing it with any sort of religious significance. It’s never a question of which side God is on because human warfare since the Cross has never been a matter of holiness. The Covenant of Moses was closed by Christ, and God announced He was no longer offering anything similar again. Thus, the individual believer engages such political warfare only as a matter of individual response that is not subject to the approval of any other believer.
Christ does not sponsor politics on any other level than within the church, and only in churches organized under ANE feudalism. Anything else in that direction is simply your personal mission and calling. Again, no flag or uniform on this earth represents Christ. Keep that divine cynicism foremost in your mind. Yes, the Christian Mystic can serve in uniform under any flag that seems appropriate at the time, but only a fool sees God waving any flags. Such a believer will never offer quite the level of loyalty the leadership imagines they should have, but will serve more as an alien who could never belong to any human nation. Professional competence is a virtue of itself, and only indirectly a reflection of personal holiness.
If you can understand the virtual world, then quantum moral reasoning is not such a big leap.
Most people do not recognize the huge difference between meat space and online. They keep trying to apply their meat-space expectations to the virtual world, and it simply doesn’t work that way:
But “Kafkaesque” seems more appropriate. The term is conventionally defined as “having a nightmarishly complex, bizarre, or illogical quality”, but Frederick Karl, Franz Kafka’s most assiduous biographer, regarded that as missing the point. “What’s Kafkaesque,” he once told the New York Times, “is when you enter a surreal world in which all your control patterns, all your plans, the whole way in which you have configured your own behaviour, begins to fall to pieces, when you find yourself against a force that does not lend itself to the way you perceive the world.”
I’ve already noted in previous posts that if you learn military style operational security, if you can absorb the crazy mindset necessary to live in a combat zone, then you can easily understand computer security. And if you can get that, then you are ready to consider moral security. That is, you are prepared to recognize things most humans cannot and will not see as danger. There are a significant number of moral threats — or demonic influences, if you prefer — that try to sucker you into grabbing the wrong thing. It works that way online and it works that way when you try to live by God’s Laws.
Not paranoia, but it requires a confident watchfulness. You have to know what is required of you; your mission needs to be pretty clear in your mind. From there, you are in the position of strength, but it does require vigilance.
Human conflict is a given.
It requires a special kind of truculent stupidity to imagine we could ever remove it from human existence. It’s why we have the military. Experience in the military tends to affect the way one thinks for the rest of life. Such an influence tends to spread across all sorts of institutions as soon as they are forced to consider the existence of human threats.
One of the borrowed terms you often see in OPSEC — Operational Security. The basic idea is doing things in a way that minimizes risk to the actual work everyone is doing. Most of it has to do with avoiding giving your enemy an open door to hindering you. You learn to move quietly, provide mutual cover for elements of your operating forces, avoid giving away your intentions too soon, etc. OPSEC rests on basic habits plus analysis of the known threats.
Nothing we do as humans is risk free. The concept of OPSEC is as old as human conflict itself. We might change the calculus based on cultural assumptions and mythology, but most of us are instinctively aware that we can’t just blunder through life and expect everyone to go along with our decisions. Friction is a fact of life.
A critical element in OPSEC is expecting internal threats, too. More so, your biggest threat is not espionage, but the all too natural internal feuding. I note in passing the US military has by far the worst record for dealing with this. This is largely because the US military is almost completely abstracted from Prussian military traditions, a foul mythology. The entire frame of reference in US military psychology is hatefully anti-human. You have to be a complete sonuvabitch to advance. The entire institution asserts this is not a problem, that humans don’t actually exist as humans. The greatest operational threat to the US military is its own leadership. Thus, the US military is being steered down the drain by the growing entropy of failure to connect with reality.
Just as OPSEC as a concept bleeds over into other facets of human life, so the signal failures of OPSEC tend to stain the work of those who bring their military mythology into other areas of life. Churches are perhaps the worst at considering the very real threats to their operations. That’s because, like the US military, they focus on a mission that has nothing to do with their fundamental reason for existing. Someone making the decisions at the top is deluded and the whole thing will someday grind to a halt.
There isn’t much any of us can do. The primary failure of the Western Church is the same failure pervading all things Western. The individual trooper struggles against a crushing systemic failure, as does the individual believer, even when they understand the problem clearly. To imagine that this is not properly an OPSEC issue is itself a blind spot.
If you prefer to bind yourself totally to the institution in which you serve, then you can play the role of cogwheel in the machine. If you profess to follow Christ, that is not an option. The Kingdom of Heaven has its own organization and OPSEC considerations. Failure to recognize that can easily destroy your divine calling. In the Spirit Realm, your greatest threat is yourself — that is, your fleshly nature is your biggest problem. It wants things that will render you morally powerless.
One of the biggest problems I face in teaching is the failure to grasp that there are Two Realms, that Aristotle’s assumption of a unitary universe is a lie from Satan. The second problem is closely related, in that folks seldom grasp the nature of the moral sphere of consideration, as well. I envision a working model that posits a Spirit Realm, a Flesh Realm (under the Fall), and that the intersection between them is God’s divine justice, AKA moral law. The moral realm of consideration is invisible to the intellect alone. You cannot possibly reason your way to moral truth. But it surely exists within the reach of fallen human intellect if intellect recognizes revelation as a valid source of moral truth. However, to absorb truly the moral sphere requires spiritual awareness, a faculty totally separate from the intellect.
OPSEC is adherence to divine moral justice.
The mission of human life for us is to bring God glory. Without that, we have no reason to live on this plane of existence. His glory is tied up in our obedience to His moral justice. We use the record of His Law Covenants to inform our understanding of what moral justice looks like in certain contexts, then we extrapolate through our convictions what it looks like in our context moment by moment.
Now grasp this: Good moral OPSEC is, by definition, good OPSEC in every sphere of human concern.