We bother studying history and other social sciences so we can more intelligently recognize how we got where we are today, and contrast that against where God said we should be. We are then in a better position to plot a course in life that maximizes His glory by calling attention to the difference between the two.
As we absorb the basic outline of historical events, we can make room for more detail, more nuance while we avoid getting bogged down in mere anecdote. Most important and at the same time most difficult is the study of cultural influences that provide the character of human action in the aggregate. We are forced to make generalizations, while noting they are no more than that. Without such generalization, we cannot possibly understand the details, for the context gives meaning to the exceptions.
First, the generalized thesis: The Reformation is an entirely natural expression of the birth of middle class culture. Churches rooted in that period of history represent in general terms the rise of middle class political power. Those churches are inherently political, both internally and highly engaged in public policy. That much should be obvious simply because Luther’s actions constituted a parallel ecclesiastical political movement to the rise of secular merchant burgers in Europe. The result was as much political as theological. We do well to remember theology is a human activity itself, and the notion of orthodoxy is directly tied to the Fall, not redemption.
In the Bible, recognizing a heresy does not rest on orthodoxy, but on the more subtle moral discernment that sees how an idea can lead people away from God’s revelation in terms of commitment to His character. In other words, Jesus and His teaching forbids using the sword to enforce doctrine. The ultimate Christian “weapon” is voluntary association. Any use or reference to civil law in that context is an abomination.
But it took only a couple of centuries for the Judaizers to seduce Christians back into politicized religion. Hellenism is the fundamental trap here. The biggest threat to Pharisee self-concept is surrendering the power of human reason and kneeling before the Creator without any pretense. So Christians began thinking it was necessary to organize their churches along secular political lines, forsaking the Hebrew feudalism of the original churches during the First Century. The organized Christian religion was then easily seduced by Constantine. Following that path, it was no surprise this politicized church leadership came up with a pope around 600 AD.
But the Greco-Roman magisterial politics were exchanged for Germanic tribal feudalism when church scholars consciously decided to reduce the threat from pagan German warlords. So we have fairly solid evidence it was entirely conscious that the church bought into Germanic tribal mythology as official doctrine to make Christian religion palatable to the heathen hordes. The church courted the tribal rulers, and eventually the rulers felt the need for the church’s influence. Two centuries later we have the Holy Roman Emperor, Charlemagne.
While the church had been condemning strange teachings for quite some time, it now became fully and legally a matter of life and death. It would require several more centuries before someone found sufficient political backing to demand some changes in this situation. The end of the Middle Ages in Europe was the birth of the urban middle class. Because it was centered on the political and economic power of guilds, it constitutes the fertile ground for the birth of socialism. Western feudalism was always about ownership and control of the means of production, primarily land. The serfs were part of the dirt, so if you took control of some real estate, the resident population was part of the deal.
By contrast, the English experience was a little different. Once the Anglo-Saxons got off on their own in the Misty Isles, their contact with the peculiar Celtic and related tribal folks brought forth a different way of doing feudalism. England had a far higher incidence of independent peasants and far earlier than the European merchants arose. The Reformation in England was still rooted in feudal magisterial splendor of the Anglican Church, and faced the existence of a very old yeoman culture of middle-class peasants. Yeomanry created a different kind of political conflict that flavored religious thinking. It brought a different result that split in several directions, resulting in the Congregationalists, Baptists and Methodist branches — and it bogs down quickly with generalizations difficult to make. The Scottish Presbyterians are quite different from the Lutherans, coming later in the same game. (Lutherans pretend to ignore Luther’s late vociferous embrace of Calvinism.)
But today’s reformed churches share a lot with political socialism. Most churches rooted in America are more of the uniquely English Enlightenment mold and share much with classical republican political philosophy. The Catholic and Anglican churches are more or less Western feudal in structure and outlook. The Orthodox churches are more Byzantine.
Again, we make generalizations because that’s the only way we can understand the bigger picture.
For example, one of my readers pointed me to a link on the Chalcedon site. I’ve commented in the past on Dominionism as yet another branch of reformed religion, a sort of Presbyterian return to early Reformation elements. It carries the same deep stain of insisting on using the state, but in the current context, that means first forcing the state to change. In their eyes, “biblical law” is little more than the same political framework of the worst of Reformation oppression of those who didn’t feel called by God to cling to the one and only church permitted in their place of residence. A Dominionist government would be brutal and repressive, though with the present emphasis on “taking back” the civil government from the current elites, it makes sounds of libertarian democratic reforms, etc. They realize they have to make their case and convince folks to go along, but once in control, you’d probably want to flee their dominion.
So long as religion rests on anything other than the ancient Hebrew tribal feudalism, I want no part of it. That the ambient cultural mythology affects religious outlook is patently obvious. That religion as a human effort to implement the divine call tends to reflect something of the ambient culture is also obvious. It reminds us that God calls us where we are. He works in the context to bring His name glory. But insofar as we are able, we should cleave to the original model revealed in the most primitive context of Israel before the Conquest. The Bible keeps hinting of that time before they settled into cities as some kind of ideal existence, not so much literally, but in the essence of how it made you live in total dependence on God. You took very little for granted in that context. From my own personal experience I am convinced that in our current context, we have not tried near hard enough to get as close as possible to that.
God morning! Come on in and have a cup of your favorite liquid stimulant while we chat.
It’s hot outside these days, but we got a slight break in the temperatures. This allowed me to leave a little later in the morning for a ride around Draper Lake yesterday. It also allowed me to catch a few shots that were previously the wrong sun angle.
There are no natural lakes in Oklahoma. I got my story backwards about the relationship between the Atoka and Draper reservoirs. The surface water in southeastern Oklahoma is far more reliable than other parts of the state, and selling water rights there is a major source of income. Oklahoma City bought and built Atoka Reservoir down below McAlester in the 1950s. Draper came in the early 1960s, in large part as a place to hold Atoka water closer to the city. So back in that time frame a 60-inch pipe (1.5m) was laid cross-country about 100 miles between the two with a half-dozen pump stations to push the water uphill (Oklahoma elevation peaks in the Panhandle and runs down to the southeastern corner). The pipes and pumps were refurbished a few years ago which cut off the main filler to Draper. It’s back up now and I got this picture of the sections from that massive pipeline.
There was a brief period we lived in Salem, Oregon. It was a dreary existence and one of the temporary jobs I found was working to help bury the electric lines owned by the local utility. As a grunt who mostly wielded a shovel, jumping in and out of the trenches made by the full-time equipment operator, I never quite learned as much as I really would have liked about the business itself. The “line gods” wouldn’t tell me much because union policy forbade it. I know even less about the requirements for transmission and distribution of power, and I can’t explain why this massive substation stands out next to Draper. But you can hear the darn thing humming up on Draper Lake Drive a quarter-mile away.
I mentioned previously that my family moved to some rural property on Post Road. My last day there was some forty years ago. This camera was pointed NNE, so the road is on the west side of the ten-acre almost-square plot of land. What you can see of it today bears little resemblance to what we saw back then. That massive cottonwood tree in the lowest part next to the road and near the end of the driveway there was the shade for our mobile home late in the day, as the house was parallel to the road. Our sewage lateral lines ran between the road and the trailer, and the tank was just off the current driveway. I’m willing to bet all that stuff is still in the ground. Meanwhile, the fancy house sits up where we had our pigpen. O, the sun shines bright on my old Post Road home…
It’s even hotter in the virtual world. Win10 is making lots of noise. Of all the various criticism I’ve seen, this list is the best and briefest outline of the worst features. I found it on Bruce Schneier’s blog; the author actually read through the user’s terms and conditions.
- By default, Windows will upload to its servers the user’s web browser history, favorites, open websites, saved apps, mobile hotspot, and Wi-Fi network names & passwords.
- Windows will generate a unique advertising ID for each user on a device. This advertising ID can be passed on to third parties, such as app developers and advertising networks for profiling purposes.
- The BitLocker recovery key for the user’s encrypted device will also be automatically “backed up” online in the Microsoft OneDrive account.
- Windows will routinely collect information “from you and your devices,” including “app use data” and “data about the networks you connect to.”
- The Windows Siri-style personal assistant (Cortana) will routinely collect device location, calendar data, apps used, email and text message data, phone call history, contacts and how often you interact with them on your device, music preferences, alarm settings, whether the lock screen is on, products viewed and purchased, browser history, and more.
Perhaps most worryingly is that, even if you decide that this is unacceptable and steer clear from MS, Windows is still the default OS in >90% of desktop computers bought off the shelf. Chances are that everything listed above will happen whenever your lawyer drafts a letter about your divorce case, whenever your doctor types your blood test results into a MS Office spreadsheet, whenever your hospital processes your CAT scan images, whenever your colleagues type up the results of a multi-million dollar R&D project, whenever your accountant processes your payment details…
An additional comment on the thread refers to the MS fingerprint scheme for that unique advertising ID:
MS has come up with the one cookie nobody will be able to clear from their system (because it *is* the system). Disgusting.
I don’t love Linux, but it sucks less with each passing day simply because everything else is getting worse.
Sometimes we have to shake our heads at how Western Bible scholars read so much literal meaning into poetic statements, and completely miss the grand mystical depth. So it is many commentators suggest David was off on a campaign far from home or maybe even in flight from Absalom’s revolt. There’s no reason to read that sort of thing into this, in which David instructs the Temple Music Director to use stringed instruments on this song.
The psalm begins with the standard protocol of one who cries out to his sovereign for relief. David notes that it won’t matter where on earth he might be, since God’s court is not limited by time and space. Rather, he could call on God from any place humans might be found, and God would hear. And anytime is the right time, but all the more so when he feels his heart-mind is in shock from overwhelming moral catastrophe. It’s hard to discern the path to a safe place, and David feels unable to scale the heights on his own power.
That higher ground that warriors know is more easily defended against attack is God’s own Presence. The divine Presence and calling on David has protected him from everything so far. In every success and victory, it was his adherence to God’s moral character that made all the difference. In this sense, any place where David sensed the divine presence was as good as the Tent of Meeting, because God alone set the limits of His own reach.
God knew David’s commitment and trust because David never offered it to any other power or authority. Everything that God ever promised has come true in David’s life, making him feel like he was truly the king of all God’s people everywhere. Every day was another day in the paradise of God’s rich provision. David sensed this would never end, because it was empowered and fed by something far beyond human ken. David had tapped into Eternity, so years of human existence simply couldn’t measure it. This was God-sized portions of divine favor and faithfulness.
David intended to make his entire life, day after day, one long service of worship to ensure God’s glory was the mark of his passage on this earth.
The previous post shares my vision of virtual pastoring under a mystical religion. Contrary to the mythology of Western intellectual bias, this religion is intensely practical. It has to be; while anyone can absorb the teachings, the communion depends entirely on Internet technology. My books are ebooks and this blog is the sole earthly manifestation of the parish (at least for now).
And in the post before that, I made it clear that we simply cannot make the most of our shared faith without recognizing that there is first a firm necessity for engaging the Law Covenants of the Bible as the Laws of God for humanity, and that these Laws apply differently between meat space and virtual space. If the fundamental nature of all Creation is revelation of God’s character, then it stands to reason that His character comes across differently between these two parallel realms of existence.
I assert that virtual space is a thing unto itself. It is not the result of the hardware and software upon which it is manifest to us. Rather, what we can know of virtual space is revealed through the hardware and software. Virtual space is a reflection of God’s character, same as meat space is.
Just as men flagrantly reject God’s revealed will for us in meat space, we see men trying to force their own fallen will on virtual space. Perhaps you and I aren’t confused about the Internet being the network versus virtual space as the indefinable thing that we can touch through the Internet, but most Westerners don’t get that. They confuse the two. You can really mess up the Internet, but you can’t change virtual reality. What I’m getting at is the utter necessity of understanding that reality is fixed in God’s mind based on His divine character. Failure to understand it means your decisions and actions won’t pan out as you expect. This applies to both meat space and virtual space, though we would implement some elements of His Laws differently in each.
Now, the Internet has become a really huge thing that’s difficult to change because it comes so functionally close to virtual reality. You can hinder human connection to it, but actually changing the Internet is a monumental task simply because it crosses all the conceptual boundaries of government and business controls. Up to now, there have been standards of a sort, but some businesses have tried to ignore those standards for the sake of profit. Those businesses have come up with competing standards and tried to use market dominance to bypass the standards. If the actual users pay no attention to the standards, what difference do standards make? But while the users and clients might get blindly sucked into that trick, the folks who run the servers are another matter entirely. A significant portion of them tend act as if those independent standards were akin to canon law in a network religion. That their religion is closer to God’s moral character than the merchant’s worship of Mammon means geeks eventually win.
It is their independent streak of so very many system administrators that has given life to a growing geek culture among users. There are simply too many smart ways to undermine the attempt at monopoly, and the historical moment has passed. When the merchants tried to subvert the geek culture, the best they could do is rent some portion of geeks’ loyalty, and ended up giving them enough inside knowledge to eventually subvert the merchant controls. The merchants will be there as long as humans want or need more than they can produce on their own, but their dominance on the Net, at least in that shape, is currently fading. However, that is in part because the newer monster businesses are building on top of the independent standards so there’s not as much resistance.
This is where we are now, with things in a state of flux as newer businesses with some measure of geek influence are struggling to redefine the market. For each new idea, there is a golden mixture of merchant and geek and most don’t hit it right away. But what matters is that the kinds of things people regard as life essentials will tend to be at least network-aware, if not somehow embedded in the virtual realm. Should the current Internet hardware suffer a major loss, it would simply be the excuse to recreate something better with a stronger reliance on mesh networking. And it will tend to work on older hardware because the folks who build that kind of thing aren’t wealthy enough to chase the latest and greatest devices. Plan on seeing this thing outlast the civilization as we know it today.
Meanwhile, you should expect more computer technology chatter on this blog. You should expect to see it presume, if not discuss directly, what I understand to be divine moral imperatives of virtual space. The single biggest difference between meat and virtual space is that copyright is flat out evil in the latter. That is, while I can ask you to voluntarily honor the concept of attribution for my writing, I would be the last person to seek enforcement from anyone but God Himself. Once something is in a digital format, it becomes nobody’s property, in the sense of controlled access. It is totally voluntary, and it tends to work out pretty well.
One of the things I confront often enough is the unconscious expectation that the religion of Radix Fidem could become a movement of some sort. That expectation is part of the activist urge that traps people’s minds, in the sense that it keeps the intellect in command of conscious activity.
This is the soul of our calling to humanity as a whole: The answers are not in your head, nor will they ever be. It requires a higher faculty, a mighty leap most people will not make, never mind why. If we could explain it, we wouldn’t be talking about mysticism, but something else.
Talking about mysticism is exceedingly difficult. Demonstrating it is only slightly easier. It is deeply, fundamentally personal, as is the nature of reality itself. If I tell you that reality itself is alive, conscious and has a will, you would have to recognize that saying so is more than metaphor, yet not entirely literal. All I’ve done is characterize our experience with it, not something in the nature of the thing itself. The thing itself is impossible to express largely because it is so personal; it builds on the very nature of our individuality. It depends entirely on our uniqueness, and this is what is so very hard to translate between any two individuals.
So we can share a consciousness of communion in the results, and perhaps something in the path to that result, but only in the sense of what we all have to reject. It’s part of our shared fallen nature: We are so utterly cut off from our Creator and so unspeakably isolated and lonely that the pain is impossible to process without committing suicide. We are left with the only “sane” choice of denying it and acting as if we could create that lost communion some other way. We refuse to let the Flaming Sword at the entrance to Eden do its work out of some instinctive fear, but it’s the one form of “suicide” that actually brings relief. The communion we gain as believers is some ineffable gift that drives us onto that blade of revelation, and having been changed by it, we realize there is something we can share. We might still be stuck in the Fallen Realm, but a part of us has moved beyond that.
So name I give my religion — Radix Fidem — is just a handle, not the thing itself. Call it what you like, because you can’t deal with it unless you come up with a handle that fits your grip. Even if you adopt my label, it still has to have your own hand print, a mark of your unique individuality. God calls individuals into His Realm, not masses. There are some general characterizations we can offer to help you make sense of it, but God does not offer exactly the same terms to every individual. No two of us bring the same precise collection of wounds.
Yet there remains a certain tendency to share common experiences such that some of us are closer to each other than we are to the rest. We have to get over our silly mythology of fairness and equality imposed as an orthodoxy. I can’t love everyone the way I love my wife. By the same token, she cannot own all of my time and energy when God demands I give some to others He calls alongside. God has revealed certain general boundaries — I won’t have sex with other folks — but that leaves an awful lot of other ways we can express affection and communion. Some of you will always be closer than others, and nothing I can do will ever quell any feelings of jealousy in fallen humans. All I can do is help you fight them for yourself.
So the really tough part of this is the half-in/half-out nature of our existence in the Fallen Realm while belonging wholly to the Eternal Realm. That’s what the Bible addresses, that in-between existence and how it can be so utterly sweet and loving. That’s what we try to share. I was sickened at the sight of book title in a Christian bookstore yesterday. The title obviously insists that holiness is a matter of orthodoxy — right thinking. The blurb on the cover and advertising material asserted that all your emotional problems could be settled if you would just make your mind accept the right propositions. That’s the foundation of movements, things conceived and built by man under the false assumption that it reflects God’s requirements. Cerebral religion serves a false god of the intellect, a god restricted to what men can control.
So long as God enables it, this blog as the point of contact with the Internet for my faith, will continue. This is the door to our parish church house, insofar as such a thing could be. That’s about as close as we will come to the shortcut of “invite your friends to church.” And if you have your own blog speaking your own faith, there’s nothing wrong with asking about linking, but there’s also nothing wrong with simply promoting your own message instead of mine. It might be amusing to someday have a webring of sorts, but I’m not sure I want to be the one who decides the boundaries of inclusion and exclusion. If you sense a call to sponsor something like that, then you draw the boundaries. Please don’t see it as whining and begging if I tell you I am a little short on resources for more than what I do already. I’ll tell you the sad tale of my relative poverty if you like, but I refuse to make any fund-raising appeals. It works a whole lot better if you come up with that idea on your own, between you and God.
Much more valuable to me is when you share with me any report of how your faith is stronger from sampling my writing here. Better yet, tell others who read this blog. Throw me flowers if you like, but let’s keep the focus on the faith we share. Help me avoid all the failures and bondage of mainstream Western religions by avoiding the obvious bad habits. You honor me best by having your own story to tell. That’s because our greatest benefit is to share in His glory, not our own.
It’s a favorite theme of mine: Don’t take yourself too seriously. We are all for the most part simply along for the ride in God’s revelation of Himself. In His measureless mercy and grace, He allows us to participate in small ways. When Scripture refers to us as vessels for His cleansing flow, it means He can pour us out at His discretion. We are not vending machines with internal controls that allow us to charge for the privilege of parceling out His blessings.
Thus, we are taught not to judge the worthiness of others on the basis of our human perceptions. The nice thing about the Internet is how it strips away so much of what fallible humans have used in the past to restrict human communion. This is a two-edged sword, of course. We are obliged to pay more attention to those few factors that do come across and shape our Internet persona, but it also makes it easier to ignore things we should in the first place.
This changes the meaning of social charisma. It demands a whole new range of social skills. It raises up a new class of social elite who are able to make the most of what the Internet permits in terms of touching others’ lives. By the same token it creates a new class of social outcasts as those not adept at working this different social structure. This is reality, though we often call it “virtual reality.” Still, the effect on human existence is much the same.
Just as there have been subcultures in meat space, so they will manifest in virtual space. You can be just as provincial and ignorant on the Net as people have been in the real world. God can still use anyone He chooses. What has changed is that some elements of how we form our self-image no longer apply, and new elements have been added. The difficulty is that we are living in two parallel realms of existence. Not two different levels, but two different kinds on the same basic level.
It’s the failure to grasp that basic fact that destroys our witness on the Net. It’s bad enough that whole eras of Christian history have seen believers trapped in a false understanding of reality as God revealed it. We now have twice the liability from false assumptions. While our meat space reality is ruled by the character of God, regardless how well you do or don’t understand His revelation, the Net has yet another expression of His moral character. Western Christians have really missed out on the lion’s share of God’s blessings by insisting on a whole range of false assumptions about reality as God made it. Now we have the added failures of people who drag their bad meat space assumptions into virtual reality for a whole new set of missed blessings.
The single greatest barrier in both meat space and virtual space is refusing let God pour out our witness. You can’t be filled afresh if you don’t let Him use what you have now. It’s not that we can all run out and be wholly cosmopolitan in the sense of the mindless “diversity” proposed by Social Justice Warriors. God made us to operate in tribes, and a tribal identity is critical to functioning in this world, but the biggest problem in Western Christianity is focusing on all the wrong elements of human nature for constructing our tribal identity. Don’t add to those mistakes by doing even worse on the Net. None of us is called the shepherd the whole human race; we have our own flock, as it were. Stop grabbing at sheep that don’t recognize your voice.
If your heart should rule over your mind in meat space, even more so should it rule in virtual space. The Internet does yield to heart-mind operations. Would you believe that the same heart-led communion our Sister Wildcucumber experiences in nature is possible with technology? The only reason I get repeat calls from the same computer ministry clients is not because I work for free, and certainly not because I’m such a great technician, but because the Lord allows me to see and understand things my rational mind could not comprehend by itself. Just as elements in the flora and fauna call out to Sister Wildcucumber, so the modern technology often calls out to my heart-mind why something isn’t working right. I get stuff right far beyond my intellectual capabilities with computer tech support as well as other fields of human activity to which God has called me.
It works the same for you, regardless of your awareness. The one thing we can all share is the same personal witness of how God works with us, mostly because of the fact itself that He works with anyone who seeks His face. Give Him room to glorify Himself in you.
You might get a strong impression about my personality if you were to spend time with me in meat space. It’s not the same personality you’ll see in my Net persona, though the two will converge over time and with greater exposure. It’s not a question of whether I’m the same guy in both realms, as if there might be some element of dishonesty. Even to the degree I might be hiding anything, there’s nothing you can do about it — and this is entirely reciprocal. Indeed, we hide things from ourselves, so how much do you really want to make of it? Take what you can discern of me however it is you are wired to perceive. Do the same with everyone on the Net. There is no such thing as objective truth in either realm of existence. This is only God’s perception and however much of His viewpoint He can hammer through our fallen nature.
If you sense a calling from God to walk this path with me, then let’s learn how to commune via the Net. Let’s take what God offers in the way He offers it here. And by all means, take the time to communicate, because that’s part of communion. I tend to believe you get a better version of “me” on the Net. That I might have some measure of charisma in meat space is not the point; the extra filtering of this medium allows me to do a better job of getting my flesh out of the way so His glory shines brighter. He will do the same for you, so stop hiding behind your false fears. Trust Him and share a word or two, because data is the sole treasure of the Internet.