The Biden administration has recently floated the idea of banning all gas stoves. Richard Trumka Jr., son of the powerful union boss of the same name and nepotistic selection for Commissioner of the CPSC, has made this proposal and cited potential long-term health issues (due to using them in homes without proper ventilation) as the reason. Very quickly, in the typical hive mind far-left fashion, various state governors have followed suit and very soon we can expect that Democrats will once again be limiting consumer choices.
This move is more driven by the current climate change ideological cult than actual concern for people. And the climate change hysteria is primarily driven by political propaganda rather than true science. All of which has an underlying goal of giving more power and control to a few billionaires (who meet in Davos annually) and own many of our elected (or selected) leaders.
However, as a thought experiment: If we were to assume this is honestly about public health and climate change, not some cynical move motivated by geopolitics and commodities markets, why start with gas stoves?
Why not start with pets instead?
In this progressive age of believe science and consumer protection, can we really continue to ignore the well-established risks associated with pet ownership and especially the health risks to children?
Cull the Biological Menace: Save the Children!
Anyone who has had to clean cat poo deposited on the living room carpet has learned a hard lesson. As cuddly and cute as these furballs seem to be, they are basically walking, sneezing, crapping, and puking biohazard containers.
The Chinese, during the Covid pandemic, knowing that pets were vectors of human disease, euthanized scores of dogs and cats as part of their pragmatic response to the pandemic. And it just makes sense. Pets are super-spreaders, next to impossible to mask properly, being exposed to their feces and urine can be dangerous, and that alone is a reason to ban these incubators of deadly disease.
A person who, as a result of exposure to cat excrement, has suffered from Toxoplasmosis, will think twice about having a pet in their home.
Then there’s the issue of animals attacking humans. It is terrifying to be out on a peaceful walk and suddenly be set upon by a snarling beast and knowing how many die from dog attacks. The President’s own dog has bitten several people, and this is okay? Dogs alone account for 4.5 million bites a year and many of the victims are our most vulnerable. Think of the children!
If we are to save grandma by wearing masks and getting mRNA injections, why allow these disease carrying clumps of cells (with claws and teeth) that serve no practical purpose and fit the definition of a parasite?
Add to all of that the unnecessary carbon footprint of Fido and Fifi. Feeding and watering millions upon millions of animals used for human entertainment comes at an enormous environmental cost. Many popular pets are fed with meats, which is especially burdensome, and will accelerate global cooling warming very scary climate change. We must do the right thing for the planet!
And, more importantly, why are we allowing this obvious menace to continue when there are alternatives?
Pet Reform: The Green Answer
In the spirit of progressive politics and Democrat party paternalism, l propose that we introduce common sense pet reform and ban all emissions producing pets and replace them with purring and barking electronic animals. There would be no need for kitty litter or toxic carpet cleaner after the transition. The green alternatives could be programmed to only knock over household items at a safe predetermined rate and will attack only those who our wise and tolerant revolutionary leaders call Nazis.
Think of how many lives may be changed or improved by removing this pet-stilence!
It would protect children from pet allergies, dangerous infections, cat-induced insanity (could this impact female voting patterns?), and prevent spread of other serious diseases. Just the elimination of bites leading to emergency room visits alone would justify this as a cost-saving measure. During the Covid pandemic we were told that saving only one life justified every new mandate. Has that ethical math changed?
Is there a reasonable argument against banning pets?
Who Determines Acceptable Risk and How?
The point, of course, is that we accept the health risks of pets. Why? Well, many have decided that the intangible benefits of a living companion outweigh the risk to their own health and also that of the general public. Sure, we do have leash laws and liabilities assessed when people who have pets do not take proper precautions.
And no doubt pet ownership will be the next stop for the climate change alarmists, like the very privileged Greta Thunberg, when their handlers tell them this is the scientific consensus. I mean, they’re already taking steps against farm animals and telling us to eat bugs as an alternative, do you think they’ll stop there? Not a chance, if they get their way on gas stoves, soon pets will be only for elites. These professional Karens, the petty administrative tyrants running this country, can’t be satisfied ever. There’s no reasonable compromise with them.
These bans in American politics stem from a Puritanical impulse. It is the very same thing that was behind the Prohibition, this desire to control, often sold with some kind of apocalypse tied to it as justification. Where it was once Johnathan Edwards preaching “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” the early American sermon delivered in a monotone, it is Albert Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” for this new secular version of the same old cult religion. We all must do our penance and pay the ministers of this new era—it is hard work to keep the population in line and in perpetual fear of destruction.
Banning gas stoves isn’t driven by science anymore than witch-hunts or eugenics. Sure, it is rationalized by their own beliefs about cherry-picked data and the purported implications. But water can be made to look awful if a person wants to make that case. It is the midwits, with rudimentary understanding of all things, that have this mistaken idea that life can be free of all risk, completely safe, and strive for perfect pure solutions. They accept the ‘experts’ opinion uncritically as if it is Gospel and become the “sources please” zealots which make truly intelligent conversation impossible.
Risk can’t be eliminated. Removing one risk only ever creates another. That is the real problem with complex systems. Poke in one place, to fix this problem, and the unintended consequences of a prescribed solution can vastly outweigh the benefits. The noxious invisible gas that is more a threat than nitrogen dioxide is the ceaseless and incurable arrogance of those who think it is their job to save the world or manage the lives of others. We cannot risk anymore of what remains of our freedom to please their whims, they will consume it all in the name of protection.
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
C. S. Lewis
Politicians have long abused science as a means to gain power for themselves. It is what had, a century ago, inspired notions of superior race and now is what arms a new generation of young activists—indoctrinated by leftist parents, mass media and their government funded schools. It is no different from any other moral panic where critical thinking made someone an enemy of the sanctimonious mob.
Years ago my mom decided to stop in at the local public elementary school. Impressed, after talking to the staff, my parents sent my older sister there and soon I would follow—along with the rest of my siblings.
This might not seem strange to most. But, for a conservative Mennonite child this was highly unusual—or at least in the past few decades. It bucked the trend of religious parents, afraid of secular influence, pulling their children out. Private schools and home schooling becoming the preferred ‘safe’ options.
Anyhow, maybe as a result of my positive experience, or from inheriting my mom’s genetics, I have always thought differently than my peers. That is to say, for better or worse, I stood apart from both my public school and Mennonite peers, basically a third culture kid or non-conformed in both settings. So, when I had to consider where to send my own children, public school was not something I feared.
This post is not saying that everyone should follow in my footsteps nor suggesting that every child should go to public schools. No other situation is exactly the same as mine, some schools are better or worse and every student different. My intent in this blog is simply to give an explanation of what is now unthinkable to most fundamentalist Christians.
A Stranger in a Strange Land
Public school did not mean assimilation for me. My religious identity was always visible enough for me to be given nicknames like “Micro Mennonite” or basically any Amish sounding name my classmates could come up with. The small things, like wearing pants in the hot weather or the side part of my hair were enough for some to take notice.
I was sometimes subjected to what could be called microaggressions. As in I had one or two classmates who would inform me what I should or should not do, as a Mennonite, and this often included the idea that we did not pay taxes or the assumption that we needed a horse and buggy for transportation. This kind of banter was mostly benign, or at least taken that way, but still served as a continual reminder of my outsider status.
The end result is that I seemed to have a stronger Mennonite identity than many of my religious peers. I learned, at a young age, that I was different and it was okay to be my own person. I was never ashamed to be Mennonite nor stopped from following my own conscience so far as things like pledge of allegiance (I always stood respectfully) or abstaining from other activities that went against my cultural standards.
A child private or homeschooled does not truly know, first hand, the alternative to their own community and home. It is easier for them to believe that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence and many of my religious peers did jettison the indoctrination they received in a pursuit of the prevailing culture. But, being the witness of single parent homes, the chaos of the world and consequences suffered, it made me more thankful for what I had.
Exposure made my home more desirable, it also made the failures of parents my community feature less prominently in my mind. There were many who, raised in the religious cloister, became disillusioned with Christianity as a result of their overbearing dad or as the result of school administrators showing extreme favoritism. Had the same thing happened to them in public school, had they been bullied or abused there instead, at least it would not come in direct conflict with their walk of faith.
No, certainly we don’t want to put children in a harsh environment so that our own home or community contrasts favorably, but some healthy perspective is good. Not taking for granted the food or shelter over our heads by being a little exposed and feeling some hunger pains for home is not a bad thing at all. A big benefit of my public schooling was appreciation for my heritage and a strong desire to preserve the Mennonite culture. I could not afford to be myopic or ignorant, throwing out tradition recklessly because it didn’t suit me.
I had to weigh things more carefully rather than react and throw the baby out with the bathwater. Many of my religious peers have this feeling of having missed out and some had to learn the hard way from their own experiences.
Walk In Faith, Not Fragility!
Conservatives love to laugh about the ‘woke’ and their safe spaces. They are very quick to ridicule those families still wearing face masks and call people snowflakes for their sensitivity. The great irony is that many of these same people withdrew their children from public schools, decades ago, because they “took God out of the schools” by ending prayer led by state employees. The reality is that it isn’t just the fringe far-left that tries to hide themselves and their children from all contrary opinions.
The problem is that without challenge there is no growth. Yes, part of the job of a parent is to protect and yet it is equally important to prepare a child for the real world. I know, I know, someone out there is saying right now, “he’s saying to throw my precious darling to the wolves!” And then we wonder why, with that kind of attitude, when we assume all of our neighbors are dangerous predators, we are not more successful reaching them with the Gospel?
Jesus, our Lord and Savior, and example to follow, had no problem detouring into the Samaritan lands nor with standing on his own two feet with elders as a child. And I, likewise, had no difficulty standing toe to toe with my high school biology teacher or with seeing through leftist propaganda even back in elementary school. I remember scoffing, even then, at the blatant manipulation on Earth day or that faulty “haves vs have nots” construction of my fresh out of university social studies teacher.
Hint to the homeschoolers: Your neighbors aren’t demons and your children aren’t little saints either. In fact, many of my younger home or privately schooled religious cousins were doing drugs, drinking hard and partying, even sleeping around, long before I had so much as a sip of alcohol. As Jesus said to a prior generation of contamination obsessed religious people, according to Mark 7:14–23:
"Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them."
We can’t save our children by sheltering them.
I know, but what about the “groomers’ and the brainwashing? No, I’m not going to say it is all hysteria. Indeed, the far-left is targeting children, they’re making no secret of their agenda and it is cause for concern. We see all of those sensational headlines of abuse and it is easy to be full of anxiety and fear about this. But, for perspective, there are over 3,800,000 teachers in the United States and the vast majority are simply doing their job. Some extreme example, from an urban hellhole or California, is not representative of the whole. Yes, your child going to a public school will be exposed to other perspectives and yet why would they choose lies over the truth?
It is no coincidence that the greatest Biblical examples of faith are those, who as children, faced pagan influence. Moses, trained as an Egyptian, was bolder than his other Israelites and faced down Pharaoh. Daniel refused to bend to social pressure, a Jewish child in the Babylonian court, and stands as an example of faith. And who can forget that trial by fire of three young men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who would not bow to the statue of the powerful Nebuchadnezzar II?
It is so strange that fundamentalists can read these stories to their children in their Sunday school classes and then be terrified by the thought little Johnny being away from them for a few hours a day. It makes me wonder if they truly believe these stories are true. Maybe they do not think that the God who called Samuel as a child or emboldened young David to slay a giant is still capable of the same today? Apparently they think God is getting weak in old age and only they are able to save their children from the world?
In the World, Not of the World
Part of the problem with the fundamentalist “purity culture” mindset is that they believe that Holiness is achieved through means of physical separation. Many parents think that they will keep their children safe from harm by keeping them in their protective enclave and away from all other influence. But, the truth is, if Adam and Eve could fall even in the garden of Eden, why would we believe that the serpent can’t find it’s way into our own homes and communities?
For as much as my religious peers would try to keep evil out, pulling their children out of even the church school to guard them from the influence of other Mennonite children, it is no defense from the most dangerous sin of all which is pride and this accompanying idea that we can be fully righteous by our own efforts. But, in the economy of Jesus, it is better to be the woman caught in adultery or thief on the cross who repents than the rich young ruler who kept the law perfectly yet isn’t able to live in faith.
They say more is caught than taught. We can say we believe “greater is He that is in me than He that is in the world” (1 John 4:4) and that God is our strength, but our actions betray us. The conservative Christian retreat from the public sphere is pretending that if they ignore the deterioration somehow the problem will go away. They are training their children to be cowards, afraid to effectively confront the culture or fully contend with the reality that they’re losing ground.
It is true, a Christian is not to be of this world and yet this is all about the spirit in which we are approaching life. The exact phrase “in the world but not of it” is not in Scripture, but we also see where Jesus didn’t avoid people simply because they were Samaritans, tax collectors or others that his religious peers carefully avoided. Unlike the parachute in ‘missionary’ compassion of today, he spent his time amongst his own people, rubbing shoulders with the unwashed masses and even being touched by a woman made into an outcast for her illness.
If we go out in strength, trusting that God is still able to protect us and our children from the teeth of lions, we would possibly see the change of culture that will make the world a place liveable for a Christian. But right now we’re teaching our children to be weak and, when the world finally does come to snatch them from the safety of their homes, many will be fragile and unprepared to stand. This is why so many get caught in the false social justice Gospel, they weren’t properly trained to identify the counterfeit.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
(Proverbs 22:6 KJV)
Why would I send my son into the lion’s den?
Because Daniel continued to pray, despite the risk of severe punishment, and precisely as a result of his childhood faith and learning to resist peer pressure at a young age.
Contrast that with the religious experts who had rejected Jesus for the unclean who he mingled with. Or with Israelites who prospered in their own promised land, absent of persecution, and only went through the religious motions of faith in God. They voluntarily brought idols into their homes and folded before their enemies.
Complacency is a bigger threat to a Christian’s child than lions.
We should not teach our children to run from the giants of our time or they’ll become king Saul.
Instead we should be helping them polish those giant slaying stones and trust God.
We had one of the best running backs in the state and had successfully run many toss sweeps during the year—probably a dozen times every game.
It was the first round of the playoffs, and up against a rival that we had beaten handily earlier in the season. The O-line dropped into their stance, the quarterback took the snap as our star took his step right, and—oh no!
A linebacker, who had timed the cadence, anticipated the toss, plucks the ball out of the air, and a few seconds later turned this defensive prowess into six points. And we never recovered. We lost.
This is where the expression, “going to the well one too many times,” comes from. A play can work hundreds of times, it can be the go-to option—until that one time when it becomes too predictable and the other team takes advantage.
Click here for a very similar play, not my own team, but close enough to trigger the bad memories.
Yes, Poles Can Shift
One of the big misunderstandings of current trends there is that they will go on forever. If one is part of the cult of progress, change is seen as a march forward. To the traditional there are endless cycles and seasons, the sun goes up and down. To the cynical, humanity is on a downward trajectory, this slippery slope of social decay and spiral to the collapse of civilization.
In almost every case people expect that the current rules (or roles) can’t be flipped. The winners today will keep on winning or what worked yesterday will keep on working as it always did—ad infinitum.
But long-term trajectories do change, cycles can be broken, powerful empires faded away into nothing and there have also been those massive breakthrough-type events that have completely changed expectations. North is North, the compass is true as it always has been, and yet there is evidence that even this magnetic reference can flip.
Things can go one way for a long time and feel very predictable and unchangeable. But in one moment some threshold is crossed that upends the well-worn expectations. The end of the epoch. A critical mass is reached, the dam is finally breached, and the established paradigm blows up, and is washed away, like the linebacker running with the ball after picking off the toss.
Of course, in retrospect, we all claim to have seen it coming, that the signs were there, but few actually do. If we did we would have invested better, acted differently, and taken full advantage.
Please Capitulate, Charlie!
In the Peanuts cartoon, there is the infamous football gag. Lucy tells Charlie that she’ll hold the ball for him to kick and, despite her having tricked him many times before—by pulling the ball away right as he is wound up to kick, he is always fooled again.
This is how institutions have treated retail investors in the stock market. In the past, when the market would downturn, the ‘smart money’ would short popular stocks, then spread FUD through hired shills to scare their ignorant counterparts who would then sell at a loss and move on. When this retail capitulation would finally happen the market would finally be ready for the next cycle.
But now, in the meme stock era, the ‘Apes’ or those who learned from the 2008 crash, now hold, buy the dip, and refuse to sell. This is not what the hedge funds and big banks had planned when they started to short AMC and GameStop. They had planned to drive these companies into bankruptcy, and collect on their bets. Instead, after over a year and a half of price manipulation (FTDs, dark pool abuse, naked shorts) and bashing, the selling has not happened. This means they need to continue to pay the interest to maintain their short positions.
It is a battle of wills, one retail rallying call being “I can be retarded longer than they can remain solvent,” and retail does control all of the exits in some heavily shorted stocks. If retail does not throw in the towel, eventually the institutions will run out of new ways to kick the can down the road, they will get margin called and will have to cover.
At this point, retail investors have figured out the game. They know how bashers are paid to scare them, they know how the price is manipulated, and they’re angry and not going to do what they’re ‘supposed’ to do. Apes are not leaving. And, at this point, this is a movement to expose the corruption in the market rather than simply an investment in a company we like.
If you want to be part of this history AMC and the new preferred equity called APE are trading for mere dollars. You can even get free stocks by opening an account following this link. This blog is not financial advice and investment is a risk, but we would love to have you as part of the Ape fam.
Maybe the pole shift won’t happen. Maybe Lucy has another trick up her sleeve. The future can’t be predicted. But we can be certain that trends almost always come to an end. Retail investors are no longer as easily fooled. This time Charlie Brown isn’t playing the game as expected.
What happens when working-class investors combine forces to take on the Wall Street elites? Well, the collapse of Melvin Capital, as a start, and much more to come if retail ‘Apes’ have their way. It’s amazing, for as much as we hear that AMC stock is a losing bet, retail investors buying (and HODLing) shares are sure upsetting many in the corporate media who claim we’re somehow ruining the market.
The burnishers of our financial institutions, the smart and privileged people that they are, love to look down their noses at the common people. This article, “Planet of the AMC Apes: Biggest Market Enemy Isn’t Citadel,” highlights an attitude and contempt, using words like “cult” and”mania” and “conspiracy theory” to describe the Ape movement. We’re the “dumb money” who are mindless following the crowd, governed wholly by our emotions, unlike them.
And there’s an extent to which this is a valid criticism. Many who see the markets as a get-rich scheme, that they will become instant millionaires for buying the latest digital token, will be sorely disappointed. It takes patience and conviction, the ability to overcome our fears when the price drops, as well as good due diligence, to make money in the market. Those who have YOLO’d their life savings into Luna are feeling some real pain as the price of that cryptocurrency fell through the floor.
But this idea that only some are fit to make important decisions, or that the elites are not distorting things for their own personal gain, is laughable. The whole idea of hedge funds being allowed to short a stock into oblivion just seems wrong and especially when they are out trying to manipulate retail investors with bearish valuations, FUD articles—deploying bots to shill or bash. This is not to mention the dark pool abuse. You can smell the fraud, yet we’re bad for calling it out as what it is?
The thing is, most retail investors, like me, entered the market thinking that it was free and fair. We didn’t understand how short selling worked or how much happened behind the scenes at the behest of the so-called market makers. We’re just finally now aware of what they do to distort. We rebelled by taking an opposite position to their own in companies they were trying to bankrupt. And now they’re angry for being bested in their own game.
The true reality is that it is not about the money anymore for those who are buying meme stocks. Of course, yes, we would all be happy to see a huge profit for our efforts. But the real goal is to take on the lack of transparency and ability of the hedge funds to rob millions through cynical means. It is not a free or fair market when some are allowed to use algorithms to manipulate or withhold orders to set the price where it benefits them. It is also evident that there is naked shorting—that is to say they ‘create’ fake shares to sell and artificially drop the price to scare retail get out at a loss or illegal dilution.
The average Joe is tired of taking a beating by elites who sold them out over and over again. From outsourcing, globalism, open borders, and the resultant stagnant wages, to “too big to fail” and bank bailouts at the taxpayer’s expense, they don’t actually care about pension funds, and we’re just fed up with a rigged game and corruption. Fighting this status quo is something that is worth risking my hard-earned cash for. Money comes and goes, but bringing some justice into the system is worthwhile.
As far as Apes being stupid. Sure, there are dumb individuals and, absolutely, we need the meme silliness to keep us focused on the goal and laughing rather than worried. And yet, to counter what the wealthy elites have at their disposal, there is the wisdom of the crowds and a sort of collective intelligence that is greater than the sum total of the parts. This is not Tulip mania, this is a short squeeze play and together we’re simply Wall Street’s biggest Whale investor doing what they would do.
In the end, as a final thought, there are many things more important than money in the world and I try to remain mindful of this:
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
What is the highest form of a loving relationship? Many would probably say marriage. Marriage is the recognition of two committing to oneness, involves physical intimacy, and is supposed to last “till death do us part.” What could be more wonderful than romantic love?
But, truth be told, people get into romantic relationships for some very biological reasons. As in pheromones and sexual attraction play a large role. It is why Mennonites marry young, they burn for sexual gratification, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, while this can develop into something deeper, it does not always and marriage can very quality become an unwanted obligation. Divorce rates would be much lower if people married for deeper reasons than merely getting something for themselves.
And that is why marriage and romance is not the ultimate expression of love. Admitted or not, it usually centers on sexual appetites, this special person may become your best friend and yet that does not negate the start. It began with physical attraction and is tied up in our reproductive instincts. So what is more wonderful?
The Love of David and Jonathan
I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.
(2 Samuel 1:26 NIV)
This lament of David, in the quote above, the phrase “more wonderful than that of a woman” in particular, is supposed to stand out. It is a comparison for sake of showing how special and significant this relationship was to David.
But what made it so wonderful?
David, the Biblical character known for his fight with a Philistine giant among other things, had been secretly picked and annointed to be the next king of Israel. King Saul, despite his unusually tall stature, was a cowardly man and poor leader who blamed the people for his own incompetence. He was jealous and identified David as a rival for the throne.
But Jonathan, Saul’s son, who potentially had more to lose than his father immediately showed fondness towards the newly arrived giant slayer:
After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return home to his family. And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.
(1 Samuel 18:1-4 NIV)
They were “one in spirit” and made a covenant to express their love. Which became more important as David’s popularity, as a heroic military leader, grew:
When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with timbrels and lyres. As they danced, they sang:
“Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.”
Saul was very angry; this refrain displeased him greatly. “They have credited David with tens of thousands,” he thought, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?”
And from that time on Saul kept a close eye on David.The next day an evil a spirit from God came forcefully on Saul. He was prophesying in his house, while David was playing the lyre, as he usually did. Saul had a spear in his hand 11and he hurled it, saying to himself, “I’ll pin David to the wall.” But David eluded him twice.
(1 Samuel 18:6-11 NIV)
King Saul was, quite evidently, a very insecure man and couldn’t stand being shown up. Despite David being loyal, rage would get the better of Saul, as in the account above, and this would become a theme.
But Jonathan warned David and stood up to his father on behalf of his friend:
Saul told his son Jonathan and all the attendants to kill David. But Jonathan had taken a great liking to David and warned him, “My father Saul is looking for a chance to kill you. Be on your guard tomorrow morning; go into hiding and stay there. I will go out and stand with my father in the field where you are. I’ll speak to him about you and will tell you what I find out.”
Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, “Let not the king do wrong to his servant David; he has not wronged you, and what he has done has benefited you greatly. He took his life in his hands when he killed the Philistine. The Lord won a great victory for all Israel, and you saw it and were glad. Why then would you do wrong to an innocent man like David by killing him for no reason?
(1 Samuel 19:1-5 NIV)
Jonathan, unlike his spiritually corrupt father, Saul, recognized that David had done no wrong and had actually secured their power. He put his neck out for David by standing up to his moody and unpredictable father. He had as much reason to be threatened by the rise of David, he could have simply kept his mouth shut to save his own skin, but instead he risked being the next to have a spear chucked at him defended his spiritual brother.
What Made This Love More Wonderful?
Some modern commentators try to pervert and sexualize the love between David and Jonathan. To them any intimate relationship must revolve around gratification of physical desires. But there is nothing in the text that suggests this was the case.
The fundamentalist religious types also dismiss love and intimacy that does not revolve around romance. They may not try to redefine the relationship of these two characters, but it is also an anomaly and mystery to them. Where I came from, there was no true brotherly or sisterly relationship, it was expected that people find their intimate connection in biological family or marriage.
David and Jonathan had a spiritual connection. It was a love that wasn’t self-centered. Jonathan was loyal, he eventually died beside his father in battle. Likewise, David had solid character, he absolutely refused to kill king Saul, the Lord’s annointed, despite being unjustly hunted and having to run for his life. Their love was more wonderful because it defied expectations, it went beyond the typical and was deeper connection.
My parents, like my grandparents have remained faithfully devoted to one person their entire lives. This was not always easy, people grow and change, there were failures and financial hardships along the way, and those initial feelings of love faded long away ago. And yet, through these trials of life and tribulations, there has been a stronger bond of love that emerged that is far more profound.
My own life experience has been different from that of my father and grandfather, both whom married in their early twenties and never looked back. They remained fully one woman men. And it doesn’t even seem as if the serious possibility of another woman has ever crossed their minds. That is what I had wanted. Unfortunately, life had different plans for me, I have both imagined myself with many women and have had none. I’m a virgin, having never been married, but have also had my thoughts of liberation from this system that has disadvantaged me.
Call it egalitarian or call it egotistical, but there has also been this alternative of being intimate with multiple women does have some appeal. For me, outside looking in, it could feel a bit unfair that some men could hoard for themselves what some of us could not have at all. So wouldn’t it be better to erase this patriarchal structure entirely and make manifest that heavenly ideal of Matthew 22:30, when we “will neither marry nor be given in marriage” and all are one?
It is no big surprise that sexual liberation is a feature of many ‘Christian’ reformation attempts, including a more radical faction of the early Anabaptist movement in Münster, where they indeed shared more things in common than mere material possessions in their rejection of stuffy tradition. And such things, polygamy and sexual sexual orgies, have been a regular feature of various contemporary cults as well. For whatever reason it does feel right, in theory, but in reality is a self-serving disaster.
From ‘Free Love’ To Hook-up Culture
The 1960s and 70s were supposed to introduce this wonderful new age, free from the bonds of organized religion and stifling tradition. The communal living, the flower children, Woodstock, it all seemed so wonderful in that generation. But, besides music, it has left very little in terms of true positive legacy and ended up an ideal as naïve as the 1950s culture it was supposed to replace. The old hippies are a sort of comical absurdity anymore.
The only actually lasting legacy of that era is the American cultural institution of marriage becoming a mockery of the relationship that my parents and grandparents maintained throughout their decades. Fewer young people are even bothering to say vows as they’ve basically become meaningless in this age governed by immediate feelings and shunning of any type of binding commitment. Many today have never experienced the stability that I have had with two parents who didn’t quit on each other when times got tough.
Worse many in the current generation have gone a step further and pretty much entirely given up on love. They go to Tinder looking for a hook-up, or the whole “Netflix and chill” short-term sexual liaison, which makes very little attempt to treat physical intimacy as something special. It is crass, it is completely centered on the body and cares nothing about the soul. The young and beautiful can trade partners as casually as deciding what fast-food to order in.
Most young people today, even if they do not hook-up per se, think nothing about serial monogamy or living with multiple sex partners over their lifetimes. I’ll hear things like, “how can anyone really know what they want in their early twenties?” It is simply an expectation now that relationships are transitory and not meant to last. Although, for some reason, most do seem to cling to exclusive rights or at least so far as they themselves can’t find anything better.
The Harsh Realities of the Sexual Economy
In the religious subculture that formed me there was always this idea of “meant to be” that accompanied romantic relationship that ended in marriage. Divorce was not an option. The relationship of a man and woman was spiritual. We would barely talk about sexual attraction as a factor in this decision making process. We were told that our being pure and being the right one would bring about success.
This denial of the sexual motivation is what would later lead to my disillusionment when I discovered things truly weren’t as they were being framed. The reason I had been overlooked did not have to do with my character, the impossibly (before I had expressed any interest in her) had told me I would make a “great husband” and wasn’t the first to say so either, but for some reason they weren’t lining up for the opportunity to experience my greatness first-hand.
The reality is that marriage is not only about the completely virtuous pre-destined love of two people as advertised. It is also about climbing the social ladder, gaining access to the resources that another person has, and basically being able to routinely do the nasty with the hottest piece of Mennonite asset available. Yes, it is sexual. Yes, there’s a reason why my Mennonite marriageability rating blog struck a chord with so many in my former religious culture.
Marriage is a type of economic transaction, there is a sexual economy, and some simply bring more to the table in terms of excitement than others. There areas where some of us got the short end of the stick and could not compete. This was not spoken about honestly, for many years it felt like a judgment of my character rather than what it was and would have been much better if it had been acknowledged. At least hook-up culture is honest and doesn’t pretend to be about more than it is.
Why Hook-up Culture Does Not Work
On the surface being able to sleep with anyone seems like freedom. I know it would not take much convincing for me to have sexual relations with multiple women. I mean, there are many different women that I appreciate, with unique personalities, black, white or Asian, all beautiful. Why not take turns, spread the love and share a little, right?
Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. First, there’s this thing of STDs, multiple partners means a wildly increased chance of an incurable and painful disease. Second, hook-up culture is not free love. No, it is actually more exclusive than traditional monogamy in that only the most superficially desirable specimens have a chance of success. Fall under the height requirement, have a few too many extra pounds, and you’re out of luck with no chance at all.
Yeah, sexual promiscuity may have been good to Wilt Chamberlain, who claimed to have had twenty thousand female sexual partners, but it doesn’t work out the same for the average guy who ends up going home with nothing. This is, in fact, the biggest issue with polygamy, some men get more of what they want, even the women may be satisfied with the arrangement, and yet there are also many disgruntled men without a chance. Marriage increases equity by helping with the fairer distribution of a limited resource.
And, considering how many young women get chewed up and spit out by a world full of guys willing to say anything to “get in her pants” only to change their tune later, the traditional arrangement doesn’t seem so bad after all. It is simply mind-blowing how many women, otherwise intelligent, believe that giving a guy what he wants upfront, without anything in writing to prove he is not simply playing around, will help their chances of securing his continued interest in them.
Marriage is About Equity and Protection
Multiple partners and sexual liberation only benefits some. The current paradigm favors attractive men, who are able to select from a large group of willing women, they get what they want and then are on their way again to the next hot body as soon as things become a little difficult. Meanwhile the guys who fall a bit short of female aspirations get nothing at all, permanently friend-zoned, with no chance of sex.
With traditional marriage there’s also some equity there, or at least in theory, in that the hottest players don’t get everything for themselves.
More importantly, saving sex for real commitment means that a woman is not stuck raising a child alone. It also helps to establish consent. Marriage is truly a safeguard against the exploitation of women. Women literally bear a larger burden from sexual relations, emotionally or otherwise, and are often better off with the less flashy faithful men than those more likely to sweep them off their feet.
Lastly, it is also an arrangement that considers the long-term good. And not only of the children who are provided security from a stable established relationship, but also of an aging woman who no longer has that youthfully attractive body and would be left with nothing. Sure, traditional marriage never guarantees success, nevertheless it is better than the alternative of loveless sex and no commitment.
The nail in the coffin of sexual liberation is that sex is more fulfilling in the context of a committed relationship. This is what makes me most sad about the current pursuit of carnal appetite over a selfless and more satisfying (over time) alternative. My parents and grandparents had it right, that’s what I want more than anything else.
I’ll have to concede, I was wrong about face masks. Early in the pandemic, in January of 2020 while the corporate media ‘experts’ were saying that we should be more concerned about the seasonal flu. I was worried about this mystery virus in Wuhan and decided to get a box of N95 masks in case my fears were confirmed. I was ridiculed, at the time, for my warnings and telling people to be prepared.
Months later, as the “no human-to-human transmission” claim of WHO became too obviously false to ignore and the glib urgings of politicians for their constituents to visit China were replaced with terror, that confirmed my warnings. But now, with mask mandates and recommendations rolling out, many friends began to resist the idea. They weren’t going to wear a “face diaper” and ridiculed the idea that a bit of cloth would be effective against a virus.
Of course, they were a little right, cloth masks aren’t at all effective against stopping the spread of the virus and now the corporate media is finally conceding this. But still, based on laboratory experiments and filtration level, I believed my N95 masks were effective. However, laboratory conditions are not the real world and, eventually, even that became a question mark for me. Many countries also require facemasks with the masks because the masks are not adequate.
A few weeks ago, I may have overstated, I said that masks were completely ineffective at stopping the spread. Technically correct since the virus spread as much (or even more) in states with strict requirements and yet I’ve also ran into some convincing data that suggests the good masks, the N95’s with a decent seal, may make an 10% difference overall. So on this basis I’ll admit there could be marginal benefit.
The Wishy-washy Way To Truth
Many people, once they’ve made up their minds, never reconsider their stance. If they believe masks are stupid then they will use every excuse in the book not to wear one. I’ve heard them all. The fear about being dehumanized. That breathing carbon dioxide is dangerous. But then they’ll contradict by calling people who disagree “sheeple” and claiming that something that can stop carbon dioxide from leaving can’t stop a virus from entering, hmm?
This is called confirmation bias. People are emotionally invested in their ideas. It is not easy to admit being wrong after making strong statements one way or another. So, rather than be on an unbending quest for the truth, most people (including your’s truly) will seek out the information that ‘confirms’ an established position and ignore what does not. It takes much more effort to take an honest (and critical) look at the evidence and go wherever it leads. Few actually do.
Confirmation (or my side) bias is powerful because it is hidden under layers of fact and explanation that sounds rational. The position being guarded seems completely reasonable to the holder of the opinion, in their eyes they own the moral high ground, and those who disagree are simply ignorant, selfish or otherwise deficiencient. It is often this moral stake in the ground that makes it so hard to back off from an established opinion, we would rather continue in the righteous delusion than deal with the possibility the other side was right.
As the saying goes, “a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” Even a mountain of evidence cannot uproot an established position. It is the same as a fortification on a hill that can hold off waves of an assault with few defenders. That hill being our ego, the banner flying our identity, and we cling to this ground because to lose it would cause us to question ourselves, ask the hard questions of if we are truly virtuous and good, if we are actually intelligent or fooled by our own desire to be right?
It is far easier to remain in the comfort of our own righteous delusion than to consider that the very foundation of our citadel of reason could be sand. We fear changing our perspective will mean we’re wishy-washy or, worse, might require us to examine the underpinnings of other long held beliefs and leave us with no bedrock to build on. Most of all, we fear the ridicule and abuse of our ideological enemies, we can’t let them win!
Powerful Propaganda to Innoculate the Masses
The point of propaganda is to build confirmation bias. The propagandist tries to encourage an emotional bond to an idea, often through appeals to popular prejudice, and yet not overtly or in a way that the targets know they’re being used. Almost every war is fought for the financial benefit of a few and yet sold as some righteous common cause.
For example, both sides of the American Civil War felt they were fighting for civil rights. Both sides used labor that was either property outright or treated like a rented mule. The Northern elites, for all their moralizing abolitionist hubris, depended on an industrial machine that exploited poor European immigrants, taking them right off the boat to send into dark mines, dangerous factory conditions or conscript them into the meat grinder of Lincoln’s war. The South, obviously, was fighting for the privilege of the slaveholding elites and yet convinced they were depending themselves from Northern tyranny and aggression.
Propaganda is about framing an issue in terms favorable to a particular side without ever appearing to be biased to the target audience. It is subversive by design, aims to overwhelm the true complexity of debatable mathers with simple sloganeering, refrains meant to be picked up by the midwits in media and then spread by the unsuspecting masses. The point is to convince the enforcers of the order, the common folk, that they are doing God’s work, being patriots, on the side of irrefutable science or what have you, when in reality they’re serving some undisclosed agenda.
Hitler did not rise to power by being the caricature of evil that we see him as on the other side of the conflict. No, rather, he had convinced enough of the German people that he was on the side of progress, that he would remove the causes of disease and suffering, then build their country back better than ever. The Nazis dressed up in a magnificent authoritarian style, it might look bad in retrospect, knowing where it was leading, yet was hope for a nation emerging from years of crisis.
The Safe and Effective Deception
As part of the propaganda campaign, to convince people to inject the controversial new vaccines, news articles repeated the “safe and effective” mantra over and over again. Both of those words are, of course, subjective. However, they are assuring and have a sort of sophisticated ring. Surely this sort of confident declaration is the result of rigorous science and more or less an unquestionable truth, right?
But the thing most egregious propaganda is not the downplaying and dismissal of the documented deaths or reasonable concerns of those who have studied history enough to know how quickly narratives change. They are simultaneously attacking treatment options, like Ivermectin, that are truly effective, cheap and present less of a risk than Tylenol. It is actually this that makes me distrust them as far as the vaccines. Why are they so adamantly against things that are actually safer than the vaccines and with a proven record?
Even as the new vaccines have proven to be ineffective as far as stopping the spread and preventing infection, despite the natural immunity of those who had the disease being up to thirteen times stronger than the vaccines, the current propaganda narrative continues that it is the unvaccinated are the real cause of the suffering. Nevermind that Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson all have financial ties to big media and make a windfall off of this new product.
Supposedly they’re completely trustworthy this time around?
Anyhow, each day I hear stories, that man a friend knew who faithfully wore a mask, had two shots, and then died after becoming sick from the Covid virus. We have the trickle of stories about vaccine related health complications, contaminated injections resulting in deaths and recalls of millions of doses, warnings from the very inventors of the mRNA technology, and yet told that we’re a conspiracy theorist to question. Those blinded by confirmation bias will never see.
“See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”
(Malachi 4:5-6 NIV)
That end to the Old Testament has intrigued me. It contains a very clear either/or option. Either the people heed the message of Elijah or the land will be totally destroyed. God desired all to be saved, to be united in love for each other, and yet also doesn’t force the relationship and eventually the opportunity for reconciliation will end.
This is how John the Baptist was introduced in the New Testament:
He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
(Luke 1:16-17 NIV)
Unfortunately, we see how this would eventually work out for the nation, as a whole, of those who didn’t repent or turn from their religious elitism. We see it in the following pronouncement of Jesus:
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn “ ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’
(Matthew 10:34-36 NIV)
Many picked or else.
They choose their own destruction rather than heed the message and accept the offer of repentance and life.
I’m convinced it didn’t need to be that way, that had the people accepted their Lord and Savior, the city of Jerusalem would’ve stood and would not have been destroyed by the Romans. It was political division, the insanity of the zealots (including Judas) pursuing their own version of social justice, the complacent ruling class unable to make up their minds, that ultimately doomed the city to destruction.
Jesus is uniting or divisive. The choice is ours. Like it or not, the Gospel lays out a choice between unity or division. The truth will set you free or you’ll stay in bondage to your sin, to your preferences, your prejudices and perish. If we would truly choose Jesus then we would let go of all of our other identities, grievances and special privileges, we would be united in love.
Many who profess Christ today are more like those who rejected him. They choose tribe over unity, they choose political gain over peace, they accuse others while being as guilty or more guilty themselves. We would be wise to do as Jesus told his disciples regarding those who refuse to hear, to kick the dust from our sandals and move on to those more receptive.
Peace Through Separation
This theme of peace through separation is throughout Scripture, one example being Abram and Lot:
“…quarreling arose between Abram’s herders and Lot’s. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time. So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herders and mine, for we are close relatives. Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.”
(Genesis 13:7-13 NIV)
Lot picked the area close to the city, pitching his tent towards Sodom, Abram went the other way, and the strife between their clans ended. Nobody was offended, there was no reason to be offended, seperation to avoid unnecessary conflict is a peaceable solution.
We see the same happen in the New Testament:
Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord. He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
(Acts 15:36-41 NIV)
Imagine that. A sharp disagreement, even within the early church, leading to a parting of ways. And it actually seemed to work for the best. Sometimes the best solution to an irreconcilable difference is to go different ways. It seems that actually enhanced rather than take way from their respective ministries. At the very least, we see this affair being stated matter of factly and not a cause for additional drama.
There is, however, at least one case of separation gone awry and that’s when Pharoah refused to let the children of Isreal go. He had refused after first bring asked nicely, relented only after a series of plagues that increased in severity, then changed his mind once again and pursued those seeking freedom from him. Why? Well, because he was exploiting their labor and knew letting them go would cost him.
That is also how an abusive spouse acts. They simply can’t tolerate someone wanting to get away from them, they’re insecure, they need to have control, and would sooner murder the other person than allow them to go in peace. They can’t stand that someone would dare to expose their own ugliness and will slander the other party rather than repent of creating the conditions that led to the other party being uncomfortable remaining with them.
A Christian is able to walk away in peace, without things ending on their own terms, but those who are exploiting others or trying to advantage themselves cannot. Is it better that there is no seperation? Sure. Is separation wrong when remaining together becomes unbearable? Absolutely not! In short, seperation is a peaceable solution for peaceable people. But tyrants, who must have their own way, will refuse to leave others be.
Two Groups, Presenting an A-B Option
About six months ago, in response to the increased promotion of tribalism, I started a group on social media “One Nation Under God…” The point was to present an alternative to these divisive forces. A place where people of all colors, creeds, genders, or orientations could celebrate our common humanity together. The idea being that we could act “one nation” rather than allow our differences to divide us. I featured a picture of a diverse group of American children and posted feel-good stories of people overcoming conflicts, Good Samaritan acts, and kindness.
That group, which is representative of my highest aspirations and my desire to be unified with all, only attracted a handful of friends and remains at only a few dozen members. I would rather that we learn to get along, to hear each other’s perspectives, to find our common humanity, and respect our differences.
That’s definitely my option A.
However, around the start of the new year, after a contentious election season and continuing strife, seeing some voices were not being represented, I decide (on a whim) to start a group where disenfranchised rural people could find a home. My group description contrasted “two different Americans” and went on to note the differing cultural values between rural and urban people, with a lament of double standards, and a call for a peaceful resolution.
Well, on one level, it was option B, to advocate for an amicable divorce rather than continue the perpetual conflict and subjugation of one half of the country or the other every four years.
But, on another level, it was still in hopes of option A, to make those on the ‘other side’ aware of this grievance, to hopefully find a listening ear, and then find an understanding together. In other words, it was the same reason that any other peaceful advocacy group exists, to give some a voice in the conversation, to say our culture matters, to stop sweeping our issues under the rug, and have a dialogue.
First and foremost, the group was created as a haven for rural people, who tend to be more reserved and too often get dominated by their socially adept, politically powerful, urban counterparts. There was no hate or contempt for those on the other side of the divide, only a listing of different cultural values, a lament of double-standards, and a call for a peaceful resolution to irreconcilable differences. Rural people have the same desire to feel safe, to feel reasonably represented, and speak against the cultural imperialism of the truly privileged as anyone else.
Many people are fleeing urban areas to escape tyranny and violence. And they are all welcome to live in rural areas. But, that said, those bringing their problems with them, their tribalism and hate, are best staying where they are rather than have them bring their divisiveness to us. Little old Asian women aren’t being physically assaulted by grown men in central Pennsylvania and some of us would rather keep it that way. We believe in equal justice under the law, merit and not quotas, and no special treatment for some over others.
Respect our values or let us go our separate ways. That’s all. Option A and B. Hear the grievance and maybe we can patch things up. That’s always possible. But, respond with more accusations and hate? Yeah, that will only confirm my own reason to leave.
Pharaoh’s ‘Woke’ Army Is Outraged
I was blindsided by it. A friend went me a private message to alert me. The eye of Sauron had found The Rural Divide and the legions of far-left sympathizing, the hoards of apologists for wokeism and closed social justice warriors were on their way to overrun this resistance to their totalitarian agenda. Behind the buttery smooth words, of well-trained passive-aggressive Mennonite-borns, there was seething rage—a sea of hatred, irrationality and nasty accusations
Murder in words.
Only one person reached out for an explanation. A few others to heap condemnation and clearly unwilling to listen. Even some old friends were unwittingly used as pawns. But the truly disappointing part is that those who led this campaign know me enough to know that their characterization of the group was a lie.
For those who don’t know me, I was the religious odd ball at my school (as a conservative Mennonite) and found my place amongst the other misfits. One of my close friends, throughout my school years, came out of the closet in highschool and never once did I think of him as less a person than me. My cafeteria clique consisted of the only Roman Catholic and Mormon guys in the school, an ethnic Indian Hindu, a Filipino Seventh-day adventist. My other closest friend was an atheist fellow.
After school, I’ve only ever dated women categorized as “people of color” according to the current jargon. I’ve punched an openly racist Kansan (not my finest moment) and lost my job as a result. I was obsessed with the Civil Rights Era and fully embraced what Martin Luther King Jr said about content of character over color of skin. My assailants are mostly whites who grew up in ethically homogeneous enclaves, homeschooled, often privileged over me and extremely gullible too. They, like their forbearers, seem to believe that their own poop don’t stink.
Anyhow, back to the present drama, one particularly sanctimonious religious elite, likely trying to impress his peers with this virtue signaling display, suggested that those who joined the group were not even Christian.
Imagine that, you get a random request for a group, decide to accept the invite to see what it is, and bam suddenly you’re out of the Kingdom. Wow! Yeah, I’m thinking this extremely judgmental elite confuses Christianity with cancel culture. Or maybe it is that they are from a conservative Mennonite background where a marriage partner who separates from their abuser is often treated as the guilty party? The apple doesn’t always fall far from the tree, does it?
I’m sure they are too ‘woke’ to carry on the prior generation’s opinions regarding abused women leaving their abusers. And yet, under this new facade of social justice, they carry on the exact same attitude in regards to those who wish to be separated from those that routinely accuse, slander, and belittle them?
Reminds me of this:
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Go ahead, then, and complete what your ancestors started! “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I tell you, all this will come on this generation. “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’ ”
(Matthew 23:29-39 NIV)
It is interesting, first, that this passage above contains both a loving lament and harsh condemnation, both in the same thought. This goes back to the either/or proposition of Malachi. Second, those who killed Jesus, along with the other prophets, thought they were the enlightened and righteous ones. Saul, who latter become St Paul, harassed, pursued and killed Christians thinking this was God’s work. He found fault in others despite being murderous himself and it was only after repentance that he could see.
The very same people today, who are heroes in their own eyes for attacking peaceable people today, would likely be cheering loudly for Jim Crow laws a few generations ago, or aligned with Bolsheviks in Russia and Nazis in Germany before their atrocities were fully known. It’s amazing the similarities between abusers, both then and now, rather than live and let live or leave when unwelcomed, they “pursue to town to town” and demand their piece of God’s people like the mob of degenerates in Sodom wanting a to ‘know’ Lot’s angelic visitors:
Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”
(Genesis 19:4-5 NIV)
The far-left is equally aggressive today in pursuit of anyone who would rather not be with them. If you’re putoff by their nastiness they’ll accuse you of an “ism” or being “phobic” and harass and lie in an effort to have their way with you. To them you have no rights as an individual, you belong to them, and if you refuse their advances they will break your door down…
And those outraged about The Rural Divide acted in the same manner. They attacked in a swarm, relentless, demanding to know why the group existed, trying to infiltrate, and were no different than that enraged mob picking up stones to murder St Stephen for his paraphrasing of what Jesus said:
“Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One.”
(Acts 7:52 NIV)
A Time To Reconcile, A Time To Choose A Side
If anyone in that cabal of hate and hysteria would like to approach me and apologize, I’m more than willing to forgive the slanderous attacks. Unlike the far-left, I believe in repentance, that people should be forgiven of their faults and can change. I’m willing to reconcile with any of those who participated in this spreading of malicious nonsense about me. A simple apology admitting that they misunderstood or were misled into believing my group was something it was not would be sufficient enough.
There are those whom I blocked on social media for their racism or otherwise rude and elitist behavior that I would gladly welcome back into my life if there was a hint of repentance. That’s option A.
This is option B:
But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.
(1 Corinthians 5:11 NIV)
St Paul prefaces this by saying that he’s not speaking against association with sinful non-Christians, who God will judge. But he’s talking about those who profess Christ and yet refuse to repent of their sin. This excommunication is necessary to maintain our own integrity and as not to confuse our non-believing neighbors. It applies, not in cases of different preferences, but in cases of clearly defined sin and lack of repentance. In case I’m unclear:
If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions.
(1 Timothy 6:3-4 NIV)
I’m sure this was just St Paul’s white cisgender male privilege speaking right?
More toxic masculinity, I suppose?
Whatever the case, if even Paul and Barnabas had to go their separate ways over a dispute, both early church missionaries and leaders, then why is it so offensive or wrong that some would rather peaceably divide rather than continue in a quarrel? Isn’t that what happened with Abram and Lot when their groups were in conflict? Abraham going the way of the country and Lot picking the life of the city?
In the end, it is laughable that any Protestant religious separatist, especially these proud social justice preaching types who still identify as “Anabaptist” and refuse to seek membership with the universal church, would be at all critical of those rural folks who wish to have a separate space for themselves. Their hateful reaction confirmed every reason why The Rural Divide exists.
The Rural Divide is a group open to all shades of skin color, even those of other cultures, but only where there is mutual respect and not cultural imperialism. And, yes, the unrepentant ‘woke’ nationalists can stay out.
Relax, folks, it is just a Facebook group.
Everyone else has their safe space, wants their communities and values to be respected.
In the world of sports there are the stars and then there are the role players. The stars get the attention, the glory, while the role players work quietly behind the scenes, and yet would Michael Jordan be famous without his supporting cast?
This past week one of those supporting cast men died after becoming infected by Covid-19, having succumbed on Tuesday of this past week, on the same day as another regular during my growing up days, Lenore Miller, 89, who loved to use testimony time at church to sing, and passed after becoming ill of the same disease.
John Kenneth Metzler, 82, better known as just “Ken,” had been in poor health for the past decade and really seemed to be living on borrowed time as it was. He was born in 1938, February 15, in Lancaster County, the faithful husband to his wife of 60 years, Arlene, and proceeded in death by his daughter Brenda.
I almost didn’t write anything about Ken. I mean, the Mennonite denomination is my past and Ken was simply Ken. A deacon in the church. But an awkward and common man. He ran a muffler shop for years, lived in a little ranch house beside it, drove a Chrysler minivan for years (completely practical like him) and spoke with his totally unsophisticated dutchified drawl.
Not really the kind who gets invited to speak in front of the crowds nor mentioned as someone noteworthy, and yet someone always willing to serve.
I’ll admit, as a teenage punk, who knew nothing and prioritized ‘coolness’ over substance of character, Ken was annoying for his self-effacing style. He would literally apologize for himself while sharing a devotional, for his lack of education and many shortcomings.
He also held some odd views, like the time he confessed to enjoying the comics page and acted as if it was some sort of terrible transgression. He would also, while teaching youth Sunday school, ask questions that would be more suitable for kindergarten students, which would leave everyone confused thinking he was asking rhetorically and him frustrated (or “fuss-trated” in his persistent Lancaster dialect) thinking we weren’t paying attention.
But in the end?
Ken was a man with a golden heart, who became more and more endearing as I matured and, despite his slightly stooped posture, had all the true qualities of a hero.
There are plenty of flashy Mennonites, big fish in their small ponds, who act as “missionaries” or “evangelists” and are roundly praised for their efforts. Many of them have the perfect hair, the superior intelligence, the pedigree and popular families. They travel to the exotic places, some have the academic credentials too, they have the wealth (or access to resources) and reputation for their wonderfulness.
Ken had none of that pomp and pizzazz. He wouldn’t want it even if he were capable. Instead he, slow and steady, like the persistent tortoise compared to the haire of children’s book fame, he worked mostly unrecognized for the good of others. If it was to cut someone a break on a repair bill at his shop or consistently running the canned goods distribution, you would hardly have noticed his contribution.
When crowns in heaven are distributed, I believe there will be many surprises. But it will not be a surprise to me if Ken received a reward bigger than that of the known names. No, he did not lead the church outreach, but he supported it wholeheartedly, and remained long after the charismatic movers and shakers chased after that next new and exciting project. He stayed, stayed true to his commitments, and is a hero in a world full of vain and self-serving ‘good’ men.
Ken also died as he lived. He could have, given his poor physical health, cowered in fear and never left his home. Nobody would have criticized him for doing this, he was clearly in that most at risk category and could not be faulted for hiding out the pandemic. But then why miss out on life when you already know that your days are numbered? He got out instead, remained a part of the community, and that is a choice that I respect—even recommend.
Ken’s death was not a big surprise to me. My initial reaction when I heard he had been at church when a visiting chorus was there, basically a Covid super-spreader event, was to think, “oh, Ken,” and question the wisdom.
But, on second thought, Ken made the right and heroic choice. Ken knew that risk of death isn’t a reason to stop living. He had been on death’s door before and made a deliberate choice.
Ken, unlike many in this age, understood life is difficult and every day is a gift. He may have lived a year or two more, possibly, but was not long for this world by any reasonable assessment. Sure, he likely suffered, he spent his last days alone because of nonsense policies created by administrators, but he was a man who never had it easy and lived a life of faith and sacrifice.
Real heroes don’t wear capes or live in the pages of comic books, most of them do not die in some grand saving-the-world deed, many of them pass unnoticed. They quietly play their role, in the background, until it is time to go home.
At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic shutdowns transportation in the Philippines ground to a halt and left Charlotte with a dilemma. She had started a new job and didn’t want to lose her spot in this highly competitive market where the position would soon be filled. But how would she safely get there from her apartment?
A world away, and definitely sympathetic to her plight, I did not want my ‘bhest’ to throw away the time that she had spent training. She has studied for this new job diligently, had made me proud, and it was not an effort that I wanted her to sacrifice. However, I was also very much concerned about her well-being. Baguio City is not like small-town Pennsylvania, her uncle Roland had been murdered a little over a year ago, and it isn’t recommended to walk in the dark all alone.
How was I supposed to advise her?
In the absence of a firm understanding of all of the dynamics of her circumstances, not wanting to impose too much on her autonomy and push her one way or another, I equivocated. My answer was a meandering non-answer where I expressed my thought that she should do what she could, within reason, to keep her new job. But then, I also restated the risk of her attempting to go try to find a way, in the early morning hours, with the uncertainty of the shutdowns.
She would do what she knew was appropriate, all things considered, right?
Then, in the early evening, her morning, I received her call and was greeted by Charlotte’s harried voice. She had decided, interpreting my indecisive words as an encouragement to go, to set off for work by foot, in the darkness, and was now a little spooked. And, obviously, in no position to offer any form of physical protection.
Now I was both worried and feeling guilty, I had failed in leadership, she had sought my direction and my non-committal tendencies had seriously endangered her.
Anyhow, we were debating, should she continue on or go back when the call abruptly dropped. I tried to call and nobody picked up. She did not respond to messages either. Now, service is spotty in some parts of the city, all of those steep inclines and valleys, and we will routinely need to call again. But this time around there was silence. No message, no nothing. What happened? Something horrible, unthinkable? I tried to keep those thoughts minimized, and prayed, as the minutes became an hour.
As it turns out, she had made her way to work, after the cell service had got spotty, and went right to her duties having arrived a bit late.
All is well that ends well?
But that whole episode made me think very seriously about my role in Charlotte’s life. Had something gone terribly wrong that day, wouldn’t I bear some of the responsibility? She wanted my input, invited me to help her to decide and I refused to offer the clear guidance she needed. That is not a mistake that I wish to repeat. Leaders are called upon to make decisions and should not be neglectful of their duties.
What Does It Mean to Be a Man Under Authority?
The blog title phrase, “a man under authority,” comes from this Gospel account:
When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.” Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?” The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.
(Matthew 8:5-13 NIV)
There is so much going on in that passage that it is very easy to miss the commentary on what makes this man’s faith, a pagan soldier, greater than that of an entire religious nation. This detail, while overshadowed by the response of Jesus, seems to be an extremely significant and is context completely necessary for understanding the statement about “great faith” that follows directly after it. What was it about this man that made him such an extraordinary and commendable example of faith?
The answer, of course, is that he was “a man under authority,” a soldier able to both give orders and also to take orders. He, a good soldier, understood his place, that he was a part of something bigger than himself and was, therefore, able to submit to those in positions of authority greater than his own. He, unlike the faithless Israelites who rejected the authority of Jesus, saw someone who was doing extraordinary things, had a need, had faith, and went to him for help. He realized that the word of Jesus had authority, like that of a military commander, and trusted.
So a pagan soldier knew more about faith than all of the unruly religious snobs who thought of themselves as God’s chosen people and yet rejected that same divine authority come in human flesh when they should have believed. Unlike the Roman centurion, who submitted to something bigger than himself as a way of life, as a soldier, they were too arrogant, elitist, and pig-headed. These sanctimonious religious zealots claimed to have faith in God, but really only believed in their own authority and supposed right to rule.
It is, incidentally, why these unbelieving rebellious hypocrites would eventually get crushed by Rome despite having the fortification of Jerusalem. They, rather than unite against their common enemy, even fought for supremacy amongst themselves, within the walls of the city, rather than submit to each other and do what needed to be done. Sure, they all may have claimed God as their authority, but they truly lacked faith and, for this reason, were routed by the well-disciplined Roman soldiers who did know how to fall into rank and fight together as a unit. A Roman soldier understood that falling under authority was necessary to win battles. They could overcome superior numbers because of their discipline.
Abuse, Neglect and the Leadership Gap
A man unwilling to submit to those whom God ordained is unfit to lead. There are many who fall on this side of the spectrum in the Protestant church, men who demand that their own wives and families submit to their own “headship” in the home while absolutely refusing to fall under the greater authority of the church. It is very little wonder that women and children, raised under such hypocrisy, end up following in this example of rebellion rather than submit. A true leader is someone who leads by example, is someone willing to sacrifice their own privilege, even their life, both for the greater authority and those under their protection. A man who cannot submit to those above or before him and also demands the respect of others below or after him is in it for his own personal gain. They are not leading as Christ led. Period.
However, there’s another type of man, equally unfaithful, possibly in overreaction to the controlling hypocrites, who neglects his duties. He, in his passive approach, also disobeys the authority of God and leaves those under his roof vulnerable. In reality, this kind of leader is as much (or more) in rebellion against his own head (Christ) than the abusive hypocrites. Sure, he may claim that his easy-going and tolerant approach is to demonstrate Christian love. However, that is a lie. Men who refuse to lead, as commanded, force others into chaotic and dangerous situations.
My reluctance to offer clear direction could be some of my own natural disposition and a tendency to be indecisive. It also could be in reaction to patriarchal abuse. I did not want to be one of those domineering and controlling men. I would rather empower others to make their own decisions. But, that is the positive spin, my equivocating was also a product of not wanting to take responsibility for the decision. Instead of putting someone at ease who was looking for advice, by offering them something concrete, a clear “I think you should stay home to avoid the risk,” I forced Charlotte to guess what I truly wanted and made her vulnerable. It was neglectful, weak, and not any better than the patriarchal abuse on the other end of the spectrum.
Yes, a good leader empowers those under them. But this empowerment comes from their offering a hedge of protection, through loving guidance, rather than throw them to the wolves of anxiety, doubt, and indecision.
This running joke about a man asking his wife, “where do you want to eat?” and getting an ambiguous non-committal answer, demonstrates this. This is supposed to highlight a tendency of women, but also perfectly describes a male weakness. It is actually both a symptom of a faithless people pleaser (ie: Adam disobeyed God to eat the apple because Eve handed it to him) and plain old laziness. It takes effort to lead. Sure, the man could’ve taken some time to contemplate what restaurant options there were, came up with his own preference, and then presented the list to his significant other. But it was far easier for him to put her in the hot seat and then pretend that the indecision was her problem.
Male lack of leadership, at least when leadership requires sacrifice, is a chronic issue. Many men need a good hard elbowing in the ribs, like Mary urging Jesus “do something” when the wine ran low at the wedding of Cana, or they will never step up to the plate. Ironically, it does often take a woman to bring out a man’s strength. And yet the chances of a linguini-spined sad excuse of a man getting married or landing a date is in the negative. Most women want to be heard. However, if they wanted a faithful companion and follower, a creature that waited attentively on their every whim or never offered any kind of loving direction, they would get a dog.
Weak Non-commital Men Need Not Apply…
There is this misconception, in this democratic age of female ’empowerment’ and feminism, that sameness of roles will lead to happiness. Many have confused equality of rights or opportunity with the sameness of roles, responsibilities, and outcomes. Both men and women, in this paradigm, have been done a great disservice.
As a reformed “nice guy” who refused to lead for fear of stepping on toes, then complained how women would choose those arrogant self-serving jerks instead, I’ve learned that there is a third and better option.
Women don’t actually want a “yes man” and will, in fact, run from men with insecurities. Sure, they may complain about the opposite extreme, of an overconfident and domineering male specimen, some of those abused by men will decry “toxic masculinity” and find a pushover excuse for a man to feel safe. But most women long for the security of a man that both listens to them and knows who he is enough to kindly tell them when they are wrong. It is sad, this composite of strength and gentleness, of meekness, is a rarity in this world of feminized men and overcompensating fools, but a man who gets it right is irresistible.
There is nothing in this world more pathetic than a man devoid of passion and, rather than take the risk of responsibility, waits on others to make decisions for him. A man who speaks with authoritative power is attractive. Nobody wants that milquetoast, weasel-worded, and non-committal “nice guy,” and too often this display is little more than a lame attempt to curry favor with the female gender anyway. Women want, and frankly need, a man who can say what he means and mean what he says. No, not an authoritarian, not a man lacking in the humility to be wrong either, but someone with the wisdom and discernment that comes from life experience. The man without passion never goes outside of what is familiar and comfortable, is afraid to fail, and has nothing to offer that is uniquely masculine.
I can most certainly understand the frustration of single men. The world is full of mixed media. On one hand, women are demanding power and control for themselves, on the other hand, they are showing up in the millions to watch movies like “50 Shades of Grey” about the perverse and abusive sexual domination of a woman. Secular women fantasize about a “Handmaid’s Tale,” even wear this weird costume as a protest of the patriarchy, and yet these same women apparently long for a government that can exercise absolute control and will keep them safe. It is contradictory and exasperating. Men are told things like “must be 5′-10″ or taller to ride” and then also told not to objectify women. It is a hot mess.
I ran into a different version of this impossible expectation in conservative Mennonite women. They are reminded, ad nauseam, about women needing to submit to men. They are deathly afraid of being stuck with some dude who will stifle their dreams, is unworthy of their respect, and holds the trump card of submission over them. This pushes normal female choosiness to a whole different level. The only control they have is the veto before a relationship even begins. Like the young woman who lamented not being able to pick her own clothes after marriage. Insane! Is it any wonder that many are terrified to date and some flee to leave this nonsense behind?
Here’s a hint: If your religious culture needs to continually pound instruction to women to submit, then you’re 100% without-a-doubt doing it wrong.
In the end, most women do not thrive with a man who isn’t a man. Sure, some women who suffered abuse may gravitate to weak and ineffectual men, as to be in control. But most men value a man who is strong, who is able to protect them from threats (both physical and emotional); one that both listens intently and speaks with a comforting authority that is rare in this tumultuous time. I mean, not every man is cut out to be Keanu Reeves. We can’t all be six feet tall and appear to be chiseled from rock either. However, a man should learn to be reliable and committed, unselfish, and protective.
Christ the Paradox…
Leadership is not about calling the shots, being the boss, or the big man in charge. It does not stifle or rob others of their autonomy and ability to speak to things that matter to them either. No, rather it is being Christ-like, being the strength, and an example of self-sacrificial love, to those more vulnerable. The kingship of Christ is not tyrannical nor passive, firm or gentle depending on the need, he both knew how to submit unto death and also how to speak in an authority unrivaled. He’s both lamb and lion, teacher of the faithful and protector of the flock, merciful to the sinner, and a judge of all.
One of the most interesting icons portraying Jesus is called the “Pantocrator” (Greek for Almighty) shows his face with two different halves. One half shows the compassionate Good Shepherd, giving a blessing, the other shows a stern expression of a mighty ruler. It is very interesting when you cover one half of his face and see the contrast. Many today seem to follow after their own hippy-Jesus, a “you do you” bro dude, but that is not the man we see in Scripture who confronted and will judge the world. He’s Lord of all. That teacher and judge is the image below:
That in mind, Jesus, while sometimes giving a sharp rebuke, also did not simply bark orders at the disciples while refusing to fall under authority. No, he was also in submission to his own head, the God the Father. One of the most profound statements in Scripture, given the divinity of Christ, is this, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
I’m not sure how all of that works, how someone can be both fully human and fully God. But we do know that Jesus, the man, had to submit to God the Father and with that led by example.
Ultimately, the example of leadership Jesus showed is one of self-sacrificial love. Jesus was a man with divine authority, but also a man under authority and willing to suffer for the good of others. He did not lead in a spirit of entitlement nor use his authority to privilege himself at the expense of those under his leadership. He protects his flock, he is their advocate and defender. He prayed alone while his disciples slept. He suffered and died for our salvation rather than take the easy way out. A man following in the example of Christ steps up to the plate. He does his job without complaining. Taking full responsibility for those under his care. He commands respect due to his character, not because he demands it and, like a good soldier, is a man under authority.
Charlotte needs me to man up, take responsibility and not be a pathetic mess of excuses and equivocation. But I can’t expext her to respect me if I’m simply doing everything for myself, addicted to substances or even just my own selfish ambitions. She should have a man who is confident, in his place, and offers her security rather than leave her feeling uncertain. A good man, a true Christian leader, gives others a place to thrive.
As a final thought, men must be allowed to grow into their leadership role, a man never given a chance can’t show his potential. And sometimes those men who appear to have it all together in their teens and twenties aren’t all that they seem. Look at Judas compared to Peter. Judas had his act together, he was trusted with the money, had all the answers, yet betrayed Jesus at the end and took his own life rather than accept his failure. Peter also denied Christ three times. But, unlike Judas, he repented and became the leader of the church. So, don’t lose hope simply because you are not where you want to be and don’t try to do things on your own strength either. We are not worthless nor are we gods, but we are soldiers of faith and only as ever as worthy as the authority we are under.