Saturday 24 October 2020

Be Prepared

In the coming years as the world descends more deeply into the grip of atheistic materialism and (probably) some form of totalitarianism, we can react in two ways. We can either withdraw completely from the world to focus on our personal relationship with God.  Get our own spiritual house in order and leave the outer world to itself. Or we can engage and speak out against the spiritual desecration of the world and of human beings by adding our voice to those that attempt to provide some light in the darkness for individuals who may be seeking it but who cannot find guidance in a world of inverted values.

Whatever we do will depend on personal temperament and mission. Don't be put off by the word mission. Many of us come to this world with a task to perform and that may be great or small but, whatever it is, is still our task. What we are meant to do.

It is of course possible to do both, and I would say we should do both though the proportion of inner to outer activity will vary, and do so at different times. I personally spent 21 years leading a more or less contemplative kind of existence during which I paid very little attention to the world. Then circumstances changed and I was thrown back into the world. I stopped meditating and started to engage much more with outer reality. I acquired duties and responsibilities. I paid more attention to what was transpiring in terms of how the world was being actively corrupted whereas previously I was focussed only on inner things. But even when I wrote my first book in around 2010 I was still largely only concerned with spirituality in a pure sense, and, from my perspective then, the world just had to get along as best it could.

But sometimes you have to come down from the mountaintops. I would still say the spiritual is really the only thing that matters but the difference now is that the world has moved on to the point at which ordinary life is not just not spiritual. It has become actively anti-spiritual. I would put it like this. In the past, God and Caesar occupied different realms and Caesar kept to his own realm. However, now he has invaded God's realm and started to assume spiritual (actually of course anti-spiritual) rights. We must effectively worship him. His values are not just values relating to this world but absolute values that are supposed to reach into the mind and conscience. He claims the right to define goodness and truth. This is not a sudden change. It has been coming on for several decades but now a tipping point has been reached, and if you want to be true to spiritual values you cannot just ignore the world in a passive sense and get on with your life, unpestered. You have to actively reject the world. 

When was the last time this happened? It was probably the time of the early Christians when people were required to acknowledge Caesar as a god and worship him even if that only meant burning a bit of incense before an image. It would have been easy to do this and no doubt many did, telling themselves it was only a meaningless gesture that kept the authorities happy and they could then get on with their life undisturbed. But others realised that to do this would be to cross a threshold. Gesture or not, it was effectively accepting the primacy of this world over God. Once you have done that, it becomes harder and harder to keep God at the forefront of your life. One little gesture so easily leads to complete capitulation.

The contemplative might think that it doesn't really matter what he does outwardly, and sometimes it doesn't. But sometimes it does, and to accept an evil thing puts you on the side of evil. If you really have no choice, that is different but if you do have a choice you can make the right one or the wrong one.

I expect the time is coming when we will have to make that choice. Signs are in the air but the time is not yet. This is more a rehearsal, I would say. A rehearsal and a tilling of the soil. It is a preparation but we too should, in the immortal words of Robert Baden-Powell, "Be prepared".


MagnusStout said...

The Holy Spirit really emphasized the story of Daniel this year. It perfectly dovetails with your post: "Church-State" dichotomy and reacting when unlawful civil authority imposes itself upon the worship of God. Daniel is really the story of our times.

We--like Daniel--are a conquered minority in a hostile environment. Daniel applied his unique gifts (intelligence, grit, faith and prophecy) in a hostile environment to glorify God. Daniel teaches that Faith & Fidelity to God are paramount.

The hard part (for me, at least) is that faith without works is dead. Birdemic sows anti-Faith: we are compelled (through incoherent justifications based in scientism) to debase our God-given humanity and to pretend that collective worship of God is not only illegal, but "dangerous." Action builds belief and vice-versa. Thus, embracing the Big Lies (the Litmus Test) kills Faith.

Real Christians (whose works reflect their Faith) are on a collision course with civil authorities and civil society. This conflict is really a "when" not "if" question. So, how to respond?

Jesus tells us that even if our faith is as small as a mustard seed, it is "enough to move mountains." Perhaps the mustard seed (a tiny, tiny object) is really just the single moment that we first completely open our hearts to Him.

Daniel was in but not of his society, just as we are to be "in the world" but not "of the world." Our Faith sets this balance. Daniel experienced that Evil is ultimately totalitarian, and Daniel's incredible competency was not enough to save him. Evil will always, eventually, force you to "bend the knee." And, in our time, this is exactly what converged institutions do and are doing.

Ultimately, our choice (and, the purpose of our existence) is to glorify God. I don't think we can make the right choice just with rational calculations. Only faith seems to give us the necessary resolve to (1) withstand the consequences and to (2) form the words to be the perfect witness before that particular audience at that moment in time (no need to memorize a speech, as the Holy Spirit will give words to us).

Daniel was told: deny God (by worshiping an idol) or be killed. He was loyal to his king, but did not recognize his unlawful authority to demand worship. Result: Daniel
was tossed into the lion's den (but saved by God). Sometime later, a similar demand is made and he refuses again. Daniel is thrown into a burning furnace (which actually killed those who had stoked the fire to enormous heat). He is miraculously saved once again.

Daniel was a fantastic figure. While he was saved, it is likely that others like him were not so lucky. And, the lesson of Daniel is not that God will miraculously save us from all physical harm, but that we should be openly willing to lose our physical lives to remain loyal to God. And, this is exactly what Jesus said: "For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." Matt 16:25.

A final analogy: the most hardy soldiers before the eve of a great battle were those who accepted the likelihood of their immanent physical deaths but were motivated by helping their brothers-in-arms. This is what permitted most of the most incredible acts of courage and bravery recorded during our great conflicts. And, I believe there is a similar spiritual analog to this law.

Bruce Charlton said...

@William - This business of the early Christians (assuming it is true, which I don't really know) is illustrative of the development of human consciousness. To burn insence to Ceaser mattered then because such rituals were objective - there could not then be a separation of act and thought: to do was to believe.

We are now in a different situation, and I think the problems are different (although analogous) - what is apparent to me is that there are many people (once Christians) who did their own personal equivalent of burning the incense to Caesar some time ago.

For example, I think that closing the churches and ceasing to offer mass to the laity (for Catholics), or to meet and visit (for Protestants) - Then publicly to state that this dereliction was not merely forced upon them; but A Good Thing... was decisive for many once-Christian leaders earlier this year. That was equivalent to burning the incense to Caesar.

Some Priests/ Pastors may have publicly repented since (and public repentance is probably necessary for a public sin), which one would suppose was an easy matter... but I haven't heard of any.

William Wildblood said...

Just to be clear, what I mean by mentioning the incense burning is the strong possibility of society asking us to accept things we know to be wrong when the easiest thing is acceptance and there may be consequences of not accepting.

edwin faust said...

I think that the pinch of incense we are being asked to burn now is mask-wearing. People are being fined, even arrested, and sometimes harassed by other people who see them as life-threatening. One of our presidential candidates today promised to make mask-wearing mandatory while driving on the interstate highways, which are under federal government control. Insane as this may be in terms of commonsense and science, it nevertheless makes sense in terms of advancing totalitarianism: obey mindlessly or be punished, ostracized, imprisoned. The choice that is approaching us is one between a comfortable life purchased at the price of conformity to public mandates that strip away our dignity, or a refusal of such conformity, with all the penalties that go with it. I think most have already made the choice, which leaves those who refuse obedience in an ever increasing minority that will be vilified and mocked and, ultimately, destroyed. This seems a rather melodramatic prediction, but then who could have imagined our present circumstances a year ago? Robert Hugh Benson, in his "Lord of the World" novel, written in 1907, imagined the likely world of 2007, and although he got much right in terms of the unopposed reign of materialism and dictatorship, he failed to envision a world in which Christianity itself would be an accomplice in human degradation. He thought the Catholic Church would be the last bastion standing. Sadly, it has become the sycophant of tyrannical globalism and lost its supernaturalism almost entirely. We are alone, alone, on a wide, wide sea... There is no friendly port in the offing. No sign of land at all. Difficult to imagine the future as anything but a hellscape.

William Wildblood said...

I don't think mask-wearing is the actual pinch of incense but it is a precursor to it. It is something to break down resistance to something else which will be worse. Over the last few decades we have seen how the devil proceeds incrementally, here going from one stage which is apparently not so bad (it's just a piece of cloth) to something which will be more spiritually invasive later. But we are not alone thought it may seem like it. We have no external support, that's for sure, but the inner powers are there and will not abandon us. I'm convinced of that.

William Wildblood said...

By the way, I'm not saying it is just a piece cloth. Of course, it's much more but that's what its advocates maintain.

John Fitzgerald said...

@Bruce - I saw an RC priest on Twitter - Fr. David Palmer - publicly repent for closing his church during the spring lockdown. He said he would rather go to prison than deny his flock the sacraments a second time. In Ireland it has been announced that priests could go to prison for saying Mass.

@Edwin - Incredible that Biden (I presume) should want to mandate masks while driving. Astonishing how fast this is all metastising (Is that the word? I'm not a scientist but I hope you know what I mean.) Reminds me of Poe's 'Descent into the Maelstrom.'

Bruce Charlton said...

@JF - Great news about Fr. DP - I shall take a look.

Ingemar said...

I consider it my mission to impale the lies and dogmas of the VirusCult with the holy lance of Truth.