By Charlie Johnston
It has been a very busy couple of weeks – for the world as well as for me. I planned to do a massive Musings column today…then realized getting in so much you would choke on it after having an absence of anything but the Joseph Cronin story for two weeks was not the way to go. So I will keep it to a reasonable Musings column today, followed by several more until I have gotten all off my chest that the last few weeks have engendered.
If you like your Internet, you can keep your Internet….
Most of President Obama’s commissioners to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) kept their plans for “net neutrality” a closely-guarded secret until last week. Even now, we have just seen the tip of this ugly scheme…details being held back so as to prop up the facile fiction that it is for our own good and will make things much better for us all.
Here’s the reality: this is an attempted government takeover of the internet that will seek to regulate content of websites as well as vastly increase costs for everyone. In an effort to sound benign, websites will not be monitored for their political content – but internal links to other websites that do express political views will be regulated, in some cases assessed a fee, and all will be required to do lengthy regular reporting to the government – called disclosures and reporting – to see if any fees are required. For any of you who have ever dealt with bureaucracies in your home state or federal government on reporting political donations and expenditures, this would be even MORE intrusive – and directed at average folks. To give those who have not ever so dealt an idea of what it is like – when my fantasies get around to imagining a federal agency that should be torpedoed, the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) ALWAYS comes before the IRS.
And what, pray tell, is political in this day and age? Well, if you attack freedom of speech or religion as guaranteed in the First Amendment, that is portrayed as rational and enlightened discourse. If you defend those freedoms, you are accused of “politicizing” the argument. If you attack the right of self-defense as settled in the Second Amendment, you are supposedly engaging in rational and enlightened discourse. If you defend that right, you are “politicizing” the issue. If you say non-violent religions such as Christianity and Judaism should be oppressed and their adherents forced at the point of government coercion to violate their deepest beliefs, that is rational and enlightened discourse. If you say that adherents of the religion that has been routinely beheading civilians, crucifying children or burying them alive, burning soldiers alive in a cage are actually a “religion of peace” which should be tolerated and encouraged and understand, that is rational and enlightened discourse. If, though, you defend the peaceful rights of conscience of Christians and Jews while advocating the engagement and defeat of murdering Jihadists, you are both politicizing the issue and are obviously an ignorant Neanderthal.
America’s foundational documents, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, offer a blueprint for how to blend self-government with liberty in a fashion that can endure, but it is more than that. The Declaration, particularly, lays out the criteria for judging whether or not a government is legitimate. All the founders maintained that when a government failed the basic tests of legitimacy, people had the right to overthrow it. Several of them insisted that, in such a case, the people had a positive duty to overthrow it.
I acknowledge the coercive power of our government, but for at least five years, I have not regarded it as legitimate. I regard it as an occupying power. I no longer deal with it out of any loyalty or allegiance, but on a pragmatic basis, submitting to that which I cannot stop without great cost and which does not directly violate my conscience; ignoring it and living passive resistance on most other things – and saving active resistance for those things which carry great moral weight or directly impact guaranteed freedoms. A couple examples:
- I will apply for and accept no disability payments from the government, despite family members and attorney friends occasionally urging me to and assuring me I would qualify easily. This is not for all, but for me. To accept such payments would be to become a co-conspirator with an illegitimate occupying force at best – and the slave of a capricious beast of a bureaucracy at worst. For the same reason, I will not accept Social Security when I become eligible for it because of age.
- Since before my pilgrimage, I do not carry health insurance and I will not carry it. I cannot get any insurance that does not cover abortion…and when my government demands that I get insurance and demands that that insurance pay tribute to the culture of death, it demands what I will not give. I cannot stop the government from imposing fines, but I will not cooperate with them in processing those fines nor respond to any illegal and immoral demands they make in that regard. Unless I am unconscious or otherwise prevented from making decisions for myself, I will not go to any hospital that sets aside a death chamber for aborting infants. I have been moments from death on at least three occasions in my life: I find it far more acceptable than participating in the advancement of the culture of death.
I am not a revolutionary. This government will collapse under the weight of its own contradictions soon enough. I am far more interested in making provisions for rebuilding, for defending those who suffer in the crash, than I am in helping the crash along. But I have withdrawn my loyalty and submission to a government which utterly fails the test of legitimacy.
Thus, if the regulation of the internet manages to pass before collapse is complete, I will keep doing what I am doing as long as I can. I will submit no reports to government overseers, I will make no disclosures, I will not answer any summons, I will not pay any fines, I will not trim my sails to suit any bureaucrats. Their only choice will be to shut me down or jail me. I will not co-operate with them so they will have to exercise their coercive power.
Statists will, of course, dismiss this as over-heated paranoid fantasy. I am not fearful or paranoid or making an impotent statement of defiant rage. I hope it does not come to that. But these are very serious times – and things we are assured will never happen keep happening. That will continue to get worse and more dire. I say this so no one is caught unawares. We are going to have to make some very tough decisions – and already are having to. Each of us must consider how we will act when the commissar comes to enforce the state’s will over us…and each of us needs to consider it with cool resolve now…precisely so we don’t engage in impotent statements of rage we will not actually live up to when the time comes. The darkness is upon us.
The End of the Beginning
I am astonished at how far things have tumbled in just the last few weeks while I was occupied with other things. Yemen, our great ally and anchor of stability (according to the American President) has fallen completely. Organized violence runs amok in Africa and the Middle East while our president worries himself about the threat posed by roving bands of rogue Methodists and the Ladies Red Hat League. It is as if Winston Churchill, confronted with the threat by Hitler, mobilized England to prepare for the growing menace of marauding centaurs while ignoring the Nazis. That would not have ended well. Neither will this.
I was, however, grateful for President Obama’s breathtakingly ignorant, offensive and condescending lecture at the national prayer breakfast telling us Christians not to get on our “high horses” at Jihadi atrocities, for after all…the Crusades! I have been telling shocked audiences for several decades now that the Crusades were NOT Christian aggression, but the Christian counter-attack against Muslim aggression that intended to take over the world and destroy Christianity entirely. My major problem with it is that Christianity did not even get started until after Islam had taken over all the Holy Land, all of Spain and what is now Portugal, and vast chunks of Italy. I would no more apologize for the Crusades than I would apologize for defeating Hitler (both things that happened before I was born, but in which my spiritual forbears rose to defend civilization and freedom successfully). President Obama’s noxious comments caused several historians to declare, “Enough already!” and write pieces that confirmed exactly what I have been saying – and thus much of the general public is finally getting an actual historical recitation of the Crusades rather than the ignorant, fictional polemical broadsides, that have held sway now for several decades.
My favorite piece is by Jonah Goldberg, the public intellectual with a rapier wit who resides at National Review. (Even Goldberg loves the irony of himself, a Jew, rising to the defense of the Crusades). For a more straightforward dismissal of the nonsense, Ralph Peters lays out some basic facts.
On the economic front, I was a bit stunned when Jim Clifton, the CEO of Gallup (the big, establishment polling company) wrote this primal scream of a piece decrying the continuing official lies about unemployment in this country. Those of you who are regular readers can proudly say you heard it here first in this piece a few months back. A day or two after this piece appeared, Clifton said some conciliatory things in an interview – and then pointedly said he was trying to make nice because he did not want to be “disappeared,” his children need him. This is not some right-wing survivalist engaging in paranoia, but a member in good standing of the ruling class of elites. (Well, his standing may not be as good as it was before he decided to speak truth to power).
Almost as ominous was this piece from the mainstream Financial Times, revealing the level of national indebtedness throughout the world. I am not positive, but I am pretty sure we now owe more money than has existed combined through all of history. That is unprecedented.
We have had administrations and government fail and make vast miscalculations before. Such is life. But they have always reached a point where officials would get a bewildered mien and it would be clear that they knew things were not working out as they planned. Everything this administration touches ends up smashed to bits – and as they survey their handiwork, they pronounce it good. The best the opposition in Congress can mount is to argue about the type of broom that should be used for a cleanup. It is bizarre. But it is not the beginning of the end, only the end of the beginning.
It has been a pleasant surprise to discover that the movie, “50 Shades of Grey,” is being panned in almost all corners. Liberals hate it for the oppression of women it portrays; the artsy crowd hates it for its bad writing and exhausted themes; conservatives and Christians hate it for the soulless pornographic lust at its center.
Of all the pieces I have seen on it, this one by Kirsten Andersen at LifeSiteNews is the most deeply insightful. There is a great longing at the core of modern culture, a longing for love that is only being met by more and more mechanical lust. It leaves people empty…hollow. It is like being stranded at sea and dying of thirst. The desire to drink the brine becomes overwhelming – and it does give momentary relief. But the cost is that it makes the thirst even worse – and if you can’t obtain fresh water, it will kill you. The substitution of lust for love is the brine that is slowly killing many in our culture…and they are finally waking up to its deadly and dulling effect.
Many of the people who deceive themselves that they are hot, young and beautiful are actually leading lives of quiet desperation and despair. The living waters of Christ make up the fresh spring that can revive them…but only if we truly love. To do that we must be a sign of hope, real hope, and then exhort all who come to this fountain to go forth and do the same for those around them. If we live that with quiet fortitude, the walls of Gomorrah will crumble along with its toxic illusions.
Onward Christian Soldiers
A few days back, a reader questioned me about a comment I had made on a secular website, where I called someone “stupid and sloppy” in the midst of a debate. I am an opinionated guy – and have never been shy about sharing that opinion, nor about tossing around verbal brickbats and crowbars to do so. He suggested it was not an appropriate way to speak, particularly if I were, indeed, to be a prophetic voice.
I resisted for a bit. Verbal combat has been one of my great enthusiasms over the years…whether it be about sports, cinema, literature or politics. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there is one area where I have rarely engaged in casual verbal combat – – in public matters in which I had real responsibility. Why? Because when I have had real responsibility on such matters, I have known that undisciplined verbal combat will often drive people away and can badly wound others who mean well but express themselves clumsily or bombastically.
Over the years, my angel has urged me to have no concern over proving myself: just stay focused on the work and God, Himself, will confirm things in His time. It is part of why I am so calm when dealing with sincere people who deeply disagree with me or doubt my veracity. I am conscious that, if I make a big deal of such things it could get opponents emotionally vested in their opposition to me – which could make it difficult for them to accept if God does, indeed, confirm the truth of what I say in some striking way. I am called to hearten everyone to endure the Storm. If I make it harder for someone to accept later, I know I will be held to account for that.
But the reader’s note brought something else to the fore I had not considered before. If there was later, some dramatic confirmation, how would that affect those who have been my verbal sparring partners in these little battles? It could cause some to go into despair when, for me, all I was doing was the equivalent of throwing a brushback pitch in baseball. I decided I will not comment on any secular sites at all, for fear of causing such delayed harm. I will not suddenly become tame, but if I speak to wound, I am going to be very careful to make sure it is what I intend and avoid any collateral damage.
I encourage you all to contemplate this as well. The Storm is upon us, but even in the midst of it, God has opened up a pathway through the wilderness. We often feel that we are under siege, persecuted and marginalized, and so we lash out in anger. That is understandable. But the deeper reality is that we are God’s army in these times. And we are on the side that will prevail. We are called to battle with courage those who would relentlessly assault their neighbor…but we are also called to lead as many to safety as can be reached during these times. We are called to be the light of the world. We must not behave as savagely embittered victims, but as what we really are: soldiers of the soon to be victorious Army of Christ. So we must behave with the dignity of that calling even now, in anticipation of the certain victory ahead. We must behave in a way that all those uncertain souls, trembling, will look to us in hope rather than in fear that they are just trading one cruel ideology for another. So let us not shrink from the battle, but let it always be as deliberate, and joyful, warriors for Christ – and so conduct ourselves so that those on the sidelines are filled with hope and the resolve that this is what they, too, want to be.
It stings when someone brings to light a part of you that is unworthy that you had not seriously considered before. As God prepares us for the fullness of the Storm, we are all going to get these stings. I will get more I am sure. But let us take these stings and be glad, as men and women of Christ, not as petulant children. It stings to get a tumor removed, but the doctor who does it deserves our gratitude. My reader identified and helped remove a spiritual tumor from me. And so I am better prepared for battle. Be grateful for those who remove your tumors.
Now, lest anyone get any ideas, I do so love verbal combat that I do not intend to give it up. But I will confine it to family and friends, where they know me and will eagerly give me a blow back. And lest you think you will now always get a gentle answer from me, let me assure you, dear readers, I consider you to be family and friends!