June 23, 2024

Joseph Leads The Way: What to Do In Trying Times | iApologia

Joseph Leads The Way: What to Do In Trying Times | iApologia
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Cultural events over the past months have been front-burner issues. From politics, business, technology, economics, media, science and the humanities, we have been inundated with culture issues. In opposition to some who would think that Christians should abstain from cultural controversy, I think we are some of the best equipped to think about this topic. Like always, the line between religion and culture is quite blurry. One’s worldview, made up of one’s religion, traditions, and education, impacts culture. When we know that politics is downstream of culture and we see politics going bonkers, we know we need to go farther upstream.

Christianity has been traded for new “religions,” or maybe I should say new “religion-worldviews.” Now, these “religions” are not the traditional ones. These new ones are things like radical environmentalism, Critical Theory, progressive leftism, and Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (MTD), just to name four. Radical environmentalism pushes anti-human policies. Critical Theory preaches neo-racism. MTD is promulgating sexual immorality and moral relativism. Religious progressive leftism is advocating abortion, silencing speech, and defenestrating religion.

Historically, in totalitarian systems like the CCP, USSR and Nazism, persecution started out against one’s political opponents. Think of it as the canary in the coal mine. Sometime after that comes the demonization and persecution of authentic Christianity. Western Christians have already faced direct attacks in the past and this looks to be escalating in the next few years.

Crony Totalitarianism

Big-tech, big-business and big-government elites seem to be working in concert with heavy hands, much like Fascism’s corporation-government merger. Forced lockdowns and mandates over the past months have been quite concerning with governors and bureaucratic health departments overstepping their authority. If one threatens a governor’s hegemony, the boot will come to stomp you. Small business owner Ian Smith in New Jersey felt this when the state drained his business bank account, seizing thousands of defense funds. Just like Gab Social media founder Andrew Torba, Ian had to turn to cryptocurrency to keep money safe and operational. Covid camps in Germany and in New York ) have been proposed. The threat of forced vaccinations and proof with a Covid Card for flying access and other social situations is real.

China’s social credit system seems to be an idea that many are flirting with in the West. Technocratic and totalitarian-rule, big-brother systems of big-tech, big-business and big-government giants are pushing into our freedom. Trying to not waste social unrest to make social change, many of the elite would like to see a “Great Reset.” That’s no longer fringe conspiracy theory. Some of the world’s richest and most powerful people are trying to inch us to that new world where “you will own nothing, and you will be happy.” Unsurprisingly, Biden’s “Build Back Better,” slogan is the same as the slogan of the “Great Reset” and other connected world leaders.

The Orwellian world is no longer fiction, it’s going on in China, North Korea and other totalitarian-dictatorial powers, and we seem to be following. Some are promoting “reeducation camps.” A Bernie Sanders campaign organizer argued gulags and reeducation camps for conservatives (comparing them to Nazis). (Remember, Nazis were “the third way,” and they promoted a flavor of socialism, they held to leftist ideology, thus, contrary to popular misconception, they were leftists. See the book “Liberal Fascism” by Jonah Goldberg.) Katie Couric expressed that Trump supporters need to be “deprogrammed.

Cancel culture persecution is also escalating. The woke crowd is after jobs, teaching positions and degrees from non-woke people, even non-conservatives. Not kowtowing to wokness in the humanities often gets you bullied and canceled. Unsurprisingly,  canceling of Creationists and Intelligent Design advocates from the hard sciences has been going on for years (“Live Not by Lies”: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Intelligent Design). Politically, cancel culture has caused Trump administration individuals to be snubbed for jobs. “Accountability” lists are being formed of Trump supporters. Leftist media are calling for the cancellation of conservative-leaning media. Google is also pushing wokeness. Search the word “News” in Google and many leftist legacy media shows up. Where are the “conservative news sites?” Sure, Fox shows shows on the first page and New York Post on the third page (if you even want to call them conservative), but that’s all I see. Where are ZeroHedge, The Epoch Times, Daily Wire, Red State, American Thinker, PJ Media, Townhall, The Stream, The Gateway Pundit, Breitbart, National Review, NewsMax, TheBlaze, The Federalist, etc.?

The epic deplatforming of Donald Trump has been building up for years. Big tech has had a long-time itchy finger ready to press the button. If Trump can be deplatformed, anyone can, and many are being deplatformed. Consider Milo Yiannopoulos, Roger Stone, Tommy Robinson, Laura Loomer, Alex Jones, Owen Benjamin, Gavin McInnes, Steve Bannon, L. Lin Wood, Michael Flynn, Sidney Powell, Mike Lindell and even Ben Garrison. Sure, maybe I don’t agree with some of their positions, political views, personal lives and comments, but I’m not keen on deplateforming them. Why has the adage “I may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” been defenestrated? In the vein of the famous “First they came for the…” text, we could rewrite it for our age. Someone has:

“When Facebook silenced Laura Loomer, I remained silent; I was not a Loomer fan, that chick’s crazy. When YouTube banned Alex Jones, I remained silent: I didn’t like that crazy conspiracy nut anyway. When Twitter removed Donald Trump, I did not speak out; I was ecstatic because “Orangeman” bad. When social media shut down the conservatives voices, I remained silent; I was thrilled because those haters were dangerous. When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out.”

You may say “so what” about Twitter. Start a Twitter clone. Well, Parler did and they were quickly deplatformed from the Google Play store, the Apple store, and Amazon web hosting servers in a one, two, three punch. WimKin experienced the same. Big-tech bullying little-tech conservatives isn’t new. Years ago they stomped on Gab social media. Controversial Gab creator, Andrew Torba, (here and here), has been a lightning rod for persecution from the crony technocrats since 2016. Smeared as being a white supremacist and racist, he has been deplateformed for years. Gab News said this about him:

“As a result of Torba’s free speech principles, both Gab and Andrew have been no-platformed and banned by 25+ service providers over the years including both App Stores, multiple payment processors, and hosting providers. Torba himself has been personally banned from online banks, cryptocurrency exchanges, and Twitter for many years now. His family is also blacklisted by VISA.”

Sure, we could just say this is all politics. However, if tech oligarchs, corporate elites, government bureaucracies, and cronyists ostracize free speech on the political level, will they do it for Christians? Of course. Often, conservative political views have Christian roots: sanctity of the life of the unborn, freedom of speech, God given rights, promotion of the family, opposition to promoting the LGBTQ agenda, opposition to Transsexual activism, religious freedom, pro-human, etc. Remember, Christianity has been kicked out of government schools for decades. Anyone, especially teachers and employees, who would desire to speak about God, will face the threat of being purged from the school or face the wrath of the ACLU. Torba sends a warning in his article “Then They Came For Christians: A Warning”

“Woke leftists are calling for statues of Jesus to be torn down. Christians are being fired for posting Bible verses on social media. Christians are being kicked out of places they rent for “liking” Charlie Kirk tweets. They are being arrested for preaching the Gospel in the streets. Pinterest is censoring Bible verses and Christian terms. Christians in China who join Zoom calls for worship are later arrested by the CCP.”

In April of 2020, Douglas Wilson, pastor of Christ Church, had his app deplateformed from the Google store for preaching normal Christian things. Best I can tell, it looks like it is back in Google Play now. However, Focus on the Family’s The Daily Citizen Twitter account got canceled by Twitter. Yes, big-tech is coming after Christian for their Christian worldview. Southern Poverty Law Center is a left-wing hit group that claims that many conservative, biblical groups are “hate groups.” This would be irrelevant, except for the fact that many in our culture, media and government, take this left-wing hit organization seriously. Sure, they really do have some hate groups on their page (like KKK). They have groups like Proud Boys (which is far from a Christian group, but is not a hate group). Then, they have Christian based groups like Probe Ministries, American Family Association, Illinois Family Institute and ACT for America. You probably should just put your name in there too, if you are an authentic Christian.

Rob Dreher, in his book “Live Not by Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents,” argues that we are slipping into soft totalitarianism. As we face these unique and unprecedented times, we can look back and learn from past people who faced great harm, persecution, danger, distress, and injustice. One biblical account that I think may help us springboard into some ideas for wisdom is the story of Joseph. As Apostle Paul said this in Romans 15:4, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”

Psychological Projection

Psychological projection isn’t new. Potiphar’s wife used it when she accused Joseph of her lust and rape attempt. She’s not the only one who lived a lie projecting her misdeeds on another. While some unwittingly use psychological projection, many of today’s woke left use it as a tool.

Your best move is to be aware of it and expect it. In fact, the rule of thumb that I’ve come to expect is that leftists accuse others of what they themselves would do, what they are doing, or what they did. Duplicity of defining words. Endless examples could be given. Normal people are labeled racists, but really the radical left is promoting Critical theory, which is racist. Anti-racism is not opposed to racism, rather it promotes racism against people with light-toned skin. US Conservatives are labeled fascists, but historically Fascism is aligned well with the political left (in opposition to many who think otherwise). Antifa members are not anti-fascists; they use fascists tactics and even hold to some fascist’s ideas. Free speech has been twisted to be controlled speech. Opposition to oppression has been twisted to promote oppression. Tolerance is being preached by those who are the most intolerant. Equality has been flipped into inequality. Violence is denounced by those who are the most violent. Unity is proclaimed by the same people who are the most divisive. Justice is applauded while the same individuals are some of the most unjust.

When Trump is accused of working with foreign entities, it is revealed that his accusers were the ones working with Britain and Russian entities (and Joseph Biden and his son had deep connections with Russia, Ukraine, and China!). While Trump was accused of quid-pro-quo, his political opponent admitted that he committed quid-pro-quo while Vice President. Trump is accused of being a dictator by Biden, but Biden signs a flurry of executive orders as president. Antifa claims to be Anti-Fascist, but they are the ones who use Fascist techniques, promote identity politics, and promote socialism as Fascism. While the leftist House speaker accused Trump of trying to start a coup, she herself was trying to ferment a military coup! While leftists often accuse those on the right of antisemitism and racism, it is ignored when one on the left goes on to promote antisemitic views.

Instead of condemning the riots and thuggery over the summer of 2020 by Marxists like Antifa and BLM, leftists are quick to smear Christians with the empty label of “Christian Nationalism” and call us a threat. The only “Christians” who are not a “threat” are those neutered from the Christian worldview. USA Today titled a story “Christian nationalism is a threat, and not just from Capitol attackers invoking Jesus”. Of course anyone who committed a crime in the Capitol invasion was a threat. But please, don’t mix them in with people like David Barton of WallBuilders, and others. They are using the term “Christian Nationalist” in a pejorative way. If you’ve never heard the term before or just heard it recently, you are not alone. Definitions vary, but in the end, authentic Christians are the real focus. Using the playbook of the Southern Poverty Law Center, they mix many different groups together, mixing authentic Christians with other groups that may really have concerning ideas (like the strange ideas of QAnon). But, either way, authentic Christians are the real aim and we are being attacked as a “threat.” Michael Farris, CEO of Alliance Defending Freedom and Chairman of HSLDA, said this about leftists who label people like him with this term:

“You’ve been seeing the term “Christian nationalism” a lot lately. Get used to it. It’s going to be a widely used pejorative that is designed to ostracize, belittle, and delegitimize millions of conservative believers….They don’t like people who have a strong set of conservative principles in both politics and faith that guide their actions….the goal of these pejoratives is to equate millions of mainstream conservative Christians with dangerous [right leaning] radicals—and thus, we must be silenced.”

He says that while many label him with this term, he wouldn’t use it about himself. He also notes leftists would go so far as to label his below beliefs as “dangerous”:

“We believe that the Bible’s guidance speaks to every area of life including politics. We seek to conform our political philosophy to what the Bible says. We do not do as many on the left do by seeking to conform our understanding of God’s Word by injecting our political views into our understanding of the biblical text.”

Farris continues and notes that our nation was founded on principles like “All of us are created equally,” “All of us have inalienable rights from God,” “A just nation rules by the consent of the governed,” and “The core purpose of government is to protect our God-given rights.” Continuing, he recognizes the “flaws and failures” of the United States, but still believes it “played a good and exceptional role in world history.” Then he notes the following: “People who believe the things I have just described are considered dangerous by those on the left.” If you think that the above things are true about the United States, you too are labeled dangerous!

Farris also points out something that I’ve been seeing too. He explains why the left is so emotionally charged when it comes to politics: “They believe that government is the solution to all man’s problems. We believe that God has this role. That’s a genuine conflict.” (Contrariwise, if you are on the conservative right and think that the government is in the role of God, then you too are in conflict with Christianity.) He also notes other polarized views on sexuality, freedom of speech and freedom of religion. In opposition to the empty call to the platitude of unity (meaning all agreeing with leftist ideology), he says this, “We will not convince the left that we are acceptable to them. Anyone who refuses to join in their coerced, amoral, statist utopia is unacceptable.”

Psychological projection is not the only tool used. There is also a duplicitous double standard. Why is it fine for leftists to use bombastic and figurative language, but not fine for one on the right to use comparable language? While leftists praise leftist riots, when the same is done on the right they give condemnation with the strongest terms (Why not condemn both like normal people do?). It is fine when the left storms the Capital but not the right (why not condemn both like normal people do?). It is fine for leftists to make politics into a religion, but when those on the right do it, they are labeled evil (why not condemn both like normal people do?). It’s totally fine for the left to make fun of a Republican president but not when a conservative makes fun of a Democrat vice president (why not condemn both like normal people do?). When a rule maker ignores his or her own virus rules, it sounds like “rules for thee, but no for me.”  While legacy media lavishes praise on a new Democratic president as a super “Christian,” months before, legacy media suggested a conservative Supreme Court justice nominee was unfit because of her faith.

Faithful When Small or Large

Often, we feel too small to actually make a difference. Well, remember that Joseph was faithful in all situations in life. He was faithful to his father. He was a faithful messenger seeking news of his brother’s well-being. He was faithful to almost a fault when he revealed to his family his dreams that made them more envious. He was faithful when he became a slave. He was faithful as a prisoner. He was faithful in front of Pharaoh. He was faithful when he led the grain harvest. He was faithful when he sold the grain. The fact was that he was faithful when he had nothing and had no power. He was also faithful when he gained wealth and power. Being brought low didn’t demoralize him. Being brought high didn’t corrupt him. No situation, no audience, no task was too small for him to be faithful. He was just one of those all-around faithful guys.

The concerns can look momentous and outside of our control. Whether we are big or small, visible or invisible, famous or infamous, we need to lead the way with unwavering integrity and fidelity. If we are not faithful in small tasks, how will we be faithful in large tasks? Remember the old saying, “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.” Alone, you will never change the country, the culture or even your community. However, on the small we can start living with a parallel cultural mindset. We can live with personal integrity, holiness and justice. We can faithfully impact our family, friends, church and neighbors. We can and we should start working in a different framework.

Egypt Isn’t Your Home 

While Joseph and eventually his family, lived in Egypt, it wasn’t their final home. This point reminds me of my previous article where I told of Jude’s grandsons, or Jesus’ grand nephews, being summoned before Emperor Domitian. After Domitian found out that Christ’s kingdom was not a temporal nor an earthly kingdom, but a heavenly and angelic one, he was less than impressed and kicked them out of the court. We need to remember that regardless of state leadership, our Kingdom is eternal, ruled by a heavenly King. While many solutions are physical (that is how God created the world) many are not. Jesus continues reigning after earthly states come and go, so our trust should be in Jesus as King.

Since our Kingdom is Heaven and our King is Jesus, I wonder if it is best for us to look at our world as a missionary does in a foreign land. As we look at the people around us, we see their art, their practices, their politics and their culture. Of course, we too are part of the culture, but as we look at the world in more of an anthropologist way; we look at it from the outside. As we are doing our cross-cultural mission work, we need to understand and speak the language and understand the mindset. We need to participate in many of the same things as others. But, in the end, we still know and realize that we are part of Christ’s kingdom.

Parallel Cultures 

Joseph didn’t let living in a foreign land prevent him from still living faithful to his Creator. Once his family came down, they did the same. Christians in the book of Acts did the same. In fact, the book of Acts gives us an example of living in parallel cultures. The early church had its own community, its own network and even its own economy, if you will. They worked together, helped each other, and discipled one another. They supported each other whether during persecution or in poverty.

Living in a parallel culture can take on many forms. We can do it by rethinking our pastimes, our family structures, our local Christian groups, and our lives in the world in general. Paul, in Ephesians 5:15-20, gives direction on how we should be living Christianly:

“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

If we are not living godly and wisely while redeeming the time and walking circumspectly, why would we call ourselves Christ followers? So many mindlessly imbibe godless entertainment; how is this living in a wise, circumspect and redeeming-our-time way? What impact could we have for Jesus’ Kingdom if we focused less on the latest movie and music hits? How many people could have come to Christ and how many unborn babies could have been saved if more of us would have focused less on sports and gaming?

Rod Dreher, in his book, “Live Not by Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents,” notes the importance of focusing on families. A number of essential family attributes come to mind. Do we despise broken families, shacking up and the easy-come, easy-go relationship culture? Such sin shouldn’t be the norm in Christianity. Another area that Christian parents need to think hard about is why are they sending their children to godless government schools? Why would we ever expect that a young, malleable seven-year-old will not imbibe the secular, woke and godless worldview that they breathe in daily?. Are we prepared to repair the woke and sexualized damage public schools have on our children? Are we prepared to give remedial education in history, science, political science, English, economics, and writing for your children? Parents will still need to homeschool, so why not just do it all at home in the first place?

As our children continue to grow, we will need to train and inoculate them like crazy (which most parents are not doing). Parents, not friends and fashions, are the ones who should be transmitting identity to their offspring. Families need to have long daily conversations (not lectures) for transmission of knowledge, identity, values, virtue, beliefs and worldviews.

We need to rethink how we interact with the community as well. We need to focus on small, local Christian communities to stave off loneliness and isolation, and grow in love and discipleship. Today’s government mandated lockdowns have done great damage to this essential function of the Church. As Christians, we have to continue meeting through such times, even if it is just small cell groups. In our occupations, we need to think more Christianity also. It should be a given for every authentic Christian to shun the ubiquitous immoral and ungodly talk that goes on in many companies. Harder yet, if our employers compel us to take woke and Critical Race training, do we object to it as much as possible? Do you stand against the immoral policies and ideas of many unions? For example, if you are a teacher, do you try to exit the NEA that is fighting for godless and evil policies? In the short article by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, titled “Live Not By Lies” (where Dreher got the title for his book), he says many things that drive home the above point. He says the one who will not live by lies,

    • “Will not henceforth write, sign, or print in any way a single phrase which in his opinion distorts the truth.”
    • “Will not depict, foster or broadcast a single idea which he can only see is false or a distortion of the truth whether it be in painting, sculpture, photography, technical science, or music.”
    • “Will not allow himself to be compelled to attend demonstrations or meetings if they are contrary to his desire or will, will neither take into hand not raise into the air a poster or slogan which he does not completely accept.”
    • “Will not allow himself to be dragged to a meeting where there can be expected a forced or distorted discussion of a question. Will immediately talk out of a meeting, session, lecture, performance or film showing if he hears a speaker tell lies, or purvey ideological nonsense or shameless propaganda.”

While on the topic of Solzhenitsyn, he also gives us guidance on supporting media sources that are promoting bad ideas. He said that the person who does not live by lies “Will not subscribe to or buy a newspaper or magazine in which information is distorted and primary facts are concealed.” For us, that means we should try to abstain from old legacy media and polls that have demonstrated to promote propaganda and truth twisting. When I listen or read a news source, I’m giving them ad dollars and readership numbers; why would I do that? Anyhow, why would I try to support CNN, Huffington Post, Washington Post, and many others who have shown themselves to be less than credible and actively hide important information. This also means that I try to support alternative media sources that are more likely to share the truth or even go back and read or listen to the primary sources.

I’m also trying to steer away from companies and suppliers that seem to be opposing Christian values while promoting the new wokness. If I can, I’m trying to substitute companies like Target, Proctor and Gamble (check out their subsidiaries, such as Gillette!), Amazon, and other left-leaning companies with companies that are less involved in politics or are promoting good values. Also, by shopping diversely, I’m helping create competition that not only helps the “little guy,” but also reduces the power of the big crony businesses. For example, instead of shopping Amazon for a new belt, I ordered one from a leather company which also sold it to me for a lower price. In addition, I’m also trying to diversify away from big social media, ramping up my presence on USA.Life, Gab, CornerTable, and Minds, and starting to use Rumble, Odysee (LBRY) and BitChute. Instead of using GoFundMe, I would try to use GiveSendGo, a Christian-based crowdfunding site. If you are self employed, instead of health insurance, why not use a financial sharing group like Samaritan Ministries? I think we also should start thinking about where we bank and who we allow to host our websites.

Another area that big-tech overreach is negatively impacting our computing. There are only two main phone operating systems, Apple and Android, and we need more diversity, decentralization and competition. Linux phones would do just that. They look to be having a good future, however, there is still tons of work that needs to be done before these phones are ready for the average user. If you are a developer, or if you know someone who is, these operating systems need your help!

Until then, we need to rethink our dependency on Microsoft and Apple in our desktops and laptops too. This is much easier and you can start this today. Remember, we want diversity and transparency and freedom to do what we want with our own devices. Linux computers do just that. With almost unlimited OS flavors, it is about impossible to shut people out. Right now, anyone can use a Linux machine, even those who are not tech savvy. Plus, most people can use Linux to do almost anything they would want to do on a Mac or Microsoft machine. Right now, I’m running two Linux machines at home, and you can too. If you are scared to take the leap from Windows or Apple, go slow and start small. Replace Microsoft Office with something like LibreOffice and replace PhotoShop with Gimp. These programs can be used on any computer. The fact is, these are just two of the many alternative programs I use. After you get comfortable with that, install one of the many Linux flavors on one of your old computers. Play around with it and have fun. (If you have suggestions, feel free to ask me below in the comments.)

God Meant It For Good   

The last thing I think we need to remember is that while many around us mean things for evil, God takes that situation and makes it ultimately turn out for good. “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” (Genesis 50:20). What makes the story of Joseph so exciting and so powerful is to see what happens when you trust God. When we have patience, we can look back and know that through all our pain, evil and suffering, we win in the end. We win, whether it is this life or the next. God is still on the throne, and God is still in control.

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