Perhaps someday I’ll be more nonpartisan, a little more detached during election seasons.
But not today.
This is a day for rejoicing, a day for singing happy songs, for many. But many are crying today:
The mass media: because they have been caught lying, loudly, and repeatedly. They have suddenly discovered that they have no friends and are wondering what to do now.
The Republican and Democratic establishments: for lying to the people and trying to get their same-ol’, same-ol’ milquetoast candidates and policies down the throats of Americans.
The Clinton camp, for its inexcusable moral failures in (at times literally) propping up a candidate who was utterly evil and despicable to the core.
Celebrities, because they’re isolated from reality in their little popularity bubbles, and though they may sometimes play intelligent characters on screen, many of them are stupid to the core.
Liberal progressives, because they have been attempting to destroy this country through unmaintainable, dumb ideas like open borders (suicide) and abortion on demand (genocide).
Liberal Christians, because they failed to listen to reason, to look for the important issues, to move beyond their little near-secular popularity cliques.
President Obama, who has worked to destroy the United States for eight long years, at times systematically, with Saul Alinsky tactics, but most often through virtue signaling, bumbling, and kissing the feet of Islamic hegemony.
Many groups lost big. But some won big, or should I say ‘big league’?
Non-liberal Christians. Repealing the Johnson Amendment can end religious persecution through the IRS. Stopping the Syrian ‘refugee’ program means less Sharia-observant individuals coming to the United States (people who have not made a commitment to blend into Western culture and thus not kill Christians).
Gays and lesbians. While I disagree with their lifestyle, I am also on the same side when it comes to importing Islamic ‘refugees’: if they come from Sharia-law-practicing countries, they want to kill both of us. So we have common ground there.
Middle class workers. Tax cuts have a huge impact. Keeping businesses here in the United States will keep jobs here. Stopping non-citizens from crossing the border will make minimum-wage jobs available to United States citizens.
The losers that I mentioned before–because by electing President Trump, we intend to Make America Great Again For Everybody.
Not too long ago, I read an article, which I forgot to bookmark, on why white people shouldn’t tribalize. I skimmed the article, and when I found it to be a meaningless bit of political correctness, quickly dismissed it. But the idea did stick in my head.
Sometimes it’s entertaining to follow folks who blame ___ for everything so you can see what the crazies think. (We all messed it up.)
I’ve been in quite a few different Christian circles during my years of Charismania, and one of the more strange and amusing things I’ve heard is Christians saying that they have found their ‘tribe’. The handful of times I’ve heard the phrase, it’s been white American Christians who said it, and it’s always been funny to me.
This idea of ‘white tribalism’ has always struck me as weird. Is there a such thing as white people forming a ‘tribe’, like Africans, Native Americans, or other cultures? It’s a funny idea to play with in my head, like an irregularly-shaped bit of sanded, colored glass. Those of the ‘politically correct’ persuasion will say that such things sound like the KKK. I just think it sounds weird.
The only time I find the paradigm of ‘tribalism’ halfway useful is when I hold it up as an abstract idea against the metaphorical background of Christianity, specifically the Body of Christ–and when I look at the Body, I don’t see a ‘tribe’. In my emergence from Charismania towards Anglican orthodoxy, I’ve found that being united with others of ‘every tribe and tongue’ a much more useful idea than being a part of an isolated ‘tribe’. Israel was a nomadic tribe before the Tabernacle of David and Solomon’s Temple, but once Christ came, did Christians become nomads? I think Christians became a family, God’s family, and when they attempted to institutionalize Christianity, things went seriously awry. Where Christianity became compartmentalized (cloistered), it became useless. Where denominations were formed, wars started, either physical or ideological or both, and resulted in nothing good
It’s hard for me to take white or black supremacists seriously any more, because I understand their paradigm to a degree, but find it completely useless. Biologically, I am a person of English and Irish descent, so I have fair skin that burns easily, and I live in America. I’m angry at the American government, and I’m voting for Trump. But I don’t identify with ‘white people’, per se, because ‘white people’ is such an odd term. It brings up images of 1950’s nuclear families or ‘white trash’, both of which don’t describe me at all. I think of myself as either an American, or a Christian, or an Anglican. Playing around with different labels for myself is a fun thing, because I’ve never found one that adequately describes me. I think that might be a providential thing.
I feel sorry for those who don’t feel like they have a tribe, or a culture, especially white American Christians. Christian orthodoxy, for me, has been a journey into the Body of Christ, an entrance back into true Christian culture. Where I felt disconnected before, the weekly participation in the Sacraments and the daily conversation with fellow Orthodox Christians (those of Catholic and Anglican persuasion), along with the musings of writers such as G.K. Chesterton, have made me feel connected again, part of the Body, part of the Vine again. I think that’s the way it should be.
(In writing this article, I attempted to find a way to extend it to apply to unbelievers, but couldn’t find a way to accomplish that. I guess you can form whatever groups you like, but I don’t think you’ll find any deep, lasting, heart satisfaction in any ideological other than that of the family of God, the mystical body of Christ. Any other paradigm is subject to the changing whims of man, tossed about on the seas of moral uncertainty.)
After watching this video where a Muslim converts to Christianity, and an exhilarating discussion on Twitter yesterday with a Catholic and a fellow Anglican (I myself am Anglican and part of an Anglican Church of North America church), I’ve come to a conclusion–well, rather, a hypothesis:
Christian orthodoxy will save the world.
Specifically, the Muslim world.
What Islam has going for it is a relatively organized system: several holy books (the Koran, the Sira, and the Hadith), the life of a figure regarded as ideal or holy (Muhammad) for study, and decrees (fatwas) issued for clarification of Muslim law (Sharia) by figures in a central authority (mufti).
If that doesn’t sound like Christian orthodoxy gone horribly wrong, I don’t know what does.
We have our holy books (the Bible and occasionally the Apocrypha), the life of a figure regarded as ideal or holy (Jesus) for study, and decrees issued for clarification of Christian doctrine and practice by figures in a central authority (the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury, or, in the case of the ACNA, Archbishop Foley Beach).
While Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, and Episcopalians disagree on the doctrines issues raised by the Reformation (Martin Luther really did a number on the Church, both for good and for bad) and social issues (mostly regarding sexuality), all of these bring some semblance of order to unstructured Christianity. Nondenominational churches will most likely never be palatable to an orthodox Muslim who has converted, because of the disorganized nature of things and the continual disagreement between denominations as to how far to go with post-Reformation theology.
Please note that in the former paragraph, I used the word ‘palatable’ not to mean that we change Christianity to suit Islam–conversion without the radical heart change introduced by the Holy Spirit is not conversion!–but that we welcome Muslims into the body of Christ not just through conversion, but also baptism and the other Sacraments into our holy fellowship.
In other words, we invite them into Christ’s Church, but we also give them the structure necessary for former Muslims to have the grounding and satisfaction that comes from hundreds of years of Christian orthodoxy–the Sacraments, the succession of bishops, all of it.
Now how do we implement this? I’m not sure, but I think it might be happening already. I do know that Anglicanism is already spreading throughout Africa and that we have missions organizations. I imagine the Catholic Church does too. If we are already there, then shifting to the Middle East shouldn’t be so hard to do. The only thing I would add to traditional missions work is including weapons training, so that new Christians can protect themselves. If a Muslim gives their life to Christ only to be murdered the next day, what has the Church gained?
The United States government, as it is now, cannot be trusted to protect Middle Eastern Christians–they bring in Muslims almost exclusively. Whether Europe can be trusted is doubtful as well. Christians are going to have to do this by ourselves–but this is probably as it should be. Orthodox Christians need to have the backbone of the Crusaders, so that we–Christ through us–can save the world.
Doomsayers have always been around, and I’m not about to join their crowd, but the Boy Scouts taught me to ‘Be Prepared’, so perhaps I can be a bit of help here.
I’ve been reading a few articles of late–hereare a few, but there are more out there–about the possible upcoming collapse of society. This isn’t a new thing; I’m seeing more and more of this pessimistic (or realistic) idea that there is a coming storm. Donald Trump believes that we’re sitting on a larger financial bubble than the one of 2007-2008, and it would not surprise me. Eight years of Barack Obama, a corrupt, lying, incompetent, and inexperienced activist and Islamist sympathizer, has ruined the United States government, possibly beyond recovery. If the evil and hopelessly deranged globalist Hillary Clinton gets in office, the United States as we know it is likely done for. As much as I like Donald Trump, I’m not sure if having a decent individual in the White House is going to be enough to stop society’s decline.
As a Christian, I try to lean more towards optimism–I believe that ‘Christ in me, the hope of glory’ can overcome anything–but we can be ready if societal collapse happens.
For men who want to be men, we have to fight two things: society and ourselves.
But it is fighting ourselves–or rather, toughening ourselves up, that makes us so we can change society.
I’m convinced that most of what passes for Christianity in America (and probably Europe too) is a pale, softened, feminized reflection of what the Apostles had and what their immediate predecessors had. Men were strong and resilient in the choice of certain death at hostile dictators and a backwards culture. They boldly led their wives and families around the known world to spread the Good News, without fear. Our generation, when we even make it to church, we tend to either hear feel-good messages designed to tickle the ears, or outdated ‘beam me up, Scotty’ theology that makes us wimpy Christians.
I’ve been at the mercy of feminized Christianity off and on for more years than I would have liked. I hung around with the hippies in the ‘prayer rooms’, trying to appease Jesus by singing songs at him 24 hours a day. I thought that spirituality was all about embracing Jesus as a Bridegroom, the whole Song-of-Solomon-being-a-parable-for-Jesus nonsense. (Today I take Occam’s Razor to the book and I see it as a book of romantic, sometimes erotic, poetry.)
I’ve seen Christians re-discovering grace, discovering that God destroyed sin and destroyed us on the Cross for our freedom. If you’re not preaching grace so it can be interpreted as a license for sin (the same accusation levelled at Paul), then you’re preaching it wrong. But what we see now is that the grace movement has emerged from the thought of an angry Father and Son to the image of…well…the land of teddy bears and marshmallows. Some of us went from the idea of an abusive God to the polar opposite: passive, loving, gentle, and never offensive. As always, the truth is in the middle, the via media.
When I think about a father, I think about my dad teaching me how to drive, yelling at me when I was stopping at a green light or missing nearby cars in my mirrors, laughing as I would make my second car, which had a manual transmission, buck like a bronco across the parking lot and then die. I think of long hours spent taking my old Buick Regal apart to replace the fuel pump and alternator. Burn myself or cut myself a bit? It’s all right, just suck it up.
Dads are there to toughen you up in addition to providing you love and stability. If half of the weak twerps on college campuses who call themselves ‘Social Justice Warriors’ (there’s nothing war-like about them unless they’re wearing bandannas and protesting; perhaps we could call them ‘Sad Jellyfish Weasels’?) had had a real father tell them to ‘suck it up’ and stop being so weak, there wouldn’t be a problem with that. But no, the millennials had absent fathers or distant fathers who didn’t know how to raise kids, or didn’t even want to raise kids. This problem with weakness and lack of strong guidance goes all the way back to the Baby Boomers, the original children of privilege. Fortunately, I was one of the lucky few Gen-Xers with an intact nuclear family and Christian values, which helped keep our family together and helped keep me together through all the years of hell I suffered at the hands of mental illness.
I want to help reshape the picture of modern Christianity. I want to see Jesus as a man’s man, a conqueror who laid down his sword and died for humanity, to defeat sin and the grave forever. I want to read Paul, Peter, and John in the context of strong men who walked for days and weeks on end, sometimes going without food and sleep, to tell people of Christ everywhere.
The other nonfiction book I’m reading off and on is The Jesus-Driven Life, by Michael Hardin. I like Hardin because he embraces mystery in spirituality but he’s also a no-nonsense fellow who doesn’t pull any punches (at least as I have encountered him on Facebook in the past).
Physically, I am working on finding a good martial arts studio that combines sensible cost with a serious attitude towards the study. I’ve figured out a way to make myself watch my eating and lose weight by making a system out of it: making it like a game. I don’t want to share any details on that yet because I’m only five days into it and I want to make sure it’s a viable, sustainable system first. So far it’s working pretty well.
In order to shape the world around us, Christians need to get strong. There is plenty of good we can be doing in the world–defeating globalism, socialism, feminism, Cultural Marxism, racism, immorality…all sorts of clear and present dangers. The dragons we have to slay now are not physical, but are ideas in peoples’ heads that are weakening us and causing them to be susceptible to every whim of the poisonous culture around us. Sometimes these ideas are helping weaken our countries’ borders and making our citizens unsafe. We, as Christian men, should be doing something about that.
As Christians, we should be leading the world. As men, we should be shaping Christianity into an effective force. I want to see Christians with backbone, modern Crusaders with guts who can stand up against Islamic invasion, globalism, and liberal insanity.
In order to fix what’s around me, I am fixing myself, by the power of Christ within, and by good guidance. Are you strengthening yourself? If not, isn’t it about time?
You’re trying to put me in a shame trap? It’s not going to work. (This happened yesterday on Twitter.)
I do not call myself a ‘good Christian’. Honestly, I don’t think I’m qualified to judge that. That’s above my pay grade. I follow Christ, I know his opinion of me, and that is enough for me.
Sure, I’d like to think of myself as a pleasant person to be around. My wife and kids think I do a good job, my friends like me, and my boss at work always gives me good reviews.
I’m also a moral person. I have a sense of right and wrong which is generally aligned with what normal people, not the MSM, would expect of an evangelical Christian. I don’t attack other people who violate my belief system.
The moment anyone sets themselves up as a ‘good Christian’ anything, they have a target on their back. We have plenty of examples of Christian personalities and politicians who ascended the mountain of moral exampleship and found themselves getting buried in the landslide of moral failure on the other side.
I don’t claim to be perfect. Read my web site. I think I do a pretty decent job of explaining what an imperfect person I am. What a mess! Well, I’ve been a mess before. The reason I’ve been able to write this year, 2016, is that I have the emotional strength to write now. I’ve been pieced back together, and God has healed me enough to the point where I have a coherent backstory and some things to say. Hopefully a little of what I write will be helpful.
I do want my family and friends to be proud of me, and someday I would like it to be said of me, ‘I want to be like Stephen Shores.’ Even if it’s after I pass on. That would be neat.
But I don’t claim any goodness for myself. I don’t claim to be a good Christian. I’m probably pretty bad at it, to be honest! I’m terrible at being perfect, but I think I do a decent job of being honest, and I hope that shows.