Monday, September 6, 2010

Response to Jack

Jack's comments to my last post are important enough to warrant a new post.

Jack,

Thanks so much for your comments. I do appreciate them. It appears that you are a devout Christian so I will frame my response with that in mind. On the face of it, your arguments seem so reasonable. How could anyone disagree? I’m sure your motives are pure. You want the best for our country. You want Christian people to participate in a political/spiritual revolution that you hope will save America from its precipitous slide toward destruction. And Mr. Beck seems to offer the right attitudes, information and leadership. While he is a talented individual and while much (though certainly not all) that he says is correct, I contend that with him comes a huge amount of baggage that no thinking Christian will want to carry. I believe that accepting his leadership will bring very powerful unintended consequences that will not make things better, but far worse. I hope you won’t be offended if I analyze your comments. I fear they prove that what I said in my original post is correct. Let’s take them one by one:

1.“When Glenn Beck calls our country back to God, each person comes back to God in the way that is consistent with their faith - it's not a syncretistic move.”

I have to be honest. In my opinion this is a very disturbing statement coming from a Christian. On the face of it it sounds wonderful. But let’s be rigorous in asking logical questions. As you know, Glenn Beck casts the widest possible net in calling people back to “God.” Always he uses “God” singular, doesn’t he? So we have to ask, what God? Only the Judeo/Christian God? I doubt that he would want to limit his call to that. After all, there are Muslims and Buddhists and Hindus in this country who are loyal citizens. Is he leaving them out? I’m sure he would say no.

So is he calling Mormons and Hindus and Buddhists and Muslims and Christians and Jews all back to the same God? That’s the implication of your statement. “Each person comes back to God in the way that is consistent with their faith.” Do you mean that Jesus and Allah and Buddha and Krishna and Yahweh and the Mormon “father god” who physically copulated with Mary to produce Jesus, et al. are all just different names for the same Supreme Being? Is there just one God and many ways to reach Him? If that’s what he’s saying, I’m sure you would disagree, as would thinking people of most faiths. People really do worship different gods. Trying to make them all into one Being simply doesn’t work.

Does that mean that Mr. Beck is calling devout people of all religions back to their particular god? And are all of them equal? As a Mormon he isn’t a Universalist. If Mormons believed in Universalism, why send out thousands upon thousands of young missionaries to convert people? Then why does he use the language and inclusiveness of Universalism? The only answer can be that for him the end justifies the means. He is doing it to build a spiritual/political constituency to accomplish what he considers to be righteous goals.

But is this legitimate?

Should a Christian buy into that agenda with him, accepting his statements of Universalism in order save the country? God forbid. There is spiritual destruction built into it. It’s clear that Mr. Beck isn’t presenting himself simply as a political leader and philosopher. On that basis I wouldn’t waste my time writing about him. He is presenting himself as a spiritual religious leader. Accepting him in that role and the baggage that comes with it is precisely what I mean by syncretism.

The heart of religious syncretism is the subtle redefinition of words and having the new definitions accepted without serious thought. There are many ways to accomplish this agenda. To get Christians to agree even on a tacit level that we are all worshipping the same god and accepting the spiritual leadership of a cultist to boot is the ultimate in religious syncretism. That leaven will permeate the whole loaf. At the very least, Mormonism is accomplishing through him one of its most cherished goals, to be considered nothing more than another Christian denomination. And polls tell us that is exactly what is happening. You may be sophisticated enough in your faith to make all the subtle distinctions necessary to accept Mr. Beck’s political call without accepting his spiritual agenda. How about the millions of people who aren’t? Where does the New Testament Law of the Weaker Brother come into this?

2.“Our theological beliefs are not the same, but we are co-belligerents with those calling us back to a the belief that America was founded on the morality of the Christian faith, and the belief in a Creator who gave us these rights as listed in the Declaration of Independence.”

You have stated well a popular belief that Mr. Beck speaks about constantly. But is it true? Or more explicitly is he telling the whole truth? Was America founded simply on the “common morality of the Christian faith?” Mr. Beck and many others love to quote what I call the statements of Civic Religion made by our Founding Fathers.

What was the true religious foundation of America? Where was America spiritually born? It wasn’t in Philadelphia in 1776. It was in that amazing period called the Great Awakening. Mr. Beck has talked about this event in glowing terms, but he never gets to the heart of it. And there is a reason why. To do so would get far too specific for his religious agenda. Like everything else having to do with religion, he chooses to present the Great Awakening in vague terms about “coming back to God.”

But look at the history of it. For years in the early part of the 18th century, the Great Awakening swept through the colonies. It was based on the powerful preaching of George Whitefield, the Wesleys and others. That preaching was anything but a general call to “come back to God.” It was a specific call for sinful people to repent to escape the Judgment of God. It was a call to place their faith in Jesus Christ alone for their salvation. And untold thousands heeded it. In large part, it was out of a new freedom from sin and guilt found in Christ by so many people that the desire for political and governmental freedom was born. So, if you want to find the Christian foundation of America go back to the preaching about sin and repentance and salvation only in Christ that transformed this country so long ago. This foundation meant all the difference between the American Revolution and the French Revolution. The French Revolution was a blood-bath based largely on the “values” of the so-called Enlightenment totally apart from true Christianity.

The Great Awakening translated into an understanding among our Founding Fathers that they had to speak the religious language of the masses. Were there true Christians in their number? Absolutely! But also there were Deists, agnostics, Unitarians and Freemasons. At that period, even many of the non-Christians felt that Christianity was an important element in the foundation of a civil society. In their writings they chose a common religious language that would build consensus and be as inoffensive as possible. This became what was handed down to us over the past centuries, a Civic Religion that talked about God and prayer, etc., but rarely mentioned Jesus Christ. Christians could read into it whatever they wanted. Like sheep that’s exactly what we have done. For a long time it worked.

This social contract held until the 20th century when attacks on religion became rampant. Now it has completely fallen apart. In my opinion, that was inevitable. The amazing thing is that it held as long as it did for there is no lasting power in Civic Religion because it cannot redeem the soul. In the past, Civic Religion depended for its existence on agreement about the value and purpose of America, common morality and a strong work ethic. All of that is gone and will not return without another TRUE Great Awakening. Even in our Christian churches common morality has vanished. Glenn Beck is calling us back to a Civic Religion that is utterly powerless except to build dissension. All of his words about faith, hope and charity are nothing more than pretty ideals without individual and collective repentance for sin and redemption through the shed blood of Jesus Christ God’s only Son. So if you are a “co-belligerent,” fighting under Mr. Beck’s banner, you are fighting for a losing cause. Not only will it prove futile, there is something far worse than our current crisis that it could bring.

Here is an interesting thought. As much as Mr. Beck talks about faith, in Mormonism salvation is gained through works. In a slightly different form salvation by works is the heart of Liberation Theology, the faith of Barack Obama.

3.“There is no pure theologian who is going to take this leadership. No one is without their own particular slant on faith. Are we not going to rally to a cause we think is in the right direction until we find a person who thinks exactly like we do? We have to learn how to live as saints in an imperfect place… We have to make decisions and move ahead without everyone involved being the purist we want them to be. Too much is at stake for us to not act.”

I know you don’t mean this as a statement of lack of faith, but certainly it can come off that way. I’m afraid I have no idea what you mean by a “pure theologian.” I don’t think a single one of the prophets or apostles of the Bible would have considered himself a “pure theologian” not even St. Paul. Do you mean by pure theologian someone pure in his beliefs about Jesus, someone raised up by God to speak the truth and call people to repentance in Jesus Christ as the foundation for a just and compassionate society?

So, because we are frightened and impatient and no one like that seems to have appeared (or at least no one who has the platform of Fox News) are you saying that we should follow the next best thing – someone raised up by Rupert Murdoch? Somehow this reminds me of King Saul in First Samuel 13 who couldn’t wait for God’s anointed, took things into his own hands and destroyed his kingdom.

Following our own natural desires (so many of which are based on fear) is much easier than prayer and waiting on God. We like the spiritual feeling that comes with being part of a great movement. It is an actual physical high to be surrounded by huge masses of like-minded people. That’s why we have mega-churches and rock concerts. But this is a delusion. All through the Bible it was the lone voice crying out truth in the wilderness that made all the difference. The first measure of learning to be a saint in a fallen world is that we learn to be true to the Bible and let that, no matter how uncomfortable, be the guide of our decisions. Has God lost His Power to raise up a Whitefield or a Wesley or are we so weak, miserable, fearful and faithless that we will settle for what we consider the next best thing?

4.“Glenn Beck's call to return to God is no different than Benjamin Franklin's. Should the Christians of Franklin's day have refused to vote in favor of America becoming an independent nation because Benjamin Franklin wasn't a real Christian? Should they have refused to offer up the prayer that Franklin called them to, because not everyone in the room had the same theology?”

Okay, I hope you will forgive me if my fallen shark-like nature rises to this blood. I would never put Glenn Beck on the level of a Benjamin Franklin. He’s far too moral. Think about it this way. Imagine that old Ben were living in our day. He’d have his own reality show. He would be a kind of fat, gray, intellectual male version of the Kardashians. Each week we would watch him gleefully fornicate his way through France and England dropping pearls of wisdom in every bed. (Did I just write that?) I could imagine half a season on the Hellfire Club alone. He would be a regular at the Playboy Mansion and on Letterman. He and Bill Clinton would share a cigar. (It’s getting worse, I’ve got to stop.) Let’s face it, if all the devout Christians of Ben’s day had known the truth about his hidden life, when he gave a call to prayer he would have been laughed from the room. I hope those Christians didn’t make their decision to vote for America based on his spiritual leadership.

The great evangelist George Whitefield wrote about several contacts that he had with Benjamin Franklin. In those meetings Whitefield implored him to repent of his sins and give his life to Jesus Christ. Ben politely refused. Franklin attended Whitefield’s mass outdoor meetings in Philadelphia where Jesus Christ was faithfully preached. His only interest was in measuring the amazing distance that Whitefield’s voice carried in the open air (over a mile) and how powerful he was in taking offerings for the poor. A look at Franklin brings an important point. As Christians we can appreciate his intellect, follow his great political and governmental wisdom, like him personally and find him endlessly entertaining, all without accepting him as a spiritual leader. Though he may have offered an occasional prayer, thank God Franklin was not interested in that role.

5.“And why aren't you registered with a political party? You are letting down the country. You can't vote in primary elections in California. If every Christian did that because he was a "Christian" and therefore too pure to be involved in the political process, the world would be handed to Satan just as Hollywood was handed to Satan in the 1920s.”

Jack, forgive me if I expel an evil chuckle. I’m letting down the country if I don’t vote in California primaries? Really? We do know how effective and important California primaries are, don’t we? But I assure you my decisions are not based on any conception that I am too Christian and “pure.” I’m afraid my attitude toward elections was presented brilliantly in an hilarious episode of South Park. I can’t quote from it, it’s too obscene, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

I’m sick of voting for the lesser of two evils. The lesser of two evils is still evil. And almost always the lesser of two evils is our only choice. I refuse to be forced into voting for the lesser of two evils because if I don’t the country will go down the rat hole. We have been voting for the lesser of two evils for decade upon decade and look where it’s gotten us. That doesn’t mean that the person I vote for has to agree with me on every issue. And certainly the person doesn’t have to be a Christian. I’m at the place where if a candidate makes stirring claims to be a Christian I probably won’t vote for him because very likely he is either a fool or corrupt or both. How sad is that? Unfortunately, based upon past experience it’s realistic.

And as far as Hollywood is concerned, I know something about the history of my industry. Don’t be so certain that Hollywood was handed to Satan in the 1920’s because of a lack of Christian involvement. And a side point: I dread to think of the kinds of films that Hollywood would have been making if so-called “Christian moguls” had been in control. All we’d be getting are Christian “dog movies” where our little spiritual canine buddies folded their paws and said “grace” before every meal.

A last thought about Glenn Beck. One of the clearest indicators that something is deeply wrong is the way Christian guests on his programs fawn over him, showering him with ego-fattening flattery for his “spiritual leadership.” Is there not one person who is willing to confront him gently and lovingly about the lost state of his soul? Or are we so self-centered that we don’t care?

Once again, thanks so much for your comments.

Coleman

Friday, September 3, 2010

Glenn Beck and Barack Obama - Blood Brothers

Last weekend Glenn Beck held his massive rally in Washington, D.C. planned and executed as a kind of patriotic/spiritual awakening dedicated to the children of fallen military heroes. I didn’t attend. I’ve only seen clips on television. From all appearances he did a magnificent job. Mr. Beck is a powerful speaker who can touch the hearts of his hearers. And he had a lot of them. Estimates are that above half a million traveled from all over the U.S. to stand with him in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

I believe in patriotism. My ancestors fought in the Revolution. I am a combat veteran who was proud to serve my country even when most people in my country weren’t proud of Vietnam veterans. So why do I have such a gnawing concern about the patriotic Mr. Beck and his activities? As I watched him speak a cold feeling came over me. Suddenly, I was struck by how very much alike he is to our President.

What???

Really????

How in the world could that be true? The most ignorant fool can see that they are polar opposites. And indeed, in so many ways they are. But it is in their very polar opposition that their deep similarity resides. How is this so? Think with me for a moment:

1. Both men come from humble backgrounds. Both are gifted speakers with a lot of charisma. Even so, a decade in the past it would have been impossible to believe that either man would rise to such national prominence in such a short time. It can be argued that this is the nature of American media and politics. Granted, but somehow the rise of these men still feels “different.” And by “different” I don’t mean good.

2. Both men would disavow it, but it’s clear that they are zealots. They have firmly entrenched beliefs that set powerful agendas. Many have been surprised by the eagerness of President Obama to do exactly what he said he was going to do during his presidential campaign. We’re not used to leaders who believe much of anything other than increasing their own power bases. What we’re used to are lawyers - hired guns whose main concern is finding defensible positions and lining their pockets with gold.

Though President Obama is an attorney, he doesn’t act like one. Or maybe it’s just that he is his own client. As a zealot he has decided exactly what he wants to accomplish and doesn’t care what others think or desire - even people in his own party. Of course, he would like a second term. He would like cooperation from all parties. I’m sure that he would like to be liked. But for none of that is he willing to sacrifice his beliefs and agenda. That’s something new for America. What we’re used to in our leaders is charming intelligent political whoredom. We haven’t seen Mr. Beck in governmental leadership, but I have a feeling that if he were in elected office he would perform in exactly the same way.

Though they would vigorously deny it, it’s clear that both men sense an almost messianic calling about their lives and work. Guided by that vision they are committed to the transformation of American society. The lengths to which the President is willing to go to accomplish his vision are becoming clearer with each passing day. Certainly, if Mr. Beck were in the Oval Office he would be equally committed to carrying out his mission.

3. Both men follow aberrant theologies that they claim are Christian. Both know the language of popular religion and use it to their advantage whenever possible. I’ve written about Mr. Beck’s strange Mormon beliefs, though to hear him talk you would think he was an evangelical Christian. He isn’t. He is a member of an enslaving cult that has misled millions. Is that an overstatement? Study the history of Mormonism. Study its theology. If you are a believer in historic Christianity, ask yourself where that aberrant theology came from. Talk to those who have escaped the chains of Mormonism and have spent their lives trying to help others get free.

That said, in my opinion, the President’s religious beliefs are just as aberrant. It seems clear from his church background, values and career choices that he holds to a form of Liberation Theology which is nothing more than Marxist socialism beneath a thin Christianized veneer. It transforms Jesus Christ into nothing more than a social revolutionary. It is a pseudo-religious collectivist philosophical system devoid of any interest in the salvation of the individual through faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross. The breeding ground for Liberation Theology was in the Roman Catholic priesthood in Central and South America. As a philosophy it has proven very effective in creating social revolutionaries, while destroying the spiritual effectiveness of the Church.

This is why the President can avow that he is a devout Christian who prays every day, yet never has the slightest interest in attending church. He can speak about individual salvation only through collectivist rhetoric. The truth is that he has little interest in any form of historic Christianity. Like Mormonism, Liberation Theology presents a different Jesus than the one found in the Bible. While it does not fall under the classic description of a cult, in my opinion its aberrational theology and the passionate willingness of its adherents to lead people away from the historic Faith places it in that category.

4. Both men are polarizing figures with millions of followers and powerful voices in the media. However, neither represents a majority in the United States. But that isn’t what is important. The two poles have quite enough force between them to blow the country apart.

Now I am not a Republican or a Democrat. I am not a member of the Tea Party. I am not a Libertarian. I insist on being a Christian which, in my opinion, means analyzing every single philosophy and issue on its merits, standing in favor of some and opposing others. I am deeply concerned about the destructive actions of the President and his Party. Unfortunately, he has taken the philosophical lead of a string of Presidents and Congresses that have gone before him. This includes not only suicidal economic policies, but maintaining a war that should never have been fought and that we cannot win. As far as economic decisions are concerned, I believe that he is by far the worst President in history. All of the disastrous legislative extravagance of the past he has made his own. But that hasn’t been enough. He has added to it a monumental profligacy that, if not reversed, will prove the ruin of freedom. And through all of it he claims that he is saving the country. Forgive me for being cynical, but for my taste we haven’t had a good President since Abraham Lincoln.

I know those are strong words. Against their backdrop let me say that I fear the destructive influence of Mr. Glenn Beck even more. The President follows an aberrational theology, but at least to this point he hasn’t tried to be the country’s evangelist/pastor. Mr. Obama’s destructive actions are very clear. Mr. Beck’s are much more subtle, but because they are targeted directly at the Christian Church and Christian people they are even more dangerous.

Over the past decades much has been done to destroy the Church from within. For many reasons, especially the leaders we have chosen who do not confront us about our sins, Christians have lost their moral authority. But that can be regained. However, it will not come because a charismatic leader arises who touts a vague spiritual/patriotic message about “coming back to God.” But that’s as far as Mr. Beck can go because he is desperately concerned to be “inclusive.” The reason he wants to be inclusive is not simply because of a desire for national unity. He knows that if he really deals with the Biblical definition of sin and salvation that is the core of historic Christianity, if he really accepts Jesus Christ for who the Bible says He is as apart from the aberrational theology of his prophet Joseph Smith, everyone in his cult would have to repent and turn away from Mormonism. So scrap the idea of hearing anything about Biblical repentance from Mr. Beck. He may use terms that sound Christian, but Mormonism is based on salvation by works to get to Heaven. St. Paul wrote clearly about such false “gospels” in the New Testament Letter to the Galatians.

So what is at the heart of Mr. Beck’s message? He is calling Christians to join all “people of faith” in the worship of a Vague God acceptable to every “believer” of every stripe. This is nothing less than the call to a new syncretism in the name of national unity and restoration. What is syncretism in this context? The marriage of Christianity with various systems of unbiblical belief. It has plagued the Church almost from the very beginning.

Should Christians work together with others for the good of their country? Absolutely. Should they share friendship and love with people who do not agree with them? Again, absolutely. Should they dialog with others about faith and politics? Of course and with good will. What they shouldn’t do is worship with them and worship is what was happening on the National Mall. The very nature of that kind of worship is worship of a false god.

We are seeing the continued blending of heretical theologies with historic Christianity and through ignorance and fear we are accepting it. We do so because the enemy of my enemy is my friend and because we worship celebrity. We are so weak-willed, blind and faithless that we are willing to let someone who does not agree with our faith subtly misrepresent our faith in the public square. And no one confronts him. The end does not justify the means. We are going to pay the price for this. I truly believe that because of the unfaithfulness of the Christian Church, the whole country is going to suffer far more than we have ever imagined.

In the months and years ahead we are going to hear about faith and love and unity and the Fatherhood of God and church and morality and patriotism and on and on ad nauseum. As you listen to the emotional messages and sing the hymns, watch what all of it will bring.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A small gift to you this week

"Again and again I admonish my students in Europe and America: Don't aim at success - the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run - in the long-run, I say! - success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it." Viktor Frankl - Concentration camp survivor, psychotherapist and noted author.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

What's Wrong With Glenn Beck?

If you disagree with him politically I’m sure you would say that everything is wrong with Glenn Beck. I haven’t watched his program consistently. It’s been rather sporadic. But I’ve found that when I do watch him I agree with most of what he says. In fact, in a number of cases I don’t think he’s gone far enough in his analysis of the historic antecedents to our current crises. He is a gifted and passionate speaker capable of trenchant analysis. And clearly, his opponents view him as a dangerous force. He has become a kind of national teacher. I’m sure that Mr. Beck would agree that teachers should be held to a higher account, especially teachers with classes that number in the millions.

One of the things that he stands against is what might be called a Culture of Tolerance. Everyone is so afraid of being viewed as “Intolerant” that we refuse to speak any kind of truth at all because obviously our “truth” may be different from someone else’s “truth” and we don’t want to offend. More than anything, we are terrified of being considered “bigots.” The dictionary defines bigot as “a prejudiced person who is intolerant of any opinions differing from his own.” The heart of bigotry focuses on religion and bigots come in a wide variety of persuasions, both theistic and atheistic.

In my opinion, freedom of religion is the foundation of all other freedoms. I’m proud to be a direct descendent of Roger Williams the founder of Rhode Island and, more importantly, the father of freedom of religion in America. He founded his colony based on freedom of worship, this after he was driven away by the Puritans because of his differing theological beliefs. (He was a Baptist.) One of his friends was a woman named Mary Barrett Dyer. Mary was a Quaker who had the temerity to believe that women should be able to teach the Bible. She insisted on teaching the Bible in Puritan territory. In a paroxysm of “holy intolerance” the good Puritans of Boston hung her. I’m proud to say that Mary is one of my grandmothers. Religious toleration runs in my blood. However, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t confront each other with mutual respect about our differing belief systems. We shouldn’t fear strong disagreement. It is in that spirit that this post is written.

Am I the only theologically conservative Christian who finds Mr. Beck strangely disturbing? Here is my problem. We live in a day of gross inconsistencies in the lives of so many of our leaders. People say one thing and live out another. Whether it is the Treasury Secretary who cheats on his taxes or a “family values” governor who cheats on his wife, inconsistency is the hallmark of our age. With that in mind, Mr. Beck seriously puzzles me. Here is a man who is dedicated to understanding and presenting historic truth about what has happened in our country. He does it fearlessly because he knows how important historic truth really is. What you believe really does matter. So here is a man of intellectual lucidity who has chosen to be a Mormon.

There, I said it. I turned over the rock that no one wants to touch for fear of being called intolerant or bigoted. How dare I do such a thing? Should the fact that Mr. Beck is a Mormon really matter? From what he has said, he is not a Mormon by birth. He was raised a Roman Catholic. When he talks about it at all, he underplays his religion, stating that he and his family just liked the friendliness and family orientation of the Latter Day Saints. They feel at home there. All well and good! I believe in religious freedom. But Mr. Beck is a national teacher who freely quotes the Bible as an authority source. I think we need to hold him to the same standard that he uses on others.

Let me ask you a question. Imagine that Mr. Beck was saying exactly what he is saying now on his various programs, but instead of being a Mormon he was a Scientologist or a Muslim. How would you feel about him then? Wouldn’t your trust of him drop like a stone? Wouldn’t you carefully evaluate every word he said? Though you would agree with him, you would find him constantly disturbing and every time you listened to him you would be asking yourself, “What’s this guy’s real agenda?” So why isn’t that happening with Mr. Beck?

There are several reasons. First, over the past fifty or so years, the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints has spent a great deal of time and treasure to convince American Christians that they are just another Christian denomination. And they’ve been very successful at it. I think today that many evangelical Christians view Mormons in just that way. Second, Mormons are such genuinely nice family oriented people. As opposed to Muslims or Scientologists who often don’t appear to be very nice at all. When we think of Mormons we think of Donny and Marie Osmond. We think of the wonderful Mormon Tabernacle Choir that sings so many great old hymns. And then there’s Glenn Beck himself. Couldn’t you imagine spending an afternoon with him and his family sitting around the pool sharing hamburgers and potato salad? Of course you could. And how about Mitt Romney that square-jawed, good-looking guy? Clearly, he is a straight-talking true family man who could be on track to become the next President. Doesn’t he look Presidential and doesn’t he say all the right things in the most charming manner?

When you think of Scientologists what do you think of? People who are nutty as fruitcakes, who spend untold thousands of dollars to get “clear” with weird lie detectors strapped to their bodies. You think of arrogant little Tom Cruise arguing from his vast Scientology education and jumping on couches. You think of the worst of Hollywood. And when Muslims come to mind…well, we don’t even want to go there.

A long time ago I took a graduate level course in what is called Christian Apologetics. That doesn’t mean learning how to apologize because you’re a Christian. It means knowing how to make a reasoned defense of the faith against those who attack it. Essential to that is understanding what other religions believe. My teacher was a man named Dr. Walter Martin. He is dead now, but while he was alive he was considered one of the greatest cult experts in the world. In our class we spent a lot of time studying Mormonism. Dr. Martin was well known to the Mormons and they disliked him intensely because he was a powerful debater who did not suffer foolishness lightly.

This is not the place to go into all the very strange things that Mormons believe. Just a few points will suffice such as their belief that Jesus and Satan are brothers, or that God the Father (who is a glorified man) came down and physically copulated with the Virgin Mary so that Jesus could be born into a physical body, or that the spirits who followed “brother” Satan were cursed into being born with black skin. (In recent years, because of great political pressure, this belief has been jettisoned, but for many decades from the foundation of their religion, it was an article of faith.) We won’t go into all the fantasies that their scriptures teach about Native American history. Not one archaeological discovery has proven their beliefs to be true. Why bring up the embarrassing issue of a “family” religion that, during its seminal years, was utterly destructive to families because of its belief in polygamy and forced marriage? (Another foundational article of faith that they were forced to disavow, but which is still held sacred by many Mormons.) Why mention the horrendous view Mormon theology teaches about women? In one of their holy books, The Pearl of Great Price, woman is called the shoe on man’s foot as he ascends into Heaven. And all of this is only the beginning.

Where did the Mormon religion come from? A young man named Joseph Smith who was a Freemason and a believer in ceremonial magic was using his magic to try and find buried treasure. In the course of his search he claims to have had a supernatural experience. An angel named Moroni came to him and led him to a set of golden plates. The translation of the writing on those plates led to the Mormon scriptures. Sadly, the plates were lost so they are unavailable for examination.

The truth is that the foundation of Mormonism has much in common with the foundation of Islam. In both it is purported that an angel came to a solitary man and gave him a revelation that the religions of his day were wrong and inadequate and he was to be the founder of a new religion based on “Truth.” Each man was informed that he was God’s uniquely chosen prophet. Both religions rely on strict “works of obedience” in order to achieve eternal salvation. Both paste together their theologies from bits and pieces of the theologies that were dominant at the time of their founding. Both account for the historical Jesus, but utterly demolish His Person and work as presented in the New Testament. On the face of it, Mormonism is no more a Christian denomination than is Islam. The truth is that, based on the reports of eye witnesses, the ceremonies that take place in the Mormon temple have much more in common with Freemasonry and ceremonial magic than in anything found in historic Christianity. In that sense they relate to Scientology. Before he founded his “church,” L. Ron Hubbard was an occultist and ceremonial magician as well. And isn’t it strange that both Scientology and Mormonism are so deeply concerned about activities on other planets?

Now there are those who would say, “All religions are the same. They’re all based on so-called “revelations” that are impossible to prove, so why make an issue of Mormonism? It’s no different than what you call historic Christianity.” There I would disagree. All of orthodox Christianity hinges on one event, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. If that event did not occur in physical reality the whole edifice crumbles to dust. The point of the biblical record is that there were many eye-witnesses to Jesus’ death. And after His resurrection there were hundreds of eye-witnesses who saw Him alive. The experience of His death and resurrection was not limited to a solitary individual. It came to many people and those people were so certain of what they had seen that they were willing to die violent deaths themselves in defense of what they knew to be true. Now, you may call all of that fantasy, but at the very least you must admit that it is vastly different than Joseph Smith or Mohamed talking to an angel.

So Mr. Glenn Beck puzzles me. How can a man of his perspicacity who is so concerned about discovering and understanding the truth of political history, who wants our children to be taught the truth, be willing for his own children to be indoctrinated into the wild fantasies of a cult? And, God help him, I think his children are girls. I can’t believe that if he applied the same passion and scholarship to Mormonism that he wouldn’t run screaming from it. So why hasn’t this happened? Why is there such gross inconsistency and why doesn’t it bother anybody? Shouldn’t the fact that he is a Mormon make me view him with the same caution that I would exercise if he were a Scientologist or a Muslim? If he uses the Bible as though he were a Christian shouldn’t he be held to account? Why does he never use his own “scriptures?”

And I have a larger concern. I’m concerned about the mainstreaming of this cult into the deepest levels of American culture, even into the Christian church itself. Now I don’t think Glenn Beck, Mitt Romney, Donny and Marie and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir are locked in some kind of vicious conspiracy. I think that in their political desperation Christians have become blind. What dominates now is that old philosophy, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. But in the very desperation of that embrace, just exactly what is it that we are accepting and how will it affect our future?

Visit my website: www.colemanluck.com

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Rage of Quiet Men

A long time ago I read a quote that might fit some events of the past week, “Beware the rage of quiet men.”

We saw the rage of a quiet man when a middle-aged software geek who played country western music flew his plane into an IRS building. Then there was the man who bulldozed the house he had built rather than let the bank own it. Apparently, his house was in foreclosure and he offered the bank $170,000 to pay off a $160,000 mortgage. They had refused telling him that they could make more money by selling it. So out came the dozer.

From what I understand Internet message boards have been burning up in support of Joe Stack, the IRS attacker. I read his long suicide “note” before the FBI requested that it be taken down. This man was not insane by any accepted definition of the term. He was filled with rage and bitterness at what he believed was the injustice of his country. I’m afraid we’re going to see much more of this. Those in power want to marginalize these violent acts by trying to convince themselves that the perpetrators and their supporters are “just extremists.” We are living in a culture of crushing bureaucracy where more and more people feel threatened and disenfranchised by every level of government. Rather than deal with the systemic problems that generate such attitudes, our leaders continue with business as usual… except in one area. There are increasing indications that federal law enforcement is preparing for the possibility of massive civil unrest.

Let’s pray that we don’t get to that place, but I think it’s highly likely. For generations American citizens have been increasingly acculturated toward selfishness and dependence. We hear a lot about protests these days. Various groups are rising up. They proclaim that they want freedom. I don’t think that’s what it’s about at all. It’s about wanting our comforts and being angry at the possibility of losing them. I am not a Tea Partier or a member of any political organization, because, as a Christian, I see no organization that represents what I believe. I distrust “bigness” in any form whether it is government, business, unions, political parties or churches. Once any organization grows large enough it becomes an organism with an inherent desire to maintain its life at all costs which means feeding and growing.

Our huge churches are a good example. In the United States we have churches with many thousands of members. Almost always these are focused on a single individual in the pulpit. The leaders of these churches know that it’s impossible to “do church” with this size of a congregation. So they try to make up for the inability by the establishment of “small groups.” The systems to manage the multitudes of small groups become very complex. How many churches choose instead to divide and start new smaller congregations? Almost none. We’d rather build bigger buildings. Why? Because we like the feeling of being in a large crowd where everyone agrees with us. It makes us feel safe. (Ever been in a large crowd where you knew that everyone hated people like you?)

Almost all of our institutions need to shrink. Especially is this true of Hollywood and the media. But the opposite is happening. One corporation eats up another in an endless orgy of consumption that consolidates power in fewer and fewer hands. Our institutions could shrink, but not without great pain. Nothing large ever shrunk without pain. I know this from dieting and credit card bills.

Carel and I live in the mountains down two miles of semi-paved and unpaved road. It’s really dark here at night and the closest neighbor is forty acres away. The lights of their house aren’t visible. In the past, city people who have visited us have gotten a little freaked. At night the frogs are too noisy and in the isolation some guests feel vulnerable. One couple got so paranoid that they had to get a room at a motel in town. The truth is that we are far safer here than in any city. But being safe and feeling safe are not necessarily the same thing.

When our country was founded almost all families lived in rural solitude. The fact that we don’t anymore has had the profoundest psychological impact on citizenship. A hundred years ago if you wanted to be in any kind of a crowd you had to go somewhere. Before you reached the crowd you had time to consider your actions. Think of the difference between the American and the French revolutions. One was based in the countryside and the other in the city. Those aren’t the only differences, but I think they are significant. Out of one came an army, out of the other came a mob. Of course, even in the mountains we don’t live in the solitude of our ancestors. We have Internet and satellite television. There is a passage in the Old Testament book of Isaiah that says, woe to those who build houses with no land in between.

I am not one who believes that the United States was founded as a “Christian” nation. But there were shared principles of virtue and morality that came largely from historic Christianity. Though filtered through the so-called Enlightenment, Deism and Freemasonry those shared principles were strong enough to give our leaders the unity they needed to found a nation. All of that is ancient history. Long gone even from our churches is a shared concept of morality. What has replaced it is a cacophony of commercialized selfishness under-girded by a vague, eclectic neo-paganism which we have convinced ourselves is Christian. Such chaos in the moral heart of our culture is a recipe for tyranny.

So watch the days ahead. Loosed from the constraints of shared virtue and morality, beware the rage of quiet men.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

About 2012 and a Few Associated Terrors

I do not gravitate easily toward believing in conspiracy theories and I’ve read a large number of them. Conspiracy theorists come in many shades of paranoia. Sadly, in our world there’s a lot to be paranoid about. And governments feed that paranoia. I seriously question the value of constantly broadcasting to the whole country that terrorists are about to attack us. Just exactly what are we supposed to do other than be frightened? When I was a child it was the threat of nuclear attack. We had regular drills in which we all got under our desks. And they weren’t large desks. Let’s face it, if you were a fat kid when that bomb hit your tail would be radioactive ash. Here is an interesting question: What do governments gain by keeping their citizens frightened?

Sadly, there is reason to be most frightened of our own government. From the standpoint of statistical possibility alone which should I fear more, a terrorist attack or getting killed by the police making a mistake and breaking down my door because they think I’m a drug dealer? Beyond simple mistakes, there’s a greater reason to fear our government. Over the past 234 years the United States government has perpetrated some unbelievably evil acts that have polluted our national life. There’s quite a selection to choose from but one of the worst was known as Operation Paperclip.

After World War II thousands of Nazis, many of them war criminals, were secreted into the United States where they were given leading roles in science, both in government (especially NASA) and private corporations. The ostensible purpose was to help us fight the Soviet Union. So we chose to battle one heinous evil by infecting ourselves with another. But of course that infection started well before WWII. We could talk about the Nazi influence at the highest level of major corporations both before and after the war. And the disease continues today. Unfortunately, those who choose to believe in conspiracies have ample evidence in their favor.

The Enlightening of Darkness

There is one ancient conspiracy that I do believe in. It is a supernatural Luciferic conspiracy. Lucifer, meaning Light Bearer, was the original name of the great angelic being now known as Satan. According to the Bible he was called Lucifer before his fall from Heaven. The goal of this vast conspiracy is nothing less than the enthronement of Lucifer as ruler of the world. Does that sound utterly insane? Watch what’s going to happen in the next few years.

Obviously, if such a conspiracy exists it needs human allies and there have always been a wealth of fools available. This is not the time to go into a dissertation on the history of such individuals and groups. If you are interested I would suggest a web search on a fascinating lady named Alice A. Bailey and the influential organization she founded called The Lucis Trust. As you descend into that snake rectum you will discover a disturbing nexus between Ms. Bailey, assorted Ascended Masters, Madam H.P. Blavatsky, the founder of Theosophy and the whole New Age movement, the United Nations and a bevy of past and current world leaders. As a storyteller I just love this kind of rancid stew.

For many reasons I am convinced that we are in the final stages of this Luciferic conspiracy. If my hypothesis is correct, in the near future we will see a steep rise in the use of fear as a strategy for societal control. At its final level, ultimate terror will lead to ultimate control. Jesus called people sheep and He was right. Sheep aren’t stupid animals, they just live in constant fear. When they are terrified they clump together and are easily led to slaughter. So how might ultimate terror lead to this ultimate control? And what does ultimate control look like anyway?

Sleep That Isn’t Sleep

For the past several years I have been studying hypnosis (not doing it, just studying). I have read the works of Milton Erickson, Dave Elman, Richard Bandler and others. Recently I have been in communication with a young master hypnotist in the UK. He guided me to the writing of George Estabrooks. These were all very learned men in their field. Reading what they have said about hypnosis has raised some serious issues.

For years a dangerous falsehood has been promoted by many in the hypno-therapeutic community. This falsehood is that those under hypnosis won’t do or say anything that they wouldn’t do or say in their normal cognitive state. The truth is that in deep trance many (if not most) of us can be manipulated into doing virtually anything that a skillful hypnotic director might assign. There is a second fantasy that many people believe. Because of their quick and penetrating intelligence they think that they cannot be hypnotized. They are wrong. Whether a person will be hypnotized or not depends mostly on the skill of the hypnotic director. Many of those who believe themselves to be invulnerable are the most easily induced into trance.

What happens during hypnosis? The rational, decision-making part of our minds, the part that is guided by societal restraints, is set aside. What we call, for lack of a better designation, the subconscious mind comes to the fore. This is the part of us that is the repository of detailed memories and vivid fantasies. While the subconscious mind is a wonderful “storage facility” and “background influencer,” its rational decision-making skills are those of an immature baffled child. We could say that it is the sheep-like part of us that is deeply susceptible to direction in the form of post-hypnotic suggestion. (Side note: In my opinion it is in this realm of the subconscious that dark supernatural forces gain a foothold and fight for total control. Certain actions and decisions by the conscious mind may open the door to that entry.)

But it isn’t just hypnosis that can shove aside the rational mind. There appear to be many such agents. We talk about episodes of “mindless rage” taking control of some people. When these episodes pass very often the individual doesn’t remember things that he or she did and said. Deep shock caused by overwhelming terror can force the rational mind to “go to sleep.” In this state, people can appear much like little children wandering aimlessly, deeply susceptible to external influence and control. When a mass of people is in this state it can lead to mob violence. Elias Canetti’s masterwork, “Crowds and Power” is in part a study of this dangerous collective life.

Question: When a person is in a state of traumatic shock caused by overwhelming fear would it possible for a master hypnotist to lead him into a deeper trance thereby placing him under long-term hypnotic control? Nothing that I have read has argued against such a potential. A second question: If the possibility exists on an individual basis, why would it be impossible collectively? Imagine a series of worldwide events that create such terror that whole populations enter a state of traumatic shock. The Bible predicts that in the last days such terrible fear will take hold of the human race that men's hearts will stop beating. In such a time wouldn’t whole populations be susceptible to deep trance through the masterful hypnotic skills of national leaders? Those who saw and heard Adolph Hitler give his mesmerizing speeches testify to a strange hypnotic power that he exerted over great masses of people…and this without overwhelming fear.

2012 in Our Favorite Calendar

Last November I went to the theater and saw the movie “2012.” (What great visuals and what a ludicrous script. It was so slow that I thought the world would end before the closing credits rolled.) The film attempts to capitalize on the ever-increasing world fascination with the date December 21, 2012. That is the end of the 13th baktun of the Maya Long Count Calendar. At exactly 11:11 GMT on that winter solstice the sun will align with the galactic center of the Milky Way, something that hasn’t happened exactly in this manner for 13,000 years. On that date the precession of the equinoxes will conclude a 26,000 year cycle ending the Age of Pisces and beginning the Age of Aquarius. The sun will rise in Sagittarius, the ancient symbol of Nimrod. The Mayas believed that on December 21, 2012 the world as we know it will come to an end in a great upheaval.

The Mayas were not the only ones obsessed with 2012. There is a wealth of other seemingly prophetic information that focuses on this inauspicious date. 2012 prophecies are found in The Bible Code, the Orion Prophecy based on predictions believed to be encoded in the Sphinx, the pyramids and the zodiacs of Dendera. There is Terrance McKenna’s research into the I-Ching, the Cherokee Rattlesnake Prophecies and the Hopi prophecies about the blue star Kachina that will appear deep in the universe and dance in a frightening time of purification. Add to these the Zohar of the Jewish Kabbalah which predicts the coming of the Messiah in late 2012. Even NASA is predicting a solar maximum in September of 2012 which they project will be the largest solar storm since records have been kept. And the list goes on. According to most of them we are entering the darkest most horrible period in recorded history.

A Visit to the Sun Dance

A number of years ago a friend of mine had a terrifying experience. Now this person is not the fervid hyper-emotional type. He’s quite rational and down-to-earth, so when he told me this story I believed him. He was on a camping vacation across the country. I think he was in Arizona when he saw a sign announcing a major Indian Sun Dance festival. It sounded fascinating and being interested in Native American culture, he decided to attend. So into the wilderness he drove. When he arrived he found thousands people gathered for this great event. Throughout the day he enjoyed the colorful costumes, the delicious food, the dancing and the drumming. He even participated in a sweat lodge. That night he pitched his tent among hundreds of others and settled down to sleep.

But sleep didn’t last long. In the middle of the night he awoke to a horrifying sensation. The way he told it there was something alive inside the tent with him. He could feel it touching him but he couldn’t see it. Never had he been so overwhelmed with an absolute sense of evil and danger. And then it attacked. Needless to say, my friend leaped out of that tent. Throwing his gear in the car he drove away as fast as he could.

Then came a second level of horror. He realized that he hadn’t escaped. Whatever the thing was it was in the car with him. Now he was desperate. Being a devout Christian he knew that he was dealing with an evil spirit and, clearly, it was very powerful. Nothing that he did or said drove it away. All he could think to do was find a church and get some other Christians to help him. But he was in the wilderness. Finally, he reached a small town and came upon a little Roman Catholic Church. Though he wasn’t a Catholic he ran inside. The priest prayed for him and together they drove away the spiritual parasite that had attached itself. When the priest found out that my friend was a Christian he was incredulous. He wanted to know how he could have been so na├»ve as to go to the Sun Dance? Didn’t he know that a Sun Dance is a major focal point for evil spirits?

Now I am aware that some people reading this will be highly offended by such a story. It besmirches the hallowed view of Native American culture. And what does it have to do with 2012 anyway? Stay tuned.

Chains Across the Centuries

While individual expressions differ, primitive religions hold many beliefs in common. The people who live under these systems are desperately anxious to appease and influence the thousands of spirits that clog their world. They may believe that these spirits are their ancestors or are elemental beings in charge of various aspects of physical life from storms and disease to crops and herds of animals, but the consistent understanding about them from culture to culture and throughout history is that they must be feared. If they are not treated with the utmost circumspection terrible destruction may be wreaked on the tribe. At the very least the group will experience no bounty. Hence, the need for a shaman to act as a go-between telling the people exactly what rules must followed to achieve what they want from the “gods.” So here is a question: Are these primitive cultures simply enslaved by endless generations of fantastical myths that hold no reality or have they discovered that there really are invisible beings that must be feared? Is it possible that all of these cultures are enslaved to dark spirits that the Bible calls demons and fallen angels?

It is not politically correct to cast aspersions on any aspect of Native American culture. To the modern western mind all Native Americans just ooze staunch nobility in the face of oppression, a deep concern for the ecology of the earth and a spiritual respect for all living creatures. Granted this is somewhat mitigated of late by the hundreds of giant Indian casinos that now dot the land and the big SUV’s that tribal council members often drive, but the mythology continues to cling.

The truth is that thematically Native American cultures are little different than thousands of other primitive cultures around the world. Particularly in the western United States many Indian beliefs find their antecedents in the great civilizations of the Aztecs and the Mayas. So it’s not surprising that many share apocalyptic predictions about the end of this age. And they share in their fear.

Why Were the Mayas So Paranoid?

Dozens of books have been written about the Mayas and their Long Count Calendar. It’s a very sophisticated piece of work that covers millions of years. Clearly, the Mayas were obsessed with what the future would hold. Here was a culture that never figured out how to use the wheel except in children’s toys, yet they present us with this masterpiece of paranoia. Did they calculate this monstrosity just because they liked to play with numbers? Like the Aztecs that followed them the Mayas lived in terror. Why did they engage in the most horrific human sacrifices? In large part because they believed that if they didn’t the world would be destroyed. The gods required blood to appease their thirst for destruction. Where did they come up with this? Was it just a vile concoction from the perverted minds of some elitist priests, or could this whole mass of corruption including their calendar have been given to them? Over and over the Mayas and the Aztecs tell us of the “gods” who came and taught them all they needed to know.

Are the Predictions Correct?

If it were only the string of pagan prophetic sources that forecasted a time of great evil and disaster I would not be so concerned. The powers of darkness love to terrify people. It’s their approach to crowd control. But then there are the predictions of Jesus about the state of the world just before His return. These are found in Matthew chapter 24 and elsewhere. If we are entering that time (and I think there is great evidence that we are) we will see a huge increase in all of the things that He predicted. In addition, there will be a terrifying rise in what might be termed supernatural phenomena. These will not be limited to individual experiences. Rather there will be mass events that will cause “paradigm shifts” in reality. Everything we thought we understood about “normal life” will be turned on its head. Nothing that we call normal will ever exist again. And we will be utterly terrified. The Bible predicts that the greatest evil leader in all of history will arise. He will be well equipped to take advantage of our fear.

Which leaves one overwhelming question: Are you ready? The answer to that involves several corollary questions that you should consider. Who was Jesus? Was He really who the Bible says He was? It might be time to carefully examine those issues because He predicted that when the world entered that terrible period…He would return.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

So Another Decade...

I have to say that the one we just completed isn’t a time that I would like to live over. I don’t know about you, but for the Luck family it was a rough ten years. There were physical challenges like at no other period. We experienced heartbreak on many levels including the loss of cherished friends and family. It was a decade of endings, of “goodbyes” to dreams not quite fulfilled. And as the years slipped away there came the realization that Carel and I are entering the last quarter of the game.

And yet… And yet…

In that decade we experienced the wonderful truth that God’s grace, mercy and strength are new every morning. In the middle of heartbreak there have been great joys – marriages, the birth of grandchildren, new friends that make the journey lighter, new dreams to replace the old. And with the realization that we are in the last quarter of life, there is the slow dawning of an Eternal Joy. More and more our eyes are turned toward the horizon, awaiting the coming of the King.

And in the meantime…

There is much to do. There are heartbroken people strewn in the path that only we can touch. There are novels and blogs and all sorts of stuff to write. As the time grows shorter the opportunities grow greater. And this is true for the history of the world. What will the new decade hold? In my opinion, based on 40 years of study, we will face the coming of the greatest Darkness that the world has ever known. But also will appear the Greatest Light. To most people the Darkness will be viewed as light and the Light as darkness. It will be a time of pestilential fear and crumbling faith and in it will be the Mighty Hand of God. Are you ready for the new decade? I’ll be writing much more about this in the weeks ahead.

A touch of truth.

Recently I came across one of the most perceptive documentaries that I have ever seen. It is a four part series done in 2002 by the BBC titled “Century of the Self.” Here is the link for the first episode:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8953172273825999151#

The documentarian, Adam Curtis, has done a masterful job of analyzing and explaining some of the perverse influences that have destroyed western civilization. While his political biases become increasingly clear over the course of the series, they do not diminish the underlying truth of the presentation. No matter what your political persuasion, there is much here that should disturb you. For me as a Christian it underscores the strong belief that I have held for years that there is no political party where I can find a home. (God forbid that a so-called “Christian” party should ever arise.) So take a look at "Century of the Self" and tell me what you think.

An invitation for friends in the LA area.

I have been invited to teach a monthly Bible study sponsored by Premise, an entertainment industry Christian prayer fellowship. Though the study is targeted to Hollywood professionals, it’s open to anyone. The title is “The Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of Hollywood.”

We will meet the fourth Sunday of each month at CBS Studio Center, 4024 Radford Avenue, Studio City in the San Fernando Valley. The study will begin at 6:30 PM. Because it is on a studio lot, reservations need to be made in advance if you are going to attend. You can do this by sending an e-mail with your contact information to info@premiseonline.org or you can make reservations through the Premise Facebook page. Your name will be placed on a list at the guard gate. Hope to see you there.

Blessings on you and yours in this New Year.