Why The American Church Should Go Off The Grid

Many, many years ago, I was a Boy Scout, back when joining the Boy Scouts was still fashionable. One year, I went to a large, regional Boy Scout Jamboree in a semi-wilderness area. Hundreds of scouts were camped around a low mountain, and at the top of the mountain was, of all things, a small swimming pool.

In order to swim in the pool, we had to “check in”, using our name tag which was affixed to a hook on a bulletin board at the entrance to the pool, which had a sign on it saying “OUT”. We checked in by moving our name tag from the “OUT” bulletin board to another bulletin board nearby, which said “IN”. Then when we left the pool, we were required to “check out” by moving our tag from the “IN” board to the “OUT” board. According to the rules, one could not swim in the pool unless he first checked in, and anyone who forgot to check out of the pool at the end of the day would be banned from swimming in the pool for the duration of the summer.

Now, I can barely remember to tie my own shoes, much less fiddle with a name tag on a board, so it took me exactly one day to get banned from the pool because I forgot to check out when I was finished swimming.

I was devastated, because our whole life at the camp revolved around this pool, but now I was banned from it. As I sadly watched everyone else troop off to the pool in the morning, one of the older scouts came over and told me that I should go swimming anyways. He explained that he had ignored the bulletin board from the beginning, as it was a stupid idea–it was meant for a situation where hundreds of people would be swimming in a large lake with little or no supervision, and not for a small pool with lifeguards. Obviously, the lifeguards needed to qualify for some merit badge, and monitoring the bulletin boards was a requirement. At the same time, there were hundreds of scouts in the camp, so it was highly unlikely that the lifeguards would know who I was and would know that I was banned. To them, I was just a tag on a board and a name on a piece of paper.

So, for the next two weeks, I swam every day without checking in or out, and no one noticed, and no one cared.

For the first time in my life, I was off the grid.

Funny thing about being off the grid: The rules don’t apply to you. I no longer had to check in or out like the other campers, even though I swam in the same pool.

Illegal immigrants in the US are an example of people living off the grid. As is clearly evident, the normal rules of life (indeed, not just rules, but laws) do not apply to them. And, while they undoubtedly suffer some hardship from living off the grid, they also enjoy privileges that other, law-abiding immigrants do not have. One distinct privilege they have is that they do not have to go through the process of spending years gathering and submitting forms so they can jump through the myriad of legal and bureaucratic hoops in order to come to the US and remain in the country, only to have their application denied by some nameless troll working in an office.

When I was younger, I would have never advocated for anyone to live like this, and even today I am hesitant to do so as we should be law-abiding, and we should be striving to live at peace with our government and the people around us.

However, what if the government is by its very nature lawless, or what if it is lawful in many ways, but lawless in the way it seeks to suppress, control, or pervert the Christian message and harm God’s people?

In such a case, while a Christian would be well served to obey the law as much as possible, it would be good to also get off the grid, and go underground, so to speak.

Recall what is written in Revelation 13: 15-18:

The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.

This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666.

The number “666” is–among a great many of things–a symbol of failed humanity and lawlessness. It is also a symbol of demonic control over individuals, wherein they are compelled to commit idolatry by their earthly government.

It was a law that everyone had to have this number, showing that they engaged in the state-sponsored blasphemy. And what was the penalty for the law? “They could not buy or sell unless they had the mark.”

In such a situation, a law-abiding person would not only starve to death, but also condemn his family to death through starvation, and would thus be tempted to get the mark.

But there is another way: To get off the grid. That is, to not receive the mark, to not acknowledge the government’s authority, and to find other ways to live that do not involve buying or selling through official legal channels.

It would be difficult to do so under the circumstances described in Revelation. However, if one reads further in Revelation, one will discover that there were people who did not get the number “666”, yet who were nevertheless able to survive.

The trick in such a situation is to never get enrolled in the government system to begin with–to never get on the government radar. After all, if they don’t know that you are in the pool, they can’t kick you out.

To my knowledge, there is not yet–and never has been–a situation on Earth that exactly corresponds with what is talked about in Revelation. But there have been situations that were somewhat analogous.

For example, we have China, a country that is ruled by a a lawless, gangster government that is completely hostile to Christ and his people.

Here is a short aside to show some of the principles at work in such a country.

In China, everyone buys pirated DVDs of films, as legal DVDs are almost non-existent. By way of explanation, the Chinese government only clears about six western films a year to be shown in China. The vast majority of western films are therefore not legally allowed entry into the country, in any form. However, even the few western films that are cleared by the censors are not officially released in China on DVD by the studios because of fears of pirating. This means that nearly every DVD sold in China is effectively pirated, and therefore illegal according to Chinese law. And, even if you find a DVD that claims to be legal (and which will be sold at ten times the regular price), there is no sure way of knowing whether or not it really is legal–it is likely pirated like all of the rest of them.

One day I was at a DVD stall in north China, but I could not find what I was looking for.

“How about this?” the clerk asked, pulling some “yellow” (porn) DVDs from under the counter.

I frowned and said, “No.”

The clerk looked around to see if anyone was looking, and then pulled yet another DVD from under the counter and quickly showed it to me. “And this one?” she asked.

It was a pirated DVD of Campus Crusade’s Jesus film.

And thus the primary point that I am trying to get at: When the government declares something illegal, it effectively loses the ability to regulate it in any way–all it can do is try to suppress it. All DVDs in China are effectively illegal, which means that when it comes to DVDs, the Chinese government has lost the ability to control what is being sold on DVD. People can sell pirated Hollywood films, porn, or even films about Jesus, without any government control at all, because it is all equally illegal.

By the same token, the Chinese government has no control over the church in China.

Or rather, it tries to control the church, but fails.

The method for its attempt to control the church is the propagation of the Three-Self Church, which is the officially sanctioned, legal church in China. As an organ of the state, the official, explicit goal of the Three-Self Church is to lead people to the “truth” of Marxist atheism. Failing this, the government uses the church in an attempt to keep tabs on and control Christians. As the church is administered by the government, the government calls all the shots, and decides what will and will not be allowed when it comes to teachings and policies.

Yet, there is another church in China, the Home Church. This church is illegal, and because it is illegal, it is under no government control at all. It is off the grid. Unlike the Three-Self Church, the Chinese government has no control over Home Church teachings, personnel, or policy, and cannot regulate this church in any way. All it can do is try to suppress it.

My wife for a long time (even before the election of Barack Obama) has been saying that she felt God was telling her that America was going to become more like China. Certainly, we have been seeing this come true before our eyes.

American Christians wring their hands in worry about what will happen to tax exempt status in the light of the recent rulings on homosexual marriage. My point here is to stop wringing your hands: It is time to get off the grid.

Why does your church want or need tax exempt status to begin with? Why have any government registration at all, or any dealings with the government in an official capacity?

I get that most churches collect offerings, have buildings, and a paid staff, and that all of this would appear to open them up to government oversight. But has anyone been listening to what the Holy Spirit has been trying to tell the American church all these years? How many sermons have we all heard about how the church is not the staff or the building, and that focus needs to stop being on church finances and numbers, but on the people? If you really believe all this, then it should be easy to renounce the idea of church incorporation and any kind of government registration or oversight over your church. After all, you don’t have to collect offerings, have buildings, or have a paid staff in order to have a church. At the moment, it is convenient for you to have these things, but in the end all it does is enable the government to meddle in your church’s affairs.

If you really believe that the American government is becoming increasingly lawless and hostile to Christianity, then you need to get your church off the grid, and the sooner the better. Because, if you are never on the government radar to begin with, it will be a lot harder for them to find you when they want to shut you down.

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Assessing the Democratic Presidential Field

Before getting to the meat of this post, let’s first stipulate that the Democrats have a good chance of winning the 2016 presidential election, no matter whom they nominate. Don’t get me wrong: as far as I know the GOP will not only win the election, but will win in a landslide. However, as we should have learned by now, a sure win should not by any means be taken for granted, no matter how weak and defective the Democratic nominee may appear. [1]

The Democrats have only nominated two presidential candidates since 1980 who were even remotely plausible as presidents: Walter Mondale and Al Gore. [2] However, during that same period two implausible Democratic nominees in fact became president, and the greatest fraud of the lot, John Kerry, actually got 48.3% of the vote in 2004. [3] [4]

So, the Dems could nominate Crusty the Clown as their candidate in 2016, and still win. And anyone who pretends otherwise is living in a fantasy land.

Hillary as GodzillaThis means that Hillary Clinton has a serious chance of becoming POTUS.

But she has to get through the Democratic primaries first, and this is by no means a done deal. Recall that in 2008, everyone thought that she was unassailable in the primaries, but she still lost to Barack Obama due to a combination of being uncharismatic and wooden (i.e., “likeable enough”), having a flawed campaign strategy, carrying a whole lot of baggage, and seeming too much like yesterday’s news.

Thus far, Hillary Clinton has shown little or no improvement on the stump, her baggage has only multiplied, and her topical freshness rating is somewhere behind that of the newspaper that people use to line the insides of a bird cage.

To be sure, she has enlisted some of the same minions that brought us Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, and she has Michelle Kwan in her corner, so she should run a much better campaign than she did in 2008. However, her Twitter stream is high on astroturf and low on authentic support, and every Democrat I have heard from stresses the point that in their eyes she is so right-wing that she should run as a Republican. Unless she is able to generate some enthusiasm for her candidacy, she will see some upsets in the early primaries. And if she does, it could well be a repeat of 2008.

But if Hillary does stumble, who will the Democrats turn to?

jim_webb_salutingJim Webb was Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan, and worked with some of the editors at the National Review before he ran for the senate. It was logical to think, before his senate run, that he was actually a moderate Republican. And though he went left on many positions when he served in the senate, he is still to the right of some GOP presidential candidates on some issues. Unfortunately for Webb, rank and file Democrats know this, so he does not have any chance at all in the Democratic primaries. Further, Webb has burned too many bridges with the GOP and conservatives to run as a Republican. He should go back to writing novels.

Martin O'MalleyMartin O’Malley is the former governor of Maryland and former mayor of Baltimore. As with Hillary Clinton, no one can remember anything he has ever accomplished. His primary claims to fame as mayor of Baltimore were his policies to reduce crime and to upgrade the Baltimore school system. Both of these policy initiatives were miserable failures. As governor, he raised taxes, installed speed cameras, gave instate tuition to illegal aliens, helped institute same-sex marriage, and got rid of the death penalty, in an unimaginative attempt to check all the boxes to prove that he is a good liberal. O’Malley’s main selling point appears to be that he would serve as a fairly good Chippendale’s dancer. He should seriously consider wearing cuffs and a bow tie.

Bernie-SandersWhich leaves us with Bernie Sanders. Sanders is a self-avowed socialist who has caucused with the Democrats since joining the senate in 2006. Though he is not officially a Democrat, he has received numerous Democratic committee assignments in the senate, along with the support of the Democratic Party in his senate bids. As a socialist, his policy views are easily to the left of the Democrats running for president, and of Obama himself. One would be tempted to count Sanders out as a flake, except for the fact that of all senators, he ranks as the third most popular senator in his own home state; and, his accomplishments in office are quite substantive by any measure. He may be a loon and he would be a disaster as president, but compared to many other candidates (including some in the current GOP crop) he is a serious politician. Further, unlike Clinton, Sanders appears to be receiving genuine grassroots support and enthusiasm.

It may be that Clinton will indeed steamroll the other candidates, and that none of them stand a chance against her. On the other hand, I would not be surprised at all if Sanders were to win or come a close second in Iowa and New Hampshire, and if that happens it is an open race.

Of course, Hillary Clinton has the best negative-campaigner in the business at her beck and call–Bill Clinton. He was neutered (at least as a political force) in 2008 by charges of racism. Fortunately for Hillary, Sanders is not African-American (though he may self-identify at any moment), so the race card is not on the table this time around. If Hillary begins to stumble, things will get quite nasty as Hillary and Bernie start flinging mud in a desperate attempt to see who can go farther to the left.

It will get ugly, and it is anyone’s guess as to who will win.

___________

[1] The fact that Mitt Romney did take victory for granted in 2012 should belie the more recent claims made by his surrogates that somehow he is a genius when compared to Barack Obama. It may indeed be true that Barack Obama is a fool–but he still beat Romney.
[2] By “plausible”, I do not at all mean that they would have been good presidents, only that based upon experience, accomplishments, and integrity they reached the lowest standard of what should ever be considered acceptable in a presidential candidate.
[3] That he is now considered a wizened sage by the Democratic Party, and is in fact the Secretary of State, says a great deal about the people running our country.
[4] Yes, Kerry is objectively a bigger fraud than Bill Clinton and Barack Obama: 1) He claimed three Purple Hearts in Vietnam without showing any discernible injuries; 2) He got a Silver Start for shooting a man in the back; 3) After serving four months in a war zone, he returned home a war hero, and then went on to malign those who had actually served heroically and honorably; 4) He married a ketchup heiress and used her money to finance a senate bid. He has no other achievements to his credit. His resume is thin of honest accomplishments even by Barack Obama’s low standard.

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Satan Is Not An Atheist

This discussion on the nature of evil is from an interview by Christianitas with the French Catholic philosopher Fabrice Hadjadj. It comes at the beginning of a fascinating and rather complex conversation on sexuality. While the latter discussion is beyond the scope of this blog, his comments on atheism and evil deserve to be reprinted in full:

Christianitas: You are known in Poland as the author of The Faith of the Demons, a book that in France earned the Prix de littérature religieuse for 2010. … Let’s begin with the book on demons: Where did you get the idea for it?

Fabrice Hadjadj: … The topic of the book [The Faith of the Demons] is evil, radical evil. It was not my aim to write about demons, but rather an attempt at answering for myself the question: What is evil in its pure state? And also: What is faith? Therefore the most important word in the title The Faith of the Demons is “faith.”

In writing about this I asked myself the following question: It is true that atheism is considered to be a great evil, but is it really the greatest evil? I came to the conclusion that “no, it is not,” since it is obvious that demons are not unbelievers: The demons believe and tremble (James 2:19). The Devil knows that God exists and is certain about the veracity of all the articles of faith. This means that our foe—and he is the greatest—is not an atheist. Certainly he fuels atheism, he himself exists in a certain form of atheism, which consists in living without God, but he is not an atheist on the theoretical level.

Such was my first conclusion. This is why I attempted to extend my reflection by going beyond unbelief. This approach seemed interesting to me, because when we stop treating atheism as the only figure of evil, then we begin to realize that there are others, for example, deism, fundamentalism, including Phariseeism. The second conclusion of the book is connected with the topic of The Depths of Sexuality. Well, our enemy not only is not an atheist, but he also has no body. A demon is an angel, “a pure impure spirit.” Thus evil is not first located in the body, but is instead connected to the spirit.

If there is sin, then that is because there is intelligence, and because the will exists. Here is what I wanted to say with this: Do you think that your foe is an atheist or that the body is something dangerous? No, because spiritualism perhaps is the greatest evil and the root of all evil. The Catholic conclusion that it is the spirit that is on the side of evil is really something truly amazing.

So you started by delving into the issue of demonism until you reached Phariseeism?  

Yes, Phariseeism is the human equivalent of demonism. One can find such a line of thinking in the statements Pope Francis made right after his election. This pope notes the great danger in what he calls “self-referentiality.” He criticizes a Church that falls into theological narcissism. Such a turn toward oneself is precisely what happens in Phariseeism and in the faith of the demons.

Thus, there are two kinds of unbelief. One is a negation of faith. The other is the substitution of true faith with a lie–an ersatz faith. Ultimately, Satan holds to the second kind of unbelief. He cannot deny reality, but he can twist and distort the truth, redefining what he knows to be right, to turn it into a lie. This is why Phariseeism is the real human counterpart to the faith of demons. It turns the truth into a lie, and in doing so steals all hope of salvation from humanity. It bears a form of godliness, but without the power to save: It only contains within itself the power to condemn. (2 Timothy 3: 5)

(H/t The Corner)

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Quote Of The Decade

Mark Steyn, in an article about Barack Obama’s patriotism and love of Christianity, quotes Theodore Dalrymple:

In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control.

After living many years in China and seeing how communist party propaganda works first-hand, all I can say is that Dalrymple gets things exactly right. The goal of propaganda is to gain cooperation and then compliance. When it comes to propaganda, it does not matter that everyone knows it is a lie. All that matters is that everyone agrees with the lie publicly–that no would dare call it a lie.

With their mouths and lips people agree with the lie, thinking that somehow that it does not matter as they have preserved the truth in the hearts. Yet, through small concessions and compromises, they have already lost their freedom, whether they know it or not. It is a small thing to give lip service to a lie. Yet, if through fear or calculus a person refuses to stand for the truth in a small thing, then how can he stand when it comes to something that will destroy his soul?

Since the election of Obama in 2008, America has been standing at a precipice, but it still remains unclear if it will fall.

The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule on their own authority; and My people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it?

Jeremiah 5: 31

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China’s Glorious New Internet Censorship Theme Song

In case anyone still has doubts about how bat guano crazy the government of mainland China is, this new song–a paean to Internet censorship–was introduced on Chinese TV for the Chinese New Year’s Spring Festival celebration.

In case you are curious, here is a translation of the lyrics provided by the Wall Street Journal:

在这片天空日月忠诚的守望
Keeping faithful watch under this sky, the Sun and the Moon

为日出东方使命担当
Undertaking this mission for the break of dawn [in the East]

创新每个日子拥抱着清朗
Creating, embracing everyday clarity and brightness

像一束廉洁阳光感动在心上
Like a beam of incorruptible sunlight, touching our hearts

团结万物生长的力量
Uniting the powers of life from all creation

奉献地球村成为最美的风光
Offerings to the global village become the most beautiful of scenery

网络强国 网在哪光荣梦想在哪
Internet Power! The Web is where glorious dreams are

网络强国 从遥远的宇宙到思念的家
Internet Power! From the distant cosmos to the home we long for

网络强国 告诉世界中国梦在崛起大中华
Internet Power! Tell the world that the China Dream is lifting Greater China to prominence

网络强国 一个我在世界代表着国家
Internet Power! One self represents the nation to the world

在这个世界百川忠诚寻归海洋
In this world, all rivers loyally seek to return to the sea

担当中华文明的丈量
Bearing the measure of Chinese civilization

五千年沉淀点亮创新思想
5,000 years settle and give light to creative new thinking

廉洁就是一个民族清澈荡漾
Incorruptibility is the clear rippling of a nation

我们团结在天地中央
We unite at the center of Heaven and Earth

信仰奉献流淌万里黄河长江
Belief and giving flow for thousands of miles down the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers

网络强国 网在哪光荣梦想在哪
Internet Power! The Web is where glorious dreams are

网络强国 从遥远的宇宙到思念的家
Internet Power! From the distant cosmos to the home we long for

网络强国 告诉世界中国梦在崛起大中华
Internet Power! Tell the world that the China Dream is lifting Greater China to prominence

网络强国 一个我在世界代表着国家
Internet Power! One self represents the nation to the world

Frankly, the music and lyrics are so inspiring that we have decided to harmonize ourselves with the dictates of the one-party state, and stop using Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Google, and gmail, stop posting links to Tank Man, and even delete this website, lest we somehow harm the feelings of China.

Not!

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The ISIS Air Force?

The ISIS air force

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Scott Walker’s First Ad For President: “Our American Revival”

Walker comes across personally as a little wooden and boring, but overall this is a great ad and a great message.

Compared to Rick Perry, Walker is certainly more impressive. Perry makes a lot of claims about his role in promoting the economy of Texas that he simply cannot back up. The government of Texas employs a weak executive system wherein the governor has little power. It is highly likely that, regardless of the governor, the economy of Texas would be doing well, because the governor really does not have that much effect on the state economy. Meanwhile, Perry’s understanding of the 10th Amendment apparently is that the federal government should be restrained, but that state governments can have nearly unlimited power over their citizens.

Walker’s message on the other hand, is not just to roll back federal power, but to roll back government power in general, and empower people to make their own choices and find their own economic prosperity. And, Walker’s message resounds because it his policies have worked. Among the governors who have thrown their hat in the ring, he certainly looks like the strongest conservative candidate.

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