Confess Your Sins II

We’ve covered this topic before on July 2, 2015. This time we’ll explore it from the point of view of community. Google’s second definition for ‘community’ is:

A feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

“the sense of community that organized religion can provide”

A church has common interests and goals built-in. And we should have one attitude. However, a church is also made up of a diverse collection of people. As with any group of flawed human beings, they will offend one another. For the cohesiveness of our church communities, we need to do the following more often:

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16 English Standard Version (ESV)

The pastor to several church bodies during his tenure, Calvin comments on this verse:

Confess your faults one to another. …[James] had [just] said, that sins were remitted to the sick over whom the elders prayed: he now reminds them how useful it is to [disclose] our sins to our brethren, even that we may obtain the pardon of them by [our brethren’s] intercession.

…Many…think that James [is indicating] …the way of brotherly reconciliation, that is, by mutual acknowledgment of sins. But…his object was different; for he connects mutual prayer with mutual confession; by which he [implies] that confession [benefits us] for this end, that we may be helped as to God by the prayers of our brethren; for they who know our necessities, are stimulated to pray that they may assist us; but they to whom our diseases are unknown are [less likely] to bring us help.

…For the words clearly mean, that confession is required for no other end, but that those who know our evils may be more solicitous to bring us help.

Here, Calvin calls us to vulnerable community. He goes on to elaborate on the nature and quality of our prayer for one another. First, he says:

Avails much. …When others pray for us, [James] expressly mentions the benefit and the effect of prayer. But he names expressly the prayer of a righteous or just man; because God does not hear the ungodly; nor is access to God open, except through a good conscience: not that our prayers are founded on our own worthiness, but because the heart must be cleansed by faith before we can present ourselves before God. Then James testifies that the righteous or the faithful pray for us beneficially and not without fruit.

Then, finally, Calvin says:

But what does he mean by adding effectual or efficacious? For this seems superfluous; for if the prayer avails much, it is doubtless effectual.

…Our prayers may properly be said to be ἐνεργούμεναι (i.e., working) when some necessity meets us which excites in us earnest prayer. We pray daily for the whole Church, that God may pardon its sins; but then only is our prayer really in earnest, when we go forth to [help] those who are in trouble.

But such efficacy cannot be in the prayers of our brethren, except they know that we are in difficulties. Hence the reason given is not general, but must be specially referred to the former sentence.

Puritan Pastor Thomas Manton also commented on James 5:16:

[We should privately confess our sins] to a godly minister or wise Christian [when we are] under deep wounds of conscience. It is but folly to hide our sores till they be incurable. When we have unburdened ourselves [to] a godly friend, [our] conscience finds a great deal of ease. Certainly, they are then more capable to give us advice, and can the better apply the help of their counsel and prayers to our particular case, and are thereby moved to the more pity and commiseration…

[Truly,] it is a fault in Christians not to disclose themselves and be more open with their spiritual friends, when they are not able to extricate themselves out of their doubts and troubles. You may do [so with] any godly Christians, but especially to ministers, who are solemnly entrusted with the power of the keys, and may help you to apply the comforts of the word when you cannot yourselves.

…The weak must pray for the strong, and the strong for the weak. There is none but should improve his interest. When there is much work to do, you give your children their parts… So in the family of Christ. None can be exempted: `The head cannot say to the feet, I have no need of you, 1 Cor. 12:21-22 .

God delights to oblige us to each other in the body of Christ, and therefore will not bless you without the mutual mediation and intercession of one an other’s prayers; for this is the true intercession of saints. And so, in a sense, the living saints may be called mediators of intercession. But chiefly the strong, and those that stand, are to pray for them that are fallen; for that is the intent of this place.

Oh! then, that we would regard this neglected duty. Not to pray for others is uncharitable; not to expect it from others is pride. Do not stand alone; two, yea, many, are better than one. Joint striving mutually for the good of each other makes the work prosper.

Let us, therefore, increase our sense of community in the churches by confessing to and praying for one another.

“Mercy Will Prevail” – Nashville Floods 2010, YouTube, thechoirvideos

The State and End State by Bernhardt Writer

A while back we reviewed Kenneth Minogue’s book: Alien Powers – The Pure Theory of Ideology. In it, he contends that Western civilization is in the throes of a conflict over a right understanding of the human condition. So, how does it all turn out in the end were ideology to win?

Politics and Democracy

Ideology masquerades as a political movement, but it is determined to destroy the circumstances underpinning politics. It draws out our moral instincts while it denies the possibility of morality. It affirms freedom while striving for a community in which only one right act will be possible for each circumstance. Ideology attacks inequality but seeks to destroy the individual human capable of achieving equality in a meaningful sense. It champions real democracy but advocates unanimity that makes democracy superfluous. Ideology’s practitioners use criticism to attack opponents while claiming their own truths are incontrovertible.

Ideology portrays deficiencies of the human condition (i.e., personal sin) as structural flaws of an oppressive system. It must methodically destroy the political ideas and values that the system represents. These ideas and values merely hide the system’s ulterior interests. Ideology can only be satisfied by a perfect democracy which is, by definition, unattainable. It is ideologically absurd to let those deluded by the system’s structural faults to select leaders when the people (i.e., the vanguard) leading the way to the perfect community, alone, have the necessary knowledge.

Ideology and the State

States provide liberty by instituting legal rights. Individuals within the state exercise these rights as responsible agents of choice. The result is a world both unpredictable and uncontrollable because what people will do with their rights is unknowable until they decide and act.

Karl Marx, however, said that rights separated person from person (i.e., alienated them one from another). His ideal society would possess liberty without rights. Those in his transformed society would no longer mistrust or have disagreements of right and wrong. There would be complete harmony in which no one would need to exercise rights. In fact, there would no longer be individuals capable of exercising rights in such a perfect harmonious community.

Ideology says states foster citizens’ independent actions, the soil in which oppression thrives. Oppression can only be prevented by destroying the state itself. Ideologies use “one party states” to destroy any remaining independence in a society enthralled to the ideology.

A capitalistic society provides laws under which the citizenry orders their life choices and actions. Under an ideology’s social order, everyone is occupied with transforming society. Nothing prevents citizens in a modern state from creating communes, collective farms, or cooperatives. However, it is both criminal and regressive for those in an ideological state to set up a business or practice unsanctioned religion.

States provide rules according to which citizens choose how to satisfy their interests. The mistake ideological governments make is to decide between interests. By determining interests, ideologies show that their social criticism is aimed, not at the centralized state, but the private interests of citizens and associations that compose the state.

Impediment to Revolution

What stands in the way of ideology’s revolutionary conquest is transcendent religion. Minogue says that someone is not fit for revolution who, like Adam Smith, believes:

“A wise man never complains of the destiny of Providence, nor thinks the universe in confusion when he is out-of-order.”

Marx observed that engaging the wretched to carry out insurrection will never happen if they are lost in religious fantasies.

Perfect Community and the Individual

In an integrated community of individuals, each one is the proprietor of their own desires and the adjudicator of their own thoughts. Ideology sees this as the cause for aggression, greed, selfishness, and violence because some desire more than they have or want what others possess. Ideology rejects the possibility of personal responsibility and self-control as the foundation of relationships within a functioning society.

Should humans live as free agents making individual choices or as a collective species with no individuation in so-called perfection? Ideology says perfect community is not only desirable, but the only form possible (all other forms being ones of oppression).

Would these humans in perfect community have self-awareness and the ability to choose to cooperate? Ideology says that as long as they have real choice then their actions no longer depend on correct human consciousness but on contingent human will. In short: no. A community that freely chooses to cooperate could choose not to do so at some point in the future. If that were to happen, then the ideological terminus (perfect community) could itself be overthrown.

To give a sense of the import of such a transformation, Marx says:

When the laborer co-operates systematically with others, he strips off the fetters of his individuality, and develops the capabilities of his species…The present generation resembles the Jews whom Moses led through the wilderness. It must not only conquer a new world, it must also perish in order to make room for people who will be equal to a new world.

Further, Minogue says that in true community:

Each of us will be drops of water in a clear pond. We shall live at the level of the universal, sloughing off that involvement in particular passions and particular points of view which is the very definition of our present entrapment. There will be no self to be denied or subjected. Particular character and situation would have no reality in themselves.

Ideology’s Results

Ideology’s direct contribution to society is to set worker against capitalist, Black against White, men against women, etc. No one can doubt ideology has gotten results by calling out grave instances of oppression; but, in the process, it has multiplied pointless, diffuse antagonisms that have weakened the fabric of Western society and culture.

True community may be a thing of wonder. However, the resolution of strife between essences and existence leaves no one to contemplate that beauty since they both must be “resolved.” The so-called alienated human being is abolished.

This means that ideology, carried to its terminus (and there is no other purpose), poses an existential threat to the West. Declaring Western civilization rotten to the core, ideology does away with the possibility of the individual human life in exchange for a myth of pure species. This is the equivalent of a suicide pact.

May Day Poster

Russian 1st of May poster, Soviet, Public Domain in the US

Minogue’s book is available (in part) on Google Books. As an example of the pervasive influence of ideology, the National Association of Scholars has recently addressed the sustainability movement as an ideology encroaching on academic freedom.

“Sustainability” is a key idea on college campuses in the United States and the rest of the Western world. To the unsuspecting, sustainability is just a new name for environmentalism. But the word really marks out a new and larger ideological territory in which curtailing economic, political, and intellectual liberty is the price that must be paid now to ensure the welfare of future generations. [Emphasis mine]

The movement is just another example of special interests seeking to “throw off oppression” using coercion and, if that fails, barbarity in a quest for supremacy.

As I’ve said before, I agree with Orwell’s assessment of his novel Nineteen Eighty Four: “The moral to be drawn from this dangerous nightmare situation is a simple one: Don’t let it happen. It depends on you.

Ideology’s Characteristics by Bernhardt Writer

A few weeks ago, we reviewed Kenneth Minogue’s book: Alien Powers – The Pure Theory of Ideology. He writes that Western civilization is in the throes of a conflict over a right understanding of the human condition. Minogue suggests that the ideological approach is ascendant in our society while the transcendent is declining. He claims that there is a generally applicable pure theory of ideology best realized to date in Marxist ideology and its offspring. Let us touch on some of the general points from his book.

***

The common person on the street condemns the results of bad human actions. They attempt to rectify those results when possible through small corrective steps. These citizens view politics as the method to work together toward agreed-to ends within the context of the rule of law.

The ideologist takes bad actions as evidence of systemic structural oppression that can be remedied only through complete overhaul of the entire system (i.e., revolution). The ideologist sees incremental moral reform as the mystification (i.e., obscuration or concealment) by which an oppressive system strings its victims along. Politics is a question of power. Only the power of a unified oppressed group can wring concessions from the oppressors who have more power.

Ideologies disclose truths that the prevailing system has an interest in hiding. Ideologies claim all interactions within the system are power relationships. This truth is masked by societal constraints (i.e., moral and civil rules of conduct) and nefarious concealments perpetrated by the oppressive system. Denial of unmasked truths is proof of the system’s betrayal and oppression at work.

Societal constraints serve the oppressors’ interests. That these rules promote goodness and justice masks their real import which is the exercise of power over the oppressed. If the oppressed demand their right to overthrow these constraints they are rebuffed for not obeying a law, moral principle, or divine ordinance. But the real reason they are denied is because it conflicts with the oppressors interests in a zero-sum transaction.

Ideology reveals masked favoritism and domination throughout the corrupt system. The oppressed have rightful grievances (e.g., ones of class, gender, race, or ethnicity) against the system. Each oppressed person is imprisoned by the system’s conditioning which divides the oppressed from each other and from their real source of being in the species. Their struggle for liberation will result in true community.

Science, philosophy, law, and the state are instruments of special interests according to ideology. Although the intellectual elite might root out interests in favor of inclusiveness, those ideologically driven look to those deprived by the system for remedy. These persons, excluded by the system, unqualified to represent themselves, are appointed to lead humankind to liberation. This oppressed group is qualified because it is least tainted by the system’s corrupting influences. Of course, ideologists are ready and willing to indoctrinate the oppressed group in the ways of liberation and speak for them.

Ideology unveils for us the hidden truth otherwise mystified by the system’s apologists. Cleansed of the system’s mystifications we will see the truth of our essence and our consciences will rise to state of things as they actually exist. We will realize that the human species is defined by social (e.g., production) and material (e.g., eating) processes. We will arrive at this non-western reality through the struggle for liberation rather than through fruitless and pernicious contemplation.

Ideology is to revolution the way politics is to reform. Ideology does not debate whether theft, for instance, should be treated severely or mercifully but rather abolishes private property altogether making theft fictitious. Each resolution of this type typifies the true community. Any particular problem is solved only by solving all problems via revolution.

Ideology pledges a comprehensive and ultimate explanation of this material world (since it claims that the transcendent world to come does not exist). The explanation (i.e., ideological revelation) is not merely knowledge but leads to societal transformation which improves the earthly human condition. The difficulty of overcoming opposition and bringing about the transformation is evidence for the truth of the explanation.

The ideological model of human history is triadic: the primitive community in harmony gives way to a succession of societies characterized by domination. By overthrowing this progression man arrives at a higher form of his initial communal harmony.

***

Minogue credits Karl Marx as the sole individual responsible, not only for clear insights into capitalism, but for the creation of pure ideology. He claims Marx developed the theory further and more deeply than all others. It is this pure theory that Minogue describes in his book. We will cover the end result of the ideological project in a later post.

Karl Marx

A Portrait of Karl Marx, John Jabez Edwin Mayall (1813–1901), Public Domain in the US

From the Civil Rights Act to Ferguson — Bernhardt Writer

Recently, our nation has had several high-profile cases where black men have been killed by law enforcement officers or neighborhood watch members. Any death is tragic. We should remember all those who were cut down by violence whether or not their deaths were televised or otherwise recognized in the media. Each of them has left behind mothers, father, brothers, and sisters.

Recently, I was privileged to watch a lone voice speak out on the things I feel but have no right to voice. Fredrick Wilson II gives us straight talk on Ferguson, Travon Martin, you and me. His video channel is named: I’m Just Saying. Please be aware, he expresses some things coarsely.

In the video, Mr. Wilson speaks about events that took place fifty years ago. So what happened back then?

President Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ) sums up the situation in his 1965 voting rights speech before Congress:

But voting rights were only part of the story. Here’s a history of events leading up to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This is the text of President Kennedy’s Civil Rights speech. Unfortunately, he was assassinated before his legislation was enacted. It was intentionally stalled in Congress. It took a Southern Democrat and former Senate Majority Leader (Johnson) to ram it through the Congress.

In my essay: The Revolt Against the Masses – A Review (Part 1), I told the story of my origins. I was born in a Harlem hospital, raised in Inwood, moved up to the East Harlem public housing projects, and then, after moving again and through hardships my mother took on, had access to good schools outside my immediate neighborhood (Manhattan Valley on the Upper West Side just below Morningside Heights).

Seen as privileged because of the white shirts and ties my mother dressed me in, I was discriminated against in the ways preteen children often do. Ours was a multicultural intermediate school (Nee junior high) before that term was fashionable. It was fed by several schools serving low, middle, and upper income families.

My mother made sure I had friends from all economic classes. Now, I wish I did again. We’re all stratified by where we live, work, and shop. Even our churches are mainly homogeneous by economics and race. This is sadly true even in the black community. I see the situation as a particular failure of the churches in America. It shouldn’t be this way. That’s why I was drawn to Mr. Wilson’s video. He spoke from his head and heart. I imagine he spoke from an upbringing like the one I had. Actually, it seemed better, because my father was often absent.

Greta Van Susteren also speaks on our common predicament. Please watch her video:

VIDEO: A Reminder to Charlatans Who Like to Demonize All Police …

— Greta Van Susteren (@greta) December 6, 2014

I want the nation to be racially and economically reconciled. But that isn’t some abstract thing that happens. It happens one by one on the ground where we live. All I can say is let it start with me.

Inflammation – Tomarick Fescidia

We Can Do It poster for Westinghouse, closely ...We used to be people who fulfilled our needs before our wants. We valued those things necessary for life. We saved for things we’d like to have if we were able. Sometimes we provided for needs to the exclusion of our wants so we’d have enough to share with others. Now we can’t wait to put on credit the newest electronics we saw unboxed online. We hold down multiple jobs to “sacrifice” for what we think we want. All the while, our families, relationships, and community fall by the wayside.

We used to live in places that had stories to tell. We valued the historical diversity of our nation. Now we all go down for our morning pick–me–up to the local franchise, offering the same experience in every city and town across the nation. We shop when we’re anxious, burn with passion for the latest trends, and forsake human companionship for electronic simulations of various forms and intensities.

When did we give up our culture? How did we become a consumer society? Why have we given ourselves over to our invisible overlords? To those who, however ineffectively, pull the strings which control our collective thoughts and actions. To them, it turns out, we, the American public, had a problem in need of a solution. What was our problem? Instability.

The solution was the active use of propaganda to direct the American collective unconscious towards social stability. You may remember, propaganda is the use of psychological manipulation or coercion to influence opinions and actions of individuals and groups toward stated or unstated goals. This was their chosen method to engineer the “consent of the governed.” Not the means that our founders intended when they penned those words, I’m afraid.

Propaganda in the twentieth century proved effective to promote democracy during World War I and the Final Solution during World War II. The same techniques were effective in regimenting and controlling the American public. Plans were instituted without many of us being aware of their influence. And there was money to be made for those who caught on. Lots of money.

Consent engineers, also known as public relations specialists, maintained that we Americans inherently distorted any information we took in. We made up our minds before we gathered and analyzed the relevant facts. We operated with partial facts corrupted by our preconceived prejudices and were unable to reach sound conclusions. Because of this situation, we were deemed incompetent to direct the public affairs of our democracy. An elite would rule the nation.

The specialists envisioned a utopia where individuals’ otherwise unconscious instinctual biological urges were controlled and directed by the elite to the service of some purposeful goal. Over the centuries, some societies built pyramids, some constructed hanging gardens, and many tried to rule the world. In our nation’s case, the goal was economic prosperity. The elites, which the specialists served, happened to own the means of mass production and directed the irrational desires of citizens to consume their wares. This had the simultaneous effect of satisfying the biological forces that might tear society apart.

By directing our own desires, the elites built a stable society. Citizens could work off their frustrations by spending on self-gratifying goods and services. These goods and services represented a common identity to which citizens were to adapt their self-images. Each citizen would acquire from what they consumed a sense of self, purpose, and history reflecting current attitudes and social patterns. The society and environment at large would also take on this immediacy and impermanence. No longer would we inherit our self–images or environs from previous generations.

Conscious and intelligent control was deemed important for democracy. Those who performed this duty were the real rulers who directed of the country. They used media tools to manipulate an unsuspecting public. The press release informed readers of the ‘news’ about events, products, or attitudes to adopt. Leaders were used, with or without their agreement, to sway those who followed them. Polling, focus groups, or other “democratic” means were employed to shape opinion rather than just measure it. Events, or better, spectacles, were created that purported to inform or celebrate when what was intended was to influence acceptance of new concepts and perceptions by the unconscious minds of many.

But weren’t they really tapping into humans’ ancient underlying motives. The scriptures say that the fear of death brings lifelong slavery. It was really this fear into which modern propaganda taps. Do I need to explain the concept of “duck and cover?”

They thought scientific manipulation of public opinion was necessary to overcome chaos and conflict in society. However, they knew that public relations propaganda could be used to subvert democracy as easily as it could be used to resolve conflict. It is in use to this day and we find ourselves at a crossroads.

None of this is new. It has been happening for millennia. All I did was gather the information in one place for you to read. I urge you to decouple from the hype, search your conscience and a Bible, if you’ve got one, and make changes starting with yourself first. Skip the hearty breakfast and don’t go shopping! Instead, find a church to participate in that reveres Christ, our only savior from our bodies of death. And let the love of Christ rule your reason and passions. Maybe we can still recover the life and community we’ve surely lost, before it’s too late.