Monthly Archives: February 2012
Is our country a Christian nation?
The first thing we need to explore is what it means to be Christian. If you were looking at the true definition of Christian you would find that it can only apply to a human being. Christians are followers of Jesus Christ who accept his identity as God, savior, and master of their lives. Jesus told his followers, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”(John 14:15) Christians love Jesus and live a life that expresses love toward him. They still sin and fail regularly at imitating him, but at their core they are devoted to the struggle of seeking God in a fallen world. True Christians are living and active, so this means that CDs and books and movies cannot truly be Christian. They don’t have the life of God in them. In the same way a country cannot be truly Christian. Even if 100% of the citizenry were Christians, and all of the government’s policies were informed by Christian principles, what we would have is a very large Christian community composed of individual believers. The United States would not be Christian; its people would be Christian.
Now, all of that being said I know that when people call an object “Christian” they don’t believe that it is saved by Jesus. They likely mean that it has a message which somehow ties into God. Switchfoot is a Christian band. Their music is shaped by their beliefs and many call it Christian. In its own way it points to Christ, so I will say that when anything outside of a human being is labeled “Christian” it must in some way point to Jesus Christ.
The two working definitions of Christian that I will use for the rest of this post are:
- A human being who accepts Jesus Christ as their personal savior, which results in an inner transformation turning the individual, over a lifetime, into the likeness of Jesus Christ. This means their thoughts and actions will be increasingly like those of Jesus as they seek to know him. More than a title or affiliation or even religion, Christianity is giving all of yourself with the belief that God will give you his own life in return.
- Anything that is not a human that points to Jesus Christ as he is portrayed in the gospels. Examples are music, paintings, movies, books, culture, etc.
Is our country a Christian nation?
I have heard arguments from both sides regarding the Christian foundations of America. One side claims that the founding members of this country were largely Christian, or at least heavily informed by Christian principles. As a result they drafted our core documents with divine assistance from God and turned to Him in prayer before taking critical first steps as a nation. The other side points out that many of them were Deists (namely Thomas Jefferson who made his own Bible by taking out all that mystical stuff about miracles and resurrections) or simply non-religious like the Enlightenment hero, Benjamin Franklin. This side also is keen on emphasizing the separation of church and state, which they say is the intention of our founders. Taken even further, this separation is used as proof that the founders wanted religion far removed from the governing bodies of this land. So what’s the deal?
Based on what I’ve gathered, and trying really hard not to let my own bias taint my senses, I believe that Christianity did play a critical role in the formation of this country. But at the same time ideas shaped by the Enlightenment were used to craft our government structures. The Bible was not the central document through which the Constitution was formed. That being said, many of the men who had a hand in the beginning were devout Christians, so it is not correct to assume that they wanted Christians to be separated from government entirely. Their ideal government wouldn’t be one in which men didn’t allow their faith to play a role in their decisions. Religion would never be forced on anyone, but America would also not force the religious to deny their convictions once in public office. If you need some proof of someone in high office exercising their faith, just look to George Washington or Abraham Lincoln. American citizens elect these people to reflect their own values.
More important than where we were yesterday as a nation is where we are today. Does our culture look Christian? Do our policies look Christian? Are our people even Christian?
Certainly, the dominant culture in this country is far from reflecting Christian values. The American Dream at its core is about amassing worldly wealth and happiness so that you can have a comfortable life. Is this anything like what Christ meant when he said to his followers, ” If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”? (Matthew 16:24) The values that we see on television are shallow and ungodly. Physical beauty and the vitality of youth is idolized and sex is used as a tool for profit. How many advertisers and television shows whore themselves in our living rooms? The internet spills over with porn with millions of men and women captivated by the dull lustful glow of their computer screens. This isn’t about gay marriage and abortion, though legalized abortion is perhaps the greatest noose around the neck of America’s spirit. This is about a culture of death. We live in a culture of death. In one moment we are thrilled by distant or digital violence and in the next promised that eternal beauty and health is attainable. Just buy this or watch this or read this. So much of our culture is based on avoiding the reality of our inevitable deaths. This is the opposite of the Christian life. Clearly we cannot call our culture “Christian” since it does little to point anyone to Jesus Christ.
But what about our people?
How many people who say they are Christians are truly followers of Christ? Say 70% of the country identified themselves as Christian. Of those, how many go to church maybe once or twice a year and live their lives as if they didn’t love Jesus? A conservative guess would be half. Just consider all of the people you know who call themselves Christian or Catholic. Of those, how many would you actually label as a legitimate follower of Jesus Christ? How many actually live as if God was the love of their life? I even recognize that I am in danger of falling into this category when I consider how little I resemble Jesus and how much I embody the culture in which I live.
The point I’m trying to make is that Christians, true believers who live for God, are not the majority in this country. Christians are in the minority. Many conservatives hold tightly to their traditional “Christian” values but their lives are far from the heart of God.
Most Americans are not Christian.
Is America a Christian nation? No. We were once much more united by Christian values, but we are currently far removed from that past. Our culture is not Christian. Our people are not Christian. And increasingly less so.
God moves in the hearts of people. What will become of ours?
Hope: a strong and confident expectation
I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.- Stephen Hawking
The life of man is a long march through the night, surrounded by invisible foes, tortured by weariness and pain, towards a goal that few can hope to reach, and where none may tarry long.- Bertrand Russell
That Man is the product of causes that had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins — all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.-Bertrand Russell
The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference.- Richard Dawkins
Religion teaches the dangerous nonsense that death is not the end.- Richard Dawkins
At its most elemental level the human organism, like crawling life, has a mouth, digestive tract, and anus, a skin to keep it intact, and appendages with which to acquire food. Existence, for all organismic life, is a constant struggle to feed — a struggle to incorporate whatever other organisms they can fit into their mouths and press down their gullets without choking. Seen in these stark terms, life on this planet is a gory spectacle, a science-fiction nightmare in which digestive tracts fitted with teeth at one end are tearing away at whatever flesh they can reach, and at the other end are piling up the fuming waste excrement as they move along in search of more flesh.- Ernest Becker
I suppose that one reason I have always detested religion is its sly tendency to insinuate the idea that the universe is designed with ‘you’ in mind or, even worse, that there is a divine plan into which one fits whether one knows it or not. This kind of modesty is too arrogant for me.- Christopher Hitchens
The only position that leaves me with no cognitive dissonance is atheism. It is not a creed. Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more.-Christopher Hitchens
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. –Paul the Apostle (1 Corinthians 1:18)
Despair: Utter loss of hope
If you know me, you know this story.
In 2006 Cadbury eggs shrunk in America from 39g to 34g. At that time Cadbury of America hid behind the slogan, “They haven’t gotten smaller, you’ve gotten bigger.” Of course this was just a ploy and the lid was eventually blown off on the Conan O’Brien show when B.J. Novak (Ryan from The Office) held up the 2005 egg next to the 2006 version. The difference in size was obvious. Fortunately, the egg remained the same size in all other countries so any true connoisseur could obtain them with just a little extra effort. Then in 2008 Canada shrunk their egg to match the American version, and by 2010 only England, the home of Cadbury, held true to the 39g classic. In just a few short years only one bastion remains. England is the final stronghold.
A bit of detective work, some would call an obsessive crusade, has revealed to me that Hershey is the true culprit in this crime against humanity. They are the ones who distribute Cadbury products in America, and they were the first to experiment with the reduction. I have to believe that when most people didn’t even notice the difference, or when they did notice didn’t care enough to boycott, the power players around the world saw an opportunity to save buckets of money. If people are going to spend the same amount for less egg it only makes sense to produce more of the smaller eggs. I can’t say I blame them, but I can’t say I don’t despise them deeply.
So what are the implications of this Hershey/Cadbury (Now Kraft owns Cadbury so they are included as well) power play? What happens when a people grow apathetic to the growing influence of their governments and corporations? Liberty is traded for ignorance. Freedom is traded for a false sense of security. The powerful become stronger while those subjected to them become weaker.
We’ve settled, people. We’ve settled for a smaller Cadbury egg. When Netflix went crazy with arrogance and decided to raise prices and make their service less convenient by breaking it into two entities, people jumped ship by the hundreds of thousands. This forced Netflix to keep their prices low and ditch that lame “Flixster” idea. When Bank of America said they were going to start charging a $5 debit card fee, people revolted and forced the banking giant to drop that scheme. The American people have the power to change policies. We are the ones who give these corporations power. We are to blame for the 34g Cadbury egg.
As long as the same nerds who hate George Lucas keep giving him money, George will keep ruining Star Wars. As long as people keep seeing bad 3D movies, Hollywood will keep making them. As long as we keep watching the new terrible episodes of The Simpsons, they will keep animating them and ruining their once great legacy. As long as we keep eating these false 34g Cadbury eggs, they will keep feeding them to us.
This Easter season, don’t settle for less. Purchase your eggs from England and take a stand against tyranny. Another American Revolution is coming, but this time our freedom comes from the British.
You know you’ve made it when people start believing that you might be the Antichrist. Basically every modern president, and a good number of world leaders ranging from Hitler to the Pope have been given that title by some group of people searching for a sign of the end. A few years back someone told me, in all seriousness, that Obama was the Antichrist and Oprah was his false prophet. Now, that sounds pretty ridiculous, but let’s for a moment consider what qualities one must possess to be a worthy contender for the title. The Bible contains a number of verses that describe this “man of lawlessness” or “son of perdition” who “exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God”. (2 Thessalonians 2:4) Basically he will be a powerful figure with incredible influence over the people of the world who will attempt to take the place of God. Look at this verse…
“And he spoke terrible words of blasphemy against God, slandering his name and his dwelling—that is, those who dwell in heaven. And the beast was allowed to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And he was given authority to rule over every tribe and people and language and nation. And all the people who belong to this world worshiped the beast.” (Revelation 13)
Wow, that is a lot of power and influence! Who or what could possibly possess these striking and blasphemous qualities? I submit, after much consideration and a few Google searches, that Google is a legitimate contender.
Let’s start right at the Google search engine. If you type in “Google is” you get the following suggestions: Google Israel, Google is God, Google is, and Google is evil. Israel is significant as it is the home of God’s chosen people, the Jews. It contains the city of Jerusalem, which was the site of the Temple. The Jewish people built this temple thousands of years ago, and it contained something called the Holy of Holies, which was a sacred place in which God resided. This temple was destroyed long ago, but many believe that it will soon be rebuilt. Anyway, it is significant that Google Israel is the first thing to pop up considering the following verse, “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel–let the reader understand.” (Matthew 24:15) In one sense, it is not hard to envision a rebuilt temple with a computer inside of it containing the internet, and as a result Google. But in another sense you can see how Google is already standing in the holy place since this is the first suggestion to pop up, and Google is in close proximity to Israel. Let the reader understand. Google is God doesn’t require much explanation. The verses I’ve already written for you contain much about the Antichrist attempting to seize God’s place in the world. God is meant to be the focal point for those who believe, and as an idol which steals our attention from the Almighty, Google takes His place. Google is might need some clarification. In the Bible God refers to Himself at various points as I AM. Jesus also does this. I AM is a way of stating absolute being. Google is strikes me as similar to I AM since it is a simple statement of being. Once again, Google attempts to supersede God. Google is evil looks like a warning to me. The Antichrist will be evil underneath all of his attempts to appear like God, just as this fourth suggestion appears underneath the others.
I also want you to consider the nature of the Google search engine. What do we use it for? Have you ever heard someone say, “What did we do before Google?” We use it as a means to find the answers. Do you have a strange rash? Type it into Google and find some answers. Want to know what Christians or Muslims believe? Just search for it in Google. Want to know anything and everything? All you have to do is sit down at your computer and search. Google is the number one search engine, and as such guides millions and millions of people every day to the information that Google deems appropriate for them to see based on their terms. Who do we turn to for the answers? Who has authority to guide us? What influence.
Google is available all over the world and in almost every language. Remember the verse from earlier, which states that the Antichrist has “authority to rule over every tribe and people and language and nation”.
Google is also a portal to all of the evil that can be found online. This is the darkness underneath the false appearance that we find so appealing. It tempts millions to sin.
As a corporation, Google’s informal slogan was “Don’t be evil.” Does that strike anyone as a little suspicious?
Google basically owns the Internet. Here is a line from an article I found at the top of my Google search:
Google decides what information is going to be seen in front of all else. People go to Google.com first, so ultimately because of its loyal following, Google has been given by many the authority to decide what gets seen on the internet and what doesn’t.
Along with this authority, Google also owns YouTube, which is the window to the world for many. Google has the whole world in its hands with Google Earth and maps out our lives with Google Maps.
In many ways, Google is the Internet. The source of billions of pages of information containing our histories, religions, politics, hopes, dreams, fears, and destinies. Such power. Such influence. Such a capacity for evil.
Watch this video.
A Note: Verses from the Bible can be stripped out of context and used to promote a variety of ungodly ideologies. Satan himself does this in the Bible. (Matthew 4) The Bible is meant to be read as a way to connect with God, or to understand Him better. I wrote this partially to entertain and partially to draw attention to how influential Google is in our lives. I’m not truly a believer that Google is the Antichrist, but I am a believer that Google is a powerful entity with the power to shape our thoughts through the spreading of information. We must be aware of the influence of technology, and especially the internet, in all of our lives whether or not we believe in God. But to the Christians I would say not to scoff at the idea of Google as an antichrist since it can serve as a wide gateway to a whole world of sin.