Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Harvest Or A Jackpot?

The Ochlophobist on the state of Christianity:

As I am beginning to tell my kids - in this day and age, run from all earnestness. All convenient proofs. All spin. All of that so goddamn obvious preaching to the self -- clearly to overcome anxieties and/or neuroses.

Seek the calm, the quiet, the still. And if you can't have that, then go for the jugular and don't play around pretending to act.

But hey, that's just me.

The ruins are everywhere now. All the old boundary markers are gone. Go where you are best able to pick up a few stones and make an altar to the one true God. Stay in that place as long as you are able. Keep your head low. Hide as needed.

We use the language of growth in an age of destruction. I often feel like telling people that I know work hard that they aren't working, and the thought 'wait, they are working- in many cases harder than me,' stops me from saying it. But recently I got that image of a casino, where people put in a lot of work, but they are working for a jackpot, not a harvest. This is what evangelism, regardless of the denomination, tends to look like nowadays. It is also what the inordinate attention to the poor looks like; you can feel really good solving a bunch of twenty dollar problems, but the structural problems that we need to fix never get fixed. And should we fix the structural problems, we will still have poor, because we will still have people who pick instant gratification over long term goals.

Health and healing is where this can be obvious. One part, one tiny part, but nonetheless the big emotional, possible jackpot part of healing is someone laying hands on you and praying for you. But what if your troubles exist because you don't have enough vitamin D? Sure, you could be healed miraculously, but what next? Don't you need to learn that you need to go out into the sun, and/or eat vitamin D rich foods? If you start looking at this seriously, you see there is a whole infrastructure to healing that should be in place, and building that infrastructure, growing the food, is a mundane task. It is not glorious, it doesn't have the same feeling as that daring step to go lay hands on someone and pray for them. We've been trained to go for the jackpot and ignore the infrastructure, to pretend we can live off of crap and yet manage to do something coherent or true.

The Blessed Economist recently said he found it intriguing that his prophecy book outsells his healing book.

This was my comment to him:

Let me be cynical for a moment. A healing ministry can easily be evaluated. Either people get healed or they don't.
A prophetic ministry is not necessarily so easy to evaluate. One could 'prophesy' a lot of things that aren't falsifiable, vague things, words of comfort and unity, etc... The happy, happy, joy, joy cult will confirm all your words and make you feel very important, but some guy with an illness you can't heal is going to notice he isn't healed, even if he thinks you are sincere.

I've had a neuralgia in my face since 2010, and have had to put up with modern evangelical nonsense for twice as long. I know most of these folks are mainly just fooling themselves, wanting narrative in their lives that gives them a larger sense of importance than they actually have.

Personally, if anyone wants to be a prophet, I'd tell him to shut and go farm, shepherd, or otherwise engage in manual labor. God seems to take men from such labors and have them prophesy, while the guild of prophets in the city tell the king whatever it is he wants to hear. In this day and age, the guild prophets seem to tell women whatever it is they think they want to hear, since nobility has pretty much been rooted out of the land.

The payoff for the mundane work is the harvest, and the pattern of a life-rich farm is similar to the pattern of a life-rich city. The payoff for modern work doesn't exist for most of us, because if a jackpot comes at all, it comes to some random person we don't know. And in the realm of evangelism, when the initial high wears off, a lot of people find there is no jackpot at all.


The Anti-Gnostic said...

I go to an Orthodox parish that is literally across the street from an Episcopal parish. Through a fluke of zoning from long ago, our parish has neighbors who can look out their windows and see our processions. And we ring a bell for the start of Divine Liturgy. So far, no Episcopalians or neighbors wandering in.

The hilariously obvious rebuke to Christian evangelism is that Muslims come to the US to be good Muslims.

"Backwards-looking" is a new term I've started using. Mention "the poor" to most clergy, and they think about London chimney-sweeps and Okies living in tents, not loud, fat women with hoop earrings or schizophrenic vagrants with broken brains. "Immigrants" brings up images of Tevye packing up ahead of the Cossacks, not Mexicans for whom $300/week and 6 people to an apartment is astounding good fortune. That's a PS3/Grand Theft Auto-lifestyle, right there.

So with the evangelists. They think "Paul before Herod Agrippa." They're actually just "Anti-Gnostic ranting on the Internet."

Time for the Church to look inward, and shepherd her flock in the coming Pagan epoch.

August said...

I think, especially in terms of long term transmission of culture, the average Muslim family is far superior. We've got a nuclear family in the West, which did help increase I.Q., but contributes to our general demise. Funny thing is, the Roman Catholic Church is responsible for reducing the power of families over the years. Then the secular world came in with family court and smashed any remaining authority.

Islam may be more robust, due to the family structure, which probably has nothing to do with Islam, other than so far the mullahs haven't screwed it up. They have been affected by various strains of modern ideology- communism, fascism, etc...

The average evangelical Christian attempting some sort of dialectic with someone from a more solid family structure is laughable, for a myriad of reasons.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Further to your original post, it's easy to lecture young people on chastity and marriage. It's easy to sign bastard grandchildren up for welfare when they don't listen.

What's much harder is structuring a community where we try to pair horny young people up before they ruin their lives over sex; where we give young men jobs and status, and make sure young mothers have support and a social outlet.

August said...

Absolutely. This group I was with for a while was created in the 70s and in the 90s they noticed none of their kids were joining. So they did a big gathering with all their children and asked them what was up.
It was patently obvious from the moment I first heard about it these kids wanted to be adults, have some sort of decent work and marry. But the group chose to abstract this out to 'meaningful action' and start what would turn out to be this typical Christian branded vacation stuff, where teens get to pretend they are missionaries for two weeks- and then most of them have to go right back to the modern education/career track that their middle class parents expect of them. Most of them fall away, but they parade a few of them around as faux superstars and try to ignore the general failure.

This line of thought pushes me to think in terms of an ancient city, something more tied in with the surrounding land, more psychologically sound for our well being, locally harvested food, etc... The jackpot mentality doesn't allow most leaders to think in this way, though. Nor does the middle class person particularly care for the idea that his child might be engaged in labor beneath his current class status. But they do get used to it, given these baby boomers have taken the entire world's economy down. Whether they like it or not, most of us will just be struggling to get by, whether we believe their lies or not.