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Archive for April, 2009

No political schemes this morning. Just some thoughts.

But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
~ Matthew 10:36-37 (NKJV)

And an excerpt from the book I’m currently reading. Emphasis mine.

Jesus most fully reveals what it is to be human: to lose ourselves in love and to be obedient to what love calls us to do. But it is precisely our fear of loss of control and our lack of faith that compel us to crucify him and thus keep at bay the obedience to and gratitude for God’s love that his life represents. The stunning claim of Christianity, however, is that our violent efforts do not defeat God’s love for us. Christ’s resurrection means that love keeps coming and is made available to us so that the relations frayed or destroyed by us can again be made healthy and whole.

~ Norman Wirzba (Living the Sabbath: Discovering the Rhythms of Rest and Delight, p. 44)

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A pair of bills introduced in the U.S. Senate would grant the White House sweeping new powers to access private online data, regulate the cybersecurity industry and even shut down Internet traffic during a declared “cyber emergency.”

Senate bills No. 773 and 778, introduced by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V., are both part of what’s being called the Cybersecurity Act of 2009, which would create a new Office of the National Cybersecurity Advisor, reportable directly to the president and charged with defending the country from cyber attack.

According to a Senate document explaining the bill, the legislation “addresses our country’s unacceptable vulnerability to massive cyber crime, global cyber espionage and cyber attacks that could cripple our critical infrastructure.”

In a statement explaining the bill’s introduction, Sen. Rockefeller said, “We must protect our critical infrastructure at all costs – from our water to our electricity, to banking, traffic lights and electronic health records – the list goes on.”

Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, who is co-sponsoring the bill, added, “If we fail to take swift action, we, regrettably, risk a cyber-Katrina.”

Jennifer Granick, civil liberties director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Mother Jones the bill is “contrary to what the Constitution promises us.”

According to Granick, granting the Department of Commerce oversight of the “critical” networks, such as banking records, would grant the government access to potentially incriminating information obtained without cause or warrant, a violation of the Constitution’s prohibition against unlawful search and seizure.

“What are the critical infrastructure networks? The examples provided are ‘banking, utilities, air/rail/auto traffic control, telecommunications.’ Let’s think about this,” writes Seltzer. “I’m especially curious as to how you take the telecommunications networks off of the Internet when they are, in large part, what the Internet is comprised of. And if my bank were taken offline, I would think about going into my branch and asking for all of my deposits in cash.”
Will bill give Obama control of the internet? (WorldNetDaily)

You can access S. 773 and S. 778 at OpenCongress.org. I have to admit, I’m as disconcerted as Ultraguy on this one, although I have doubts about the concept of “Obama being a strong candidate for the Antichrist” – it hops back to the idea of “the-end-is-nigh-because-America-is-going-downhill”. Seriously, folks? I thought Laura put it rather well:

Given those examples and quite a few others I didn’t bother to list, I can understand the apocalyptic way people are feeling.  And to some extent I feel the same way, though I’m a good deal less interested in it all than I used to be.  Things are about to really suck in this country, and in the entire western world.  But I’m not buying into the idea that these things are proof that these are the “end times.”

It’s a variant of the (much despised) prosperity gospel, which more or less proclaims that God wants us to be perfectly healthy and drive a Mercedes.  The lack of a particular material lifestyle is in no way “proof” that Jesus is coming back soon.  Read Matthew 24 to learn what Jesus himself declared “the signs of the times.”

I don’t care whether you take it literally or allegorically and I’m not prepared to even get into that; that’s a serious bible study, and one which has been conducted by serious scholars over the centuries.  I wouldn’t touch it with a ten meter cattle prod.  What I would like to point out is that when people point to social unrest, chaos, anarchy, government oppression, extreme poverty, famine, Christian persecution and martyrdom, and the like to “prove” that these are the end times…. these things have never once stopped occurring in the world since Jesus ascended back into heaven.

To declare that “the end is nigh!” now that America may finally face some of these problems is perfectly ridiculous, and frankly, offensive.  It’s the ultimate prosperity gospel.  We’re not getting what we’re used to so that must mean that God is about to pick up his ball and go home.    Do you see the arrogance in that theory?  Imagine explaining it to a 1st century Christian citizen of Rome.  Or a Christian in, say, 1914.  Imagine explaining it to a Christian living in Darfur, China, or North Korea NOW.  Oh, now that it’s starting to happen to US, that must mean it’s the end!! Because we’re just so darned special.
Apocalypse Later (Pursuing Holiness)

Do I think the end is nigh? Perhaps. Do I think we’re just passing through another republic-turned-democracy-turned-persecution cycle? Perhaps. Either way, the point still stands. I don’t like the idea of the government having control over the internet.

After all, who would have the power to oppose him if/when things got to that point? And how would they we organize if the Internet were ‘temporarily‘ or selectively shut off? Or what if, suddenly, a bunch of folks on an undesirables list couldn’t get access to their own medical or banking records? When your kid can’t get penicillin and you can’t pay the bills, it’s pretty easy, as a writer, to change your tone very quickly. Think Nixon but with a bigger clue, far broader ambitions and a lot more power to carry them out.
Read This While You Still Can (New Wineskins)

One thing I have noticed is that some of the bloggers in the circles that I travel are no longer blogging. Amongst the secular circle, call it “Going Galt” (a tribute to Ayn Rand), and amongst the Christian circle, they simply feel that God is calling them away from blogging. You know, they might be doing it just in time, although it stands to reason that if your archives are still up, they’re still accessible. And so’s your information. Regardless, the slow fade of our culture should be leading to some personal changes, as Laura points out:

Regardless, if he really does believe it, I look forward to hearing about some pretty phenomenal changes in Ultraguy’s life.  After all, if this really IS the literal end of the world, then that would necessarily lead to some pretty radical life changes – rather like a terminal cancer diagnosis would.  (Except in this case, you’d be the one who would get to live, and everyone else is about to die – all the more impetus to Stop! everything else and really minister to people.)  If that circumstance didn’t lead to a radical life change of some sort – and I mean of the dramatic “sell your house and become a missionary” kind of change, not just “skip Dancing with the Stars and instead volunteer at the soup kitchen and blog about John 3:16,”  then I’d be forced to conclude that it’s just political trash talk.  Which I don’t think is happening in Ultraguy’s case.  I think he’s really sincere.  (Just incorrect.)

All of which brings me to the point of this post.  Why would a sincere, believing Christian wait for that kind of radical life change until they were sure that these were the end times and the Antichrist had been identified?  After all, aren’t people dying every day?  Aren’t they living in misery, without the peace and comfort only Jesus can bring?

I’m already going Galt, shutting down my business, scaling back my life in ways that a year ago I could not have imagined.  Right now I’m hunkering down, much like Ultraguy has been,   watching and waiting – and praying.  I, too, have a sense that I’ve been called elsewhere.
The Beginning of the End (Pursuing Holiness)

What do those personal changes look like for me? I’m still praying about that one. But change is certainly coming, and I don’t think it’s what Obama had in mind.

I find myself adding a line to a Casting Crowns song…

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid

When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day

The journey from your mind to your hands
Is shorter than you’re thinking

Be careful if you think you stand
You just might be sinking
It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away

It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
Daddies never crumble in a day
Families never crumble in a day
Nations never crumble in a day

– “Slow Fade” (Casting Crowns)

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