It has been laid upon my heart to share from a few bloggers I follow…
Donna is a very talented writer who reaches into your depths with the truth of her words. These two entries are a small sampling, so if you appreciate them, check out her blog!
The Swamp Kingdom Stinketh
Scandals my foot.
IRS, NSA, DOJ, and Benghazi are not scandals. Anthony Weiner’s sexting expedition was a scandal. A legislator playing footsie at a public restroom was a scandal. When multiple players at the highest levels of government act in concert to defy the Constitution…when they see truth as anathema to their cause…what you have is not scandal, but systemic corruption.
When our President refuses to say where he was when a consulate was attacked, or what he did to defend the installation…when our (former) Secretary of State asks what difference it makes anyway…when our Attorney General covers up government gun-smuggling, is in contempt of Congress, and then lies under oath…when our Director of National Intelligence denies the surveillance of hundreds of millions of Americans, only to have the President admit it later…when our (former) IRS commissioner obstructs justice and permits civil rights violations as a matter of course…when our Ambassador to the United Nations misrepresents matters of national security (and gets a promotion for her effort)…that is not scandal.
That is tyranny.
The issues swirling around Washington are the planned work output of lawless operators who fancy themselves above accountability. They are a self-proclaimed royal class—the monarchs of a swamp kingdom.
So where is Nancy Pelosi? Didn’t she promise to drain the swamp?
That was then. This is now. Nancy’s swamp-draining business is out of business. Has been for years. Nancy’s no dummy. She knows where her bread is buttered. Her entrepreneurial instincts and high-powered associations spared her the fate of honest swamp-drainers. Those folks are either starving or being targeted by the IRS.
Yup. Swamp-drainers are out. Backfillers and teleprompters are in. One brings in raw political sewage and stuffs it down the American throat. The other brings in the propaganda, ladles it over the sewage, and stuffs it down the American throat.
The swamp stinketh, and only we the people can drain it.
It isn’t new, but the ferocity is increasing. There is no way around it; we are all neck deep. By design or default, we have been conscripted. Some know it, and some don’t yet.
It is the war on truth. Gradually, it nudged me out from the comfortable zone separating my Christianity from my “secular” concerns. In the zone, I was free to tuck my politics out of sight and steer clear of the controversy. Close friends and family knew where I stood, but nobody else needed to.
It was easy to manage, and safe.
The zone served my desire not to “mess with” my “Christian witness.” So I tried to compartmentalize the slices of my worldview. In reality, there were no compartments. I am who I am and my beliefs are part of the package. The separation was artificial. It allowed me to be a “nice” Christian and study the issues without dragging Christ into the fray.
The neatness of it all could not last. A Friday dinner dropped the Daisy Cutter that ensured its demise. A friend and I broke bread and dove deep into conversation. Another friend had loaned her a book by Eric Metaxas entitled Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. I’d read Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship, years ago, but hadn’t read the recent biography.
Metaxas’ book profoundly impacted my friend. She shared the fallout, and my already shaky compartment walls crumbled. The book’s context was not new. The story of Nazi Germany still lays heavy on the world. The scope of the suffering and the depravity are haunting, and the questions remain: why did the Holocaust happen, and how could it happen in modernity?
For me, the question of why is sickeningly simple: Evil exists. It is a fact—and a force—in this life. Our world is fallen and shaped largely by deception. There are plenty of men and women willing to perform heinous acts. We wonder what makes them tick, but we shouldn’t. When sin sears the human conscience and deadens its voice, we humans can do horrific things.
But how did a nation—really, an entire world—bend its knee to Adolph Hitler’s absurd arguments? How did millions fall under his spell? How did his vile scheme gain traction? On any given day, a few might be swayed. But millions? How did they become compliant enough to stand silent as eleven million perished?1
The answer is one lie at a time.
Thankfully, that could never happen in the U.S.A. At least that’s what many Americans believe. I believe they are wrong. They are whistling past the graveyard, confident that death and deception cannot touch them. They see “those Germans” as having been more uniquely predisposed to wickedness than the rest of us.
This is a deception all its own.
The drip…drip…drip of deceit has a corrosive effect. When it is wrapped in charisma and packaged in words that appeal to our anger and insecurities—well, I’ll let the sentence finish itself.
Deception is so simple that we deny its workings. When truth is assailed incrementally, lies begin to look familiar, and even normal. This is where relativism has its roots. The danger is that we become capable, over time, of accepting almost anything. And worse, we ultimately applaud ourselves for becoming “enlightened” enough to believe the lie.
No, this is nothing new. It dates back to the Garden. There the father of lies helped human beings to destroy themselves…and he did it with a handful of well-placed words. The turn of a phrase, an astute assessment of vulnerability, and the trashing of a good reputation produced his diabolical desire. Whether you take the Genesis account literally or not, the lesson is invaluable.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Gen. 3:1 NIV, emphasis added).
God had placed one tree off limits. Just one. The serpent’s “interpretation” was distortion concealed in a whiff of truth. Eve dutifully explained that not all trees in the Garden had been banned, but the fruit of the one tree would bring death, if eaten.
The serpent knew all that, and he knew it stood in the way of his agenda. With the slightest manipulation and a splash of charm, he would have his way.
“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:4-5 NIV, emphasis added).
Bingo! The truth was made to look like a lie, and envy was stirred—all with a simple formula:
- Create a problem where none exists. (Re-cast what is good to create a climate conducive to your aims.)
- Deny the truth. (Create distrust.)
- Embed the lie by inciting envy and/or a sense of entitlement. (Encourage a victim mentality.)
- Offer a solution to the fabricated “injustice,” however detrimental it might be in the long run. (Play the role of “savior.”)
- Malign whoever stands between you and your objective. (Demonize and marginalize those who hold to the truth.)
The formula has not changed. Every misanthrope in history has used it.
Hitler mastered it. His is one of the fullest expressions of the deception process in recent history. And his dark legacy shows just how far a lie can go.
But how far can a lie go in the United States? As far as we allow. Our current polarization tells me the lie has gone far and deep. The division we see is not about policies—not really. Policy is the foil, the platform from which the serpent manipulates the populace. “Who said you couldn’t have that apple? ‘They’ just don’t want you to have what they have. Demand your fair share. Vote for me, and I’ll see that you get it.”
I know. Politics ain’t beanbag, and all sides play dirty. But what I see today is a methodical evisceration of truth. It’s no longer a lie here and a cheap promise there. Instead, a system of lies has been unleashed. Every fundamental truth undergirding the human race and the American experiment is pillaged. Every imaginable lie is exalted in its place. Truth is turned inside out. Morals are upside down. Logic is refuted. Leaders lie ritualistically. Denial is rampant.
God, the One who created us, is persona non grata. Prayer offends. Sin is applauded. Parental authority is overruled. Morality is “antiquated.” Marriage is not what we thought. The creation of wealth is reviled. The coveting of other people’s wealth is praised. The rule of law is scorned and even dismissed by those sworn to uphold it. The unborn are not cherished, but torn to pieces and tossed out with the trash. Their rights have been trumped by a woman’s right “to choose.”
If the extermination of eleven million troubles you, the murder of forty million should rend your soul.
All of these twisted outcomes result from the lies that have been entertained and embraced as the “new truth.” Entire populations are deceived one lie at a time, and it is happening here. We are “those Germans,” and we are taking the bait.
As was true in Germany and elsewhere, even some who call Christ Savior dare not refute the lies. They make allowances so as not to “offend” others. They set aside the tenets of faith for the drip…drip…drip of rationalization. They buy into agendas that counterfeit “compassion.” They give their power to beautiful deceivers whose seductive words and alluring promises make them ashamed of their own integrity.
Bonhoeffer witnessed the full expression of these enchantments in Nazi Germany. He watched good people devoured by deception…in droves. Over and over again, he raised the alarm. But his cries went unheeded. He was too “extreme”—too “judgmental”…too “contrary.”
Most people looked away or denied the slaughter. Rather than resist the system of lies, they found ways to coexist with them. Many, no doubt, adopted Hitler’s own rationales as a means of excusing themselves from the risks and responsibility of resisting him. (There but for the grace of God go I.)
Many in the Church sat by while millions suffered and were slaughtered. When screams were heard from the “cattle cars” en route to the death camps, the people in one church drowned out the sound:
If some of the screams reached our ears, we’d just sing a little louder until we could hear them no more. Years passed and no one talks about it much anymore, but I still hear that train whistle in my sleep. I can still hear them crying out for help. G-d forgive all of us who called ourselves Christians, yet did nothing to intervene.2
Discussing the Bonhoeffer book with my friend burdened and freed me all at once. Gone were the notions of “messing with my witness” or “dragging Christ” into anything. Wherever the battle for truth rages, Christ is there. The war against truth is the war against Him. And if His people don’t speak out, who will?
Something less extreme…more manageable…less timeless…more “sexy” might be better received. That’s OK. I love people enough to be honest. I love my country too much to remain silent. And I am beholden to no one but my Maker.
This is not about policies or personalities. It’s not about elections, not even one as consequential as 2012. It is about something much, much bigger. The battle is for truth, and our response will determine what kind of people, what kind of nation, and what kind of world we will be.
1. Another book I need to read is Andy Andrews’ How Do You Kill 11 Million People? (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2012).