Prophets of Consumerist Doom

I find prophets everywhere, actually.  Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison, Pink Floyd… just in the pop music industry alone, I find prophets lined up cranking out hit songs.  And I think they are real prophets alerting us to real insights that we need to live our lives better.

However, by far, I find these prophets talented only in so far as they show us what is wrong with our world.  Some do it better and more profoundly than others, but almost none of them offer real insight for how to deal with our problems.  Oh sure… “All you need is love”.  I will agree with that, as far as it goes.  But this is one of those fine examples of a pithy statement that says it all at one level and yet says nothing at another.

It takes divine guidance to take prophecy to the next level, and most of these prophets are pretty good at the apocalypse (and making a buck off the process), but very few actually point the way through the mist.

My endorsement of the following video only goes so far.  I think the video does an excellent job of uncovering the problem.  In fact I think if you aren’t rattled by it, you aren’t really watching.  And though the end of the video attempts to offer a way forward, I think the answers it offers are anemic at best.

Still, I think it is a worthwhile presentation that should have us talking about our world at deeper levels than usual.  It gives us handles on the conversation.  I ask my Christian brothers and sisters to talk about how Jesus addresses the world depicted here.  Seriously.

The video is 5 years old now.  But I think it is still timely.  If you have a couple of hours to devote to it, I think you will find a lot to talk about.

Here it is:




  1. T. F. Thompson · October 5

    “Everybody complains about the weather but nobody ever does anything about it.” Mark Twain. Yes, these pithy statements are cool and all of that, but mean nothing when it comes brass to tacks. We are good at recognizing problems but not so good in resolving them. Stay on it, friend.


  2. Agent X · October 5

    An Anonymous comment:

    Scripture like that of the story of the Soothsayer Balaam who was drafted to serve God…reveal that Soothsayers work not for the glory of God but always they have their heart set on that which profits them.

    They do not confront this world’s rulers for God. Instead they drink the cool-aid and speak that which profits their benefactor (which in turn benefits the soothsayer).

    God’s prophets confronted Power! Watch Elisha turn down a reward from the Powerful Naaman for having healed him! When Gahazi his assistant went behind the prophet to collect this reward – he was struck with leprosy!

    Back to Balaam he did in fact “foresee” – he had this gift!

    There are those who see and foresee among us, but many (I cannot say all) exchange that message for their book or music sales.

    Greek sophists taught like professional entertainers in their era, but New Testment evangelist never took their pay from their audiences.

    Just thought these tidbits might be useful!



  3. Agent X · October 5

    Two things right off the top here:

    1) I know you will find things in this video to disagree with, no matter who you are or where you are from. Yet, it will still be a challenging video to watch which is worthy of conversation.

    2) Even more importantly, for all the powerful observation and unmasking of powers and principalities, this video is NOT CHRISTIAN… not even close. Yet, but the end, it tries (which is rare) to offer answers. And some of those answers are quite powerful in themselves, but still they are not Christian.

    So… I invite you to discuss the offerings here with a Christian perspective. What does a Christian thinker bring to this discussion. It is a prophetic conversation with no Christians at the table talking. How about we change that with this blog post?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. LoiterLarry · October 8

    That’s a long video. I couldn’t watch it all at once.

    Shocking stuff.

    Those photos of protesters pind down on the ground under the knee of a cop with the American flag dropped to the ground were disturbing. Jarring. Shocking.

    I cried.

    I was scared and sad.

    I was thinking about those pop music prophets.

    Here is a link. You pointed this one out a while back, but I thought of it again after reading what you said.

    it made me remember Neil Young too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agent X · October 8

      Thanx for watching, Larry.

      The video scared me too. I watched it 5 years ago, and I was afraid that by opening it up on my computer that cyber goons would come arrest me and put me in jail. Nothing like that happened.

      I am troubled by the video even now, but perhaps some bigger perspective is in order too…

      A lot of Christians think that in order to evangelize the world and worldly people that you have to use scare tactics as a measure up front to get people’s attention. So you convince them that they are worthy of going to HELL when they die and that currently they are in danger of it. But then you close the presentation by offering them a very simple way out of their predicament. And, what can I say? This manipulative ploy has a powerful effect on a lot of people.

      Btw, you can find this tactic actively taught by some ministers. You might recall the TV star of yesteryear, Kirk Cameron? He is part of a ministry called “The Way OF THE MASTER” that teaches Christians how to scare unsuspecting people on a beach or in a shopping mall with the prospects of going to HELL for eternity because they told a little lie once or twice (knowing full well that they have bigger sins going unmentioned as well, but if this little stuff gets you into HELL for eternity, then the bigger sins need not even be dealt with). Personally, I find so many problems with that approach and with that course of study that I hesitate to mention it, but this video does a similar tactic.

      There is a lot of truth in the video, disturbing truth that Americans really need to deal with. But it is presented in such a way to lead your mind to the “solution(s)” it offers while trembling in fear. In that way, the video has power of us, the watchers. Not complete power, but power. And we can feed the power it has over us, or we can put it in perspective, and tone it down.

      Yes. There is truth there we need to deal with. But there are other “solutions” to consider that the video does not offer. What are they?

      And to be honest, I am only interested in Christian solutions. And nothing in the way of Christian solutions were offered at all in the video.

      Thus, I think the problems presented in it are worthy of our discussion. And, btw, I find it odd that so much Christianity has our proverbial head in the sand with regard to this discussion. It is especially odd that we believe ourselves to be the holders of the true solution. Why are we not discussing this and offering our solution to the public discussion? I propose we change that. I am doing my part by thrusting the video out there for Christian consideration with this blog.

      Thanx so much for watching and thinking about it.

      Also, thanx for the links.


  5. De Benny · October 12

    I Iooked a slight bit into the video,it’s just sooo long. But I wanted to leave one or two thoughts to get the discussion going. I hope you’ll add things I missed or misunderstood…

    Being German and all, I feel the urgency to say these whole problems do not only apply to the USA. I think our focus, especially as Christians is bigger, the whole world at least, but anyway…

    It seems to me this video puts up a good guys (exploited workers, we) vs bad guy (the club, the 1%, them) dichotomy, and then tries to unite the we part in order to challenge the them part in order to overthrow their rule? (Didn’t see the end)

    I doubt this works in any constellation. That’s not what Jesus did. All you do is exchange the masters, not the system. When the bolsheviks killed the Czar and took over power, their rule was not necessarily better, it was better for some and worse for some. As this video points out, this seems to be true for western democracies as well. There are those with the money and those without,who are employed and still homeless…

    Jesus did challenge the system. Like on a regular basis. but he did not attempt to overthrow it with force. Although He had legions of angels at His command, He followed the temple guards. Had He used force, He’d have fallen into the logic of the system, the logic of death and suppression and whatever more names we have for evil.

    Jesus suffered the system and let it run against the wall. Fact is: The system doesn’t work for people. The revolution will always eat its children. Live by the sword, die by the sword. The system works for itself. People will again and again fall for its logic (suppose that’s the sinning part) and renew the system with new masters enslaving other groups. Everyone gets a chance to fail and be exploited – well, not every person but more or less every class of people.

    Jesus called out injustice – and I think this is what this video is good in: Naming what is going wrong. And then He accepted it for His part. He went to the cross, finally proving the injustice of the system. How rotten can a system be, to brutally murder a peaceful man without fail!

    Do you know the movie “To end all wars”? It’s about a Japanese POW camp in WW2. There are at most British POW (and one yankee, Kiefer Sutherland) who try to survive the hell of the camp while construction railroad tracks with hardly anything to eat to live on.
    At one point the main figures decide to become better Japanese than the Japanese, to prove their on mental strength, but also to shame them. In the course one man is literally crucified for not rejecting Christianity.
    And with time you get the impression that the prisoners, though the slaves, are the true masters. They earn beatings and suffer even death, but the Japanese loose grip on them. After all, how can you force a man who is willing to accept every punishment possible?

    At one point defeated and injured Japanese soldiers arrive at the camp asking for help. The camp soldiers refuse to help their “honourless” defeated countrymen, but the British have morally almost defeated the Japanese, so they go and help without any camp guard hindering them…

    Great movie… what did I intend to write?
    Turn the other cheek is a hard thing to do. Humbling yourself, taking the cup filled with pain to the upmost point. That’s what Jesus did and what I think He wanted us to do following Him. Not that I reached it.In no way.
    But if you want to really challenge the system, take your place in it. Don’t become part of it, but name the injustice and suffer the pain it has in store for you. The system has nothing to confront this.

    In the GDR the regime was ready for uprisings of any kind. And what did the protesters do? They went to church and marched after service with candles. The regime had answers for thrown stones, but not for candles. The GDR collapsed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agent X · October 12

      Thanx for this thoughtful and challenging response!

      I would love to engage it further, but at the moment, I have no time. Will be back eventually…


    • Agent X · October 12

      Engaging in conversation here with your comment:

      1) Yes, it is a long video. Very long, nearly 2 hours. That limits viewing a lot. Some wont even bother once they see the length of time involved.

      That said, I find the first half or two thirds to be the more compelling part. The second half or third third is the weakest part of the video in my estimation because it tries to offer remedy (some of it is insightful too) but the remedy is not Christian. In fact, the part that features Anonymous recites a couple times (I think) the phrase We never forget; we never forgive. That’s about as antichristian as it gets.

      2) The German perspective that this is not a problem limited to the USA – I hear you. I think that is a great addition to this conversation. I actually sympathize with your statement very much, but I have allowed my own remarks (as I recall them) to focus here (or to allow focus to be here and not broader).

      I don’t know if you realize this about me, but I am probably the least patriotic person I know. I do not fly the American flag. I see too much demon in it and not enough good. I see some exceptions to this in some quarters, but it is mostly too little, too late. The one remarkable use of the flag that I have seen that really jazzed me was many years ago when I visited the Sunset International Bible Institute campus and entered “the flag room”. It is a large room, and they have flags from every nation they send missionaries into displayed all on an equal footing – including the US flag. That, seems appropriate to me. I am okay with the use of it to designate my part of the world, but I find that instead we invest it with too much pride and fear (in fact any pride or fear is too much).

      But that, though related, strays a bit of your point, I think. The problems with consumerism, commercialism, and capitalism is global. We in the US can be short-sighted about that. We are already the elephant in the room on the world stage, but we tend to forget there is a rest of the world here sharing a stage – all the blessings and griefs that go with that. And in fact, quite often it is us (our poor included) who grab up more than our fair share of the pie and squeeze others out.

      3) the good-guys/bad guys dichotomy – as you almost termed it. “Us and Them” is a typical label for this phenom in sociology. It’s also a prophetic song by Pink Floyd. And I think it is a very easy trap to fall into and that Christians are just as tempted by it as anyone. Good point.

      I am not, actually, convinced that this is a false dichotomy in and of itself. The curse might be in the use of it rather than in the thing itself – a little like the love of money is the root of all evil- so says St. Paul. But he did not call the money itself the root of all evil. (of course I think that might be splitting hairs too fine for us to do)…

      But before I argue against my own point, let me say this: While there is the danger – as you point out – of exchanging masters but keeping the system, I am not convinced that happens with the Us and Them dichotomy. It might well be, but I am, as of yet, not convinced.

      I am clear that Luke’s gospel in particular is very hard on the rich and easy on the poor. But even that does not capture my point exactly. Because I think even past that, we find the proud vs. the humble, and Jesus would have US be humble, even if THEY are proud.

      But… back to arguing against my point… we must also keep in mind that our war is not against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities, and heavenly rulers – in fact DEMONS. And we must acknowledge that evil runs right through us all – rich and poor, strong and weak, workers and bankers.

      I think the Occupy Movement does a great job of uncovering the problem, but calling us little guys the 99% is not actually humble. Targeting the 1% is not actually fighting the principalities and powers.

      Like you say, and I said this in other terms in the original post, these prophets and this video do a good job of pointing out the problem. They uncover the hidden system that is working against us so bad and so powerfully. The remedy part, though, they are not so good at.

      Anonymous, according to the video, is going to punish the evil doers. This is their contribution to the remedy, and while it feels good to think about that, it is the live-by-the-sword/die-by-the-sword answer you referenced. The Zeitgeist people are offering us a new -evolved consciousness that will open our eyes and our minds to a deeper reality and lead us to a utopian dream. Both of these offer attractive partial answers, but they remain CROSS-LESS. No need for Jesus. No need to forgive the bad guys. No need to bear the pain on their behalf. That is the kind of stuff we Christians need to bring to the table of discussion – thus my post. I seek that.

      Obviously, this is complex stuff. The answer, if it is Jesus, is mysterious, and mysteriously powerful. I have been going to church a long time, but I never saw the world’s problems the way this video portrays them. I think the first part, (there are 5 in all) THE FREAKSHOW, really exposes US as being part of the problem. We are part of those masses of mindless people hitting the stores on Black Friday beating up fellow consumers so we can get the last G.I. Joe doll with the kung fu grip to give to our kid for Christmas.

      Where is Jesus in that? I thought that holiday was meant to celebrate him. But it has given way to Black Friday, and I am one of the culprits in that part of the problem!

      Wow! Busted!!! My mom was a shop-O-holic! My wife is. (At least I have my wife convinced not to shop on either Thursday or Friday of Thanxgiving week as a protest against this madness.) But really the rest of the year, she is a fiend for more junk. And I am not that far behind her in the check out line to be honest. We don’t need all this junk. We don’t need all this mindless frenzy. It is killing our planet and making us glutted fat slobs. We need to repent.

      So actually, even the video does a good job at that level. But we Christians now need to talk about this. An in fact, I should post another much shorter video that came out about a year before this one (I think) that was published by a missionary family that returned to the US for the holidays with their kids who had never experienced this Christmas shopping madness of their own home culture. And so they sent the kids to the mall at Christmas time with a camera and made a video asking What do you get a person that already has EVERYTHING? And they offered a Christian perspective on that question.

      Finally) as to the movie you suggest… No. I have not seen it. It sounds like a very insightful movie. I like those kind best, generally. I will look for it.

      I am so glad you commented here. I think this is the start of a great discussion. I really hope you will come back and take it to the next level now. It seems to me you have seen enough of this video to get the gist – at least of the problem(s) we could be addressing. I want to know what Jesus would do… what we are called as Christians to do. How does the Cross of Christ address this stuff? I think we modern Christians have a very hard time imagining that. And part of the reason we don’t watch videos like this (in addition to the overwhelming length) is that we bury our heads in the sand, or we vote Republican because a few senators in that party are against abortion or whatever, and so we think that is the answer. But I think that is a cop out. I think we can do better. And sadly, even though action is required, talk plays a part. Thus a blog….


      • De Benny · October 14

        I thought about answering in an own blog post on my blog, because why write long comments when you can bring the debate to a broader public (though my blog is not read by so many, but still).
        I am still thinking about giving the whole thing a structure, now there are a lot of unstructured thoughts in my head, so bear with me.
        Two things I wanted to write about here, because they’re more of side ideas:

        1) Anonymous
        “We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.”
        Anon is, as far as I perceive it, a brand for activism in a certain field. Like Al Qaeda is/was a brand for terrorists (“was” because Daesh seems to have taken that market). The motto intends to spread fear: Expect us, we are legion.
        Though I do agree the not forget/not forgive part is not exactly Christian, I wonder if it is biblical in a way like the Babylonians are. God does not only use heroes of faith, He also uses great armies of people who do indeed serve other gods.
        And well, how much can a deed be forgotten that was never repented? You can try to,and it’s a good thing to do. But something is missing for reconciliation, isn’t it?
        Anon has the wrong answers, right. But their approach might be what is to be expected if we go on like this. Because after all, at least these people chose that path to address the problem.

        2)The flag and patriotism and all.
        Being German, I can hardly relate to all that. I was raised with the history of my nation in mind. We have truly seen what goes along waving flags too much – to put it like this. Patriotism is not a good thing for the most of my countrymen, I suppose. That is not to say that we did not find other things to take (false) pride in. Now I forgot what I initially wanted to say, I gotta go anyway.
        More soon on my blog (I’ll leave a link).


    • Agent X · October 14

      I saw your post on your blog. So glad for the English part. (I am limited to English language mostly.)

      First off, Thanx for responding. Thanx for taking the post seriously and responding thoughtfully. I am impressed. I get so very little of that.

      Your post was very long and covered a lot. I think I followed your logic, however there were some parts I wasn’t sure.

      I saw where you reiterated your concern about Us vs. Them and exchanging heads. The system remains pretty much the same with new players on in power. The “change” winds up rather empty… unfulfilled.

      I am particularly thrilled that you made a very real effort to think Christian-ly about this stuff. That alone fulfills my request, my purpose for posting. I really think us Evangelical types especially just don’t deal with real world problems both honestly and Christ-like. I don’t know your Christian heritage, or even if you are Christian, though it seems I can safely presume it. I just have very little history with you. Don’t know you. But glad for this exchange. I hope for more like it. I was looking for it when I posted – and in a round about way it was my reason for starting a blog.

      I was jazzed by your insight in speaking up and telling the truth in a world of lies.

      I have some of my own ideas about addressing this stuff that you did not mention, or if you did it escaped me. But I find that when I offer too much of my own thoughts it often kills the rest of the conversation. And while I am on that thought, I do not believe that my thoughts are necessarily the right ones. But I wonder if there might be more input still – perhaps from other readers???

      I do not require agreement to continue the discussion, nor do I require it to respect the positions of others. But at the moment, I am hopeful that since this post attracted your thoughtful input and discussion that maybe, just maybe, someone else reading here might be compelled to jump in as well.

      Anyway, I need to sleep in it. I will offer more later…

      Thanx again for joining the conversation!



      • De Benny · October 15

        Yes, you assume right. I am a Christian – or try to be, though my background is much different from yours I guess. And this is a wonderful thing, because I enjoy especialy discussions with people who have different approaches.
        I am protestant, but I think I won’t qualify as evangelical. I think the term you use in the US is mainline protestant.
        I studied theology and am an ordained minister. Wow – feels good to write that. I had a rather unpleasant experience with my church, so though I am ordained I am not a pastor and possibly never will be.
        I thought there was a calling but I might have been wrong. So much for now.
        I also blog for the sake of thought exchange. I do blog in German mostly, but here are now and then also English articles….
        I am so glad I found in you someone who likes to discuss, so I am looking forward to reading your answer.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Agent X · October 15

        Glad to have you back. Glad to no longer merely presume you are Christian. I really did not doubt that, but not knowing means I am open to the sucker punch. Assuming too much is easy to do and invites unneeded pain all around.

        Also, Thanx for conversing in English. My best friend in college spoke numerous languages fluently. Russian was his mother tongue. He spoke French and Italian too, I believe. Maybe others. English too, obviously. We both learned koine Greek together. I was amazed that he would learn Greek from an English speaking teacher. What can I say? Oleg was just much more worldly than me. But, apparently, I made a good friend to him despite my limitations.

        Oh.. and we argued tooth -n- nail all the time. It could get exasperating. But I really enjoyed him for shooting straight with me even when we disagreed, which was a lot.

        I don’t want to make too much out of disagreement, actually. If you are Christian, I take it that Jesus is your Lord and Master. I am not. Serve him with all your mind, even if it means you don’t agree with me. I will make room in my heart for that kind of latitude.

        In my experience, by far, most of my Christian brothers and sisters hardly bother with a Bible. They seem to have their own agendas baptized, and just believe whatever they feel – which often is guided with a measure of morality, and sense of heritage, and sometimes seasoned with a few proof texts. I afford such people the same latitude I mention above. But I hope to challenge them to open their Bible and really look and listen.

        Sometimes I meet folks who very obviously open their Bibles to look and listen and feedback more than mere proof texts hunted and pecked here and there. And some of these folks still come up with understanding, opinions, ideas – results – that differ from mine. Once in a while, the differences are big and hard to deal with. However, I do my best to afford such folk my respect. Sometimes I am mistaken in my own beliefs and understandings. So, it is a chance for me to learn. In fact, I have even learned from people with far less biblical insight on a few occasions. So, I do my best to maintain humility about these things. But I find that mapping this stuff out like this is helpful too. Hopefully, you can see a measure of grace between me and others with whom I might disagree, this way.

        There are some folks who are so well versed in their Bibles, the Greek, the Hebrew, the cultures, the theologies etc, that I am pretty much in awe of them. There are very few who do this to me, and only one that I really trust deeply at this level too. When they speak, I hush. I might have a bone to pick here or there – MIGHT – as in MAYBE – but I stand to learn and I don’t want to interfere with that by yapping and not hearing.

        I sense from your response(s), that you are a careful serious thinker and trained in Bible study. The fact that you respond here is an honor to me. Thank you. I hope to treat you with all due respect.

        As for my background, I am not really Evangelical, but I am Evangelical-like. I have a bit of comfort among such types. I also have a bigger measure of discomfort among such types, but it is a discomfort, I find an ironic comfort in…. so to speak. There is a home-like sense about it.

        I was raised protestant in a very closed off sect. Over the course of my life, that sect has begun to open up to the larger faith community significantly, but there is still a lot of historical baggage associated with our past – AND there are some branches within that are still closed off as ever. But I confirmed as Catholic several years ago. So, I am over some of that. But I appreciate Scripture at a very high level. I am not one of those who runs around in some nervous need to claim inerrancy and all that, but I believe it is the Word of God and as such the stuff of life.

        I don’t have a perfect biblical mind. I don’t have a verse or a biblical theology worked out for every instance of life that comes along. But I see that as an ideal, after a fashion. And so in some places I find extrabiblical ways of dealing with questions, but I tend to hold them in some tentative state until I find a biblical way forward. And even within that, I find that just because I might match a verse to what appears to be an answer does not mean I am handling the verse well. Thus I might move forward tentatively with that until I have a more solid biblical reason to deal with a question differently.

        Ahhh but enough about me. I just hope that by saying all this, I can be true to the quest and charitable toward you and other readers here – at least charitable where it counts.

        but at the same time, I hope to challenge. And it seems to me that challenging believers is a vital part of prophetic ministry.

        Now.. as to the topic at hand…

        Largely I am in agreement with you. I believe I understand most of your response, and I find it all to be insightful and helpful. I find it to be on target. I was looking for feedback of this kind.

        You did offer some Scripture for part of your basis of making your point. I am not looking at it presently, but I did notice it there. That carries weight with me, btw. I wish, now, that I had gone back to look at your post again to refresh myself on that part. (Believe it or not – despite the lengthy response I am making here with you just now, my day has been filled with enormous grace and lots of theological analysis and discussions about those things already. And so I am not as fresh to this as I would like, BUT I don’t want to let it go stale either. And so I might well revisit yours after and come back again at a later point…)

        A major feature of your response, to my way of seeing it, was sociological. “Us vs. Them” and system analytical. A bit of it stretched me, but I have familiarity in that area, and I happen to appreciate it. I found it to be logical and sensitive. I think you are right about gathering up a steam and taking out a key figure from the opposition who oppresses “us” and replacing that one with one from our ranks thinking we will achieve GOOD and finding that to be a mistake.

        You sited the American spread of Democracy to Iraq among your examples. And you rightly pointed out how it did not work. And in my estimation, though I don’t think you said this, we have this mentality largely to thank for the rise of ISIS. So, if you didn’t like Saddam, and thought kicking him out and bringing in the vote was going to make things better, think again.

        I think you described the situation very well. I see it the same as that.

        But this is an example of going outside the Bible to make a Christian response – it seems to me.

        And I must say, until I have a worthwhile biblical response, this one is better than most – and certainly offers a good assessment of the problem. But then I think the video that I kicked off this post with does that too (with perhaps broader – or at least different – issues). And yet the answers the video presents are largely the kind of thing you warn against.

        However, you seem to suggest we should side step the “Us vs. Them” mindset/worldview. I think this needs to be explored carefully, actually. And I am finding my own thoughts moving farther and farther out on the branches when I resist this.

        So my first question would be: Does the Bible teach us to sidestep the “Us vs. Them” thing? And if so, where?, how?, to what extent?, and perhaps a few related things such as that. I can certainly imaging running straight to some of the great UNITY passages in St Paul or St. John etc. And I find St. Paul telling the Philippians to have one mind, one spirit, striving together and in so doing they are a sign of destruction to their opponents and of their own salvation. Destroying your opponents with your unity sounds incredible to me!

        But it speaks of destroying opponents. And this is an “Us vs Them” thing at that bigger level then.

        It seems to me that the Bible redraws a lot of lines between Us and Them. Not all the traditional Us’s are really part of us. Not all the traditional Them’s are really them. And for that matter, we really must wrestle with our pride and shame along these lines too. Evil runs through every last one of us. We are not all rotten to the core, but we all have evil stored up in dark recesses of our hearts, and given circumstances of weaknesses, we are all apt to cave to the pressures they present.

        St Paul also says our war is not with flesh and blood but with authorities, with principalities – the stoichea. We might begin debating what those powers are and how to go about fighting them. I think the state of the argument, as I present it is open to that. But I am clear that there is an Us vs Them going on there that mere sociology does not address.

        I really don’t have this worked out in a neat package. I think your insights are helpful. But I think they need help too. I don’t know how to go about that, entirely.

        But here is where I am hopefully on the scent:

        Self-sacrificial LOVE, worship, and the cross of Jesus.

        These are all profoundly biblical, and I will be all day trying to site passages.

        In the video above, I was moved to tears to see those Occupy protesters pinned to the ground with a police knee on the neck and an American flag dropped to the ground all in one photo. It stuns me. And I am not a patriot! But my country is gashing himself with stones and screaming in the tombs day and night, and WE ARE LEGION! I see it for what it is! I ache for the pain we are in. And as you aptly pointed out, it’s not actually just an American problem either. But despite my un-patriotism, that flag is still the flag of my country. That’s my home hemorrhaging there.

        What does self-sacrificial LOVE look like in that photo? Where is worship of YHWH, God, or the cross of Jesus??? in that photo?

        I don’t know. I aim to engage that with prophetic imagination.

        I am aware that when N.T. Wright finally published his big book on St. Paul, he did not immediately run to Romans to examine all things Pauline. This is ironic because I think most of your leading world Bible scholars would do that – especially if they (and Wright did this) wrote a full-blown scholastic commentary on Romans and have made St. Paul a leading figure in their research.

        But Wright goes to the letter to Philemon. Philemon the slave owner is upset with his runaway slave Onesimus. Both are part of the in-group (church at Colossae). Wright starts with this analysis of St. Paul pointing out that Paul practices what he preaches in very stark and challenging terms. He takes Onesimus in one hand and Philemon in the other and becomes the link between them. With outstretched arms he holds on to both and does so publically in a letter read to the community written from an ancient jail and tells the rich guy to charge the damages to himself! And puts himself in Onesimus’ place as far as possible punishment is concerned.

        I presume, based on the way St. Paul speaks of Onesimus as formerly being useless, that St. Paul has urged Onesimus to commit himself to his slavery with fresh vigor. But he has Philemon publically hung on the hook of shame if he refuses Paul – and there seems to be a real momentum here, without coming out and demanding it, that Philemon actually set Onesimus free. But even if he doesn’t do that, he is to treat him like a brother, rather than a slave.

        Wright has us look at the position St. Paul has put himself in within this context. St. Paul is now striking a Jesus pose. He is prophetically implementing the cross of Jesus within his own life.

        This is self-sacrificial LOVE. It is the cross of Jesus – come back in the life of Paul and having powerful effect on this group that is otherwise being torn apart.

        How might I do that in the Occupy protest?

        I don’t know. I need to pray on this. But when I look at that photo and grieve it so, I want to find out. I want to go there and play the Jesus card. I want my church to do this too.

        Someone – a famous preacher, but I forget who – said many years ago that if the church of America is serious and REALLY wants to end abortion, then rather than pressuring congress to change the laws, what we really need to do is all get together (One mind, one spirit???) and take out a full-page ad in ever major newspaper across the country stating that we, the church, will take ANY unwanted baby in ANY condition no matter what, no questions asked.

        We have yet to do that. But I don’t think most of my brothers and sisters even begin to consider it, or think of it at all, much less count the cost. We cant even get the idea out.

        What about worship? Could I take a worship service to the Occupy protest? I think this has real potential. I was part of a group that stopped a murder on the mean streets of my town one night many years ago, and we did it with a humble communion service! This just seems sooooooo utterly counterintuitive, and even now, I am certain that I could NOT have planned it. But God came, and he did his thing. And we just facilitated a manifestation of it. And 3 people are alive today because of it.

        What if we took prayer and communion right to the breach between the 1% and the 99%? What would happen? Shouldn’t we try it? I am interested. Let’s at least talk about it.

        In this final analysis, at the Spiritual height of all this, I think we do want to topple Saddam, but not with Democracy and not by means of military might. I think LOVE is more powerful, and Jesus, when he is KING there, really beats the system.


      • De Benny · October 17

        I keep reading your comment again and again.
        Things are getting in order in my brains and when it’s done, I shall produce it into one or more further blogposts.
        What I can say yet is that your thoughts and questions do indeed challenge me. Thank you for that.
        That’s what I look for in sermons I preach. Others want to lift hearts. I want to challenge. I try to achieve the lifting hearts part with the hymns I choose and the liturgy in general.
        Ah, and what you write about it being an honor that I write here: How do you say? It makes me flush? I am not so special, just a guy who happens to have studied theology with bad exam marks who appreciates discussing theological issues on the internet. So I guess I get the most from writing here.
        I must say that I am not very good in bible knowledge, so I hardly engage in verse tossing because I hardly know what stands where. Google does help though. So you might find hints to bible verses in my texts without the places being plainly named.
        I think about writing about how I deal with the bible, too, because it might differ from what you expect or are used to. For example I rather say the bible contains the word of God then saying it was the word of God.
        I am looking forward to your criticism, because I consider criticism a good thing. As Paul writes, I hunt after “it”, but I don’t have “it” yet. Once you abandon criticism, because you think you have “it”, you fall behind in the hunt.
        Please bear with me if it takes another couple of days till I write the blogposts I promised. My wife starts a new job in November and we are about to move and all needs to be taken care of and all…
        So God bless and till next time.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Agent X · October 17

        Thanx again for coming back, for taking me seriously, for engaging.

        Yeah.. that’s a real honor here!

        Thanx for appreciating the challenge! I hear you. I tend to emphasize challenge.

        I have a son taking Bible/ministry course work just now, and I look carefully at what/where “ministry” has got me (and my father, and my two uncles, and my grandfather who all made ministry their livelihood too). And I find that the more serious I take my vocation, the further adrift from the traditional anchors I get.

        Now, that statement could mean many things, I suppose, but I do not fit in the mainstream – not even among my own sect or among Catholics either. And it’s not JUST a fit issue either. It is so easy to sit back and take cheap shots at the church today – and most of them are well deserved.

        In fact, one element to the Us vs Them analysis that drives my thinking and doesn’t allow it to sit too neatly with me, is that I am an insider. But I am a critic from within. I am a gap-bridging type, but nothing like what they put in the brochures. I am a burr under the saddle, but I am part of the mount. I challenge, if for no other reason, because “church” in my experience is so complacent and so consumer driven. And on the watch of the shepherds of the last 2 or 3 generations (or more) the world the church should be preserving is finding us evermore irrelevant as we seem to try so desperately to be relevant. And when the world around us is not finding us irrelevant, we seem to be blamed for what is wrong (and often enough we do bear some of the guilt for it). How did the church get to be in this position? And I cannot imagine getting that righted without challenging her.

        Since conversing with you, it has crossed my mind (though I don’t have any real intention to pursue it) that a blog or a book or a seminar or something compiling messages from ministers who are outside the mainstream (some who have left the ministry al-together, others finding themselves pushed to the margins) might be worthwhile. I wonder if there would be a unifying theme uncovered there – or it might just prove that we are all (or a lot of us at least) just as messed up without a compass as the mainstream church is.

        I live in the western end of the American Bible Belt. I really have not visited most of my own country, but I did have cause to cut across Arkansas and Tennessee and Kentucky a few years ago. I was blown away, as I drove along the highway, at the sight of monolithic church buildings scattered EVERYWHERE and mixed in among them all were Sex Super Stores. I thought we southerners and Evangelical types were a bit more prudish than all that. I that it had something to do with our faith. But the facts to the contrary were slapping me in the face like a giant tail of an elephant in the room.

        In fact, Lubbock, Texas, the city I live in currently is about as “Christian” as it gets. We have massive church buildings here too, and we are not as big as Dallas or Houston or Nashville or Atlanta. Our whole metro area has about a quarter million people. But, per capita, Lubbock leads THE NATION in STD’s, teenage-unwed pregnancies, and child abuse. These are not quite the same as giant Sex Super Stores… you cant just see this stuff from the roadside. But when the surveyors and census takers do their thing, this is the feedback we get. Something is wrong here. And almost no one talks about it.

        I call the bluff on this kind of stuff AS AN INSIDER. I am one of those who is and should be embarrassed by this stuff. But I get marginalized by established folk and leadership(s) over this stuff. And this blog is the result, largely, of being kicked out of the Premier Homeless Pseudo Church (not its real name) for sticking up for the poor as they were kicked out into the cold of night by Christians in this town. The establishment has chosen not to honor God, his word, and certainly not my insistence on that, and has kicked me out over it.

        I don’t mean to be a cry baby. And I actually have a church home that I find to be a wonderful group doing awesome things for God. Like all churches, this one leaves room for improvement, but I have no need to kick people in the teeth who are working on growing. So, I extend great patience toward this bunch and reap many blessing from it. And yet, I challenge it too, and I find my challenge meets resistance.


        The fact that you embrace it, is awesome. The fact that you do so with respect and humility is incredible. That is an honor.

        So, yes…. thanx.

        So glad to have you.

        And I promise, I will not try to have somekind of Bible fight with you. I will not use it like a quick draw from which to argue and win something against you. I don’t do that with the establishment here that kicks me out. In fact, this blog majors on like 3 passages of Scripture. Oh sure, it is peppered with others, but most of them are part of a repeated short list too.

        I actually don’t see theology and ministry and faith as merely a simple matter of simple things. I have some readers here who admire those ideals and even see that in me. But I don’t think everything theological or biblical is complex either. There are some very important simple ideas that are going ignored and unheeded by the church in Lubbock, Texas that I insist on drawing to all our attention. And I do this repeatedly. And simply. And I keep quoting Matt 25, Rev. 3 over and over and over. And none of my critics address that with me in the slightest. But they lock the homeless out of their church buildings and go to bed with empty guest bedrooms in their homes night after night doing their best to ignore me and Matt. 25 and Rev. 3. And that elephant in the room slaps us all in the face with his swooshing tail over that giant rump. And like alcoholics we cant seem to see it.

        But, like I said, not all matters are so simple. And some are incredibly important and vital for us to consider. I think the Owned & Operated video raises some of that kind of thing up for us to look at. I don’t have easy answers, and in fact the ones I offer need to be challenged – possibly abandoned, but likely reshaped and helped. And someone willing to do some thinking and sharing and pushing and pulling and challenging.

        So glad to have you here for at least a bit of that.

        If you look through my blog thoroughly, you will find that conversation at this level is rare. Wanted, but rare.

        So… again. Thanx for coming.

        And I am patient. Take your time. Let’s talk again when things settle down.

        God bless you…



    • Agent X · October 17

      I just got your latest.

      Fascinating. So glad to have this contact. You open my eyes to a lot. Thanx.

      I saw where you avoided posting it on yours, and I understand why, thus I decided not to publish it (unless you want me to). I just want to keep the insights and information out of circulation so that it doesn’t free float where it might do you damage. There is enough of that already.

      I have a few friends who visit Europe and a couple of friends from there. And the Bible scholar I get most enthused about is N.T. Wright – English, I know, but European nonetheless and many of his remarks are revealing of so much in that culture/those cultures that I would not know any other way. But I have a little understanding of some of the dynamics. And I have an awareness of European secularism and the ironic joining of church and state there – which is doubly ironic when you look at the US which has an official separation of church and state that in some quarters (not all, but a significant amount) puts our secularism as the inverse of that in Europe.

      I am so glad you communicate in English! The cultural exchange is hard enough when we share the language. Ha!

      But I am glad to have this exposure. It helps me grow. I want very much to be culturally sensitive. We have a variety of cultures here in the US, and I enjoy learning of/from them. I cannot converse in Spanish, but I can listen to a Spanish conversation and frequently pick up the topic of discussion – even though I likely do not know if I agree with it or not. Certainly I know basic forms of many words and I can recite a handful of simple sentences.

      I know a few words in Navajo and Montezuma Creek. I know a word or two of Hopi. I studied ancient Greek (though that has grown very rusty – no need for it in street ministry where I have no official office, no income, and no preaching duties). But I studied it for three years 2 in koine and 1 in classical.

      I never reached the level of fluency where I could think in greek. I got close for a while, but not really all the way there. But I watch many of my bilingual street friends (they are not all from the streets, but there is this amazing skill set that a fair number of street people have). And I can watch these friends click over in their minds as they sometimes speak in one language while thinking in another. A fascinating thing, and I envy it.

      So… aside from all the linguistic stuff, I see that I have next to no real appreciating of European church – specifically that of Germany. I run around idealizing theocracy – recognizing that it has been tried before both inside and outside of Israel, and that all previous attempts have not achieved anything like the ideals I would hope for.

      I am particularly jazzed that you say your are interested in Jesus. I feel a bond with that statement. There is so much to church – “organized religion” as it is so often termed and termed with a derogatory sense to it – that is a distraction from Jesus at best and idolatrous at worst. And I can see some of that jumping off the page as I consider state church supported by tax and so forth. It looks deeply rooted – to deep and too close to the vital tissue to simply cut out with a surgeon’s blade. But of course, my impulse is to be repulsed. BUT, that doesn’t change the fact that I have this theocratic ideal.

      I am so glad you shared your thoughts with me. I am moved. I feel the struggle in my heart. You found my soft spot, I guess. I care.

      I don’t know what that is worth, but I do.

      If you have any thing that is better shared privately rather than on the blogs, you can email the Fat Beggars office (I get emails there too) at

      I hope to continue this and other conversations….

      God bless you…



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