Thursday, August 18, 2016

Ways Pluto Tempts Us to Ignore Then Deny Jesus

A common understanding of money and wealth, of cash and material objects (like smartphones, TVs, and cars), is that they are all ethically neutral. They are neither good nor evil in themselves. Each one of us decides, according to our own free will, how we shall use these neutral tools. We ourselves freely decide whether we shall use these neutral tools for good or evil purposes.
Sadly, this is a false Olympian understanding. It comes from Satan, the source of all lies, through Pluto, false god of money, as embodied by our intensely Olympian society and culture, and finally as embraced by our own Olympian personality.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Righteousness and Riches as Gifts of God

Both righteousness and riches are gifts. Old Testament writers speak about the challenge of money. They tell us, for example, about Abraham, Job, and Solomon. These three men were unusual: they enjoyed a right relationship with Yahweh and they were rich. Both the relationship and the riches, however, were gifts of Yahweh. These three men did not earn either gift by being good or working hard.
Righteousness and riches are not tied together. Yahweh maintained Job’s right relationship with him even during a painful period of time following Job’s sudden loss of all his wealth.

The Challenge of Money in the Old Testament: Solomon

When Solomon was a young man, his father David died and Solomon succeeded him as king of Israel in 1015 BC. Shortly after Solomon became king, Yahweh appeared to him in a dream and asked him what he wanted most (1 Kings 3:5). Solomon said he most wanted wisdom so that he could justly rule the people of Yahweh by being able to discern the difference between good and evil (v. 9).

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Challenge of Money in the Old Testament: Job

When we first meet Job, we find he is a most unusual person: one both righteous and rich. Satan, humankind’s constant accuser before Yahweh until Jesus Christ, told Yahweh that Job was not righteous for nothing. He said that Job was only right with Yahweh because Yahweh had made him rich. Satan was sure that if Job lost his wealth, he would curse Yahweh (Job 1:9-12).
In Money and Power (trans. LaVonne Neff, 1985), Jacques Ellul observes, “We often hear this idea from the poor, the unfortunate, laborers, employees, small businessmen: ‘Honesty and piety and justice are luxuries. When you have what you need to live well, then you can also afford to be religious and moral; but when you’re poor, you don’t have time for such frills.’ Job’s prologue…shows us that this popular attitude is a word from Satan, and those who promote it are Satan’s mouthpiece” (p. 39).

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Will Faithfulness Follow Collapse, Denial, Idolatry, and Indifference?

“But when the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8).

Since 2008 the monolithic, inescapable, increasingly lethal Global Technological System (GTS) has been collapsing. Christians and churches, along with most everyone else, have been in denial about this. We remain so because we also devote ourselves to six false Olympian gods, believe their elite minions, and look at Jesus, the Bible, ourselves, and our world through a deceptive Olympian worldview. Rome may be burning, but we remain indifferent to Jesus, the Bible, and a whole cloud of witnesses—like Karl Barth and Jacques Ellul—who would have us please wake up. If we continue this indifference, then the systemic collapse of the painfully Olympian GTS will lead, inevitably yet ironically enough, to a catastrophic loss of faithful witness to Jesus.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Challenge of Money in the Old Testament: Abraham

[Yahweh] said to Abraham, “Leave your country, your relatives, and your father’s home, and go to a land that I am going to show you” (Genesis 12:1, Good News Translation).
According to the Old Testament, Yahweh created the heavens and the earth around 4000 BC. He created them to serve as the perfect context for his relationship of freedom and love with Adam and Eve (Genesis 1). Conversely, this relationship of freedom and love between Yahweh and humankind, and theirs with Yahweh, one another, and the rest of creation, was the purpose of creation (Genesis 2).
Sadly, this creation, fraught with meaning, did not last long. Adam and Eve foolishly chose to question Yahweh’s judgment about both creation and their relationship to him, one another, and the rest of creation. By doing so, they were overwhelmed and enslaved by powers of evil that Yahweh had rejected on their behalf (Genesis 3).

Friday, August 5, 2016

Is Money a Personal or Systemic Problem?

In his book, Money and Power (translated by LaVonne Neff, 1984), Jacques Ellul introduces the topic with a general discussion of “The Problem of Money” (Chapter 1).

Personal or systemic?
Jacques begins his discussion about money, embarrassingly enough, by observing that “[w]henever we talk about money we tend to look at it through the eyes of the society in which we live” (9). In other words, we generally look at money and all else through the dominant Olympian worldview without even knowing it. Let us strive, as Christians, to increasingly understand our lives from a biblical point of view.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Freedom from Collapsing Global Technological System Starts with Repudiating Its 1648 Roots

In Latin Christendom, the Age of Christianity came to an exhausted end in 1648. That’s when warring religious factions, Catholic and Protestant, in Latin Christendom’s savage civil war agreed to end their mutual hostilities after almost 130 years. After that, the best minds of what had been Latin Christendom abandoned theology and focused instead on developing what would become the sciences. Unknown at the time, this altered focus initiated a new era in human history: the Age of Exuberant Olympianity. To both understand and repudiate the collapsing Global Technological System (GTS), we need to understand its roots in Olympianity and repent of our devotion to its six false yet destructive gods.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Collapse of US Dollar as World Reserve Currency

The Global Technological System (GTS) began to collapse in 2008. Decisions made by American elites, such as Zero Interest-Rate Policy and Quantitative Easing, have accelerated this collapse. Now the US dollar will soon lose its status as the world’s reserve currency. The consequences will be unpleasant. Patrick Barron, in an article entitled “Why It Matters If the Dollar Is the Reserve Currency,” (July 3, 2015), tells us why.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Too Many Asset Bubbles Bursting Will Hasten Economic Collapse

An asset is any product or service with monetary value. In terms of our Global Technological System (GTS), important assets include automobiles, houses, oil, stocks, and bonds. Any of these assets may suffer inflated prices; that is, they may be sold at prices far beyond their real value. Such inflated prices, and the willingness to purchase products and services at such prices, occur for a variety of bad reasons. Right now, the prices of virtually all important assets of the GTS are inflated. When an asset is overvalued, that asset is said to be in the midst of a bubble. We may say, then, that virtually all assets are currently in a bubble. When these bubbles burst, that will accelerate the collapse of the GTS that we have been experiencing since 2008.
In “The Subprime U.S. Economy,” S. R. Srocco gives examples of asset bubbles just waiting to burst:

Monday, July 25, 2016

Stripping Olympian Elites of Unmerited Glory

The one wholly integrated Global Technological System (GTS) is run by global elites. These elites devote themselves, even more than we ordinary people do, to the six destructive but conventional gods of Olympianity: (1) Jupiter, god of politics; (2) Mars, god of war; (3) Vulcan, god of technology; (4) Venus, goddess of sex; (5) Pluto, god of money; and (6) Bacchus, god of consumption. Sadly, because—like these elites—we too are Olympians at heart (even those of us who call ourselves Christians), we attribute unusual virtue to them because they are the most powerful in politics, war, etc. But Andy Xie, once the chief Asia-Pacific economist for banking giant Morgan Stanley, thinks we shouldn’t. In a recent article (May 2016) directly about the economic collapse we’re facing, he indirectly strips these Olympian elites of the unmerited glory we Olympians falsely attribute to them. He strips them of it because the economic mess we’re in is their fault.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Preparing Ourselves for Difficulties by Thinking about All Possibilities

As lovers of the Bible, we should be acquainted with the reality of sudden reversals of fortune. In 2349 BC (Ussher), Yahweh caused a great flood which only Noah, his family, and two of each animal and bird escaped (Genesis 6). Although Yahweh sent the prophet Amos around 800 BC to warn the people of Israel to repent or face destruction, his words were ignored until that nation was in fact destroyed in 721 BC. Yahweh sent Jeremiah to Jerusalem with the same message, but the people of Jerusalem and Judah also ignored Yahweh’s warnings and were likewise destroyed in 588 BC. Jesus used the story of Noah to remind his listeners that [i]n the days before the flood people ate and drank, men and women married, up to the very day Noah went into the boat; yet they did not realize what was happening until the flood came and swept them all away. That is how it will be when the Son of Man comes (Matthew 24:38-39, Good News Translation).
These biblical examples may helpfully remind us that sudden reversals can happen even to people who understand themselves to be God’s people. Christians in America today, for example, will be no exception to this.
Facing significant global challenges today, we do well to logically consider the whole range of logical possibilities. Logically, those possibilities range from 0: total nuclear annihilation, to 10: a new period of unprecedented peace and prosperity, through 2.5: significant civilizational collapse, 5: a world similar to our own in 2000, and 7.5: a world similar to our own in 1970 (before the US abandoned the gold standard).

Derivatives: Reckless Criminal Gambling Hastening Civilizational Collapse

The Global Technological System (GTS), our civilization, societies and cultures around the world, our very Olympian personalities, all are in the process of collapsing. Jesus is inviting us, as Christians and churches, indeed all of his faithful witnesses everywhere, to make meaningful responses together to this growing calamity. We will do so, however, only when we acknowledge that we do indeed face catastropheIn today’s essay, we will look at the once and future disaster called derivatives.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Cause of Catastrophic Collapse: Too Much Borrowing, Too Many Derivatives

The catastrophic collapse of our Global Technological System (GTS) began in 2008. Now it's about to accelerate. William Edstrom (Wall Street and the Military are Draining Americans High and Dry”), helps us to understand why.

Irreversible Global Collapse Has Already Started Because of Too Much Debt

In the past, I have made three assertions about life today. One, our entire world is dominated by a single Global Technological System (GTS). Two, this GTS is dominated by Satan and is the most effective instrument of his Kingdom of Power ever constructed. Three, this GTS is collapsing with unimaginably destructive consequences for all societies, cultures, personalities, and creation.
The New Testament witnesses to Jesus unanimously speak of Satan as the ruler of this world (which includes today’s GTS). They speak this way even though they also affirm that Jesus, through his crucifixion and resurrection, decisively defeated Satan and doomed him and his minions to destruction. The current collapse of the GTS demonstrates the truth they spoke. The GTS expressed Satan’s will for power and all our human lies, illusions, and indifference that supported him. Furthermore, this collapse will end in the widespread destruction, debilitation, and death which Satan always seeks.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Harmful Ways of Responding to the Civilizational Collapse We’re Experiencing

So now we know: from a biblical point of view, it is Satan who stands behind the whole Global Technological System (GTS) that spans our globe and dominates our lives. He’s incognito though. It’s the false gods in league with him whom we adore. These are the six conventional yet destructive gods of Olympianity: (1) Jupiter, god of politics; (2) Mars, god of war; (3) Vulcan, god of technology; (4) Venus, goddess of sex; (5) Pluto, god of money; and (6) Bacchus, god of consumption. Our support for these six obnoxious gods gets a boost from the Flesh, or Unholy Spirit, who dwells within our Olympianity personality (in contrast to the Holy Spirit who burns brightly in our Christian personality).

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Christ's Kingdom of Freedom vs. Satan's Kingdom of Power

Jesus Christ is the truth who sets us free to love and leads us into fullness of life. He demonstrated this through his ministry, death, and resurrection. He continues to demonstrate this through the words of truth he shares with us today.
Through the words of truth Jesus speaks to us today, he frees us to participate in the Kingdom of Heaven. In that kingdom, the truth, freedom, love, and vitality of Jesus matter most. We might call Christ’s kingdom the Kingdom of Freedom.
His kingdom stands in stark contrast to the Kingdom of Power. Power is the ability to control. Olympianity is the religion of power. The Kingdom of Power is run by Satan through six false yet conventional gods of power: (1) Jupiter, god of politics; (2) Mars, god of war; (3) Vulcan, god of power; (4) Venus, god of sex; (5) Pluto, god of war; and (6) Bacchus, god of consumption.

Christ's Victory over All Powers of Evil: Already But Not Yet!

In AD 451 Church leaders, gathered at an ecumenical conference in the city of Chalcedon, discerned and affirmed together an extremely important understanding of Jesus Christ. This understanding came to be known as the Chalcedonian Formula. They affirmed that Jesus Christ, as both Son of God and Son of Man, was both fully divine and fully human, with no separation of his divinity from his humanity, with no mixture of his divinity and humanity, and with his existence as Son of God before time having right priority over his incarnation as a human being.
In other words, Church leaders at Chalcedon affirmed that we rightly understand the biblical witness to Jesus Christ only through (what we may call) paradoxical logic. This differs significantly from the sensate logic of what is called the scientific method. Sensate logic states that A cannot be non-A at the same time. Paradoxical logic states that, when it comes to rightly understanding God, whose ways are not at all our ways, we need to affirm both A and not-A at the same time.
Using the paradoxical logic of the biblical witnesses, as affirmed by representatives of the whole Church at Chalcedon, we rightly affirm that the victory of Jesus Christ over all powers of evil is both wholly accomplished and yet not finished, without separation, without mixture, and in the right order.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A Summary of Christ's Victory over All Powers of Evil

In The New Demons, Jacques Ellul points out the false gods we moderns adore. We have identified these conventional yet destructive gods as (1) Jupiter, god of politics; (2) Mars, god of war; (3) Vulcan, god of technology; (4) Venus, god of sex; (5) Pluto, god of money; and (6) Bacchus, god of consumption. But have Jacques and I been right in speaking of gods at all? Our last three essays have been summaries of New Testament passages to various powers of evil. Today we will attempt to express those summaries, and link them to previous meditations on biblical witnesses, in a short meaningful narrative which celebrates the victory of Jesus over all powers of evil.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Powers of Evil from James through Revelation

In The New Demons, Jacques Ellul speaks of the gods we moderns adore. We have identified these gods as (1) Jupiter, god of politics; (2) Mars, god of war; (3) Vulcan, god of technology; (4) Venus, god of sex; (5) Pluto, god of money; and (6) Bacchus, god of consumption. But have we been right in speaking about gods at all? To find out, we will finish our survey of the New Testament by looking at passages about various powers of evil from the Letter of James through the Book of Revelation.

4:7 We are to commit ourselves to God and resist the Devil who will then run away from us.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Apostle Paul on Powers of Evil

In The New Demons, Jacques Ellul talks about the false gods we moderns adore. But was he really right in doing so? Today we look at passages taken from various letters written by the apostle Paul to remember anew his normative thoughts.

1:21-23 Olympians, claiming to be wise, are actually foolish. Rather than devoting themselves to God, they devote themselves to idols—to images of humans or other creatures.
5:14-21 Following the sin of Adam, death ruled over humankind (14). Following Jesus Christ, all who receive his grace and righteousness now rule in life (17). Following Adam, sin once ruled all of us through death. Through Jesus Christ, grace now rules us all through righteousness leading to eternal life (21).

What the Gospels and Book of Acts Say about Powers of Evil

In The New Demons, Jacques Ellul talks about the false gods we moderns adore, the disinformative myths which explain and justify their existence, and the dysfunctional religion through which we witness to them. The question, however, is this: is Jacques right to speak about false gods? To rightly answer that question, we will turn to the Bible as our normative witness about such things. Today we will recall what is said about powers of evil—Satan, the Devil, demons, etc.—in the Gospels and Book of Acts.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Overcoming Evil with Good: Jesus Freeing Us from Today's Gods, Myths, and Religion

In The New Demons, Jacques Ellul speaks of the gods we moderns adore. Only in the last seven pages does he mention how we, as Christians and churches, might respond creatively to these Olympian gods, the myths they spin, and the religious words, actions, and objects we use every day to affirm our misguided devotion to them.
Jacques warns us right off that this creative response will be difficult. In case we had forgotten, “it has to be understood that Christianity is a break with our society” (222).
Of course we Christians and churches must first allow our own devotion to the gods to be challenged by Jesus through his biblical witnesses. When Jesus uses their words to free us from our devotion to those gods, however, we should realize that this will not endear us to our Olympian neighbors.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Christianity Mistakenly Trying to Beat Olympianity by Becoming More Like It

In The New Demons, Jacques Ellul talks about the gods we all adore. In the last chapter, “Coda for Christians,” he tells us how we, as Christians and churches, remain confused about how to respond creatively to the challenges posed by these gods.
Jacques finds our current responses, as Christians and churches, to the apparently overwhelming strength of Olympianity to be misguided. He agrees with what we have previously discussed: since the 1600s, Christians and churches have abandoned Jesus for a resurgent Olympianity. As Jacques puts it, Christianity has been “mongrelized since the seventeenth century” (209).

Why We Christians Mistakenly Worship Jupiter Instead of Jesus Today

In The New Demons, Jacques Ellul speaks about the gods we worship today, especially Jupiter (the god of politics).
Because devotion to Jupiter is so intense, political activity is considered the most meaningful of all activities. Sadly, this devotion to a most conventional yet thoroughly destructive Olympian god characterizes even Christians and churches. We have developed the strange notion that we are serious witnesses to Jesus, and worthy of attention from non-Christians, only when we get political. How we get political—progressive, conservative, or restorative—doesn’t matter. It’s getting political, showing our devotion to Jupiter so that we are like everyone else—that matters.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Today's Post-Christian Political Religion Adopts Christian Forms

We live in a post-Christian society. As a result, our worship of Jupiter, god of politics, takes on previously Christian forms. Jacques Ellul tells us how in The New Demons (trans. C. Edward Hopkin, 1975).
1. God. In our contemporary worship of Jupiter, the part of the god, or of his incarnation, is established by an official “cult of personality” (170) or creation of the Great Personality. The establishment of such a cult is unavoidable. On one side, there’s the public’s desire for salvation with “all hopes concentrated on one, fervently adored man” (171). On the other, there’s the leader’s commitment to provide that salvation. The result: a cult of personality that deifies a dictator. Holding all power, he “is the supreme person, corresponding to the personal God of Christianity” (171).

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Signs that Religion Is Alive and Well in Our Post-Christian Society

Today Olympianity is the world’s most popular religion. As societies, cultures, and personalities, we devote ourselves to the six gods of Olympus: (1) Jupiter, god of politics; (2) Mars, god of war; (3) Vulcan, god of technology; (4) Venus, god of sex; (5) Pluto, god of money; and (6) Bacchus, god of consumption. As with other religions, these gods are related to us as individuals, to our societies and cultures, and to our past, present, and future, through the Grand Narrative of myth. But the Olympian gods actually encourage us to pursue the widest variety of religious practices knowing that all religious practices lead back to them. Here are a few, popular even among Christians, noted by Jacques Ellul in The New Demons (trans. C. Edward Hopkin, 1975) and still true today:

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Grand Narrative: The Importance of Myth Today

Today we think in terms of myths as much as we always have. Jacques Ellul, through The New Demons (trans. C. Edward Hopkin, 1975), will guide us in our discernment of this.
An Olympian civilization spans the globe. This civilization is based on Olympianity: the religion of power. The sacred foundation of this religion and civilization are three pairs of gods, each pair including one god of order and another of disorder. Using their Roman names, these three pairs of gods are Jupiter (god of politics) and Mars (god of war), Vulcan (god of technology) and Venus (god of sex), and Pluto (god of money) and Bacchus (god of consumption). Societies, cultures, and personalities around the globe devote themselves to these gods. (Sadly, Christians and churches around the globe do so also.)
Shared devotion to these gods is only possible through an Olympian worldview disseminated through the corporate media and affirmed by each person everywhere. The corporate media and its primary narrators are the authoritative speakers and interpreters of this Olympian worldview.
Every religion has its own distinct worldview. As a religion, Olympianity—just like Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—has a worldview that is mythical in nature.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Today's Third Sacred Pair: Money and Consumption

In speaking of today’s sacred in The New Demons (trans. C. Edward Hopkin, 1975), Jacques Ellul states that our “modern sacred is ordered entirely around two [70] axes, each involving two poles, one pole being respect and order, the other transgression” (70-71). He said the first axis paired technology and sex while the second paired the national state and revolution (although I prefer politics and war).
He then makes a rather strong statement. “Those are the four factors (I say exclusive of any other) of our modern society” (71). I think it is important, though, to add a third axis of order and disorder: money and consumption. Using their Roman names, I would say that today, as in the past, we devote ourselves, as societies, cultures, and personalities, to Pluto, god of money, and Bacchus, god of consumption. I say this using the very criteria for identifying the sacred, in terms of function and form, developed and used by Jacques himself in establishing his two sacred axes.

Today's Second Sacred Pair: Nation-State and Revolution or Politics and War?

In The New Demons (trans. C. Edward Hopkin, 1975), Jacques Ellul identifies the two sacred pairs that he believes make up today’s sacred.
The first sacred pair he names is technology and sex. I couldn't agree with him more. It is even more helpful to think of them using their Roman names: Vulcan, god of technology, and Venus, goddess of sex. Roman mythology affirms the tight relationship between technology and sex by understanding Vulcan and Venus to be husband and wife.
Jacques identifies the other sacred pair as the nation-state and revolution. I disagree with him here. I think this second pair is better understood as politics and war. Again, using their Roman names, we devote ourselves to Jupiter, god of politics, and Mars, god of war. Strangely enough, Roman mythology also affirms the tight correlation between sex and war by understanding Venus and Mars to be lovers. Sex and violence: still a profitable combination.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Today's Sacred: Technology and Sex

In a most insightful book, The New Demons (trans. C. Edward Hopkin, 1975), Jacques Ellul first analyzes the functions and forms of the sacred common to all religions including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Sacred functions include providing societies, cultures, and personalities with meaning, structure (of space, time, and action), solidarity, ethics, and justification. The sacred isn’t something that societies or individuals choose. It is something which imposes itself upon all of us as our greatest threat as well as best source of vitality. Sacred forms include ultimate values, rites of commitment, embodiment by people of exceptional virtue, and the organization of the sacred itself in opposing poles of control and chaos.
Having analyzed the general functions and forms of the sacred, Jacques then identifies the first axis of what constitutes the sacred in our world today: technology and sex (71).

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Functions and Forms of the Sacred

In the history of Olympia, three of the most important religions have been Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Yet there has always been what we may consider to be a fourth religion: Olympianity. To test whether we are right in doing so, we will reflect on an analysis of the functions and forms of the sacred by Jacques Ellul in The New Demons (trans. C. Edward Hopkin, 1975).

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

One Method for Discerning Today's Most Popular Yet Least Recognized Religion

Here in the West, we live in a dechristianized society. For the last 50 years, this has been wrongly understood—especially by Christian intellectuals—to mean that we live in a secular society. That incorrect assumption has been further misunderstood to mean that we modern humans now set our own standards as the autonomous, rational, good, and mature creatures we are.
While it is true that only a dwindling number of people in the West continue to affirm their faithfulness to Jesus Christ, the one odd god/man of truth, freedom, love, and vitality, that doesn’t mean the majority of Westerners believe in no god at all. While even a dwindling number of Christians affirm the Bible as their standard for understanding the truth, that doesn’t stop most Westerners from affirming other myths to live by. While increasingly fewer Christians participate in the weekly celebration of their god through word and action, that doesn’t stop them or others from being meaningful participants in the world’s oldest, most popular, yet least recognized religion.

Monday, June 13, 2016

What Living in a Post-Christian Society Means

“A current commonplace, the truth of which is taken for granted, is that the modern world is secular” (Jacques Ellul, The New Demons, translated into English by C. Edward Hopkin in 1975, p.2). This assumption is understood to mean, specifically, “that the modern world no longer believes but wants proof; it obeys reason and rejects beliefs, especially religious beliefs; it has got rid of God the Father and all gods, and if you talk to it of religion, it won’t understand you…The day of religion is over” (18).

Venezuela: What Happens When Economies Collapse

The economy of Venezuela has been in trouble since at least 2013 when, as a result, its currency was devalued. In 2016 its troubles led to economic collapse.
We rightly pause to reflect on the challenges confronting ordinary Venezuelans. We live in societies dominated by the Global Technological System (GTS). Because the GTS is a system, trouble in one part of it, like Venezuela, has harmful effects on other parts. Such trouble also increases the chances that the whole global economy will collapse.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Bill of Rights (1791)

In 1789, the first US Congress approved twelve amendments to the Constitution. By December 1791, the necessary three-quarters of the state legislatures had ratified ten of these and they became the first ten amendments to the Constitution. Together they are known as the Bill of Rights.
Because of their enduring significance, I reprint them here:

The Bill of Rights

Certain Economic Collapse and Looming Nuclear War

The Global Technological System (GTS) is the greatest threat to ever confront a hapless humankind. Today, Jesus Christ is inviting you and me to join him in responding creatively to this threat.
One way we may do this is by developing rigorous realism or an increasingly accurate understanding of reality. Only through his words of truth may we find the wisdom, strength, courage, and good cheer to face an increasingly frightening reality.
Only with Jesus as our foundation may we acknowledge that the destructive consequences of the GTS are surprisingly numerous, massive, and varied. Perhaps the two worst consequences are the impending disaster of economic collapse and the looming catastrophe of nuclear war.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Today's Deadly Technocratic Rivalries

The Global Technological System (GTS) is a worldwide system combining all available technologies into one integrated whole. It controls virtually all human beings, societies, cultures, and ecosystems on the planet and regards them as nothing more than means to its own ends or as resources to be exploited.
That is why the GTS is parasitic. Worse, it has now grown so large that it is the most life-threatening challenge ever faced by humankind.
It is also increasingly unstable. This instability will soon lead to some kind of systemic collapse which will be catastrophic.
This GTS is all about power. It is the best-ever embodiment of humankind’s lust for power. True to its own nature, it concentrates increasingly more power in the hands of increasingly fewer people.
These fewer people are today’s global rulers. They are technological aristocrats or technocrats. They are people who know how to use the GTS to exploit everyone and all else.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Global Technological System: A Realistic Summary

The Global Technological System (GTS) is the most life-threatening challenge ever faced by humankind. It is a parasite that has grown so large that it is killing its host; that is, it is sucking the vitality out of human beings, societies, cultures, and ecosystems worldwide. To understand how we might respond creatively to it, and free ourselves from it, we need to develop a rigorously realistic understanding of it.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Technology: Conformity and Compensation

In Perspectives on Our Age (1981), Jacques Ellul points out that living in a society increasingly dominated by a Global Technological System (GTS) is painful, to a greater or lesser degree, for all of us humans (48). That’s because the nature of the GTS differs fundamentally from our own. It is cold, rational, and rigid. While we humans may occasionally imitate those ways, we remain mostly passionate, emotional, and spontaneous.
If we are treated more like technological automatons than genuine humans for very long, we grow angry or depressed and seek “compensations” (49). In other words, “we are forced to find something providing satisfactions elsewhere and permitting us to live otherwise” (49).
This need grows increasingly pressing with the growth of the GTS. As the GTS expands, we all increasingly suffer “the suppression of the subject and the suppression of meaning” (49).

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Devotion to Vulcan Brought Changes in Class Structure

Throughout the history of Olympia, societies have always organized their members into four social classes based on the power exercised by each. The top class has always been the ruling class. Its members set the rules for the rest of us. The middle class provides the managers of people, processes, and information needed by the ruling class. The working class consists of those people who actually do the work, especially the physical labor, of society. The bottom of this social scale is occupied by the marginal class: those who don’t fit into any other class or society in general. Historically, we always find four classes: rulers, managers, workers, and outcasts.
While this class structure endures, there are plenty of historical variations within it. Changes over time include the size of each class, the relative power of one class over others, the rate of social mobility between classes, and what it takes to become a ruler.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Devotion to Vulcan and Its Consequences

In 1648, intellectuals—and gradually the rest of Christendom—abandoned Jesus Christ, the only true god/man of truth, freedom, love, and vitality, in favor of returning to the six conventional yet false gods of Olympianity. More specifically, they abandoned Jesus, the only true god/man of freedom, especially for Vulcan, one false god of power through technology.
In Perspectives on Our Age (1981), Jacques Ellul points out that our newfound devotion to Vulcan had broad unforeseen consequences.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Why Today's Technological Phenomenon Started in the 1700s

In Perspectives on Our Age, Jacques Ellul identifies five major reasons why today’s technological phenomenon emerged in the 1700s in Europe. These conditions had never before existed simultaneously. That’s why today’s technological phenomenon did not exist before or elsewhere.
One, a large growth in population (p. 41). This happened because society had become better organized. It resulted in more available workers as well as a faster distribution of people and ideas.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Difference between Yesterday's Technology and Today's

Let us define technology, in a general and preliminary way, as (1) the use of any tool or method as a means of obtaining a goal and (2) the study of such means. From this point of view, we may say that humans have always used technology. Furthermore, many of yesterday’s technologies relate directly to some today.
At the same time, the sheer quantity and scope of today’s technologies far exceed those of yesterday. This quantitative change is so great that Jacques Ellul, in Perspective on Our Age (1981), insists we acknowledge that a qualitative change in technology has resulted. As he puts it, when we as humans “moved from the flint arrowhead to the atomic bomb, there was a qualitative change” (36).

Monday, May 30, 2016

Witnessing to Profound Meaning and Great Joy (Matthew 22:1-14)

In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus enters Jerusalem only once during his public ministry and then just before his crucifixion. He does so on the back of a donkey rather than mounted on a warhorse to demonstrate that he comes as the Prince of Peace and not as just another Olympian military leader. While this may have pleased his disciples, it threw the whole city…into an uproar (Matthew 21:10, Good News Translation, here and following).
Understandably. According to Matthew, Jesus immediately enters the Temple, chases out the moneychangers, overturns their tables, and condemns their unwitting devotion to Pluto (god of money) in the one national building dedicated to Yahweh (Matthew 21:12-13).

Today's Greatest Source of Power

In his book, Perspectives on Our Age (1981), Jacques Ellul rightly points out that today’s most powerful countries are no longer those with the most money or largest populations. Today, power is based on technology.
He first uses the example of Arab countries like Saudi Arabia. These oil-rich countries have grown fabulously wealthy. But, as Jacques points out, “the accumulation of their wealth is not bringing any true interior development or any sort of independence from the West” (78).

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Global Technological System: The Parasite Is Killing Us

In the distant past, we humans lived in a creational context. We experienced an immediate relationship with creation and it was creation itself which both provided for our basic needs and confronted us with our greatest threats. With the development of cities and writing, society became our primary context, mediated our relationships with creation, provided us with our means of living, and made war the greatest threat to our survival. Today, we live in a third context: a technological society. Today our most significant livelihoods and threats of death are technological in nature. It is technology, more than politics, economics, or religion, which structures our societies, cultures, and personalities.
Unexpectedly, the innumerable technologies developing separately since about 1750 eventually coalesced into a single technological system. Worse, this system is now global in extent. As individuals, cultures, and societies, we now face a Global Technological System (GTS) that far exceeds our ability to control or even comprehend.
“Still, one thing seems absolutely certain,” says Jacques Ellul, and that is the “opposition between the development of the technological system on one hand and society and human beings on the other” (Perspectives on Our Age, 69).

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Global Technological System: Uncontrollable and Incomprehensible

Jesus invites us today, as Christians and churches, to respond creatively to the challenges of our times. To do that, we must have a rigorously realistic understanding of those challenges. Sadly, we don’t. We continue to diagnose today’s ills as political problems in a societal context. This is a diagnosis made invalid by technological growth at least one hundred years ago. Jesus invites us to understand that the most significant challenges we face are the destructive consequences of our technological context. Happily, Jacques Ellul helps us to understand these challenges in his book, Perspectives on Our Age (1981).

Our Three Overlapping Contexts: Creation, Society, and Technology

In Perspectives on Our Age (pp. 59-84), Jacques Ellul speaks about the three interrelated contexts in which we now live: creation, society, and technology.
He begins briefly by describing our technological context: the city. He points out that it is a totally artificial context, composed of nothing but the products of technology, and practically devoid of life except for us human beings.
He then gives us a quick glimpse of how difficult it is for us humans to leave that context. Even when we find ourselves in a purely creational context, such as in a forest or at a lake, we quickly turn on a radio, TV, or, now, smartphone to reestablish our familiar technological context. Whew!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Witnessing to Jesus by Lovingly Learning about Creation

Through Genesis 1, we learn that God created the heavens and the earth, just as he did, to serve as the perfect context for a covenantal relationship of freedom and love with us his human creatures. He created it as he did so that we human creatures might also enjoy a relationship of freedom and love with him, one another, and the rest of creation.
Consequently, we may witness to Jesus, through whom all creatures, including ourselves, came into existence, when we ably praise and thank him for the creativity he demonstrated in creation. We may do this best by developing, as Christians and churches, a lively appreciation especially for our local creational context.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Witnessing to Jesus through Right Eating

Jesus Christ is the truth who sets us free to love and leads us into fullness of life. For us as human creatures, that fullness of life includes the vitality that comes through right eating. For us as faithful witnesses to Jesus, right eating means eating the right food, in the right amounts, at the right times.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Christian Literacy: Understanding the Best and Worst of Western Civilization

Being a faithful witness to Jesus Christ means being literate in a distinctive way. Primarily, it means having a meaningful understanding of the Bible, church history, and theology. Secondarily but still importantly, it means having a meaningful understanding of Western civilization. There is, of course, a complex relationship between the subjects of these two meaningful understandings.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Christian Literacy: Bible, Church History, Theology

Being a  faithful witness to Jesus Christ means being literate in a distinctive way. To begin with, it means having a meaningful understanding of Christianity. This is especially important today because such literacy is rare at the same time that churches, at least in the Western world, are disappearing.
Olympian literacy, or an understanding of ourselves and our world which actually serves the six conventional but destructive gods of Olympianity, is practically the only kind of literacy that exists today—even among Christians. Olympian literacy means having a nodding familiarity with current events: the latest TV shows, movies, hit songs, bestsellers, sports scores, political events, international crises, celebrity scandals, electronic gadgets, fashions, and more. These are the topics which people, Olympians and Christians alike, discuss most frequently and with the greatest excitement. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Want to Save Your Church? Turn off Your TV!

Each day we seek to live as faithful witnesses to Jesus Christ. A faithful witness is a person called by Jesus to walk with him on the difficult path of freedom and, by doing so, share all his truth, love, and vitality with others. Being a Christian means developing a way of living, with other Christians, which is meaningfully different from the very Olympian way of living of the society and culture in which we live. For us today, that means developing a way of living free in relation to corporate media of communication. It means saying good-bye to television.
Let’s start with some statistics. According to Felix Richter (“Americans Use Electronic Media 11+ Hours a Day”), American adults (as of 2014) watch TV over 5 hours 20 minutes per day, listen to the radio over 2 hours 40 minutes, use their smartphones for almost 1 hour 30 minutes, and spend over 1 hour on the internet using their PCs.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Possible Futures

In The Twilight of American Culture (2000), Morris Berman talked about the collapse of Western civilization as it is represented by America.
First, he identified four signs of this collapse. The first was (1) the greatest gap between rich and poor in the history of America. The creation of this gap includes the ongoing destruction of the middle and working classes as families from both join the ever-growing ranks of the marginal class. It also includes the continuing destruction of democracy and culture as both of these depend upon a hearty middle class for their maintenance and enhancement. He also mentioned (2) diminishing returns, as responses to challenges demand greater costs but deliver smaller benefits; (3) increasing ignorance; and (4) spiritual death, an exponential growth in meaninglessness as corporate beliefs, values, and norms obliterate the existence—even the memory—of all others.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Examples of New Monastic Individuals Today

In The Twilight of American Culture (2000), Morris Berman points out that, despite surprising energy, Western civilization is collapsing under the growing burdens of increasing inequality, debt, ignorance, and meaninglessness. Rather than having us wallowing in despair, however, Morris invites us to respond creatively by becoming new monastic individuals (NMIs). NMIs provide a meaningful alternative way of living that is incognito not grandiose, humble not arrogant, and nomadic not fixed in rigid forms of thought and organization. To stimulate our imaginations, Morris describes the lives of some NMIs today.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Describing a Monastic Response to Collapse

In The Twilight of American Culture (2000), Morris Berman reflects on how the western Roman Empire fell and how monks and monasteries preserved its best ideas for a later renaissance. He then speaks of how Western Civilization is collapsing again today. In Chapter 4, “The Monastic Option in the Twenty-first Century,” he writes about how we might respond to our collapse in a manner similar to our medieval predecessors.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Good Enlightenment Gone Bad?

In The Twilight of American Culture (2000), Morris Berman explores reasons why we ended up facing civilizational collapse now. Following the lead of the Frankfort School, especially theorists Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, and Herbert Marcuse, Morris believes we got to where we are because the good Enlightenment went bad.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Discerning Our Historical Context

It’s helpful to know history because it’s important for us to be able to place ourselves in some meaningful historical context. This way we avoid thinking about our challenges in harmfully short-sighted ways. Where we are now is the result of long-term historical trends. Responding to contemporary challenges, even correctly identifying them, requires similarly long-term thinking and an avoidance of any imagined quick fixes.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Lessons on Cultural Preservation

In his book, The Twilight of American Culture (2000), Morris Berman talks about the collapse of western Roman culture in the 400s (pp. 71-76). He then examines the preservation of the best of that culture done by monks whose work enabled a renaissance of classical culture in the 1100s (pp. 76-87). Their work of preservation inspire us as we too face civilizational collapse (pp. 87-90).

The Monastic Response to Rome's Fall

In The Twilight of American Culture (2000), Morris Berman examines the collapse of our contemporary culture. In Chapter Two, “The Monastic Option,” he reminds us of what the collapse of the western Roman Empire looked like (pp. 71-76). He then shares with us the creative response to this collapse made by monks and monasteries (77-87).

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Civilizational Collapse: The Example of Rome

In The Twilight of American Culture (2000), Morris Berman identifies four signs of civilizational collapse: (1) stark inequality of income, (2) diminishing returns, (3) growing ignorance, and (4) spiritual death. In the first part of Chapter Two, “The Monastic Option” (pp. 71-76), he illustrates these four signs with examples from the fall of the western Roman Empire.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

More Signs of Civilizational Collapse: Increasing Ignorance and Spiritual Death

In his book, The Twilight of American Culture, Morris Berman speaks about much more than that. In the first chapter (pp. 14-70), he lists four signs indicating the collapse of any civilization: (1) accelerating inequalities of income and wealth, (2) diminishing returns on solutions to problems, (3) increasing ignorance, and (4) growing spiritual death. He finds all four signs occurring, to an alarming degree, in Western Civilization as represented by America.
In our previous essay of April 29, we summarized the accelerating inequalities of income and wealth noted by Morris. Today we will look at what Morris regards as indications of increasing ignorance and spiritual death.

Friday, April 29, 2016

One Sign of Civilizational Collapse: Accelerating Inequality

In the first chapter of his book, The Twilight of American Culture (2000), Morris Berman asks whether American culture is decaying or simply changing.
Morris begins by noting that, in the past, all civilizations have followed the same general pattern of developing, reaching a peak of creativity, and then collapsing. He does not believe that America will be an exception. It too will collapse.
He nonetheless believes that America’s current state of decline is worth examining.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Morris Berman on the Decline of Western Civilization

To witness meaningfully to Jesus Christ today, Jesus Christ must speak a new word to us and the Holy Spirit must inspire us to discern and affirm it. We always do well to remember that Jesus himself is the source, center, and goal of our witness. Without him we can do nothing.
Then, we must grow more familiar each day with the biblical witnesses to Jesus. The Bible is by far the most unconventional collection of books ever written. Jesus best likes speaking to us through the words of his Bible and always speaks to us words that are consistent with them.
Finally, we need to have as realistic an understanding as possible about the context in which we witness to Jesus. Jesus never speaks to us words of general information let alone trivia. He always speaks the best possible words about who he is, who we are, and how we might best share his truth, freedom, love, and vitality with those we’re with.
To improve our realistic understanding of our contemporary global technological context, we will reflect briefly on the introduction, “The American Crisis,” written by Morris Berman for his book, The Twilight of American Culture (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2000).

Saturday, April 23, 2016

On Loving One Another: Reflections on Jesus in the Fourth Gospel

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35, New Revised Standard Version, here and following).
Here, during the last supper with his disciples before his crucifixion, Jesus tells them to love one another as he has loved them. Let us review the Gospel According to John for examples of how Jesus loved others. Let us also note how others chose not to love Jesus.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Christian Reflections on the Fukushima Disaster

On March 11, 2011, a nuclear disaster occurred in Fukushima, Japan. On December 26, 2014, Katsuya Hirano and Hirotaka Kasai interviewed Koide Hiroaki, a retired nuclear engineer, about that disaster and its aftermath. That interview was published as “‘The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster is a Serious Crime,’” by The Asia Pacific Journal on March 16, 2016.

Background. The first nuclear power reactor in Japan started generating electricity in 1966. Since then a total of 58 nuclear power reactors have been built in Japan. Six of these were built at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant between 1971 and 1978.
On March 11, 2011, an earthquake and resulting tsunami caused equipment failures at the Fukushima Daiichi plant that led to three nuclear reactor meltdowns. These meltdowns, in turn, led to a release of radioactive contaminants which continues to this day. These radioactive contaminants will cause cancers, leukemia, and other illnesses in an unimaginably large number of human beings and other creatures.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Summary of the Continuing Fukushima Disaster

As prophetic witnesses to Jesus Christ, it isn’t enough for us to go to church on Sundays and simply be nice the rest of the week. Jesus refuses to leave us that much alone. While we would rather sleep, he calls and enables to respond creatively to the challenges of our times.
What exactly are these challenges? As Christians and churches, we have the sad habit of getting excited over the same issues as everyone else in our Olympian society. These issues are the ones identified as important by the handful of individuals who control the corporate media of communication.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Proclaiming the Good News to an Olympian Church

These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near’” (Matthew 10:5-7, New Revised Standard Version, here and following).
When John the Baptist first appeared, he stood on the margins of Jewish society but did so near the very heart of that society in Jerusalem. What did he say? “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 3:2).
To repent means to completely abandon one’s entire way of living. In personal terms, this involves a complete reversal of one’s thinking, feeling, movements, goals, gods, and relationships. It means questioning everything! In societal terms, it means freedom in relationship to the entire status quo.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Making Each Day Densely Meaningful

Following the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we human beings now have not one but two personalities. The first is our Olympian personality. It is structured in terms of the six conventional gods of Olympianity. It is daily strengthened by the Olympian society and culture in which we all live. The other, more important one, is our Christian personality. It is structured in terms of Jesus Christ. Hopefully it is daily strengthened by our church as it strives to be a meaningful alternative to the society and culture in which to live.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Learning Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as Ways of Living

Reflecting on the state of America at the end of 2001, Wendell Berry rightly pointed out one way of sticking to the difficult path that leads to life (Matthew 7:14):
We must not again allow public emotion or the public media to caricature our enemies. If our enemies are now to be some nations of Islam, then we should undertake to know those enemies. Our schools should begin to teach the histories, cultures, arts, and languages of the Islamic nations. And our leaders should have the humility and the wisdom to ask the reasons some of those people have for hating us (In the Presence of Fear, The Orion Society, 2001, p. 8).

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Freedom for Local Self-Reliance

Reflecting on the state of America at the end of 2001, Wendell Berry rightly clarified the choice Americans then faced:
We can continue to promote a global economic system of unlimited “free trade” among corporations, held together by long and highly vulnerable lines of communication and supply, but now recognizing that such a system will have to be protected by a hugely expensive police force that will be worldwide…and that such a police force will be effective precisely to the extent that it oversways the freedom and privacy of the citizens of every nation.
Or we can promote a decentralized world economy which would have the aim of assuring to every nation and region a local self-sufficiency in life-supporting goods. This would not eliminate international trade, but it would tend toward a trade in surpluses after local needs had been met (In the Presence of Fear, The Orion Society, 2001, p. 4).

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Where Our Pleasure Is, There Our Hearts Will Also Be

At the end of 2001, Wendell Berry reflected on the state of America. When he did so, he couldn’t help but notice that our devotion to Vulcan, god of technology, led inescapably to a fatal indifference toward all things past.
The paramount doctrine of the economic and technological euphoria of recent decades has been that everything depends on innovation. It was understood as desirable, and even necessary, that we should go on and on from one technological innovation to the next, which would cause the economy to “grow” [2] and make everything better and better. This of course implied at every point a hatred of the past, of all things inherited and free. All things superseded in our progress of innovations, whatever their value might have been, were discounted as of no value at all (In the Presence of Fear, The Orion Society, 2001, pp. 2-3).

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Vulcan: Progress Is Technological Advancement Despite Appalling Destruction

Reflecting on the state of the union at the end of 2001, Wendell Berry believed that recent events had ended America’s technological optimism. He then explored where that optimism had come from.
The “developed” nations had given to the “free market” the status of a god, and were sacrificing their farmers, farmlands, and rural communities, their forests, wetlands, and prairies, their ecosystems and watersheds. They had accepted universal pollution and global warming as normal costs of doing business (In the Presence of Fear, The Orion Society, 2001, p. 2).
Wendell rightly puts the word “developed” in quotation marks. Like many other words, its meaning depends on its context: Olympian or Christian.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

An Alternative Christian Society as Our Creative Response to the Global Technological System

In response to four large coordinated acts of violence in 2001, Wendell Berry wrote “Thoughts in the Presence of Fear.” That essay was reprinted in a booklet entitled, In the Presence of Fear, by The Orion Society later that year.
Wendell makes a point in that essay that may help us to better understand how we might more creatively respond, as faithful witnesses to Jesus Christ, to Olympian challenges we still face today.
[D]ominant politicians, corporate officers, and investors…did not acknowledge that…prosperity was limited to a tiny percentage of the world’s people, and to an ever [1] smaller number of people even in the United States; that it was founded upon the oppressive labor of poor people all over the world; and that its ecological costs increasingly threatened all life… (pages 1-2).

Friday, January 1, 2016

Bullshit: A Greater Threat to Truth than Lies

Bullshit is a vulgar term. Worse, it is a vulgar and destructive reality. We will attempt to understand it more clearly by reflecting today on the book, On Bullshit, by Harry G. Frankfurt (Princeton University Press, 2005).
Lies. To better understand the meaning of bullshit, we will contrast it with lies and bombast. A lie is a statement made with the intention to deceive. A speaker lies to misrepresent what they believe to be true either of their own subjective reality, or of our shared objective reality, or both.