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The Age of Entitlement

Rod Dreher posted a piece reviewing The Age of Entitlement, by Christopher Caldwell.  He recommends the book and the dark, foreboding passages he quotes relative to what all this means to the future are things I agree with and write about here. It is a book I plan to soon read.

Dreher argues, “This is why, absent strong political and judicial action to protect individual rights, totalitarian mechanisms — government and private — for demolishing resistance to “civil rights,” as defined by progressives, are inevitable.”

Those words, “absent strong political and judicial action”. Are the words of the entire ‘conservative’ movement in my lifetime.  They are hollow, empty and feckless words in my observation.  They begin from a flawed premise and stand on a weak foundation. The Republic went wrong long before the 1960s and more laws nor court decisions - short of repealing a very large swath of cases - will fix things.

Joe Biden, as Dreher points out, the most moderate of all the Democratic candidates recently had this to say.

Biden

By implication, Biden means to use the full power of the Federal Republic, and the legal positivism it has come to embrace to see this through; your counter-worldview be damned, you be damned if you stand in opposition.

So, what of these strong political and judicial actions that Dreher suggests?  What can stand against the growing zeitgeist of absurdity - ideologies, and theories that deny the individual, deny truth, deny reality and in the end, rely only upon emotion and passion? When the very nature of metaphysical reality that was key to the development of Western Civilization, a Permanent Thing, is not only under attack but more alarmingly not even understood by many, how can politics or law change the direction?

More to the point, for there are many that would argue that legislation and the courts can save the culture.  There is something more fundamental.  How did we come to this?  Did it all really begin with poor implementation of good ideas in the 1960s?  Is the answer just to get back to the real intention of the Civil Rights laws?  Is it just that simple?

“First principles, Clarice. Simplicity. Read Marcus Aurelius. Of each particular thing, ask what is it in itself? What is its nature?” 

Perhaps to understand this we need to look beyond just the 1960s

The argument for and against right-reason began again in earnest in the West almost as soon as the Enlightenment began. Following a path from Immanuel Kant all the way down to the German School and eventually Postmodernism of the French School we can trace how good ideas were tainted and bad ideas were born.  Even Locke and Jefferson were polluted in portions of their writing and thought by bad ideas deriving from idealism and the German School. (The Rise of Absurdity in Western Philosophical and Political Views)

The Federalist borrowed some from Locke and much from Hobbes and leaned toward a Neoplatonic worldview in their vision of the American Republic. Thus, by the late 1780s, the seeds of the destruction of the Republic were already sewn. Those are polemic and dangerous words, not something spoken carelessly. It is also something simply not taken seriously by many, it confounds the entire American narrative.  Those objections, however, do not make it less true.

Of course, Federalism decisively won on the battlefield in the 1860s and the pragmatic reality is what we have in terms of government.  Legal positivism paved the way for progressive policies and laws to be implemented. Progressivism built momentum for a sort of community view of society.  This, combined with the emergence of Postmodern theory and philosophy created the era we now live in.

The ‘community’, or community of communities to take the Peter Drucker term for what has become identity politics, feels things about justice.  These feelings are easily implemented into policy, once the community has political power because we already set the stage for totalitarianism in 1861-1877 and followed it up by separating civil law from real justice through legal positivism.

The system, the one that we might call upon for strong political and judicial action was broken asunder long ago.  Taking power, enacting legislation or winning court cases in such a broken system would be flawed from the start - a totalitarianism of its own sort if one accepts that two vastly different worldviews now coexist alongside each other.

Lincoln, to some a conservative hero, set the standard that it is perfectly ok to suspend laws, make war against Americans and subjugate them over differences of opinion.  The Federalist Republic in the 1960s raised the stakes.  He essentially killed an entire opposing view of original intent and our founding. Our entire legal profession accepts, as fact, legal positivism and notions such as the incorporation doctrine.  The die is cast.

The very tools of totalitarianism are built right into the system, they have been growing since the early debates of the 1780s. At the root of it all is flawed ideology stemming from flawed philosophy. Once those that hold to the notion that there is no truth other than what the ‘community’ feels is fair they can implement totalitarianism under the rule of law Americans have allowed to become fact.

There is little left to stand in opposition to this.  Major protestant denominations are falling daily for elements of postmodern thought. The megachurch movement, built upon the notion of giving the community what it wants, will quickly turn to support this totalitarianism. That entire movement is built upon communitarianism, once those churches begin to fall, they will take the rest of authentic, organized Christianity with them.

Essentially this, the culture is lost, and the system of government was corrupted and tuned for future totalitarianism a long time ago.  All the keys and tools are right there for the taking.  There is little that can be done politically to turn the tide and only a few things that might slow it down.

Why I Write About the Megachurch

Or, Why I was Right About the Megachurch

I have never joined a megachurch. I have attended a couple several times. I have eight family members that have joined one. Of those eight only one still attends. Of the seven that left, three attended long enough to make their departure ‘interesting’ – more on that below.

First – perhaps see my definition of the megachurch movement so we are clear on what I am talking about. (Here is my problem with the megachurch movement if you want to get right to the point.)

My personal experience consists of attending regularly, but never joining, a large Baptist church in the 90s. It was what I define as a phase two megachurch, it was still Baptist and it required a pastor with a strong and attractive personality to grow large. Even though it was an early stage megachurch, I could not buy-in and join it, it was off to me. They had gone in deep for the Purpose Driven dribble. (my ever-comical nephew termed this place the Repentagon because of the shape of the large building they constructed)

the 2000s

I attended the megachurch that most of my family joined when I was home on leave from the Army. It was in those visits and in observing and conversing with my family that had joined that I began to have deep suspicions. Lastly, in an effort to find a church in the town I retired to my wife and I visited the local megachurch a few times – until the parking lot incident that made my suspicions click in my head. That is my experience.

Now

I attend a small, quiet church – that is my style, but that is not why I write against the megachurch movement.

Why

Why do I write about the megachurch? I saw first hand the experiences of my eight family members, how it affected their relationships with others and their sense of self and self-esteem. I had a shouting match one evening with one of them that screamed literal heresy at me, something they had come to hold as truth from the megachurch. I have seen the leaders of both the churches my family attended (and attends in one case) manipulate family dynamics, create divisions (parent wounds*) and use the power of position the church provides for personal benefit.

*Focusing on parent wounds creates divisions in families and demonstrates that the small-group, church, and the leaders are capable of helping where parents have failed – trust your leaders! It is a tool to exert control over kids. One particularly egregious, and perhaps nefarious megachurch pastor used parent wounds to attack preachers with dead Christian mentors, subtle deeds not creeds attack (another megachurch tendency).

First Impression

Basically, it all smelled wrong to me the first time I walked in, but a lot of my family was there so I was open-minded; but I researched, questioned and observed. I watched their sermons online from afar, looked at what was going on in other megachurches and observed the changes in my family. Each time one of them left, I debriefed them extensively. The story they all told after leaving was vastly different than the narrative they portrayed while there.

Around 2011 or 2012 I sat with a friend of mine, an Army Chaplain and a Baptist pastor and asked him if I should be concerned with what I was seeing. I love my brother, I mean him no harm in this but he was absolutely wrong in his response to me. He suggested that the Christian church goes through a great change every 500 years and this seeker-sensitive megachurch stuff was alright. I did not know at the time, perhaps he did not know, that 500-year idea came from a heretic named Phyllis Tickle and the Emergent Church. Brother if you are reading this you were wrong, perhaps you were deceived like so many others have been.

Deception indeed.

And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray.

Mathew 24

It is not my contention that all of the megachurches are evil and all pastors heretics. I do not argue that organized, denominational Christianity was not in a mess of its own making before this phenomenon began. I would not argue that the old way got things right.

I do contend, not just because I have witnessed it in some folks I love, but because I have looked around at the facts enough to now state as fact that the megachurch is more dangerous than any boring old baptist church from the 1980s ever could have or would have been. One was filled with apathy, the other perhaps increasing levels of apostasy.

Mine is not an argument about worship style nor music. I prefer one style but that is not my argument.

My argument is not about a conspiracy to take over the church. Not in the sense of an organized effort that reaches down into each and every megachurch. It is true there is a definite line from bad philosophy, to bad ideology, to people like Peter Drucker and the creation of a methodology that could be replicated franchise-style in the creation of megachurches**. However, because one can trace the bad ideas to their source is not the same as an organized conspiracy, do not confuse my argument for the former.

Conspiracies are not necessary, evil exists, and evil has been able to coordinate and combine its efforts. Deception is the primary weapon of evil. I am convinced the megachurch model Peter Drucker codified and has been replicated across America is dangerous, far more dangerous than the apathy it was created to replace.

Wondering who the heck Peter Drucker is and why he matters to this argument? Look here or better yet here, Resistance is Futile.

If you argue that my observation, my dataset is too limited and all independent megachurches are different and ‘independent’. I would ask you this. How did all those independent churches just spontaneously generate in the late 1990s and 2000s and yet have so much in common if they do not share some core methodology and techniques for formation? They claim to be relevant, different and cool, but there are some stunning similarities.

Their ‘starting out’ story is a little less original and less authentic than is oft-repeated.

And, certainly, not all have slipped into outright apostasy or heresy, but some big names among them certainly have and that is undeniable. Those big names came from the same methodological mold as the others, all from Druker’s model. All churches have some error, and megachurches should be no different – but; Sovereign Grace Church, Bethel, Perry Noble, Mark Driscoll, Steven Furtick and more than I care to name (all tied to the Leadership Network) seem to add evidence that pastors with too much control and not enough accountability are dangerous.

Surrendering to the community is dangerous. Reviving a rebranded form of shepherding (something recognized as apostasy years ago) is dangerous. Focusing on the emotion of religion instead of a deep understanding of theology is dangerous. Forcing loyalty through oaths, (membership covenants) that say you will follow the leaders of the Church and not speak out against the vision of the leaders is dangerous. Placing ‘service’ at the level of Justification, as a part of salvation, is a revival of the works heresy, a variation of Pelagianism – instead of, well Grace alone. Preaching from a weak translation of the Bible that is best used as a supplemental study guide. Preachers that work themselves into every sermon, because, relevant. Topically preaching ‘relevant’ stuff. The introduction of strange, and biblically absent words into all conversations (intentional, relational, authentic, etc.) – all dangerous and troubling.

All the phase three megachurches out there may not have slipped as far into heresy as Bethel, but they all do the things I just described.

Megachurch

The Shunning

I mentioned above that of my seven family members that left a megachurch, three had attended long enough to be invested deeply. When they left I observed a strange sort of fear and shame. For instance, they became physically and observably scared when in the presence, even if just in the same restaurant, with a member of the church. I discuss all of that in more detail in my associated posts, however, this realization and observation was enough to make me know that some of the other things I suspected were correct from the start.

My Assessment

When I combine the social control and manipulation techniques I have observed, with the heresy I have observed (justification by works, instead by Grace alone) and combine that with the publically available facts that lay out the map of the ideas that gave birth to this whole thing – my initial suspicions ten or so years ago make a lot of sense.

Something is rotten in Denmark!

See Also

Finally, if you are interested in how the philosophers that Drucker read came about their absurd ideas, look here The Rise of Absurdity in Western Philosophical and Political Views, follow a bad idea upstream long enough and you discover its source.

** I want to be super clear that I am not implying, nor do I believe most of the folks that have used the “Drucker Megachurch Franchise” template had ill intentions. Most of the folks that started these churches were GEN Xers, and we GEN Xers grew into adulthood with a lot of distrust of the things that were around us. Those of us that grew up in church saw a stale, ineffective church. We knew the Sunday talk and the weekly walk of many people.

I grew up in a very typical place that describes that. I was raised in Powedersville, near Greenville SC. As typical of the Southern Baptist Bible belt as you can get. I saw all the things that likely frustrated those that followed the Drucker plan.

I also do not believe the folks working in these churches as underling leaders have ill intentions, or at least they did not start out that way. There is however something corrupting when you place an ordinary man in a position of extreme power over others, young impressionable folks, and give him a soap-box to repeat the myth of himself that develops from that power. I have witnessed such people abuse their power in subtle ways.

These people did not mean evil, not all of them do overt evil and there are good things that derive from these churches. Most have zero understanding of the flawed philosophy that this movement came from and many of the underling leaders and junior pastors are not even formally trained in theology to equip them to recognize error.

On the whole, it was all a mistake, it has morphed into something very dangerous and it is, in my observed opinion, the single greatest existential threat to organized Christianity in America.

When you think of visiting one of these places, keep looking, find a Bible-believing place without all the communitarian trappings, apostasy and error.

_______________________________________

Follow me on Twitter if you want to learn more about this subject or to tell me I am wrong @onlyBarryLClark or take a gander at the tag for all post related to the Megachurch

The Megachurch Defined

I recently have been laying out some of the history, philosophy and personalities that are central to or played a key role in giving birth to the megachurch movement. I think it is appropriate to define the term ‘megachurch’ so that there is not any confusion in my use of the word. After all, if someone is going to claim and provide evidence that there is a problem with something, that person should be, in megachurch newspeak, get ‘real clear, and be intentional and authentic’ in the word usage.

Some might say, well Jesus started the first megachurch of course when he preached the Sermon on the Mount. They had the first-century version of the coffee shop in the lobby even with loaves of bread and fish. Of course, that was a sermon, not a congregation nor a church. It dispersed after the event.

Some will say there have been big churches before, even in the 1800s there were examples of some US churches with thousands of congregants. This is true. Those were anomalies and certainly not part of a movement. They happened in some places for independent reasons. When I speak of the megachurch I am not talking about things that have occurred seldom and independently because of that church’s unique set of circumstances.

What Do I Mean by Megachurch?

My definition of the megachurch movement is churches formed and organized upon the corporate business-model way of ‘doing church’ espoused by Peter Drucker beginning in the 1990s and promulgated by The Leadership Network and others.

Deniers

Members of megachurches and underling leaders in such churches will likely and invariably deny that any of this definition could be true – they have never heard of Peter Drucker after all. Besides, their church is independent! Nevermind that they share very similar techniques and styles to all the other ‘independent’ megachurches and they all started ‘spontaneously generating’ around the same time. There is nothing to deny. Christianity Today, Forbes and several national newspapers ran articles throughout the 1990s and 2000s talking about Drucker and his work with megachurches, megachurch pastors and The Leadership Network. The Leadership Network, an organization that every megachurch senior pastor has had interaction with claims proudly that they would not exist without Drucker. There is nothing to deny, it is public record.

The megachurch movement has gone through three phases:

Organic, Cult of Personality Phase

Robert Schuller and his Crystal Cathedral, certainly a mega-church in terms of size, was more of an inspiration for rather than part of the megachurch movement. Schuller grew his congregation by offering sermons that his audience wanted, therapeutic, self-help theology in a cool new format, drive up to the church, at the start. Schuller was not the sole inspiration, but he is representative of the examples in the early 199os. These generated questions in the minds of men like Rick Warren and Peter Drucker and brought them together. As I laid out in The Problem with the Megachurch, Drucker had a vision for creating communities of communities as a way to solve societal and economic programs and by the 1990s he had turned his focus to churches as a means to achieve this.

Drucker, often called the father of modern management, undoubtedly realized two facts related to the examples of Bakker, Swaggert, Schuller, and others. First, much of their success was based upon individual charisma and personality. Second, they gave their audience what they wanted – in the first case emotion, in the second validation – bu no matter the product served, it was what people wanted to buy. Those were the elements of the mega-church examples Drucker wanted to emulate. He needed a methodology and techniques that eliminated the need for the personality factor.

Drucker’s 1984 novel The Last of All Possible Worlds And, The Temptation to Do Good finds a young man conversing with his priest about his decision to enter business with his father instead of the church. The priest is left to wonder if management techniques might not be exactly what the church needs.

His books The New Realities: in Government and Politics, in Economics and Business, in Society and World View (1989) followed by Managing the Nonprofit Organization: Practices and Principles (1990) set the initial parameters for how he saw nonprofits and specifically churches changing society.

In 1984, Bob Buford, Fred Smith, Jr. and Gayle Carpenter started Leadership Network as a way of trying to help the newly emerging wave of pastors who were breaking worship attendance barriers of 1,000 and sometimes 2,000 or more. During his business years, Buford had spent countless hours talking with and seeking guidance from Peter Drucker, the father of modern management, and he now tapped into Drucker’s guidance for how best to frame Leadership Network. He later remarked that Leadership Network would not be the same—in fact, might not exist at all—were it not for Peter Drucker. (Buford later developed that 23-year mentoring relationship into a book, Drucker and Me.)

Leadership Network started in 1984 with a budget of $5,000, and held its first forum with 55 churches that had attendance of 800 and higher. By 2017 the organization was annually serving more than 400 larger churches through in-person events which included more than 1,500 leaders. Online conferences reached upwards of 25,000, and Leadership Network Advance subscriptions exceeded 50,000. (LN)

Before Bob Buford and Fred Smith Jr. co-founded Leadership Network, Buford consulted Drucker for advice. As a testimony to Drucker’s profound influence on Leadership Network, Buford has observed, “Peter Drucker is the ‘intellectual father’ of most all that guides my approach to philanthropy. I’ve long since ceased trying to determine what thoughts are mine and which come from Peter.”

In 1997, Atlantic Monthly magazine editor Jack Beatty interviewed Buford for two hours for a book titled, The World According to Peter Drucker. The entire volume contained only six words from Buford: “He’s the brains, I’m the legs.”

Leadership Network would not be the same–in fact, might not exist at all -were it not for Peter Drucker – their words (LN)

Baptist Model Phase

Rick Warren was an early disciple and partner of Petter Drucker. His Purpose Driven Church in 1995 introduced terminology, in proto-form, that became megachurch newspeak. The entire SBC was adversely affected by Warren, in ways some only began to realize at the SBC convention in 2019. SBC churches, large and small became to some degree megachurch minded, Sunday school classes followed various 40-day programs. Some churches grew and literally became ‘mega’, others just served to place mega ideas in future megachurch congregants.

Many of the Baptist megachurches began dumping the word Baptist from their name. Many Baptist pastors participated in and participate in Leadership Network activities. However, in the final analysis, the megachurch model within the framework of the Baptist denomination still requires a strong pastoral personality. Baptists still vote on elders and deacons. In order to execute Druker’s Leadership Principle in a Baptist church, the pastor has to be a strong, dynamic and attractive personality.

Hipster Phase

A good methodology is replicable across a spectrum of problems, independent of the people involved. Drucker’s vision for an improved society consisting of communities of communities could not heavily rely on strong personalities to repeat. The Leadership Network, by capturing successful lessons-learned, tactics and techniques and making resources available to aspiring megachurches and megachurch pastors created such a methodology.

No longer is a strong central personality required. The ‘cumbersome’ barriers to ‘doing church’ such as voting on elders and the board are eliminated in the new model. A decently charismatic leader, supporting by a closely selected board and an ethos throughout the organization to follow the leadership plan will do just fine.

In the third phase of the megachurch, an operation can be started from scratch, using the template and the methodology developed by Druckerite organizations – using methods that are proven to work. Just like a franchise.

Many megachurches, now with thousands of members, began with a small core, a core that is still often heavily represented on the small hand-selected board. The methodology does not require a rock-star senior pastor, it only requires a guy that is capable enough to act like one. Many claim to not even have a senior pastor, just a self-selecting board of elders and a ‘main pastor’. It does not require a board of world-changers and innovators, just a few folks smart enough to implement a proven methodology. It is basically a turn-key franchise. You only need a little bit of money to start it, for the mailing list. A couple of people with adequate social intelligence and personal appeal to build some momentum and access to the template. It only requires a few leaders that can be ‘cool and authentic’ by following a plan and copying others – ironic. It also requires a lot of followers that buy into the cool act and fail to see that their independent, unique, authentic megachurch is really a lot like all the others.

In short, the megachurch movement is very much a franchise.

See Also

** I want to be super clear that I am not implying, nor do I believe most of the folks that have used the “Drucker Megachurch Franchise” template had ill intentions. Most of the folks that started these churches were GEN Xers, and we GEN Xers grew into adulthood with a lot of distrust of the things that were around us. Those of us that grew up in church saw a stale, ineffective church. We knew the Sunday talk and the weekly walk of many people.

I grew up in a very typical place that describes that. I was raised in Powedersville, near Greenville SC. As typical of the Southern Baptist Bible belt as you can get. I saw all the things that likely frustrated those that followed the Drucker plan.

I also do not believe the folks working in these churches as underling leaders have ill intentions, or at least they did not start out that way. There is however something corrupting when you place an ordinary man in a position of extreme power over others, young impressionable folks, and give him a soap-box to repeat the myth of himself that develops from that power. I have witnessed such people, abuse their power in subtle ways.

These people did not mean evil, not all of them do overt evil and there are good things that derive from these churches. Most have zero understanding of the flawed philosophy that this movement came from and many of the underling leaders are not even formally trained in theology to recognize error.

On the whole, it was all a mistake, it has morphed into something very dangerous and it is, in my observed opinion, the single greatest existential threat to organized Christianity in America.

When you think of visiting one of these places, keep looking, find a Bible-believing place without all the communitarian trappings, apostasy and error.

_______________________________________

Follow me on Twitter if you want to learn more about this subject or to tell me I am wrong @onlyBarryLClark or take a gander at the tag for all post related to the Megachurch

The Megachurch Explained

Chris Rosebrough turned me on to some understanding of something I knew to be wrong for several years, yet I was unable to put it into a coherent argument. I have observed numerous troubling things, read troubling things but the nature of the problem illuded me. My recent post on The Problem with the Megachurch began with his presentation below. It first manifested in The Rise of Absurdity in Western Philosophical and Political Views.

Watch his presentation! (Follow along PowerPoint here)

See More

** I want to be super clear that I am not implying, nor do I believe most of the folks that have used the “Drucker Megachurch Franchise” template had ill intentions. Most of the folks that started these churches were GEN Xers, and we GEN Xers grew into adulthood with a lot of distrust of the things that were around us. Those of us that grew up in church saw a stale, ineffective church. We knew the Sunday talk and the weekly walk of many people.

I grew up in a very typical place that describes that. I was raised in Powedersville, near Greenville SC. As typical of the Southern Baptist Bible belt as you can get. I saw all the things that likely frustrated those that followed the Drucker plan.

I also do not believe the folks working in these churches as underling leaders have ill intentions, or at least they did not start out that way. There is however something corrupting when you place an ordinary man in a position of extreme power over others, young impressionable folks, and give him a soap-box to repeat the myth of himself that develops from that power. I have witnessed such people, abuse their power in subtle ways.

These people did not mean evil, not all of them do overt evil and there are good things that derive from these churches. Most have zero understanding of the flawed philosophy that this movement came from and many of the underling leaders are not even formally trained in theology to recognize error.

On the whole, it was all a mistake, it has morphed into something very dangerous and it is, in my observed opinion, the single greatest existential threat to organized Christianity in America.

When you think of visiting one of these places, keep looking, find a Bible-believing place without all the communitarian trappings, apostasy and error.

_______________________________________

Follow me on Twitter if you want to learn more about this subject or to tell me I am wrong @onlyBarryLClark or take a gander at the tag for all post related to the Megachurch

The Problem With the Megachurch

(Easier to read PDF version here)

I have, intermittently and occasionally, made references, usually as half-serious jabs, about the seeker-sensitive megachurch movement. It is, however, not a simple joke. There are many absurd aspects to the entire movement, and oftentimes one can only but laugh at absurdity.  That notwithstanding, this is all dangerous.

First a caveat. I will not suggest that the megachurch movement all by itself is the thing that will destroy organized Christianity in the US. The Protestant denominations were doing a fine job of that themselves.  The Presbyterians and the Methodist succumbed to liberal theology and social gospel a long time ago, recent splits within the Presbyterian church and the inevitable Methodist split notwithstanding. The Baptist recovered solid theology in the conservative reformation of the 70s and 80s but error began to slip back in with pop authors and strange 40-day programs. Attendance in all of those churches was falling, by the 1990s they seemed to be dying, stale and irrelevant.

I am not here to argue that the old way is The Way because it was the old way.  I understand how the American church and worship styles changed in the major Awakenings. I may personally prefer liturgy, solemnity old hymns and order but that is just personal.  My argument against the megachurch movement is not based upon the style of worship I prefer.

Summary (very short version):  The big brain (Peter Drucker) behind the megachurch movement was a man that grew up in Austria exposed to thinkers and philosophers of or influenced by a the branch of philosophy that gave the world nihilism, fascism, communism, nihilism, and socialism.  In his own writing, he expressed his belief that mankind needed a new way, that both communism and capitalism were insufficient. His concept to achieve this was communities of communities, lead by a leader and who lead leaders, all following a plan. He believed the community was more important than the individual. He believed essentially that fascism went wrong when it failed to account for the spiritual.

After attempting to implement his plan in American industry through ‘plant communities’ he focused his efforts on the churches.  Drucker was key in the formation and growth of the dominant organization that helps megachurches grow and provides templates and plans to megachurch pastors.

At the heart of all of this is the notion that the individual is less important than the community, that leaders must be followed, that the community must be served.

Fascist you say?

The ‘F’ word is a bit overused in our common dialogue.  It often is just a word applied to anyone else that tells someone they cannot do what they want or perhaps an insult applied to a conservative on Twitter.  It is overused, and that is a shame, because The Third Way, fascism is a real ideology.  People will argue that Drucker wrote a critique of the Nazis in 1936 before leaving Austria and that his website states he was neither a fascist nor a Nazi.  I would agree that Drucker thought both the Italian Fascist and German Nazis got it all wrong and that because of the stigma attached to the word Drucker would never claim or want to be labeled as a Fascist.  This, however, does not change the fact that his ideas, particularly about the leader model, the individual, and community and societal order were close to fascist thinking.  He grew up in a connected home, his father had as dinner guest the same intellectuals that the fascist looked to. He read the same foundational philosophers and agreed with their thoughts. Drucker was certainly of the same intellectual cloth as the original fascist thinkers. That this is a true statement no more makes him a Nazi or aligns him with what the Germans and Italians did to the ideology than to claim that Bernie Sanders, a socialist, should be directly associated with Stalin’s purges.  To point out the ideological foundation of Drucker’s thought as he conceived of the megachurch method is simply to honestly assess the source of the ideas.

Perhaps Drucker, seeing flaws in capitalism and communism and the flaws in how fascism was implemented in Europe, while still holding to the core ideas that formed fascism, sought a Fourth Way.  An improved and rebranded fascism that included the spiritual.  His very words hint at that without using the ‘F’ word.

Proof in the Pudding

Since we overuse fascism, and we have become so skeptical of ideas and information that contradicts what we have come to believe as knowledge, I suggest the following. Look directly at how the megachurches behave and are organized.  Despite the independence of them all, they are fascinatingly similar in several areas. They are similar because they share the techniques and methods passed along by The Leadership Network, the organization Drucker so influenced.

Leader Driven:  Drucker called these ‘pastoral churches’, he argued that the main pastor should be more of a leader than a minister.  He called this the Leadership Principle, but it has much in common with the fuhrer principle from Germany - a central leader that casts the vision and layers of subordinate leaders that manage, execute and get the people to act. As ‘independent’ churches most megachurches are ultimately accountable to only themselves - in practical application, this means the senior pastor and his small specially selected and appointed board.

There is much less transparency in the megachurch than most traditional denominations.  The congregation does not vote on big issues or on the leadership.  Accounting and finances are generally presented in much less detail.  Many megachurch members have never met their senior pastor, he is certainly not a minister to them.

The leader principle extends all the way to the personal (relational in MC speak) level from senior pastor to satellite pastors to community pastors and finally small-group leaders.

It sounds like solid organizational design and nothing more you say. I mean, after all, Drucker was called the ‘father of modern management” you would expect such in an organization he helped shape, no harm there, right?  Maybe.

Community: The small-group forms the basis of the organization.  All major decisions of the individual should be taken to the small-group.  Megachurches teach that it is a sin of pride to take on major decisions outside of community. The small-group is the central feature of the megachurch, not the individual.  All movement, progress, and momentum begins in the small-group.  People share their dark secrets and confession to their small-group, items that are often used as subtle tools of control when necessary. Participation in the small-group is a foundational requirement.

Community is above family in the megachurch, the family is subordinate to the community just as the individual. That is unless you are in the inner circle. The children’s and teenager’s small-groups feature youngster ‘leaders’ leading kids through discussions of ‘parent wounds’, demonstrating that the group has answers and help where the family fails.  Husbands and wives are not immune to meddling in their marital business.

Those that leave the megachurch seldom say anything publicly that is bad about their former church, and many exhibit an irrational level of fear and anxiety when they come into contact with their former leaders. There is a degree of social control present that is difficult to articulate, but easy to observe when you look.

Service: In the megachurch service, oftentimes service done for the church itself, not for directly for those outside, comes near to a doctrinal position.  I have heard megachurch people claim in anger than an old grandma that lived a faithful Christian life could not be a Christian because she does not ‘serve’.  This phenomenon is close to, if it has not already become, heresy.

Oaths:  One does not simply join a megachurch, you sign a contract, a membership covenant.  All of them contain variations of the following (just two sections from a random contract):

Unity

Guard my tongue from destructive criticism and gossip, submit to the discipline of the church elders and appointed leaders, and work for the good of all members.

Participation

Regularly participate in the life of […] Church by attending weekly worship services, engage in biblical community, and serve those within and outside the church.

Members sign this, and sometimes the church requires members to sign again at random intervals, for reasons.  On the face of it these seem like commonsensical items.  Preachers have admonished congregants for gossiping for years. Of course, a person ought to participate.  However, the meanings of this covenant, as evidenced by how the megachurch interprets their meanings are very different than innocent words.

  • Don’t agree with a plan or a program?  Shut up or get disciplined for not working in community to follow God’s plan.
  • Refuse to date the right person, make the ‘right’ life choices or live in community, then you agree to face discipline from folks you did not elect.
  • Refuse to ‘serve’, in community?  See above, you agree to face discipline.

NewSpeak:  Megachurches have almost universally adopted terms that are routinely peppered into almost every sentence and conversation.  ‘Intentional’, ‘relational’, ‘authentic’ and others. These terms, what folks schooled in megachurch theology would claim are extracted Biblical concepts, because the words certainly do not exist in any accurate translation of the Bible. Most megachurch members can explain these terms much more fluently than theological concepts. This is all very disturbing and perhaps dangerous. It seems a form of language control. At the very least it demonstrates the theological weakness of the megachurch teaching method. At worst, it is a form of language conformity.

Finally,

The Parking Lot:  If you are unconvinced with the subtle ties to fascism in the megachurch go visit one and attempt to just willy-nilly go park where you want. You will find a group of men, those too old to ‘serve’ inside anymore lined up to tell you exactly where to go and park from the moment you turn off the public road.  Yes, I get it, the mega in megachurch means a lot of people.  Sure, this seems efficient, got it.  Hitler made the trains run on time too - I do not want to take the analogy too far, but fascism is designed for efficiency and compliance. There is more to the parking lot than even the parking lot guys understand.

The Bottom-line.  I am not saying megachurch pastors are evil, or have bad intent, not on the whole.  I am not suggesting their small board meetings are conducted in dark rooms with nefarious intentions.  I am suggesting that at the root of the ideology and methodology there exists the elements of bad philosophy, bad philosophy that has in other cases gone very wrong.  Group-think, language conformity, oaths, control, lack of transparency combined with shallow topic theology is not Biblical Christianity.

The megachurch was born of Continental philosophical anti-rationalism. In the megachurch this translates into:

  • Anti-Doctrinalism (theologically shallow)
  • Deeds NOT Creeds (service sneaks in here as a form of Justification)
  • Head knowledge vs. Heart Knowledge (emotion based, feeling it instead of knowing it; entertainment)
  • Unity of the Faith Community (community over the individual and families)

 

Drukerism and the Megachurch

The Rise of Absurdity in Western Philosophical and Political Views

Peter Drucker, essentially the key founder of the megachurch movement, grew up exposed to the great thinkers of the German school (Continental Philosophy) during his youth in Austria.  In his own writing, he expressed a view that community was more important than the individual (Neoplatonism) and an affinity for Schopenhauer and Kierkegaard. He expressed ideas about the failures of capitalism and communism and suggested a third way, in words that echoed that of Italian Fascist Giovanni Gentile. The creation of a new “noneconomic society” was Drucker’s lifelong project. His life’s work was focused on finding a way to build community structures, focused on the common good that could change society. Part of his plan was based upon the leadership principle, taken from the German model of the fuhrer principle, one leader cast the vision and subordinate leaders ensure the community executes it. Essentially Drucker found both capitalism and socialism to be flawed, they could not solve poverty. He thought Fascism had gone wrong because it ignored the spiritual. He believed a noneconomic system built upon communities within communities accountable to a leader who was accountable to a leader was the answer, an improved version of Fascism.

Drucker tried to implement his ideas in industry in America.  He is perhaps most famous for being the creator of modern management.  He found that factories were insufficient to implement his community of communities plan as people simply moved too often.

In 1990 he wrote Managing the Nonprofit Organization: Practices and Principles and changed his focus from business to nonprofits, specifically churches and more specifically what he called pastoral churches. In a Forbes interview in the 90’s, he said, "The community … needs a community center. … I'm not talking religion now, I'm talking society. There is no other institution in the American community that could be the center." he told Forbes that pastoral megachurches are "surely the most important social phenomenon in American society in the last thirty years." Drucker advised “you must change the primary role of pastor from minister to leader”, harkening back to the leadership (fuhrer) principle. (Rosebrough)

The Leadership Network, an organization that claims to mentor thousands of pastors and hundreds of churches states on their website, “Leadership Network would not be the same–in fact, might not exist at all - were it not for Peter Drucker”. (Network, 2005) A quick search of their site, conference attendees and participants demonstrates it is difficult to find any randomly selected megachurch pastor that has not participated in some way. (Steinfels, 2005) The corporate, business model of ‘doing church’ was created by Peter Drucker, because he saw it as a way to implement his vision.

The next time your megachurch pastor or one of his underlings relays the story of how it all started with just a handful in someone’s house or a bar, remember Drucker.  A few of them probably did start it, and maybe they met in a bar or a house, but it was much more like a board meeting than a very small church hoping to grow to thousands in a few years.  That little groups read Drucker, participated in The Leadership Network, did market research and bought a mailing list.  It was a lot less authentic, much more programmatic and planned than the organic story people recall so fondly.

So, what of these churches that the Drukerites have helped build, what are they really all about.  Firstly, they are anti-rational, emotional rather than reasoned.  Heart-knowledge over head-knowledge. Deeds over creeds. There is no messy theology or doctrine to scare you away or confuse, two thousand years of Christian thought and writing out the window. Secondly, but perhaps most importantly, it is about the collective, not you.  Everything is done in community, decisions, confession, service, discipline. Everything follows the plan, the plan from the guy on the big screen you probably have never met.

Community, service to the community, a leadership plan and everyone on board with the plan. For many it begins in the parking lot during a visit, there are people there to tell you exactly where to park - getting people on board with the plan early in the experience.  If you join you will be assigned to a small group, so will your kids. The small group is where small furhers help ensure the plan and the community are taken care of.  Your small group is, of course, a member of a larger community, the satellite campus, with another underling leader.  You see your main leader on the large screen but he never minsters to anyone, most never meet him.  To join, you were probably required to sign a membership covenant, one that says you will submit to disciple and follow the leaders.  Major life choices must be brought to the community.  Your children will be pulled away from you as they are forced to talk about ‘parent wound’ in their small group to their leader that is barely past being a kid themselves.  The family is an impediment to the collective, it will be praised and talked about but in reality, it is subordinate. You may come to believe that service to the community somehow relates to your salvation. You will notice that everyone speaks in code, peppering sentences with authentic, intentional and relational, and of course community. Basically, once you join you become part of the collective and give up being part of yourself.

If you leave the church, you will be shamed and ostracized. Most that leave never say anything bad publicly about the church or their experience. The community still has a hold and still instills fear of shunning on them.

None of that meshes very well with authentic, orthodox, genuine Christianity and that is because it does not.  Very little of what megachurches focus most of their efforts on is biblical Christianity.  This is not to say that many Christians do not attend these churches, nor that the leaders did not have good intentions when they started out. However, power corrupts, and the power from a community focused on the community, with leaders accountable to nobody is pretty intoxicating.  In the last few years some notable megachurch leaders have fallen, and some entire churches of thousands have collapsed overnight.

In some few cases, megachurches have slipped into outright and atrocious heresy. The December 2019 Bethel, raise Olive from the dead tragedy comes to mind.  Oddly enough, even after outright heresy and apostasy like that groups like The Gospel Coalition, the 9s, 9Mark and the Leadership Network fail to disavow them.  Every megachurch still associated with the Drukerites is guilty by association with that tragic heresy related to that little dead girl and her family.

Megachurches in Drukerite model are the fastest-growing segment of Christianity in America.  The leaders of these churches are accountable to nobody but their small hand-picked boards.  Nobody is there to ensure they maintain any sort of orthodoxy in doctrine or theology - they have dispensed with all that just as the Postmoderns have gotten rid of all the parts of modernity and history that confound them.

Drucker thought a better, more spiritual version of fascism, with communities of communities, was the future for mankind and he worked to see that through, churches, megachurches were his vehicle.  One does not have to be around one of these operations long, not with your eyes open, looking past the fog machine and disco lights, to see authoritarian behavior. Reason tells anyone that walks in that something is not right - they keep you by suspending reason and playing to emotion.

Left unchecked, particularly considering the collapse of all the other protestant denominations, it is not hard to see, absent divine intervention, how within ten years there will be much Christianity left in any of these churches if they can hold out 10 years, without accountability and built upon bad ideology, there is no way they can survive 20.

See Chris Rosebrough presentation (follow along PowerPoint here)

 

Network, L. (n.d.). Drucker’s Impact On Leadership Network. Retrieved from https://leadnet.org/druckers-impact-on-leadership-network/

Rosebrough, C. (n.d.). Resistance is Futile. Retrieved from http://004f597.netsolhost.com/fftf/ResistanceisFutile.pdf

Steinfels, P. (2005). A Man’s Spiritual Journey From Kierkegaard to General Motors. New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/19/us/a-mans-spiritual-journey-from-kierkegaard-to-general-motors.html

Northam’s High-Value Target List Team

Virginia’s Governor Northam, perhaps in response to so many Virginia counties passing a resolution stating country police forces and sheriff departments will not enforce any laws related to unconstitutional gun confiscation has taken a lesson from the War on Terror and brought it home.

He is asking for the formation of an 18 man team, and $4.8 million dollars (see page 23 for the funding of the team) to equip and fund said team for the purpose of enforcing state laws related to gun confiscation. (Washington Examiner)

Let me explain why this is a problem. Regular folks assume that there are some good people in law enforcement, and based upon the number of sheriffs across Virginia and other states that have publically stood up lately to say they would not violate the constitution, this seems true. Most Americans believe the National Guard would not be a good option to enforce gun confiscation, many Soldiers and leaders would resist, and this is probably also true.

To get this done, Northam would need people he could trust to do it, ‘special’ people that are treated special, given special equipment, special perks, allowed to grow facial hair, all that – getting an idea of what I am talking about yet? He wants to build a small special operations force, essentially soldiers instead of law enforcement officers, that will do his will without concern for morality or legality.

You say an 18 person team could never confiscate all the weapons Northam wants to ban. Sure, not all at once. They do not need to. All of the ‘offenders’ would be placed on a ‘target list’, intelligence packets created, hasty planning conducted on the evening’s targets and after say midnight or so the team would launch in a geographic area, hitting perhaps six homes a night. It would be all very efficient, fast, and as violent as the team thought they needed to make it in order to quickly hit all the targets on the list before dawn. This would go on night after night…

Most ordinary people would get the message pretty quickly – you cannot stop these guys from entering your home, shooting your dogs, pushing around your wife and trashing your house – try and they will shoot you and move on. I do not care who you are, one guy or four guys cannot stop a well-trained and efficient team practiced in forced entry and clearance procedures. They pick the time, they have the tactical advantage and they have the numbers and firepower. Try and stop them and you die.

The target list would organically shrink pretty quickly. Ordinary people would get the picture and reevaluate their life choices and give up the banned guns. Those few that decided to hold out would remain on the list until their time in the lottery came up one evening. When I was around guys that did this sort of work we called those sorts “deadenders”. Get it? The target was basically dead before the door was breached.

Look, this is dangerous for a bunch of reasons. Recruiting young fellows that want to be ‘heroic’ and are willing to do nasty and unconstitutional things in order to be special is flawed from the beginning. Once teams like this get rolling, night after night of kicking in doors, they begin to believe they are special, and their targets, become just that “targets”- not humans, with families, lives and rights.

There are just too many wolves out there pretending to be sheepdogs, guys that would jump at the chance to join Northam’s new kill squad if it meant they got to be special, wear tacticool stuff and call themselves an elite ‘operator’. Throw enough money and perks at trash and the trash will form a long line to join up.

Here is the thing, the people that advised Northam on this brilliant plan already know what I just said above. They learned this in a warzone, and they know the implications, yet, it is on the table for use in the US. There is no mistake or oversight here, this is intentional and it shows intent. Northam is literally willing to form a small army and invade and quarter them in Virginian’s homes to achieve his desires. Yes quarter, this squad of soldiers will occupy a home as long as they see fit to find justification for being there.

If this is the way he and those around him think I worry about what might occur come Monday.

Nobody anywhere is really “anti-gun”. Anyone that claims they do really means they believe that guns should only be held by the nice, trustable, and moral government. After all, the government would need those guns to actually take everyone else’s guns and to keep everyone in line. Elites and powerful people would ‘need’ those guns for their protective staff to keep the rabble away. When a person says they are anti-gun or for gun control they are saying they think the government is moral, ethical and trustable and everyone else is not to be trusted.

That sort of thinking did not work in the Soviet Union, Germany, Venezuala or the Ameican Plains.

Northam is not anti-gun. He needs the guns and his special HVT ‘kill squad’ to enforce policy. He simply expects everyone to trust him and government. This looks like a test run, for the color revolution these people will run on us this year. maybe they want to force the traditionalist to act first…

See also: Second Amendment and From Progressivism to Authoritarianism

The Second Amendment

In the narrative of an ongoing and progressively elaborating cultural war, the 2nd Amendment is perhaps one of the last remain bastions of conservatives and traditionalists. It is a term, concept and fact of law fraught with division, misunderstanding, slander, misrepresentation, hyperbole and discord.

There are, perhaps some facts, that are seldom spoken out loud, but are nonetheless true. Most supporters of gun-rights would agree with the following, privately if not publically:

  1. The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms was the last check and balance written into the Constitution against tyranny.
  2. The Second Amendment is ultimately the only real power behind any of the other items in the Bill of Rights.
  3. No government ever created by man is immune from the judgment of the ruled, up to and including armed rebellion.

By historical example, a plain reading of the original founders and an honest application of common-sense, no rational thinking person can deny those three items. We certainly as people do not want and have demonstrated throughout history not to want to resort to such drastic measures. No moral, thinking person believes that revolution or violence over tolerable issues is acceptable. Likewise, no honest person can deny a circumstance where government, any government, could devolve into tyranny to such a degree that rebellion was not acceptable, even if we ourselves would prefer not to participate, we can imagine scenarios where people would be justified in using violence. To deny that statement would be intellectually dishonest. Yet, many ignore these realities and attempt to build a counter-narrative.

The counter-narrative always begins with the one-off, the crazy person with a gun example or statistics of what happens when criminals use guns. It is tragic when a criminal or a crazy person uses a gun to do violence. It is likewise tragic when someone gets hacked to death with a machete in West Africa or stabbed on a London bridge. Crazy people and criminals killing people is a tragedy, but that is not the issue.

When arguments about gun statistics and what crazies and criminals do grow boring the left turns to another narrative. The radicals, so detached from historical reality, would paint gun owners as extremest, waiting for a revolution, hoping to set things right with a gun. Behind every long gun is a white supremacist or a neo-nazi their story goes. All this while virtually ignoring leftist violence.

Let’s look at what Americans that believe in gun ownership and also believe that the right to keep and bear arms is the last defense of tyranny have NOT done.

  • Southerners, when occupied by Federal troops did not mount an insurrection.
  • Paleoconservative intellectuals in the 1930s, recognizing the New Deal as socialism and eventual tyranny, did not write and speak for the common man to march on Washington with granddaddy’s shotgun.
  • When occupied by federalized troops in the 1960s southern Americans did not resort to the gun to maintain their States’ sovereignty.
  • Since 1972 many Americans have viewed and still view abortion as murder, yet baptist Churches never formed militias to fight a baby-killing regime.
  • In the 1990’s many people believed the Clinton administration took federal policing too far, killing people at Ruby Ridge and Waco, yet there was no armed revolt.
  • Nobody formed groups and took up arms when we learned our government was spying on our email and phone calls without warrants.

If the narrative, repeated so often by dishonest mainstream media and radical leftist, that “right-wingers” are waiting on a moment to rise up is true, why has it not happened? The Declaration of Independence from Great Britain named 27 reasons for the declaration, some of them are trivial by comparison some that might be posited today by Americans against the Federal government, yet we do not rebel. Why? If the liberal narrative is to believe this boogaloo should have already have started and been completed by now.

It is simple, anyone that is rational, logical and moral and believes that the Second Amendment is the last resort against tyranny sees it precisely like that, the last resort. In ancient Rome, the Rubicon river served as a physical location by which tyranny might be measured. In the modern US, we do not have a physical river, but people know it has to be something of a serious if figurative place, not something to be bandied about and called upon carelessly. People know revolutions generally end poorly, and violence is costly. Believing a thing is a right and being willing to go to the extreme of exercising that right are miles apart. The patience, restraint, civility, and citizenship demonstrated by ordinary gun-owning Americans speaks volumes against the leftist narrative that guns in the hands of Americans are dangerous.

None of that is to say that crazy and unhinged people have not and will not act on the items above. However, ordinary, normal people do not and have not and it is those people that the left smears with their narrative.

There have been examples of Americans that believed that violence was a last resort and chose to use that last resort as an option

  • The Whiskey Rebellion over taxes
  • John Brown over his view of abolition
  • Southerners in defense of their states
  • The Plains Indians after seeing treaties broken

There are also examples of Americans peacefully protesting with weapons to show resolve. in 1967 armed Black Panthers entered the California statehouse during a protest. Obviously, not to shoot people, they made it into the legislative chambers in session. Also, not in violation of the law, open carry was legal. They went in armed to show resolve to their protest that they believed were going unheard. It was a way to state “we are serious”. Can there be a more direct statement of resolve to power? Nobody was shot and nobody charged with a crime.

If all of this is true, why does the current governor of Virginia believe that after months of inflammatory rhetoric it is in the best interest of the social good and societal order to disarm protestors next week at a pro-gun rally? If he does this and he and the state legislature follow it up with draconian gun laws and law enforcement sit by or actively participate in disarming citizens both next Monday and after these laws become fact what does he believe will occur?

Will this become the American Rubicon? America being more divided than any time since 1850 and the nation engulfed in impeachment proceedings do his actions make sense?

I do not suspect most ordinary Americans will react in the way the left seems to fear, and perhaps they already know that. All of their claims to the contrary fail to address historical facts.

However, if this all proceeds the way Northam has set in motion he will certainly embolden some lone wolves and disaffected souls to action, he will radicalize some small number. Unfortunately, there will be blood if he proceeds along the path he has begun. At this point, I cannot even say that I believe he and those of like-mind do not already know that – a lone crazy or two acting out gives them more justification to proceed.

Perhaps it is time to just throw up our hands and surrender. The radicals have won every other stage of the cultural war and transformed America into a proto-socialist, proto-dystopian, areligious shadow of the former Republic. If the Second Amendment was intended to be a final bulwark to save everything else, and all else is essentially gone, it almost makes no sense to fight, figuratively or literally, for the 2nd Amendment.

Between a dysfunctional Washington, everyone beginning in January to receive an endless stream of tax bills in the mail combined with our general discord and dissatisfaction with governemnt, these shenanigans in Virginia bode ill. I suspect the next two months will be much more significant in American history than many now realize.

see also

Northam’s High-Value Target List Team ; From Radical Progressivism to Authoritarianism

It Only Takes One; A Peak at the Authoritarianism to Come

There are still good people, many, like the sheriff in the video below. The fat lady ain’t singing yet, but those that oppose what America was founded to be have become embolden and are demonstrating they are willing to incite violence and use violence to achieve their goals.

Look! There is Jackson standing like a Stonewall! Let us determine to die here today and we will conquer, Rally behind the Virginians!

General Bernard Bee (SC)

Stand like a stone wall Virginians!

It Only Takes One

I just returned from Washington, DC. This is the first time I have visited the city as a tourist. There is still much to process. On the ride back I pondered current events, the culture and the way ahead and I was left with thoughts similar to Benedict Carter below.

Nothing makes sense, yet it all makes sense. Everything that is so disordered makes perfect sense if you accept that there is a worldview out there, running things, influencing others and attacking things it has not yet dominated, a worldview so different and opposed to all I have come to know and believe that I sometimes fail to see it at the root of things. It is so alien.

For example, driving through Virginia I could not help but wonder what has become of the home of Washington, Jefferson, Henry, and Lee. How could Virginia in one week revive the dead ERA, an amendment that is, on one hand, innocuous and unnecessary and on the other complex and dangerous in its potential interpretation and at the same time contrive an assault on basic property rights and liberty?

Let us leave aside the ERA for now and focus on this entire anti-gun situation that has been building over the last couple of months. I posted back in December that these events were just a peek at the authoritarianism and totalitarianism to come. Governor Northam’s declaration of a State of Emergency yesterday and the banning of guns is yet another step is ratcheting up the stakes.

Some will argue that the arrest of three folks that reportedly had ties to neo-Nazi groups and also reportedly had plans to go to Virginia to perform violence vindicates Northam. I say that is bunk. There is not a “right-wing” extremist group in the US that is not infiltrated in some way by an FBI asset. The FBI knew all along about these three, if the stories are correct, they were never a valid threat. What becomes of that story and those three was not and is not at issue, it is not the point.

Northam has twisted his executive power to ban guns at emergency shelters into banning them from the public square. Open-carry and concealed carry are legal in Virginia. Upping the rhetoric, striking first, and shoving his fist in the face of ordinary Americans that value property rights and liberty will only make the situation worse.

Next Monday thousands of patriotic, liberty-minded Virginians plan to assemble peacefully at the State’s capital to send a message to their government. Under their rights and the law they plan on being armed. This is certainly not the first time liberty-minded Americans have exercised their first amendment rights by shouldering their second amendment tools. For instance in 1967 armed members of the Black Panthers protested inside the California statehouse in Sacramento, not to perform violence, but to demonstrate resolve. If Americans cannot protest peacefully, and demonstrate their seriousness by carrying their arms, this leaves few options if their protests are unheard. For some, it will lead to violence out of frustration and apathy.

Maninstream media and the radical left have already captured the narrative of this event. They have equated it with white nationalism and Charlottesville. They long ago painted the narrative of Charlottesville through one lens, one act, and one perspective, leaving the likes of Antifa innocent in their eyes. So too with the planned event of next Monday.

It only takes one. disenchanted, confused lone wolf to turn this into something it never had to be.

If by violating the law, his powers and all common-sense Northam succeeds in disarming the protestors and then proceeds to ignore their protests it is not inconceivable that some lone actor will act. In that case, it will rest upon Northam, his soul shall bear the cost.

This is all avoidable. If Northam comes to his senses (doubtful), if law enforcement refuses to carry out his orders (they will not refuse), if Antifa stays away and does not incite violence (they will not), if the MSM would simple tell this story as it is as opposed to through a radical prism. This might be resolved.

Virginia right now is a big deal.

Iran: The Long-Term

As we await POTUS’ speech to the nation this morning I think there are some things we can know, and others we can reasonably suspect.

First, looking at the general reaction on social media, for and against, statist and haters, there seems to be few that understand what this conflict really is. It is asymmetric, it is not WWIII and cannot be (unless some vastly remote and unlikely set of circumstances play out and that is as likely as snow in Miami).

Asymmetric warfare can describe a conflict in which the resources of two belligerents differ in essence and, in the struggle, interact and attempt to exploit each other’s characteristic weaknesses. In asymmetric warfare, the smaller opponent picks targets, measures action by cost versus gain and above all else crafts operations to ensure it remains in the fight. It requires realism and rationalism and patience. Iran has demonstrated again and again, and specifically last night, that it is capable and willing to play the long game.

Image

For instance, the satellite imagery above from the al-Assad airbase shows that Iranian missiles clearly missed the areas that look to be CHUs (containerized housing units). We now know that the Iranians informed the Iraqis before the attack, knowing full well the Iraqis would tell the Americans. In this way, Iran was fairly certain that troops would have time to seek shelter. We can conclude that this was a saving face response for Iran, they reacted, they were able to claim heavy casualties in their national media, satisfying their populace. They did not kill US soldiers, and apparently not even any Iraqis, therefore it was only a minor escalation.

For Iran, this was strategic, patient and measured. They acted, saved face and put the ball in the US court. This does not mean in the Iranian mind this conflict is over, it simply means that the leadership in Iran is smart enough not to escalate so much as to force a decisive engagement that they cannot win. They will live to fight another day.

Their next actions will be just as measured, whether through proxies or direct action.

If Iran now awaits a US response what might that be?

As reported yesterday, the US has repositioned B-52s to Diego Garcia

By my assessment 5th FLeet has at a minimum seven platforms afloat capable of launching Tomahawk missiles. Certainly, the US could launch a robust cruise missile response, but that would likely be overkill in the optics of international affairs at this point. It would also certainly not be enough to destroy Iranian capability, it would be, just like the Iranian attack a message.

A message will not change the perspective of Iran. They believe, rather firmly, that concession or weakness will lead to regime change efforts. They likely see no option to pull back, a message will not deter them at this point. For the first time in centuries, the Persians are poised to regain ascendancy in the region, this is a do or die time for them. A message will not deter them.

I suspect if Trump is determined to force the issue he will use patience and build forces and force Iran to act next, and only strike when he has sufficient power in the region. We will likely hear Trump proclaim that we are willing to leave but we are showing force in the short-term and that Iran should not act. We shall see.

Update: 11:42 am

based upon the content of POTUS’ speech this seems to have been predictable last evening.

Social media and the MSM will bash him, left and right, but this seemed to me to be perhaps his greatest moment, and I am neither a fan nor a hater. Knee-jerk launching a bunch of missiles would have been the easy answer, this path took patience and wisdom.

Look at Me

I have been conducting a bit of research, watching a lot of mega-church pastor’s sermons, and I have noticed a trend that the Babylon Bee nailed recently in a satirical story of a preacher that placed himself in the middle of a sermon about election.

Churchgoers were impressed by Vickery’s theological illustration and his general ability to always make himself look good in his messages.

“Some Sundays, I’ll admit, I have no idea how he’s going to end up making himself look great, cool, popular, important, or heroic. Especially with this one—I was thinking, ‘How is Pastor Chuck going to make himself the man in a message on election?’ I mean, it’s election,” said church member Becky Lenhardt, adding that despite her doubts, somehow he was able to pull it off.

“I can’t wait until next Sunday to see how he’ll become the hero of a sermon on creation,” she added.

I have come to the conclusion, after watching dozens of videos from various mega-church pastors, that this is pretty much par for the course. I suspect they would be incapable of preaching a funeral or a wedding without performing the verbal equivalent of photo-bombing.

This sort of behavior is closely related to the story of the worship leader that took 16 hours to explain to his congregation why he selected a particular song for that morning and what it meant to him. Me, me, look at me.

Satire is a pretty good way of addressing the absurd and getting after a reality that makes no sense. I thought I was alone in this observation of crass interposition but apparently not.