“Because of your sins you were sold;
because of your transgressions your mother was sent away.” (Isaiah 50:1B)
Christians in America, have we already been ‘sold’ for our sins?
Okay: America is not the new Israel and the contracts God made with Israel don’t apply to us 100%. We are a nation with a lot of Christians; with laws and institutions that reflect that reality. But God is always active in history and the principles drawn from the Bible will have bearing on what happens to us.
Many Christians have a sense that empires decline in correlation with the decline in public virtue. Christians are especially attached to this idea because it was how God dealt with Israel. Israel repents: God saves them and gives them freedom. Israel sins: God sells them to foreign invaders. So we American Christians somberly push against decline.
But what if we have already been sold?
We fear Islamic terrorists overrunning our borders. We fear a Russian nuclear winter. We fear our eventual displacement as the world’s economic leader. Those on the Right fear being run by the United Nations. We fear these things will overtake us because we have been bad, because we are murderous, lustful, lazy, haughty, thieving–fill in the blank with your own sins.
But who is to say we need a Nebuchadnezzar to come from the outside and enslave us? What if we have already been sold?
Never mind the possible rigging of elections. These days, Americans just hope for a candidate who is slightly less interested in working against them than the other one. That’s a sad state of State affairs and we know it.
Speak to a Libertarian friend about banking policy and debt slavery. Doesn’t it seem inherently wrong to you that everything important you do or buy (cars, education, weddings, houses) puts you into a level of debt that takes years or decades to repay–that this looks more like debt slavery than the playing out of an economic theory?
Speak to a progressive friend about our police state. About the wars we fight having nothing to do with our own defense. About the growing income inequality gap and our lack of social mobility. Are we being policed at Orwellian levels? Are we sending our sons to die for the interests of corporate overlords? Is the American dream a propaganda tool to keep us in our places? We are so used to seeing signs of their reality, these ideas have become cliches.
We complain about the government in America but, for a few moments, let’s actually entertain the idea that we are not in our own country, that we have no real control over its governance: that we are a captive population.
Entertain the idea that Nebuchadnezzar’s people grew up in New York, or Brussels or London. They’re running the banks, lobbying firms, Congress, media outlets and any other seats of power that decide what to do with us ‘Americans.’ Entertain the idea that the POTUS and your local representatives in Congress are just Nebuchadnezzar’s PR firm, that the half-measures they discuss implementing on your behalf and then somehow never implement: amount to subterfuge, propaganda, entertainment.
Entertain that we have already been conquered, that the walls protecting our proverbial Jerusalem (savings, homes, real wages, political self-determination, we own less and more of what we do is criminal) have been demolished and we stand defeated in a foreigner’s country. We spend our days indebted to banks and paying ever larger portions of our income in tribute to our financial and political rulers. We spend our lives in martial defense of their interests. We spend our attention and time occupied by their calculated propaganda.
Christians, for the most part, are working from the premise that America is bad off, but if we engage and fight it out in the culture, in politics, if revival comes, if we show enough charity, we just might restore America. But what if there is no America to restore? What if the country isn’t bad off as a result of corruption or decay, but has been conquered by insiders. What if the continued insistence on America as a nation is a useful fiction for those conquerors?
I can’t convince you of this if you didn’t already have your suspicions. If you’re stuck in the Trump/Clinton routine or lamenting the lack of a strong third party candidate, you are still invested in the idea that America is real and that she is yours. But, if you believe like me that America is no longer our country, what do we do about it?
1: VOTE…Those same rulers who run the country and never seem to do so on our behalf are the ones telling us to vote. It can’t be that effective a method for regaining our country if they want us to do it. Seems more like a way for them to convince us we are still in control.
2: REVOLUTION…How many drones you got? How many nuclear bombs? The people they’d send to fight you would be your own sons. And what would we rally around? Property rights? Equal protection under the law? Real social justice? End the Fed? Anti-NSA? We’ve been trained to self-segregate via consumer habits, creeds, color etc.,You would get a few militias under various flags bombed out of existence and repainted in death as the enemy.
3: JESUS SHRUGGED…render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. The less we have to do with Caesar, the less we will have to render. I like to call it “attrition through divestment.” If we disengage from politics, from consumerism, from the entertainment/media complex, from public institutions, we can lessen their power, their reign over us.
“If America could be, once again, a nation of self-reliant farmers, craftsmen, hunters, ranchers, and artists, then the rich would have little power to dominate others. Neither to serve nor to rule: That was the American dream.” Edward Abbey
Christians balk at this idea because it seems we are hiding from the world. I think we can do all of these things and still know our neighbors, go out into the community, have an impact and a voice in the public sphere. What we should be doing is disentangling ourselves from the World (big W.) Here, off the top of my head, is a list of suggestions.
- BUY way LESS stuff. Eat out less. Find a way around Walmart. Grow, make, and trade as much as you can. Buy used before new. We complain about transnational corporations running the world well…who funds them? We do. People like to boycott when Nike is caught with sweatshops but a boycott is like when a wife catches her husband cheating for the third time and makes him sleep on the couch for a week: not an adequate response.
- UNPLUG. I am writing this on a computer of course and using an online platform and sharing on another online platform. But, to the degree we can unplug from the Google/Apple/Facebook/Hollywood/AP narrative that runs our country, we will free up the coinage of our eyes and ears to be ‘rendered unto God.’ Let us approach technology and entertainment as picky scavengers. Of course we don’t want to live as Luddites but also don’t want the momentum of technological advancement to be predicated on a system of slavery and mindless consumerism, on entertainment and addiction.
- WORK LESS, on the grid at least. Barter or trade when you can. Work non-traditional jobs uninvolved with the income tax system. Legally of course. Live more humble lifestyles (refer to 1 and 2) so that you don’t need to work as intensely within ‘the system.’
- GET OUT OF DEBT. Our whole economy seems to be built on debt. Homeowners, college grads, shopaholics, the U.S. government (well, taxpayers because those elected officials aren’t paying it!) run on debt. Get out. I know that’s what my family’s trying to do.
- GET CHURCHED. Of all the things you consciously divest yourself of, invest the same in the Church. Offer the church (by church, I mean fellow believers in whatever form they choose to assemble) your labor, your money, your hospitality, your ear. Seek story, beauty, and understanding of the world (news) from the body of Christ. Partner with your fellow believers in stewarding whatever resources God has given you. Use those to bless the unsaved world around you.
- ANY IDEAS: In what way do you see believers entangled with the world and propping up sinful institutions/foreign rulers?