In the mid 1960’s Professor Marshall McLuhan noted that the, then new, medium of television was changing how people processed the data of their lives. The sequence of 5-second-long video shots and 20 second sound bites were re-programming our attention spans. His phrase was “the Medium is the Massage”, meaning that any medium works us over and kneads us into a format compatible with itself. Eventually our default setting is to see life through the eyes of that medium. The medium changes the eyes of our heart.
We may be living in a post-Christian culture but it's not a post-religious one. There are a few ‘godless’ religions plying their trade, in our midst, and the newest kid on the block is the religion of ‘Wokeism’. Wokeism is the child of 1970’s post-modern philosophy and its mission is to awaken people to, and pigeonhole them with, what it defines, as their social and digital sins. If the teachers of ‘Woke’ tar you with one or more of the ‘isms’ or ‘phobias’, from their list of unpardonable sins, your reward is your ongoing social suffering and shame. It is a religion with no mercy and with no possibility of forgiveness. Jesus has something to say about people who are in the burdening business. “You teachers [of Wokeism] are also in for trouble! You load people down with heavy burdens, but you won't lift a finger to help them carry the loads.” Luke 11:46.
There are stories of truth and stories of blame. In John chapter 9 Jesus and his disciples come across a man born blind and the disciples ask “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
In Luke 7:23 Jesus says: “And blessed is he whosoever shall not be scandalized in me.” Scandal comes from the Greek word skandalon which, in turn, comes from a term that means "to limp." What does a lame person resemble? To someone following a person limping it appears that that person is continually stumbling over his or her own shadow. A scandal is a stumbling block, it is an obstacle that impedes your way forward.
In Matthew 18:3 Jesus says: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” I have been observing my 18-month-old granddaughter as she starts to acquire language. It is a mysterious process, and her grasp of language will let her develop into the unique little soul that I already see glimpses of.
In the world of commercial software systems ‘scalability’ is of the utmost importance. For example, if you are going to structure your new business around an accounting and management system you would want to invest in one that will be scalable as your business grows in size and complexity. If the software that you purchased has worked seamlessly over the range of domains that you have grown through, you will have the satisfaction that you have chosen wisely.
The statement, “I’m spiritual but not religious” has a good curbside appeal but what is this house like inside? Is it the house of God? and what actually goes on, in there? There is a viral strain of the religious that can find a home in a whole range of human activities, including the Church. In 2021 we can now worship at secular, political and even “woke” religious altars. Religious structures are organized around the altar, the site of sacrifice, the place where the adherents of the religion are nourished. What is the main dish on the viral sacrificial menu? This sacrificial specializes in offering up the “innocent victim of the day”. Look at the child sacrifice of the Canaanite religion or the current woke “cancel culture” where you or I could unwittingly find ourselves being listed as the featured entrée on tomorrow’s menu. This dyslexic religion reads Hosea 6:6 backwards, for they hunger for sacrifice and not mercy.
In Matthew 9:11 the Pharisees ask Jesus’ disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” The Pharisees would make good disciples of the modern identity politics movement, which sees people only in terms of their group identity, for example by culture or race. Jesus is not a group identity kind of guy. In the Gospels we see that Jesus only engages with individuals.
Through the evangelistic efforts of the Church, we are encouraged to “invite Jesus into our heart”. For someone seriously contemplating such an invitation a pertinent question would be-What are the “terms and conditions” that should be attached to this invitation? Is our “heart” a type of spiritual “airbnB”, where Jesus stays for a while and just re-arranges the decor, in ways we would never have thought about? Or are there other options?
The night of Jesus’ arrest, on the Mount of Olives, blood was shed twice. Jesus sweat drops of blood and the servant of the High Priest’s blood was shed when Peter took his sword and cut off the man’s ear. Peter was part of a group of Jesus’ followers who had all shown up, complete with their swords. They had come to the garden, in warrior mode, which is the default mindset that we enter, when we are just “doing our duty”. A warrior culture organizes itself around the principle of the blood brotherhood, where each member willing to spill blood, in the pursuit of their common goal. They become possessed by a counterfeit clarity.