“But the truth is, no matter how independent or influential you feel you are, the people you surround your self with will impact your future. All you have to do to test this statement is take a look back. You’ll likely discover that many of the things you now regret were done in the company of those you considered friends. Typically, we don’t get into trouble on our own. We usually have company.”
(p. 16, “Community: Pathway to progress”, North Point Ministries, 2008)
Okay, this is both patently false and presents an obstacle to the premise of this book, namely that the “community” is the the only effective vehicle for positive and righteous existence.
First, it is just not true that “typically, we don’t get into trouble on our own”. I think this can be unequivocally denied. Sure, we may be influenced by “peer pressure”, but we must make the decision to engage in behavior. If we have reached the age of reason and observe right and wrong by the understanding that since we are born for the express purpose of living, LIFE of SELF and OTHER is our greatest moral obligation. And to arrive at this conclusion takes nothing more than the cognitive ability to make the conceptual distinction between SELF and OTHER (other people, the environment). The point being: we are all on the hook for our choices and subsequent actions. “The devil made me do it” is not a reasonable explanation for why people commit evil acts. “It’s not my fault, its society/my parents/my company/my wife or husband/God did not give me the grace to perceive my sins (C.J. Mahany)” is nothing more than a full on abdication of our very lives. If we are not individually responsible for our choices, then we cannot have a rational definition of LIFE; that is, if we don’t really commit the acts we commit, because the impetus is traced to a causal force outside of us, then we admit that we don’t really live at all. We are all dead men walking. There is no US to us…no YOU to your life. And discussion about anything else is purely academic…irrelevant to functional reality.
And…ah….could it be that this is the very point this excerpt from “Community” is trying to make? I believe it is. YOU are never really to blame for your “sins”. It’s always your nature merely filling the vacuum that the group creates for it. So, while on one hand they will explain that you are evil, it isn’t because YOU decided to act on any independent or individual belief, as though you can know anything at all, or exist as an autonomous agent, but rather it is merely your nature, which is attracted to the evil influences of the collective like a positively charged particle is attracted to a negatively charged one; as the moon is drawn inexorably to the earth. The moon and particles don’t really THINK, they just fill the space created for them by the collective environment outside of them.
So, while on one hand the author(s) of this book attempts to appear sympathetic to your history of failure (for failure in the “orthodox” Christian metaphysic is utterly presumed) and absolute existential inadequacy and impotence (for even when you think you are a success you are a “spiritual” failure; and the “spiritual” is the only thing that matters, remember), what they are really prescribing is that same old bugaboo, the group metaphysic. This segment of the book merely reinforces the fact that according to their metaphysic, all relevant morality and existence is always a function of the group. “On our own” we don’t really possess any value, which means anything we do “on our own” or “in our own strength”, to proof-text the Bible, is meaningless and irrelevant, which means that we, “on our own” cannot really be described as existing at all.
And finally, I question whether or not the author(s) thought through the wisdom of inserting this section into the book. On its face, and to the less informed reader I would think that it appears to be nothing more than a rank contradiction to the efficacy and importance of the “community” so categorically subscribed. I mean, at first glance this is how I interpreted it. I thought, ‘Why advocate adherence to the collective and the hive mentality if trouble is best avoided by being alone?’
And then after a more careful examination of the paragraph and in light of the overall context of the book I realized what I already knew: that there is no such thing as alone in the group metaphysic these people believe in. Alone you have NO value; no meaning; no relevancy, and therefore no truth. Thus, alone cannot be defined as any manifestation of your existence, period, if this makes sense. YOU as a legitimate agent or even meaningful concept is categorically denied in Christianity today. There is only ever the collective. It’s just a matter of what collective into which you happen to find yourself integrated, since you WILL, as a matter of existential certainly, be fully integrated into a group, where you WILL be its direct extension. What the promoters of this book are doing is merely attempting to cull you from your “immoral” collective and bring you into their “moral” one. And who gets to make the distinction? Who gets to decide which group is the good one and which is the bad; and which we praise and which we waggle our fingers at and cry “shame!!”?
Not you. Not me. Not anyone IN the group, for the group doesn’t get to dictate its own definitions of, well…anything. The group is merely the group. Full of totally depraved windbags and assholes who together merely prove the metaphysical point: that the formal manifestation of the SELF is really the GROUP. And from this is illustrated the ethical point: It is in the group where your totally depravity attains relevancy and meaning (for the individual, total depravity is without any efficacy, as the individual cannot be defined as actually BEING anything at all). So, it is only via the group that people realize the actuality of their absolute sin nature; their full on rejection of God and their categorical commitment to works of evil. You do not attain any goodness from the group, is the point. No, the group is where the consequences of your total depravity are made manifest; made relevant, made fetid and offensive to God. The group must from that collective place be led…and by this what they really mean is compelled by FORCE, under the guise of “spiritual” authority (“Authority always equals FORCE”–John Immel).
For how can he who is totally depraved be led? Being led presumes a relationship where both parties are equally cognizant of the concepts used to communicate; where TRUTH by both parties is understood and reasonably arrived at via the inherent cognitive abilities of each; the understanding of the metaphysical singularity of SELF and the inherent right to pursue SELF, thus. The totally depraved man cannot actually think; cannot actually understand. His depravity is absolute (though many Christians say this isn’t true; they are either liars or they are ignorant…or both, as is often the case). Which means that he can make no distinction between right and wrong, truth or lie. He cannot conceptualize anything because he cannot even recognize himself or his world as being distinct from pure, infinite evil. Thus, and again, he must be forced…compelled by violence and fear into “God’s righteousness”, like an animal. Or worse, a devil.
And this, of course, I realized is exactly what this excerpt is arguing. The group ALWAYS leads you and me into debauchery. So why advocate a group at all then? Because the group is the introduction…the doorway into what they are really advocating, which is the same thing ALL collectivists advocate: the robbing and murder of the individual in service to the government. And this is most easily done when individuals are gathered. And by government I mean the authority of those who proclaim themselves, by themselves, to be the mediator between “god” (or whatever Primary Consciousness) and man. And in Christianity today who are these mediators?
The authority. The called. The pastors. The priests. The “men of God”.
And that’s why you see so many churches popping up in so many affluent areas of this country. Are you educationally or intellectually challenged? Lazy? Like to opine about this and that and the folks at the family gatherings are getting tired of and bored by your spluttering monologues and you endless rants about how much you hate liberals, and Obama, or the the moral failures of the youth in this culture, or how everyone is on their fucking phones all time and no one wants to have a conversation (when smartphones were actually invented so people and especially kids wouldn’t have to talk to your boring ass)…yes, are you this kind of person and desire a comfortable income with little to no effort?
Or even better, you want to get rich?
What do you do?
You start a church near rich people. It is literally as simple as that.
And when all the smoke and mirrors and spiritual piffle and Christanese buzzwords and pseudo-psychology and trite social commentary are removed, THAT’S really why this book was written. It’s not for you, it’s for them.