Civil War or War on Civilians?

“I admit that political polarization may bring it all to an end, we’re going to have a hung election and a civil war.” Bill Gates, September 2022

This is my third, and I hope last, article on the woeful condition of politics and “Christianity” in the United States. Earlier, I remarked with shock and sadness on the conservative Christians’ penchant for conspiracy theories. Later, under the influence of heterogeneous sources, I predicted the violence likely as a result of the November presidential election—but never thought anything like the violence of Jan. 6, 2021 would occur.

This article is personal. I suggest we all write something similar in our minds while we have time to think. A couple of disclaimers to let you know where I stand. First, I’m a man without a party. Or at least I haven’t found it. Show me a party that seeks to preserve the life of the unborn and the life of mother Earth (and the lives she includes), and I’ll sign up. Second, while I don’t consider myself a Christian, others might consider me so, because that term is broad enough to include the KKK and Desmond Tutu.

Civil War

January 6th was precipitated by months of President Trump suggesting the election would be stolen—at least as early as June, 2020. (He and his people eventually lost the vast majority of his court cases.)[1] Democracy in the United States as a result has gone from its typical oligarchy of plutocrats to a sickly system on life support.

Those who believe the 2020 election was stolen, really believe it. They live in a world of alternate media and alternate facts. Their horizons are filled with a fear of imminent government control, deep state control, loss of constitutional freedoms, property, and, to round things out, loss of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

No matter how they arrived there, they are deeply rooted in their perceptions. They think they are doing either the country or God (or both) a service. We know about 70% of Republicans still think the election was stolen.[2] I assume many who on a quiz would say, “Yes the election was stolen,” do not see the opinion as actionable, except perhaps to volunteer at their local polling place in the next election. So with an indefensible guess, I suppose about 40% of the population see themselves as intolerably robbed and persecuted.

Whatever the percentage of the US is convinced that their lives, property, and freedoms are being threatened by others, particularly Democrats—whether it be 40% or 70%—the situation is dire. Short of Donald Trump coming to his senses, i.e. having a true conversion (it happens), and pleading with his followers to disavow their allegiance to Trumpism, I see no end to the turmoil.

Think of hundreds of thousands of mostly armed people truly believing they and their families are about to lose their livelihood. Realize it is no stretch of the imagination to see them taking up arms against somebody. Long before Trump, stories have been circulating among Christians about the Beast taking control of their lives, robbing them of their freedom. Ignore the fact that homicide takes one closer to the Beast (whoever that/they may be), add to the older teachings the current Internet articles packed with conspiracy theories, including the most notorious and least substantial QAnon theory—and you have the ingredients for unbridled violence.

The truth is we are already in a civil war. Outside of Jan. 6, it is being fought with words and dollars right now. Even so, there is nothing close to the Pledge of Allegiance’s “one Nation indivisible.” The question is whether things will spill over to the streets, malls, schools, and churches (to name some leading sites of bloodshed in our country).[3]

War on Civilians

When I used to read about the American Civil War, I never could grasp how brothers could fight against brothers and fathers against sons. Now the possibility is palpable. But it is worse. The thing the Civil War had going for it was geography. The longest section of the Mason-Dixon line, drawn nearly 100 years before the Civil War, provided an approximate demarcation between the Southern slave states and the Northern free states. There were of course anomalies, but in general, a compass could help you figure out who to shoot.

Today, that orientation is not available. It might be easier to determine the targets by browser tracking cookies, dividing people according to their news sources…flag this one for INFOWARS and this one for Democracy Now!—and pity the investigative journalists and students trying to look into both sides.

No expert in the Red Scare, I predict lists will be made. Addresses will be collected. Web logs (here I am) will be scoured, noted, and added to lists. Intimidation will of course increase. We already know paramilitary groups are yearning for conflict. Several of the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers have already been indicted for their Jan. 6 sedition.

Violence cannot be guided by state boundaries, no matter how red some states and blue other states supposedly are. I’ve heard some assertions (by people touting the upcoming civil war) that it will take place on the county level. I live in a supposedly true blue county (Boulder, CO), but I assure you if some of the approximately 19.8 million automatic weapons in this country open fire in this county, they will definitely be killing many of their own.[4]

Whether occurring in this century, decade, or year, civil war will necessarily be war on civilians rather than simply by civilians. Perhaps some liberals are ponying up with their automatic rifles. Antifa might be. The majority of Democrats and liberals are not. They, after all, have the upper hand right now, and they in general have never been keen on their Second Amendment right to have a “well regulated Militia” except through the armed forces of the US.

Personal Response

The preceding preamble was necessary to stress that those who feel the US government is against them are numerous and dedicated to their cause. They will not be persuaded by argument or facts because they generally rely on conspiratorial arguments and alternate facts. They strike me as a force that can only extinguish itself like a giant wildfire that burns up its own fuel sources.[5]

The question, then, is what’s to be done? This is the part I urge everyone to compose for themselves in their minds.

What follows is what I hope I can hold onto. I will never be beholden to a conspiracy theorist, nor will I take arms against my enemies, let alone my confused friends. If I were to die at the hands of angry, deluded “patriots,” my blood would be on their hands and, frankly, I’d be delivered from their company.

What I put before my own eyes and the eyes of readers, if any have made it this far, is a Civilian Manifesto:

Always and everywhere, assume that those who differ from you are also human, that they will never change as a result of your coercion, bullying, or mockery, nor will they be able to see things your way unless they’ve come a long way on their own to squaring with reality, assuming you have come a long way, too.

Never, ever, play the God card unless you “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

Never claim the name of Christ unless you claim the hope of dying in a manner such as his: without reciprocating violence.

If you resort to violence, count the cost. Remember that violence dissolves differences, and that you will soon look just like your enemy.

Finally, remember that words kill, too. There are words that wound and words that heal. Take the higher ground.

And here I close as King Lear:

The weight of this sad time we must obey,
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.
The oldest have borne most; we that are young
Shall never see so much, nor live so long. 

 

____Footnotes____

[1] I’ve heard 61 of 62 losses, but the Wikipedia article on the topic sets it at 52 of 56 with 2 cases in progress. Dice it how you will, the legal case against the 2020 Presidential election result is extremely weak. It is weakened by many judges and officials appointed by or as a result of Donald Trump who declare there is no legal merit in the charges.

[2] From “Most Republicans still falsely believe Trump’s stolen election claims. Here are some reasons why”. Other sites from Poynter might differ slightly, and they might leave the “falsely” out of the title, but what sounds like an accusation of stubborn ignorance to outsiders remains a badge of honor among the majority of Republicans.

[3] Jan. 6 outruns all other events, but there was also the attempted kidnapping of the Governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, interrupted on October 8, 2020 by the FBI. And, newsflash, the husband of Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Speaker of the House, was attacked this morning, the assailant shouting, “Where is Nancy?” The “where is Nancy” smacking of politically motivated violence against the person who publicly tore up President Trumps State of the Union Address.

[4] The number is taken from Imagine another American Civil War, but this time in every state, on the NPR web site. The same article stresses that in 2020, Trump won in 2,588 counties, while Biden won in only 551 counties, albeit some of the larger counties.

[5] None of what I write or think belies a liking for Democrats in general. Nor does it exonerate them from being at times scheming and corrupt. They, however, did not contest the 2016 Presidential election results. I will always side with opinions that bear the closest resemblance to reality.

Publishing Info

This post was first published on: Oct 29, 2022 at 21:13. If this article is significantly updated, the publication date beneath the title may change in order to bring current posts to the top of the directory.

Christians and Conspiracy Theories

“Just because I’m paranoid,
doesn’t mean they are not after me”
We say this with a wink… and then glance over our shoulder

“Just because it’s a conspiracy theory,
doesn’t mean it’s not true”
We say this straight-faced… and then take another sip of Kool-Aid

This article’s focus is deliberately narrow: to explain to myself and perhaps to others how it is that so many politically and theologically conservative Christians entertain so many conspiracy theories. Following are a discussion of what’s so bad about Christians being conspiracy-theory prone, a definition of “conspiracy theory,” a short list of conspiracy-theory candidates, and a two-prong argument to explain the Christian proclivity.

The Christian Label and its Discontents

Several years ago I stopped calling myself a Christian, but not because I stopped believing in Jesus. On the contrary, I love Jesus but was being weighed down by the cultural and historical baggage of Christianity and the label “Christian” (which had lost its original meaning of “little Christ”). More than ever, I’m glad I no longer need defend the indefensible baggage many Christians tote around, one of the largest and most perplexing bags being the one packed with conspiracy theories.

That said, many of my friends do call themselves Christians and in varying degrees tote the conspiracy baggage. Many are untroubled by all this baggage and do an admirable job holding onto their faith in Jesus and being kind to their neighbor. While these Christians may be power lifters, they are doing a great injustice to the gospel with its commitment to truth. Continue reading “Christians and Conspiracy Theories”

Audio Versions of the Bible: What is Needlessly Wrong With Several

The Audio Version Problem

There’s a big problem with well-known, commercial audio versions of the Bible. Mobile versions, especially but not exclusively, present the listener with meaningless numbers instead the historical names of the books of the Bible, something analogous to seeing “City001” on a map instead of “New York City.” Continue reading “Audio Versions of the Bible: What is Needlessly Wrong With Several”

What’s Wrong with Audio Versions of the Bible

A newer version of this article can be found on Whole Heap Together here.

The Audio Version Problem

There’s a big problem with well-known, commercial (i.e. purchasable) audio versions of the Bible. Mobile versions, especially but not exclusively, present the listener with meaningless numbers instead the historical names of the books of the Bible, something analogous to seeing “City001” on a map instead of “New York City.” Continue reading “What’s Wrong with Audio Versions of the Bible”