Test and weigh; conspiracy theories and escaping the blogosphere
In a pleasant recent conversation with one of my chums, he made the comment that I had not been blogging of late, especially as the unusual things we are witnessing right now lend themselves to comment. I replied that I had but it was mostly to do with my current project, which was to write a book titled “Prophets of the Bible”. A blessing (for me) in this season of Covid-19 lockdown is by necessity there are many things in “normal” circumstances I might have been doing but I can’t now do. It has spurred me to do other, sometimes even more productive, stuff alongside writing my book: more Bible study, more prayer; less pontificating, less talk.
Yet, I continue to post on my Facebook page, sharing stuff other people have written that often challenge the official narrative. I do so with the caveat “test and weigh”, mindful few if anyone have all the answers, especially on the hot topic of the day – Covid-19, and the whys and wherefores of what do we do next. Even so, I have been challenged by well meaning friends, who counsel me that I ought to thoroughly check out what I post because of what they see as fake news etc., in case others stumble, and maybe they are right! There is always a need to adopt the “true, necessary and kind” test. But before we go further, it is worth noting “conspiracy theory” is a pejorative term, coined by the CIA and some say the corrupt US Deep State who murdered him, in order to deflect investigation of the true causes of JFK’s death, an event which changed the world forever, and those who propogate such “theories” are often vilified, sometimes rightly, sometimes not, and the real issue is one of truth.
Much as I would rather put the whole subject of conspiracy theories in this age of Corona to one side, since there are many others looking at it and maybe this is not the time, and get back to my not particularly controversial book, which I would like to think my Christian detractors will find helpful, I feel I need to address the subject, as people like me who are accused of pedaling conspiracy theories are being brought to task in some quarters of the Christian world, although welcomed in others. Part of my mantra, alongside being a gospel preaching, community activist, is to be a watchman on the wall (whose job when the term was couched in Old Testament times was to warn the people). Few would dispute there is a lot to watch, especially in these Covid-19 days, and it can be a full-time occupation as there is a lot to check out. The danger is it can take over your life and be a distraction from doing what one should: preaching the gospel, community activism and love thy neighbor.
Two of the “hit pieces” that have come my way, even if some think they nail the subject on its head are:
- Christians Are Not Immune to Conspiracy Theories
- Why Your Christian Friends and Family Members Are So Easily Fooled by Conspiracy Theories
I do not intend to dissect the two articles, partly because it will require more effort than I am prepared to give right now. But some response is needed as people like me are the ones being hit and labelled as embarassments etc. I feel I have some responsibility. I am mindful of the call “to maintain the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace” and while I feel I need to explain my position I don’t wish to force it on others. Valid criticism is a good thing and some of what was written is valid criticism. Those who pass on conspiracy theories need to take heed, although equally so do those who take the safe option, appear wise, accept the status quo, obey the government and so not lose face. It is easy to take sides and be part of the polarisation of opinion we now see. I admit to have looked at some such theories over recent years as well as seeing the backlash to my views on controversial subjects like Trump, Brexit, Populism, Immigration, Climate Change, Abortion, and so expect to get flak when putting my head over the parapet by speaking as I do. Now we have Covid-19 and with it many views on what is really going on, needed etc., often at odds with the official one, and sometimes, it should be admitted, at odds with each other, with we the public left wondering where the truth lies, but for now doing as they are told.
It would be rather naïve to ignore altogether concerns by those labelled conspiracy theorists, especially given “We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” 1John 5:19, and that there is more likely than not a small group of baddies that want to take over the world, aided and abetted by a cohort of useful idiots in postions of influence. If you have been trying to connect the dots as long as I have, you will know things are not what they seem and the questions that need asking are too often censored by the likes of Google and Facebook. I truly believe what we hear in the media does not give us the balanced or true view we need. I also feel because people are fearful, confused and misled, there needs to be needful correctives, although I recognize none of us have all the answers, we should be pointing people first and foremost to Christ. Narcissism, gnosticism, attention seeking etc. ought NOT feature, but putting one’s head above the parapet should.
While actions speak louder than words, there is a time to speak (as well as not) and if not me, then who? Ever in my mind is the image of those German Christians in World War 2 when singing in the church upped the sound to drown out the cries of those in the death trains that passed by. While the situation we are in is nothing like this one, the same danger is present – we could be allowing tyrants to flourish and allowing them to do so unchecked is NOT loving our neighbour. Sadly, we are being let down by many of our Christian leaders and we lack a prophetic voice in my view. While that could, should even, preclude speculation on origins, cures etc., it should be saying God is trying to get our attention and if the new normal is going to be better than the old one, we need to repent and call on Him. The socio-economic and mental health effects of the current emergency are huge, as are very real dangers to individual liberties. I sense with our current government approach to slowly get us out of lockdown, besides showing remarkably inept leadership may be fostering (intended or otherwise) a mindset that will accept absence of liberty as a price worth paying to escape “the virus” – and while we are not there quite yet – that is where the AntiChrist comes in.
Besides challenging my Christian detractors, and without bearing a false witness etc., I want to point out that many governments are following the advice of organisations like the WHO, which are corrupt and need to be questioned. The challenge we all face is knowing when to speak (or not) and what and, pertinently, when the official pushers of the “we follow the science” or what those in charge says is right as opposed to those unofficial, unwelcomed pushers of a different narrative, that may be just as well qualified, or who gravitate to “conspiracy theorists” of various merit, who come to different conclusions and are often censored and made to suffer for having the temerity to challenge the views of those who call the shots. While we should obey the government (unless it means we don’t obey God), pushing untrue conspiracy theories can be counter productive and harmful, not pushing those which happen to be true or challenging a suspect official narrative can be helpful and a necessary corrective, especially in today’s Corona age. As for us, we do well to “Test and Weigh”, “Watch and Pray” and follow Jesus our King in the cause of “truth, humility and justice” (Psalm 45:4). In the final analysis, it is Him we serve, and tell of to a needy world.