Decent and in Order

My mama was an accomplished communicator; with a raised eyebrow or disapproving glance she was able to convey paragraphs. It was she who taught me there is a right and a wrong way to do things, and woe betide me if I strayed off that path. I think her favorite scripture was “Let everything be done decently and in order.”

School Girl Carol School Girl Carol

One of the accepted activities was church attendance. Even though she did not attend religiously—she came to faith in her later years—it was good for me, and was a societal norm. So when I had children of my own, to be the best mother I could be, I took my boys to church. They were taught about obedience, authority, being law-abiding, and that work was a good and expected thing. Going to jail, taking drugs, disobeying your parents were BAD things.

But things have changed somewhat since those days. Christianity, and people who adhere to it are now looked upon as the enemy, their beliefs questioned, challenged, criminalized. Our culture today would brand me an unfit parent for taking my children to church, exposing them to an Absolute, who declares He makes the rules. Funny about that. They are all employed, tax-payers, law-abiding contributors to society. What did I do wrong?

Increasingly we read reports of parents being arrested and their children removed from the home because someone somewhere disapproved of the freedom the children displayed when they walked to the store All By Themselves! Home-schoolers are harassed even though the children consistently test better than average across the board.

It would appear that the thing feared by society in general is any independent thinking, outside the control of governmental powers. To stand up in one’s opinions is to invite serious consequences from those who have great ability to enforce compliance. Unlike my mama’s effective eyebrow, they have the machinery of a legal and legislative system to bring people to their knees. My question: will this mean things are done decently and in order, with contributing citizens as a result?

Or something far worse?


The waitress for our table was extolling a shrimp dish they offered. “O, no thanks,” I said, looking like I didn’t want to be poisoned. “You can’t eat shrimp?”  Her expression indicated she thought I was very odd. “Too bad. I’m so sorry!” Although I assured her I had lived many happy and satisfying years without shrimp, she walked away shaking her head, unconvinced.

In the same way, when I say that I have not turned on the TV in months, I am looked at as being really odd. I don’t fit the norm. How can I live or enjoy life without chillin’ in front of the tube? Odd, indeed. I know there are those who have the set on almost 24/7, who eat, sleep, baby sit the children and make love by its flickering light. But five minutes of its noise, its subliminal message, is all it takes to jangle my nerves and put me on edge.

Being outside the norm in today’s society immediately makes me suspect. And a bit scary.  We all like to sort people into known groups, things we can understand. Anyone who falls outside our classification system is therefore an unknown, and the unknown makes us nervous.

Since the advent of the television era, we have been captivated by watching stories or drama, whether fictional or news events, unfold before our eyes. Over time it became possible to tell stories with fewer and fewer words, creating and resolving an issue in a 30 second commercial. Gradually, our community attention span has dropped down from reasoned essays to short sound bites. Now if a video clip is longer than five minutes, we tend to skim right by. Too much trouble. Reading fell by the wayside as TV has consumed more of our time. “Read through three paragraphs describing the Norwegian countryside? Don’t have time. Just show me a picture.”

Much more is lost by the fall-off in reading than simply less library usage. Being acclimated to the picture story, we don’t have to think; the thinking has been done for us by those who filmed and directed the camera or drawing board. As an author paints a scene with his word brush, readers engage his or her mind with their own imaginations, developing their own ideas along the way. When I read about a fish breaking the pond surface in pursuit of a fly, I bring my own experiences and history to bear, seeing in mind’s eye something that may be a blend of two different locales, something I have co-created with the writer. But when we watch it on TV we don’t have to think; the pond is there before us. In effect, having a steady flow of pictorial input removes all need to exercise the mind or process ideas. 

Spoon fed pictures and input lead in short time to a habit of no thinking. There is no exercising of process needed. We become accustomed to the lazy mind, taking in without realizing it the thoughts and beliefs of those who prepare the input. In no time “they” have become the controllers, and we, the unwashed, conditioned public, are the controlled. A society so conditioned is then easily led like lemmings to the nearest cliff.

I would rather be odd, thank you.


This nation, place of my birth and maturing, has been hijacked. Deep in back rooms, behind the lock of electronic devices or even armed guards, evil designs are being conceived, hatched and released. Beyond the knowing of the average citizen, an inner group has moved into power external to the elective process. Away from scrutiny of public eye, power brokers make decisions which affect every part of our lives. Their agenda is contrary to what is the common virtue or standard held by the majority. Avoiding the light like any troglodyte in a cave, their work of influence continues to our harm while John Q. Citizen goes about his busy, grocery shopping, baby-birthing, ordinary life.

Covert operations are carried out by Americans which, if known by the public would be totally opposed at every level. As some of this evil work begins to come to the world’s awareness, we have become hated, and with good reason. Some of this evil is sponsored by the federal government; some of it is outside of government, either elected or bureaucratic.

The reach of these men is beyond borders. Their goal is global in scope. To achieve a world that is nicely under control means the removal of millions who “stress” the planet by their presence on it. The undesirable millions. The uneducated consumers of resources. This includes, by definition, everyone who is not “sustainable,’ every defective, “useless” person,” every older person. The Elite will rule; the rest will be controlled, incarcerated or removed. Read: annihilated.

It might be possible to trace this movement back to the colleges of the 60s or the Bilderbergers, considered evil by some segments of society. At this point, it matters not. What is important is recognition of evil among us, working to destroy the fabric of the nation from within. Every loss of personal freedom, no matter how insignificant it seems, is another step down into the tyranny of bondage. Every “you need this for the country’s safety” directive weakens the body like a poison pill. We are being herded sheep-like into behavior that 50 years ago would have been totally abhorrent.

So, what next? Continued silence and acquiescence? Dancing and partying while Rome burns? Blood in the streets? Is Evil going to triumph over Good? The future is today. Our actions, our raised voices are required lest we all be marched off to eternal silence. God won His victory over evil at the bloody cross. Now it is our turn.

It’s a Puzzle

Really, it is a puzzle, without an answer at the back of the book. Why is it that people – men, women, you and I – proclaim a love for freedom, and yet retreat so quickly to rules and regulations, the “oughts and shoulds” of religious thinking? This applies to much more than religion as it is popularly defined; it also operates in other areas of community. Even Calvin and Hobbes in their tree house have a club with officers, titles, rules – and the exclusion of slimy girls!

The Bible does not say that it was for religion that Christ set us free. It is for freedom!

To answer my own question, there are several factors I can see operating in people. One is man-pleasing with its Janus face of the fear of man. To defy the norm is risky business, often leading to ostracism and rejection. To be cut off from friendship or even the lesser position of acceptance by the community is too great a price for many to pay. We all want the cozy feeling of being included and if that requires doing or being like everyone else, so be it. You measure up to my standards, we’re buds. The moment you genuflect when I don’t, or hold a differing opinion about celebrating Christmas, we’re done. How you regard our relationship then drives your behavior, even if it removes some freedom to be who you are.

Is there anyone who can truthfully say he has never accommodated (read: altered) his natural instincts or actions in order to remain on good terms with people in his sphere of influence? Polite society does require a certain level of accommodation to those around us, of course.  We all learn there are certain no-go areas with friends or co-workers, subjecting and controlling our own selves or opinions in order to maintain relationship. Yet continually submerging who we are makes us become a man-pleaser with no identity of our own. Ultimately, we are what we think. If what we think is kept suppressed while reflecting only that which we think will please others, we become a mirror to them, and invisible to the world.

Sad, isn’t it, when following the rules, the “oughts” of society in order to be accepted, we lose the very thing we are seeking: acceptance for our person-hood. Desiring to be known and liked, we hide so that no one truly knows who we are.

Another reason people flee from freedom to rules and regulations is that it is easier to learn and follow the rules than it is to work out the challenges of life and relationships that freedom carries. Just tell me what to do and we are good. That way I don’t have to think. I don’t have to make tough decisions. I’ll just follow the group and I will be “in.” Someone else can take the blame for a bad decision. Those who stick their necks out get hurt. Not me. I don’t want to get shot at.

The desire for safety drives the engine right into obscurity and mediocrity. Control. Loss of freedom to be as we have been created to be. Herein lies tension: The freedom to be me, as in “Watch out, world, here I come!” or “The world is a scary, rejecting place so I will stuff myself, hiding behind my well-crafted facade.” Therefore, I am not true to myself. Shakespeare said it well, “To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, that thou canst not then be false to any man.”

Freedom is work. It is not license which leads to anarchy, but is truly earned by maturing in responsibility to self, family and community. Freedom willingly subjects itself to rules of order and process – “No Parking,” “The line forms here,” “Turn off all phones during the performance.” Yet Freedom does not get pushed into non-being because of fear. It is truly revealed by the man or woman who understands his or her true identity and is good with that.

Indeed, watch out, world, if people begin to get free. The spirit of control, the spirit of religion keep people in bondage through fear. Fear of being cast into outer darkness, ostracized by the community. Fear of condemnation. Isolation. When confronted with Freedom, those spirits react strongly, “Crucify Him!” “Off with their heads!” As every politician’s first job is to get re-elected, so the controlling powers’ main job is keep in control. The rise of Freedom in a person is thus highly threatening to them. They will exert every effort to squash that outburst of freedom that springs up. But Freedom, by its very nature, cannot be subservient to powers of control, and must therefore resist to the uttermost.

Human beings have been granted free will. You can choose to become who you truly are, resisting control of ungodly constraints, or you can choose to go along with the masses, in lock step with those around you, losing your identity and your freedom.

It’s your choice. Choose wrongly, and it may be the last free thing you do.


o thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.
o thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.

Who’s In Control Here?

Two recent blogs have raised the topics of control and submission to authority.

This one – opened a large can of worms addressing “Wives, respect your husbands.” At last count, it has generated 1,876 comments. The dialog has been intense, revealing much pain and disfunction in marriage. It has also brought those with a strong religious spirit out of the woodwork. These latter wield scripture like a shillelagh, quoting Greek word meanings, and older interpreters of the Word to justify, and this is a quote, the subjugation of the wife to the husband in all things. Happily there are a few sane voices who have a broader, deeper view of the “Christ life,” but they are almost lost in the flurry of exchanges lobbed from behind the ramparts of self-righteousness or wounded-ness. Many see no problem with the obvious control of one person’s life by another.

The other blog (Internet, March 4) was occasioned by the revelation of Bill Gothard’s continuing sexual impropriety, all the while teaching the importance of submitting to leadership both in and outside of the family. Many of the respondents recalled having attended the Institute of Basic Youth Conflicts which was all the rage among evangelical and charismatic Christians in the Seventies and Eighties. Gothard taught an authoritarian structure of obedience and submission to authority, describing a series of umbrellas with God on top, the man and his umbrella below that, and the mother’s umbrella shielding the children at the bottom. Woe unto you if you walked out from the protection of those umbrellas! It was described as a safety structure; few saw it for the authoritarian controlling arrangement it really was. Because of Gothard’s enormous influence on a large segment of Christendom, at least North American Christendom, the whole idea of covering was accepted as normative and Biblical.

The idea of covering extended to women much more than men. If a man established a para church ministry, either on his own or with a small group, it was accepted as “He is answering the call of God.” If a woman was recognized for her teaching or preaching ability and began to share that gift, she was frequently castigated, called a Jezebel, or at least asked “Who is your covering?”

At one time The Lord was blessing a small group that met in my home for the purpose of ministering to others through prayer and counsel. Many lives were changed for the better as they were set free from things which had hindered their Christian walk for years. We soon had a waiting list of people who had seen the fruit of our ministry in the lives of those who had come to us. But then… The religious spirit reared it’s ugly head. First, we were accused by the church leadership that we were trying to establish a work of division, a house church to draw people away.

Not so, we all vehemently replied. We were just being means of blessing the flock who then became more actively involved in the church following our ministry to them. What is not to like about that, we asked. The fear and suspicion continued. I asked them for their blessing, or at least to license me, to provide that “covering” everyone seemed to believe was necessary. That was never given because they thought I might want to become a member of their elder board. Not so, I declared once again. It was then I left and joined another fellowship.

The work continued weekly. We pursued further training to better serve the Body of Christ by helping individuals in the walk of discipleship. One day I was called on the carpet by a former pastor.

“Who is your covering?”

Translation: If this work is not set up by a local church, it has no validity or you are out of order. Knowing we were not trying to undercut anyone, nor raise up a new church, and feeling secure in myself that God was ok with what was happening I simply replied what I still believe to be true: Jesus is our covering.

There is of course a concern that anyone without that “covering” can become a loose cannon. Having a teachable spirit and staying in relationship with mature believers is vital for everyone, male and female alike. But the covering idea has denied validity to a real work of God. Rather, it is a covering for a controlling spirit, which thrives on domination. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Or as another translation puts it, “”be not entangled again by human bondage.”

And that about covers it.