“Even though princes sit plotting against me, your servant will meditate on your statutes. Your testimonies are my delight, they are my counselors” (Psalm 119 :23-24). Many Christians are dismayed that government and cultural powers are growing more anti-Christian, but this is nothing new for the people of God. The answer is to be immersed in God’s Word and being conformed to his truth. His kingdom is not of this world, and neither should our hope be in this world.
I have been exploring alternative social media technologies, and one that interests me is Telegram. I decided to start a Telegram channel, Catholic in a Hostile World. If you are using Telegram or want to give it a try, check out my channel. If you don’t want to get into Telegram, you don’t have to because I will be reposting most of my posts here. Telegram is more conducive to smaller posts, so I plan to post shorter but more numerous posts there. I will link to this blog for longer posts.
Here is my first post, setting the tone for the channel.
Jesus said, “Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 10:21-22). Although it is good for Christians to want to influence the culture and see the laws of our nation conform to the law that God has revealed, we should not be surprised when the world violently opposes us. Western civilization has moved from the Christendom of the Middle Ages to an anti-Christian secularism of modernity. For a while, we thought we could get along by compromise, but we are seeing that the anti-Christians are not interested in compromise. Therefore, we must bravely stand firm and proclaim the truth, putting our hope in the promises of God that His kingdom will endure forever.
One reason I made my last post about our spiritual adversaries is to deal with the fact that so many people today are demonizing their political opponents. The spiritual beings made their decision for or against God a long time ago, and their decisions are fixed. That is why we can categorize them as angels and demons. This, however, is not the case with humans in this present life. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn has a great quote about this.
The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either–but right through every human heart–and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained.The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956 by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Humans develop and grow in this life, not only physically and mentally, but also morally and spiritually. We develop a sense of right and wrong, which is called our conscience. Every day we make many decisions that have a moral consequence. Sometimes we follow our conscience and do what we think is the right thing, and sometimes we violate our conscience and do what we think is wrong, usually justifying it with some rationalization. These choices affect who we become, and as we move through life, we are a work in progress. It is not until the end of our life that our ultimate choice is made to either embrace God and goodness forever, or to reject Him forever. Until that happens, we are all a mixture of good and evil of varying proportions. Therefore, if we try to divide humanity into the good guys and the bad guys, we will get into trouble. This is what Jesus means when he says, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1).
This doesn’t mean that we don’t judge the words and deeds of people as either good or bad. Crimes and lies are bad regardless of who the perpetrator is. The judging that Jesus prohibits is summing up a person as ultimately good or evil because we humans do not know the totality of the person or what he will ultimately become.
It is common now in the United States to divide people according to left and right, and to label one group as good and the other as evil. This can be a problem when dealing with individuals because good and evil exist in both groups, and some people are difficult to put into one of the two groups. Even in the realm of ideas, one cannot always say that a particular idea is necessarily left or right. I primarily identify with the right, and I am very concerned with many of the ideas I hear coming out of the left, but the way I prefer to look at it is that I am a follower of Christ, and I am opposed to ideologies that will drag people away from his salvation. That’s why I wrote in my earlier post that the real enemy is spiritual. We must remember that our enemy is loyal to neither the left or the right. He hates all of us. He will happily provoke the bad elements on one side to do something that plays into the plans on the other side as long as evil advances on all sides. Therefore, we must be careful to not defend bad actions or condemn good actions no matter who does them.
I have wanted to leave Facebook for a while, and I did at one point, only to come back after a short time because it was the best way for me to keep up with family and friends. My objective at the time had nothing to do with national politics, but I objected to how Facebook manipulated the content I was trying to access and fed my data to advertisers. I often got frustrated with how their manipulation affected usability. I would see something on my news feed that looked interesting, but when I went back at a later time, I could not find it because Facebook had decided I should see different things now. I have played with the MeWe social media platform a little bit. Rather than being advertisement based, they are subscription based, and using it has been a breath of fresh air. I don’t feel like I’m wrestling with an algorithm to get to my content. The material I subscribe to is presented in a straight-forward chronological manner that is the same every time I go back to it. Also, there are no creepy ads that appear to be reading my mind because it is subscription based rather than supported by ads. If I’m going to do social media at all, I would rather pay $5/month than deal with those ads and manipulations.
For a while, I preferred Twitter to Facebook because Twitter gave me a straightforward feed of the posts of everyone I was following, and advertisements were non-targeted. Sadly, they decided to follow Facebook’s lead. They now manipulate the feed and have increased advertising, making it more intrusive. At the same time, I saw much of the conversation there becoming more viscous and non-productive, and it was too much of a distraction, so I decided to drop it a few months ago.
The tipping point for me to finally and irrevocably leave Facebook was their censorship of the President of the United States. I always thought this was a danger with a huge, monolithic social network like Facebook, and for a while there have been accusations of their political bias, but this act was a blatant disregard for the importance of freedom of speech. I know that as a private company, Facebook is not required by law to protect speech, but as primary communications platforms, Twitter and Facebook greatly affect the direction of discourse in our country and in much of the rest of the world. By silencing particular points of view, they open the door to tyranny. World leaders in Australia, France, Germany, Russia, and Poland have spoken out against this act. The President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who is no conservative Trump fan, is mounting a campaign against social media bans. I believe this issue is bigger than whether or not you are a “Trump supporter.”
Edit 1/24/21: Add image.