Freely you have received, freely give.
– Jesus of Nazareth
To speak and act individually is what is taught in North American society, including the church. The view prevails that society is transformed by means of the persuasion and conversion of individuals. The theory behind this is generated from conventional cultural wisdom and amounts to a social ethic of osmosis. It is found in both activists and pietists. What it ignores is the third-party nature of corporate life…of how entities take on their own life once they are formed, who are themselves combative, violent, confrontational, and aggressive in their own rights, in spite of the ideology that states that these entities are only as alive as the individuals that make them up. Not true.
When we were in SE Asia in the 80’s the organization we were with could not support itself and relied continually on infusions of new money. In order to get this money it had to lie about the success of its various programs. It did this by projecting the not-yet successes of its various agricultural projects. One million dollars had already been pumped into this project. Those who came to document and then to return to North America to ask for more funds from supporters of this project knew full well that this endeavour was not self-supporting, but promoted it as such anyway…the organization had taken on an identity of its own. We stood up against that and were crushed. We refused to accept the framework of the entity and found ourselves very quickly outside of the system. This wasn’t secret of course. The indictable facts of their deception were hidden in plain sight. Virtually all of the people who were a part of this organization’s work thought that they were doing a good thing, when in actuality they produced a minefield of deception and exploitation. In spite of our qualifications we were demoted and publicly humiliated, which sent the word out both quickly and with great finality, Sshhhh, do not question the powers that be. Also, by not criticizing, its employees got to participate and benefit from the powers that be. It is the courtiers who rise in the institution.
If you care, then you cannot lie, either about your own actions, or in regard to the lies of entities which by their very nature have their own exploitative psychological characters. All principalities are literally alive in and of themselves. All principalities lie. Anyone who serves them lies. And by definition anyone who stands up to them on these principalitie’s own terms is already inherently a part of their system or there would be no grounds on which to contend. In order to do the work of God today in the world, what is needed by both Christians and the church are actions that are not determined by conventional wisdom…both that and working as independently as possible as a community of individuals as far away as possible from the power centres, to create and implement the gospel…a new way of living.
Next year we have decided that we will accept no money for what people harvest from our haskap orchard, based on this alternative model of the kingdom of God. If people like what we do, then they may share with and support us based on their enthusiasm for God being at work in the world in this fashion…
Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.
– the prophet Isaiah
The greatest lie ever perpetrated by the devil was to convince people that he doesn’t exist.
– The Usual Suspects