I won’t go into details, but a couple of weeks ago I was legitimately contacted and asked for all my personal information: address, employer, lengths of time in places, lengths of time employed, and then they requested the same for each of our adult children. We declined to answer.
Surveillance is built on secrecy. Surveillance destroys trust. Without transparency, trust cannot be built.
I write blogs openly. There is no secrecy. I do it so that anyone may read it. It’s my life. It’s a witness.
I try to be honest and to present both the deductive understating of what we do and why we do it, and the analogical-emotive-inductive experience of it in an honest light. As much as the church as an organization acts as a principality so it cannot help but foil these. And when it happens I try to critique its unfaithfulness with two eyes…the one being that of a Benedictine oblate, and the other being that of a Catholic Worker farmer. Each offer their own ways of being sanctuaries of both dissent and of hope.
I now use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) and encrypted email and will look into using TOR (The Onion Router) as soon as I am able. And in response to this someone may say, using any of these isn’t open at all. And you would be correct, at least on one level. But there is another aspect to be taken into account.
Abuse is a terrible thing. It is inflicted by the powerful in order to assert their power, real or imagined, for any number of reasons and ends. Abuse is only one other tool in the arsenal of principalities. Principalities rule by threatening those who do not conform to their rule.
I know about abuse. I have long been the recipient of abuse both personally and professionally throughout my life. Perhaps you have as well? And of course it is interesting that when the abused stand up for themselves that abusers cry foul!
For years I was misdirected. I thought that if I kept showing openness and vulnerability to abusive people that they would change. I am not saying that it can’t happen, but it is a miracle of sorts if and when it does…which is extremely rare.
The first rule in dealing with abuse is to stop the abuse, which means removing the one party from the other. I have learned a lot by having been a part of numerous interventions over the years.
It is with this in mind that I promote VPN’s, encrypted email, and TOR. If I am open in my life about faith on the internet, then there are for sure those who are monitoring internet activity, and taking notes on me in absolute secrecy without the requisite compassion needed to even understand what I am saying. And it is this that makes me feel like I am being abused, which of course I am. Trust isn’t simply built on transparency, it is built on mutual transparency, and understanding, and having one’s guts moved in relationship to the plight of another, and then of setting one’s life on hold in order to meet this other’s needs on their terms…which is compassion. I believe that it is precisely in this lack of reciprocity that I see the world becoming a crueller place and which I will not be party to.
Christians in the first couple of centuries did not put up billboards in downtown Rome telling when the next Mass was going to occur or where. They loved one another and met the needs of others as if they were their own needs (something that I don’t see in any church today). They were honest about who they were and their love for a life-giving God, who they worshipped. And they were also clear about the Roman principality…that it was a death dealer. And I don’t see that anything has changed in the mean time.