November 11, 2016

The Day After Facebook

It has been one whole day since I started my fast from Facebook. So far, I have done well. I have been tempted to check in, to read the latest news, and such, but I didn't take the bait. No, I am standing my ground. The pain, the angst, and the vitriol has been too much for me. I have decided that I am ready for a major fast from all social media, and that I need that fast to start now.

In truth, I passed a good night. I slept well, I rested and I woke up feeling refreshed. I am a little lonesome right now because my routine is upset. Normally, I wake up and check my email and Facebook. Then I browse through Pinterest -- all before I get out of bed for the day. Yes, I am clearly addicted to social media, and I recognize the signs. This morning, after waking up, I did check my email. Then I put my phone aside, and I got up and went about my business. I fed the cats, I cleaned the litter box, and I made my coffee. I came in the bedroom and made my bed. Now, I am sitting at my desk on my blog -- but only after checking on my students for the morning. I answered some questions, checked the groups, the grades, and the discussion boards, and realized that everything is in good order. So now, I am free to blog.

Reflection From the Day

My son and I had a good conversation last night. We talked about the election results and how upset we both were with the way people were behaving. We commented on the sadness and the elation, and how people were acting out on social media (from both sides of the aisle). It was funny how we both said, almost simultaneously, that we had deleted the Facebook app from our phones. Yes, kismet. We are simpatico in our feelings.

I blogged yesterday how I had to unfollow some of my friends and family members because of what they were saying on Facebook. I love these people, but their words stung me so badly, and my heart was so grieved that I had to make a call. I had to make the decision to turn away from the anger and the hatred, the sorrow and the glee, just for a while to reconnect with myself and with my faith. You see, my faith was being challenged by what I was seeing on social media. My faith in people, in the Church, in humanity. My faith in God is secure, of course, but my faith in people acting decently, treating one another with kindness and regard, well, it was sorely lacking. I realize that many are upset with the outcome. I see the news that says there are riots in the streets in some places because people hate Trump. They refuse to accept him as President. They think they are demonstrating, but they are simply anarchists. Merriam-Webster defines an anarchist as "a person who rebels against any authority, established order, or ruling power" or "a person who believes in, advocates, or promotes anarchy, especially one who uses violent means to overthrow the established order". What we are seeing on TV and the Internet is simply anarchy in its infancy. These people may be upset that Trump won the election, but they do not understand that they cannot protest every time they don't get their way -- not in a society predicated on laws and constitutional government. Our government established protocols to prevent anarchy from happening. The rule of law must prevail or we will disintegrate into chaos.

As I watch these young people, people who feel so let down by half the population that voted differently, my heart has sympathy for them. You see, they are a product of my generation. These young people were raised in a sheltered environment where they were always given what they wanted. They never experienced pain. They never experienced hardship. They never experienced failure. They don't know what to do when they don't get their way. They don't know what to do when they don't always "win."

Now we are stuck with a growing population of perpetual teenagers who simply will not accept the rule of law or authority. They will not accept failure.

I am distraught, not because my candidate didn't win or because the one who did is a terrible person. This is not the case at all. I really decided early on that I was going to vote for the person I liked most, not for the person who would prevent another from winning (as did many of my family and friends). I was willing to accept a Trump USA or a Clinton USA simply because I didn't want to be a part of the mess, the horrible mess. I did my conscience proud, and I voted as part of my civic duty. But, I simply chose not to participate in the bigger scandal that was the 2016 election.

Now that the election is over, and yes, my prayer is that the violence settles down (and I think it will), my plan of attack is to simply return to what is most important, and that is Kingdom business. I refuse to remain up in arms over the political framework of this country. I refuse to take part in it, other than to pray for those in power as the Bible stresses and submit to "Caesar" what belongs to "Caesar" as Jesus instructed. The rest, as they say, is water under the bridge.

My Plans for This Day

My focus is returning, my mind is clearing, and I am beginning to think about what my next steps are in order to stay on task. First, the good news is that I submitted my application for graduation in May 2017. Yes, I submitted my paperwork yesterday, and praise be to God and with His help, I will walk in Regent's 2017 graduation ceremony next May 5-7 in Virginia Beach, VA.

Submitting my application cemented my desire to return to sanity. I realized quickly that if I allow anything, even as significant as a presidential election to cause me to stumble, I could lose my momentum and possibly not graduate on time.

Moreover, I realized that my number one priority is to my dissertation project, but that also, I share that priority with my students and my faculty contracts. I cannot be sidelined by the mockery and mayhem.

Last, as I completed the paperwork, I renewed my vigor, my desire, and my interest in being a social scientist. You see, for some reason the Lord decided to have me study social science and not humanities. I always regretted not getting my PhD in English, but I believed that the Lord desired that I would study Communications instead. Now that I am almost finished, I can see why He moved me in this direction. Social science has become a love for me, and it encapsulates so much of what I enjoy studying -- cultural history, cultural theory -- as well as the foundational aspects of communication such as language and linguistics. The Lord provided more than literary study for me. He gave me a breadth of study whereby I could develop strong understanding of the motivation behind our communication. In this way, I study how and why we communicate, but I also study the outcome or effects of that communication. As a social scientist, I also engage in scholarly study that is grounded in evidence. I study using empirical data, and while I prefer subjective and interpretive studies to empirical or statistical data, I value it nonetheless. More so, I have come to appreciate the process involved in publication and in scholarship. So when I hear the millions of people out there lambast Trump supporters as uneducated or Clinton worshipers as liberal wackos, I see the fallacy in their logic. As I blogged yesterday, hasty generalizations which suggest a reliance on observation only and not on empirical evidence demonstrates a lack of logic, order, and reasoning. When we label groups of people as this or that without any verifiable evidence, we fall prey to illogical and irrational thinking. Now more than ever, social scientists and others must stand their ground to refute the illogic of the masses. We live in perilous times when it will become more and more difficult to differentiate fact from fiction. Thus, for those of us trained in statistical analysis and using observation when it is based in empirical studies, we must remain fixed, firmly grounded in our research method. It is vital for the survival of our people. We cannot give into mob rule, mob mentality or anarchy.

Reestablishing My Steps

With this in mind, I have decided to recommit my life to following the Lord completely. What does this mean for me? Simply that I am not a citizen of this world, as Paul so rightly assessed in Philippians 3:20-21 when he said,

But our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to subject all things to Himself, will transform our lowly bodies to be like His glorious body.

I may be a citizen of the USA, but my heart and my home long for my true country where I belong by the grace of God and the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. If I become too consumed with things of an earthly nature, I will lose sight of the real task assigned to me and to other believers in Christ, which is to reach and rescue the lost, the dying, the poor, the marginalized, and the disenfranchised in our global society. There is great work to be done, and the time has come for us, all of us, to stop talking about doing the work, and actually start doing the work. We must give of ourselves and become part of the solution and not remain part of the problem.

My hope is firmly fixed, but for many years, I have simply chosen to sit by the sidelines and watch the suffering of people around the world. I have chosen to sit and watch and let others do the hard work. I am more convinced of this now more than ever. When God said to Micah that what He required of His people was "to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8 NLT), He wasn't joking. More so, when James said that the religion God desires as "pure and faultless" is to "look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" (James 1:27 NIV), again this was not an understatement. God desires our hearts to be motivated toward others, but not just in thoughts, but in deed. We are called to do work, and work is not an intellectual achievement, but a physical engagement that produces a result. We are to work to alleviate suffering among the poor, and especially the widow and the orphan (those without support).

I am sick and tired of hearing people talk about doing good work, all the while, they do not do any work at all. I am tired of all the rhetoric that is so heated and charged. Yet, millions and millions of people live in abject poverty, die in the streets from hunger or thirst, and we as "God's people" do nothing at all. Granted, there are many good organizations that work tirelessly to serve the poor. Many are immobilized and working overseas or in the inner cities to be people of light. Still, there is far too much work to be done, and there are far too few workers to do it.

Keep in mind that I am not talking about preaching the good news, evangelizing here, per se. What I am talking about is taking the good news along with a cup of fresh water. I am talking about bringing food, clothing, and shelter to the people who need it most, and doing it in Jesus' name. You see, we are to go in His name, we are to go and do His work. I think we talk about His work a lot, but we do not go and do it.

This semester has been life-changing for me. This is the 8th time I have taught my students about advocacy as part of our final essay assignment in English 106 at GCU. I am passionate about advocacy in action, and as such, I have become convinced that the time is now for God's people to show up and do the work. You see, as the days fade into one another, the harsh light of criticism will not stop to fall upon the Church. There is mass hatred of Christians in our postmodern world, so to be one, will mean persecution and suffering. Thus, we need to be people who speak with our hands, our feet, and our time rather than people who speak with our mouths (as we have for centuries). We are called hypocrites and chided, railed against, and abused by the media and now the masses for our simple faith in God. We can continue to shout against the accusations or we can turn the other cheek, as our Savior did, and continue to do His work, His good work.

Yes, I believe that 2016 is a turning point for my life. I am convicted of my lack of empathy, my unwillingness to go and to be used in this way, and my desire for earthly comfort. This is not about preaching the good news, hear me clearly. I am all for preaching the good news. It is about putting those words, the very words that I am willing to die for, into practice. I am willing to go and do this work so that people may feel Jesus, see Jesus, and yes, hear Jesus. My desire is to be used, fully and completely, for His name sake. I no longer seek my own way, my own will, but I submit and yield everything to the cause of Christ, and in this way, I am going to go and do what He has called me to do.

In Closing

I guess what I am saying is that to wear the banner of Christ, one must be willing to accept all that comes with that label. For many modern Christians, the thought of suffering or of being persecuted is a far-off notion. We know that in the Middle East, Christians are being slaughtered. They are beheaded and crucified simply because they believe in a different God. More so, that persecution is coming our way, to our shores, and in order to stave it off, we the people of God must do something before it is too late. We must be people of hope, people who carry the message of salvation into these places so that the people who are dying under oppressive regimes can find life, can gain eternal life, before it is too late. 

You see, while I don't want to see my life changed drastically, I know that my life is about to change drastically. This election proved it to me. My country stands divided. Half of all Americans still believe in free thinking and freedom of choice. The other half believe that freedom only comes from conformity, from a group collective. It is individualists against collectivists. Typically, individualists were conservatives, but they also factor in libertarians and independent voters. Democrats on the other hand are collectivists, and they believe that the majority rules by collective thought. There is no individuality in liberalism. There is only conformity. It is the back hand of socialism, the back hand that hits so hard once all contrary thought has been extinguished. 

Our founding fathers, many of whom where Christians or deists, believed that individual thought and freedom was worth fighting and dying for so they fought against a tyrant and liberated the people. They never envisioned that anyone would willingly choose to subject themselves to mass authority and a state-run government that told you what to do, what to think, and how to live. Yet, this is what is happening around the world. Don't be fooled by the simplicity of the class argument. The class and race and gender argument taking place in our country is all about rhetoric. The underlying cause is to champion collectivism, and that simply means taking away an individuals right to free expression, thought, and belief. Look to our Middle Eastern neighbors if you do not agree with me. Try being black, Asian, gay or lesbian, a feminist in a Middle Eastern world. You will die by the sword or be crucified for not believing as the majority believes.

The same is true for socialism, where religion plays no part. The state is religion, and for people who are uneducated and ill-informed, they simply think that they are fighting against religion, but in reality they are being indoctrinated into "statism," which states that the "concentration of economic controls and planning [is] in the hands of a highly centralized government often extending to government ownership of industry" (Merriam-Webster). Statists are people who allow the government to control the economy and all industry. They give great power and control to the government for the rule of their daily lives. Statism believes that the individual has no rights, therefore, there is no individual liberty. This belief is a central component of socialism, so when people champion socialist doctrine as the salvation of mankind, they are simply fooling themselves. There is no individual liberty under socialism, there is just forced cohesion to the collective. Yes, Star Trek the Next Generation had it right when their prime enemy, the Borg, would say, "Resistance is futile; You will be assimilated."

My prayer today is to remain staunchly independent for as long as I possibly can. I do believe that socialism is knocking at our door. We must do what we can to protect ourselves and our neighbors from the onslaught. It is coming. It is the vile movement that I believe has been used to present a false reality and consciousness to the majority of the world. It is Satan's tool, and those in the world without faith have bought into it hook, line and sinker.

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