It is said that the most obvious thing a fish would fail to notice in it’s habitat is the water, and likewise the most obvious and powerful realities of our human culture seem to be the most unrecognized. This is said in regard to the culture of vanity and consumerism that surrounds us. Few people realize the insanity of the culture, and they become a part of it without ever realizing that it is entirely unnatural and choreographed by social and economic engineers.
I am always shocked and somewhat saddened by the parallels of social dynamics to the life of the presumably austere and separated religious person. While they claim exclusivity, simplicity and piety, they are caught up in the culture of the world around them in a way that is very embarrassing, in light of the fact that they so boldly make such claims. Not only this, but the culture and environment of the religious lifestyle that they are bound up in has the same effect. They can see all the things that are going on and yet not see them. They know that they are ruled by iron-fisted leaders who brook no criticism or dissent of any kind, and yet when it is pointed out to them or they are advised of its existence, they blindly refuse to see. This state of affairs is very much like the water that surrounds the fish. It is necessary for his existence, it sustains him and yet he is largely unaware of it.
I am concerned with the condition of unawareness, brought on in large part by the condition of a lack of critical thinking skills. An elephant can be chained by a small chain when he is small, as he grows, the chain still holds him but when he is large, large enough to break the chain, he is still deluded to think that it holds him. How often this is the case with the one who is held in the chains of religious bondage. In order to keep the populace chained, the ability to carry out critical thinking is nipped in the bud. Subtle threats are issued, rebukes are issued, and all along the way the victim begins to believe that he/she has no power. This state of affairs is essential to keeping them chained. Fear is instituted as well as social ostracism, and before long anyone who tries to step outside the norm is targeted as unstable, dangerous and deceived. The victim of this labeling may very well be aware on some level that he is being unjustly charged and controlled, and yet the ability to see the water surrounding him is like the chain that holds the grown elephant. In many cases the chain has actually been removed, it is only lying on the ground to trick the elephant into believing that he is confined. How then, is one to break free?
Critical thinking is a skill that is necessary in order to thrive in a world of confusion and deception. This deception exists in the form of government, religion, education and social interaction. We are all a part of various kinds of corporate bodies, and to remain so we must tie into the corporate mind set. This constitutes the chains that confine us. Freedom must be won, and often at a price. We must be prepared to live outside the culture. This presents many problems that seem insurmountable to the natural eye, but let me give you a bit of advice. You will never know what you can do until you try. If you never take a risk, you will never really live. Tomorrow’s choices are made today. If you wish to have freedom and the right to make your own decisions about life, that right must be taken now, in the present. If you wish to be like the elephant, chained to a stake, where someone brings you a bucket of water and a truckload of hay every now and again, you can do it. You will never move from your spot. You will never know the strength of your size, and the possibilities that exist outside of your realm of safety. Do you want to be safe, or do you want to be awesome? You can stay confined to a rigid set of behavioral norms where your spirit withers and dies, or you can break free and make your own mistakes, instead of someone else’s. You can explore the world around you, your own understanding of God and your relationship with him, with the right to work things out for yourself. There will always be mistakes. It is a lie if someone tells you that if you stay with them you are safe from error. We learn from mistakes. We grow by measuring ourselves by our progress.
On the other hand, you can carry those chains til you die, and you will die without ever having really lived. I challenge you to ask a question this week. See what happens. Are you prepared to be ostracized? See what happens if you look around you and try to figure something out for yourself. The power of social conformity, masquerading as meekness and humility has left true individual autonomy to rot on the sidelines. This organization is wobbling on it’s foundations, in the hands of men who don’t even know how to take care of themselves, let alone a membership of many thousands. Are you willing to live or will you carry those chains til you die?