Did you know, we have a new normal? People are demonstrating in the streets, and disrupting our lives; and this gets them into the news.
I remember the seventies, when demonstrations were common, but now they seem to be making a comeback. Someone must think this is a good idea. For me, and people from my generation, these kids are amateurs. I remember when every high school assembly was interrupted by radical students. I can’t remember one assembly that worked out according to the plan. One of our classmates liked to shout about “Acheemitka.”
We eventually realized that some nuclear devices had been exploded under an island called Amchitka, and our classmate probably had dyslexia. It was all fun, and then we graduated and got jobs. Today, it’s all forgotten, except I can clearly remember someone shouting “Acheemitka, Acheemitka.” It’s like a song I can’t forget.
And now we have the new wave of demonstrators:
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We are used to living our lives without these disruptions, and I think we need to adjust to a new generation. Millennials are living in societies where the money is spent, good jobs are hard to find, and they don’t have much power. I think that combination is generating some confused politics.
So, what is wrong with this new generation of radical demonstrators? Should we believe what they say, or argue against them?
Good advice doesn’t sound good when we hear it, and here is some good advice: ‘Always talk about the method.’ A very wise person once told me that, and I am beginning to understand now, years later.
If you disagree, don’t attack the person, don’t criticize the ideas; only talk about the method. The first two options produce arguments, and possibly fights. The debate can do more damage than the original offense.
1) Do you like those people? Probably not, or you would join them. 2) Do you agree with them? Probably not, for the same reason.
If you argue and criticize, know that they might be fishing for a reaction, you could be made to look like a bad person, a straw man, the invented enemy. We should talk about their methods, the way they operate.
This is like the words of Jesus:
So, the way they operate, their method, is the best measurement of their truth. With that measuring tool, blocking a road with a pink canoe, and ruining the day for the neighbors, shows that they are wrong. The message is never so important that our behavior doesn’t matter.
That message is straight from Jesus.
For the last few weeks, on Sundays, I have been listening sermons about the ‘Seven Churches of Asia.’ Everyone who goes to church regularly knows what that is. In the book of Revelation, at the end of the Bible, we have messages to seven churches, from their Bishop, a man named John. These messages give God’s opinions about us; and it’s not all good.
The worst message is to a church in a city called Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22). These were Christians, God’s people, and God promised to vomit them out of His mouth. It’s hard to imagine God detesting His own people that much, but that is the message in the Bible.
After so many years of listening to lessons about the Seven Churches, I think I finally get it. Those Christians are just like the radical demonstrators, on the street, in front of the news cameras. They are play-acting for applause.
The Laodicean Christians were not cold, and not hot, but only warm. I never understood that, but the words that follow make sense: “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” (verse 17)
The rich Christians in Laodicea looked good. They could believe in themselves because they got approval, applause from others.
Play-acting for the crowd is poison that we should never drink.
Imagine if you were an organizer for some radical and subversive cause. The people who sit in coffee shops and grumble as they sip their lattes are cold. They are not really with you, but possibly they can be motivated. On the other side, the diligent workers who make it happen are hot. In the middle are the actors who act out to get attention because they think approval and applause show their success.
The method tells us if the message has value.
I believe we are in a time, in western culture, when people play-act for approval, and congratulate themselves when they hear applause. Brace yourself. That has been among Christians for centuries, and God hates it.