The Great Evangelical Brainwashing

Brainwashing is a terrible thing. It’s what happens when a person is exposed to only one point of view and any opposition to it is always portrayed in a negative light. In totalitarian regimes brainwashing is done through control of the media and promulgation of propaganda.

Have you ever wondered how Germans could have followed Hitler in support of his hellish policies? It’s easy actually. Germans thought Hitler was right because their state controlled monolithic, propaganda-producing media, told them he was right, and they were never told he was wrong.

The same thing is happening in Russia right now. More than 50% of Russians support Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. They do so because Putin and the state controlled media are telling them Ukrainian leaders are Nazis, are persecuting Russians in Ukraine, and are controlled by US and Nato forces intent on destroying Russia. None of that is true, of course, but Russians believe it, and they believe it because they are told that and told nothing to the contrary.

Evangelicals look at the examples of the Nazis and modern day Russia and thank God they live in a country where the government cannot brainwash them, but then they voluntarily choose to brainwash themselves. They do this by getting their news from only one source (typically Fox News) or from the same ideological stream of sources (Breitbart, Newsmax, Fox News). As a result, all that evangelicals hear merely reinforces what they have already heard.

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Reaction to Will Smith Slapping Chris Rock at Oscars

From a purely practical perspective what happened at last night’s Oscars was truly ironic. Chris Rock was wrong to say what he said about Jada Smith but as it is, Will Smith’s physical assault of Rock, and Rock’s professional response completely reframed the event and made Rock the victim and Smith the villain.

I’ve been a fan of both Rock and Smith for years, and what happened last night was bad for everyone involved. There is plenty of blame-casting going on in social media and in the news today. I am not here to pile on.

Instead, I want to add a different perspective-the Kingdom perspective. It is why this blog exists, to offer a perspective of how things should be when the world is functioning the way King Jesus intends–how it will be when the kingdom of God covers the earth as the waters cover the seas. All the trendy talk about “toxic masculinity” misses the point, as does facile condemnations of violence. Masculinity is not toxic any more than femininity is toxic, and violence is sometimes necessary, as it is right now in Ukraine to stop an evil Russian dictator from going Hitler on his Ukrainian neighbors.

Let’s start with Chris Rock. In the kingdom of God, comedians exist to entertain people by making them laugh. Some comedians are funnier than others, and there are different styles of comedy, but the purpose is the same for all: entertain people by making them laugh.

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2022 Academy Award Nominees for Best Picture

It’s that time of year again, and in preparation for it, I provided a kingdom-based framework for evaluating movies. No, it was not determined by how much sex or profanity were in the movie but in light of the purpose for which movies exist in the Kingdom.

With that three-prong framework in mind, here are my rankings of the 2022 nominees for Best Picture, starting with the best and ending with the … err…less best.

1. CODA. I haven’t cried watching a movie in years, but that’s not the only reason I rated this movie at the top of this year’s nominees. CODA is entertaining and engaging. You care about the characters and their stories. The movie has an excellent message about family, responsibility, and the life of the deaf. If you watch only one movie on this list, it should be this one.

2. King Richard. A very entertaining movie about the tension between family and success. If you are torn between praising and cursing Richard Williams in this movie, you get it. The movie was engaging and the message honest.

3. Don’t Look Up. I love dark comedies, which is probably why I have this movie in the third spot. I love serious messages presented tongue-in-cheek. The message in this movie couldn’t be more timely, particularly if you are an evangelical, stop-the-steal, covid-denying, Trumper.

4. West Side Story. This was the last of the nominees The Wife and I saw, and for good reason: I didn’t expect much from the sequel. But we were very pleasantly surprised. Great music and great message. Don’t miss this one, even if you saw the original.

5. Nightmare Alley. Fascinating movie with an ending that hits you like a sledgehammer. The message: it doesn’t matter how much you try to bury your past, wherever you go, there you are.

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The Russian Orthodox Church and the Invasion of Ukraine

It’s no secret the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church has supported Vladimir Putin and his barbaric invasion of Ukraine. Excepting the brave dissent of a relatively few clergy, who have signed a petition against Putin, the remainder have either supported Putin’s Make-Russia-Great-Again-inspired aggression against Ukraine or remained silent.

It is disheartening to say the least. I don’t think we can blame Patriarch Kirill’s support on ignorance or the result of Russian propaganda; Kirill has sufficient connections to the outside world to know the truth. From one of his most recent sermons, it appears Kirill is attempting to rationalize Putin’s aggression because Ukraine has permitted Gay Pride Parades. My guess is Kirill is smarter than that and he simply doesn’t want to cross Putin.

Whatever his motivation, his actions have placed him and the Russian Orthodox Church in the same league as the German Lutheran clergy who supported Adolf Hitler, as he ravaged war on Europe in the name of German nationalism.

I don’t envy Kirill or the circumstances in which he finds himself. He must know if he crosses Putin, he would likely be killed (secretly poisoned perhaps?) or jailed. But as Christians in a fallen world, we often have little say on whether and when history will thrust on us such a choice.

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Kingdom Lessons from The Saudi Golf League Controversy

If you don’t follow professional golf, you probably haven’t heard. There is a new professional golf tour being backed by the Saudis and the money they are offering the best players in the world to join is staggering. For example, it has been rumored the SGL has offered Bryson DeChambeau $240 million just to show up.

Reportedly, the top 100 professional golfers in the world have already been contacted by the SGL, and it looks like many will jump ship from America’s PGA Tour to join the SGL. What has been most interesting to me and most relevant to this blog is the criticism coming from Americans against those who are thinking of leaving the PGA Tour for the SGL.

The main criticism coming from Americans is that these professional golfers are making the decision to join the SGL purely for the money. “Are the millions they already make not enough?,” people ask. Although I suspect most people raising the criticism do so hypocritically (as most people make their own career choices and job changes based on money), their criticism is based on the money.

One of the fundamentals that applies to work in the kingdom of God is that Christians are called to do their work sincerely. Colossians 3:22. This means Christians should do their jobs primarily for the purpose for which that job exists in the kingdom of God. One should perform the job of a trial lawyer to ensure justice is done on the earth, a doctor to heal, and a pastor to pastor. Getting paid for such work is appropriate (Luke 10:7; I Tim. 5:18), but it is not the purpose for which we work.

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