Jonestown: Duane W.H. Arnold, PhD
It reminds me of Jonestown… in slow motion.
The elements seem the same.
Most people don’t know that Jim Jones was from Indiana and that the first People’s Temple was here in Indianapolis. He started out in pentecostal circles and was ordained by the Independent Assemblies of God. In Indianapolis, he immersed himself in the causes of integration and civil rights. By the time he moved his church to northern California in the early 1960s, however, the faith he proclaimed was a strange mixture of the Bible, faith healing, politics, prophecies and conspiracy theories. Initially welcomed in California, Jones began to establish churches round about the state, eventually moving the Temple’s headquarters to San Francisco in the early 1970s. By this time, politics had become Jones’ real focus. While he would still quote the Bible, it was almost always in aid of a political agenda. He was involved in state and city politics and he counted prominent politicians as his friends, often inviting them to speak at his church. Nonetheless, in the summer of 1977, he moved with several hundred followers to Jonestown, an agricultural commune he had established in Guyana.
It is possible that Jones made the move in order to hide his personal battle with drug addiction and his sexual liaisons with followers. On the other hand, Jones claimed to have had a prophetic insight concerning what he called, “Translation”, a time when he and his followers would die together and then be taken to another planet to live together in bliss. Despite the continuing support of many prominent Democratic politicians, Jones became convinced that he was the object of a great overarching conspiracy involving the FBI and the CIA. As reports of sexual abuse, violence and human rights abuses at Jonestown filtered back to California, Congressman Leo Ryan organized a delegation to investigate what was taking place at the compound. Attempting to leave with some Temple members, Ryan and four other members of the delegation were shot and killed by Jones’ armed guards at an airstrip on the afternoon of November 18, 1978. Later that evening, 909 members of the Temple, including 304 children, would die, mostly by cyanide poisoning, in a mass suicide. As the cyanide laced Kool Aid was distributed, Jones indulged in his conspiracy theories over the public address system. He quoted scripture, compared himself to the apostle Paul, declared that “they” were coming for him and his followers. “They” would “parachute in here on us”, “shoot some of our innocent babies”, and “they’ll torture our children… they’ll torture our seniors…”
The mixture of politics, religious faith, prophecies, conspiracy theories, the murder and/or attempted murder of elected politicians, the dividing of society into “us” and “them”, does not, unfortunately, belong to the past. It is a current reality in America.
The growth of Q-Anon, the conspiracy theories regarding everything from vaccines and masking to elections continue to be propagated… and not just on social media. Unfulfilled prophecies regarding the election and the course of the pandemic litter the charismatic and evangelical landscape, but have failed to stem the flow of new prophetic pronouncements issuing from pulpits. School boards are bullied and threatened in public for trying to protect vulnerable populations. Elected officials are banned from social media for disinformation regarding the coronavirus, even as the same disinformation issues from a multitude of church pulpits. Meanwhile, hospital wards are at a breaking point as a deadly virus runs unabated among the unvaccinated. All the while, almost half of the population, including numerous self-identified evangelicals, nurse their grievances and, for lack of a better object for their hate and anger, blame “them”… whoever “they” might be.
There is, however, a difference between the past and the present. The fatal brew of politics, religion, conspiracy theories, prophecies and violence served up in a cup of Kool Aid at Jonestown resulted in 909 deaths. Our current bout of “magical thinking” has contributed to the deaths of over 617,000 of our fellow citizens. As I said above, it reminds me of Jonestown… in slow motion.
In my opinion, it is time, and past time, to reject the cult like behavior of many who wish to claim a place in the Christian community, yet whose lives and pronouncements endorse the message and policies of division, disinformation, hatred, anger and grievance. In their rage and resentment, they have abandoned love of neighbor, humility, empathy, service, and self-sacrificial love. Instead, they have chosen nationalism, violence, the pursuit of secular power and the demonizing of those outside of their tribe. This is cult like behavior. This is not Christianity. Such as these have done violence to the clear and abundant teachings of Christ, and, at least in my opinion, have no place in the community of faith.
This…is the new normal.
Without a modicum of trust in institutions and authorities, there can only anarchy and all manner of evil is possible.
As you know, I thought long and hard before having you post this. It just strikes me that what we once thought of as aberrant, we now let pass as we see the videos on YouTube or comments on social media. I fear that we are losing our grip on what it actually means to be a Christian…
I posted it with some trepidation…but having seen stories of Q nuts killing their children earlier in the day it seemed needful…
This is a good article, Duane.
I suspect the man who murdered his children was mentally ill in the first place, but that’s the thing: these extreme ideas can have serious effects on mentally unstable people.
Anyone notice a tie-in with the Keto diet?
I haven’t seen a tie in with the keto diet..
In other times we would think that stuff millions of people believe was a sign of mental illness and instability…
Talked to a friend this morning. His wife is a Covid ICU nurse. In her unit, 100% of the patients are unvaccinated… and the unit is filled to overflowing… and they are dying. Many were told by their pastors not to get vaccinated and not to mask. One’s last words were along the line of, “He’s a true man of God, he wouldn’t lie to me…”
We’re seeing that here…but with a higher percent of vaccinated admissions.
Still mostly unvaccinated people …
I sample sermons every week where the pastors rail against masks and vaccines…I would not know what to do if someone died because of advice I’m not qualified to give…
I think it is more than giving unqualified advice. It is cult-like behavior.
I would not know what to do if someone died because of advice I’m not qualified to give…<<<
I think this is why some government officials mandate precautions that may not be necessary in some situations: They couldn't live with themselves if their inaction caused deaths.
Better to think the best of people than to imagine some illuminati-concocted plot to steal our freedoms….
Some church people (all kinds) complained that the churches were shut down to steal our religious freedom. I thought they shut them down to save the lives of Christians! Just think, if politics of the virus were slightly different and the government shut down everything *except* churches they would claim they were trying to kill us off and would start screaming about genocide.
And as I said before, if COVID had ghastly Ebola-like symptoms where your family members bled out from every orifice on your living room floor, people couldn't get their shots fast enough, no matter how "experimental."
You have hit a sweet spot…this is fundamentally about how people view the government and institutions.
My assumption has been that this was all done to save lives…done poorly and inconsistently at times, but the motive was good.
A growing number of people think me a fool for that assumption.
As for those preachers who taunt their people with “Are you afraid to die of Covid?” I would suggest, since they aren’t afraid of death, they move to, say, Saudi Arabi and begin preaching the Gospel and we will see how cavalier they are about facing death.
They choose to see what they want to see, or what they think will be of advantage…
I know some people cannot take the shot, like Michael’s relatives with their unique situations
My kin can’t take the shot, but we wear masks “religiously” and distance and hygiene as well. We welcomed the latest mask mandate…
Actually, one might see the 1/6 insurrection as a Jonestown type (or light) event. You had “true” believers who drank the spiritual cool aid of a false prophet engage in chaotic, suicidal and murderous behavior.
At Jonestown we will never know how many people at the last minute were coerced to drink the cool aid. I imagine it was more than a few. The rest were brainwashed beyond sanity.
As I wrote, a “fatal brew of politics, religion, conspiracy theories, prophecies and violence”…
All the children who died were murdered, because they were too young to consent to suicide.
I don’t think everyone who is concerned about the vaccine is part of The Cult, by the way. I wouldn’t even call all the reluctants “anti-vaxxers.” However, those I know personally who have not gotten the shot all exhibit a degree of cultish thinking, maybe embraced to justify their reluctance to get the shot. By “cultish” I don’t mean simple concern but rather a belief in all the conspiracy stuff that Duane mentioned.
And I think if we are going to call ourselves Christians we had better show compassion to those who are sick, even if they didn’t get their shots. No gloating!!!
I have concerns about the vaccines.
However, the risk/reward ratio for me was such it was necessary.
My husband’s university is opening up this fall and they had decided that only the instructors needed to wear masks, not the students! The union got involved and now they all have to wear masks, which is as it should be. My husband will still be teaching from home next semester. Apparently, there aren’t going to be many in-person classes for a while.
This post was almost QAnon worthy
Demonize THEM so we neither have to engage nor refute. Damn them with blood guilt and accuse them of coming for your children.
Bravo Duane you have found a new vocation.
Surely you know enough church history to recognize that these are precisely the kind of charges that provide foundation for doing as you will to THOSE people.
Jonestown and school board protestors… a hard sell but you went for it.
Well done sir.
This is why I vacated this space and shall remain scarce.
But, THOSE people are not as you portrait them and this is why cyber caricaturing will never replace face to face engagement.
I’d still have an ale with you but I’d want my back to the wall.
You are certainly welcome to your opinion, but I’m afraid it merely confirms what I’ve written…
When did “school board protesting” become assaulting a teacher who had to be hospitalized?
Here in my valley protests against masks in schools are overwhelming school board meetings.
Nurses in hospitals across the country are now afraid to walk to their cars alone…because they are now part of the “enemies”.
I believe my home town is on the precipice of violence.
Millions believe that the election was stolen and make choices based on that.
we cannot discern truth from error.
Do we say nothing and just slide politely off the cliff?
Michael, in your area especially people are rattled and not really themselves because of the devastating effects of the fire.
That’s one of the dangers of all this. After:
1. Being on lockdown for 18 months;
2. Suffering the sorrow and fear resulting from the sickness itself;
3. Observing the bizarre election and the abhorrent aftermath;
4. The fire aftermath in many areas on the west coast;
5. The riots in some cities following the Floyd killing;
6. And it looks like the *$#@ virus is picking up speed again.
It is no surprise that people are not thinking clearly and are filled with anger/misery/grief/fear – you name it. People are ripe to believe the Q propaganda and its milder versions. People are on edge, and the more marginal among the people can’t hold it all together. The conspiracy peddlers are feeding on this unrest. May they receive their reward.
No we speak
That was not it.
Rod Dreher blogs daily and shows the way.
He spares neither Trumpistan nor Wokeistan
nor should we.
But Dr Arnold admitted that he knew his post was not going to make its mark. He was hesitant But something pushed his last nerve so he pulled out Jim Jones and gave us a basket of hate-able images.
He spoke loudly and pushed the OTHER off the cliff
He drew a circle and left them out.
Take this screed down!
Invite conversation — othering is a blade that we all wield too much.
” The conspiracy peddlers are feeding on this unrest.” Exactly.
Clearly, you know neither me nor my writing. Once again, you are confirming what I have written…
You forgot that we’re currently choking on smoke from other fires…
We are on edge…but the stories I’m told from around the country say it may be worse here, but this edge is everywhere.
What specifically are you objecting to?
I have tried discussions within my own circle…and unless I buy that the government is trying to harm and control me, I have no place at the table.
This is no longer about facts…it’s about the complete lack of trust in authorities and institutions that leave us all doing what is right in our own eyes.
The potential for disaster is here…and in my mind it will be bigger than anything since the Civil War…
But you claim to know your quarry enough to condemn them as outside the camp — by the multitudes.
They are not US is what you wrote.
By your words sir I know you today.
And now I leave you to your self congratulations —
I was clear about what I object to.
His writing was a broad brush smear ascribing hundreds of thousands of deaths to his accused
That is neither good writing nor Christian theology.
If you rule otherwise I’ll stand down. This is not my space.
I wrote the last paragraph of this essay with deliberation… and I would withdraw not a word.
BTW Michael I agree with your assessment of the stakes.
The prophecy pundits may yet get their blood to the horses bridles.
Good to see Babylon’s Dread’s thoughts here again…..
Ascribe… no. Contribute to… yes. It is what I wrote and it is not premised on someone else’s rage.
Just some local observations:
1. No one is picking up the trash from along the Hwy, beautiful HWY 1 looks like a dump.
2. The parks are filled with homeless people and their shopping carts;
3. Many local shops and restaurants are closed. some boarded up;
4. People are driving CRAZY;
5. From what I see on the police scanner FB group, suicides are up;
6. More shootings;
7 More OD’s;
8 Friends that I adore that I can’t hold a conversation with anymore because the things they say make no sense whatsoever ;
9. Things look worse than normal because of the continuing drought and I think the lack of beauty also affects people;
10. Help Wanted signs on ALL the stores and restaurants that are still open.
There’s just a hopelessness out there, which was almost on the cusp of improving, but now the virus is making a 2nd stand.
We are not hopeless over here at our house because we have our Christ, our Hope.
How many people were persuaded and remain persuaded that the pandemic is at best a hoax and at worst a murderous plan by our own government?
How many deaths could have been avoided ?
How many yet will die who could have lived with the tools we have?
When the blood has ceased flowing, we will find we’ve all been had…
…And have you watched the palpable anger of people in lines?
Your whole list…yes.
The only way I maintain hope is to shut the door and sit with my cat…but the cat is acting odd as well… 🙂
Duane, I haven’t been in any lines for 18 months!
Except the lines for my Covid shots and all were calm that day.
We are still picking up our groceries from Walmart, curb-side.
And the line for Communion. 🙂
Michael, I pretty much stay home and work on my translation project, which at the present moment is a source of considerable aggravation.
Your fortunate! I’ve watched clerks and waitresses (outside) reduced to tears from being subjected to abusive actions and language… People feel they have a right to anger and rage.
Our Wal Marts are war zones much of the time.
T has been doing deliveries as a side gig…and Wal Mart doesn’t have the staff to keep up with orders.
All over the valley, businesses can barely find enough people to stay open…then they quit because of the constant abuse.
I trust that God is in charge…but have great fears about what He may allow…
The only negative behavior I’ve witnessed in stores this entire time was an older woman who wanted to refuse to wear a mask but finally complied. But again, I don’t get out much and I live in a small town.
Not one of us knows whose measures have saved or cost the most lives.
What we know is that we have NO leaders that we trust. We have NO institutions that are not compromised. We have NO moral authority among us.
I had covid — I got the shot — I don’t know if it was wrong or right. I don’t know if it helps or hurts. I don’t know if we are being lied to or manipulated or served.
I made the risk calculation and decided to take the position of one who hopes to do good and not evil.
I no longer believe anyone not named Jesus. And he eludes me often.
Duane served the confusion not the truth with his rant. That is my opinion. In his mind it makes me part of the cult. In my mind it makes him erroneous but not evil.
Why did I emerge — 6 more weeks of winter.
People are mad at the wrong thing. It’s the virus they should be angry at, not the people who are doing their best to serve them and keep them healthy.
But how to get mad at a virus… Easier to shift your anger onto people.
Again, your opinion, with which I respectfully disagree. BTW, I think you have the market cornered on hyperbolic rants… with, of course, apocalyptic overtones…
I have never heard you say or advocate what Duane is talking about…and I listen to you a lot, as you know.
I do hear it from many other voices.
What we all should be addressing together is this;
No trusted institutions.
No one with moral authority.
No trusted leaders.
We can’t survive that combo…
This should get interesting…’
“Not one of us knows whose measures have saved or cost the most lives.”
The data of the hospitalized and deaths from the current spike is overwhelming that the vaccine is very effective. To believe otherwise is to believe something as ridiculous as the legal theories of Sidney Powell.
It appears that anti-science is firmly established within the Evangelical community. Not all, but among some of the brightest.
Is it because the virus is microscopic in size, or that it’s novel and we haven’t subdued it within a television season, that we feel the need to trash scientists and public health officials?
My parish and my pastor and his family
The Orthodox Church, in general (although there can be individual stinkers)
I don’t trust:
Any news outlet whatsoever, nor any of their agents
Those who operate social media outlets
Big business, including pharma, Amazon, etc
CIA, FBI and all the rest of them
The political system from top to bottom
I try to trust the government, as best I can
I am inclined to believe my own doctor, at least, I believe he’s telling me the truth as he sees it
It appears that anti-science is firmly established within the Evangelical community. Not all, but among some of the brightest.
It’s interesting — I’ve always been an advocate for education. The better and more the education, the more well-rounded one is.
However, that’s not the same as wise.
I know 2 couples — one’s a lawyer and the other has an advanced degree.
The other couple, college grads.
The first two have swallowed the right-wing Kool-Aid and often utilize RNC talking points, attack the “liberal” media, etc. it always feels so artificial to me, out of the blue, too.
The second, don’t. They’re careful about mask wearing, for example.
I’d’ve thought the more educated couple would be smarter.
Not the case.
There’s also the terrible (often) reality of free will!
We just doubled the previous record for Covid infections here.
I am beside myself…
I’ve encountered very similar situations. It’s inexplicable…
I too am not sure why some of the smartest (?) people I work with waste mental time and energy on things that are lies/conspiracies/from the pit.
it’s a very strange world in which we are living. If the U.S. had behaved the way it is now during World War 2, we probably would have lost. People wouldn’t have been willing to accept rationing (I’ll put all the gas I want in my car and drive anywhere I want!), blackouts (You mean I can’t have all my lights blazing while I’m having my birthday dance?), and the many other shortages that occurred due to the war effort. I know not everything was done well by the government during WW2 (think Japanese internment camps), but people were more willing to sacrifice and encourage others to do the same during probably what was one of the greatest threats to American democracy. My dad told me many stories growing up of collecting aluminum pots/pans and victory gardens. My mom had stories of homemade Christmas gifts because store-bought toys were hard to come by in rural Oregon, and how much she loved those toys.
I grew up in San Francisco from 1966-1975. By the time I was in high school, we had cults everywhere-Sun Myung Moon, Hare Krishna, The Children of God, Jim Jones…Of all of them Jim Jones was probably the most dangerous. He appeared wholesome and healthy, and his church seemed to really promote and make the tenets of racial harmony and justice a reality. He was an advisor to San Francisco politicians, including Harvey Milk and Mayor Moscone (both assassinated about a week after the massacre at Jonestown). So many who believed in Jones lost their lives, and the survivors were never the same again. COVID denial and anti-vaccination conspiracies are having the same effect , bu in much larger numbers.
I was in my third year at college up near Sacramento when Jonestown made the headlines. I cried. I’ve cried these past 18 months with all of the conspiracy theories around COVID. I’ve know a few folks who died because they wouldn’t follow basic masking/social distancing guidelines, and it makes me very sad.
People who refused vaccination, and some still are, although hospitalized with COVID in Arkansas.
Schools have started here in Cali, I haven’t read about any mass infections yet like Fla. My kids start Thursday.
On the orientation meeting for the junior high, they pointed out that the 7th graders had never stepped foot on campus, so they’ll be like the newbie 6th graders (like my son), and the 8th graders were last on campus in 6th grade (and then sent home in March). I hope that things go well. If anything, my work schedule is more flex so that would help if they get sent home again.
I was 8 when Guyana happened and the areial images were shocking. Then came the TV movie with Powers Boothe which my mom left me watch.
When I read this post in the morning I found it a bit shocking, but I’m not going to judge. What’s more shocking is the number of people in the USA comparing evangelicals to The Taliban.
I’m a teacher who won’t see new students until next week, and I believe I live in your area (Silicon Valley). So far, there haven’t been any big outbreaks in Santa Clara Valley schools, but Oakland Unified has two classes in quarantine due to an outbreak. All schools are supposed to have mitigation measures to isolate the ill/exposed to stop the spread of the virus. Whether or not it works is to be seen. I’m keeping my Zoom skills sharp! The problem is that the Delta variant is so contagious. I’m going back to the classroom with some trepidation, but summer school went okay and I am vaccinated. I also know i have a Big God, but I use what He gives me. David did go out with five smooth stones and a slingshot to meet Goliath!
I appreciated Duane’s thoughts here and they resonated with me because I experienced the birth of so many cults from within the church in the late 60’s and early 70’s. I remember David Berg bringing the Children of God to concerts at Calvary. I remember when the People’s Temple was the Jesus Movement left wing (the part of the movement that didn’t get coopted by the Baptists.) Pastor Chuck once told me that if he had endorsed Nixon the movement would’ve ended immediately. Of course Duane isn’t saying that everyone who gets caught up in politics today will become Jonestown. Obviously, that would involve so many people that it would be excluded almost by definition. But I think is, there are opportunities and justifications for small splinter groups to take things too far, especially in the event of a particularly charismatic leader. I read it as a broad brush of concern, not a broad brush of accusation. But this has been a great discussion. Most Qanon Christians and Woke Christians won’t commit mass suicide. But we’ll never find a healthy balance if we don’t take our bearings off the extremes.
Thank you…the last sentence is gold…
Hi Dave, great to see you!
“So many who believed in Jones lost their lives, and the survivors were never the same again. COVID denial and anti-vaccination conspiracies are having the same effect , but in much larger numbers.”
History seldom provides exact parallels, but it does provide warnings that we would be wise to consider.
Many thanks. Yes, in the case of Jones it began with syncretism (the admixture of faith and politics) and it moved on to increasingly extreme conspiracy theories and cult-like behavior. It ended in tragedy. I think it is a similar process today, but the tragedy is on a scale we could not have imagined a couple of years ago…
“History seldom provides exact parallels, but it does provide warnings that we would be wise to consider.” ….. worth a repeat
sosrrowfully, those who look down on Christianity think that the Jonestown debacle is a fair representation of our Faith. Are we too quiet? ? ?
Jonestown was a tragedy, but we can learn from what happened and distance ourselves from the attitudes that created the tragedy.
The so-called “German Church” of the 1930s is another example, as is the politicization of the Roman Catholic Church in Franco’s Spain. There are countless examples…
Think about writing a book, Dr. Duane! ! !
Christian sheep are too easily misled by charisma
Michael talks a lot on this blog about not degenerating into us versus them thinking. And yet, that does still seem to be happening a lot in the articles and comments when it comes to the vaccination in particular.
I’m not a Trump supporter. I’m not telling anyone to not get the shot. I’ve had covid. I haven’t received the shot yet because I’m not in a vulnerable group and I have concerns about the vaccine. Not conspiratorial concerns involving Bill Gates, but resulting from what I’ve heard from medical professionals.
With those disclaimers, I will point out that news is quietly trickling out that it’s not as simple as saying, “White evangelical Trumpers aren’t getting the shot.”
There are lots of links supporting my following statements, but I don’t want to get tossed in the spam bin. A simple google search will easily direct you.
New studies show that PhDs are actually the least likely to get the shot. (Carnegie Mellon University & University of Pittsburgh)
Other research indicates that young, secular people are more likely to have not been vaccinated than evangelicals. (Study discussed on religionunplugged(dot)com)
Meanwhile, I do think it’s worth acknowledging that totalitarianism is also a deadly plague. The hundreds of millions butchered by governments in the 20th century stand as a testimony to what idealistic, ‘well-meaning’ rulers are capable of when they decide certain groups of people are holding back progress.
In the wake of the mandates of our local and national governments, here are some trends we can measure (again, not linking for spam purposes):
Alcohol Related Deaths Have Spiked 20% In England. Official research shows that a million more people are addicted to alcohol in Britain than before the lockdowns.
Overdose Deaths Have Surged, Outpacing Height Of Opioid Epidemic.
Youth Suicide Attempts Have Soared In USA Since Shutdown.
Overall Suicide Rates “Down” 5% In USA, But Going Up For African American And POC Communities.
Multiple precincts studied (Portland, San Antonio, NYC, Jefferson) have all seen between 10-25% increase in Domenstic Violence In 2020.
Across the US, there were 25% more murders recorded in 2020 than the previous year. In cities like Chicago, LA, NYC & Portland those numbers are more like 30% to 50% higher murder rates.
And let us not forget the experts at the UN have projected 100+million people are going to starve as a result of the economic downturn brought on both by the pandemic and the shutdown mandates. They’re calling it, “the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II.”
To suggest anyone who disagrees with the governmental mandates is culpable for covid deaths demands that, in the same way, implicit agreement with said mandates makes one culpable for the suicides, overdoses, and starvations that are wreaking havoc in our world. They’re just not on the front page.
Grace is the way forward. I have no problem with a person wearing a mask or getting a shot. At the same time, some of us are hesitant to lockstep with the government’s mantras and mandates because of these other factors, not because we’ve “abandoned love” and are full of “rage and resentment.”
Some resisters are cult-like in their positioning, to be sure. Please don’t lump us all in the same basket.
Since I’m being personally belligerent let’s do away with anonymity.
I’m not opposed to direct oppositional rebukes but ‘aim small miss small’ would have saved this sweeping anathema of those Duane insists “have no place in the community of faith.”
I agree that the social and economic dislocation resulting from the pandemic is real. No argument whatsoever.
If indeed you are one who has “no problem with a person wearing a mask or getting a shot” I count that as grace. The article is addressing those that are “cult-like in their positioning”, of which you are not one. The other matters you raise regarding totalitarianism likely belongs to another discussion.
Many thanks for a well thought out comment…
As I wrote… “in my opinion”. It is still my opinion. BTW, personal belligerence really isn’t a good look, anonymous or known…
This has been one interesting read. As typical, I identify the slight leaning of Duane to the left, Dread’s inclination to the right, and Rolph leaning……. well, towards Rolph. Or perhaps I have read enough of you three for years that this is the grid by which I interpret.
Gene Jr. actually wrote a good post, even though I don’t agree with much of it (I have a doctorate and have taken the shot, same with Dread, and I believe Duane, and Rolph, I have no idea).
Xenia is describing my environment as well. It’s tragic and it feels hopeless.
These days now feel like Divine judgment to me, although I cannot be too sure, but then again, I no longer ascribe to a dispensation interpretation of Revelation.
We should lower the volume a bit here and we might actually have a conversation.
At the suggestion of my spiritual director, I’ve started reading some of Eugene Peterson’s works. I’ve settled into “Working the Angles,” where Peterson describes the vocational calling of a pastor. I’m probably going to write an extended series on the book here on the PP. Peterson writes of the pastoral work as the acts of giving attention to God in self, the historical/biblical community, and the other, and the role of the pastor is to continually give attention to God in His relationship with those three. We all need that constant reminder, which hopefully will be our beacon through this difficult time.
In my current school, in that pagan place of California, we had a staff family who “disappeared” over the summer. They are anti-Vax, anti-mask, and went to the state of Florida for some relief. You can’t make this stuff up!
Many thanks for the comment… vaccinated? Yes…
Slight leaning to the left? Yes, but excluding Christian theology and practice… still that rarest of creatures, a conservative Episcopalian.
That is rare indeed, although I know of another like yourself…..
Peterson is the best when talking about being a pastor!
I got the vaccine immediately because Krispy Kreme gives free donuts if you get it. 😉
Great to hear everyone’s input on this. Duane pulled some of us out of the woodwork which looks like a PP win to mr.
I’m enjoying a fight with an Anglican, a Lutheran and a Pentecostal thst has nothing to do with CC!
Love all you guys!
Even with Krispy Kreme, we could find a cassock to fit you…😁
The closest Krispy Kreme is over 150 miles from here, although when I went to my residency for my doctoral work, I always stopped in for a dozen.
In Peterson’s pastoral works, he always takes you past the vocation of a pastor and into the relationship we are called to have with the Lord. Then he intermingles the two. He has (that’s not a typo) such incredible insight. I am looking forward to sharing parts of his book Working the Angles, but I go do a thread or more on each page……
I would agree with Gene Jr., grace is the way forward, and Peterson has a way of putting flesh on those bones.
I think Marc Driscoll is well on his way to being another Jim Jones. Same with Sean Feucht. The only question is how many they will take with him.
But then you would be addicted to Krispy-Krak. After all, one cannot each just one KK donut. More likely one box of 12.
I thought this was a good article in understanding how vaccines work, and what to expect in the near future.
When it all boils down for me, the choice was to get vaccinated. Thankfully, no side effects other than a sore arm for a couple of days.
I just did a funeral for a 79 year old man in our church who died of COVID. His kids insisted he not get a vaccine because of a lot of propaganda. I wish he wouldn’t have listened to them. I’m not saying there aren’t concerns about a new vaccine, I just don’t want to be in the COVID ward watching a person die if they didn’t have to.
“…I just don’t want to be in the COVID ward watching a person die if they didn’t have to.”
All debate pales in light of this…
We get in airplanes all the time, and there is always a possibility of an accident-but it is slight. I believe we need to take the same approach to the COVID vaccine.
Respectfully Dr. Arnold, your comment at 9:48am highlights what I was trying to suggest in my earlier remarks.
A few months ago I sat with the family of a 16-year-old girl who ended her own life with no warning. Several weeks later I officiated at her funeral and graveside, full of people whose lives have been forever changed and devastated by her death.
Due to the mandates, she had been locked down, taken away from all normal contact and activities, isolated from her friends and other non-family communities in an effort to “protect” her from a virus that would, statistically speaking, have 0.0005% chance of killing her.
Her home life was poor. She was alone and isolated and now she’s dead.
I think it is absolutely worthwhile and essential to debate this issue because I feel strongly that, had she not been forced into quarantine, she would still be alive today.
Covid is killing people. But it’s not the only thing killing people. The data shows our response is also killing people. All are worth protecting, all are worth discussing.
Maybe not getting the vaccine is like getting on an airplane.
Gene, A suicide is always heartbreaking. Yet how can you prove that a suicide is due to caused by Covid restrictions? You can’t. When s person dies of Covid, the virus is officially listed as the cause of death – no speculation involved. Some people commit suicide when they lose their job or when their spouse leaves them. The potential for suicide is always there, but we can’t make public policy based on that. If we were to do that then next we would have to make it public policy that no one could fire their employee or get divorced based on the fact that a small percentage die by suicide as a result. I don’t mean to sound callous, but it seems to me that you have a pretty weak argument there.
Bride of Christ,
I read just within the last week that Texas has once again requested refrigerator trucks from FEEMA.
Last year when Covid was new and just emerging in the US, you may recall that Samaritan’s Purse set up a field hospital in NYC Central Park and the Navy sent a floating hospital to NYC and another (I believe to the West Coast). There are a lot of unknowns at that time about the severity, transmissibility, mortality and treatment options for Covid. Italy was having a very bad epidemic with overwhelmed hospitals and lots of deaths.
Quarantine is a blunt instrument, but the Federal Public Health Officials at the time made the recommendation in the best interests of the American people. Congress passed aid to help bridge people and small businesses with aid until the quarantine was over. Did it work perfectly for everyone? Not in a country of 300+ million. But looking back was it the correct decision based on the information known at the time? I believe it was.
I have a 95 year old mother who has been dealing with the pandemic in an assisted care facility. She has lost 23 of her friends in the course of the last year. If my mother and the other 117 residents had not been quarantined when Covid broke out… many more would have joined their friends.
BTW, I’ve never advocated public health policy based upon anecdote.
Sorry, I see it the other way around. Statistically, you’re much more likely to get COVID without the vaccine.
Is it possible to overreact to a pandemic? Yes. Is it possible to underreact to a pandemic. Yes. Is every governmental decision evil? No. Is every governmental decision free of hypocrisy or political motivations. No. Are the COVID vaccines infallible? Nope. Do vaccines help? It seems they do.
Rod Serling would have had a field day with what’s going on in our country today. He had his finger on the pulse of how humans respond to the unknown when he made “The Monsters are on Maple Street.”
As we were commenting on this thread yesterday, 993 people died from Covid.
The past seven day average for deaths from Covid is 696 per day.
“All the while, almost half of the population, … nurse their grievances and, for lack of a better object for their hate and anger, blame “them”… whoever “they” might be.”
HALF? Half the whole country? Which half? You know the ones that nurse their grievances against “whoever “they” might be.” Whoever that HALF are we find THEY cannot be among the elect according to the professor.
TIT #7 gives clarity for us… “Once you’ve decided that the “other” is not only deceived, but evil…the only resolution left is combat”
The juxtaposition has amused me all week.
Pass the ammo …. or the Kool Aid … either will do.
I’ll finish the week by giving the good Dr the last word… he likes that
If you’ve spent all week to come up with this… you need to find another hobby.
Gene @10:47 on the 18th….
Lots tp ponder in that post.
In order for me to join in Alan’s narrative, I would need to disbelieve all the deaths and hospitalizations. I would have to disbelieve the non-vaccination status of the recently dying and hospitalized. I would have to embrace a conspiracy in which hundreds or thousands of hospitals and clinics in America are fabricating data in support of a movement hatched by liberals to control the American people.
I’m sorry but I can’t drink that Alan.
I would have to disbelieve that four people I personally knew died of the virus. They didn’t die of anything else.
It’s idiotic to claim I remotely inferred such.
I hoist Duane on his own “othering” petard. As he groups and condemns people in ever insane clusters. Which has often in history justified corporate violence.
I’ve been clear — do the cost analysis and get vaccinated. But understand you’re definitely incurring risks to do so.
You cannot constantly decry othering while blatantly doing it.
For the record this forum also is sick with its own smug narrative. And that has worsened over the years.
I honor Michael because he aims small and clearly. He also self-deprecates. Because he’s still got enough reformed doctrine to know we’re all wretched and ruined but graced.
I’ll asset once more this original posting was irresponsible and uselessly scatter-gunned enough to infer shame upon almost half the country — perhaps the most thinly veiled partisan wack anyone has posited.
Like always he can have the last say because he cannot leave it unsaid.
When I lived in the UK in the 80s, I used to listen to Steve Wright in the afternoon, a great showcase for pop music. One recurring feature was a call from “Mr. Angry from Purley”. Mr. Angry was always upset about something, although the “something” switched week by week. One week it would be the A1 motorway, the next week it would be Margaret Thatcher. Mr. Angry was entertaining, but not enlightening.
Alan, you merely provide the graphic illustration for what I have written.
Yesterday, August 20, 2021, 1532 people died from Covid in the US.
The average deaths per day over the last seven days, 975.
Facts are stubborn…
Those facts don’t vindicate your Jonestown narrative.
And you refuse to deal with a challenge to that narrative other than to slap some snarky sleight against me as a person.
What’s stubborn here is other than facts.
“And you refuse to deal with a challenge to that narrative …”
No, I refuse to deal with your rage, anger and hyperbolic commentary. My “stubbornness” is tempered, however, by the belief that at heart, you are a better person than this… I think it is time we end this.
From this morning…
Not too long ago Duane told me I was broad brushing a group of people.
When we have chosen a “side,” it’s easy to be blind to the concerns of the other “side” and not notice our own inconsistencies.
My inconsistencies are forever with me… as with most others as well.
I was taking the weekend off from the internet…
BD, it would be helpful if you were less poetic and more specific about your concerns.
No one is claiming that anyone is not of the elect, but that the behaviors and attitudes of many are outside Christian standards.
In my area the National Guard has arrived to assist the hospitals.
Our hospitals are in crisis.
People are being asked to vaccinate if they can and wear masks.
Less than half the population here is vaccinated…and the school boards and county and city meetings are filled with people demanding that neither happen.
Mask defiance is such that it is not worth trying to enforce.
I watch pastors online every week telling their congregations that the only crisis is one of liberty and fidelity to God…that the pandemic is just a tool of the devil, liberals, and government to steal their freedom.
It’s a choice between serving God and serving the evil ones.
The choice for the hospitals is when to order the refrigeration trucks for bodies.
Nurses and doctors who have performed heroic duties are now considered as honorable as liberals and other wicked people.
The result will be that many more will quit and a new crisis will arise.
This is not even to speak of heroes like my godson who get up early every day to work and who have worked all the way through this hell…who are put at risk by these patriots.
Nor does it speak of the millions who believe the election was stolen and every other God damned conspiracy theory that is making about half the people insane.
That was not cursing, by the way…it was a theological statement.
People I love and care for will die because of lies…people all across country will die because of lies…and many of those that survive will be forever diminished.
It may not be Jonestown, but it’s sure as hell on the way…
BD, I will grant you this that I believe you are trying to say…that these deceived and deceiving are good and decent people for the most part…which makes the tragedy even greater.
I might be wrong…but not by a long way, nor by malicious intent.
At what point do we say that Pastor Greg Locke and his ilk are not “good and decent people”? How many bodies have to fill the refrigeration trucks?
Greg Locke is a satan.
He is using this for financial purposes….some others are as well.
Others that I know are simply convinced that anything the government or media offers is inherently evil…and they have convinced those that follow them as well.
As you know, I am not a Calvinist (although I honor his work on the Fathers), but this verse has been rambling round in my mind… “And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie…”
I confess that this is no longer academic to me.
Last year as I was fleeing the fire that took my town with my cat and sick mom, I kept thinking that “this doesn’t happen here”.
Now, as I get reports of people I know on vents I keep saying the same thing.
Reality is that it’s happening here…and in churches across the valley the word is being preached that the news is exaggerating, if not lying.
Large groups on social media say the same and organize protests.
I’m helpless to address any of it…because facts mean nothing when confronted by feelings.
“What is explained can be denied but what is felt cannot be forgotten.” Bowden…
I remember the days before the last two elections I joked that it almost seemed like a country that eats Borscht used a news outlet that rhymes with Box to spread subliminal messages because I couldn’t think of another explanation. And yet, I still voted for T last November because it seemed that the world was becoming one big Drag Queen Story Hour. I regret voting for T, by the way. I shouldn’t have voted for anyone but I was watching Media pretty intently those days and lost my way for a few weeks. I did learn a lesson, though.
I personally know anti-vaxxers who are on ventilators now. I am worried about everyone they came in contact with. What a disaster.
At some point, because it is my nature, I will get angry.
I long for that day because all I can feel now is sadness and grief for what is happening and what we have become.
The end is nowhere in sight.
God did not have to send delusions…we conceived and embraced them on our own.
Humankind seems to be good at that…
During Calvin’s ministry, Geneva was terrorized by the plague on five occasions. During the first outbreak, in 1542, Calvin personally led visitations into plague-infected homes. Knowing that this effort likely carried a death sentence, the city fathers intervened to stop him because of their conviction that his leadership was indispensable. The pastors continued this heroic effort under Calvin’s guidance, and they recounted the joy of multiple conversions. Many pastors lost their lives in this cause. Unknown to many, Calvin privately continued his own pastoral care in Geneva and other cities where the plague raged. Calvin’s pastoral heart, already evidenced by the provision of hospitals for both citizens and immigrants, was further revealed as he collected the necessary resources to establish a separate hospital for plague victims. When believers died, he preached poignant funeral homilies with passion and personal concern. (John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Discipleship, ed. Burk Parsons [Lake Mary, Fla.: Reformation Trust, 2008], 65)
On Luther and the plague;
“They disdain the use of medicines; they do not avoid places and persons infected by the plague, but lightheartedly make sport of it and wish to prove how independent they are. They say that it is God’s punishment; if he wants to protect them he can do so without medicines or our carefulness. This is not trusting God but tempting him. God has created medicines and provided us with intelligence to guard and take good care of the body so that we can live in good health.”
Luther’s argument is actually more severe than Calvin’s, cautioning that those who disdain medicine could be guilty of suicide or worse: “it is even more shameful for a person to pay no heed to his own body and to fail to protect it against the plague…and then to infect and poison others who might have remained alive…He is thus responsible before God for his neighbor’s death.”
Satan sent the delusions, and the susceptible bought them.
Again, I am not talking about people who have reasonable concerns about the vaccine, I am talking about those who believe the vaccine is “weaponized bio-tech” and follow that whackadoodle My Pillow nutcase. There are shades of belief in this stuff but I suspect we all know people who are at the far end of the cult spectrum and we have lost them, at least temporarily, as friends.
I think prep work was done with the whole Late Great Planet Earth and the rest of the Rapture Ready hysteria. Again, not broad-brushing all dispensationalists, because there are plenty of EO and RC who are just as invested and not all dispensationalists buy into this, but most of the ones I know seem too.
In The Great Mortality, John Kelly says that the mortality for priests during The Black Death was “42 to 45 percent” which is higher than the overall mortality rates seem to be for the general population (the death rate has been hotly debated for centuries, but general consensus seems to be around 30%). Clergy who cared for the sick were dying at a high rate, and no wonder: the sheer exhaustion and repeated exposure of moving from home to home at all times of day and night to visit the dying would have made priests especially vulnerable.
repeated exposure of moving from home to home at all times of day and night to visit the dying would have made priests especially vulnerable.<<<
Interestingly, from the diaries and chronicles of the period, they did not consider their vocation heroic. That being said, they were scathing in their remarks about the clergy and religious who made a great show of “piety” with the flagelantes, along with their apocalyptic preaching and processions through towns.
“repeated exposure of moving from home to home at all times of day and night to visit the dying would have made priests especially vulnerable.”
Yes to the above. And one has to wonder, due to a lack of understanding of the need for hand tasing, etc. did not these noble priest inadvertently spread the plague?
Sometimes I wonder that even in our best intentions, we often make a greater mess of things. This leads me to wonder even more about things such as Divine intercession, mission, and destiny……..
Possible, but the priests and religious did use vinegar for hand cleansing and washing patients. The most effective course, however, was for towns to go into an enforced quarantine.
Very much worth reading… it sounds similar to Michael’s description…