Monday, July 20, 2009

One of my older writings--Death and Taxes: The Old rules and the Dead church.

The only things that are certain are death and taxes, right? Well, death maybe but taxes, no. We don't realize it, but because we grow up in This world, we take for granted that much of the reality is constructed by humans. We constructed money, taxes, and government. These are human institutional truths that only exist because declared to do so, and that as a community we continue accept, begrudgingly or not, that they exist.

Money is a great example of how we build our own reality out of brute facts. Money is just paper, a brute fact, but money is also legal tender, a institutional fact. As legal tender, the Benjamins are just paper given power by human agreement, and the declaration that they have power. If we strip money of its institutional power, the power we placed on it, then taxes no longer to function. And, hence, government no longer functions ( at least in its present capacity) because they are all institutional facts.

Money is the foundation of much of the worlds functions: it moulds how we spend our time, spend our energy, and think. We shape much of our morality around money, like our work ethic. If a guy sits inside all day, with no job, and just drinks beer all day, we think of him as a worthless bumb. But our rules for deciding this are based, consciously or unconsciously, around our perceptions of having a job to make money. We judge him based on our understanding of our world, a world of our constructed beliefs. If there was not money, which we agree upon or accept, we would not judge him. If there was not money, then we might not see anything as wrong with him because he does not have a job. There is not a reason for having a job, besides food of course. And, if culture shifted to see men as protectors, but not providers, then he would simply be passing time doing his job, protecting. And, it might even be that his alcoholism is seen as a beneficial trait: it endows him with fearlessness to protect the household.

It gets really complicated. Pull one string in the tapestry and the whole structure reweaves itself. Gandhi understood how to mould institutional reality: he simply got others to stop believing in it. Even though they could have died, they simply striped death of its power as well. And, so the structure of India started to change into another conception, one in line with Indian belief. Martin Luther King, highly influenced by Gandhi, did the same thing and affected the collective belief in the power of the structure. The ignorant, powers-that-be structure became the powers-that-were because he and those who agreed with him stopped functioning in and believing in a structure that didn't work for them. They declared themselves different, and so they were. (this is very simplified and for now I am just leaving out the massive suffering involved.)

All of this, was done within a certain context and with a large scale power. But, these governments got their power by imposing functions on words and realities that did not otherwise have those functions. For instance, purchasing power that is given to the paper we call money. And, much the way this paper becomes money, so words can take the place of paper, as it relates to the imposition of a function that it did not otherwise have. Words, like paper, can become the foundation of a social structure. The problem is that those words need a speaker with authority that can impose functions on word in a way that other people will accept that imposition. When the leader with that power imposes functions on words, and the generations pass, that imposition of function on a word gets built upon, creating a larger structure, which continues to create an elaborate social structure that can become a culture or a government. It becomes the reality of that group. Overtime, it becomes almost as real as the brute facts of the world, facts like a rock is a rock.

In the church this declarative power, this imposition of function on words, has become a major problem. Many pastors, especially in the charismatic denominations, seem to possess the power of Gods words, and hence a major power to impose functions on words that did not otherwise have them—such as Bible versus. They have the power of, supposedly, hearing from God; they are his mouth piece. This is a problem because they are men directing social reality on fouled up foundations. They build reality like we build neighborhoods in Florida, each according to his own plan. Social realities pop up everywhere. One pastor teaches a reality that is different from the next pastor by using the authority of scripture, and positional authority, to create his/ her own reality. Each pastor overlays his/her own meaning onto bible versus, meaning it did not have originally.

As a church, I mean this very generally, the people of the book, they use the bible like a Home Depot. They purchase their building materials and build houses in their individual ways. They may use many of the same materials and some the same methods, but much is different. Unfortunately, much of the church has less oversight than real world builders. They use cardboard where there ought to be plywood, and sticks where there are to be two-by-4s. The church does not have inspectors.

There is not much communication across denominational borders; there is a huge ambiguity as to what the bible means (lack of education on original meaning); There is no watchdog, like the media for the government, by which each churches doctrines are evaluated against the true intentions of the bible.

The church needs educated contractors (pastors, teachers) to help build conceptual structure to house the masses in. It needs men who use the right nails, strong pine, and the right designs. This, however, is not an easy process, for it requires a communal change; a change that would require a greater leadership, and the assets allocated to create that leadership. It is ground up revolutions that have affect. Their must be men and women willing to challenge the church and its foul foundations. It requires that the enlightened get the ear of those who are young. It requires a change of generations.

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