Eric Weiner Quote – Self-Help Industrial Complex

I am reading “Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World” by Jane McGonigal right now. It’s pretty good though I think the show Black Mirror serves as a counter-argument to most of what she is suggesting concerning games “fixing” reality. In the chapter I just finished she shared this quote from Eric Weiner (from his work “The Geography of Bliss“:

The self-help industrial complex hasn’t helped. By telling us that happiness lives inside us, it’s turned us inward just when we should be looking outward. Not to money but to other people, to community and to the kind of human bonds that so clearly are the sources of our happiness.

In my opinion there is a lot of truth in that quote.

SIDE NOTE – the photo associated with this post is from one of Tapestry’s breakfasts at various local restaurants.

Personal Finance Podcasts

Since I talked about personal finance with 4 separate people today whiling chaplaining and I am now a little over half-way finished with Pam’s and my income tax forms I thought I would that a quick break and post the podcasts I am presently listening to concerning personal finance.

Here they are in the order in which I like them.

I do a good bit of driving, walking, and running throughout my day so I get to listen to a lot of podcasts. I find these helpful. I listen to Clark Howard pretty much immediately and then work my way through the others as I feel like it, have time, or how I feel about the subject they are talking about.

My biggest encouragement to anyone is the following list of actions:

  • Take control of your spending – Personally I don’t care how you do it, just do it. A budget is great. Getting rid of unnecessary expenses (i.e. downsizing on lots of things) is also great. I believe giving to God should be part of this, first because it is the right thing to do, and second, because it helps you to gain control of your spending. Just do something.
  • Freeze your credit – this is closest thing to “sure fire” credit identity theft protection you can have right now (there is no such thing ass “sure fire” which is why I said “closest thing to”).
  • Start a Roth IRA (unless you are in rarefied air where tax-wise it makes better sense to contribute to retirement pre-tax) – Not only are you saving and planning for your retirement but you are also building an emergency fund because you can pull your contributions out of a Roth IRA without penalty for an emergency.
  • Learn more of what you should do – Habits grow by consistently working on them. I don’t ever want anyone focused on their money (mammon makes a lousy god) and learning new and better ways to control your finances is a great way of keeping your finances from controlling you.

How Much Yarn Can a Basset Eat and Survive?

I’m not sure how much but I know at least this much. I assume this is about 50′ of yarn.

Normally Clive doesn’t eat non-digestible things other than liking chewing on paper. Thursday night he had an upset stomach and apparently ate some yarn in order to induce himself to vomit. I had no idea how much he had eaten until it started coming out both ends at different times. It’s funny now that I am no longer concerned about an intestinal blockage, he is eating and pooping fine. For a while there it wasn’t funny at all because I was concerned about my dog.

I’m fairly sure the dog ate enough yarn to crochet a toboggan or at least a baby toboggan (that is a knit cap for my Northern friends). Stupid dog.

Most Influential Ministers in My Life

This week while listening to a podcast I heard the following statement: “You are the sum of the five people closest to you.” I thought it was interesting thought and it got me to thinking of the ministers who have influenced how I minister. So here’s a list of the ministers who I believe have most influenced how I minister.

  • Mike Nuss – Mike was Pam’s and my campus minister when we were working on our undergraduate degrees at the University of South Alabama (Go Jags!). Mike is the type of minister that you would name your child after because of the influence he had on your life. Pam and I didn’t but he seriously is that type of minister. Mike taught me a lot of things but probably the most important lesson that I learned from him was that ministry involves equipping and enabling others to serve. Mike was a background guy. He was the one getting others to do things that they didn’t think they could do. I don’t really remember him doing anything “upfront”, though I am sure he did. He was always getting other involved in ministry. Obviously this is still true because Mike is now the head of Baptist campus ministries for the state of Alabama. College was almost 30 years ago for me and I still quote Mike in many of my conversations concerning ministry. Mike & Judy’s relationship have also influenced much of how ministry works within Pam’s and my relationship. Judy supported Mike’s ministry, and was involved in the student ministry, but she didn’t have to be at everything he did because had a different calling. She wasn’t ministry lagniappe that arrived just for hiring Mike.  She was, and is, her own person with her on gifting and call. So maybe the name on this point should have read “Mike & Judy Nuss”.
  • Rochelle Davis – Rochelle was the first pastor that I worked with as a youth minister, even if it was only for Summer. The Summer after my Freshmen year of college I went to Detroit and served for the Summer at the Temple of Faith Baptist Church. Rochelle taught me a lot about want it meant to be a pastor who cares for issues of justice and also to fall in love with whatever is true in the culture in which you live while confronting what is false. So much of what I do on a daily basis comes back to being a Summer youth minister at a black Baptist church in inner-city Detroit. This is also a shout out once again to Mike Nuss because I went to Detroit because of Mike.
  • Frank Morrow – Frank was the third pastor I worked with as a youth minister at the First Baptist Church of Covington, Texas. This was in the smallest town that Pam and I have ever lived in, around 150 people. Nobody cared if Frank was a good preacher or not because he was probably the best servant I have ever been around. “Hey the city of Covington needs some work, let’s organize a community day of service.” If there was a need to be met Frank was making sure it was being met. Old mister big stick himself Theodore Roosevelt said “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” I’ve often heard this used in reference to preaching. Frank lived it out. Frank could have stumbled through ever message he ever preached and nobody would have cared because he undoubtedly had been super busy during the week caring for the people of our community.
  • Kevin McCallon – Kevin was the second pastor that I ever worked with as a youth minister at Grove Hill Baptist Church. I only worked with him around a year so his influence isn’t day to day ministry. He was a very good pastor but his influence on me really comes down to one thing he said to me. One day he told me that ministry could either be the easiest job I ever had or the most difficult and I was the one who determined which it would be. I could go and play golf with the deacon once or twice a week and visit the “important” people every now and then and basically float through the rest of the week. Many ministers do this and they have nice cushy jobs with plenty of prestige. The other option was that I could allow Jesus to show me all that needs to be done and all that needs to be challenged. This option would lead to more trouble but a better ministry. There would never be enough hours or hands for the work, and there would always be something else to do or someone to visit. I had to choose which the job would be. I had to learn to add a focus on Sabbath to this but Kevin’s statement still influences me.
  • Paul Swadley – Paul was a long term interim pastor at First Baptist Carthage when I was there. Paul was probably one of the happiest people I have ever met. Seriously the guy smiled all the time. Of course, that smile had a strong amount of determination and grit that went with it. Paul used his time at First Baptist Carthage to take a healthy church and make it even better. He didn’t coast. He pushed forward. His year and a half at FBC Carthage was the best of my 6 years there. His preaching showed a great deal of love for the people he was preaching too. That love involved him calling out sin when he saw it because he believe that the sin was destructive to the people he loved. He did this, as he did everything, with a smile on his face and a great deal of love and grace for the people he was with.

There are other people I could throw into this mix like Pat Lee (who taught me a lot about delegating to others, she ran the best college Sunday School department I’ve ever seen), Andy & Elisabeth Leininger (who taught me a ton about missions and following your calling – the auctioning of all their worldly goods, including their dog, before they went on mission is a lesson that has stuck with me, in addition to teaching me to think creatively about culture and the gospel),My “suitemates” at Parkview Baptist Church in Baton Rouge (Jess, Meg, Alan, Clint, and Josh – I judge how effect ministry teams are based on y’al),  Bill Pruitt (who may well be the second-best pastor as a servant I’ve ever seen – Sorry but Frank wins first), and others. There have also been a few bad examples, who I won’t name, whom I wouldn’t trust Pam’s cats with, as well as a few bad mistakes (some doozies) that I learned from from some of the very same people I have mentioned as good examples. I am the ministerial sum of so many of these men and women, and for them I am thankful.

SIDE NOTE – the image associated with this post is of Billy Sunday who is not one of the ministers who has shaped how I minister.

Forgiveness & Rachael Denhollander

Forgiveness is not a passive act. The first step of forgiveness is actually recognizing and declaring that something is evil. After all, if an act isn’t wrong there isn’t really anything to forgive. It might be a cultural faux pas or a stupid action, but those things don’t need forgiveness because blunders in etiquette, clumsiness, and ignorance don’t purposefully hurt someone. Forgiveness on the other hand deals with actions that result in harm. This harm might be societal, relational, physical, or any number of other ways but it is still harm.

As a follower of Jesus I am called to forgive because and as I have been forgiven by God. “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13). I believe the reason for this is not just for the restoration of relationship but also for the destruction of evil. Forgiveness defeats evil by not allowing evil to have the last word. Forgiveness starts with either the victim, the perpetrator, or both recognizing that real harm was done by the perpetrator. Evil was done and that needs to be acknowledged.

Unfortunately I know of which I speak in regards to being hooked.

This is why forgiveness isn’t just “letting someone off the hook” as we so often use the phrase. Actually I think often what people want in forgiveness is to forget that the “hook” is there at all and pretend like everything is ok. Unfortunately i have experienced a few hooks in my hand. Taking care of the issue is a very painful event. Forgetting the hook is there doesn’t solve the problem. Since there is a barb in the hook you have to push the hook forward through the skin. You can’t pull it back out because the barb will continue to catch your flesh as you pull it backward. So you push the point all the way through the skin and then cut the barb off so you can remove the hook. Removing the hook hurts like “a big dog”, but it is the only way that you’ll ever be free. That’s what true forgiveness does, it frees both the victim and the perpetrator from the evil that has been done and that only happens when the evil is “pushed” into the light. And boy does that hurt.

I think this is where we, as those needing forgiveness, often struggle. We fail to realize or don’t want to realize that an initial part of receiving forgiveness involves acknowledging the harm and evil of what we have done. We don’t want to actually confront what we have done as evil. We just want to be able to ignore it and have it forgotten. That’s not forgiveness though.

Forgiveness is removing the power of sin and part of that is done by acknowledging the action for what it was … evil. For the perpetrator this might sound like , “when I broke our family apart that was evil.” “When I hurt you that was evil.” For the victim it might sound like “what you did to our family is evil.” Those are powerful confessions that actually begin the process of freeing both the victim and the perpetrator from the evil that was done. That’s not a passive. That’s not being a doormat.

Yesterday we were given a good example of this during the sentencing hearing of Larry Nassar. Rachael Denhollander’s statement during the sentencing hearing part of Larry Nassar’s trial is a powerful example of calling evil what it is as a part of forgiveness. Her statement can be found here. I want to quote part of it:

Rachael Denhollander reading her statement. She is one brave person.

In our early hearings. you brought your Bible into the courtroom and you have spoken of praying for forgiveness. And so it is on that basis that I appeal to you. If you have read the Bible you carry, you know the definition of sacrificial love portrayed is of God himself loving so sacrificially that he gave up everything to pay a penalty for the sin he did not commit. By his grace, I, too, choose to love this way.

You spoke of praying for forgiveness. But Larry, if you have read the Bible you carry, you know forgiveness does not come from doing good things, as if good deeds can erase what you have done. It comes from repentance which requires facing and acknowledging the truth about what you have done in all of its utter depravity and horror without mitigation, without excuse, without acting as if good deeds can erase what you have seen this courtroom today.
If the Bible you carry says it is better for a stone to be thrown around your neck and you throw into a lake than for you to make even one child stumble. And you have damaged hundreds.
The Bible you speak carries a final judgment where all of God’s wrath and eternal terror is poured out on men like you. Should you ever reach the point of truly facing what you have done, the guilt will be crushing. And that is what makes the gospel of Christ so sweet. Because it extends grace and hope and mercy where none should be found. And it will be there for you.
I pray you experience the soul crushing weight of guilt so you may someday experience true repentance and true forgiveness from God, which you need far more than forgiveness from me — though I extend that to you as well.
Throughout this process, I have clung to a quote by C.S. Lewis, where he says, my argument against God was that the universe seems so cruel and unjust. But how did I get this idea of just, unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he first has some idea of straight. What was I comparing the universe to when I called it unjust?
Larry, I can call what you did evil and wicked because it was. And I know it was evil and wicked because the straight line exists. The straight line is not measured based on your perception or anyone else’s perception, and this means I can speak the truth about my abuse without minimization or mitigation. And I can call it evil because I know what goodness is. And this is why I pity you. Because when a person loses the ability to define good and evil, when they cannot define evil, they can no longer define and enjoy what is truly good.

Every now and then as a pastor and chaplain I talk with people who think forgiveness means pretending that their evil act didn’t happen. “I just want things to go back to the way they were.” But they can’t because, to use the hook analogy again, pretending the hook is gone doesn’t actually remove the hook. Such pretending doesn’t defeat the evil. Forgiveness does defeat evil by acknowledging what our actions were, selfish, hurtful, evil. Still for both the victim and the perpetrator it hurts like a big dog.

Being the Church

Pretty frequently I am told of a “thread” being involved in some act of service that has nothing to do with Tapestry. A few times I have learned of a group of “threads” establishing a small group Bible study that I didn’t know anything about. Let me make this blatantly clear, I LOVE WHEN I HEAR ABOUT SERVICE AND STUDY INVOLVEMENT THAT I KNEW NOTHING ABOUT.

Seriously it is one of my favorite things because it means that the “threads” aren’t being dependent upon Tapestry as an organization setting up ministry opportunities. Instead they are being the church. Here are a few examples, but I could list others.

Elizabeth – She and others saw a need while they were on various international trips and they decided to do something about it. Together they started Disability Support International. As a group they “advocate, support, and empower to improve the lives of children with disabilities in developing countries so they can live life to the fullest.” She didn’t think to herself “Gee I wish the church would start something like this so I can be a part of it.” Nope she jumped to it and has since asked the church to be a part of it.

John – I go to the Place of Peace meal each week where I pray for the meal and just make myself available for anyone who wants someone to pray for them. Do you know who I see there every week? John. Pretty much every week he is there making himself available to do whatever is necessary and much more importantly eating a meal with and talking with anyone he believes could use some comradery for the evening, which I believe is the most important thing that happens at the PoP meals. I didn’t ask John to start doing this. I didn’t set it up for him. He just did it.

Conor – I don’t know what day of the week it is but Conor goes to the ECI Warming Center during the period  of the evening that I am told from Tiffani is the most difficult for her to get someone. He is the worker that is there to make sure everyone’s needs are met and that it is a safe place for people to sleep off some of our very cold nights. He said something a while back about wanting to be of service to the homeless population in our area. I think I pointed him to ECI but I’m not sure I did. All I know is that Conor didn’t wait for Tapestry to start something with ECI that he could serve within. Nope he just jumped to it

Natalie & Eric – If you were at Tapestry’s Sunday morning worship gathering this past Sunday you may have noticed that Eric & Natalie weren’t there. This would have been obvious with Eric since instead of him leading us in singing Sarah & Fawnda were doing so (thanks for doing that ladies, you were wonderful). The Glaze family was gone because as a family they play roles in the wonderful Special Olympics of our area. They are following in a family tradition of saying a few Sundays a year “we are going to skip church to go and be the church with some wonderful individuals who ho can do some amazing things with a little help”, and since they are bringing their girls with them and getting them involved they are setting up a new generation to do this too.

These are only four recent stories. I could write about others in the church fostering kids, reaching out to “at risk” kids, helping people make it through things they couldn’t make it through on their own. The reason I bring these four stories up is because of a statement I once heard. The statement is “Churches end up doing what is praised from the pulpit.” Whether this is a good thing or not is another discussion but regardless I think there is a great deal of truth in the statement. I believe that churches that brag on people doing church activities tend to get more people to do church activities. I believe that churches that brag on people bringing guests to church typically get more guests to brought to church. Etc. Etc.

All these things are good things but I want to brag on people randomly seeing areas in which Jesus might want them to serve and jumping to it. I’m not worried about you serving in the church organization, I’m sure that’ll be covered. Actually I find that usually the people who are serving outside the church are also serving in the church. Of the 5 people I mentioned above almost all are already doing acts of service in the church from leading music, to operating our lyric slides, to taking care of the nursery.  The church organization will be fine because people who serve Jesus outside the church walls typically also serve Jesus inside the church (or in our case gym) walls.

See a need, fill a need.

I remember watching the movie Robots with our boys. In that movie Bigweld, the inventor/idol of the lead character has a catch phrase. It is “See a need, fill a need.” I think that is a pretty good model for the church. What I hope you hear from our “pulpit” (in our case that equals a music stand and my stool with all the stickers on it) is basically “see a need, fill a need.” Now let’s go do that. I can’t wait to be surprised by what I hear.

A Matthew 25 Change

This is the change to the parable of the Sheep and the Goats (found in Matthew 25:34-46) that has been running through my head as I read some of the comments on my friend’s Scott’s Facebook page as he posts about people destroying life giving water and food that has been put out for people trying to immigrate, albeit illegally, to the United States.

Then he will say to those on his left, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,  I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.”

They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

And the King will say to them “When you destroyed the water and food meant for the least of these as they traveled a dangerous journey, you destroyed water and food meant for Me. For whatever you did to the least of these you did to Me.”

They also will answer, ‘But Lord, You were an illegal immigrant. If you had entered the country the legal way we would have gladly helped.”

And the king will face palm before getting very angry.

The Greatest AI Panorama

I took a few shots at Lake Louise today and Google offered me this panorama:

I just saw this wonderful panorama on Reddit. It’s awesome. The Google Photos Assistant (Artificial Intelligence). The Google Photos Assistant will suggest things that it believes will help your photos. Sometimes this is adding filters to your photo, or forming a collage of certain photos, or creating an animation of photos that seem to go together, and some times it will create a panorama by putting a few photos that fit together to form a panorama. The photo above is a wonderful example of this feature. A glorious example.

Here are MalletsDarker‘s original photos that Google stitched together.

The Radical Reformation & Authority – Part #2

Sunday night I posted the first part of this lengthy post (The Radical Reformation & Authority – Part #1).  In summary of that post, the Radical Reformation had a more expansive view of the priesthood of all believers that for some led to an extreme distrust of institutional authority and often led to the institutional authority distancing itself still further from the laity, which became a vicious cycle reinforcing itself. This may have taken place 500 years ago but its influence continues to shape us.

So let’s consider what I believe to be a modern example the distrust of institutional authority that has its roots located within the the Reformation. We have plenty of people who have randomly proclaimed themselves to be experts. Health “experts” whose only experience with health is that they were born with genetics that make them attractive to the majority of the population. Financial “experts” who have gone through several bankruptcies and proclaiming that they can teach us how to get rid of our debt and gain wealth, while failing to mention that the way they are removing their debt and building their wealth is by us buying their books and attending their lectures.  Medical “experts” whose education has come from the University of Google which can be anything from great things like Google Scholar to stupid things like We have any number of other fields in which people proclaim themselves “experts” because they can since we don’t trust institutions.

So often the reaction we see from the institutional authorities to people turning to these self-proclaimed “experts” is a closing in of the authorities to further separate themselves from the laity in their field. Often instead of listen to the real fears and questions of the people they serve the institutional authorities turn a blind eye to those they are supposed to be serving and rely on positional authority to buttress their positions, rather than listening to their clients who are being woo’d by the self-proclaimed “experts” and eve worse sometimes outright charlatans.

In my opinion, a fair number of multi-level marketing companies (I’m not saying all MLMs) are entirely based off of these two phenomenons of the mistrust of institutional authority and the institutions responding by reinforcing their positional authority and credentials. I’ll use medical science as an example. First, convince your prospective client that they can’t trust what medical science is telling them because their physicians, hospitals, pharmacists, and others are only in it for the money. Second, convince your client that you are actually an expert and more scientific than their physicians, hospitals, pharmacists, and others because you took some weekend course, and yet somehow you aren’t actually just in it for the money. Finally, watch as your prospective clients bring this information to their physicians, hospitals, pharmacists, and others who respond by dismissing the client’s concerns and chasing the client back to you.

You can probably think of a few examples that fit in here. I can think of some examples of people who I wouldn’t trust taking care of Pam’s cats (which wouldn’t take a lot of trust because their cats and therefore no great loss 😁) who have become “experts” and try to convince others turn to them for advice on very important matters. These very same “experts” often talk a good game on but don’t actually live out in their lives.

My saddest personal example comes for when I was working a side-job years ago at a store that Pam to refers to as a yuppy-hippy store. What Pam meant about this was that all the products the store sold where earthy and organic, while also being costly so they signaled that you were wealthy because you could afford them. I would fill in at this store a few hours every now and then. Mostly I read because the store was very rarely busy and didn’t have a lot of stocking or other work. Anyhow one day a lady who was obviously weak from ill health came into the store and straight forwardly said to me, “I need to know which essential oils cure cancer.” I was dumbstruck as she told me that she had reached a point where her physician had told her there weren’t many other options for treatment and didn’t respond to well to this poor lady when she started sharing alternatives with him that she had found on Google. She was so desperate she had entered a store she didn’t know and was willing to trust a clerk she had never met.

By the way, friends and acquaintances who sell essential oils (I don’t think there are many of y’all) I have nothing against y’all’s essential oils or you selling them. I think essential oils often smell great.

Some people intentionally and unintentionally take advantage of the type of desperation and mistrust that the woman in my story had. The old-fashion “snake oil salesmen” understood how to use our tendency in America not to trust institutional authority. Our modern versions understand this also. Usually it just cost us poor saps a little money and time. Sometimes it costs us much more.

Of course, questioning institutional authority can and very often is a VERY good thing. There is a great deal of institutional authority that needs to be questioned.  The Reformation proved this. Today there are still tons of examples of credential authorities using institutional authority as a way to shut up or literally abuse the ones that they are supposed to be helping. Pam and I were talking tonight about some of the crimes that have been committed recently by people who had organizational power. Evil has been done by people being controlled by individuals using institutional authority as their cover. Larry Nassar and the abuse he inflicted on so many young ladies involved in USA Gymnastics is just the latest example of institutional authority being used as a means of evil. Questioning the positional authority of credentialed individuals in these institutions helps to keep us all honest and safe.

Another example that I want to consider comes about when those in authority react against “the laity” bringing in information to them. Using medical science again it is an important truth that a patient is the expert of his/her own body. Unfortunately some physicians (institutional experts) fear this. Patients may bring them information they found from good sources and bad sources. Often it doesn’t matter whether the sources are good or bad science. The very act of someone questioning their authority is beyond the pale, so they shut it down.  Pam’s subglottic stenosis journey is an example of this (you can, and should, read about her journey here). “I’m the physician and I know best” is not a good answer when a patient is bring questions about their own treatment. When credentialed experts rely on positional authority rather than earned authority terrible things frequently happen. Ironically, shutting down the patient oft encourages the mistrust of the physician’s positional authority and encourages the patient to go to quacks who will actually listen to the patient. As I said this thing is often a self-reinforcing cycle.

There is so much about the Radical Reformation for which I am thankful. Especially their expansive view of the priesthood of all believers. I am very thankful for the questioning of institutions and the power they can claim in our society. We grew our fear of organizational power from the influence of the Radical Reformation’s extreme view of the priesthood of all believers. It may have started with the church but it has long since expanded into all the institutions in our lives. There is good to that but they is also danger. It creates a very fertile soil in which quacks and self-proclaimed experts grow. Sometimes this leads to serious harm. During the Radical Reformation it led to some of the best and worst of faith. My faith tradition wouldn’t exist without the Radical Reformation. There was also some very seriously messed up faith practices that came out of the Radical Reformation. The best and the worst often have the same source. The same is true today. We may be five centuries and an continent away from them but they still influence us.

SIDE NOTE – I am generally not a fan of long blog posts. I think part of this is because I have more difficult proofing them (already one of my weaknesses) in the longer format. I apologize for how long these two posts have been and, therefore, how many grammatical mistakes I am sure are found within the posts. Of course, this is just a hobby for me so you should stop complaining about my grammar. 🙂

The Radical Reformation & Authority – Part #1

Right now I am watching the Vikings/Eagles NFC Championship game fearing that I will have no team to pull for in the Super Bowl (How can I pull for the Vikings or the Patriots). Therefore, to keep my mind off of the possibility of having lots of people over to our home to watch a game of two teams that I really don’t like I thought I would post about an area of influence from the Radical Reformation that I see all around us.

Before I begin I will paraphrase and mashup Amos 7:14 and Dan Carlin and say that I am neither a historian, nor the son of a historian, but I am a fan of history. In other words, I am speaking very much as a lay person here. I will leave it up to Rob Harper to correct my errors in discussing the influence of elements of history and Kirby Goidel in my brief “rabbit chasing” into political theory. So I will begin.

When we talk about “The Reformation” we are actually talking about three interlocked reformations that began in the 16th century. The three different reformations are:

  • The Magisterial Reformation – made of of Lutheran and Reformed thought and supported by the princes in their areas. The Magisterial Reformation consisted of thinkers who said to themselves “The Roman Catholic Church is beyond reform and therefore we will separate replacing the Roman Catholic elites with our elites”.
  • The Catholic Counter Reformation – obviously made up of Roman Catholics. The Catholic Counter Reformation may have saved the Roman Catholic Church. A lot of people in power agreed with the arguments of the Magisterial Reformation and the Roman Catholic Church began to loose a large number of people. So RC thinkers took this opportunity and reformed the practices and various theology that supported those corrupt practices. The reforms led to a Catholic resurgence from a pending collapse and the RCC kept its elites in power in many places and maintained support form many monarchs and members of the second estate.
  • The Radical Reformation – made up .primarily of thinkers who thought that the Magisterial Reformation didn’t go far enough in following what was written in the Bible. So the RR went further … often much further. This is why we have the saying “The Catholics hated the Protestants, the Protestants hated the Catholics, and EVERYBODY hated the Radicals.”

Of the three reformation movements the Radical Reformers held the most extreme view of the Priesthood of All Believers and this led to them often rejecting almost all institutional religious authority. In my opinion, the best parts and the worst parts of the Reformation come out of the Radical Reformation. I am a big fan of the RR even though things like Münster rebellion came through it. The best and worst often come through the same thought.

The Radical Reformation’s rejection of institutional, especially religious institutional,  authority was a threat to the stability of all the city states and kingdoms in Europe. If you could say that anyone, regardless of pedigree, could interpret scripture and it might be as good, or even better, than the interpretation of your priest, bishop, or pope it wouldn’t be a much bigger step to start thinking that anyone could make political decisions as good as your sheriff, mayor, prince, or king. Ultimately this step was taken and democratic republicans run by ordinary people replaced the “divine right to rule” of monarchies. Thank you Radical Reformation.

Like I wrote earlier, I believe the best and worst often come through the same thoughts. One of the great things that came out of the RR was the questioning of authority. So much of the institutional authority, both sacred and secular, at the time was corrupt and desperately needed to be questioned. The authorities served themselves and not the people. The “priesthood of all believers”, as understood by the radicals, led to ordinary people realizing they could think and act and this led to the correction of many of the abuses. Of course, it also led to a couple of not so good results also. In my opinion two examples of the bad result were:

  1. The institutional authority that didn’t reform on its own had a tendency to dig in and really force institutional authority until it was itself forced to reform.
  2. Any “Joe Blow” who could string a couple of sentences together could suddenly reject the institutional authority and proclaim him/herself an expert and authority for other people to follow.

Both of these things can be very destructive and often feed upon one another. Any “Joe Blow” being able to proclaim him/herself an authority often leads to the mistaken belief that just because everyone has an equal right to interpret scripture and make choices based on those interpretations that therefore everyone’s interpretation and acts based on those interpretation are equally good. This can and has led to some seriously out there interpretations and actions. The institutional authority often reacts to these “Joe Blows” by pulling inward on itself and excluding anyone who doesn’t fit their criteria or have the correct credentials. This led to and still does lead to the authority separating still further from the non-experts. A the time the clergy separated further from the laity, making the divisions even greater than they already were. Which then fed into people being even more open to the self-proclaim “Joe Blow” experts who were not separating themselves from the ordinary people.  People don’t usually follow wackos when tthey feel like they are actually being engaged by the institutions of which they have long been a part. And the cycle fed on itself and still does.

I will separate this post here because I don’t like writing very long posts and this is now one such post. Tomorrow I will write about the subject that this historical discussion is meant to point toward. For you see, I believe that so much of the danger of the separation of medical science and alternative medicine has its roots in the inherent distrust of institutional authority that can be traced back to understandings of the great doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. The experts don’t listen to the laity because of fear and anger at the “Joe Blows” and this leads to more people listening to the random self-proclaim “Joe Blow” experts.

SIDE NOTE – The Eagles won! This means that I now have someone to cheer for in the Super Bowl. Yeah!