Opinions on faith and life

Gridlock

2011-01-10

I was reading an article about cloud computing today and would encourage you to read it too, including the comments. The basic question is whether it’s irrational to be suspicious of such a thing as putting all our data in the hands of a “cloud”, a remote computer system which for all we know may be located in another country. And I would hope by now that rational people don’t swallow any government or multinational corporation’s oath to never snoop or erase or alter such data, nor to use it to accuse us of thought crimes. We know that Google has been willing to cooperate with oppressive foreign governments’ censorship, wordpress.com and Blogger and Facebook have been willing to shut people up for “hate speech”, and the government never stops trying to tax, censor, and otherwise confiscate this medium by which the masses have been circumventing their efforts.

We are already practicing/demonstrating the popularity and feasibility of such cloud computing with our blogs, tweets, Facebook statuses, and free email boxes. But we have been doing this in other areas far longer: the electrical grid, the food distribution system, etc. Getting “off the grid” has been a growing trend for a small portion of the population, because they see the inherent danger of any sort of one-to-many control. And not just control; our electrical power grid is especially vulnerable to sabotage which would cripple the civilized world. In contrast, each home or neighborhood having its own power source would be far more difficult to disrupt. We also see efforts to take away travel independence by the push for mass transit instead of “evil” personal cars.

But we have been on a “grid” of centralized control spiritually as well. Anyone can see from a superficial study of history that one person or small group in charge of the spirituality of millions wields a degree of control that we fallible humans should never be entrusted with. Satan knows that if we arrange ourselves in hierarchies, all he has to do is control the top and the rest are his as well. Control the few at the top of the religion and you control the spirituality of many. And if anyone disputes that claim, then where do terms like “the religious right” or “liberal denominations” come from?

We can also cite the old proverb, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. The scandals rocking the Southern Baptist Convention and Roman Catholic Church in recent years are the poster children for this saying, not to mention the obvious political application. Think of the influence the seminaries have on what even the smallest congregations are taught week after week. And remember that seminaries, like all colleges, follow the wishes of their benefactors, giving even greater power to those benefactors. The higher into the “clouds” the grid reaches, the easier it is for a very small number of people to control millions by controlling what they’re taught.

Christians today have unprecedented access to scholarly research and early scriptural documents that in the past were only available to a very few. As I’ve mentioned before, the physical control of copies of the Bible in the middle ages gave way to the intellectual control we have been subject to for many generations, and gave rise to not only some very suspect interpretations of the text but also to tampering with its very words. But now many ordinary people have seen what’s been going on, and the control freaks are panicking. The pushback against egalitarianism and the out-of-church movements, for example, is the fearful reaction to loss of control, and for the present they are resorting to smear campaigns learned from the political realm. But how long will we have this power over those who want very badly to regain their kingdoms?

If something is valuable to you, protect it. As Christians, we should make sure we have some hard copies of not only the Bible but also as much research documentation as we can afford. I’m continuing to develop my online New Testament (click on the Gift in the sidebar), and can continue on my own computer if for some reason internet access went away. Then I could try and print it in some form. But if I went to cloud computing completely I’d have no way to protect my work. So I encourage you to also get all the free downloads you can, and keep your computer hardware and software as up-to-date as possible, so you at least have some time to adjust when the cloud/grid makes the manufacture and sale of personal computing tools economically unfeasible.

But above all, protect your mind and spirit. Don’t give in to those who would happily take your personal responsibilities away, because they take your personal freedoms with them. As the apostle Paul put it in Phil. 4:4-9,

Always be happy in the Master; I repeat: be happy! Make your impartiality obvious to everyone; the Master is near. Don’t be obsessed with anything, but in everything— with prayers and appeals with gratitude— make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God, which is superior to every other state of mind, will fortify your hearts and thoughts in Anointed Jesus.

Finally, sisters and brothers: whatever is true, whatever is dignified, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is agreeable, whatever is well-spoken of— if there is any valor or something praiseworthy— consider these things. Whatever you learned from me and accepted, whatever you heard and saw in me, that’s what you should do. And the God of Peace will be with you.

Being “in Anointed Jesus” takes us off the world’s grid, and from the world’s artificial “cloud” to the very presence of God in heaven. While some boast of their being “free thinkers” or “free spirits”, only those who are “in Anointed Jesus” via faith in His death and resurrection are truly free. Get off the spiritual “grid” of hierarchy and graze freely in God’s “green pastures”.