Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Triumph of Denial

It’s not denial. I’m just selective about the reality I accept.
- Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes

At one time or another, most all of us have chosen to not know what we know, to not feel what we feel. Married couples telling others and themselves that they are in a solid and healthy relationship, while in reality they frequently find themselves daydreaming of their spouse’s death; parents choosing to ignore all the signs of a strung-out teenager; business owners willfully blind to market trends and red ink; politicians telling themselves and their constituents that a gazillion dollar debt is best dealt with by going into more debt. While the intent is not always malicious, the consequences are always disastrous. 

“Better the devil you know than the one you don’t,” Wilson. Really? How about, “If you lie down with the devil, you wake up in hell”?

The triumph of denial is a triumph of darkness. It is akin to calling evil, “good,” and good, “evil,” which, as the prophet Isaiah pointed out, always leads to “woe.”

(Woe: Bible-speak for grief, distress, and affliction.)   

Listen up, Wilson: if I see what I see and feel what I feel, I am doomed. I see no way for me to get through the darkness. Denial keeps me sane. 

Of course you can’t see your way out. Crikey, man, you’ve turned the lights off! The first step in the process of transformation and increased wisdom is turning the lights back on by embracing your present reality.

We can’t get to where we want to go without acknowledging where we are, presently. Scary? You bet. However, the consequences of continued denial only increases the depth and breadth of the carnage, when reality can no longer be ignored.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2015

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

When Everybody Else is Screaming

In quietness and in trust shall be your strength.  –God

It is relatively rare for me to engage in debates, any longer. My 40+ years of experience in mouth-to-mouth combat is that we very rarely win over people’s minds and hearts by arguing with them. Typically such debates merely polarize the combatants (telling word, eh), rather than winning over those with whom we are speaking. I am not suggesting that I do not have strong convictions for which I am ready to passionately defend or explain; only that I rarely see an opportunity to actually have a conversation where we seek to persuade, rather than browbeat.

My experience is that, generally, people have come to their convictions and positions via fear and anger or past hurts and disappointments. When this is the case, deductive logic, philosophical arguments, theological assertions, and history lessons, aren’t of much use. If there is to be a meaningful conversation in such a situation, it usually must begin at the psychological level, and most people just don’t want to go there, as they are convinced their emotional reactions are logical arguments. Maybe if we sought to first befriend others, or at least to develop an authentic rapport, there would be more possibilities for getting down to their real issues. Anyway-

What do we do when everyone around us is screaming?

A soft answer turns away wrath. –Solomon

If you believe you must speak with those whom are screaming, remember the Wisdom of Solomon. Trust me. If you will keep speaking softly (or hold off on using caps lock), 7 out of 10 times the decibel levels will fall and you just might have an opportunity for a genuine conversation.

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you. -St Paul

If you’re finding that most every day you are lobbing mouth-grenades on Facebook, at the office, wherever, you may want to reflect on your ambitions. If your life is defined by arguing with others, how about taking a break from “Tongue-fu!” and spending time on making your life the argument for what you believe. You will be amazed by the conversations your life will elicit.

 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. –St James

Tell me exactly how peaceable we are when spit is flying out of our mouths and you can see our pulsating jugular from 10 yards away? How gentle are we when everything about our demeanor and words scream. “I want to throttle you”? (There’s a difference between being stern and being mean-spirited.) Is there anything about us that says, “I am truly listening to you,” or “I am easily entreated”? Which all begs the question: What is the source of our wisdom? Is it from above or from elsewhere?

When someone urinates on what you hold sacred, pleasantries are idiotic and disingenuous. Got it. But think about this: Do we want to win this person over, to disabuse them of illusions, to help them come to the Truth? Or do we wish to make sure they see that they are numbskulls? What is our intended outcome? If you want to fight, have at it. But if we want to win people over, we may want to change our communication strategies … and our attitudes.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2015

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and a Great War: The Significance of Insignificant Hobbits and Children

Thus, the “small people” who fought and suffered in the Great War helped inspire the creation of the unlikely heroes in Tolkien’s greatest imaginative work. Like soldiers in the war, the homely hobbits could not have perceived how the fate of nations depended upon their stubborn devotion to duty. – Joseph Loconte*

Anyone familiar with Tolkien’s Hobbits knows that they avoid adventures of all kinds and at all costs. Hobbits prefer puffing on a pipe in comfortable chairs discussing the meal they had just eaten, or were about to eat, to paths leading to unknown destinations. They certainly want nothing to do with Dark Lords, powerful rings, and dragons. A Hobbit will choose security and comfort over adventures, every time; until, that is, the adventure catches up with him.

Tolkien said “The Hobbits are just rustic English people, made small in size because it reflects the generally small reach of their imagination—not the small reach of their courage or latent power.” (Loconte) In other words, hobbits are a wonderful representation of the “average Joe.” Before he wakes up in the adventure, he is all about comfort. After he wakes, he discovers that there is far more to him then meets the eye. What he chooses to do with his latent power is the question.

“I have always been impressed that we were here (trenches in WWI), surviving, because of the indomitable courage of quite small people against impossible odds.” The hobbits were made small, he explained, “to show up, in creatures of very small physical power, the amazing and unexpected heroism of ordinary men ‘in a pinch.’” (Loconte, citing a letter written by Tolkien.)

In the first volume of CS Lewis’ “The Chronicles of Narnia,” The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, four average children – Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie – walk through the back of a wardrobe into the magical land of Narnia, where they join the lion Aslan and his army, experience harrowing adventures, and then become Kings and Queens of Narnia.

Children are weak. Children are often foolish. Children lack wisdom. A perfect metaphor for many of us: for how we see ourselves. “There’s a war? Everyone knows that it’s extraordinary men and women with great power who change the tides of war; not ‘children’ like me!”

Landing in the Adventure
Stumbling into Narnia or landing on the path to Mordor presents the protagonist with a Calling where the answer is “Yes” or “No.” “(I)ndifference to the Call to struggle against evil is not an option: one must take sides. This, set before our imagination in the words of Tolkien and Lewis, is one of the great paradoxes of our mortal lives: the mysterious intersection of providence and free will.” (Loconte)

Loconte cites this exchange between Sam and Frodo regarding saying, “Yes” or “No,” from The Lord of the Rings:

“I don’t like anything here at all,” said Frodo, “step or stone, breath or bone. Earth, air, and water all seem accursed. But so our path is laid.”

“Yes, that’s so,” said Sam. “And we shouldn’t be here at all, if we’d known more about it, before we started. But I suppose it’s often that way. The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of sport, as you might say. But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually — their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t.” 

You have landed in a war. You weren’t looking for it; you didn’t want anything more than to remain before a roaring fire and binge watching a new series on Netflix. But with not so much as a how-do-you-do, the war exploded on your doorstep or at your child’s school or at work. The Call has been issued: fight for Truth, Justice, Goodness, and Liberty, or fall in with Sauron or the White Witch.

Being an insignificant Hobbit grants no deferment, no immunity, from this Calling. Deeming yourself useless and unfit for battle does nothing to keep the Calling at bay. In fact, it appears that God prefers using Hobbits and Children, or so says St Paul:

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

* “A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-1918,” Nelson Books, 2015

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2015

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and a Great War: Heroic Quests in a Time of War

“Lewis understood evil as ‘an objective power in the world, waging a war for individual souls. It seeks to create a society of slaves, ruled by despots, and ‘held together entirely by fear and greed.’” – Joseph Loconte*

I first read Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings in January of 1971, a time of incredible disillusionment, especially among young people. Vietnam was a debacle; the “All you need is love” crowd was still reeling with the news that at a Rolling Stones concert (1969), the security team (Hells Angels: who could have ever guessed that something would go wrong?) had killed four people; at Kent State (1970) National guardsmen had fired 67 rounds in 13 seconds, killing four unarmed students, wounding 10 others, leaving one with permanent paralysis; and let’s just say things were soon to go from bad to worse for President Nixon.

O. And let us not forget the book authored by Hal Lindsey, The Late Great Planet Earth (pub. 1970), pronouncing that God was about to call the game due to darkness, and was instructing millions of readers that the world going down the toilet was awesome because it meant Christians were about to escape (via the rapture) to heaven. “Glory be!”

Is it any wonder that despair, disillusionment, and cynicism, were the default mindsets of the day? Granted, the “rapture” crowd would take a little longer to become disillusioned when, after some years later, they woke up and realized, Dammit, we’re still here and have to deal with this mess.

For me, reading Tolkien’s epic story was nothing short of an elixir. Over the previous decades, such had been the experience of those reading Lewis and Tolkien. There is a Great War raging around the world, presenting each and every person with a choice: join the Dark Lord Sauron or follow The Men of Aragorn, son of Arathorn, into battle; submit to the wicked White Witch who had placed a curse upon Narnia, whereby it was always winter but never Christmas, or follow Aslan.

“The most influential Christian authors of the twentieth century believed that every human soul was caught up in a very great story: a fearsome war against a Shadow of Evil that has invaded the world to enslave the sons and daughters of Adam. Yet those who resist the Shadow are assured that they will not be left alone, they will be given the gift of friendship amid their struggles and grief. Even more, they will find the grace and strength to persevere, to play their part in the story, however long it endures and wherever it may lead them.” (Loconte)  

Many of those who had survived WWI saw nothing heroic about the “folly of war” and, as was my generation, were drowning in disillusionment. But, as veterans who had seen the same horrors and sorrows, Lewis and Tolkien set out to “recall the courage, sacrifice, and the friendships that made it endurable.” (Loconte) In their stories, each author shows the reader that there is a war that is always upon us, a war where, if we so choose, we can engage in Heroic Quests where we exhibit courage, sacrifice, and nobility.

“Retrieving the medieval concept of the heroic quest – reinventing it for the modern mind – is one of the signal achievements of their work. Whether in epics such as Beowulf or romances like Malory’s Morte d’Arthur, Tolkien and Lewis both found in medieval literature a set of motifs and ideals worth recalling. More than that, they believed the genre offered a tonic for the spiritual malaise of the modern age.” (Loconte)

Do we choose to go on a Heroic Quest with our Band of Brothers, fighting against injustice, cruelty, and tyranny, or do we fall in with Sauron and the White Witch? A war is upon us that cannot be avoided. All that is left us is answering the question: To whom and what do we pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor?

* “A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-1918,” Nelson Books, 2015

Next Post: A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and a Great War: The Significance of Insignificant Hobbits and Children

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2015  

Monday, October 26, 2015

A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and a Great War: Triumphalism Encounters Human Nature

Tolkien and Lewis were attracted to genres of myth and romance not because they sought to escape the world but because for them the real world had a mythic and heroic quality. The world is the setting for great conflicts and great quests: it creates scenes of remorseless violence, grief, and suffering as well as deep compassion, courage, and selfless sacrifice. In an era that exalted cynicism and irony, Tolkien and Lewis sought to reclaim an older tradition of the epic hero. Their depictions of the struggles of Middle-earth and Narnia do not represent a flight from reality, but rather a return to a more realistic view of the world as we actually find it.  –Joseph Loconte*

Going into WWI, each nation believed God was on its side and, therefore, it would be victorious. The mixture of nationalism (not the same thing as patriotism) and triumphalism (“We’ll win, because we are a morally superior people.”) blinded the combating nations to the reality and horrors that were to come. And how could people so “advanced” have been so blind? Because they had chosen to ignore the evil that was in their own hearts, they had not considered the evil that could be perpetuated upon the earth with their advanced machinery.

“For devoted nationalists, their patriotic faith was equivalent to membership in an alternative church. For religious believers, nationalism offered a grandiose political outlet for their faith commitments. The result was the birth of Christian nationalism, the near sanctification of the modern state.” (Loconte)

While many who survived the carnage of WWI readily rejected triumphalism, they also renounced any belief in a moral vision, of belief that a human was capable of goodness, compassion, and nobility. While Tolkien and Lewis probably rethought their views about human potential, their writings reflected “the historic Christian tradition: human nature as a tragic mix of nobility and wretchedness.” (Loconte)

“You come of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve,” Aslan tells Caspian in The Chronicles of Narnia. “And that is both honor enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor on earth.”

(T)hese authors anchor their stories in the ancient idea of the Fall of Man: just as a force of evil entered our world in a distant past, so it inhabits and threatens the worlds of their imaginations. It is the deepest source of alienation and conflict in their stories. Even so, it cannot erase the longing for goodness and joy, so palpably alive in the best and noblest of their characters. They are haunted by the memory of Eden: take away this fundamental idea, and their moral vision collapses.” (Loconte)

Interestingly, neither Tolkien nor Lewis became pacifists. There are some evils in the world that must be defeated, militarily. Both The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia are filled with such battles. However, both men never framed their battle scenes as opportunities for martial glory or nationalistic conquest. They are also depicted realistically, as you would expect from soldiers who fought in the Great War. We see the “military blunders, the fruitless acts of bravery, the bone-chilling rain, the meager rations: there were many days and nights just like these along the Western Front.” (Loconte) However, we also are shown acts of compassion and valor, self-sacrifice and honor, and, yes, even glimpses of beauty and joy. The “tragic mix of nobility and wretchedness” are always present.

The stories of Tolkien and Lewis demonstrate that moral heroism is possible because, through God’s grace and love, we are capable of great victories against the wretchedness that is in the world and in us. Of course, such moral heroism presupposes that there is a moral vision, that there are objective moral standards whereby we know what is noble and what is wretched. And yet—

We see no triumphalism in these stories. Knowing that we are always at war against our own capacity for behaving wretchedly, there can be no sense that our victories were inevitable because we are a superior nation, a superior people, or superior individuals. After all, the “tragic mix” is part of the human condition.

Next Post: “A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and a Great War”: Heroic Quests

* “A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-1918,” Nelson Books, 2015

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2015

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

“A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and a Great War”

Thus the crisis of faith in postwar Europe was multilayered. There was an erosion of what might be called civilizational confidence, a widespread disillusionment with the West and its supposed cultural achievements. Liberal democracy, constitutionalism, capitalism, progressivism—all seemed in a state of near collapse …. Since Christianity was considered integral to Europe’s political and economic system, the perceived failure of that system was a spiritual failure as well.
-Joseph Loconte*

Setting the frame for the history of Tolkien and Lewis’ friendship and the writing of their most famous tales, Joseph Loconte points to one of the Great Illusions leading up to the Great War: The Myth of Progress. Given the massive leaps in technological progress, scientific discoveries, and the near unanimous acceptance of 18th century Enlightenment thought and Darwinism, the soul of Western civilization was anchored in the belief that progress was inevitable. “Western civilization was marching inexorably forward, that humanity itself was maturing, evolving, advancing—that new vistas of political, cultural, and spiritual advancement were within reach.” (Loconte)

Of course, to help insure this inexorable “advancement,” eugenics was all the rage … because nothing says “Utopia” like killing off blacks, cripples, and those whom The Powers That Be deem unfit.

“It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerating offspring for crime, or let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” So wrote Oliver Wendell Holmes, Supreme Court Justice, upholding Virginia’s sterilization law, supported by many of the cultural leaders of the times, including ministers. (Loconte)

When the First War erupted, national leaders on both sides of the conflict ran headlong into the fray, claiming the God of the Bible was on its side; that this war-to-end-all-wars was a Holy War. In Britain, “Clergymen dressed Jesus in khaki and had him firing machine guns.” (Loconte) When the war ended, more than nine million soldiers lay dead and roughly thirty-seven million wounded. The aftermath was a world awash in despair, disillusionment, and the rejection of religion.

With the Myth of Progress being exposed as an illusion, hundreds of novels were published in the 20s and 30s punctuating the futility of life, depicting existential angst as the new norm, and belief in God as “an attempt to protect against suffering, ‘a delusional remodeling of reality.’” (Freud, cited by Loconte)

Pacifism replaced patriotism, and the ancient virtues were scorned.

“For the intellectual class as well as the ordinary man on the street, the Great War had defamed the values of the Old World, along with the religious doctrines that helped to underwrite them. Moral advancement, even the idea of morality itself, seemed an illusion.” (Loconte)

So, how is it that given the depth of despair, the wholesale rejection of the values upon which Western civilization had been built, and the widespread jettisoning of religion and belief in (any) “God,” that the books of JRR Tolkien (A Hobbit) and CS Lewis (A Wardrobe) not only made it past editors, but went on to garner both men worldwide acclaim? How is it that stories extolling the ancient virtues of goodness, beauty, and faith, as well as advocating valor in battles against evil, captured the imagination of those who were convinced that despair, amorality, and hedonism, were the only honest responses to what the world had just suffered during the Great War?

The Power of Stories
“It seems that Tolkien, even in the throes of combat, consciously sought to retrieve a martial tradition that would become a casualty alongside all the other casualties of the First War. Already he was constructing a mythology (The Silmarillion) about England meant to recall its long struggle for noble purposes. ‘I was from early days grieved by the poverty of my own beloved country: it had no stories of its own (bound up with its tongue and soil), not of the quality that I sought,’ he once explained. Thus he set out ‘to restore to the English an epic tradition and present them with a mythology of their own.’” (Loconte)

For Tolkien, a devout Roman Catholic, myths — even Pagan ones — originated with God and were filled with splinters of true light, revealing, however shadowed, eternal realities. “They are his means of communicating at least a portion of his truth to the world.” (Loconte) It would be years later that his best friend, CSL, would begin to accept his view of myths, and a bit longer until he embraced the True Myth of Christianity.

Years after the war, Tolkien, while grading papers as an Oxford Don, scrawled on a blank piece of paper, “In a hole in the ground there lives a Hobbit.”

Anyone familiar with CS Lewis is aware of George MacDonald’s (1824-1905) influence on his life and writings. While reading GM’s Phantasies, Lewis wrote that his imagination had been “converted” and “baptized.” While not yet a Christian, a new way of looking at and interpreting the world had begun. Later, after being wounded in battle and discharged, CSL was riding a train home to London and looking at the beautiful countryside: what he saw was that, “(T)here is Something right outside time & place…and that Beauty is the call of the spirit to the spirit in us.” (Loconte) While not yet a Christian, he now accepted that there was “Something” behind the beauty of the world. He was beginning to catch “A Glimpse of Narnia.” (Loconte)

George MacDonald wrote, “The best thing you can do for your fellow, next to rousing his conscience, is – not to give him things to think about, but to wake things up that are in him; or say, to make him think things for himself.” Both Tolkien and Lewis would go on to create epic stories so as to “wake up” truths that, however vehemently denied, were, nevertheless, still laying deep in the souls of their readers.

* “A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-1918,” Nelson Books, 2015

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2015

Next Post: A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and a Great War: Triumphalism and Human Nature

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Power of an Infinitely Expressive Communicator…In Only Two Steps!

It was his (Merlin’s) voice that fascinated me. Infinitely expressive, it served him in any manner he wished. When he lashed, it could raise welts on a stone. When he soothed, it could have shamed nightingales into silence. And when he commanded, mountains and valleys exchanged places.
--Stephen R Lawhead, Arthur

One of the differences between a decent communicator and an individual who is powerfully persuasive is found in the melody produced by their words and the tonality with which those words are spoken.

Your words have a melody. The question is this: Does this melody serve or deter from the intent of your communication?

Listen to the melody of the words of Merlin’s father, Taliesin, when he was first wooing Princess Charis

...tell me the word that will win you, and I will speak it. I will speak the stars of heaven into a crown for your head; I will speak the flowers of the field into a cloak; I will speak the racing stream into a melody for your ears and the voices of a thousand larks to sing it; I will speak the softness of night for your bed and the warmth of summer for your coverlet; I will speak the brightness of flame to light your way and the luster of gold to shine in your smile; I will speak until the hardness in you melts away and your heart is free... (Stephen R. Lawhead, Taliesin)

Taliesin’s choice of words creates pictures, feelings, and sounds, surrounding Charis’ senses with his message of love. However, what if his tonality sounded like a John Philip Sousa military march? The message would have been lost in the incongruities.

Compare this with Merlin’s words to the Knights of the Round Table when they were about to go in search of the stolen Holy Grail

Hear, Men of Britain, Valiant Ones … the Head of Wisdom speaks. Heed and take warning … the battle is joined, and every man who would achieve the quest must face many ordeals. Be not dismayed, neither be afraid, but face the trials to follow with all forbearance, for the Swift Sure Hand upholds you, and the Holy Grail awaits those who endure to the end. (Stephen R Lawhead’s, Grail)

Well chosen words: words that elicit courage, strength, and valor. However, what if the tonality of the spoken words sounded like something sung by The Carpenters?

Be not dismayed (“They long to be”) or afraid (“close to you…”)

Listen to the conversations taking place around you today. Each person’s words have a peculiar melody: some are monotone, others utilize a few notes, and others create melodies and harmonies that carry their words into the hearts and minds of their listeners. I can have all the relevant facts at hand and choose fairly precise words to convey these facts, but if the tonality conflicts with the intent and words of my message, the message is muted.

Read the following two quotes aloud.

Men speak foolishly of the beauty that slays, though I believe such a thing may exist. But there is also a beauty that heals, that restores and revives all who behold it. (Stephen R Lawhead, Merlin)

Morgian, rarest of beauty, frozen and fatal, mistress of the sweet poison, the warm kiss of death. (Merlin)

You intuitively knew that there is a specific sentiment behind each passage and changed your tonality accordingly. Now, go back, reread each passage aloud: only this time swap tonalities. You can hear the incongruity between the words and the sentiment behind the words (via tonality), can you not? You not only hear it, you feel it. So do those with whom we are communicating.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2015

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Defining Life By Your Causes

You can gain a great degree of insight into how a person approaches life and defines what constitutes “living,” by the predominate metaphors he uses regarding life.

From my book, Legendary Leadership:

Complete this sentence stem: “Life is like …”

For Forrest Gump, “Life is like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you’re gonna get.”  Life is a series of surprises.

Albert Einstein said, “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.”  Life is service.

Helen Keller said, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”  Life is an adventure.

[….] Each belief creates a particular kind and quality of life. 

Which brings me to this question: What happens to people whose predominate metaphor is, “Life is a War”? Well, to begin with all of life is framed, thusly: Us v Them, Good Guys v Bad guys, Winning v Losing. Individuals whose overarching metaphor for life is War for a Cause approaches relationships, church, business, society, the political arena, and everything else, as a warrior. Consequently …

Homes become boot camps

Churches are gatherings of Navy Seals for Jesus

Education is where I am provided weapons and ammo with which to destroy the enemy

Art is propaganda

The Political Arena is where we “take no prisoners”

In Business, we destroy competitors

Recreation is “resting up so I can get back out there and crush the enemy.”

And all the people in my world are sized up, measured, evaluated, and judged, by the standard of my (present) Cause, be it religious, political, or societal.

“Come on, Wilson, join us and make your life count for something.”  

If you aren’t joining their Cause, if you aren’t with “us” fighting against “them,” then your life counts for nothing … and you’re probably one of “them.” Such people are often clueless as to how in the world St Paul could write, “Mind your own business, lead a quiet life, and work with your hands, so as to not stand in need of charity.”

“Man. I guess even Paul could be a slacker.”

Ah, there’s nothing like a Great Cause to make us feel that we are doing Something Important, as it defines and imbues us with feelings of significance and meaningfulness. Now, think about that for a moment. Does this mean that people whom choose to not join our cause are insignificant and meaningless? Is my sense of self and even my worth as a human being derived from my fighting for a Cause? And tell me, if my Cause goes down in smoke, who am I now? What do I do now, so as to regain my sense of worth?

Is it any wonder that so many of these people run around picking fights, creating enemies where there are none? They are worthless, or at least lack meaningfulness and a sense of significance, unless they’re bludgeoning an enemy.

When your dominant metaphor for life is War, tell me this:

Do you ever enjoy a night out with friends, where you simply enjoy the presence of others, or do conversations invariably turn to the battles, the Cause, the burning issues of the day (to you)?

Do you have any friends who aren’t fellow combatants, or potential converts to the Cause?

Can you sit and watch a sunset, being overwhelmed by the beauty and grandeur of creation, with a still mind and soul, or does your brain start tracking the progress of the Cause, the players and combatants, and the next move against The Enemy?

Do you only read books that are directly related to your Cause? How long has it been since you dove into a book solely to lose yourself and be inspired by a great story?

Newsflash Battles for Causes are events that we may engage in, while we are living life: they are not Life, not “what life is all about.” If we choose to define our selves in terms of our battles, then the potential for living and experiencing life as God intended actually diminishes to the point where the human inside the armor disintegrates and disappears. If this is you, I’m thinking you may want to take off the armor and tend to your self. It’s okay. Really. It’s not like God is helpless without your being on the battlefield.

Copyright, Monte Wilson, 2105