Monday, May 16, 2016

A conspiracy of love

Conspiracy theory, a nice way of saying that anyone or anything that opposes my philosophy of the world, be it scientific, political, or religious, must be participating in a massive cover-up, perpetuating a great lie, and since there are so many, their efforts must be coordinated by some hidden power.

Another new book on the topic of the flat earth has been written. Wading through the hundreds of comments in a flat earth forum trying to answer someone’s question, ‘If the earth is flat, why has no one ever seen the edge?’ I am bewildered at the ingenuity shown in defense of the indefensible.

Everything from pseudo-scientific explanations like, ‘Near the edges the atmospheric pressure drops to zero and it’s so cold and dark, you can’t get near it,’ to the politically conspiratorial, ‘The edges are patrolled by armed guards from NASA preventing anyone from going to the edge and looking over it.’

The same mind set is at work to prove that the current savagery going on in the Near East, in Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere, even the ravages of ISIS, the neo-caliphate, are actually the result of a conspiracy by the United States to destabilize the region, and to keep Arabs fighting each other, so as to secure Israel.

Sometimes I think there is a conspiracy against me too. Why is it that after working very hard all my life, raising a family of four sons, paying my taxes, going to church regularly and even tithing in the days when I had the money, I am not wealthy and blessed with a happy retirement in the home I built?

If I believed in ‘the prosperity gospel’ I would be a very bitter man today. I could say to God, ‘Look! All these years I’ve done this and that for You, followed your rules, kept myself uncontaminated by the world and even come to the aid of orphans and widows like the Bible says, and what have I got?’

In this case, there must be a conspiracy. Was it imps, evil spirits, the devil and his angels, that cheated me out of my rightful inheritance? That’s one conspiracy theory. Or was it God? If it was, then that’s the biggest conspiracy against me there ever could be! Better not go there. Ah! I know, it was the Jews!

That’s the one group, human and tangible enough that we needn’t blame supernatural beings, that we can blame and even sometimes feel all the more ‘Christian’ for doing so. It must be the worldwide Jewish conspiracy that has robbed me of the life I think I deserve. After all, they crucified Christ.

The writer of the biblical Epistle of James, no one less than the very brother of Jesus, cuts through the illogical logjam of every conspiracy theory. ‘You want something and you haven’t got it… You have an ambition that you cannot satisfy… Why you don’t have what you want is because you don’t pray for it.’

He goes on to say that when we do pray for something and don’t get it, it’s because we haven’t prayed properly, that we’ve prayed for something to indulge our own desires. ‘Sounds like he’s lock, stock and barrel involved in the worldwide Jewish conspiracy, using circular arguments. He was a Jew, wasn’t he?’

People will stop at nothing to blame others for what they lack. I’m not sure what flat-earthers are lacking that makes them hang on to a theory thrown out as irrational by Egyptians and Greeks thousands of years ago, maybe common sense. As for the rest of us, why do we kick against the goad?

An ox goad was a stick with a pointed iron tip used to prod the oxen when plowing. The farmer would prick the ox to steer it in the right direction. Sometimes the ox would rebel and kick out at the goad, and the point would be driven even further into its flesh. The more an ox rebelled, the more it suffered.

Yes, maybe conspiracy theory is correct. Maybe we are, after all, just human oxen, born to work for what we can never own, being fed and watered and stabled by masters who just use us for their own ends. Maybe that’s why we never really get what we want, even when we pray for it (if we’re religious).

Or maybe the truth is, the universe doesn’t revolve around us as the flat-earthers believe. Maybe we are all just part of a very gigantic picture, maybe the huge hologram some scientists say the universe is, and maybe what we call our happiness is not something we can impress on or extract from the world.

Maybe we are born, live, and die in this holographic universe as characters in a very long and involved drama, one in which the actors start out as mere fictions in the Author’s mind, but by shouldering our burdens, playing our part in the story, we end up being not actors but real people in a real universe.

Somewhere else. Yes, I know, that’s what they’re always telling us, ‘Work hard, boy, and you’ll find, one day you’ll have a job like mine, a job like mine, a job like mine’ croons Cat Stevens, once again affirming the Truth hidden in metaphor by his crypto-Orthodox tripling of the essential line in his songs.

‘But I know, for sure, nobody should be that poor,’ he continues, crying out against that conspiracy secretly woven as a spider’s web to catch its unwary prey. Perhaps it is a conspiracy, after all, but maybe it’s this kind of conspiracy. Someone working in collusion behind the scenes to bring us out of misery.

‘He tore the net, and we escaped,’ croons another bard and singer, this time the unknown psalmist, maybe David himself, but who knows, he didn’t sign this one. ‘He tore the net and we escaped; our help is in the name of Yahweh, who made heaven and earth.’ If there was ever a conspiracy, this is it.

They are looking for a way to save us, not hamper, hurt, or destroy us. They made us, it’s true, for Themselves and for Their purposes, Father, Son, and Spirit, and we do have to suffer, even work a little, and They give us only what we need right now. But if this is a conspiracy, it’s a conspiracy of love.

No one ever conspired so constantly, worked so unweariedly, prepared us so patiently, and loved us so lavishly as this holy cabal, hidden before us in plain sight, even fleshed out as the Jew we groundlessly fear the most, Jesus of Nazareth, who is one with the unearthly Triad. If there is a conspiracy, it is He.

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