Thank goodness that federal election is behind us so we have enough time to gather energy for the next one. In typically Canadian fashion the whole thing was underwhelming: the leaders were boring, the local candidates were invisible, the debates were polite, and the outcome was decisively indecisive.
If it hadn’t been for a few self-absorbed miscreants knocking down campaign signs and shouting obscenities the whole thing would have been totally hum drum.
Nevertheless some of them were so desperate for attention that they forced themselves into the spotlight by throwing stones, invading school property, and clogging hospital access for employees and patients. The flashpoint for their anger were mask and vaccine mandates which were perceived as an infringement on their freedom.¹
the babylonian next door
There was a political party in the recent election which campaigned primarily on an anti-mask, anti-vaccine, anti-government, anti-immigration platform. When the votes had been counted, they had gained 3 or 4 percentage points nationally. Their supporters had been welcomed from various political leanings and included significant numbers of racist groups, fascist groups, and … fundamentalist christians.
“Although we don’t have precise numbers, the support Bernier [party’s leader] enjoyed among fundamentalist and literalist Christians seems to have been deeply significant. Bernier courted them, prayed with them, appeared in a much-viewed video in which he was blessed and proclaimed by a well-known pastor.”²
Normally I would place comments like this in a ‘wait and see’ file but just this past week I heard of three separate incidents where people I know were disturbed by the hardline views imposed by christian friends. In each case, casual interactions were poisoned by someone who insisted on inserting conspiracies, arguments, and the latest ‘mark of the beast’ theories.
These are the people who maraud social media and church lobbies with equal ease, complaining about their freedom while stealing it from others. In their eyes, normal current events become self-fulfilling threats that bind them ever more tightly.
They are ensnared in a net of judgement and pride, working hard to build cities of political power around towers of religious justification. Sadly, their zeal is uncompromising and their language is nonsensical babble. They are Babble-onians.
Reminds me of a story.
this is the story i’m reminded of
Remember the biblical tale of the Tower of Babel? Many of you do because it has been widely taught in church circles, even though it occupies only nine verses in the Bible.
Brian’s synopsis of the story he’s reminded of:
The people of the world, who all speak the same language, decide they need to organize themselves and put their newly developed brick-making technology to good use. “Come let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves…”
God is disturbed about this because he sees their increasing abilities as a danger. His solution is to cause them to speak different languages, resulting in total confusion. The city/tower project stalls and they all scatter to different parts of the world because translation software wouldn’t be invented for another 4500 years. Problem solved.
The first thing we need to get out of the way is that it is not the same story we learned in Sunday School.
~ This particular tale was likely created much later by Hebrew writers as an admonishment against godless empires, especially their enemies/captors, the Babylonians.
~ The tower was known as a ziggurat and was common to the Sumerians, Assyrians and Babylonians – archaeologists have uncovered the ruins about twenty-five of them to date. They weren’t constructed to reach to heaven as is often thought, but simply as an elevated connecting point with their gods.
~ Although the text claims there was only one language in the world, the genealogy in the previous chapter (10) tells us there were three distinct groupings of people, each with their own language, who had already formed into dozens of nations all over the world.
~ ‘Babel’ is a play on the Hebrew word balal which means ‘confuse’ and forms the root of our word ‘babble’. When met with the righteousness of God, the prideful empire-builders devolved into nothing more than confused babblers.
In the end, the quick Babel narrative is not an explanation of the diversity of language at all. Instead, Babel is a commentary on the foolishness and inevitable outcome for those who seek importance through influence and religious delusion.
psalmists are people too
Babblonians have always existed and they will continue to. These days they may be obsessed with masks, vaccines, and rights but those will eventually give way to newly imagined persecutions and beastly markings.
It is monumentally difficult to resist Babblonians. They are taught through narrow portals of misinformation and they are conditioned to distrust what everyone else has to say.³
You can fight and argue with a Babblonian but their real crusade is nothing more than an obsessive need to control their surroundings. Make no mistake, these crusaders don’t care about the world, they don’t care about their country, and they don’t care about you. All that matters is the crusade.
We can easily imagine why biblical writers, especially the Psalmist(s), often expressed outrage at the derangement of their adversaries. The Bible sees empire builders and religious elitists as backward, paranoid, confused. Nevertheless, the larger sweep of biblical writing entrusts all the people and events in the world to a God who is both loving and just.
Remember the wisdom of 1 Peter 5:5-6:
“And all of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for
‘God opposes the proud,
but gives grace to the humble.’
“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time.” (NRSV)
The sinful reach for the heavens, presuming god-like wisdom, but the righteous wait in humility for God to come down, to live with them. That is where our response to Babblonians should begin.
Yes, we should firmly resist their dangerous intentions but we can’t do it with their weapons. Instead, we have to remember that they are loved by God, so we resist them firmly but gently. We resist their theatrics by asking them good questions about their attitudes and beliefs. And of course we resist them with prayer that asks God’s Spirit to speak to their minds and hearts.
But there is something more to think about when we’re frustrated by Babblonians … the innocent. You may have noticed that Babblonians cause confusion and injury for everybody around them, so we shouldn’t oppose them by acting like they do. While we christians fight and argue, there are family, friends, and onlookers who are assessing the practical value of our faith.
You can recognize Babblonians by their dogged, one-sided demands for truth – unfortunately truth can be manipulated. But look it up, truth isn’t even a fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). The best way to oppose a Babblonian is by being who we say we are: reasoned, joyful, kind people.
The presence and pleasure of God is best demonstrated by the life-affirming ways we live out the love of Jesus.
That’s why, throughout their history, christians have believed that truth can only be reliably found in Jesus. His words, “I am the way, the truth, the life” aren’t about the superiority of an opinion or a religion – it’s about who he is and the goodness he produces in his people.
Don’t like Babblonians?
Be their nemesis.
Live a fruitful life that heals.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
¹ I’m not a scientist (and I don’t play one on TV) but it seems like we are entering the point where the unvaccinated are becoming the primary reason for a restricted economy, further evolving viruses, and overwhelmed hospitals.
As I write this, ICUs in parts of the country are full and front line medical professionals are near breaking; some are even walking away. In Alberta, staff are cutting important medical procedures just to care for covid patients and the shortage of ventilators is so acute they have to remove them from needy patients when more desperate ones arrive. The overload means that doctors will imminently begin making decisions about who will live and who will die.)
³ A 2019 document leaked to MIT Technology Review revealed that 19 of the 20 top ‘American Christian’ sites on Facebook were produced by foreign troll farms. (The purpose of troll farms is to spread misinformation and cause dissension.) The largest of these reached 75 million people a month.
A current example of this dangerous influence is how, against any and all reason, there are still 75 million Americans who believe sources that say the 2020 election was stolen; 27 million of whom believe it should be reversed through violence.