This is the first in a series of videos from some teaching I developed over 20 years ago, which I dusted off and found it as relevant as today as ever.
I had some dreams about Ron Paul last year. It was interesting, just hanging out with him.
8/23/2011: Riding in a van with Ron Paul, going to a rally at an ice-cream shop. Ron is very tired, and sleeping on my shoulder. We get to the ice-cream shop, and very few people are here. I place an order, and I was thinking to introduce him, but there is hardly anyone here. Then we go outside, and there is a whole parade of people with signs. We go into a gym. I am thinking to stand up front and say something, like a little intro speech. Then the guy who introduces him says nothing, but "Ron Paul" and the people don't hear him. I clap real loud to que to the people that Ron Paul has been introduced. He talks for a while about how the revolution is real, and not just tech-driven. Then Ron walks back towards the ice-cream shop, and everyone is following. A little fair-skinned boy walks up with a tag on him. Ron says it is human trafficking. I offer to take him and raise him as my own. As we come into the ice-cream shop, Ron mentions a website project that we had talked about earlier. I try to give the boy some gellato or something, but he is not interested, then I give him water, and he chugs it down.
I haven't been involved with the Ron Paul 2012 campaign, so I didn't know what to expect. I learned just a few days ago. however; that Ron was coming to Colorado, so I told my 15-year-old son that he would have to miss school, since he had an appointment with the "Doctor". So I picked him up at school, and he was nervous about getting caught. I keep trying to explain to him about what is important in life, but he keeps getting propaganda from others. Anyway, it was one of those situations where the circumstances seem to fight against you, which is the way I like it, because it requires some faith to move forward. We couldn't find the place, and we didn't have tickets (it was sold out), so I happened to see a young man, walking on the street, and I asked him about the place, and mentioned Ron Paul, and he was also going there. So I asked him to hop in, and he showed us where it was on campus. My son had his professional-looking camera equipment, so I dropped him off at the door, and told him to say that he was a volunteer with the campaign, so they would let him in. Once we were in, there was a brief quiet time, before Ron Paul appeared, where I could have delivered my pep talk.
When it came to the point however, I felt that it was not appropriate to crash someone else's party (the place was packed, with over 1000 people.) What I wanted to say (very loud, with emphasis) was this:
“Joshua fought the battle of Jerico. The army of Israel marched around the city for 7 days, and they were mocked, they were ridiculed. The walls of Jericho were high, impregnable, and could never be breached. But on the 7th day, they marched 7 times, blew the trumpets, and shouted with a great shout, and the walls came tumbling down! We face many great and high walls today: the Federal Reserve System, the military-industrial complex, the nanny state. It might seem that we cannot win, but we are the future of this country! We are the guardians of the Constitution! We will not settle for the lesser of evils! We will not let our choices be dictated to us! We will keep marching, and keep pushing, and keep shouting, until the walls finally come down, and we are free again!”
As it was, there we others who had organized this whole thing, and I had no permission from them, so all I did was start a little chant from the back “President Paul! President Paul!” When those came out to introduce Paul, they were college students, inexperienced in public speaking, and it fell flat, until at the end of course, when Ron Paul was named. It was a great rally and stump speech, with much cheering from the crowd. My son had trouble getting decent video, because when the crowd would jump up and shout, it would block the view, and drown the mic. Good time though.
After that, we drove to Denver. On the way, my son slept in the passenger seat by my shoulder. When we arrived, we just happened to pull up at the same time as Ron Paul (which I didn't realize at the time) and a guy came out to direct their cars into a special parking area. I simply followed them, as I thought it was the way to the public parking garage, where everyone was going. Then the parking attendant blocked me, and we realized that the cars in front of us were the presidential motorcade. As we drove around the corner, we saw the Planned Parenthood headquarters for the whole region, with the regular protestors out front. I explained how I met them last year, and my son waved to them. Then I dropped him off in front of the hotel with his camera equipment, as I went to park. When I got inside, I couldn't find him, until I finally saw him up on the rear stage with the press corps.
This is the video he got in Denver.
It didn't turn out that great, but it was a great experience. I don't know what the rest of the dream means, but part of it seemed to be fulfilled at least.
Liberty in our Lifetime
April 16, 2011
My friend asked me to write a blog entry, though I have not done so for years. I stopped, because I figured he was the only one who was reading them anyway. Even if that is the case, I will oblige him.
So what I have been pondering lately is this:
Why is it that only some men yearn to breathe free, and most others seem to delight in a comfortable numbness of slavery?
As a Christian, I believe that the revealed Word of God is amply sufficient to explain the human condition. It provides a comprehensive world-view, unlocking the mysteries of the universe to those who are properly enlightened to comprehend it. Maybe I am not spiritual enough, but I struggle to understand how it all fits together.
In my mind, a true desire for liberty is consistent with Christian virtue. Although a desire for liberty that seeks only the freedom to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of this life is tainted and corrupted by sin; there is a higher liberty that transcends this. Jesus said that “he who sins is a slave to sin,” and that “if the son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.” If the secret to true spiritual freedom is found in Christianity, and bondage is related to the evil desires of ungodliness; then why do American Christians overwhelmingly endear themselves to Socialist slavery, and atheist Libertarians seem to see beyond the Matrix?
The way I see it- is that humanity fits into four quadrants. There is worldliness, and other-worldliness; and there is godliness, and ungodliness. It's like a bell-shaped curve. In the first quadrant, you have those who are other-worldly, and yet ungodly. The atheist Libertarian. They are in the minority (outside the standard deviation, in the small tail of the bell-shaped curve.) They do not buy into the lies of the mainstream propaganda. They can see the falseness of the world for what it is. They see the hypocrisy of mainstream Christianity, and reject it altogether, as it as if it were just another self-aggrandizing lie of the world. As you ascend the curve, you have those who are ungodly, and yet very worldly. They constitute a majority of people who reject the gospel, and seek to enjoy whatever position they can find in this life. As the curve peaks over into the right side, you have a majority of those who profess Christianity, and yet cling to whatever worldly advantage they can find. They are content to accept the blessings of the knowledge of God, and yet resist being drawn outside their comfort zone, clinging to whatever temporal advantages they can afford. Every now and again they might have to make certain compromises with the common majority of ungodly, worldly people, in order to maintain their favorable position, but they consider this a reasonable accommodation, and explain it as their being “salt and light” as they gradually sell out certain principles to keep their seat at the table. The final quadrant consists of those who embrace salvation in Christ, and yet reject the corrupting influences of the pale of deception which is cast over the vast majority. They are willing to sacrifice temporal advantages to preserve spiritual integrity.
Of course I would want to be in that final quadrant with a minority of other-worldly and faithful Christians. Why is it that I sometimes seem to have more in common with the atheist Libertarian than the worldly Christian? I sometimes pose the question “What is the opposite of true Christianity?” Many Christians would think of someone whose life is a mess with sinful additions, failing to hold together even a modicum of presentability. On the contrary, I think of Caesar, ruler of the world, (even a “Christian” Caesar if you like,) a vortex of worldly acclaim, representing something that most men (even Christian men) would aspire to become.
Think of Christ on earth. Who were his main adversaries? Were they not the chief rulers (even the religious ones?) Who were those who came closest to him? Were they not the outcasts of society (even the ungodly ones, like the harlots and despised tax-collectors?)
Mainstream American Christianity has been thoroughly infected with Statism. They are striving to join the Sanhedrin, and to sit down to dinner with Herod or Pilate. They have been deluded with a false sense of security in their respectability among men.
They keep all the commandments... They would not turn aside from God unto idols (They are too busy prostrating themselves before government as their protector.) They would not profane the name of God (They are too busy taking oaths for government and finance.) They would not profane the time of rest (They are too busy working out their own salvation with various rituals and observances to pause for that.) They would not disregard their parents (National healthcare will “take care” of them.) They would never kill someone (The government handles all that on their behalf through unjust war and abortion.) They would not commit adultery (No need, the government gives them license to divorce and remarry as many times as they please.) They would not steal (Why bother? the State will do it for them, and provide them all the benefits they need with the pilfered goods.) The would not bear false witness (The government or media would never lie to us, would they?) And of course they would not covet their neighbors' goods (Anything they want is available through the forced transfer of wealth, taken care of by the State, and it's all legal.) It's all legal, all of it- and so it must be okay, right? At least they are respectable people, and not like those sinners, those prostitutes and winebibbers over there, hanging out with some guy preaching crazy stuff.
I love Christ, and I love liberty. Somehow I believe these are consistent with each other. Even though Christ did not promise us protection in civil liberties (to the contrary, he leads the way towards a life which suffers from persecution, which is in essence a violation of our civil liberties.) He does provide true liberty, which is something which transcends this world in a spiritual sense, and yet manifests itself in distinct refusals to compromise with majority behaviors; and by its very nature does not find favor with the world.
Of the various adventures that we enjoyed in the Summer of 2009, the one that stands out as superlative is the Mt. Ranier expedition. We had long talked about it, and I kept putting it off, trying not to think about it. When the day drew near, and I had to face the challenge, I figured I would simply ascend to a reasonable point, and descend from there. Of course if I were constrained by sound reason, I would never have gone with Dieter in the first place. Life is somehow more precious when it is hanging on the very edge.
Looking up at the mountain fills the entire field of vision. We usually take for granted the vastness of space around us, but when a great mountain is blocking out the sky, you realize how small you really are. A wide-angle lens cannot capture the grandiose scenery. It is fitting to share some photos as a Deep Zoom composition. When I was looking up at it, I thought of it as such, with each small piece blowing up to a vast chasm as we drew near. Of course with all true adventures, the best visuals were the ones that were never captured, as we were busy hanging on for dear life.
Click on the Image to Launch the Deep Zoom Composition
We left around 4:00 AM on the first day, after having stayed up past 1:00 the night before. The five of us gathered for breakfast near the mountain a few hours later. The discussion focused on how advanced the climb was. I was a beginning mountaineer, never having used crampons and an ice-ax before. I had rented them from REI the night before. I had skipped all of the training and preparatory climbs that were made in the months leading up to this day. I was still trying not the think about it.
The first part of the hike was easy, except for the 50lb pack. Late in the afternoon, we reached the point where there was no more greenery, just rock and snow. It became increasingly steep from there. It wasn't until dark that we struggled into the John Muir base camp, carved out of a high ridge. As we were sleeping, everyone else was starting their assent. They knew that it was safer to hike at night, when the heat of the day would not be causing the whole mountain the expand, breaking loose large calves of boulders, collapsing ice bridges, and opening up new crevasses in the glacier. Of course we would sleep in, and hike during the day.
The next day, as we stared up at the mountain, it was incomprehensible that there was actually a passable trail to the summit. We had to simply trust that since other people had done it, there must be a way up. The trail snaked around glacier crevasses, rocky ridges, at times just a few feet from sheer cliffs. Sometimes the trail was no more wide than the width of my boot, as I hung on to a safety rope for dear life, and tried not to look down into the gaping ice crevasse as I edged my way along, one careful step at a time. Of course we would talk with the ranger later about all of the people that had died by falling off the trail, but at the point of action, there was no time for talk. Two of our party had carried safety rope and harnesses all the way up, but when the time for them was most needed, they panicked and ran back down the mountain. Lack of oxygen can lead people not to think clearly.
We had met a man coming down the mountain alone, without a rope or harness. We figured that since he survived, we could also. I had never been trained on how to use the ice-ax to arrest a fall. So I got a quick lesson at the last minute. Cody, likewise lacking experience, took off for the summit, leaving Dieter and I to progress at an old-man's pace. When Cody summited, others looked on in amazement, knowing that only expert mountaineers were permitted to summit alone. Of course it was his first time, and he never knew.
I continued slow and steady, pacing myself to make it just to the next bend in the trail. The hardest part was the lack of oxygen. After every few steps, I would have to stop to breathe. Every time a dangerous ice bridge drew near, I would say to myself that I would just go up to it to look, and perhaps turn back. Each time, I figured, “I can jump this.”, and so I did. Only near the very end did I reach the point where the danger was so extreme as to warrant turning back. We were there at the hottest time of day on one of the hottest days of the year. The glacier was melting all around, and new crevasses were opening up before our eyes. The view was so terrifying, that I had to simply focus on my steps and not look behind me. I told Dieter it was time to turn back, but he would have none of it. So we continued.
As I was gingerly stepping over the soft snow, suddenly my whole body post-holed up to my armpits. I tried to reach out for support, but the surrounding snow pack caved in as well. I was barely hanging on to the edge, calling out for Dieter, when he extended an ice-ax for me to grab on to, as he pulled me to safety. Fortunately, he resisted the inclination to stop and take a photo of me hanging on the edge of the crevasse. Still, we went on.
After several more close calls, we finally made it to the summit. Except for a single tent, nobody else was there (they were smart enough not to hike in the hot late afternoon). I collapsed in exhaustion, and slept on a rock.
Later, as we descended, the glacier was even softer, and I had to run swiftly across melting ice bridges, lunging for the downhill bank in case the bridge gave way underneath me. Somehow I made it back to base camp alive, very tired, to find that our companions who left early in the day had put my things aside, and others had taken my tent flat. Thankfully, someone shared some hot food with me, and a shovel for me to dig a new hollow in the snow to sleep in.
The next day was all downhill, and we enjoyed ourselves glaceding down through the snow on plastic sheets. It was a majestic adventure, and qualified as such many times over, when life was in jeopardy, just feet from sheer rock cliffs and gaping ice crevasses.
It has been a long time since I went backpacking with a full pack. I forgot how heavy an extra ten pounds is when you have to carry it over 20 miles over rugged terrain. I could have done better to lose at least ten pounds from my pack, and from my body. This was an exercise in survivalism. I had to carry everything I needed to live. I filtered water from the creek, and cooked freeze-dried food with a little stove. Just like when I was young and lightweight. There has been much talk lately about belt-tightening and self-reliance. I'm just trying to carry my own, and maybe enjoy some scenery along the way.
There were many things that gave me hope and a renewed vitality over this past Summer, but I will share just a couple little outdoor adventures.
Our regular outdoor adventure club was expanded with several extra guests, as we took a weekend trip down the Deschutes River with some 24 persons. The weather was perfect. It was the hottest day of the year, with a soft breeze feeling like the draft when you open an oven. The ice-melt water of the river made a perfect balance, and we frequently jumped in to cool off.
A defining moment came when we did a little cliff–jumping into the river. I felt young again, and also foolhardy. Somehow I got it into my head that I was going to do a flying forward rotation with a half-twist from a height of nearly ten meters. Of course I had never done such a thing before, and had no idea what I was doing. For a while there it felt wonderful, flying through the air like a dream, but then a second later, the reality of the physical world struck me like a 2x4 across the chest. Of course I richly deserved it, but it would take me months to fully recover.
When I am faced with a daring challenge in life, I tend to defy common wisdom, and leap head-first. What is my problem? Do I have a death wish? On the contrary, I tend to enjoy life a little too much. The next time that Dieter and I were sitting in church together, the pastor preached on “If God asked you to jump off a cliff, would you do it?” (the pastor didn't know about our adventure the weekend before.) I was one of the few to raise my hand. Where will it take me next?
This Summer I was also blessed with an opportunity to visit Catalina Island again. I thoroughly enjoyed floating around with the fish, snorkeling off the beaches near Avalon. I was directed by special providence to the best camping spot on the island that night. I watched the sun set over the fog coming in, and then watched it rise after the fog had covered the island. I was above it all, with a bird's eye view of the entire natural preserve.
Tell me, is it just me, or do we really live in a police state? I try to tell myself that it is really not as bad as all that, that I have simply been reading too much of Will Grigg's Blog. Yet every day it seems (seriously, every single day) I see police lights as I drive to or from work, or see a car pulled over on the side of the road.
I was pulled over by the Oregon State Police recently while driving with my children to my parents' house for Thanksgiving. I was driving in the slow lane, well below the speed limit, when I carefully signaled and pulled out into the fast lane to go around an overloaded pickup truck that was impeding the traffic flow. After passing the truck, I carefully pulled back into the slow lane. The police car drove alongside me for some time, looking at the prominent signs displayed from my vehicle which read "UNJUST WAR IS MURDER" and, "RON PAUL REVOLUTION". He then pulled in behind me and followed for some time, eventually turning on his lights.
I pulled over, and he immediately jumped out and came up on the passenger side of the vehicle, trying to open the door, and when this failed (the door handle is broken, and will not open even when unlocked.) He demanded that I roll down the window. I rolled it down about three inches and stopped. He kept demanding that I roll it down all the way (which I could not, as it is broken.) I asked "Why?" He said he couldn't hear me (which was silly, because I could hear him just fine.) He said the space was not large enough to hand him my documents (though it obviously was). After commanding me to roll down the window all the way about five times (and I politely refusing each time) he gave up. He then proceeded to explain that he had pulled me over for a failure to continue to signal for at least 100 feet before changing lanes. I gave him my driver license, registration, and proof of insurance, while he kept asking me questions about what was in my vehicle. “Are there any firearms in the vehicle?” “Is there any marijuana in the vehicle?” “Are you carrying a significant amount of cash?” “Are there any methamphetamines in the vehicle?”. He kept asking me the same things over and over, and I would say, “No. and I do NOT consent to any search.” Finally he gave me back my documents and let me go my way. The whole time, there was someone with a large video-camera, taping the “action.” I would have turned on my own digital audio recorder, except that the officer ran up to my car so fast after the stop, and I had it kept in an old padded Walther-P22 pistol case. I was afraid that if he saw me reaching for the pistol-case, he might have freaked out and shot me or something.
Is it just me, with my war-protest signs, that draws them to me? It reminds me of a button which read, "It really is that bad, and they really are out to get you."
Taking a journey of faith, dreaming, and swimming. These are a few of my favorite things. In a way, they are woven throughout my life, even from the time I was very young. I have always been afraid of deep water, especially with waves and large sea creatures. And yet, precisely because it was fearsome to me, I found it a suitable circumstance to lean upon the everlasting arms.
When I saw Haystack Rock from the beach in Pacific City, I was inspired to swim out to it. This was like a breath of fresh air from my youth, when I would be inspired to climb mountains, cross continents and oceans, and visit distant countries. Of course my wife and children protested, but I would not be distracted. I rented a wet suit and fins, dove into the waves, and started swimming. It was much further than I had anticipated, especially since I was coming at it from an angle. I lay on my back and found rest in trusting God to preserve me, even despite my fear of the unknown. I kept kicking, and it seemed like a long time. I saw whales. Large black mounds rolling out from the surf, and then the puff from the blow-hole. Large stalks of seaweed, with a seal swimming among them. Thousands of seagulls. The rock is very large when you get up close to it. I climbed up to a ledge, and surveyed the beach. After a long while, I dove back into the swells, and made my way back.
Somehow I found this little adventure to be very significant. I would dream of it later, with the great and fearsome depths beneath me, and the loving buoyancy of divine providence lifting me up.
The Ron Paul Revolution has been going strong here in Oregon, and it is inspiring to see so many people coming out of the zombie crowd to take a stand for liberty. We've been spreading the message from the overpass, from signs on our cars, at meetings, and by word of mouth. It is a great conversation-starter. Despite decades of brainwashing, many people still have some American blood in them, and they appreciate the old ideals of life, liberty, and limited government.
I crossed them once though, when I stood up at a meeting to ask, “What is the long-term plan here? If (may it never be) Ron Paul fails to get the nomination, how will the Revolution continue?” I was shouted down and denounced by those who claimed that we could not contemplate failure, and that we must be single-minded in promoting the cause, which was Ron Paul. “The cause is liberty!” I protested. “Ron Paul is just a spokesman.” They didn't want to hear that. It seems I lost them there. Later, they lost me when they started talking about how it was time that we all register as Republicans. As a matter of principle, I cannot join with the Party of Lincoln, and so I remain somewhat on the sidelines, cheering the voice of liberty, yet knowing the true cost of liberty is far more than most people seem to understand.
Salem Banner Brigade
Center Street Overpass
How to Stump for Ron Paul
I didn't know how many people would be coming to the planned activities, but my hope was that Christ would be among us. Indeed, he went before us, and shut the doors. When we arrived early to protest in front of the largest abortion clinic in the state, we discovered that they had made the unprecedented move of closing down completely- on a day that they would usually have been busy.
We stood on the streets, displayed our graphic signs, and talked among ourselves. Some people were preaching at the building, and Paul Smith even took to writing a little song. I had a discussion with a man from South Carolina about Christian Exodus.
After a couple hours, we marched though downtown Portland to the busy street market, and spoke with some people there. One young man confessed that he was at a crossroads with his pregnant girlfriend, whose mom was pressuring her to have an abortion. We encouraged him to step up and take responsibility for his child.
The next activity was the overpass protest against the war. This is a much less hostile environment, as most Oregonians are also against the war, though they support abortion. By protesting both at once, we tried to force them into cognitive dissonance, that they might realize the error of their ways.
We had an enjoyable time out at the campground. The Mt. Hood National Forrest is beautiful land, and the weather was ideal. After a good dinner, different people shared their ideas of God's will for our lives in America. Most of us felt that the degrading social climate would lead to the persecution of true believers in our lifetime, and that we would need to come together and support each other. We stayed up late into the night talking.
The next morning, we took a refreshing swim in the Clackamas river, and then held a little worship service under the trees. We sang some hymns, and some people shared a message. In the midst of our little community of hardcore Christian activists, it really felt like Christ was present among us. I thought it was much more meaningful than if it had been a large group.