emerge from the fog
“You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient.” (Ephesians 2:1-2)
“This spirit, in which the ‘course of the world’ rules, is not just floating about freely. [We] inhale it and thus pass it on into their institutions and various conditions…
“It serves as a norm and is taken for granted. To act, think, or speak against this spirit is regarded as nonsensical or even wrong and criminal. It is ‘in’ this spirit that [we] encounter the world and affairs, which means that [we] accept the world as this spirit presents it to [us], with all its ideas and values, in the form in which he wants [us] to find it. The domination which the prince of this world exercises over the atmosphere, gives to the world with its affairs, relationships, and situations, and even to existence itself, the appearance of belonging to him; it imposes his valuation on everything.”
The above quote is from Principalities and Powers in the New Testament by Heinrich Schlier, which was published in 1962. (pages 31-32)
We “inhale it” indeed. Other than by injection, inhalation is the quickest way to get a substance into the bloodstream. It flows through us; it becomes part of us. It bypasses our logic, our ability to reason. We thoughtlessly (in the neutral sense of the term) accept the narrative spoken by the prince of this world. We find ourselves believing and doing what we might have previously considered impossible, even unthinkable.
It has become commonplace for pharmaceutical commercials to run stock footage of people laughing in the park or a father teaching his daughter how to ride a bike or a reluctant doggie getting a bath. Meanwhile we hear a cheerful voiceover citing a list of possible side effects, including drowsiness, nausea, diarrhea, rashes, muscle fatigue, hair loss, difficulty in breathing, seizures, mood alterations, renal failure, impaired sexual drive, increased sexual drive, bizarre changes in appetite, morphing into an alien life form, and fatal events. (Okay, I suppose a couple of those conditions are rarely reported!) Lastly, we are instructed to “consult your physician.”
One thing these commercials would explicitly deny is that their medication is suitable for all people. That would just be stupid—as those in clinical research are known to say. It would hardly be “following the science” to issue a prescription without regard for say, allergic reactions and long-term results. Or to push vaccination for every single person in the nation—or on the planet.
Here is the scientific method, greatly simplified: observe, research, hypothesize, experiment, conclude, communicate. An experiment must be replicated. Results must be communicated and peer reviewed. The greater the steps, the better. Good science requires strict objectivity. If it is lacking, shaming and censorship easily take its place.
Shaming and censorship can flow from a pretext of almost any kind. What not long ago were nations who legitimately could be called “democracies” are taking another course. Methods reminiscent of communist China are seeping into the body politic. We become used to them and even promote them.
Recall Schlier’s comment. “To act, think, or speak against this spirit is regarded as nonsensical or even wrong and criminal. It is ‘in’ this spirit that [we] encounter the world and affairs, which means that [we] accept the world as this spirit presents it…” One might ask, “Are we going crazy?”
Peer pressure among kids pales in comparison to peer pressure among adults. Later in his book, Schlier says if one “hears and accepts Christ’s message with faith and abides in it, [one] penetrates the fog of illusions with which the principalities shroud the world and human existence.” (58)
The fog of illusions with which the principalities shroud the world and human existence. I’m a bit “hazy” on that.
“God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline [of sanity].” (2 Timothy 1:7)