By Charlie Johnston
The first time I ever took my kids to the zoo, they were only one and two. Certainly, they enjoyed the animals, but I was a bit disappointed that they really did not evince the surprise and delight I remembered from my own first foray to a zoo as a child. Then it dawned on me, though the zoo was new to them, at that age just about EVERYTHING was new to them – so why would it be any more amazing than a trip to the lake or any other (to me) common, mundane event? It wouldn’t.
A child lacks experience, so he does not easily or quickly categorize anything into patterns he is familiar with. Everything is new to him. On the other hand, he sees things as they are and does not try to force them into categories he knows – because he just does not have many to work with. He is busy forming them from the sensory input he gets. Thus, if an adult were to see a 1963 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow floating five feet off the ground, that adult would have a serious case of cognitive dissonance, for it would not fit any easily accessible category in his experience. If a three-year-old saw the same thing, it might delight him, but it would just be another of the many amazing things he is seeing for the first time. Instead of creating cognitive dissonance, it would go into forming his expectations of what “normal” is.
Determining what is “normal” and developing the ability to see patterns helps us to quickly see, assess and react effectively to situations in real time. It is why experience is so highly valued.
Early in high school, I developed a fascination with studying societies on the verge of catastrophic collapse. In hindsight, the signs were always there years, often decades, before actual collapse happened. There was a peculiar velocity to the signs, like a truck rolling downhill, getting faster and faster while simultaneously getting further out of control. What was really peculiar was that, as this velocity increased, almost no one in the society interpreted the signs for what they actually were; harbingers of impending collapse. In these cases, their experience turned traitor on them, leading them to make false analogies to similar, but substantively different, patterns they had successfully managed in the past. This convinced them that, despite the quantitatively growing disorder, everything was going to be okay. Their experience deceived them and they did not see things for how they really were.
In normal, stable times experience is the key characteristic for making good assessments and decisions. In abnormal, volatile times experience remains valuable in helping to craft effective responses to events as they unfold, but it can blind you to what is actually happening. That is because your experience restlessly seeks to impose patterns you are familiar with, but no longer apply, over the new realities you face. Strategies and tactics are only effective in managing what is, not what is not.
The two most common biases that confound our reasoning in tumultuous times are normalcy bias and confirmation bias. Normal human behavior seeks to avoid confrontation, for every confrontation involves some amount of risk – the risk of loss or of loss of control. Thus, the mind seeks to impose normal patterns on seriously abnormal events to justify avoiding confrontation. If the events the mind seeks to normalize are disordered seriously enough, that normalcy bias enables those events to metastasize into a greater malignancy – that still must be confronted if things are to be re-stabilized. Malicious actors play upon this normalcy bias to paralyze potential opponents and give themselves time to consolidate their own strength so that, by the time opponents can no longer deceive themselves with normalcy bias, the odds have shifted more favorably to the malicious actors. This is how Adolf Hitler played what would later become the allies into giving him time to dramatically enhance and consolidate his strength before those allies took direct confrontational action. If the allies had abandoned their normalcy bias even a year earlier, Hitler could have been stopped at a tiny fraction of the cost in human lives it ultimately took to preserve freedom.
Confirmation bias causes a person to only take note of narratives that confirm what he already believes. In tumultuous times, it is a particular danger to those who know something is wrong but do not quite understand it or cannot effectively express the underlying dread of it. Thus, in older times, when gangs of thieves and cutthroats came marauding in a village, tales of monsters and ghosts would rise. While villagers developed tactics for dealing with monsters and ghosts, the marauders often proceeded nearly unmolested.
In current times, many moderate folks believe that the last election was just a swing of the pendulum, that there was no massive conspiracy to invalidate and overwhelm the honest votes of proper citizens, that all the systems are still fundamentally sound. If that is correct, then a course correction would take place at the next election – which many good people are putting their hopes in, so they don’t have to confront an unthinkable malignancy. Meantime, many otherwise serious folks are eagerly jumping onto all manner of wild, unvetted (and sometimes even unhinged) explanations of how things were fraudulently manipulated. They are right that things were badly and maliciously manipulated, but they risk chasing after monsters and ghosts while leaving the electoral marauders unmolested. The moderates convince themselves that things are fundamentally okay, so no confrontation is needed – and they are wrong. Otherwise serious folks are right that things are badly wrong, but are so eagerly jumping on any old nonsense to emphasize how badly wrong things are that they vitiate our ability to confront and defeat the actual problems we have – or even to analyze them soberly.
In his message to Congress of December 1, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln said, “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present…we must think anew and act anew.” If we are to navigate well through these treacherously unprecedented waters we find ourselves in, we must, first, see clearly what is in front of us instead of trying to force it into what we want to see. Second, we must analyze clearly, soberly and deliberately without frantic or frenzied haste – then confront it with equal deliberation and resolve. In short, we must see what IS there and refuse to jump to what is NOT there. The old dogmas are already dead – and we must think anew. Here are just three areas where a new approach must prevail – with some comments.
Church – Being a traditional religious cleric is more and more coming to be seen as a disreputable job. That trend will continue. One of the reasons for it is that a lot of disreputable people have become clerics as a means of attaining mere temporal power and influence. Another reason is that many who came in for at least some genuine religious reasons fancy themselves diplomats who can mediate between God’s commands and temporal trends that violate those commands. These are the ones playing chess with the devil. (I checked with several people I knew who were at the Napa Conference – and they all confirmed the substance of Michael Voris’ insightful piece linked to here.) The old play of mollifying the orthodox while preserving the mega-donor base is dying before major clerics’ eyes – and they are blind to it. Playing footsie with a temporal power elite that is hostile to traditional faith – and the faithful who practice it, will not preserve the clerics’ influence, but crush it. Some foolish clerics even think they have made new allies with the anti-God left that will exempt them from destruction. The irony is that those new “allies” are eager to help those clerics destroy their credibility with the orthodox. Once that is gone, it will be easier to crush them altogether. The very idea of a religious infrastructure is a dangerous potential rival to the left – and just as Stalin did to Trotsky, as soon as the left can isolate these clerics, the night of the long knives against them will commence.
I often say God works primarily through indirection. No doubt it pleases Him that all the Trotsky clerics and the diplomat clerics who play chess with the devil are hastening their own destruction, even merely at temporal hands. Soon enough, the only reason to remain a cleric will be from simple love of God and of His people. It is these who will hold fast to their post when all hope of power and influence is gone. And it is from these that God will renew and rebuild His Church. There is a great harvest of saints growing, almost unnoticed, in the midst of the choking brambles of worldly clerics.
Covid – I think we are right at the edge of a great tipping point. In the early animal experiments with mRNA “vaccines,” most of the animals died rather quickly. As researchers minimized the short-term problems, the long-term problem that they never consistently resolved is that the spike protein they inject to protect against a specific virus becomes increasingly rogue over time. It gets over-aggressive attacking similar viruses with ever lesser restraint, ending by attacking the soft tissues of internal organs. In many cases, ultimately, the test subjects healthy lungs were ultimately destroyed by the spike protein. It was like injecting a malignant tumor into an animal’s bodies in hopes that it would die off after offering some initial protection against a specific virus. Rarely did it. No one has been able to provide me the full data on any successful trials – and I have encountered none, even among the most enthusiastic of mRNA shot supporters, who know of any.
If the pattern I saw in the animal trials holds true here, what will soon happen is that the Delta variant will be relatively innocuous among those who never took the shot, but will be very hard on those who have. For as long as they can, officials will try to hide that. But once the disorders start to cascade, they accelerate very quickly – and will become impossible to hide. I see two probable reasons for the frantic push to get everyone “vaccinated.” First, for elected and bureaucratic officials, it is the same old, same old – establishing control over the general population. But I suspect top public health officials are in a panic that the first massive clues to the disaster they have wrought are on the horizon – and if they have a large un-vaccinated class that is only minimally affected by new variants, it will highlight how badly they erred. Thus, they are desperately hoping they can eliminate the un-vaccinated “control” class, so they can credibly claim, whatever disasters ensue, that it would have been worse without the mRNA shot. It’s not going to pan out for them IF they have not actually solved the long-term problems with mRNA shots – because they squandered their credibility with their kaleidoscopic of conflicting claims over the last year and a half.
Why would God allow such a thing? Well, I began to suspect last November that the lack of guardrail protocols in developing this made it likely to become a huge disaster, particularly with the failures of the animal trials. In February, I got how this could be consistent with God rebuking our hubris while simultaneously not leading us to destruction. Elected officials are going to be revealed as frauds – they had access to the same data I did, even if they tried to bowdlerize it to downplay the dangers. The media is going to be revealed as a group of ignorant charlatans. Public health officials are going to be revealed as politicized hacks. Even well-meaning doctors are going to be revealed as unreliable – men and women who chose to ignore contrary information from top, credible sources and instead obediently parroted the narrative. Many Church leaders are going to be revealed as power-brokers and influence peddlers rather than steadfast defenders of the faithful. Dealing with the most incompetent and mendacious elite class in history, God is going to remind us that He is our only source of reliable security.
Perhaps the pharmaceutical companies have solved the substantial problems that emerged from the animal trials. If they have not, then the vaccinated will be hit harder than the unvaccinated – and no matter how hard the bureaucratic class tries to hide it, the velocity of the cascade will reveal it before another month or two go by. I am concerned enough that I am working with some serious scientists to get a temporal protocol in place to help ameliorate the worst of it. I am now going to come up to the edge of violating a pledge I made: I am reliably informed that this is NOT for our destruction, but our redemption – that God IS the only irreplaceable protocol. But it may well require a lot of destruction for us to see it, after having played at being gods, ourselves, for so long.
Separation – I have talked about secession as a form of panic room – a way to preserve liberty until the totalitarian moment has passed. This whole business is weirder than that. In the Civil War, the Confederate states sought to overthrow the authority of the system of government whose levers of power they did not control. In the current situation, the people who hold the levers of power are trying to overthrow the system of government that they nominally control. It is the left – and Democratic officials – who are trying to secede from Constitutional government and the Bill of Rights. As with the fall of the Roman Republic (NOT the Empire), they seek to preserve some of the forms of freedom while destroying their substance.
Most revolutionaries seek to completely overthrow the government from without. The only modern equivalent I can find where a movement sought to overthrow their system of government from within was Adolf Hitler’s rise to power. It was 79 years ago today (Aug. 9, 1932) that Reichstag President Hermann Goering successfully shepherded legislation through that criminalized resistance to or criticism of the Nazi Party as attacks or domestic terrorism. This paved the way for the appointment of Adolf Hitler as Chancellor of the Realm on Jan. 30, 1933. Once he had that power, he ruthlessly used Goering’s earlier legislation to effectively outlaw all dissent, under the guise of state security and unity. In that case, the Nazis’ intent was to take legitimate power in a free republic, then use that to seize absolute power while transforming the government into, first, an authoritarian state and then a totalitarian nightmare.
In America, we have sovereign states which, theoretically, are not subject to federal whims. They have acted like subsidiaries of the federal government for so long that it is a hard habit to shake, but as various states reject federal efforts to overturn constitutional law on such things as the second amendment, immigration, free speech, covid restrictions, and eviction bans, those states are engaging in nullification – even if they are nullifying powers that the federal government has never had. These are dress rehearsals for actual secession. We have a safety valve in America in the individual states. If federal officials and blue states are determined to secede from Constitutional law and replace it with an authoritarian bureaucratic state, we can preserve the Constitution and Bill of Rights by individual states refusing to collude with this brave new world. If managed effectively, this “panic room” option could spare a sizable chunk of America from the dystopian nightmare the left envisions.
“You shall be like gods,” the satan told Eve as he seduced her into eating the fruit of the forbidden tree. It is the original narcissistic temptation, the one that causes man to fall over and over again. Whenever I see narcissism run amok, I see demonic activity.
In the beginning, God created man in His own image; male and female He created them. God created man, gave them complementarity, and assigned the sex of each soul He created. The transgender delusion is an effort to overthrow God’s sovereignty; to narcissistically insist that “I am god – and I will not submit.” To approve of active homosexuality is to deny God’s complementarity, to instead choose what is “like me.” It is a narcissistic conceit. To trivialize love to mean whatever most satisfies me rather than to will the good of another is fundamentally narcissistic. It is to make common cause with Lucifer in proclaiming, “Non serviam.” And for those religious leaders who affirm that this ‘non serviam’ is right and just, who, exactly, do they serve? Federal officials seek to overturn the most successful form of government in human history and remake it in their own benighted images. Narcissism much?
We are in the quiet before a serious battle erupts. Those on the left are trying to provoke patriots to violent action, in hopes they can justify clamping down tighter – and in the narcissistic certainty that they will win. The longer patriots and the faithful can hold out, the more difficult it will be for the left to claim it was the other side’s fault – for each day that a new provocation comes, more people in the middle come to see the truth of the matter.
In these tumultuous times, it cannot be helped that some people desperately hold onto their normalcy bias. It cannot be helped that some who know things are badly wrong manufacture phantasms to explain the monsters that they feel surrounding them, but cannot adequately describe. But we here are called to be signs of hope after the dam breaks – and to do that effectively, we must work to see things as they are while not imagining monsters that are not there. Lord, lead me neither to the left out of anger nor to the right out of fear, but lead me in a plain path.
Things are hitting faster and faster – and so I took some time this last week to retool. It is not that there are not enough things to talk about, but that there are so many offenses pouring forth that it is difficult to figure which to let be and which to focus on. Of course, as disorder increases, constantly evolving our focus to deal with what is fundamental and avoiding what is merely ancillary will be a constant battle.
Meantime, we have a few events coming up that are CORAC-sponsored or CORAC supported. This weekend, in Goffstown, New Hampshire, we are supporting the “Stand Up and Kneel” event. It is an afternoon event to pray for and with our Bishops, Priests and Pastors; to sing with them and to pray for the renewal of the faith and support from the laity for those clerics who are working to serve God and the faithful. I can’t be there this time, but I well know the key organizers and the wonderful site they are using (I gave a presentation there a few years back.) If you are in the northeast, make a weekend of it.
Texas Right to Life President Jim Graham is offering all members of CORAC a complimentary ticket to their annual Celebration of Life Dinner in Houston on Saturday, Sept. 18 – a $200 value. I have been to the last five such dinners – and it will blow you away. A veteran of hundreds, probably over a thousand, political and movement dinners, the first time I went to this one I was in plain awe throughout the whole thing.
I am planning to put together a session for CORAC members on the Sunday afternoon following the dinner in a conference room in the same hotel. I will give you information later in the week on how to sign up to join us in Houston. You won’t regret coming. While the dinner is comped to CORAC members who register, you will have to make and pay for your own hotel reservations and transportation.
Meantime, if you were not able to attend the CORAC Conference in South Dakota at the end of June but would like to check out the talks, you can access the video package here.