By Charlie Johnston
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you,
As though something strange were happening to you.
But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings,
That you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.
- 1 Peter 4:12, 13
For the first time in my lifetime, the FDA has approved an experimental medical device – the mRNA shot, not because it has met the rigorous protocols normal for such experimental therapies (it has not), but because the political class wants it done so they can mandate it. Ever since the passage of politicized medicine with Obamacare, I have worried this might be the instrument of socialist takeover. Strange that this should come just as even the establishment media is reluctantly figuring out that this shot does not work very well – and for many, is more threatening than the illness it seeks to protect against.
This, however, is consistent with how Democrats have acted since the inauguration of Barack Obama. When unemployment numbers got bad, Obama simply quit counting those who got so discouraged they quit looking for work as unemployed. When actual inflation was starting to spike, Obama ordered that groceries and gasoline prices cease to be counted in calculating inflation. That has become the Democrats go-to way of addressing serious problems: don’t fix the problem, just change the way you count it. Abandon all objective standards. The little people must accept what the ruling elite says because it is the ruling elite who says it. To approve an experimental therapy that has failed nearly every objective standard all other medical therapies must clear, just because Democrats want it to be so is the most hideous form of medical malpractice in America since the 40-year Tuskegee Syphilis Study which began in 1932.
Except in the case of a genuine emergency, the government has no authority to mandate any particular medical treatment even if it is fully vetted and approved in the normal, careful fashion. To try to mandate an experimental therapy that has skipped over almost all the normal safeguards is beyond abusive and unconstitutional. To call that unprecedented therapy a “vaccine” to try to hide how radically new and unprecedented it is, is a flagrant lie.
A government can impose limited emergency restrictions in a genuine emergency. It is hard to get good information when the medical authorities we have counted on have prostituted themselves for a political narrative and are doing their best to downplay or mangle solid data to support their narrative. But even working with their mangled data, anyone who gets Covid has a 99+ percent chance of surviving. For those 65 and over, Covid is more dangerous than the flu. For those 40 and under, the flu is more dangerous. With what we know from the medical authorities own flawed data, the mRNA shot is definitely more dangerous to people under 30 than the disease is. If, viewing CDC’s own (admittedly unreliable – but exaggerated in the case of Covid and downplayed in the case of the shot) data, this constitutes a crisis, then so does the flu. In fact, there will never be a time again when we do not face a crisis that gives the government extraordinary arbitrary power. I am more likely to develop cancer than to die of Covid. Does this give the government power to mandate I begin chemotherapy now “just in case”?
The release of Dr. Anthony Fauci’s private emails revealed that he, too, knew that masks did not provide protection from a virus, but were mere useful totems to make people feel safer. In my naievete, I honestly thought this revelation would put an end to mask mandates – but the “follow the science” crowd does not care about science at all if it does not grant them coercive power. If the government can mandate what even its most ardent advocate admits privately is just a totem, can it then mandate we all carry wiccan crystals, dreamcatchers, or rabbits’ feet? If not, why not?
Regular readers know I am rather dour about large conspiracy theories. If something requires vast flights of fancy and purports to explain everything, it usually doesn’t explain anything. Yet in the last year and a half we have inflated a genuinely serious new disease that is still well within the spectrum of normal respiratory viral infections into the equivalent of the black plague. Authorities suppressed effective therapies for it that have been a great success in every country that has used them. It used the fear and suppression to herd large numbers of people into taking an unproven experimental gene therapy shot, calling it a “vaccine” to hide how unprecedented it is. Now that some establishment media have started to grudgingly notice that the “vaccine” does not work very well and has caused a multitude of problems already (heart enlargement, blood clotting, infertility, sudden death) the master class shrieks all the louder that everyone must get the shot they prefer and be denied the therapies that are actually proven to work. I don’t know if there is some sinister conspiracy, but if there was one, this is what it would look like.
In tumultuous times, the temptation is to go scurrying desperately after every strand that can help make sense of what is happening – plausible or implausible. This leaves many people furiously chopping away at the branches of a problem while getting nowhere near the root. In such cases, I have always taken refuge in “first things,” fundamental principles that allow me to analyze the situation soberly and come to rational conclusions. It both soothes me and helps me make good, considered decisions. Even when I don’t hit the bullseye, I am almost always in the right neighborhood. Here are a few “first things” that guide me.
- Truth will stand the test of examination. There is no arbiter of truth in this world. Every person must defend his opinion in the marketplace of ideas. No person is allowed to act as arbiter to decide what is “misinformation.” If your opponent is pushing what you believe to be misinformation, you must counter it with more persuasive information, backed by solid evidence and logic. If you fail, you need to go back to the drawing board to see why and adjust for the next confrontation.
- The person who seeks to silence opponents instead of proving his own case is, at best, incapable of intellectual argument and, at worst, a liar. That means that if you seek to silence dissent, I dismiss you out of hand. It is the quickest way to convince me you don’t know what you are talking about. If you did, you could make an argument besides, “Shut up.” You are useless and ignorant.
- On a matter of rights, no poll is relevant. Actual human rights under natural law, as partially described in the American Bill of Rights, are not subject to infringement, even if 99.5% of the population thinks they should be infringed. Anyone who tries to coerce another on a matter of right is a thug. If an official tries to coerce anyone on such a matter, they should at least be removed from their position of trust. If it is a government official, they should be both removed and jailed for a time.
Though I have spent a year examining data on the Covid business and the gene therapy shot, it was not really necessary. Once I saw that the officials and “experts” involved were bowdlerizing data and were either unable or unwilling to defend their position beyond telling dissenters to shut up, I dismissed them as low men worthy only of my contempt. They had no chance of persuading me until they honestly engaged the questions. When they deceptively called the experimental gene therapy shot – which is an entirely novel and unprecedented therapy – a “vaccine” to make it seem more familiar, I concluded they were fundamentally dishonest as well as ignorant. When they suppressed therapies that had proven effective in every nation that tried them, I concluded that they were evil and power-mad.
With me, before you get a seat at the table at all, you have to be prepared to persuade me and defend your data. The reason I do not get into many exotic theories is that, before I will take you seriously if you are proposing something to me, you have to have substantial backup and respond candidly to my reasonable questions. If you will not, there is no reason for me to go into speculation on an area where I do not have formal training. You have to meet that first threshold of accountability before I am obligated to use my formal training and extensive experience in professional research to vet what you say. If I do it anyway, I risk making an unforced error – and allowing you to raise some moral equivalence with me for that error. There is rarely an upside to going forward until the intiator has met his threshold of accountability – and a major downside risk. The only reason I engaged this time was because a collective madness has settled over the country and the world. Too many people are not demanding that officials meet even the most basic of first principles. A real fascism has arisen in both America and the world. Australia and Canada are perhaps the first in the west to fall fully under the spell of fascist authoritarianism – but the race is on in most western countries to see which can be the most comprehensive tyrants. The minds of the best have been clouded over, leading many to chop away at the branches of these problems as the root grows ever deeper.
Authorities of the Church are no less flailing. Rather than confront the whole raft of issues roiling the Church, I will confine myself to Covid and stewardship here.
First, let me state clearly my position. Except for the use of aborted fetal stem cells in the development of the gene therapy shots, there is no sin attached to getting the shot. My primary objection is practical. Morally, I cannot be forced to inject an unproven, risky substance into my body. Constitutionally, I cannot be forced to inject even a benign substance into my body. People are free to make their own choice in such a matter. You say you want to keep me safe by forcing me to get the shot? I say I want to keep myself from the already great known risks of the shot and the multitude of unknown risks. And I would like to keep you safe, too – but I do not presume to have the right to force you.
A Bishop may honorably (though imprudently, I think) recommend the shot without sin attaching to that recommendation. If the shot becomes the comprehensive disaster I think it will, that Bishop will bear responsibility for going with the crowd instead of doing his due diligence with fortitude. Mitigating that responsibility will be that he had the errant and sometimes even fraudulent counsel of people and authorities that he once could trust. But sin will not attach to it. If, on the other hand, he mandates – or supports mandates – to force people to take the experimental gene therapy for a genuine, but mundane, threat, he is in danger of the judgment, for formal Catholic doctrine is that no vaccine or medical treatment must ever be mandatory.
There are too many Bishops – most notably Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago and Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego who are actively pushing for a national mandate in contradiction of clear Catholic doctrine. Bishop McElroy wants to mandate that you must have the shot to be able to attend Mass, though he has not yet gone that far. Imagine that! Our founder, Jesus Christ, welcomed even the lepers. Some of our modern – and very powerful – Bishops want to turn away those who will not take a risky experimental gene therapy against a respiratory infection that has a 99+ percent survival rate. They have their reward. Thankfully, the Bishops in Colorado, under the lead of Metropolitan Archbishop Samuel Aquila are providing conscience exemption letters – not that our increasingly fascist authorities will accept such a thing. Archbishop Aquila has taken a prominent leading role in many orthodox initiatives this last year, even if some are behind the scenes.
Few have noticed how rapidly the many adverse effects of the therapy are cascading into public awareness. I suspect one reason for the cascade is that so many people now know someone personally who has suffered serious adverse effects. Meantime, the strategy of the ruling class is to shriek all the louder that we all MUST do as they say and make those who refuse the shot the equivalent of the kulaks in Stalin’s Soviet Union (millions were ultimately executed for the crime of having a small farm and a couple of chickens); scapegoats for the abysmal failures of the ruling class. Those useful idiots who shriek the loudest in support of the ruling class’s depredations are blissfully ignorant of history (among many other things) so do not know that, if they succeeded, they would only move themselves one step closer to their own purging.
We have, then, a ruling class that is hellbent on having its way regardless of reason and evidence; a large underclass which will not submit without evidence or reason; and a large middle class caught between the two, not sure of what to believe.
I often imagined myself standing atop a mountain being forced to watch two trains, barreling towards each other on the same set of tracks, heading for catastrophic collision. I felt the helplessness of not being able to do a thing about it, save perhaps assemble the ambulances. Now that recurring nightmare of my fearful imagination is playing out before our eyes.
The young theologian, Daniel O’Connor has used the felicitous phrase, “the dress rehearsal of the Antichrist,” to describe the current crisis. While O’Connor suspects the appearance of the Antichrist might be imminent and I insist it is not, the phrase he coined gets it just right. Though the devil is doomed this time, he is using the current swirling chaos to, in effect, test-market and refine gambits he will use at the actual end. This is, however, a double-edged sword. Mankind can use the devil’s efforts as an opportunity to understand its own weakness and what solidifies holding fast to Christ.
The gene therapy shot is NOT the mark of the beast. It does, however, illustrate how easily a malignant ruling class can impose such on the general population – while puncturing confident assertions of Christians who are over-confident in their own fortitude and surety that they would NEVER violate their own conscience. As I have repeatedly emphasized, serious sin does not attach to a decision to take the shot or not. Yet those whose conscience and real pragmatic concerns weigh against them taking this shot are now finding their jobs, careers, opportunities, and freedom threatened if they do not knuckle under and either violate their conscience or ignore their serious pragmatic concerns. We are all finding that being hypothetically brave in confronting a hypothetical situation is a lot easier than being really brave when confronted with a real crisis of conscience in which there are real and hard consequences. This can help the most committed Christians to understand more intimately that, if we are to endure, our strength is not sufficient. We must understand, with John the Baptist, that, “…He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30) Paradoxically, surrendering to Christ is both much harder and much easier than we imagine. On the one hand, our human nature wars furiously against it as we desperately seek to maintain the illusion of control. On the other, as we practice it in little things to develop strength in it, it relieves us of the burden of trying to maintain the illusion of control while freeing us to truly take the next right step, with due consideration for the needs and rights of others, but without fear of temporal consequences – knowing that once we completely surrender to God, everything He allows to befall us is for our good or that of others we love. Once we truly embrace becoming a willing tool in the Master’s hands, we become a profoundly powerful and effective tool. Until that moment of surrender, though, we remain nothing but a blunt object flailing impotently away at the branches of the problems around us.
God is a devoted and loving Master. He devotes Himself – and most of our lives – in offering lessons on how to think. He gives us opportunities to fail, that we might learn to succeed in Him. If people could just see the events of our lives as one great training ground, seeing our many stumbles and weaknesses as the price fortitude exacts as prelude to success, we would not despair so easily. In baseball, the novice infielder who makes eight errors in his first 10 attempts is only a failure if he gives up. If he persists so that he makes five errors in his next 10 attempts, then three, and finally rarely makes an error (though even the very best sometimes make an error), then he is using the opportunity of his failures as the foundation for success. That is why he who is saved is he who endures to the end. (See Matthew 24:13). God is teaching us to be radicals in our devotion and commitment to – and our dependence upon – Him. Though often painful, it is the only secure path to abundant life in Him. Be thankful He loves us so much He is offering us such training now.
Cast away trite pieties and flimsy formulas. These are just efforts to maintain the illusion of control and mastery. Seek to see with fresh eyes. When I was yet a boy many relatives and adults around me often thought I was a smart-aleck because of the questions I asked. I actually wasn’t (at least not often); I just wanted to know what was true when obviously contradictory statements and beliefs were glibly offered. Beginning as a boy and continuing as a young man, I restlessly read and re-read the Bible. I got agitated when people would glibly cite a particular snippet of Scripture as final proof of a matter without considering other snippets that seemed to contradict it. I did not assume Scripture was wrong, but that their understanding of it was much more shallow than they thought. In my mind, either it all must hold or none of it can hold. The first 35 years of my life were a restless search for how it could all possibly hold. I was not satisfied until a light went off while reading St. Augustine’s “Confessions” in the summer of 1990. In this autobiography, St. Augustine took the opportunity to chastise those who “abuse Scripture as mere science or mere history.” It is, he said, the eternal word of God given to draw us to salvation.
My holistic approach to reading and questioning Scripture has led me to a different approach to its interpretation than most. For example, many people use the snippet, “let your yes be yes and your no be no” to condemn anyone who is rhetorically subtle. Yet how can this be when Jesus also advises us to be as “sly as serpents and as gentle as doves”? What about the parable of the dishonest steward? Even more, what of the rhetorical gamesmanship of Jesus, Himself, as He constantly led His tormenters into rhetorical and logical traps? I do not adopt the simplistic approach to that snippet of Scripture, for either it all holds or none of it holds. In fact, the primary source for most of my rhetorical subtlety is derived from the example of Scripture, itself. I do not think the originally cited snippet of Scripture forbids subtlety, metaphor, or even misdirection. Rather, I think, it points towards living a coherent unity of character. You can’t lead a dual life. Critics often called Ronald Reagan the “teflon president” because his misstatements never stuck to him. They missed the point. Reagan’s intentions and goals were so transparent and obvious that even when he made the occasional misstatement, people knew with confidence what he meant. Both a great negotiator and a subtle wit, the silly ‘gotcha’ games could not erode the connection he made with ordinary people because of the candor of his character. His yes meant yes and his no meant no. It speaks to a transparency of mind and visible singularity of purpose.
Some on the anti-God left would say my approach to truth is tainted by my Catholicism. I was not born into the Catholic Church. I chose it because it answered coherently my questions (I am speaking here of Scripture and formal Magisterial teaching, not the ideological pretensions of some popinjays wearing miters.) I weary of pitiful mediocrities playing at being smart by attacking religious tenets they do not understand. I also get annoyed at well-meaning conservatives who call leftism a “religion.” It is not; it is merely a set of superstitions. A bona fide religion has a coherent set of principles that are generally accessible to any who study them. Christianity and Judaism have produced the most bona fide geniuses in world history. What has atheism got to compare? The best they can usually come up with is Albert Einstein – who began as an atheist and ended as a deist, so not an atheist at all. If the best evidence I could come up with for Christianity was a Christian who ultimately became an atheist, I would have the wit to keep my mouth shut. When I meet the atheist who can seriously grapple with St. Thomas Aquinas on anything, I will be impressed. And no, you mental mediocrities, a sneer is not an argument, even if a lot of folks desperate to be counted among the cool kids consider it a compelling one.
And so, how to prepare for the fiery trial that has already begun to show itself? First, get your mind right – both for combat and for restraint. Do not treat everything as a mere contest to prove how brilliant and insightful you are. If someone tries to force something on you, refuse until they answer your questions honestly and candidly. If they are unwilling to refine their argument, it can quickly become a fool’s game to try proving or disproving it yourself, especially if it is outside your area of serious expertise. There are at least a dozen contradictory and breathless explanations of how dangerous the gene therapy shot is. Adding your favored one to the mix does not help; it only adds to the chaos and confusion while diminishing the credibility of dissenters. It is sufficient and powerful to demand that the initiators explain their case credibly before going any further (with the exception of people who have actual credentialed expertise in the subject).
When any large class seeks to rule by fiat, refusing to be accountable to the people they supposedly serve, confronts a large class which refuses to submit without candid accountability, a terrible clash is imminent. I have long said that the only way this ends peacefully is if either the officials back down or the normal submit. It will not end peacefully.
In Australia, they are at serious risk of a Rwanda-style catastrophe because of the government’s authoritarian reflex – and supposed conservatives are doing little to nothing about it just as in America. All of Western Europe is very wobbly, to put it mildly. Western civilization has left the building.
I am often asked what will be the trigger that sparks collapse and revolt. I generally respond that we are like a football field implanted with mines every ten feet on both axes. It doesn’t matter which goes up first; once one goes, all will shortly follow. I expect this to be relatively brief but insanely intense. The control freaks who constitute the ruling class are also incredibly ignorant incompetents. Their incoherent policies are combining to make this into a combination of the bitter poverty of once-great Venezuela and the frantic rush for the exits of Afghanistan. While the policies they advocate will lead to their own fiery immolation, because they are the ruling class, they will impose a lot of collateral damage on innocents along the way. We have empowered aggressive tyrants in Jihadic Islam and Communist China. They will strike while the iron is hot. In the larger perspective, I have always said that I believe God intends to strip us of all that we rely on for security above Him. But I have also always said that it is to restore us to right reason under Him, not to destroy us. The fiery ordeal has commenced.
If you have contemplated an emergency plan in case things do go south, now is a good time to review it. Whatever prudent preparations you have in mind, we are very close to the point where it is no longer a drill. Keep in mind that whatever you plan, no matter how elegantly simple, God may choose to thwart it to test whether you trust in Him or still in yourself. If you can learn to see both disaster and triumph as the same fraud in different clothes and walk humbly in the presence of God in either case, you will do well.
I am hearing from both good people and even a few religious organizations of sudden, vicious attacks against them that have shaken them. I have been able to offer counsel to a few, counsel that so far has helped them navigate these strange and treacherous new waters. The lion is prowling the streets looking to find whom he can devour. Simplify. The only irreplaceable resource you have is God. Meantime, keep close to those family members, friends, and neighbors that you can. The bonds you forge with them will form the basket that can carry you safely through this torrent. I know that many families and friends are divided by current political issues. This is a hard saying, but if they will not respect your conscience while you respect theirs, you must cut ties. Do not demand that anyone believe as you do, but only that they respect your conscience. If they cannot do even that much, there is nothing further you can do.
I say again that there is no serious sin attached to taking or not taking the gene therapy shot. When we panicked over a pretend pandemic, it was always almost inevitable that God would give us a real one to sober our minds. The only actions God is punishing us for is abandoning him and building a new city of Babel in our own image. The purpose is not our destruction, but our reclamation – and the instrument of the lesson is not the point of it. Rather, God will give healing to all who call on Him and rely on Him. This, too, is a hard saying: many are so lost in their hubris that if God came down visibly with all His mighty power and offered them redemption, they would not take it. “The dwarfs are for the dwarfs,” and many will perish because of it.
As I advise you to get serious about prudent preparation without being vested in them, I remind you that the only preparation I take is to carry a prepared backpack and hiking boots with me wherever I go. I am far more radical in my reliance than I let even my closest friends know. In a few weeks I will hit the road again. The temptation is great to stock up on many things…but I will only take the provisions and supplies I normally do. I remain convinced, without tangible evidence, that it pleases God to renew the face and faith of the world from Mt. Meeker – and so being true to that conviction, I am convinced that even if I go into exile for a time, that is all it is, exile that will cease at God’s appointed time.
I close with three bits of counsel that will make your burden light when things get even darker. They are simple, but not easy. You must bridle your tongue and discipline your heart to live them effectively.
- Do not be deceived that God has abandoned you as the fiery trial gets hotter. Rather, God is inviting you to abandon yourself to Him. It is the only place of real safety in the universe. Keep your eyes on Jesus while steadfastly doing the little you can without giving counsel to your fears.
- Live a full unity of mind and purpose before God. Live so that, even when you misspeak or err, those around you have confidence that your yes means yes and your no means no.
- Acknowledge God, take the next right step, and be a sign of hope to those around you. I hope the deepening crisis around us is helping you to see the depth of this simple counsel. Living it well and fully will carry you through all storms.
September 11 is the deadline to register for the complimentary tickets to Texas Right to Life’s annual Celebration of Life Dinner in Houston on Saturday, Sept. 18 and the CORAC meeting the next day. If you want to come to this great event, please email Laura at Bilot.firstname.lastname@example.org. You must be a CORAC member to participate (you can sign up for free here) and you are responsible for your own transportation and lodging – though TRTL will send you info on discounted rooms from their bloc. You will also have a pass to the VIP Brunch the day after, with a CORAC meeting following.
18208 Preston Rd., Ste D9-552
Dallas, Texas 75252