How the Trump Revolt Was Funded

EDITORS NOTE: The below is over-simplified, but it helps me make an important point. I simply lack the resources and the energy to dig deeper. I’ll leave that to somebody else. The charts were made from IRS data.

Now that Joe Biden is being sworn in as President, it’s time to turn our attention to preventing another attempted take over of the U.S. Government by an authoritarian ignoramus downstream. That effort needs to begin with the IRS and the tax-exempt organizations who funded the Trump menace from the get-go and even paid travel expenses for the mob that stormed the Capital Building on January 6.

It begins with my old boss Pat Robertson and the mixing of politics with religion in the early 1980s. Pat ran for President in 1988, during an IRS Criminal Investigative Division investigation into criminal activity under our tax exemption. They had us nailed cold, but the investigation was halted when Pat threw his support to then Vice-President George H.W. Bush. I can’t prove it, but it’s my belief that Pat cut a deal with Bush to drop the investigation in trade for Pat’s support of Bush at the Republican Convention.

Years later, after Bill Clinton took office, the investigation was reopened, and CBN lost its tax exemption for the years 1986 and 1987 and paid a significant fine. That was followed by a ruling from the Federal Election Commission that CBN had broken FEC laws regarding campaign contributions. That fine was nearly $400,000.

The IRS allows very little political activity among those benefitting from this particular tax exemption. However, Anne Nelson’s brilliant book Shadow Network reveals the depth of the tax exempt organizations working under the auspices of the Council for National Policy, itself a tax exempt organization. These are almost entirely made up of 501©3 groups.

This graph represents organizations filing IRS form 990 between 1988 and 2017. There is a significant drop-off that occurred during the 2008 banking crisis, when it appears a number of organizations simply quit. The number of returns rebounded, but the interesting revelation here is that the fastest growing group in terms of sheer assets is found with those whose assets are over $50 million, an indication that the wealthiest charitable organizations are the ones growing.

Overall, the number of groups filing returns under the 501©3 designation has exploded over the last 40 years, but what’s really staggering in studying IRS data is the growth in total assets reported by these organizations. Here, the blue line represents the number of tax returns (which has gone from roughly 100,000 in 1985 to 300,000 by 2015), and the orange line represents total assets of those groups.

Clearly, the growth here represents a couple of things. One, the wealthy are increasingly hip to how tax-exempt foundations, for example, can be used to save/hide their otherwise taxable income. Two, those on the political right — the extreme political right — have used their tax-exempt statuses to raise money for their causes. Many of these groups use the “education” exemption to hide their real intent, which was and remains the overthrow of the U.S. Government in favor of some form of Christian Nation.

It’s scary how close they came.

But, now it’s time to pay for their illegal activities, and there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The White Christian Narrative is the Problem

The MAGA Riot in Washington Was the Culmination of Trump's Influence -  Variety

As the Biden Presidency begins to take over, White Evangelicals who support Trump are slowly returning to their caves to regroup and fight again in four years. You can tell by statements from their leaders, like this tweet from Franklin Graham:

“@JoeBiden has warned of a ‘dark winter’ for our nation. But the dark winter we’re facing is not due just to #COVID19, it’s due to the moral decline & the political corruption we see throughout the US. My prayer is that truth will prevail in the political crisis we’re facing,”

I ask sincerely, what makes anybody think that White Evangelicals with a political mission can rightly judge the culture? They can’t, because they are driven by a false gospel, the idolatrous gospel of self. This renders their religious views of the culture irrelevant, for they have chosen the side of the oppressors. They support the rich and the powerful, and that clearly wasn’t the mission of Jesus Christ.

It’s amazing to me — a former player in evangelical television’s heyday of the 80s — the predictability of Christianity when it’s blended with right-wing politics. They are simply incapable of considering the possibility that God is judging THEM, not the culture. I mean, it’s been on vivid display the past four years, and Christians would be well-advised to look in the mirror, because even your salvation (as proclaimed by you) is in question today.

How could you ever believe that this monster you foisted on all of us was of God. The only way Donald Trump could’ve been “of God” is if God was judging the church, because the ends never justified the means. God’s heart is with the poor and the afflicted, but you cast your lot with the wealthy. And for what? Trust me, this has all been about money, money for these rich preachers who’ve been bilking the church for the last 40 years.

I know they do good. I know their followers certainly demonstrate love and kindness in their dealings with each other. I know that they have deep fears about losing what they have or not getting what they deserve. I know they “feel” oppressed, because the culture rejects them. They get around this by proclaiming that the One they serve suffered even greater rejection and warned that they would, too.

This is not going away with a single election.

Even after the seditious behavior of yesterday, which evangelical leaders are now publicly repudiating, these Christians are clinging to their manufactured narrative of life circa 2021. Through false equivalence, projection, and other logical fallacies, they maintain that they are the ones trying to save America, one assumes, from the devil. My old boss, Pat Robertson, made this remarkable statement yesterday morning:

(Referring to the Democrat Senate victories in Georgia) These are two of the most radical Senators you can imagine. I mean, Warnock was guilty of some really horrible things and Osscoff (sic) was somewhat on the fringe, and yet this is Georgia. And I can’t believe it. I mean, it’s happening, and what we have to ask ourselves is there some kind of a delusion that has come upon the entire electorate in America?

There it is. America is under a delusion. This white horse narrative must be destroyed, for it’s separating these people farther and farther from the truth, and I’m afraid we’re only seeing the very beginnings of the insurrection and cultural upheaval as a result. They. Believe. Their. Narrative. They believe it, that their “truth” is more true than anybody else’s, and religious zealotry — I don’t care what it represents — is the very beginning of evil.

I’ll agree with Pat that’s there’s a mass delusion at play here, but it’s exactly the opposite of what he’s thinking. The delusion is over this sect of Christianity, who’ve been taught for 40 years that God is not only a Republican, but that He favors the likes of a mob boss like Donald Trump.

These folks will now go back to their caves and regroup, but their narrative will remain. We used to arrogantly proclaim at CBN that we were “the sons of Issachar, men with knowledge of the times.” We did this to Biblically validate (at least in our minds) our role in whipping our viewers into a frenzy of giving. We, in fact, created the narrative that Fox News simply followed, and look at what that’s gotten us now!

Whether you have secular or Christian authority, I beg you to understand that this false narrative is the real problem. I helped create it, and I’m so very sorry for that.

Finally, we’ll never be able to count on the press to present this argument, for as far as they are concerned, it’s all deviant and doesn’t matter in the big picture anyway.

How wrong they are. How horribly wrong they are.

Deconstructing Life, A Series Part II, Time

Astronomy Explosion Big Bang - Free photo on Pixabay

“…And there was morning and there was evening, the first day…”

Time is a fixed dimension. It doesn’t move, although we believe that it does.

It’s a created dimension within which the human animal lives. It favors youth and ravages the elderly. We can’t escape it, because it forms one of the two boundaries of life under the sun. We can’t descend into the past, nor can we leap into the future, for time appears to human nature as a moving entity. Science can only go so far in its understanding of time, because human logic and reason function completely and only within the boundaries of time and space. It’s what we know and what we’re left with after science has studied and defined it for centuries. The clock moves, but time doesn’t. Rather, it stands still while Life moves both within it and beyond.

This is an important difference for our understanding, because our options as beings moving through time are different than if time was itself was doing the moving.

The writer of the Book of Ecclesiastes teaches wisdom of life “under the sun.” Time is a created dimension under the sun, as are we as human animals. In this world, each of us moves through time and we age as we count the hours and the years that move us relentlessly forward along with them. In the world beyond the sun, however, we are the ones who are moving through time, and this revelation ought to stop us cold in our thinking about God and our relationship to Him. Actually, this is a misnomer, for time doesn’t actually exist in the spiritual world, at least not any form of time that we can understand under the sun. If time beyond the sun stands still, then we must consider the ramifications for life under the sun, because those sensitive to it are able to experience both history and the future and speak to both. This bears our study under the sun, for history always repeats and the future isn’t yet written in the world of the senses.

Beyond the sun doesn’t mean outer space; it’s a metaphor for the world of the spirit, the spirit of Life.

At younger ages, people actually have more time to think but fewer events to remember. This means major events are out of proportion compared to later years and therefore carry more weight as memories that shape the here and now. At age 70, for example, a major event just doesn’t seem as significant as those from younger days, because the perception of speedy time leaves less to remember or be influenced by.

When I am 18, each year seems like 1/18 of my whole, and that’s a pretty big number. At age 70, however, each year represents 1/70 of the whole, and that is a whole lot smaller than 1/18. This raises a number of interesting questions as we examine spiritual events of the past.

Ever wonder why it’s easier to learn when you’re young? You have more time and better memory storage that those much older, and that more easily affords learning. It’s also true that youthful minds have lots of free storage space, but accessing it requires time, even in the form of overnight study sessions. Youth has the time to study.

In youth, longer moments lead to better memory, but what happens when people cross that imaginary line into old age? Every moment is shorter and requires more attention in order to remember. The upside is an increased ability to stay put in the moment, because drifting outside of the moment is drastic in terms of understanding even that which just happened. It seems only a fleeting moment, and that can produce a near panic as we scramble to get back.

Events within the boundary of time can become fixed, especially if they occurred in one’s youth. This is especially true for trauma.

Methuselah lived to be 972 years old. We are incapable of imagining his perceptions at that age, for fixed time would seem to fly by so quickly that we would be unable to even imagine. To say that Enoch “walked with God” isn’t nearly so hard to imagine, because he was also older than 900 years. It would be hard to separate conversations. It would be extremely hard to pay attention without completely living in the moment.

Aging pushes us closer and closer to life in the moment, for drifting from the moment is no guarantee that we’ll ever get back. There is little time to contemplate thoughts except for in the moment.

This is a good thing, for God lives in the moment, and it’s here that we meet Him.

Everybody seems so busy when you’re older. Everybody. Their pace of life is MUCH faster to me, and I marvel at what they can accomplish in that time. I’m aware that their time seems longer than mine, so the idea that they’re speedy is an illusion and further evidence that I am the one moving, not them (at least to me).

Since time is relative and we are the ones moving, it’s logical to make the leap that life itself consists of the consciousness of every person who ever lived or will live. Life is simply too efficient to reject the collective ebbs and flows of that consciousness, and in this way, we grow as human beings. We’re surrounded — always — by the consciousness of those who came before and those who are yet to come.

You have one week to accomplish task A. To our youth, that can seem like forever, which allows them to procrastinate while seniors know that they’d better get moving, because a week is nothing to us.

Eternity cannot exist within time and space, for it lies beyond. Humankind’s quest for immortality under the sun is impossible.

If we say that time is relative, then it can’t be used as a fixed point of reference, despite the truth of its true nature. It works in the creation and the application of rules to govern behavior, including that of computers, but it doesn’t rationally follow that anything about time is “real”.

As a man in his mid 70s, I’m regularly observing that I can recall events from my childhood much more clearly than I can those of just 5 years ago or even 5 days ago. Medical “experts” will say that this is a loss of short-term memory, but I think it’s much more likely that my sense of time is what’s at play.

The clock stands still as we tic-tock our way through the veil. We vibrate ever so rapidly, so as to be invisible to those who vibrate with us. The seasons are an illusion, and we relive each rather than each being “new.” Each time we do, the season seems shorter, because a lifetime is packed into each. We move along, ever forcing our way through the momentary curtains of time and space.

The internet is also reshaping our views of time today by pushing us towards an inevitable here and now experience. Twitter comes very close to giving us a real-time view of the news as it happens and not prepackaged for some platform.

As people age, those memories from our youth are easier to retrieve than those of recent days that are but fleeting. Thankfully, today we have pictures and video to bolster current happenings and aid in memory. And, again, we cannot imagine how time would appear to us at, say, age 500. Were there a way to measure such, I’m sure science would be on board, even though skepticism would reign, because science views time as moving. Time is actually a very, very efficient prison.

Einstein’s theory of relativity reveals that space travelers would return home younger in terms of earth years than their contemporaries. That’s because science views time as moving on earth, and even outer space experiences are therefore governed from the earth. It is the centerpiece of scientific reasoning, but, as described above, the evidence doesn’t entirely match that view.

As we learn and evolve in our basic understandings of Life, our minds need to be opened to thinking that challenges our sensibilities.

Because, our only real failures are those of imagination.

My Christmas Manifesto

“…deep down in every man, woman, and child, is the fundamental idea of God. It may be obscured by calamity, by pomp, by worship of other things, but in some form or other it is there.” Bill W.

AA’s founder wrote the above for the Chapter To The Agnostics of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. It’s one of the most controversial assumptions in the book, and it’s led to criticisms that the program of AA is a religious cult and unscientific. Therefore, the thinking goes, AA doesn’t work and should be avoided by those seeking sobriety.

I always laugh at such thinking, because AA is a program for people who want it, not those who may need it. The 12-Steps are supposed to be brutal to the ego, the part of the human experience that often resists any authority outside themselves.

Frankly, I believe the statement, because my view of God/Life demands it. In for a penny, in for a pound. And so, we’ve come to the time in my life where I feel a need to state with specificity exactly what I believe, as opposed to essays about what I don’t.

I have a fear, however, that others will read this and immediately revolt. They’ll point to the long list of historical theologies and say, “Of course, He’s just one of those, wink-wink, and we know how they ended with their heresy. Same thing here!” You’re not allowed to pigeonhole what you don’t understand just to make it understandable to you. That’s missing the whole point. The compartmentalization of religion destroys the freedom that comes with faith, so I don’t really care all that much.

So here we go: my operating creed circa 2021 A.D.

  1. I believe in God, the One God, the Creator, the home and resting place of my soul.
  2. I believe in God, the perpetual and eternal force known as Life.
  3. I believe that God is Life. Therefore, the eternal home and resting place of my soul.
  4. Therefore, God is not an exterior force that I must seek out, rather one that is within and always with me.
  5. I believe that all things were created by and for Life, including the Earth, its Atmosphere, and beyond, and every living thing, including the species known as human.
  6. I believe that humans are infinite spiritual beings on a human journey, not the other way around.
  7. I believe there is no way any human can make themselves more spiritual than they already are, for the quest is to become more human.
  8. I believe that God speaks to humankind via the arts, and that Life’s prophets have always been found among the sensitive and creative humans, the meek.
  9. I believe that such Life is universal, for time and space are only temporal ideas in the mind of Life.
  10. Therefore, there is no “afterlife” per se, only a continuation of our current state. Many people live in hell today with no hope of ever changing.
  11. I believe the Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit/Life, as are all writings of those who worship the One God. Life is always trying to communicate with us, and we alone can and do block the Source.
  12. I believe in the Disappointing Fall and subsequent Redemption of Human Kind.
  13. I believe that the sacrifice of Jesus is best understood through his final words, “It is finished.”
  14. I believe that the redemption of human kind occurred at once, providing the human race with the ability to live at peace in the here and now first, and under the sun second.
  15. I believe that Jesus was the final High Priest of God, because humanity is now able to connect with Life absent an advocate or sacred “Holy” priest-like people. We’re on our own and need to each figure it out on our own.
  16. I believe that religion has bastardized the truth in the name of selfishness, because the truth benefits no institution or no “special” group of people.
  17. I believe that Life is conscious and is the best teacher of well-being for the human race.
  18. I believe that Life is everything and that humans are no better than any of the other animals under the sun, except that we are in charge. We have animal needs to be met, and we should not avoid them for appearances’ sake, and this is a direct response to the restraint demanded by a controlling church. There is simply nothing “wrong” or “bad” with being human,
  19. I believe that Life is always evolving as humanity progresses, because Life is not separate from the evolution of Its creation.
  20. I believe that Life and humanity are co-authors of history, but that Life must deal with the consequences.
  21. I believe that life under the sun is deceptive and dominated by the animal that is humankind, but that, like amphibians, humans are capable of living in two worlds simultaneously, the world under the sun and the world beyond.
  22. I believe that the only time these worlds meet is now and the only place is here.
  23. I believe that humans can accomplish anything united as one force under God.
  24. I believe that destroying the earth will not destroy Life, only the humans who dwell on the planet.
  25. I believe that without the releases in 7 and 49-year intervals, Capitalism is evil at core, because it promotes a self-centered view of Life’s blessings.
  26. I believe there is none righteous under the sun, no not one.
  27. I believe that support of the arts is the obligation of every human under the sun, for in this way, we are encouraging our own contact with the Source.

And so, this Christmas time during the pandemic, let’s each spend just a little time thinking about what it is that each of us believes. Take my advice and don’t commit yourself to beliefs based entirely on what others tell you. Everybody is shilling for something, and that includes people of religion. What do YOU believe?

Finally, I believe God is judging the church today for being way off point in their thinking and actions. This business with Trump has shined a bright light on the Gospel of Self. It has literally destroyed the witness provided by the Jesus they claim to follow. They have played the harlot with power, and now they face the judgment of Life itself. I’d not be surprised at anything.

You can believe whatever you wish, but you cannot believe your way into Heaven after living your life contrary to the love of God, yourself, and your neighbor.

It just doesn’t work that way.

What Makes Us Think We’re So Special?

Snowflakes and avalanches | Science News for Students

The postmodern internet has given us many things, but nothing looms larger than the ability each of us has today to determine the persona with which we wish to represent ourselves online. We present ourselves in the best possible light, and that’s fine. The postmodern mantra of “I participate, therefore I understand” is something we now all have, and we’re really just beginning to learn what that means. There is simply no end to the possibilities for connected human beings. It’s the closest tool ever created that can match the threat that the Tower of Babel once posed, under the watchful eyes of God.

Today, what we say about our uniqueness is what matters, not what anybody else might think or say. We are the author of our own identity, which means nobody can challenge us, not really. Even a simple observation by a friend can be repudiated fairly in the name of one’s agency.

We are indeed entitled to create and manage our own agency online or IRL — and paying attention to this can reap great benefits. However, we’re not permitted to alter natural laws governing human behavior in the process. One can state all they wish, for example, that they “never get cold,” when in truth everybody gets cold. We shiver in the cold and when we have a fever, because we’re human. We make mistakes. We can’t help it, for that’s a part of being human, too. We resist governors that prevent the kind of license we seek to justify our behavior. We are in it for ourselves, when left to our own devices. “No, I’m not,” you say, but you really can’t help it. Survival is the most base instinct of all, and we can’t help but go there.

In fact, the farther we reach into this uniqueness in creating ourselves for distribution, the greater the likelihood we’ll paint ourselves into an unsalvageable corner sooner or later. Again, we can deny our humanity, but we will be responsible for so doing. This can be life or death stuff, for who doesn’t want to feel special?

Therefore, one of the greatest ills of our society in the postmodern era is the idea that we each are completely unique, and it’s getting worse.

In recovery, we call this concept “terminal uniqueness,” but it applies to all human beings, not just those who’ve come to realize they have a problem, one that’s compounded by presenting ourselves to ourselves as a unique entity within the species. Think about it for a moment. The word “unique” means “one of a kind.” Are you really one of a kind? I think not, and therein lies the difficulty. Another word for unique is alone. Think about that one for a minute. Utterly alone.

Our science will examine other animals to study their reactions to all sorts of stimuli, and those results are based on the reality that all mice are the same. Research subjects, regardless of their species, are always grouped accordingly, because a monkey is a monkey, and a squirrel is a squirrel. How is it that we can conclude that somehow the human animal is not subject to natural laws and therefore must be studied as complex individuals?

The real problem with this is that we feel free to skip over those commonalities that make us all the same, because we’d rather stand out by arguing how different we are. As my old psychiatrist Dinshaw Gagrat taught me long ago, “People are like snowflakes, Terry. All different but all still snowflakes.” So, this business of exploring our humanity might be far more important than we think.

In his marvelous series of books, Edward Bear (Marty Slattery) speaks to and for all of us when he makes the observations that humans are driven by certain common needs and fears. His Seven Deadly Needs are the Need to Know, Need to Be Right, Need to Get Even, Need to Look Good, Need to Judge, Need to Keep Score, and the Need to Control. This allows him to make general comments about human behavior, because we all — to one extent or another — have the same deadly needs. He also writes of our Seven Deadly Fears. They are Fear of Intimacy, Fear of the Unknown, Fear of Change, Fear of Rejection/Abandonment, Fear of Conflict/Anger/Confrontation, Fear of Becoming a Burden, and Fear of Dying. The reader can see what kind of unity is possible if we’d but agree that these are descriptive of the nature of being human. It’s also possible now to see what common good can be achieved with such a general understanding.

But what about the person who insists they have no fear of becoming a burden? Are we to argue with such? It may be useless, but it shouldn’t alter our overall perspective. Of course, there are exceptions, but we’ve built an entire culture on those exceptions and shunned the need to speak about ourselves as members of the human race. You want a total cultural makeover? Let’s begin here.

Religion is perhaps the greatest offender here, because religion offers a different spin on the nature of our beings. Trusting in God, for examples, means we “shouldn’t” have any of those fears, for God is our provider. He’s also the Meeter of our every need, so we don’t really need to be anxious about anything, nor are those deadly needs really all that deadly to us. We don’t fear death, because we know where we’re going. Etc. Etc. Right?

Wrong!

Nothing about our basic nature changes through religious experiences or “faith”. The Christian “born again” experience, for example, doesn’t actually change the nature of the human vessel. That would be impossible, and that’s not what it means anyway. There’s nothing wrong with positive thinking, positive confession, or any motivational tools that help people better live their lives. But, to build one’s entire life around such is to miss the real value of life, which is love, strength, courage, hopefulness, self-control, imagination, self-awareness, joy, justice, and mercy, Life rejects self-centeredness, which is the entire point.

If this were not true, then why is there so much manipulation of others built around religion’s very core? Why is it that the few can create and manage a narrative that allows people to believe that they are somehow special, and therefore, entitled to their special space within the culture? The few will always exploit human nature in maintaining their place at the top. Envy is never satisfied. Wealth produces discontent, because wealth has the resources to act on that discontent. The more discontent is addressed, the greater it grows. Rich people, it seems, are just as human as the rest of us.

We are all — every one of us — simply garden-variety human beings. Time and chance determine under-the-sun circumstances, which is why the comforts we deem as our “rights” are really just happenstance based on our environment and circumstances. There is truly no one “special” and yet, we all are special.

Like snowflakes. All different, yet all the same.

The Postmodern Expertise Conundrum

Areas of expertise | Charles Darwin University

Here’s an interesting question for the experts of our world. What do you do when the knowledge you possess that qualifies you as an expert becomes common? Is your speciality really necessary anymore, or does it simply become a fish flopping around on the dock of life? Make no mistake; modernist views of expertise and its accompanying authority are being challenged and changed right before our eyes.

Experts are the high priests of the various institutional silos built by the management culture in its ongoing efforts to herd and control the rest of us. Authority is granted to those with assumed expertise, because in the modern world, expertise is the secret handshake of those who occupy the higher rungs on the hierarchical human ladder. They do not lead by innovation; they lead by managing existing systems. Order and safety are their public goals, but maintaining the status quo is their real purpose.

Let me refer once again to the profound statement by Henry Adams at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution: “The way of nature is change. The dream of man is order.” The order of the management culture produces a governor on everyone except the super rich, for they are the ones who demand (and need) the equilibrium that comes with order. Meanwhile, nature moves us forward, whether we like it or not.

What may seem like a political disagreement between well-intentioned activists is actually a profound struggle for preeminence in the reinvention of liberty for us in the West. Life (nature) is taking us into the unknown, and our response has been to elect a guy who knew how to ping all that fear in the name of authoritarian dominance. Since order benefits the wealthy, it’s also the core mission of the Silk Stocking Party, a.k.a. the GOP. Their law & order platform cares about nothing or nobody else, and it has driven our culture to the brink of collapse under the weight of trying to take us backwards in the name of order.

Therefore, one of the great enemies of postmodernism is this contemporary view of expertise.

Licensing based on one’s expertise is the purview of the haves, who believe they’ve earned the right (as in paid for it) to make the rules, because, through their expertise, they know better than others. Once one acquires status, one wishes to make sure one keeps it. Consequently, we’re forced to follow a set of rules that favor only those who have the resources to compete for positions of expertise within the culture.

This is one of the most difficult of concepts of modernity to deconstruct, because it seems so logical and reasonable. Logic and reason, however, are the twin gods of modernism and cannot be trusted as anything other that a self-centered method of “managing” one’s life through education. And then there are those whose credentials include a family name or famous roots. It’s the American way to struggle against the odds in achieving success, which is why the first job upon entering the secret handshake crowd is to prevent others from coming in behind you. No where is human nature more on display than with those who push their modernist expertise in other people’s faces. Such folks will trample all over everybody else to be first in line.

Expertise is not only easily corruptible, but it’s corrupt on its face, for one man’s expertise is another man’s homelessness. It’s why celebrities end up in prison for “buying” their children’s entry into Ivy League or other “good” schools. The only “why” that matters is to separate oneself from those beneath one’s place on the ladder.

Expertise requires a paradigm that’s always increasingly complex, ‘lest expert knowledge become common. Experts will always strive to expand and obscure the complexity for which they provide clarity (h/t Clay Shirky). For the consultant, it’s a paradox, for the more expertise they gain, the less they can share with their clients, because renewal of the expert’s contract is always job one. If their expertise becomes common, then their place in the world crumbles. Expertise will always defend itself, so as to never lose its fatted calf.

Credentials given by higher ups are what fuels expertise and governs it at the same time. Getting inside the protection of credentials is the number one path to success in our capitalist culture. And, some people will go to great lengths to acquire even the appearance of credentials. I know a woman who was trying to develop her own consulting and life coaching business, but she didn’t have recognized expertise to be taken seriously by potential clients. She knew that if she could only introduce herself as a doctor, everything would fall into place. Don’t get me wrong. This woman is very smart and has a big heart for women and girls who’ve been through sexual trauma. She’s naturally gifted when it comes to helping such people, and her work deserves to be acknowledged by our society. Why not? Because she lacked the proper credentials. So, she researched the easiest career path for which she could legally be called “doctor” and settled on a health doctorate in Global Health and Wholeness. Bing! Now, she’s “Doctor” in the world of trauma consulting. It’s a great story of how important those credentials are in the marketing of oneself as an expert.

Of course, experts will defend their credentials by stating the many ways people benefit from them, as if the rest of us don’t ever thank them for being so special. It’s a great argument to state that if you’re going to have brain surgery, you want the very best expert there is, but these kinds of obvious arguments are designed to dissuade ANY thinking to the opposite. Fortunately,

TV commercials have been known to pick on credentials for humor’s sake. The Holiday Inn overnight experts were funny, but my favorite is FedEx involving a new employee with an MBA who thinks he’s above doing shipping when asked by a coworker to help out. “Oh you have an MBA? I see. Well, in that case, I’m going to have to show you how it’s done.” We’ve all met or known people like this, because easy is very often the expectation of people fresh out of school. Education provides the idea of expertise, but it doesn’t take into account the innate ability in all of us to observe and learn.

Access to power became the private playground of expertise and is another reason the situation is so volatile today. Thus, our government and our press became servants of the haves, those who could buy influence through marketing and propaganda. This is the life we’ve lived ever since, until the internet.

People are better and more experienced at using the web every day, and that’s a big problem for modern expertise. The geeks built it, and that’s important. They were not controlled by big business and essentially built what they wanted for themselves. While it’s true that these people can build whatever you’d like, the problem is that once it’s in use, the copycats will follow. Humans are always better at copying than innovating.

And, today, everyone is marketing. Everyone is pushing and pressing the envelope of their place in the world. The coronavirus has exacerbated this by taking jobs away and forcing new players into the market. These new players have no choice, and they’re discovering completely new ways to support themselves. Who knew that Instagram Influencer would be an actual job description that anyone could attain? Who knew there were so many women (and men) willing to take their clothes off for people and get paid (rather well) for it? When you’re a single mom who just lost her job, it seems a reasonable way to feed your kids and pay the rent. This is all new under the sun, and every day that goes by with this virus makes more and more fertile ground for innovation.

Let’s face it. No mass marketer came up with YouTube. No existing expert ever saw the value of free. In 1995, the American Medical Association launched a new initiative to assure that only THEY could “practice medicine” online. Their site — WebMD — provides no medicine but lots of referrals to seeing “your” doctor instead. This is just one way that Western Institutions are fighting back, and it’ll work for awhile. Meanwhile, patient sites keep popping up, places where patients can meet other patients and talk about their treatments. It is arming patients with knowledge but causing problems for certain doctors who prefer that THEY be the only expert in the room.

Another word for expertise is authority, and when it begins to slip, there will be new authorities that rise to take their place. Always remember that we are on the leading edge of a change of eonic proportions. Like Dylan sang, “The times, they are a‑changin’.”

Autodidacts will have their day. They may have to prove their worth to us, but postmodernism favors experience over learning anyway. It’s going to be an interesting evolution to watch, because expertise isn’t going away; it’s just being redefined. The doctor is still the doctor, although his authority is not as absolute as it once was.

Just as movable type was coming into its own in the 15th Century, John Wycliffe was finishing his common English translation of the Bible, which brought forth this mysterious statement from him: “This book shall make possible government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” There followed the Reformation, and Wycliffe’s belief never really materialized, because newly-created hierarchies became, once again, the governing bodies of the faith. The era that followed was dedicated to the processes and systems of culture, dragging us all into the elevation of logic and reason, science and math, computers and technology.

The dawn of the web is often referred to as the “Second Gutenberg Moment” of Western Civilization, for as modernism was to the faith culture, so postmodernism will be for us today.

It will continue to change everything.