Thus Saith The Lord (or not)

Image result for charismatic worship
Charismatics have been around for over 50 years

My original exposure to Christianity as an adult came via the Maranatha movement, a mostly non‐denominational, Pentacostal practice that grew out of the Jesus people from the 1960s and early 70s. It was known at the time as “Charismatic Christianity” and a group that practiced certain “full gospel” gifts as stated in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians and in Mark, Chapter 16, where these words of Jesus are recorded just before His ascension.

17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

If you’ve ever been to a charismatic church, you’ll know it by a period when the congregation will join in with people speaking in tongues, other people interpreting, and still other people prophesying. I participated and was told many times that I had “the anointing,” which was always nice to boost the old ego.

I make no claim as a prophet, but in the spirit of the above, here’s my offering under the Christian banner of “Thus saith the Lord.”

Listen to what the Spirit of Truth is saying today to the people who believe.

Be not seduced by the false gods and idols who proclaim peace and prosperity while secretly robbing babies of their milk and increasing the suffering of the poor and the afflicted among you. These are serpents in a garden of plenty, who sing the siren’s song, beckoning passers‐by with majestic promises of comfort and freedom from the false sufferings of envy and covetousness. These enchanters line their own greedy pockets beneath the surface, while fighting visible, emotional, attention‐getting, and xenophobic battles against straw men who strike fear in the hearts of the well‐intentioned. They rob from the poor and the widows and the fatherless by falsely painting the oppressed as oppressors, as those who seek to steal and rob the possessions of those who have them. In so doing, they give to each other in order to ensure that the haves will always have while the have‐nots will support their efforts in the blaming of others. These are false prophets who worship Mammon, and you shall know them by lips that deceive with promises of a better life for you. I did not come to make your lives better but to shatter the enemy that binds you with what you possess. They speak of peace but practice their deception by dividing my children with empty promises of gain and ease.

You have played the harlot to the oppressors.

How is it they say they love the babies they have not seen and yet increase the burden on those they can see? The babies aren’t yet with them, but those little ones already breathing the air of my Father belong to me, and to love them is to love me, and to love them not is to love me not. Therefore, they are liars to say they love me, for their actions reveal what is in their hearts, their love of self.

Cursed are they and their progeny, for they shall walk in the dry places where fire and heat shall be their path forever. Cursed also are those who walk with them, though unaware of their trespass in so doing. They are without excuse, for having been raised on the fruit of real bread, they have forsaken it for selfish gain in the form of a righteousness before men. Cursed are even those little ones who follow big footsteps into the paths of selfishness, though they be unawares, for the heart of man is fully corrupt among those who obey not my commands. That which you count as blessings shall be taken from you and given to those you oppress, and this will take place without your knowledge, so that you will not be able to hide or protect that to which you cling. I will erase your names from the book of life, so that you will be without excuse on the final day and will abide in the torment you have placed upon those you oppress. Walk, I say again to the church of America, walk in the place you have assigned to others, for you have rejected only Me and with stiff necks and hardened hearts have turned away from my commandments and sacrifice. Woe to you, o men of transgression, who have set aside the essence of the Spirit in order to worship yourselves — and in My name, saith the Lord. Your blessing has ended. You will know no peace, for you have forgotten your first love and lie now with the mistress of death. The time is nigh, so weep. As I have weeped for those oppressed, may you weep now and forever.

However, blessings shall flow for those among you who have kept my word and my precepts and worked gladly and tirelessly among those who suffer in this life.

-o‐

Art is for everybody

ala-artsIn the beginning there was music and dancing and theater and painting, and there were listeners and watchers. Those who performed for the king were compensated by the king in forms of currency varied in both treasure and usefulness. Food, clothing, shelter, fame and recognition, and most importantly, projects to accomplish were given to artists in addition to the occasional coin. In such a way, the arts were both reviled and revered, because the king’s wishes became theirs. In the film The Agony and the Ecstasy, artists in the catacombs of Rome noted this in one scene that included this marvelous quote: “We’re artists! We’ll always be slaves to another man’s nickel.”

Patronage for the arts is still practiced today, although little of it goes to the artists themselves. Mostly, the arts have been taken over by corporations whose interests rarely match those of their “employed” artists, and nowhere is this more obvious than in the world of music. Music today has betrayed itself by chasing wealth as its sole reward, and this is not only tragic but sad.

And we just assume that this is the way it’s supposed to be.

The Shirky Principle — that institutions will always try to maintain the problem for which they are the solution — when applied to the music industry is what led to its disruption by the digital age. Scarcity is the problem, and when consumers got tired of paying $20 or more for a CD with one hit, technology did something about it. Enter our dear friends at the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) who went to extreme lengths to halt the will of the people 15 years ago by actually suing its customers. This foolishness led to change, but the desire to protect “the industry” hasn’t given up. There’s still way too much money at stake, and music, unfortunately, is the ultimate loser.

Like the rest of the corporate owned and managed arts, profit is the bottom line in music, not expression of the arts. Originality is sacrificed in the name of repetition, copying, and the production of a sure thing. After all, the shareholders demand manageable growth, so their servants have no choice but to give it to them. Is this the meaning of the arts? I don’t think so. With the arts, as in life itself, one cannot serve two masters.

At the other end of the spectrum is YouTube. I won’t argue that YouTube isn’t part of an enormous corporation, but that’s not the point. I want to talk for a bit about what YouTube has done for the art of music, not the industry. The RIAA, after all, is now threatening lawsuits against YouTube in yet another grasping at straws in the name getting compensation for artists. Bullshit. The RIAA is many things, but it is NOT an advocate for artists, except where in so doing lines the pockets of its masters.

Meanwhile, there’s an awakening among artists everywhere that the web can be exploited to provide a distribution vehicle that can be used to create ancillary revenue streams. As I’ve written previously, YouTubeRed is the greatest thing since sliced bread, and it’s YouTube’s way of creating a micropayment system for those artists whose music is actually played, whether sponsored by corporations or otherwise. This is a certain harbinger for the healthy future of all of the arts, because the output of artists cannot be treated like manufactured products anymore. The arts belong to everybody, and if we enjoy them, it’s our responsibility to pay for them in one way or another.

We’re at the dawn of a great awakening of right brain output, and this pleases me. Industrial age mass marketing was not kind to those wishing to distribute their creative wares, and we’re experiencing the fruit of that today.

The squeeze by consumers has uncovered certain ugly realities:

  • Wall art is mass produced, because it’s cheaper than originals (and no mall carries original work anyway).
  • Music is entirely hit‐based and celebrity‐based.
  • Repetition is the lifeblood of arts‐related industries but the destroyer of the arts themselves.
  • Hollywood only repeats successful formulas.
  • Publishers will only publish that which they know will sell.
  • All of the arts are based on the bottom line, because the arts are “owned” and operated by corporations.
  • As a result, the commercial expectations of artists are entirely wealth‐based and unrealistic.

The web, however, has disrupted everything by making everybody’s art available to anybody. Remember, the network views middlemen as a mistake and routes around them. Therefore, you cannot superimpose laws created for the one‐to‐many world of mass media over the infrastructure of the network. It simply doesn’t work, because scarcity doesn’t (can’t) scale when everybody’s connected. It certainly carries a different value than it does in a disconnected marketplace, and all industries will be forced to deal with this at some point in the not‐too‐distant future. I understand the desperate nature of disrupted industries, but that does not justify throwing existing laws at the problem, and this includes copyright. We’re going to need visionaries in both the public and private sectors that don’t have institutional corporations in mind as benefactors, but instead, the artists themselves.

The arts are for everyone. As James Allen wrote in his wonderful little book As A Man Thinketh, “The dreamers are the saviors of the world,” and I take this seriously. The prophets of old were among the most sensitive of all humans, for their connection to the world beyond was far outside the norm. So, too, the artists of today prophesy with their work, and we need to pay attention. The problem is that prophecy doesn’t necessarily sell, and that’s our horrific loss. Bob Dylan is a rare example of both, but even at the height of his popularity, his music was an acquired taste. Of course, this was when the message of much of the music world was more important than a song’s ability to recruit wallets. Again, our culture has suffered, because we cannot hear today’s silenced messengers.

Of course, change always takes time, especially with lawyers reproducing like rabbits and for whom “the law” is natural essence of their sustenance. I’m also one of the old guys, so I probably won’t see it in my lifetime.

Nevertheless, let me encourage anyone who works for or benefits from the arts to set your minds on change and help move the rock collectively forward. Not only is it in your best interests, but it’s best for all of our progeny.