MadPx Mondays
A Brief History of Power
Ideology in the Wild

Ideology in the Wild

Ep 203: Dr Koontz and Rev Fisk talk about men’s clubs and their function in society, overvaluing transparency, and the fragility of ideologies in the face of reality.

Related Links – I’m Worried About the Boys Too, Jonathan Haidt, Victor Davis Hanson video

Many thanks to our sponsors, Blessed Sacrament Lutheran Church in Hayden, ID and Luther Classical College.

Dr Koontz –  Trinity Lutheran Church
Rev Fisk – St Paul Rockford and Hebron Collegium

Visit A Brief History’s own website for more

Music thanks to Verny


BHoP 203 Ideology in the Wild

[Speaker 2] (0:06 - 0:48)

So Dr. Koontz, I know that on your last episode with Dr. Pastor Grylls, you talked about the Bahamian Grove and you mentioned that to me, you know, your take it's effectively, what was it, Alex Jones' take, you said in the comment, but honestly, I don't know what that is. And so if you wouldn't mind giving me kind of like the skinny on what that means, as a graduate, by the way, of Sonoma State University, you know, it's in Sonoma, California. Ronear Park is actually where it's located, but Santa Rosa, California was where my apartment was and Petaluma is right around the corner.

You know, I'm just curious about what was happening that I wasn't paying attention to while I was trying to, you know, write poetry in school.

[Speaker 1] (0:52 - 0:54)
My take is the opposite of Alex Jones' take. [Speaker 2] (0:55 - 0:56)
Oh good, okay, that's good to know. [Speaker 1] (0:56 - 5:30)

Okay, so the Alex Jones' take from roughly 25 years ago now is when he infiltrated Bohemian Grove and took pictures of rituals involving a giant owl effigy being sacrificed, allegedly, is that nefarious things are done by our elites and what that results in is a revelation by him of the evils that the elites get up to when they are alone and that the Bohemian Club of San Francisco, which is pretty old, I mean, it's, it predates the earthquake, for example, is one of these groupings of the elites that makes them particularly dangerous because they get together and nefariously scheme with each other. And my interpretation of that is that the Bohemian Club and consequently what happens at Bohemian Grove is really an old school thing that honestly no longer matters or not in the way that it used to because it's got parallels in lots of other cities and I can't remember if we talked about the Bohemian Club in the San Francisco Cities episode, but it's San Francisco's version of something that exists in most major American cities and that matters particularly in machine politics, especially Republican politics, until about the 50s, 60s, maybe the 70s even, when our politics becomes much more predicated on mass media, on how you look on TV, on lots of factors, interest groups, and we've talked about those kind of constellations, the rise of gay political interest groups in San Francisco. Before that, you had these clubs that sort of ran and there would often be more than one club per city, but that would be the place that powerful men gathered.

This is the non-political party invention version of smoke-filled rooms, right? They're smoke-filled rooms because the men are at ease together and Bohemian Grove was created for them to be at ease away from the city together. That's why it's still, presumably, an all-male club.

So it's not society, it's not socializing. Women are not there. Men are alone together and those are your traditional governors of, magistrates, you might say, of any place.

So what happens in any of those places and what happens in societies that are like those, including the Masons and the Oddfellows and the Elks, is that men engage in kind of weird symbolic behavior. The slaying of Hyrum Abiff in the Masonic Initiation Ritual or the destruction of this, perhaps, Moloch-like owl in Bohemian Grove. Now, Moloch is actually destroyed in the ritual, so that's also something to think about.

But my contention is that that symbolic action, however weird you might think it is or whether you believe that Freemasonry or things that are like it are actually an alternative religion instead of a kind of level of symbol built on top of varieties of Protestant Christianity, that's my own personal conviction. None of this has to do with actual child sacrifice. Nor can anyone link, you know, Bohemian Grove specifically to actual child disappearances like we talked about a few episodes back, you and I.

And so I think that in a way, it's a giant distraction. You know, Alex Jones should have infiltrated a Planned Parenthood clinic because the actual destruction of life is occurring in legalized open form. They don't have to hide like this.

And if you wanna trace any link, you could say what happens symbolically in some of these rituals. But we don't actually know that. I mean, this is not, there's nothing from Bohemian Grove that is quite like, you know, Marina Abramovich's spirit cooking.

But that what happens ritually is now translated legally and openly into reality.

[Speaker 2] (5:31 - 6:07)

You had a really good take on the positive vision of the men's club through some of what you said there a moment ago. And I would like you to try to restate that because I think if anything is to be seen right away from me in this, like Rockford has a men's club. It's dying.

Wow, what if it had a bunch of great Christian men just kind of join? You would have to deal with the fact that the women have taken over and it's society now. That is an issue.

But they'll be gone soon. They're all also dying, right? So the reality of these things being there as institutions for the taking is very much a part of what any wise listener to the show is looking for.

[Speaker 1] (6:08 - 8:07)

Yeah, I mean, I don't think you actually have functioning societies without men's clubs. They seem to exist in all sorts of forms in all sorts of different societies. So I think at the very least they exist informally.

But where they do exist formally, like with the Bohemian Club, or you could look at the Union League in Philadelphia would be a very direct parallel because the cities are both of a size that they kind of have one men's club that matters quite a bit. A lot of the genealogical societies in America actually serve this function. So in cities that are increasingly linguistically and ethnically diverse in the early 20th century, the Mayflower Society has a certain role in consolidating your kind of old stock Americans into a governing group.

And something that no one knows about anymore at all, the Grand Army of the Republic, which was the union veterans organization essentially dominates Republican politics for about 30 to 40 years. So the men's club might exist formally in that sense. It might exist informally, but it exists even among the dog soldiers of the Cheyenne and the Arapaho on the plains where those guys have extra requirements.

That's part of the men's club. But also the men's club is the place where the people who, for whom everything is on the line, if that particular society falls apart, congregate. And of course that could be nefarious.

There's no doubt about that. Any grouping of human beings could be nefarious, but it could also be necessary or beneficial or helpful. And the Bohemian club is named what it is because San Francisco has always had this kind of carefree element to it that not every American city had, a certain beauty or artistic bent.

[Speaker 2] (8:08 - 11:07)

The betting odds of man's actions in a group when they're alone, making decisions, going toward nefarious, I mean, nefarious is pretty rough, I suppose, but toward folly, it's bound to happen. Sure. All of the time, most of the time, the grace of God being a providential feature in nature keeps us from hitting each other on the streets too much.

I always marvel that there aren't more car accidents. I really do. It's kind of amazing.

If you think about, think about typos and apply that to car accidents. The grace of God is preserving us in this, but when men get together and they begin to plan, their incentive is usually self-interest. And this is going to drive them to work for themselves as a group against those who are outside.

And this isn't, like you just said, this isn't wrong. This is normal. This is how the building blocks of society work.

This is how family structures then build into communities. Well, we've lost this though, right? In what?

What do I call it? White culture? Am I allowed to say that?

No, do other cultures have this same problem where the guys don't get together? Or where when we do, it's sort of like to retreat again. So this is where there's an article that will be linked in the show notes that I don't remember the name.

It's by a gentleman named Jonathan, which is awesome. Jonathan Haidt, there it is. But in my head, this article is Tron was real.

Tron was real. Dr. Koontz, are you familiar with the Tron story? Definitely not, no.

No. The Tron is a story about a computer nerd who gets accidentally, you know, magically sucked into the computer. And he then lives inside the computer and has to be the hero there and save the world from communism, sort of.

But, you know, he gets out of it. There's a great motorcycle scene and flying scenes, you know. It's Disney in the 80s, of all places.

And the story of little boys falling into their computers and never coming out again, more and more has struck me as something that is not a story, but something of a spell, if I can use that language. And so this article delves into this and or the growing need for men to escape, frankly. Just that, yeah.

That if you are a male in this current Western society, which isn't very Western in this way, you must escape from your manhood. You must hide. And the boys know this as well as the men do.

The men who are playing the video games are boys who just knew it all along. They don't know where to go. Now there's guys out there that are going to say, well, grow up, stand up, be up.

Okay, cool, yeah. But if you're in the cage, you're in the cage. If you're in the matrix, you're in the matrix.

And so learning to see the machine war that we're up against and what it's doing to our minds. And then specifically, again, if you are isolated, if you are not gathering, if there is no men's club that you begin to, well, I mean, found one, you know, grab a guy, start praying Sons of Solomon, I think this is essential to the future of our current zeitgeist.

[Speaker 1] (11:09 - 14:28)

I think that the major obstacle that you have there is that this is all derided as an old boys club rather than some basic way that life has to function. It's important to be clear that not every club has any kind of like governing position and that a lot of clubs were, even back when, long before there were video games, that they were escapist in nature. They didn't organize for any specific purpose.

And to be honest with you, Germans in America were kind of worse at this than most people. Their major social institution was what's called a shooting club. And so, you know, that's what it's for, obviously.

And they would drink beer and shoot. And, you know, the Lutherans were like, oh yeah, that's great. The problem is it didn't really serve any other purpose.

And so it didn't go anywhere outside of itself. So you could have a collective man cave like that. All clubs are gonna include some amount of relaxation, but they're also going to have a certain function that is not the same thing as just enjoying yourself.

And the difficulty there is there's an expectation in the West, in the modern West, that anything that is, quote, transparent is good. Okay? And I have a basic issue with that, kind of in at least two different ways.

Number one is that transparency is always to some degree fake. Pastor Fist knows this as well as any other pastor does, that when you occupy a public position, transparency or being open about what you're doing and what you're saying, that's, you know, that seems good on its face, but it's always limited. The idea that anything or anyone or any institution will be perfectly transparent is silly.

It can't be, right? Not everything, even that is true and not necessarily wrong, but just is the case cannot be spoken of or shared or displayed at all times because groups of people, a large group of people cannot and do not react to reality in the way that people who are actually have responsibility for that institution, for example, will react. So for example, you know, you could tell your kids, like we have to move.

You don't have to tell your kids, like we took out way too many student loans, you know, 30 years ago, and we're still bearing the burden of that. And you know, daddy's about to lose his job and whatever. Like you don't have to do all of that, right?

In the same society that is obsessed with transparency is also the society that has begun to speak about oversharing or TMI. The reason being transparency, we have overvalued it, right? The stock is way too high on transparency.

And that doesn't mean that you're lying or hiding things. It simply means that you don't reveal absolutely everything that's going on at all times. It's not actually good for people.

They can't actually handle it and so on. I mean, think about how stressed out people get about the weather.

[Speaker 2] (14:28 - 14:31)

Your point that it's not possible is really key.

[Speaker 1] (14:31 - 14:38)

Yeah, I mean, it's going to be fake on some level, right? The person who is performatively transparent is always hiding something.

[Speaker 2] (14:38 - 14:41)

They're always performing. Yes. They're constantly performing.


[Speaker 1] (14:41 - 15:11)

Yeah. And so that's one direction, right? And so the idea is, well, we're going to replace the old boys clubs with transparent, open, you know, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

You can't. Okay. I think in a way, the old boys club is actually a little more honest about what is possible for human beings who have responsibility for anything.

Then the idea that we're going to talk about everything, right, and everything is going to be shared, that there will be no more executive session, so to speak, anywhere, anytime about anything.

[Speaker 2] (15:12 - 16:12)

It seems to me that the key to the boys club is to have authentically, if I can use that as an adverb, good old boys. You really, not good old boys like for themselves, but that they are elder boys, men who are good, who desire to leave behind that good as something. And then all of their passage and show, and if you want to call it ritual, like all of that is a matter of enacting a covenant of trust in each other, you know, whether it was stick swords or whether you're cutting animals apart, you're saying we are going to trust each other.

And they're then passing that legacy from one generation to the next. You know, such clubs initiate and bring in youth and their purpose is to outlast, right? And yet we're living in this time where none of the institutions seem to be ready to outlast, because none of them can pass on without the fact that they're failing, right?

Most of them are. Right, yeah.
[Speaker 1] (16:12 - 17:19)
Yeah, go ahead. Yeah, and you know, the armed service that has the least difficulty recruiting, it still has difficulty, but it has the least difficulty recruiting, is also not coincidentally the most male and the most demanding, which is the Marines. So if you want recruitment, if you want something, you have to create some sense that this is difficult, which creates a sense of exclusivity, right?

Inclusion is not actually really all that valuable at the end of the day. It doesn't create enduring institutions. You have to create some degree of exclusivity and you have to create some sense that the man will be rewarded for his sacrifice with honor, with responsibility, right?

That this isn't just like you get in in some meritocratic fashion, allegedly, or just openly non-meritocratic fashion. And then everybody is just, you know, in some kind of, all sitting on, you know, multicolored couches together, sharing their feelings. Like no one actually wants that.

And when you are in that situation- Well, how soft are the couches? [Speaker 2] (17:20 - 17:20)
[Speaker 1] (17:20 - 17:25)

Well, yeah, they're going to be very soft because the people are supposed to be very soft.

[Speaker 2] (17:26 - 17:29)
I like soft couches, but I'm just having fun with that thought. [Speaker 1] (17:29 - 18:56)

So you continue on. But I think the difficulty with transparency is not only that it's fake, it's also that transparency itself is not transparent. It simply creates a situation in which people who are most vocal or who are most emotional or who are most charged by the idea of the group listening to them get to be in charge.

So it ends up being much more about performance than it does about action, right? Especially collective action. So you don't have to get anything done.

You have to talk or you have to represent. One way to see this is how the noun voice has turned from, you know, what does your voice sound like? Do you have a deep voice?

Has turned into simply the fact that you are in a room talking, right? We have to give a voice to this group or that group. And the purpose there is not that anything particularly gets accomplished. I mean, maybe presumably second or third order from talking, maybe something will happen, but it's really just that you are there talking, right? That's the goal, right? Nothing else.

And so transparency is what gets you to that point where simply talking comes to matter more than anything else.

[Speaker 2] (18:57 - 21:13)

I like the bit in there that the moment the room is equal and everyone having access to the mic, if they choose to try, inevitably the person who is most capable of just dominating the room by whatever actions they take, which will be a performance of types. They will assume, they will do, they will act, and everyone will listen, they will follow. And that will rarely be the person who's speaking wisdom.

That'll be the person who's the loudest so that it is a recipe for tyranny to just exist if you want to let it overtake you. I wanna turn from this, I think it connects a little bit to a clip that also should be in the show notes of, it's about 20 minutes from Victor Davis Hanson, who's a historian who I'm familiar with because of my once love of, still love of hardcore history with Dan Carlin. And he's talking about Trump, but not really, he's talking about the left actually, just kind of exclusively a little bit, and or their track record, and or where we stand at this point.

And it's all very interesting, but his notion that those who are destroying our civilization right now are doing so because they're deductive ideologues. And I think this is a point, Adam, that you've made from the beginning of this show. They are deductive ideologues, that they have a premise of what they believe to be true, whether or not it's true doesn't matter, they believe it to be true.

And that gives them a sense of moral superiority and intellectual superiority. They are not only morally better, they're better people because of what they do, they're better people because of what they think, right? They think better than you, which allows them to take actions that others might call morally wrong, but see, they're not morally right intellectually.

And so now you can begin to do excessive things in order to achieve the pursuit of your again, deductive ideology. I thought that was a nice take coming from someone who isn't you, that I've gotten from you. And I'm curious, how close am I to your mark and or where else we can go from there?

[Speaker 1] (21:14 - 26:20)

The idea of deductive ideology, I'm really not sure this is politically limited maybe in the way that Hansen is indicating, where deductive ideology is, how the left, presumably, that's what Hansen is assailing, is talking about, that they're somehow governing in a way that is you have to accept some ever-expanding base set of assumptions, and at least be open to them, right? So you have to do the Biden progression from forced school integration is wrong to wherever he is today, right? And I think Hansen is somehow limiting that to the left.

I don't see it as a dysfunction only of the left. I see the left as always our most modern people. And I don't mean modern as a compliment, just timely or contemporary, but that this is a function of modern people generally because of something that is much deeper than any particular ideology.

So I could do this with libertarianism, I could do this with confessional Lutheranism that has to exist apart from a state as it never had to do prior to modernity. I could do this with lots of things, but the idea is that you become a sort of person who is completely determined in life by ideology because to my mind, the fundamental condition of modern life is not so much a certain amount of technology that you communicate at a certain speed or you can move at a certain speed over the earth or that you have indoor plumbing as a general matter. It is that you can and potentially will be, especially for the sake of money, disconnected.

So this sounds, I think, a little odd at first, but the fact that you are able to contemplate a variety of seasons that your forebears or maybe even your parents or grandparents who are still alive didn't live with is such a strange thing in the whole scheme of human history that you could live in Rohnert Park and have the kinds of seasons that you have there and then you could have four really distinct seasons in somewhere else and be there for a while. All of that is going to create in you a certain lightness in connection to basic life conditions. What kind of clothes do you wear and what kind of food tastes good when it's cold outside?

Does it even get cold outside? All those kinds of things are going to just kind of cut you loose and by being cut loose, you will, of course, have to sort of base life in something else, and the something else in which modern people base life are things that, in the whole scheme of things, are kind of intellectual convictions, which is kind of like when we infrequently have tornadoes here in Colorado, trees fall over pretty easily because of the nature of our soil here on the Front Range. The roots have to spread out very widely to survive and can't exactly go down very deeply because of the clay substrate. So when the wind blows, they fall over.

So they might be really big, but it's relatively easy for them to fall over. When you think about what you're basing your life on, the idea that you're basing your life on intellectual convictions while the rest of your life is actually functionally determined by where you can make money is functionally determined by technological conditions. It's not that you have no roots or that the tree isn't growing.

It's just that you have to realize that when the wind blows, that's gonna go away pretty quickly. So we are, yeah, I think Hanson is completely right that social approval, the disdain indicated by many of our governing elites for other human beings is based on this concept that he calls deductive ideology. But I actually see that as true of basically all of us to one degree or another, rather than just true for the governing authorities of the left, the university presidents and civil servants and stuff like that.

[Speaker 2] (26:21 - 28:33)

All the more reason to sound the alarm that your intellectual superiority, that is you know something true, does not make you morally superior to whatever animal happens to be standing next to you, whether that's a man or a dog. You are not freed by your knowledge to carnage or folly or any such thing. And I think if I pull something out of what you just said is that deductive ideology is a great definition of modernism itself.

Modernism is an ideology about life being a matter of ideology or a matter of intellectual convictions. And you could throw this into a nice twist with the way the Reformation broke down and how it was a matter of ideas that are true knowledge given by the word of God and driven by the spirit through history also ran into the ways of man and the ways in which our love of the Greeks, our love of Gnostic thinking of categories, the way that the Gnostics draw them also has impacted where we've landed at the end of all of this, right?

And so today to acknowledge, yeah, I probably give a lot of weight to my intellectual convictions. It's true. And I also feel the need to be transparent about that with people.

Yeah, that's true too. All right, I'm an American. Also a Christian.

And this calls for wisdom, right? It's not so much just a matter of, Dr. Koons, please forgive me. I need confession and absolution today, right?

Like, that's nice, that's good. Go do that when you actually sin. But when you're dealing with your own intellectual convictions, right?

You're struggling against the ideology, the mythology, the walk you have that's something more than just what the scripture says it is, right? And it's gonna be filled with thorns and thistles and you've gotta plow it with what the word of God and the spirit says. As you go that path, repentance is as simple as saying, well, that was wrong.

I think, Jesus, I think I wanna do right now, right? And so for my part, again, my repentance of modernism has been going on for a couple of years now. You just give me more ammo in my blunderbuss.

Thank you.
[Speaker 1] (28:34 - 28:49)

Well, I mean, I don't, I think in this way the Reformation actually matters less than the fact of exploration. Because, you know, I don't- You're gonna have to unpack that.

[Speaker 2] (28:49 - 28:50)
You're definitely gonna have to unpack that. [Speaker 1] (28:50 - 32:32)

The fact of exploration is that, I mean, number one, the absolute most stupid, very online thing you could possibly say is that if we just got back to X point in time, trad-cath, trad- luth, trad-orthodox, trad-whatever, we could fix things, right? So just rewind, and then somehow everything will, you know, play out differently. As if life is a matter somehow of ideas, right?

Just ideas. And talking about those ideas enough and getting the right ideas, that ignores the fact that life is determined by things like weather and geography and armies vastly more than anyone's ideas about anything. Right?

Why is Austria almost entirely Roman Catholic? It's not because nobody was convicted by the Protestant Reformation. It's because the people in charge forced them to convert back to Roman Catholicism or kick them out.

That's why, right? So there you go, right? Life is not entirely, it's not even mostly determined by ideas.

Ideas are relatively feeble. That doesn't mean that they're unimportant. It means that they're weak, right?

So they're kind of like a child, really, really, really important. Maybe the center of your family's life, but weak and unable to protect themselves. So thinking that somehow life is playing out according to them, that's what's a little silly.

My children matter more to me than anything. It doesn't mean that they're actually able to determine what's the next thing that's going to happen in our life together. When you think about what's going on around the time of the Reformation, to me, it matters a lot more that the Spanish are colonizing the New World or the Portuguese are in the East Indies than that Luther is discovering something in his study.

Because if Luther just discovers things in his study and the Spanish and the Portuguese aren't going anywhere, then life will not be determined for Europe for the next 300 to 400 years by this search for opportunity in those places, which will completely change who lives in Europe, where they are, where they go from there, who has money, America will never come to exist, America, which is in its way, the definition of modernity, none of that will happen. So I don't think that the Reformation matters nearly, certainly not the way it does, but also as much that it could have been a kind of local reform movement, such as you have in various places during the roughly thousand years of the Middle Ages before that, or it could have just been scholastic or who knows what.

But I mean, the ways that God chooses to work out history are not dependent on the amazing abilities of the thinkers promoting certain ideas. So like when I give you an example is that Lutheran pastors for their own reasons, usually just having to do with microbrews, love this Luther quote about the word of God did everything while Philip, what is it? Was it Justice Jonas maybe, or maybe it was?

[Speaker 2] (32:33 - 32:33)

Yeah, something like that.

[Speaker 1] (32:34 - 33:25)

They were drinking Wittenberg beer. The old boys. And it's like, well, you know, that's really cool.

And I believe that the word of God converts hearts. I also believe that God used, for instance, the princes to protect you so you didn't get killed. Yeah.

Right. And that's something that obviously people who work with ideas like pastors and philosophers and theologians and college professors like Victor Davis Hanson are gonna be prone to underestimate. This is not to say that, you know, only money makes the world go round, but it is to say that when you're assessing your own life or you're assessing history, if you don't give weight to all of the factors that don't have to do purely with what you think or what you thought at that time, you're missing like 97% of what actually occurs.

[Speaker 2] (33:26 - 33:30)

Did you see anything about the Mayorkas impeachment? Did you look at that at all?

[Speaker 1] (33:31 - 35:48)

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, obviously that's going nowhere because the House has to impeach, but the Senate has to try.

And this is a sticking point about whether Mayorkas has not just had a policy difference with House Republicans, but that he's been, I mean, that he's been derelict in duty, right? The bar for conviction for impeachment is always a lot higher than, you know, the bar for issuing a condemnatory soundbite where someone can describe you as quote slamming somebody else. So that's not, I would be absolutely completely stunned if that went anywhere. Democrats are currently, as we record this, this is the day after Valentine's day for the record, 2024, Democrats are currently shifting a little on how they talk about immigration because very blue cities like New York and Chicago and Denver are under incredible pressure and financially, particularly with Denver, which is the smallest of those three, of course, at a financial breaking point for the city, about provision for migrants, particularly from South America. So Democrats are kind of shifting.

There was just a special election to replace George Santos, whom House Republicans expelled from the House of Representatives. And he was replaced by a guy who has run for a variety of things in that kind of suburban parts of Queens, urbanized parts of Nassau County district named Tom Swasey. And Swasey ran on a platform of saying, look, I'm going, it's an invasion.

He used that word. And so that's pretty unusual for a Democrat. And Swasey is otherwise a fairly orthodox in terms of deductive ideology.

He's a fairly orthodox progressive. So they're shifting a little on that, but they're not gonna agree that Alejandro Mayorkas needs to be kicked out of office or something. That would be such a known goal.

They're not going to do that.

[Speaker 2] (35:49 - 39:11)

So that was a little bit of a left turn, but not entirely, because it's still, I think, tied to this idea of ideology. And how does it matter is a question that I still get from the Lutheran world. And this gets back to what you said a moment ago about princes drinking beer.

The contention that, well, God is in charge, he's sovereign, Jesus is king, he's ruling, he knows what he's doing. So I'm a pastor, I'm just a layman. I'm not versed in this side or the other.

I'm not called to this side or the other. Where is it my job, my duty, to be concerned about what DC does with the border of Texas? How does that become something that is really on my plate?

And as I ponder this, I've got two, what I consider to be, for me, they're very profound, they're ideas, here we go, but they're very profound notions. One is that if I know my king is lying to me, I at least then know my king is lying to me, as opposed to just being the jolly fool. Perhaps the jolly fool is happier, but I just don't see that as what the wisdom of scripture counsels, because the other side of this is not just how it impacts me now.

So my wicked king is gonna suddenly put a bunch of starving people at my doorstep, and as a Christian, I'm gonna see those people and I wanna help them. So I wanna be prepared, not so much so that I can overthrow the wicked king, but I would like to be ready to clean up his mess. And I don't think that that's this kind of radical conspiracy theory approach to replacing the gospel with some other category of the faith.

I think it's built upon my understanding of the grace of God, setting me free to care a lot more about what goes on outside my window than to do about what somebody's ideas are far away and how I need to convert them to my way of thinking. And it's not that I don't want people far away to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, or that I disbelieve in the power of these ridiculous mediums to send them to the far corners of the world and do radical things that God alone allows. I just know that the spirit is active where two or three gather.

And if you're alone at the screen listening to me or Brian Wolf Miller, you're alone listening to me or Brian Wolf Miller, you're alone, you're alone. You're part of the church, but you're cut off from the church. You're missing what life is.

Life is given to be together as people in this word. And it's my own struggle I've got, I can share too much, here we go, with what I've got to do to battle the struggle in my heart to be a good man to my children, to be a good brother to the men in my neighborhood who go to my church, and to be a good pastor to them also, because we're all these things together. That's not easy.

It's been one walk, but it's been a walk under, well, again, trust in the grace of my God through the resurrection of Jesus. I guess the one thing that comes out of this, Adam, that I then have to ask is like, so isn't the atheist just gonna say that Christianity is an ideology? What distinguishes us, the incarnation, I think, but then that's an idea as soon as we talk about it, right?

So you got an answer to that one for me?

[Speaker 1] (39:12 - 42:07)

Yeah, I mean, I don't think that ideology is evil. I think it is a component of human life and that the search for truth is paramount for anyone's soul. I think that modern life, I'm saying, is the incessant overvaluation of ideology.

Worship of it. Thinking that it is absolutely everything. When I say something is paramount, I don't mean that's the whole mountain.

Or if I say something is really important, that doesn't mean it's the only thing that there is. In order to say important, there have to be other things that are less important. Or if I say that an ideology is like a child, that doesn't mean that I'm not sacrificing everything else for the sake of that child.

It means that it's fragile, it's feeble, it can't defend itself, and so on. That life has all of these other components that have to do with warfare and with weather and with farming and with lots of things that have no relationship to ideology. It is very remarkable to me how ideology shrink away when you have certain other life experiences, how they evaporate, right?

So let's say that you are firmly convinced that you are some kind of animal kin. Well, why don't you just go on a two-week camping trip and see if you're actually an animal? You're not.

You can't survive the way that the fox survives or the bird survives. It's just obviously stupid. But most ideologies can survive under the artificial conditions of modern life that permit people not to come into deep contact with reality much of the time, or teach them, in fact, explicitly not to come into contact with reality.

So you are an adult human being with functioning biology, but you should stay child-free. Don't come into contact with the reality of having to realize that this person will still be alive when you are dead, right? So I'm not saying that ideology doesn't matter or is somehow unreal.

I'm saying it is vastly overvalued and it's gonna be overvalued generally by people who professionally deal in it, right? Like Luther could have said, all of this is very mysterious. I was just drinking beer.

The guy who's protecting him from say, being kidnapped or executed by the emperor isn't thinking that way, right? He might be thinking, that's really nice that you are attributing this to God and that's correct. It is God's providence, but that operates, as Luther elsewhere teaches, through God's masks, through the other people, including the guy that's shoving him into the carriage so that he can be taken to safety in a castle protected by stone walls and soldiers.

[Speaker 2] (42:09 - 44:33)

It's almost like the idea that the first year that the law exists has convinced us that we're not allowed to use it. I don't know, but like really, that's what comes out here, that the providence of God is the curb and it's at work. It's always at work and it is so beautiful and if you see that, that's the third use, right?

Now the curb is your guide. So what's wrong with like following the curb or even like picking it up, fixing it, cleaning it because the city isn't and someone ought to, right? How do you go about that where you are?

And how do you not be stilted by this kind of miss second use idea, which is that you're so sinful no matter what you do, that you might as well sit there and not do anything except for, you know, what, drink another beer and watch some more of the talking image, right? So like where's that, Lutherans? And you know, I believe the proper

BHoP 203 Ideology in the Wild (2) 5252

distinction between law and gospel is a particularly glorious light, adverb included in the confessions, I think.

And it is true that to bind a man's conscience with his works when Jesus has set him free, that's a wicked thing, right? But to debate our ideology about how we should preach this based upon a guy we kicked out of the church body more or less in the 70s, his writing that still haunts us while the world falls down around us and we can't begin to tell people what to do because we're afraid it might be the law. I mean, repentance is in order here in a lot of ways, Adam, I think.

And it isn't the rejection of our font. It isn't the rejection of our first sources. It isn't the rejection of our identity as inheritors of the Reformation.

But like you did to us a little few moments ago, it's an acknowledgement that it's just not as big a deal as we all wanna think it is. We have not made the impact. We wanna tell ourselves we have.

And if we wanna sit on our laurels, well, you sit on your laurels, right, whoever's out there listening. I can't. I think that the spirit of God and the resurrection of Jesus Christ is worth getting out there by hook and by crook, word and sacrament only.

But like that means the laity are free to pursue the offices of governance and not just free to, but we do well to encourage them to. And when we fail to do so, we fail to protect the flock. And that's where I'm at with it right now.

Now, what does that mean? Fighting words debate? I don't know, but go ahead, Adam.

[Speaker 1] (44:34 - 45:01)

I think that, I'll just give you an example that will be relatively immediate for almost everybody. I would say probably the vast majority of our listeners are at least familiar with if they don't attend a liturgical church of some kind. And yesterday was both Valentine's Day and Esh Wednesday, I think for the first time since 1945.

So I wove Valentine's Day into the sermon. You know, I'm gonna do that. Cause if this doesn't happen again for another 79 years, you know, I'm gonna be dead by then, so.

[Speaker 2] (45:02 - 45:13)
So that was fun. But it was- You're a better man than I do. I could do that.

I don't subject myself to Hallmark, even though Valentine does precede and is way better, and I could spend 10 minutes explaining it. You're a good man. I respect you.

[Speaker 1] (45:15 - 45:18)

BHoP 203 Ideology in the Wild (2) 5253

I sound like a St. Louis grad most of the time, and maybe you don't, I don't know. [Speaker 2] (45:19 - 45:20)
Yeah, they'll like that, yeah.
[Speaker 1] (45:23 - 49:59)

But the Old Testament reading for Esh Wednesday is about the prophet Joel. And Joel is, yes, obviously about ideology, because it's about their lack of faith in God. It's about the fact that they can't carry out the sacrifices commanded by Moses and so on.

The immediate occasion, however, is the plague of locusts that have destroyed the vegetation in Israel. I think that the way that modern people think about ideology is that the basic conditions of life are essentially fine and will go on. And therefore, we're just all debating things in a nicely heated room with plenty of snacks, and we just have to get that debate right.

But the room will be heated and the snacks will be provided. And what's happening as you look at history in the Old Testament is that it is not only ideological division, where in Jeremiah's time, some say peace, and Jeremiah says there is no peace in Israel. But that the conditions of life also tell you how things are going and also how to change your mind to repent about what is going on and what you have thought as well as how you have felt and how you have lived.

And that connection between life and ideology is what I think gets severed in modernity because of the fact of overwhelming, especially the closer we get to the present until recently, overwhelmingly increasing wealth and comfort. And we talked about this with immigration before is that this is sort of in the back of everyone's mind that the debate is not about how many people can we even have inside the United States of America or something, it's about whether we're enforcing the laws or something and we disagree about what the laws should be. Whereas the actual crisis faced by places that ideologically want as many people from everywhere in the world as possible to be here, the life crisis is not about whether they object to having to provide all public services in five different languages or something and whether that's going to work long term.

It's we just, we don't have enough. Scarcity is the basic reality of human life. So when we think about ideology, it's, you know, again, it's not that it's unimportant.

It's that we have assumed that life doesn't matter, you know, and just magically, you know, whatever God thinks about what's going on, just magically the room will be heated and the snacks will be provided. And that's just not true. And one way to tell that you're out of touch with life is that you are talking and everything you're saying has no relationship to whether the room is heated, whether the snacks are provided, whether the marriage stays together, all the basic conditions of life that actually deeply affect people and change their minds as well.

Because the one way that you can notice that ideology might be a tall tree, but its roots are fairly shallow is that it is one of the first things to change in an actual life crisis, in a historical crisis. People who were fervent monarchists become fervent communists during the Russian revolution in Petersburg. You know, how does this happen?

Well, it's because life changed and that affected you a lot more deeply than anything else. And the ministers of the priest, the ministers of the Lord, weep before the altar in Joel because life changed. And that's actually okay, you know, and they were called to a truer sense of what needed to be happening than before, right?

So a life crisis is not necessarily a bad thing. I mean, this is how we started all of this nonsense with COVID. A life crisis can actually be a great thing and it can be an occasion for incredible turning toward truth, but you have to admit that that didn't have to do with some kind of debate in a well-heated room.

That had to do with life cutting you down, destroying you.

[Speaker 2] (50:00 - 52:42)

Christ Jesus is not an ideology and as the Ancient of Days himself, he is reigning right now. That doesn't mean that he doesn't have ideas because he's a man and having ideas or symbols or thoughts, or however you describe the ontology of the inner working of your head, you know, he's got that and he's doing it all as God for us. That's mysterious.

We could just ponder that forever. But to believe then that Christianity, whatever it is by the time it becomes an idea is so much more than that. He is the one who has made us all.

He is the one who is eternal. Christ Jesus, our Lord, only begotten, the Father, always begetting and sending, the spirit who proceeds. And that truth isn't just a notion you're supposed to like take a note about and then go home and do something with.

That's a truth that's going to do something with you. Already did, right? Made you, redeemed you, has set you apart.

And this gets to the question, you know, for what ever a Lutheran, you know, harbinger, but for such a time as this unquestionably and for wisdom, to be sure, prudence and blessedness, which is trust that God's in charge. Even when it does look bad, there will be something good for you to do. And then the desire to do it and the desire to pray for it.

There was a bit earlier, Adam, where you talked about ideas being weak. And I love this notion that ideology is this beautiful tall tree. It just got shallow roots.

But prayer in Jesus name is not an ideology. I go so far from it. It is the Holy Spirit of God renewing your animal creature, who is man, woman, you know, to be him, member of the body.

And that, that potency, that power, that gospel, that good news that is for the forgiveness of your sins, through the forgiveness of your sins, with the atonement, you know, all the little words we can put in because somebody with a bad ideology says something stupid about it until it makes people don't believe, right? That's important, but not as important as the actual wind of God blowing upon the church, which is going to be local, communal, Lord's Supper, teaching the Bible, scripture, fathers to children, right? That and, and to put the war there, right?

Put the war there.

[Speaker 1] (52:42 - 59:19)

Yeah. I mean, I would say that there's a essentially a verbal meme that gets repeated throughout the Missouri Synod incessantly. And if you're not a Missouri Synod Lutheran, you have probably heard something like it in some way by your priest or somebody on a local level.

And the, but the Missouri Synod meme is the, the parish pastor is the highest office in the church. Okay. And this is based on people's behavior, patently not true.

That's not how people behave. And that's not what they, they look to do with their lives. So I use Jesus's teaching, especially the Sermon on the Mount to assess life.

And I tend to look much more at people's behavior than at what they say and their behavior reveals that they don't believe what I just said. Nonetheless, the reason it's actually true. Okay.

Is because it has to do with the communication of the life of the risen Jesus Christ directly to human beings who need it. Because Jesus is both truth and life and direction or guide in the sense of being the way. John is your philosophical gospel always.

When you think about it that way, you can realize that that is simply where, where the action is, where the front line is. And I, I prefer the front lines to, to anywhere else. It's what I like.

The reason I like it is because it's not just discussion. It is also life and death directly that has a certain beauty and a power that talk alone. So this again doesn't mean that talking is unimportant or talk.

You know, it's just irrelevant and we should just all, you know, grunt and lift heavy things or something. It means that word and deed go together naturally. So the place where those things come together most directly and most powerfully is the place where, where I think you want to be.

It's also the place that you will find in the end actually matters. So I'll give you an example from a different church body. If the American Roman Catholic Church is not sending the Lord's own portion of money to the Vatican, if somehow they withhold those funds, it would be the same for the Greek Orthodox.

It's the reason that the Greek Orthodox in America don't exactly govern themselves. And it's the reason that the Russians or the Soviets before them fought over what kind of jurisdiction the Russian Americans would have. The reason people fight over getting the money of Americans, and this has different permutations and Protestant denominations, but it's the same thing.

Everybody comes to America to get money is because the Americans pay for everything. And so if you, if you, that that's, is that ideology? Well, yeah, it is.

Like Jesus has a lot of teaching about money that we don't talk about, but it's also life. And but if I'm not observing life and then acting on the basis of my observation and Jesus is teaching, then I am of all men most to be pitied because I have a wonderful religion that has nothing to do with anything that's going on. And would would Francis walk so proudly and so haughtily?

I mean, of all the deductive ideologists, he is one of the greatest in the world right now, especially concerning the poor American Catholics who actually believe the stuff they were told to believe, right? Not they don't believe what he believes. They believe what they were actually taught.

Here's what a Catholic is, you know. Would he behave that way if he didn't have all of their money? So this is where when you neglect life, you neglect the things that are actually going on.

And Jesus does not neglect life, right? He includes all of life and is himself life, right? He's actually alive.

He's not a set of ideas. He's a person who has teachings, who is alive, right? And in baptism, you're not just included into assent to his ideas like he's some sort of just predecessor of Karl Barth or something.

You are included into his death and resurrection. So I like to be where that kind of action is. But I think most of all, when we neglect the fact that he's actually alive, we neglect the fact that life actually has to do with us.

And so the observation of things that go on in life have to do with us. Where is the money going? And who pays to keep the lights on?

And how do we talk about those people? Because the thing that bothers me most about deductive ideologists of all kinds is that they end up despising the people who keep the lights on. You know, so Hanson applies that in a politically specific way, like, you know, most plumbers, most farmers, etc.

are not, do not agree with the governing, generally leftist or progressive authorities in any Western country. And that's true. But I would apply it.

I mean, I think it's a dynamic in any human group that comes to overvalue ideology is that they end up and this is something you have to observe in people's actions. They end up despising. They're not even necessarily the little people, right?

They might be the biggest giver to, you know, that rotary club, that congregation, that school district. As far as a business, you know, donating something for, you know, the local basketball team or something, right? So we're not even, we're not even saying that this is just the absolute most impoverished people, but it does include them too, is that the deductive ideologist who doesn't pay attention to life will end up despising the person who is beneath him in the food chain and the chain of command and the whatever.

And you will be able to observe his, his spite, his meanness, his smallness of spirit in his actions best rather than just in what he says. Because probably if it's a, if it's a modern expression of ideology, he's going to have to say that he cares about the little guy, right? It's, it's not, it's not 730 AD.

He can't just, he can't just openly despise the peasants, right? He's going to have to say that he cares about them, but you will have to observe from his actions what he actually loves and cares about.

[Speaker 2] (59:21 - 59:29)

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[Speaker 1] (59:29 - 1:01:05)

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MadPx Mondays
A Brief History of Power
Every week Dr. Adam Koontz and Rev. Jonathan Fisk check their privilege against the backdrop of the wide and varied annals of history. You don‘t have to believe the Babel about the sons of Noah being a rosetta for understanding the postmodern global politic to agree that an intellectual dark web exists because history always rhymes, no matter what you try to do about it. You might not save the world by listening, citizen, but that doesn‘t mean you won‘t save someone. Because knowing is only the first half of the battle.