’Cause there's a monster living under my bed
It is a short walk to sociopathy. I wonder if the potential for it might not be present in all of us.
Did I just have a conversation with someone? I think not. I feel it in what was left unsaid, by the chasm between the facade and the inner reality... words that assume a given or beg a conclusion left hanging, unexplained... surface noise that is not connecting with the person inside... chatter from across the abyss... a monologue from a deserted soul... covering fire laid down to mask real feelings and behavior.
The innate loneliness might be the beginning. It's part of what makes us vulnerable. To some degree, I can explain where it comes from, but I can't make others hear me. If not properly addressed, it can lead to places we should not go.
The gun-toting wackos that exit the world in a moment of blood-dripping cowardice dragging innocents with them are not an out-of-context phenomenon. Is it a "break" that comes out of nowhere or a cumulative response to a particular set of stimuli? I usually vote for cumulative.
"The Plague of Plagues" is a phrase that stuck with me early. It is the title of a book written by Ralph Venning in 1669, a treatise on sin and its consequences. The black plague that swept through Europe in its day? The AIDS and Ebola viruses of our day? Horrendous, but they are nothing compared to the mother of all plagues: sin.
Sin separates and isolates. It is inevitable that we feel alone. We start life outside of God, with our backs to him. The sensation of solitude is legitimate. We have to wear clothes now to cover our shame; we hide in the bushes because we are afraid.
If left unattended, the lack of a healthy connection to other people (and God) can cause a drift to unreality, all the way to a demonizing of the outside world or particular segments thereof. The more we lean toward a fringe worldview, the more we focus on reinforcing it. To our own detriment, we shed the ballast that would stabilize us. We reject people and information that would serve as a counterbalance to the extremism that we have begun to embrace.
Within six months of being saved (1972), through friends esteemed as Christian, we were introduced to a movement in North Central Wisconsin called POSSE COMITATUS. They were immersed in conspiracy theories, especially the Jewish kind. They were paranoid: stockpiling weapons and food, preparing secret shelters against the coming apocalypse, bracing for confrontation with a federal authority that they deemed illegitimate. I don't recall hearing anything about white supremacy, but my research for this post confirms that it was part of the picture. After some gun battles and police killings, the key people ended up dead or in prison.
We had been around enough to sense that basic Christian principles were not the guiding force behind fringe fanaticism. Meanwhile, we met people who lived and died paranoid. We have met others who seem predisposed to do the same.
The point that I am trying to make is a hard one to write down. It has to do with the dark side, with strains of nominal Christianity that are essentially non-Christian. They are an embarrassment to us, but they are so much more: they pose a threat. There will always be lonely, disenfranchised and inexperienced people who will be vulnerable to dark messages and manipulative tactics.
But I'm still not making my point: are we guilty of feeding the paranoia? Are we part of the cumulative force of a one-sided conversation that an impressionable individual is hearing? Are we inadvertently nudging some people closer to the edge? The up and coming sociopath can't see Jesus through the row of paper tigers that we have lined up in his cross hairs. We drone on about how bad things are and getting worse every day.
Careful: our venting may be part of what charges a sociopath’s batteries to act out the unthinkable.
How about no more paper tigers? We should put a face to the name, the idea, or the lifestyle that we disapprove of. Maybe we need yet another law on the books that forces us to sit down over coffee with an individual that qualifies as our antithesis, our foe. It could turn into a refresher course on being a friend to sinners… you know, like Jesus was? If we continually exacerbate tensions at a societal level, we will distance ourselves from the primary reason for our existence. We turn off whole people groups long before an opportunity congeals to share the marvels of Jesus Christ with them.
We claim as ours an Anabaptist heritage that is replete with non-conformity, pacifism, and non-participation in things of the magistrate. We are not reformers. It is not a battle that we have been asked to fight nor expected to win. "Then he said to me, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts." Zechariah 4:6
We are reconcilers. The scope and privilege of that ministry ought to keep us fully occupied. The Gospel is so powerful that it can turn a monster into a reconnected, empathetic servant of God and his fellow man.
It wouldn’t be the first time… remember the Apostle Paul?
"All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;" 2 Corinthians 5:18
Greg was raised near Milwaukee, WI. He has lived outside of the United States since 1976... first in Central America and, since 1982, in Cancun, Mexico.
Concise devotions in Spanish and English, along with some lengthier essays… Designed for personal spiritual growth and to help anyone studying English or Spanish as a second language to improve their skills… Rev 14:6
To highlight one essential facet of the eternal Gospel of Jesus Christ... Rev 14:6; 2 Cor. 5:18
THANK YOU FOR READING!
"Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ." (Philemon 1:20)
Refreshing the Bones by Greg Smith is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.