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Embracing God’s Truth in a Hostile Culture (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
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February 18, 2022 5:00 am

Embracing God’s Truth in a Hostile Culture (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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February 18, 2022 5:00 am

Rod Dreher describes how you can teach your children to honor God, find fellowship and solidarity with other believers, and even discover value in suffering for the Gospel. (Part 2 of 2)

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Today on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly, we're continuing a really important conversation about what it looks like to stand for God's truth in our culture.

Here's Rod Dreher. I was traveling with my interpreter, a young Christian woman, married with a little child at home, was pregnant at the time, and we were heading to do an interview. And she said, Rod, you know, I really struggle as a Christian mom. I try to talk to my friends, even my Christian friends, about the struggles I have as a wife and mom, and they just don't understand it. If I say that my husband and I are arguing, they say, oh, well, get a divorce.

Put your son back in daycare. You've got to be happy. Live for yourself. She said, I try to tell them, I am happy. I'm happy being a mom. I'm happy being a wife, but it's not always easy.

She said they don't understand that life involves, a good life involves struggle. John, our conversation yesterday was so intriguing, and I know some people may go, wow, you know, I'm in the middle of taking care of my kids and holding down a job and all those normal things that we have to do. But I'm telling you, if you're reading the newspaper or you're reading online content about the culture and where we're at and hearing from various sources, you know, the country feels different. Something is askew.

It's hard to put a handle on it, but something's different. Traditional values, they're changing. I mean, the attitude of the people about embracing those values and the institutions like we talked last time, the media, universities, even big business now, it has really embraced the woke culture. And we discussed that last time. We're going to pick up the conversation today with our guest and continue to hopefully live by truth, not by lies, which is the title of his book. It's a great reference to the book that Rod Dreher wrote. He's written a number of books and the one that will form the basis for our conversation today is a New York Times bestseller, Live Not by Lies. We can send a copy of that to you.

Make a donation if you can. Just stop by the show notes for all the details. Rod, welcome back to Focus. It's great to be back. So good to have you here. And I feel like I'm a bit of a culture nerd because I do.

I'm into this and I get excited about it because I think it's a very exciting time to live, even though things look a little gloomy when it comes to religious freedom, religious liberty, expression of faith, people that may not like what we're thinking or expressing. And that's kind of the baseline. You mentioned soft totalitarianism. Explain again what that is referring to and how we're experiencing it here in the US.

Sure. Well, when people think of totalitarianism, we think of the Soviet Union. We think of gulags and prisons and secret police. We think of George Orwell's 1984. Well, we don't have that today. So people wonder, why can you call this totalitarianism?

Well, I'll tell you why. Totalitarianism is an ideology that emerged in the early 20th century and it takes authoritarianism and a system in which only one leader or one party has all the political power and it expands it to cover all of society. In other words, all of society becomes political. You can have this kind of system even within a liberal democracy when one ideology gains control of all of the heights of culture. We're seeing that happen now. So what we're seeing is people being driven to affirm this single ideology, which we call wokeness, but nobody's being threatened by being sent to prison for it, at least not yet. So, but it is totalitarianism.

I can give you a comic example, but it's true. This past summer I was in Hungary on a fellowship and I was talking to the minister for family affairs over there. She told me that they were about to introduce into parliament, two days hence, a bill to prohibit LGBT propaganda for children and minors. And I said, oh, have you heard about the Blues Clues Pride Parade?

She's like, what? I explained to them Blues Clues is a popular American kids cartoon for pre-K kids. And they had just this summer during LGBT Pride Month, put out a pride march about all the different kinds of rainbow families, transgender families, polyamorous families, et cetera, to colonize the minds of children. All the Hungarians, they couldn't believe what they were hearing. And I said, yeah, but this is normal in America now because the wokesters are not content just to conquer politics. They want every aspect of life to be political. And we also see this too in the way that the critical race theory and these woke ideologies are classifying people according to race, to gender, to sexuality, and so forth. This is straight out of the communist playbook. In 1918, the head of the secret police in the new communist state in Russia told his agents in Ukraine to go out there and don't look to see if anybody actually committed crimes against the Soviet Union.

Just check and see what their social class is. That will tell you if they are an enemy of the regime who needs to be killed or sent to prison. In a similar way, this kind of totalitarianism is coming into being here in America through our institutions. Again, there's not coercion yet, but it's still happening.

Yeah. Let me ask you though, of course, in November, there was an election in Virginia that got a lot of press coverage, obviously. But one of the things that we found out through the media reports is that the current administration encouraged the Department of Justice to apply the Patriot Act to work against these parents, to surveil these parents, to see what they were thinking and what they were doing, what they were talking about, I guess. That's beginning to tip beyond soft totalitarianism, just as an example of how government can turn on its own people and begin to put a chilling effect on freedom of expression.

Exactly. The people who came to this country from the communist countries say that totalitarianism may be soft now, but it's not going to stay soft forever. And what you bring up is a great example of how the government is starting to turn in a harder way. I just emphasize soft totalitarianism to wake people up who are looking for Orwellian signs and are not seeing too many of them.

I want to let them know that, wait a minute, this is more like Aldous Huxley's Brave New World style totalitarianism. And I'll give you an example. When I was in Budapest reporting on this book, I was traveling with my interpreter, a young Christian woman married, with a little child at home, was pregnant at the time. And we're heading to do an interview and she said, Rod, you know, I really struggle as a Christian mom. I try to talk to my friends, even my Christian friends, about the struggles I have as a wife and mom. And they just don't understand it. If I say that my husband and I are arguing, they say, oh, we'll get a divorce.

Put your son back in daycare. You've got to be happy. Live for yourself. She said, I try to tell them I am happy. I'm happy being a mom. I'm happy being a wife.

But it's not always easy. She said, they don't understand that life involves, a good life involves struggle. I looked at her and said, Ana, it sounds like you're fighting for the right to be unhappy. She looked at me and said, that's exactly it.

Where did you get it? I went to chapter 17 on my smartphone of Brave New World of Aldous Huxley's book. And in that case, the dissident in this fictional dystopia confronts the world controller for Europe. And he's not threatening to torture the guy. He's like, why wouldn't you want to join our society? You're kept happy all the time. You're kept comfortable with drugs and entertainment.

It's great. Why don't you want to be part of it? And the dissident says, because it's not human. He says, I want suffering. I want beauty. I want love. I want God.

I want sin. In other words, he wants to be human. Well, the controller of this world says, you're welcome to it. This, Jim, is a totalitarianism we're facing now. The totalitarianism that wins people to it by promising them comfort, comfort and security over everything. And if we have raised our children to believe that any thing that makes them anxious is wrong and should be avoided, then we're setting themselves up to be drones in this coming totalitarian dystopia. Rod, let me ask you, that's soft totalitarianism.

Let's talk about surveillance capitalism. That's an interesting term. I think I understand it, but what does it mean?

Well, the term comes from a woman named Shoshana Zuboff. She was a former Harvard Business School professor, not a believer. She wrote this book called The Age of Surveillance Capitalism. And what she meant by it was that around the year 2000, Google figured out a way to monetize all the, they call it exhaust, all the data generated by people doing their normal activities online.

There was nothing that could be thrown away. They figured out a way to figure out how to read the data that people generate just by their Google searches, by where they go in the world that is all tracked on later on smartphones and figure out how to sell people things that way. We have become a country that is willing to give over all of our information to Facebook, to Google, to Microsoft, Apple, et cetera. And it tells them where we are, who we hang out with, what our preferences are.

And we don't even notice this. We're doing this because it makes our lives more convenient. What Shoshana Zuboff says is that we are setting ourselves up to be ruled by a dictatorship one day because all of this information is being saved. And what happens if Google or one of these big companies decides that you are a domestic terrorist because you go to, you protested against the school board. They have ways to tell this. They, if you carried your smartphone in your pocket, you get put on a list. The government is collecting all this information too. I've been told by people in the intelligence community, it is being saved.

Now it's not being used against us now, but in the future, if they want to use this against us, they'll be able to. Where I think this is all going, Jim, is something called the social credit system. You've been to China, you know about this. In China, the totalitarian state is using the fact that everybody in China is wired into the internet to control the people.

They know everything you do, everybody you meet, everything you buy, et cetera. Now China is almost a cashless society, so all transactions, almost all transactions take place electronically. Well, the government also gives each citizen a social credit rating. If you do things the government considers to be positive, then like download the speeches of Xi Jinping, for example, you'll get a higher rating and more privileges.

You can travel more, you can shop in the best stores, et cetera. But if you do things that the government considers to be antisocial, like go to church, like spend time with people who have low social credit ratings, you'll get a low rating too. And eventually it can get so low that you are not able to buy or sell to participate in the economy.

Now I don't have to tell this Christian audience what that means. We now have the technological means to make it impossible for people to buy or sell if they don't sign off on the ruling ideology. I fear that this is going to come to America too, and it's not going to come primarily from the government. It's going to be instituted by major corporations.

You know, this idea of spying is so critical right now. I heard from a friend who has a friend in the Ivy league law school, an Ivy league law school, and he is part of the committee that reviews applications. I don't know if it was nine or 11 member committee of the faculty and what he has observed and has not responded.

He's quiet. He's a Christian, but he's on this committee. Nobody on the committee knows he's a Christian, but these applications, if there's a mention of a mission strip or a mission of any church affiliation, this Ivy league law school rejects that application. And that's done behind these closed doors with these nine or 11 faculty members who are reviewing it.

And he has not yet found the spine according to my friend to say, wait a minute, this is not right. In fact, it's illegal. You can't discriminate based on religion and that yet they do it. And it appears like it's happening every day in the workplace or in schools.

It happens all the time. I hear constantly from people in big business and universities in the military who are talking about this very thing that Christians or anybody who's a social conservative are being systematically discriminated against beneath the notice of anybody else. I wonder if this your Ivy league friend of a friend, friend of a friend. I wonder if it might be the same person who reached out to me six or seven years ago, Ivy league law school faculty, a closeted Christian. He told me that Christians in this country have no idea what's about to hit us.

And again, this was 2014 I believe. He said that here at his law school, he says, nobody is a Christian except me. And I'm in the closet. He said that the people who at this law school who produced the elite class of lawyers who go on to populate the federal judiciary, they don't know anybody who's religious. They don't understand why religious Liberty is important.

And over time, this is going to matter. Let me reference something and get your response to this. I was at the national religious broadcasters and they had a breakfast panel and I was added at the last minute because somebody who they had planned for couldn't be there. And I get there and it's a discussion very similar to this. How do we fight the culture war?

How do we push back on the culture? And I mentioned, I'm not going to name the person's name. That was the moderator because it doesn't matter. But I mentioned a story to him on this panel discussion where I was in China. I had spent a week or 10 days there meeting people, leaders in the church, et cetera, as I was dropped off by this internal missionary couple. So Chinese husband and wife, they dropped me off at the airport and they said, Oh, mr daily will be praying for you in America. And I just had the presence of mind to turn to them and say, well, how do you pray for us?

And I remember they looked like, Oh, I shouldn't answer the question. And I said, no, how do you pray for us? And the gentleman said, well, we pray for greater persecution because from where we sit Christians in America are very weak. Well, I shared this on the panel and the host who is a radio personality that all the listeners would know, said to me, that's hogwash theology. I'm serious. And I, I sat there immediately as he attacked me for that. I started getting texts from people in the audience saying, you are absolutely right.

Keep saying that. And I just find it amazing that we in the Christian community wouldn't understand what suffering in Christ is all about. And you know, one thing that occurs to me, and I've used this myself to bolster my own faith when I've been discouraged. I think about the man I talk about in the book called Sylvester Kirchmery. He was a young physician who was part of the underground church in Slovakia.

He was the right hand man to father Kolakovich. And sure enough, the secret police grabbed him off the street in 1951 or 52 to take him to prison. He tells in his memoir that he laughed when they got him and the secret police said, why are you laughing? He said, because it is an honor to suffer for my Lord.

You know, and he went into prison with that attitude and he said that he knew that if he pitied himself, he would fall apart because they kept him in prison for 10 years and they tortured him. He said, I told myself every day that it is a privilege to suffer for Christ and I am God's probe here in the prison. I'm here to learn more about myself and deepen my own repentance and to serve others. So he went forth to pray for people, to witness to people.

He did not complain, even though he had every right to, but he said, this is the mission the Lord has given me. I tell another story in the book about this amazing Russian Christian named Alexander Okorodnikov, who was a late convert, came from a prominent communist family, converted like in the early 70s and began holding prayer meetings in his apartment in Russia, in Moscow. They threw him into the worst prison in Russia, put him on death row, even though he didn't have a death sentence because they wanted to make an example of him. He went in there determined just to evangelize, to witness to the hardest criminals in the whole, all of Russia. He was so successful at it that they put him in solitary confinement to keep him away from the other prisoners and they began to torture him. I talked to him in Moscow. His face is still partially paralyzed from the beatings he took.

Well, Okorodnikov told me that he got really discouraged. He began to wonder, Lord, have you abandoned me here? An angel woke him up one night and gave him a vision in which he saw a prisoner being led to his execution with his hands behind his back by two guards. And it was a real live vision.

This vision came back night after night with a different prisoner. Okorodnikov finally realized that the Lord was showing him the men who were being led to their execution, condemned murderers, but they had accepted Christ because he had been there to witness to them in that prison. And they were going to be with the Lord in paradise forever because he was there. And that's how Okorodnikov got back his faith, because he knew that the Lord had picked him to be his apostle there to the wretched of the earth. This is the attitude that all of us Christians need to adopt from these precious believers who really suffer for Christ. Well, the summary statement of that is there's purpose in suffering in Christ.

And we are, again, as a comfort oriented culture, we are immature in understanding what that means. It's true, even in our churches. So many churches are all about helping us to be comfortable with where we are. There's that phrase you probably heard, moralistic therapeutic deism. It's about a sociologist Christian Smith who said this is the de facto religion of American Christians. He said it's a philosophy, a sort of a feel good Christianity that says God loves us, he wants us to be happy, he wants us to be nice, and he wants us to be successful.

And that's it. This is what Aldous Huxley called Christianity without tears. It's Christianity without the cross. And this, as Bonhoeffer said, is the deadly enemy of Christians. And this is especially so as we're moving into this soft totalitarianism, which operates by making us afraid of losing our status, our money, and our comfort.

Rod, let me point this to the family as we come in for a landing. Because again, I've always said that when you look at the Lord and the Lord's work, there's three institutions that he established, the church, the government, and the family. And I think that's why the church and the family are under such assault by the government, right? And the family in your book, and you point out in the Eastern Bloc under communism, how the family became a vital tool to maintain Christian discipline and that hope that you talk about. And that does bring us back, I think, to the Binda parents.

So why don't we work that in as to how they use the family rightfully to raise their kids in a healthy way. I'm so glad you asked about them. This is the most impressive family. They live in Prague, Vaclav and Kamila Binda were the parents. Vaclav died in 1999, but his wife Kamila still going. They were the only Christians in the inner circle of Vaclav Havel in the Czech dissidents. The Binda family raised six kids in communism at a time when the parents were targeted by the regime because of their activism. In fact, the dad went to prison for four years, but they understood that the family had to be where the resistance to totalitarianism began. So what would they do when the kids would come home from school?

They had to go to communist schools. Vaclav, the dad, a mathematician would sit down with them and help them to understand what they had heard that day and to pick out truth from lies. Kamila, her main role was to read to the kids. She too was a professor and she would read to them two or three hours a day, even when her husband was in prison because she knew that to build their moral imagination was vital.

So I asked her, Kamila, what did you read to them? She said, I read myths, I read the classics and I read a lot of Tolkien. I said, Tolkien?

Why Tolkien? She looked at me straight in the eyes and said, because we knew that Mordor was real. And I began to understand what she meant by that. Yeah, that these children, they couldn't understand Marxism, Leninism. They did not get the details of this, but they could understand the fellowship of the ring. And they began to understand that the men and women who would come together to in their parents' apartment to fight this Mordor, they were like the fellowship of the ring. I found this to be so important because all of these kids grew up knowing that they had a role, a God-given role to fight for freedom.

Today, 30 years after communism, all of the Benda kids have kids of their own, and all of them are faithful Christians, even though the Czech Republic is the most atheist country in all of Europe. It all started in the family, though, with the family, the Benda family, the mom and dad consciously raising these kids to be countercultural. The kids, too, talked, now adults, talked about how their father and mother were such icons of courage for them. They saw their mom and dad taking tough stands and being willing to pay the price for it. So I just love this family so much.

I dedicated a whole chapter in the book of them because they are a real model for all of us Christians today who may wonder, how can we resist this? You know, we tend to think of resistance as only like going out to protest or voting. In fact, the Bendas say there are things that you can do and you must do in the daily life of your family to build this resistance end to your kids. And what's so reinforcing with what you're saying is this innate understanding in our hearts as human beings that there's good and evil, even when academicians and others are trying to say, no, that's a construct of religion. But we know, you know what evil is when people treat other people so aggressively and so harshly when you murder somebody or many people, right? So it's interesting that they turned to literature that illustrated that concept of good and evil.

That's the whole struggle. And you know, again, the suffering thing comes back when Vaclav Benda was in prison. He was there for four years. At one point, the government made an offer to him that he said the government said to him, we'll let you leave the country with your wife and kids if you will just resign from the dissident movement. And he wanted to do it. He missed his family. You know, Camilla was struggling with six kids at home and he wrote to his wife and said, should we accept this? That lady wrote back to him spine of steel and she said, no, if we abandon the people who are looking to us for courage and inspiration, if we abandon them to save ourselves by going West, we will have abandoned God.

So stay in prison. Keep praying. We'll fight the fight on the home front. We, this is the quality of people that we have to become in the American church if we're going to survive what's coming.

If you're soft, it's not going to go well for us. And we also have to be prepared to be persecuted from within in our own churches. I'm hearing this too from a lot of Christians that so many people in churches, pastors too, just want to pretend that everything's okay.

They don't want to upset people. In fact, read the signs of the times God is giving us the freedom to prepare before the persecution starts. And some people think I'm being alarmist. I hope I am. I would love to be proved wrong, but if I'm not wrong about this and we have not taken the time that the Lord has given us now and the liberty to prepare, then we're in serious trouble.

Right. I mean, this is so good and I hope the people that are resonating who are listening and watching, I hope they, they get it and they understand. And what a great resource, your book to equip people to better understand the signs of the times, right? This is like the Berean church, understand what we're in so that you can respond appropriately as a Christian and help your children understand the environment that we're in. This is a great resource and I hope you can feel that. And if you can help support focus to do the ministry that we're attempting to do, one of those three institutions that God has created the family to help strengthen it.

I mean, I hope you're encouraged. We had over 300,000 people come to Christ through focus on the family last year and we measure it every year. And that's one of the gemstones of the effort here. I never knew that we did that. We started to measure it and lo and behold, we found out so many people come to Christ or rededicate their life to the Lord through the ministry here at focus. So help us be a part of it. It's God's economy. We're the engine, but we need the gas from you to make it happen. So if you can sign up to be a monthly supporter or a one-time gift, we'll send you a copy of Rod's book, Live Not by Lies, as our way of saying thank you for being a part.

Yeah. Join the support team. Make your donation today. Ask for your copy of Live Not by Lies, a manual for Christian dissidents. We have it here at the ministry.

Our number is 800, the letter A and the word family, 800-232-6459, or click the link in the episode notes. And this reminder that we also have a great resource for you. It'll arrive in your inbox every day, Monday through Friday. It's called The Daily Citizen. Sign up for that and that way you'll be able to read the times as we've talked about today and stay up with the latest in cultural currents.

Again, the link is in the episode notes. Rod, again, thank you so much for being here and helping us to discern the times that we're in. Well, thanks so much for having me. This kind of thing is so important that we Christians talk to each other.

And let us never forget that the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. Amen. What a great note to close out our conversation. I do hope you enjoy your weekend with your family and your church family as well.

And plan to join us on Monday. Senator James Langford discusses how you can reclaim your role in your child's education. The parent is the most important person in the life of a child. So for them to be able to impress real truth on the hearts of their children, they'll be able to see falsehoods then in the days ahead, even in the classroom. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. Did you know nearly 60% of American adults don't have a will in place?

That's a big number. And not having a will can leave a heavy burden for family left behind. If you need a will but don't know where to begin, let Focus on the Family help. Download our resource, 15 questions to ask when preparing a will. It's our gift to you at slash preparemywill. That's slash preparemywill.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-03 11:50:22 / 2023-06-03 12:01:53 / 12

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