Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Acts 27 test, 1: On celebrating New Year day, 2013, vs. taking ship's counsel at Fair Havens

Today is new year day, and it is conventional to wish one and all a happy new year.

This year, I am not so sure I can follow this practice, though I do wish all as good a year (and years) ahead as possible under the circumstances.

Yes, I still say, fear God and dread nought!


A Roman trade ship, such as Paul would have sailed in;
notice, the steering oars at the stern, the large square sail
(poor at sailing into the wind) and the small foresail. (Source)
But also, I think that this year we need to take counsel in light of the lessons of Acts 27, a case study in democracy-in-denial and hidden agenda manipulation among and by powerful elites and their technical henchmen, in the face of impending crisis.

The need for such a steering word was brought home to me last evening as I attended a concert on new year's eve, and had it brought home to me just how much we need to have a spiritual, historical model to help guide us in  some very tough days that are certain to lie ahead.

This further came home to me this morning as I commented at UD, in response to a pattern of ideology-driven elite domination and manipulation of our civilisation's most prestigious institution, science. Here are my thoughts that I would like to share:

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>>Entrenched highly ideological orthodoxies — and this includes successful revolutionaries, whether on institutional or community scale — that control resource flows to their benefit and which exert enormous power in institutions and society [I was speaking here about today's evolutionary materialism dominated science], tend to be very resistant to what is new and unsettling to their comfort zones and interests. Where there has been indoctrination and polarisation, we can see this multiplied by the problem of lack of logical thinking ability and sheer lack of awareness of the true state of the balance of warrant on the merits of facts and evidence.

The perceived heretic, then is a threat to be fought off, marginalised, discredited and if necessary destroyed. By any and all means, fair or foul.

(I find the obsession with suggestions of a threat of religious subversion of [scientific, political, education, media and cultural] institutions long since subverted by radical secularists slightly amusing but quite sad in the end. The key threat is unaccountable, out of control power in the hands of elites prone to corruption, not that this once happened with religious elites. In the past 100 years, we saw major secularist movements and neopagan movements of political messianism that did much the same to horrific cost. And the welfare state of the past generation has not been a whole lot better. [Just ask the ghosts of the dozens of millions who have been aborted for convenience.])

Where is there a solution?

Frankly, at this stage, I think things are going to have to crash so badly and some elites are going to have to be so discredited by the associated spreading failure, that media propaganda tactics cannot cover it up anymore.

My model for that comes from one of the red-flag sources that will give some of the objectors [to the design theory movement in science] the vapours. 

Acts 27.

What, how dare you cite that, that . . . that . . . textbook for theocratic tyranny by the ignorant, insane, stupid and/or wicked followers of that bronze age misogynistic homophobic genocidal racist war god!

(Do you hear how your agit-prop talking points are enmeshing you in the classic trap of believing your own propaganda?) 

Let’s start with, Paul of Tarsus, c. AD 59, was not in the Bronze Age but was an appellate prisoner in chains on early Imperial era grain ships having a hard time making way from the Levant and Asia Minor to Rome, in the second case ending up in a bay on Crete. What followed is a classic exercise in the follies of manipulated democracy, a case study that will well repay study in our time.

It was late in the sailing season, and the merchant-owner was worried about his ship in an open bay at Fair Havens, given what winter storms can do.

The passengers were not too impressed by the nearby settlements as a wintering place. (Sailing stopped in Autumn and opened back up in Spring.)

The key technico, the kubernete — steersman, more or less like a pilot of an airliner — knew where his bread was buttered, and by whom.

In the middle was a Centurion of the elite messenger corps.

We are at ship’s council, and Paul, in chains, is suggesting that the suggestion to venture our with a favourable wind to try to make it to a more commodious port down-coast was excessively risky not only to boat but life.

The financial and technical talking heads and the appeal of comfort allowed him to be easily marginalised and dismissed.

Then we saw a gentle south breeze, that would have allowed a reach down the coast. (The technicos probably knew this could be a precursor to a storm, but were not going to cut across the dominant view.)

They sailed out.


Caught in the storm (Source)
Bang, an early winter noreaster hit them and sprang the boat’s timbers (why they tried to hold together with ropes [--> called frapping]) so the ship was in a sinking condition from the beginning.

Worse, they were heading for sandbars off the coast of today’s Libya.

For two weeks all they could do was use a sea anchor to control drift and try to steer vaguely WNW. 

Forget, eating.

That is when Paul stood forth as a good man in a storm, and encouraged them with a vision from God. By this time, hope was to be shipwrecked on a coast. (Turned out, [probably] north coast of Malta [possibly, east end].) 

While the ship was at risk of being driven aground and set out four anchors by the stern from midnight on, the sailors tried to abandon the passengers on a ruse, spotted by Paul and/or Luke his travelling companion. 

By this time, the Centurion knew who to take seriously and the ship’s boat was cut away. He then took the decision to save Paul and refused the soldiers’ request to kill the prisoners to prevent escape (for which their lives would have been forfeit).

So, they made it to a beach on Malta, having lost the ship in any case AND nearly their own lives.

All of which is full of lessons from history for us in our own decaying democratic polities today, and in the face of polarised voices and all sorts of hidden agenda, half- truth- at- best counsels.

It is going to take a noreaster to sort out the mess, and there is going to be a lot of serious loss to those beguiled by the bewitching counsels of those inclined to tickle itching ears with what they calculate we want to hear.

Sorry if that does not sound upbeat for a new year day, but frankly things are beyond that stage with our civilisation.

Our job now is to be the voice of sense before the storm, and to prepare ourselves to be good men or women in a storm.>>
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This of course sets the context in which I believe godly, visionary, prophetic intellectual and cultural leadership can help steer the community towards reformation and doing the right, even if that counsel is only going to be listened to after being caught in a storm has exposed the folly of the counsels that had formerly marginalised the wisdom that came from God through his people in the situation.

Let's read Ac 27, and reflect on it in that light, towards being good people in a storm. 

God's richest in the year ahead, never mind the storms. END