Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8, NIV)
Beware the Borderlands
of thoughts, and words and deeds,
the slippery slopes,
Pied Pipers’ realms
where shine their wares and creeds.
Beware deception lands
where fakes and shills and snakes
would lead and guide,
ensnare and bind
with whate’er it takes.
I am reminded again, as I am so often these days, of former CIA director William Casey, to whom this quote is often attributed: “We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.”
But, of course, in the larger picture, he (or whomever) isn’t the first to have expressed that idea in so many words or their equivalent, nor will he be the last.
There is both the archetypal liar, aka Satan, the Devil, the scam artist of a thousand faces and farces, as well as real-time deceivers in all eras who obfuscate and deflect hearers away from truth by using the motivating power of words (for starters).
In the world of politics, truth-twisters are sometimes subtle, sometimes blatant, usually creative and often brilliant, utilizing various mechanisms such as:
- spin: “a contemporary term for a form of propaganda that relies on deceptive methods of persuasion. In politics, business, and elsewhere, spin is often characterized by exaggeration, euphemisms, inaccuracies, half-truths, and excessively emotional appeals.” (source)
- propaganda: “the deliberate and systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulate cognitions, and direct behavior to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist.” (Propaganda and Persuasion , Garth S. Jowett and Victoria O’Donnell, cited here)
- word salad: technically, word salad refers to a mental or neurological disorder, but in the world of deceivers (in this reference, narcissists and psychopaths) it refers to: “When they’re feeling threatened or bored, psychopaths will often use what’s called ‘word salad’ in an attempt to keep your mind occupied. Basically, it’s a conversation from hell. They aren’t actually saying anything at all. They’re just talking at you. Before you can even respond to one outrageous statement, they’re already on to the next. You’ll be left with your head spinning. Study the warning signs, and disengage before any damage can be done.” Mechanisms include circular conversations, condescending and patronizing tones, accusing you of doing what they are doing (deflection), and playing the eternal victim. (source)
- To the above, I would include employing a mechanism very popular just now: the one-word-thought-stopper. For example, instead of responding to reason or normal debate, any and all attempts at clarifying truth are rendered, for example, “racist,” “homophobic,”Islamophobic,” “privileged,” and so on. This takes time to develop, however, through mechanisms such as spin, propaganda, and word salad, but in a generation or so, it can work. It’s also a fast and dirty way to overpower the opposition by means of emotion, fear, mostly. Hiring a few street thugs like Antifa members to scare off the opposition can be a very effective kicker.
All of the above starts when things go a little shady, then, layer upon deceptive layer, it gets darker and darker until soon, the room goes black and in fear and sudden awareness, people experience an awakening but without knowing exactly how, when, and why it happened.
Meanwhile, outside, the Pipers don their multi-colored robes and rhetoric and tune up their pipes for the next phase of the takeover…
Because verbal magicians can be so clever, present so well, and possess admired social and educational pedigrees, it can be hard to both recognize and counter the deceptions that begin at the borderlands between truth and lie, black and white, good and evil.
But there is One Who has been around a lot longer than even the Liar of a Thousand “Mis-Speaks” (as the term “lies” has been cleverly re-cast), indeed, One who created the liar–and gave him his choice.
Of course, in an age featuring both subtle and blatant, verbal and physical, destruction of Judeo-Christian values and artifacts, He, as in God, might be a bit hard to find.
Worse, in an age of moral relativism He is frequently shunned altogether.
But before His Word is entirely forbidden (or burned–curiously, when totalitarians takeover the Bible is usually the first on the burn pile), we still have full access to the wisdom of He Who will ultimately destroy the (verbal, mental, emotional, psychological, physical–and national) destroyer.
Not to mention, and more importantly, we have the Holy Spirit, gifted believers at “spiritual rebirth”, aka conversion to Christianity, Who leads, guides, and directs those who seek His counsel, whether or not an actual Bible is available.
Consider just a few counter intelligence operations from this source, beginning with my favorite from Jesus’ own cache of advice:
All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. (Matthew 5:37, NIV)
Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.
2 Do not be quick with your mouth,
do not be hasty in your heart
to utter anything before God.
God is in heaven
and you are on earth,
so let your words be few.
3 A dream comes when there are many cares,
and many words mark the speech of a fool. (Ecclesiastes 5:1-3)
But, of course, there are times when nothing will work, no amount of reason, love, patience, even prayer (at least, it seems, for the time being), in which case:
If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. (Matthew 10:4)
And always, there is a believer’s “kicker” when it comes to overcoming our real adversary (defined below):
The Armor of God
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.*
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (Ephesians 6:10-18)
Carry on, and stay on the true–and truth–path.
NOTE: a complementary post, “part 2” expands on this theme.
Image of forest path from Wikimedia Commons