Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
Wars and Totalitarians and Wobbly Science, Oh My!
What with wars and rumors of wars, drought, fires, totalitarians running amok, wobbly science, the resurgence of racism against yet another skin color, black-bloc-ians devolving further into their destructive objectives by now assaulting little kids in parks…does it seem every day more and more like…
Are we now behind Alice’s looking glass, not in some Wonderland but in an upside-down Dystopialand where 1984, Animal Farm, and Brave New World aren’t fiction anymore?
In short, is it time to say the “R” word, as in Revolution, out loud?
In present tense?
Seems like it.
Because comes a point you have to. (Rule one in war: before you can understand the enemy you have to admit there is one).
I want my Netflix…
As the situation on myriad fronts gets worse and since truth media is cropping up all over the place (despite the controlled media frantically playing whack-a-mole whenever any opposition to what some call American Pravda rears its critical-thinking head) it seems to me a kind of collective grief has set in with some similarities to the classic five stages of same, cited below, with the emerging stage, in my view, being depression (stage 4).
Depression (discouragement, despondency, hopelessness) seems to be bleeding through the truth media more and more, these days, as well as in people’s conversations–even in the hive-news of the American Pravda. If you can imagine. Although when the A.P. marches in verbal lock step like that it’s usually not for the reasons other people do. Cue the skeptics.
But I would conjecture that the reason many are tempted to feel depressed just now is because we are mourning the loss of so many things and all at the same time, e.g., laws, real justice, the protection of policing authorities, politicians with the power to do something about it but don’t–the same institutions and people that used to stay the wolves at the door, the same wolves that now seem to be busting in every possible opening.
Good News Sneak Peak.
But although it does seem depressing, when, say, just perusing the headlines here,
- some people wearing white coats believe they can outsmart Mother Nature (but she doesn’t like to be fooled, remember?);
- certain totalitarian-minded among us believe that re-packaged “isms” (socialism, communism, authoritarianism, fascism) will work THIS time because, and to use many of their own words, “like, just, like, wait and see. So, like, be chill, Yo!”–never mind the multiple-millions imprisoned, tortured, and slaughtered in the last century alone in the wake of their ism-version (if the Young T’s ever learned about all that in Woke U., that is);
- and all of this seems to be “going live” on political, social, academic, and economic fronts all at once–
- Er, should I say, “going death”?
But as always, through the spiritual lens, there is another rail running parallel to all this mayhem on the tracks to what seems perdition.
Prophecy is the map.
God is the conductor.
So hang on, folks, and keep your arms, legs, emotions, mind and spirit inside the ride.
But, first, to the collective GRIEF we seem to be processing through as a nation–indeed, a WORLD–before heading into both practical and God’s strategies, wisdom, and comfort.
Because not only do we need the (Holy) esprit de corps at times like these, we also need the (mortal) esprit de corps.
So despite the pain and angst now and likely more ahead, be encouraged.
Because God is ever working His eternally redemptive plan that not only offers hope for “there,” but also for surviving and overoming “here” for those who choose to yield to His Way, Truth, and Life gifted us through the sacrifice of His one and only Son, Jesus Christ (see John 3:16).
See what you think.
Grief in the Time of Revolution.
Remember when it was prophesied that our nation would soon be “fundamentally transformed” and we thought it was for the better?
Kind of like when the people in the old Twilight Zone thriller who at first thought the seemingly benevolent creatures from outer space wanted to help us as implied by the title of the book they offered for free called “To Serve Man,” but found out, too late for some, it was a cook book?
Kind of like that.
But what some want to cook up these days “ain’t nothin’ good,” either, as more people by the day are beginning to realize…
Given the mood of the moment, nationally as well as globally, I often think, as noted above, we are in the throes of the five stages of grief: denial, bargaining, anger, depression, and acceptance, a model introduced by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross et al, concerning what we normally go through when we lose loved ones. Only in the context of revolution, the stages are not necessarily in that order. Anger, for example, is closer to the top.
In this context, of course, I am using the grief model in reference to the loss of
- revered institutions, specifically, our legal system that was set up to help insure the maintenance of our rights and protections enumerated in the Constitution but that has been slowly morphing into a new twisty, turny, changey definition based on current social and ideological fads versus long-standing, universal truths about justice and injustice. This New Legal system is also known as “Reflexive Law“. Some call it a “Living Constitution”. And I’m not talking about the amendment process. Check it out. It’s frightening. Side note: remember all those “consensus-building sessions” in the eighties convened by and for selected participants or open to all stakeholders in the topic at hand? Something was fishy in all that to many participants, selected or not. Well the fish (and the fix) of significance, as it were, is now in. And it’s a shark with big teeth. Consensus building might be thought of as the linguistic and psychological beginnings of this devolution of the law (and many other foundations of our civilization), but whereas it was sold as a kind of respect-for-all-sides-of-an-issue innovation in policy and law making, take careful note of the following part of the definition: if consensus can’t be reached in a peaceful, negotiatey way, it might be necessary to reach it “through coercion or force by legislation.” May take some time, however, say, about 40 years…
- I am referencing also the safety we used to feel in our nation on the streets but that is fast disappearing where policing authorities are ordered to stand down when criminals with a certain political backing are wreaking havoc in the streets, trashing lives and livelihoods with impunity in their wake, not to mention what goes on in certain enclaves of power hid away from the spotlight of the “full disclosure” they promised us in their campaigns. Until truth pries the doors open, that is.
- And finally, in reference to perhaps one of the most revered of all institutions, the medical establishment, where decisions made there literally impact life and death. Yours, mine–and theirs. It seems the hive (political) mind has piled up there, too, not to mention Big Pharma receipts. Read between the line (items) as you will.
For a long, preparatory period, propaganda propped up the necessary building blocks of all this because words are perhaps the most potent of all persuasive psychological operations, the good the bad and the ugly, for myriad reasons.
However, even the most skilled word-smithers (twisters, turners, changers) of all, can run (obfuscate, co-opt, deceive) but they can’t hide.
Especially when pursued by truth.
That said, when the curtain is pulled back by truth seekers and we see the obfuscators, co-opters, and deceivers within, it can jerk emotions around.
Of course, the fool(er)s) LOVE them some jerked emotions (the better to manipulate us by) because it buys them more time to ram through their objectives while they can, Schnell! Schnell! Schnell!
Jerks Gonna Jerk
We hear a lot about the emotional fallout of, say, cognitive disonance, gaslighting, and brain-washing, these days, but although those are potent and painful psychological tricks of the coercion trade, on the other end, the “tricked” end, I think it’s also a good time to consider the emotional fallout of grief, a kind of overarching source of pain, of which the psyops are a part.
And it is important both in the natural world and the spiritual domain to study the ways and means of processing through the grief with what expertise and wisdom we can glean, and to keep the reminders on hand.
For the only Rx in the lab of totalitarians is a witch’s brew of physical, mental, psychological, societal, governmental, political and educational poison. A kind of new and “improved” formulation, you might say, courtesy of some still-in-extant Zyklon B. & Co. outfit, you might also say.
Because when you corrupt and cancel the true legal and governmental standards set forth in our Constitution (aka the Supreme Law of the Land)–and institutions founded on it–with impunity, so that totalitarians can trash and redefine it at will, you’ve lost not only law and common sense but also civilization…
That is to say, we’ve lost it.
However, rest assured, they’re gettin’ what they want: money, power, and control.
Stages of Grief in the Context of Revolution.
STAGE 1: DENIAL
In this context, grief sets in when to varying degrees we are shocked by the fictional dystopias treated in the literature noted above that WE seem to be living in now.
Trouble is, when the best of civilization goes “top down, bottom up, inside out” as the revolutionaries so hope it will, it’s Big Trouble not only intellectually and legally but also emotionally, because the rest of us, still operating under the classic definition of law and order, right and wrong, not to mention common sense, become, you might put it, frozen between the lines,
Are the fearsome Horsemen of the Apocalypse saddling up already?
I mean Law and Order in all institutions are BIG in workable civilizations.
Otherwise, might as well join the anarchists and have some hot fun in the summertime leaving flames, trash, and the destruction of countless lives and livelihoods in our wake. (The flash ‘n’ trashers seem to be paid well, at least.)
At first, it’s too hard to believe we are living in a new lawless land, of course.
Goes sort of like this here in the U.S.:
“Well, we’ve progressed for over 240 years to an ever more just and fair nation, right? Surely this will stop soon.”
SOMEBODY in charge will stop it.
But in more and more “leadership” quarters it seems like this:
City leaders? Crickets.
School Board leaders? Crickets.
State leaders? Crickets.
POTUS? ____ (fill in The Blank)
But we can always VOTE new ones in, right?! Ah…
Indeed, looks like many elected representative are actually in cahoots with the lawless ones, some, even encouraging them!
So we go through the usual list of possible saviors only to find many whose sheep skins (more like snake skins) are sloughing off to reveal the wolves–or the inept and cowardly–inside.
And time passes–precious time for “them” to exacerbate the lawlessness and the new legal underpinnings that support it, twist upon twist, turn upon turn, change upon change…
But meanwhile, more and more citizens wake up.
Of course, others remain in denial, in large part due to the A.P. which has also been changing and loops its slogans 24/7 in support of the recipes in their genre of cook book. You might say.
The denial stage normally lasts as long as the power of it, tinged with feelings such as horror, frustration, and hopelessness, persists, and if people don’t reach out for perspectives and support.
And it’s especially difficult if help is hard to find, particularly when everyone is isolated and muzzled, one way or another, literally and figuratively.
It is also especially hard on people in a time of revolution when bona fide truth is suppressed, hidden, censored, or “disappeared”.
But when people persevere in recovery, as most will eventually do, from this mental and emotional freeze, disappointment, and denial, anger (stage 2 of this particular grieving process) often follows.
STAGE 2: ANGER
The anger stage of grief is a dangerous stage, however, because it’s not anger over something that couldn’t be helped (such as the death of a loved one); in this case, it’s anger over something that COULD be helped.
But, as previously noted, there seem to be few, if any, with authority and courage enough to do so.
It can be a dangerous stage because when the masses realize all that is going on, going down, and going to hell, the human tendency is to take matters into our own hands.
Especially in America, where, after all, we are still under the classic assumption it is “of, by, and for” the people. Right?
Most hands are helpful, taking their copies of the Constitution out, blowing the dust off, and re-reading how this is done non-violently and legally in a Representative Republic.
But, unfortunately, some hands pick up the weapons of the oppressors, fighting fire with fire which, of course, only feeds our real enemy (comes from his own fiery place, smells of sulfur) and his minions, whose well-honed advantage over millenia (though he tends to lose a lot) is violence and lawlessness.
Indeed. He. Thrives. On. It.
Kind of like how abusive people seem to love it when they gain control by goading their targets with relentless gaslighting, aka bully them, and their targets succumb (who wouldn’t?).
(A big tell on the bullies, by the way, is their smirky smiles. Have you noticed that?)
Only with you-know-devilish-who, it gets exponentially worse. I mean, we’re talking about the Bully of bullies, here.
But this doesn’t mean that when necessary, we don’t pick up weapons of self defense.
There is a good illustration of this in the biblical account of Nehemiah’s project to re-build the wall around the ancient city of Jerusalem.
Because their enemies were many and persevering, Nehemiah commanded the workers to keep a sword strapped to their side while they worked their trowels setting brick and mortar.
Of course, there was much else of a spiritual nature being done back then that led to ultimate victory and a fine new wall, as Nehemiah also relied upon the wisdom of God and his seasoned experience with same. Here are some specs on that, many useful for today, too.
The unique problem for today’s true justice seekers, however, is when they react in a certain kind of anger (read not necessarily righteous) and wield its weapons, here is when the old-fashioned policing and the classic American way of righting wrongs WILL stand up from their cowed positions and even if charges are trumped up, justice (the new brand) commences.
And we are well advised to remember that whether or not it’s classic justice meted it all depends upon who, and under what ideolgical influence and control, sits behind the courtroom dais.
So this is the part where it can get tricky and those who are truly awakened (as opposed to “woke”) finally discern exactly what’s going on.
Some are still, of course, like the frustrated dark hero of the movie Network. yell out the window of their “room”, their own version of “I’M MAD AS HELL AND I”M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!”
Because there is a much better way that saves not only air time, so to speak, but also mind, soul, and energy because we need all that mental, spiritual, and physical power to work–and resist–with both God and man smarts.
But what about righteous anger?!
I like to “walk behind Jesus,” so to speak, through the Gospel accounts as He ministered to, and interacted with, people during his time here on earth, especially His enemies.
Sometimes He met them wit for wit, always besting their (religious) rhetorical rigamarole.
Other times, Jesus responded by what we would say was anger (turning over the money lenders’ tables in the Temple and calling hypocrites names such as “white-washed tombs,” and “snakes”) and it was anger–but “righteous” (differences detailed below).
Still other times He was silent. For example, when He knew it was not “His time yet,” as in when the crowds, angered by His annoying references usually to hypocrisy, he “escaped from their midst.”
But also, poignantly, and at His earthly mission’s closing, when, as prophesied, He understood it was time, and He submitted as the perfect, spotless Lamb of God, Lamb Who WAS God (the Son), to the sacrifice for which He was destined to make and to take in our place as punishment for OUR sin.
There on Calvary.
Can you imagine?
Or, while He was yet ministering His way around the Holy Land Jesus responded to enemies as well as others by simply, having spoken His piece, walking away to move on to the next “assignment”.
I think here of the Rich You Young Ruler and, in response to what else the young man should do besides everything right he was already doing, Jesus, “looking at him” and “showing love to him,” as Gospel writer Mark put it, replied, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
Mark continues: “But [the young man] was deeply dismayed by these words, and he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property” (10:17-27).
I think–don’t you?–Jesus also grieved…
Now, were that me, I think I would have run right after that guy and pleaded and begged him to reconsider because, were I Jesus, I would have known full well what awaited him in eternity! I may have even wielded a copy of the Tanakh several times upon his head and shoulders…
So I’m still studying the difference between the human, knock-down-drag-out anger that SEEMS righteous, particularly in the top down, bottom up, inside out world of mayhem we happen to live in now, and Jesus’ anger when facing the mean, some murderous, people of His day–as well as His dismay over all who refuse His love and sacrifice.
However, my studies so far have brought me to a few simple facts that might help us now, although certain enemies like to morph themselves when once you figure them out:
- the morphing never ends even as adversaries (totalitarians, in this case) are never satisfied and people are always, at length, found out, thus,
- discernment is the first order of the day synched with
- readiness–day in and day out.
- Next come accessing all the military and spiritual wisdom and expertise available.
Because the long and short and 24/7 of it is that we are always at war.
On the ground, we need to stay wise and ready because even in so-called “times of peace on earth,” you know who and whom are still plotting and planning, twisting, turning, and changeing because they ever lust for power, control, and money, whether on a micro (one-on-one) or macro (world-wide) level. They are merely biding their time. Reminds me of a few verses like this:
Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied. (Proverbs 27:20)
But perhaps the most importent lesson I’ve learned to date about righteous anger is that it doesn’t spend itself on itself.
Righteous anger is patient and discerning before entering any fray, mental, emotional, spiritual, verbal, and/or kinetic, in whatever way seems wise, with far greater odds of success, even as the world measures it. As put in Proverbs 16:32,
Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.
Righteous anger also understands on the mere mortal level (as opposed to the perfection that is Jesus, as both Man and God) that, though we all succumb to the knock-down-drag-out kind at times, if only internally, here is wisdom for that:
In your anger do not sin” : Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. (Ephesians 4:26-27)
Help and support from friends and cohorts in the struggle really helps at times like this–isolated, muzzled, or not–because there are ALWAYS ways to work around what man mandates.
I mean, the Devil, et al, might have a lot of potent “ordnance” at his disposal, but God’s ordnance is infinite.
And after all, Who made whom?
STAGE 3: BARGAINING
The thing is, though, you cannot bargain with totalitarians, let alone any of the “ism” or black-bloc-ian people, just like you can’t bargain with unrepentent abusers.
When people want it all, they want it all. Period. Reminds me once again of Proverbs 27:20, put a bit differenly here:
Just as Death and Destruction are never satisfied, so human desire is never satisfied.
And as anger ramps up as part of the general mayhem and destruction, temper (tantrums) flare.
Ever try to bargain with a two year-old throwing a fit? ESPECIALLY one who has a track record of getting away with it?
Kind of like that, only in this context, such like are all done up in slick suits, polished faces, and smooth tongues, wielding not hard plastic toys with which to inflict damage on Mom, Dad, or sibling, but the full weight of their–wait for it–custom new flexible laws, fresh off the copiers, to wield, in this case, what is also known as “lawfare” all word-smithed up and distributed on official stationery.
At least for now (review definition of “consensus,” above).
Well, and there’s the black-bloc-ians-for hire to rustle up some fear-and-demoralizing street action…
At the point anger wanes (for most but, of course, some will remain stuck in anger and thus, vulnerable), an increasing number of the awakened will proceed, if still suffering grief, to the depression/hopelessness stage.
This is where I think many of us are today.
STAGE 4: DEPRESSION
This can be another dangerous stage if unattended, because in this case, the battle is waged within.
It includes the discouragement I have been hearing, lately, as evil spreads with impunity in all quarters by the day, by the hour, even, and hope goes slack in many.
But worst of all, depression breeds giving up or giving in to the demands of the power-mongers (and, doncha know, they were kind of hoping for that all along).
But hold on.
We’re coming to the good stuff.
Just one more stage to go.
STAGE 5: ACCEPTANCE
NOTE: “acceptance” in this context, however, does not mean accepting real truth, so to speak. It means accepting–but not in agreement with–the “truth” the enemy is selling and pushing which is the twisty, turny, changey kind of anti-truth powered by carefully crafted psy ops, lawfare, and a stand down of those in positions of power and authority–on our tax dime–in whom we normally place our hope, who could do something about it and save citizens–and our crumbling nation–the pain and grief.
But from them, as previously noted, it’s crickets, for the most part.
Oh, there’s still lots of huff and puff. But anymore, I think just to impress us with their verbal prowess and keep us contributing to their fat coffers. Did I write that out loud? I hope so.
In other words, we realize there can be no more denying, bargaining, attempting to negotiate with the totalitarian mind set, or even yelling and screaming and pummeling them about the head and shoulders.
Figuratively speaking, of course..
It’s time to believe what we are seeing and experiencing, not what they are telling us we are seeing and experiencing, and move on to the next stage of recovery–as soon as possible.
As writer Maya Angelou put it,
When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.
Or as soon as we can, anyway.
As anyone recovering from an abusive sitution can tell you, however, this is a lot easier said than done.
This is why I wanted to share this information and encouragement with you today that might be put, simply:
Evil is real. Totalitarians “want it all”. They won’t stop until they get it, no matter how many eggs they may need to crack to make the kind of omelet featured in their little cook book.
On the practical front, recovery from this stage is greatly facilitated by
- Limiting one’s attention to the “news” to only that which keeps one abreast of the absoutely necessary facts and figures. Oh, okay, maybe some sports events and business-insider projections, and the occasional Food Network competition, or DIY program–whatever is your flavor of “entertainment relief”. In other words, avoid the commentators, aka talking heads, who are adept at jerking one’s emotions this way and that until anger rises–which gives the perpetrators more time.
- Tend carefully and consistently to one’s health: rest, good food, physical exercise, fresh air and sunshine, and appropriate vitamins and supplements.
- Maintain healthy social distances, not meaning six feet as mandated here and there but as in the closeness and touch humans require for general good health. When it is missing, especially in infants but applicable to all ages, it can lead to a condition called “failure to thrive” that, although there may be no physical disease or ailment presented, can do as much harm to one’s overal health as any other condition.
- Know your enemy. Much is written these days about efficacious military strategies useful not only kinetically but also mentally and psychologically to overcome one’s enemies. Of particular note, and often cited in such a time as this, are those detailed in Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.
And Now to the Last and Most Important Part of this Post Because It’s a Kind of “Two-for One” Battle Plan Deal.
Just as Nehemiah and many other successful combatants of the biblical narratives deployed not only physical strategies of war but also spiritual guidance by following the commands of He Who has been around from the beginning of time, in fact, He Who created time, we can be similarly successful today, too.
Maybe not as temporal man might define it, but as Eternal God promises it.
NOTE: Speaking of God’s wisdom and practical strategies, for a fast and highly effective short-cut to figuring out what is good and what is evil in this topsy-turvy world or for any other reason, see* below. For figuring that out is half the battle.
Now for the best news.
The Best News
Although coming up against pure, or even bumbling, evil is never easy, by accessing the wisdom, noted above, from God’s Word, an anthology of spiritual teachings, literature, history, prophecy, and warfare strategies, believers will realize not only success but also victory, even if it does fall under the category “in the fullness of time,” that is, “at length”.
But believers armed with the following truth know this well, thus the grieving process may not last as long:
The thief (aka Devil, Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; (John 10:10)
In other words, the end game of evil, like raw totalitarianism, is more of the same. No if’s, and’s, or but’s.
Accepting this truth right up front helps one to process through the grief of loss much more quickly.
Along with keeing in mind that we must always be “on guard,” so to speak, working not only what “trowels” constitute the tools of our day-to-day life’s work and ministries but also the “weapons of our warfare,” as defined here:
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. (2 Corinthians 10:4) (for details, see here.)
I am also frequently reminded, these days, where, due to the effectiveness of psyops rendering most people afraid, demoralized, and/or angry, and although we may do our best to solve the problems, the psyop-ers’ will only double down (the better to discourage and control…). Jesus knew, back then, that some disciples He sent out to preach the Gospel would face this kind of resistance, too. He advised them thus:
If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. (Matthew 10:14)
In other words, sometimes you just have to cut your losses and split. It won’t do any good to stay.
Spiritually, I believe we are at that place, as well.
Because, well, how many times have you, too, reader, tried to offer information, facts, figures, illustrations, reasonable responses to someone who thinks all this kind of thinking (both spiritual and logical) is just another “right wing conspiracy theory”.
(Handy little bumper sticker, that.)
Sometimes, you just have to let your attempts go, keep on loving the person and maintaining other communication for when they, hopefully, discern who and what our real enemy is, too, and perhaps who might even, then, come back around to you for some answers to their own emerging questions and concerns–and perhaps also their grief–trusting knowing that you on your end will likely not fall into the trap of, well, “That’s just a left wing conspiracy theory!” or,
“LISTEN, FOOL, I TRIED TO TELL YOU!”
Of course NEVER, seriously, that…
For just one reason to abstain from hollering at people who haven’t yet awakened, well, how long did it take you?
But still, this is also hard, because though you have tried, as best you can, to stay the spiritual course that begins, middles, and ends with the love of God, the fact is, you and I and everyone else are only human.
NOTE: this is the part where apologies and forgiveness comes in to save the day and the relationship and as a bonus, to serve as witnesses of the power of God’s kind of love and conflict resolution that is, in part, to the GREAT consternation of the Devil, what has made him lose, time after time down through the centuries when he has tried, once again, to fool all of the people all of the time…
Because everyone will know the truth at some point, unless they choose not to, and we need to remain ready to stay united against that common enemy (the real existential one) as best we can and to help each other out of the grief that comes with great loss in a time of revolution.
And, most importantly during our brief span of time on the continuum, no matter the battle or the war, to remind each other of the gain in knowing Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord Who has already secured our eternal peace, where, as noted in the closing pages of that Book ushered in by such as those four, formidable horsemen, that reveals the true “happily ever after” we all long for;
As put in chapter Revelation 21:4,
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
I hope you are encouraged.
BONUS: list of previous posts categorized under “Survival Tools,” both practical and spiritual, drawn from literature, testimonies of gulag and concentration camp survivors, military manuals, and biblical narratives
P.S. If you are curious about those “four horses and their fearsome riders” of the Apocalypse, here is a good source of information.
*Quick reference for how to tell real good from real evil in this topsy-turvy world:
EVIL lusts after beauty, bucks, brawn, and power, people be damned.
GOOD produces “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control,” aka the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians chapter 5:19-21), people be redeemed and set free.
Or, as Jesus put it, “just as you can identify a tree by its fruit [good or bad], so you can identify people by their actions.”