Reality check

John Hanke, the CEO of gaming company Niantic, recently tweeted that the idea of the “metaverse” is a “dystopian nightmare.” Niantic, the company behind Pokemon GO is mapping the world, making a database to help future developers of augmented reality (AR) technology. Hanke has an unease about the project, knowing that “bad actors” could abuse such information, but he is still convinced that the metaverse will be a unifying technology for humanity.

We have heard this sort of thing before— Mark Zuckerberg was convinced that Facebook would help bring people together but it’s debatable whether that is the case. Some AR enthusiasts are sounding the alarm— people dependent on layers of technology live “mediated lives.” This kind of mediation soon makes opting out of a virtual world impossible. Hanke is a fan of Augmented Reality, seeing it as an enhancement to real life. However, he sees a distinction between that and Virtual Reality, which he believes pulls people away from others and the physical world. 

Seoul, Korea has announced it is aiming to “enter the metaverse” in the next couple of years, enabling citizens to meet with government officials virtually using VR headsets. Cultural events would also take place “virtually,” and could be joined by anyone on the globe. Disney’s CEO thinks it is “the future” to have our kids blending embodied life with a digital existence. Meanwhile, Microsoft is partnering with Facebook to integrate their online workspaces, making one writer’s summation sound very accurate: the metaverse is Big Tech, only bigger.

Author James Poulsen sees a ray of hope. He is convinced the “cyborg vivarium we’re being herded into” is not inescapable. He writes that we are under the sway of digital technology, but not under its control . We are living beings in a real creation, which puts parameters on our existence that a computer-code reality can never replace. There is a certain irony that Facebook wants to build physical stores to demonstrate its Oculus headsets. So, to be clear, a digital company is building physical stores to display physical items to engage with a digital world. Curiouser…

While digital technology enthusiasts see in it tools for rebuilding the world (literally and figuratively) into a kind of Utopia, it will only be a veneer over the real thing. Manmade reality can never bury the homesickness that fallen mankind tries to suppress. The misplaced hope that a virtual world could bring peace and rest to mankind is answered by The Preacher of Ecclesiastes: while men’s hearts are full of madness, God had placed eternity in their hearts. Mad Christians can boldly proclaim – we are immortal now. Though our outward man is perishing, as St Paul said, our inward man is being renewed until that great Day, when all things are made new. That is a reality worth waiting for!

Here is Iceland’s awesome take on the metaverse: visiting their country gives you an “immersive experience” without silly headsets.

The verdict

judgement scale and gavel in judge office

Kyle Rittenhouse has been acquitted of all charges after a Kenosha jury deliberated for almost four days. The killing of two men and wounding of a third during riots in Wisconsin last year was ruled an act of self-defense. There were celebrations outside the courthouse, with motorists honking their approval of the verdict. However, violence broke out in Portland and other cities with a lot of people taking to Twitter to tweet their outrage. Many doubled down on the unsubstantiated claim that Rittenhouse is a racist, and proposing the only way to fix things is to burn everything down.

Some of these reactions would be understandable if the trial had not been broadcast and the evidence laid bare for anyone who cared to watch. From the beginning, mainstream media “downplayed the mayhem and ramped up the hysteria” surrounding the violence in Kenosha. Reports about Rittenhouse were wrong that he was the aggressor. They were wrong about him illegally owning a gun. They have been wrong about many things.

While humans are always subject to their presuppositions, Mad Christians will know, that news reporting needs to be carefully digested. In many cases, there is no appetite part to report objectively or to get to the truth. It is clear that some of the biggest media corporations wish to promote some specific political agendas, while making it hard for the truth to be discovered in other cases.

In the end, those who will not consider that the facts might go against what they believe will continue to grasp at straws. The coordinated effort by social media, politicians, and journalists to push their radical worldview as acceptable and normal will not fly while we consumers of media are using discernment. They may never be held accountable so long as this fallen world remains, but we do not have to conform to the mindset promoted by the white noise. If anyone feels he lacks wisdom, as James wrote, let him ask God for it, knowing our Father loves to give good gifts to his children.

Endurance is leverage

sportive female mountaineer ascending on stony cliff on sunny day

Greatness is the ability to sense moments of agency. 

They will seem small at first. But the capacity to gain capacity compounds with interest. Discipline over time equals wisdom. 

Influence isn’t the moment you’ve been waiting for so much as integrity and loyalty coming home to roost. 

In the winter, build for spring.

Till angel cry and trumpet sound,
The Mad Christian

Words are Strategic Territory

The truth is he was so glad at being free from his long enchantment that all the dangers seemed a game in comparison.” – CS Lewis, The Silver Chair

Mindset is everything. Words are the framework of your mindset. The battle of today’s warfare is for the right to control your words, and by controlling your words, control your mind.

Stories from far away compound to hijack your capacity to put things together for yourself. Dreams and goals are more often than not somebody else’s agenda sold to you as the price of your freedom. The world doesn’t need new agendas. We need better prayers.

Arrogance is the sin of self-ignorance. But it is not wrong to take back what is rightfully yours. The zeal to set things back in their proper order, even at the cost of sacrifice, is the definition of valor.

If you must die fighting, then commend yourself to the lion.” -ibid.

Till angel cry and trumpet sound,
The Mad Christian

The chattering class

Federalist reporter and a Newsweek journalist sat down for a conversation and the result is an insightful critique of the news media. Emily Jashinsky and Batya Ungar-Sargon discussed the changing patterns of news reporting and consumption, concluding that today’s highly-educated journalists are out of touch with “middle America.” Ungar-Sargon argues that political polarization is really an elite phenomenon, as working class communities generally don’t “sort” into Red or Blue.

She suggests the presence of television sets in US homes from the 1960s, meant people were less interested in getting news from newspapers. To keep their readership, newspapers moved away from straight reportage to commentary, telling readers what the news meant. The digital age has intensified this trend with publications drawing avid readers according to social status and education. While media bias may appear political,  Ungar-Sargon says that if you break it down, the divide is more about class.

Trials and errors

The trial of Kyle Rittenhouse was held this week, with his lawyers bringing evidence that the teenager was acting in self-defense when he killed two men and shot another. A key witness for the prosecution admitted, under oath, that he had pulled his gun first, before being shot in the arm by Rittenhouse. The witness, Gaige Grosskreutz, later contradicted his testimony during an interview with CNN, and that version of the story Mainstream Media was happy to amplify.

Rittenhouse took the stand in his own defense, but broke down before he could complete his testimony. The Babylon Bee‘s sarcasm was apt— Rittenhouse had been tried and found guilty by a “bunch of lunatics with blue checks.” LeBron James tweeted that the teen was faking and Merriam-Webster felt it needed to explain what “crocodile tears” are. Yet, despite the efforts of news outlets and social media to obscure or block reports about the trial, interest in it has highlighted the way a hastily constructed narrative is often a skewed one. With the race riots of last summer clearly in view, many assumed the victims were black. It was also assumed that Rittenhouse was the aggressor, but evidence is mounting that that is not the case.

The easy explanation given by large media outlets through last year, is a familiar one— Rittenhouse is a trigger-happy white male who went to a protest to shoot people, because he is a racist vigilante. Journalist Elijah Schaffer was in Kenosha during the events and shares a very different perspective. He watched the riots go unchecked by police and authorities for two days before the citizens of the city took it upon themselves to protect businesses and buildings. He saw residents prevent rioters from setting fire to a gas station, provoking them to chase Rittenhouse.

The court of public opinion will not rest any time soon, but the truth under the presuppositions of media reports is evident if you are willing to dig for it. For many, this trial is about guns and race and rioting. But at its heart is the life and reputation of a young man, who had a desire to do something to defend what he cares about. Whether the tragic shootings could have been avoided, whether Rittenhouse was ill-advised or brave, this case will cause sober-minded folks to reflect on what is worth defending in this decaying age. Pray for wisdom for the judge and jury as they hear more evidence and decide the case. Pray for peace in our nation. 

Religion is Adherence

focused latin american boxer training in club
“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” -Bonhoeffer 

The critical wickedness of all men is not a theory. It is a simple reality. It is history. 

You don’t need a plan. You need discipline. 

Prayer is better than wisdom. 

Sometimes, you have to get hurt, and just not care.

Till angel cry and trumpet sound,
The Mad Christian

Time is a false god

gold and white analog watch
There are many stories told about daylight saving and faded curtains, but the origin story is a strange one. An older report from the BBC that resurfaced last week says that before alarm clocks were common in Britain, workers would pay “knocker uppers” to wake them up each morning by tapping on their windows. It’s not clear whether anyone actually likes changing the clocks around, but using our time well is a subject close to most Mad Christians’ hearts.

Those who follow Stop the White Noise, will know that setting up your day around prayers and Scripture reading is always recommended by the Rev Fisk. We found a great set of graphics from about time spent Bible reading in America (below).

When do they pass out the Kool-Aid?

Many rich and powerful folks met in Glasgow last week, to discuss what was to be done about climate change and to pledge this and that. Despite the fact that clear-headed people keep showing how climate change will not destroy humanity, promises to move to Net Zero emissions were made by the attending national representatives. China and India were conspicuous in their absence, and an article at Spiked wondered whether climate measures might just be a ruse to make serfs of the world’s population.

Britain’s Prince Charles called for a “military-style campaign” to combat climate change, which sorta sounds like serfdom. But teen activist Greta Thonberg, was disappointed with all the talk and slammed the whole convention as a “failure”. The average Joe was probably left shaking his head too. Gajillionaire, Jeff Bezos, pledged a bunch of money to plant trees, saying he got a whole new perspective while he was in space. In his rocket. Prince Charles recently revealed that his Aston Martin runs on wine and cheese (yes, really), but the private jets and endless lines of cars ferrying the high and mighty to the climate summit probably run on normal fuel.

There is no doubt that climate alarmism is a man-made religion, (this video is something else) adhered to by those who shun the Creator and worship the creation, or more likely, their bellies. Mad Christians need not fear the future, but continue to live quiet lives, steward the natural world in a way that glorifies God, receiving his good gifts with thanksgiving.

Now here’s an interesting theory: a post from Old Timer says that the Inuit people living in the Arctic are pretty sure that changes in climate are nothing to do with gas. They say the earth has tilted slightlyand the sun is in a different place. It sounds so crazy to modern ears, it might just be true.

Will not comply

letters on person s hands

Vaccine mandates are still creating havoc, but there have been more signs of non-compliance and people putting up a fight. The governors of Alaska and Florida have said they’ll happily recruit police officers who have been fired over mandates. Workers in New York City have staged protests. The NY Fire Department has shuttered 26 firehouses and sanitation services are unable to keep up with garbage collection due to lack of staff. American Airlines has blamed “inclement weather” and staff shortages for 1400 flight cancellations over the weekend… Didn’t Southwest already try that one?

Rapper Ice Cube reportedly turned down $9m in pay, after declining to be vaccinated to appear in a comedy for Sony. Talk show host, Dan Bongino has shut down his radio program, after his employer mandated that his staff be inoculated. Us the Chillizen ek-spoz’d pointed out that northwards, in Canada, people are organizing and resisting mandates. The Royal Canadian Mounties gained 50,000 signatures in under a week from police, health care workers, military, and first responders when they released an open letter challenging mandatory vaxxing. Red State is reporting that one employee’s brave stance has inspired others to speak up at the technology company Siemens. 

And perhaps the strangest of all, members of Black Lives Matter (NY chapter) have protested mandates, in support of Brooklyn Nets player Kyrie Irving, who will not be allowed to play unless he is vaccinated. Suffice it to say, for those of us who think it is wrong for anyone to be coerced to take these vaccines, you are definitely not alone. Pray for each other – this is a tough time for many.