Thursday, April 26, 2012

Conspiracy Theories

“Do not say, ‘A conspiracy,’
Concerning all that this people call a conspiracy,
Nor be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled."

(Isaiah 8: 12 NKJV)

When I was with my daughter and son-in-law last week, Terry (my son-in-law) showed me a video of Dr. Judy Wood's analysis of what happened to the Trade Tower buildings on 9/11.  I can't find the exact video we watched, but here is one of many on youtube that feature her: .

I must admit, of all of the conspiracy theories I have heard, hers is the most compelling.  

However, the question I asked Terry, and the question that I think we must always be asking ourselves is, "What difference does it make in your life and in your relationship with God?"  

Pick just about any conspiracy theory and for a moment assume it is true.  Then ask yourself, "What difference does it make?"  You still get up in the morning and say your prayers. We still "commend ourselves, each other, and our whole lives to Christ our God," to quote the Divine Liturgy of the Church.  We still love our neighbor, care for the poor and weak, and entrust ourselves to God who "gives us this day our daily bread."  What difference does it really make?

Isaiah, quoted above, goes on to say that we need to sanctify the Lord and fear Him; then He will be our sanctuary and a "stone of stumbling" and "rock of offence" to those who resist Him (Israel and Jerusalem in Isaiah's case). 

The same God whom we trust day to day is the God who will help us even if Israel has a secret super weapon or the U.S. government has secret, silent, invisible helicopters or even if space invaders colonize the earth--although I think disasters listed in the prayer by St. Basil in the fourth century are still much more likely: "Deliver this community and city, O Lord, and every city and town, from famine, plague, earthquake, flood, fire, sword, foreign invasion, and civil war."  That pretty well sums up all the usual suspects.  And if God will deliver us from these, probably super weapons and space aliens are included in the package.
Seriously, the emotional and mental investment one can make in this or that conspiracy theory is just not worth it. And in the end, you find yourself fearing something other than God.  "Him alone you shall fear," the scripture frequently reminds us.
My favourite defence when I am tempted to get caught up in an intriguing conspiracy theory is to recite Psalm 130 (131): "O Lord, my heart is not exalted, neither are my eyes raised up; neither am I carried along in great things, nor in things too marvellous for me..." (SAAS, Orthodox Study Bible).  But I remember it most often in the old King James, the version I was reading when I first encountered this wise and humble prayer of David: "Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me.  Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child.  Let Israel hope in the Lord from henceforth and for ever."


Anonymous said...

Thanks Father Michael. This is also the question that my heart asks when people come up with their latest conspiracy to fear. I'm thankful you brought the verse into it as well, though... Fear the Lord alone, and conspiracy theories and conspiracies themselves will come and go.

Ostensive Lyme said...

Thank you Fr Michael I appreciate this reflection.

It reminds me of St Silouan's reason for not reading the news (learning about the development of the war, etc.): "I know all about the war, for it rages in my own heart."

As a small 'footnote' to this post I would say that there is perhaps *some* place for learning about the truth of things in this world- avoiding naive disconnect. Which is the same reason we in fact do read the papers (and then read the better internet news reports that balance media bias). Otherwise I suppose I dont know why I would vote in an election?
The same rationale you provide here, and St Silouan's reasoning, is the very reason I have stopped reading the news entirely and have stopped voting! However I lack St Silouan's holiness, and wonder where this leaves me?
I'd be happy to hear some thoughts on discerning this 'middle ground'??