Wake Up and Smell the Coffee!

“They had not the courage, or else they were destitute of the power, to avoid, by means of their internal resources, that extermination which appeared to them, under the circumstances, to be inevitable.  They were thrown into a most anxious state of despondency and alarm.” 

John Penford Thomas, My Thought Book  (1825)

I daresay the events of this past year have thrown many of you into “a most anxious state of despondency and alarm.”  I know they have had that effect on me.  The lines in my epigraph describe the mental state of the Britons around the year A.D. 400, when the Roman Legions had withdrawn from the province of Britannia and the wild Caledonians were threatening “mischiefs of murder, pillage, and devastation.”  That day differs from ours insofar as the Roman Empire was failing and the Global Empire is triumphant, but the mental state induced is in either case the same: despondency and alarm: a conviction that a calamity has occurred and nothing can be done to reverse it.

You will have to look elsewhere if you want what young people nowadays call “copes.” I am not thrilling with the frisson of speculative horror.  I am not shouting defiance in the aftermath of a temporary reversal.  I am, like Bonald and Kristor, preparing to submit to conquerors who appear to hold all the cards and have power to dictate terms.

To that end, I have been reflecting on the lesson Jesus taught the lackies of the Pharisees with that Roman coin.  This was, you recall, in answer to their loaded question about the rendition to Rome of what is properly translated as “tribute.” When I was a lad in Sunday school, I remember this being twisted into the lesson that the Government had a right to levy taxes; but I now understand it as a lesson about how Christians should deal with conquest and defeat.

Jesus was telling the Jews that they were, and for the foreseeable future would remain, a conquered and defeated people.  The Herodians were a sham aristocracy, the Sanhedrim was a bogus priesthood, and the insurrectionary plots of the Zealots were suicidal copes for people who refused to wake up and smell the Roman coffee.

I mean no disrespect to my Sunday school teachers, but the payment of “tribute” is a sign of submission, just like bowing, or kneeling, or licking boots, or kissing bums.  The word tribute comes from the word tribe, and “tribute” is what a subjugated tribe pays to the dominant Tribe as an acknowledgement of its submission.  It has nothing whatever to do with paying taxes or duties of citizenship.

When Jesus said “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s,” he meant wake up and smell the Roman coffee.  The only political choice remaining for the Jews was whether to make a sign of submission by paying the tribute, or to be forcefully reminded of the fact that they were subjugated by the legions of the dominant Tribe.  Of course they chose to be forcefully reminded and their nation and temple were destroyed.

The lesson of the coin was that spiritual freedom is possible even in a state of political subjugation.  Two thousand years ago, in the imperial province of Judea, the first step towards that freedom was to wake up and smell the Roman coffee.  It was to fully face the fact of political subjugation and discard the “copes” of a sham aristocracy, a bogus priesthood, and mad fantasies of political rebellion.  Today, in whatever imperial province we find ourselves, the first step towards spiritual freedom is to wake up and smell the Global coffee.  It is to fully face the fact of political subjugation and discard the “copes” of sham parties, bogus priesthoods, and mad fantasies of political rebellion.

This is not, however, the final step.

31 thoughts on “Wake Up and Smell the Coffee!

  1. Very interesting post – and this seems like a convincing analysis of the Caesar incident.
    I thought of the Copts who submitted, and survived for many hundreds of years; paying tribute but living with sustained devoutness, freedom of worship and constituting c10% of the Egyptian population.
    But I understand that have been (probably – nobody is ‘noticing’) substantially wiped out in the past couple of decades following Western intervention in Egypt (the ‘Arab Spring’).
    It seems that the global tyranny will give nothing in return for tribute – in 2020 the churches, of all kinds, are closed, inactive or crippled. – and seem likely to remain so, since they are neither resisting, nor objecting, nor insisting upon any minimal practice..
    My point is that – except in the short term, of the next few days, maybe weeks, there is no predictably ‘expedient’ response to the tyranny that rules us post-2020 – not even escape or exile is now an option, even theoretically; probably because there never before has been a global government that pursued Satanic objectives.
    If so, this does make things easier for Christians (qua Christians); since there is no benefit – therefore no need – for planning, for strategizing – and planning and strategizing are activities fraught with hazard for Christians!
    We are compelled to simplify our faith to trusting in God – and trying to live life, as it presents itself here-and-now, according to the promptings of the spirit and by the discernment of prayer.

    • I think you are right that strategizing is a mistake. We can certainly avoid painting a target on our backs–that’s the lesson of the coin–but we should not aspire to outdo our enemies in guile. It would make us dishonest and sneaky, but not sufficiently dishonest and sneaky to beat our enemies by dishonesty and sneakiness.

      • It is valuable advice, but hard to implement. I think it means that we must be able to strike like a serpent, but only in defense. I take the innocence of doves to mean do no unjust harm.

  2. It always seemed straightforward to me that “render unto Caesar” was Jesus avoiding a direct confrontation with imperial power, courtesy of some Pharisaical artfulness. I never understood how it became a representation of how the church and the state should be kept separate, or the legitimacy of taxation. And now, in the current crisis, it appears to have become an excuse the clergy can use to yield all authority to the state.

    • I think your interpretation is correct. The Pharisees were trying to lure Jesus into saying something that would offend common Jews or alarm the Roman authorities. If they were doing this today, they would try to lure him into making a racist comment while a recording device was running. At the same time, I think Jesus not only sidestepped their trap, but also took the opportunity to reiterate his theme that his kingdom was not of this world. As you say, it has been used as an excuse for cowardice.

  3. Pingback: Wake Up and Smell the Coffee! | Reaction Times

  4. I’m responding to you saying “I am … preparing to submit to conquerors who appear to hold all the cards and have power to dictate terms.”
    I have to rain a bit on your parade. More accurately, sunshine a bit on your gloom.
    I have responsibility for some young people. Young people must not start to believe We Are Doomed. They need to believe a good life is still possible, and their nation is not kaput. The situation is serious but not hopeless.
    Otherwise, all that’s left is to put a bullet in your brain. That, or join Team Satan.
    That’s why I keep saying Resist. They probably ain’t as strong as they look. They rule mostly by bamboozlement, supplemented by a few public whippings to keep the masses intimidated. They don’t have what it takes to be real rulers.
    And resistance is rising. A lot of normal people ain’t buying the BS any more.
    Our side has not actually started to fight. And until real fighting begins, you don’t know how strong the two sides are.
    And if I’m gonna be wrong, I’d rather err on the side of glory than of gloom.

    • I understand that Boomer-Gloom has no appeal for the young, but I am not exactly renouncing resistance. Jesus didn’t renounce resistance in the lesson of the coin. He renounced fake and futile resistance. I think the lesson for us is that ostentatious outward resistance is not incompatible with complete inward capitulation.

  5. To despair of what cannot save is an important step; as you write, it’s not the end.
    In my own experience, despair of New York made it possible to move to Thailand. While the Empire is worldwide, Thailand is a province not entirely under its control. As a musician, despair of a mass audience makes it possible to do my work and get it to some.
    I think Good Friday is a good example; it must take place, and is not the end!
    Thank you so much!

    • You’re welcome. Saving what cannot be saved is, of course, only pretending to save it. It is making a grab for glory without doing anything glorious.

  6. Bible lesson time. That’s not what that Bible passage is about at all. You’re completely wrong.

    On the political question, the tribute being asked is that I pay for a doctor to chop off my son’s testicles and teach him to let himself be anally raped with “pride”. So you can keep your stupid advice, I ain’t paying. Maybe you would see more clearly if you understood the teachings of Christ better, so I will elucidate.

    This Bible story is a biting comment by Christ about the Jews and their lack of faith, it has nothing to do with advising them to pay tribute. They already paid their tribute to Caesar. This is about their lack of faith in God.

    First, check the prior chapter: Jesus is saying this IN THE TEMPLE. The most holy place in all the ancient Jewish religion. The key part of the story is when they bring him a coin WITH AN IMAGE OF CAESAR ON IT. What does ancient Jewish law say about graven images? Remember they are in the temple. Caesar declared himself a god as was the custom of the Caesars. They have a graven image of a foreign god inside the Temple.
    The lesson is taught when they bring him the coin. The Jews, as always, are engaged in legalistic pilpul to avoid honoring God. Jesus points out to them that they have a GRAVEN IMAGE IN THE TEMPLE. Why are they asking about what earthly authority to honor when they are very clearly not honoring their basic promises to God, such as “don’t bring an image of an idol inside the holy Temple”. Recall this is also after Christ has thrown the moneylenders out of the Temple.
    This is not a teaching about paying taxes. This is a teaching about honoring God.

    You cannot pay your way out of this. Being a coward will not work. The system is demonic and will demand your soul, which is not yours to give. It doesn’t matter whether you “pay tribute”. The entire concept is absurd. The lesson Christ teaches is “stop nitpicking inconsequential BS and Get Right With God.”

    You cannot remain faithful to God within the demonic system. There is no point in fighting the system, because God has not provided you an alternative (as was eventually provided to Christians when Rome became Christian.) You can choose Faith. You can be faithful and attempt to “peacefully coexist” along with the system living in the world but not of the world. This may work, in which case you will lead a quietly dissident and faithful life. Or the system may come for you, in which case you will die a martyr. If you don’t choose Faith in God, you will lose your soul.

    Talking about “paying tribute” is stupid. The system doesn’t want your tribute. It wants your faith.

    • It does matter if you pay tribute. The question is what tribute matters in what way. Refusing to pay tribute money to the Romans mattered to the Romans, but not to God. Refusing to pay tribute (honor) to Jesus mattered to God, but not to the Romans. I think this last point is important. By this stage in the story, giving to God what is God means giving Jesus the honor due to the son of God.

      The modern application is that we must discern what tribute matters in what way. There is plenty of room for dishonesty and cowardice in this, but we must discern the tribute that defiles us and the tribute that does not. It the tribute demanded is that you mouth vile lies, then you must refuse. In other cases, refusal to pay tribute is just religious virtue-signaling.

    • This is exactly right. Consider also the parallel concept of “image and likeness,” made explicit by Christ’s question to the Pharisees. Being pious Jews, the Pharisees would instantly key to the fact that we all, as God’s highest created beings, are made in His image and likeness. As such, we belong to Him. All of us, even Caesar.
      Of course Caesar, as a blasphemous pretender god, claims some paltry coins as his own due to his image and likeness being inscribed on them. Our Blessed Lord’s rhetorical turnabout paint Caesar as pitiful and small compared to the God of Israel, who claims all under His dominion.
      That’s the key to the scripture.

      • I think your overlooking the fact that Jesus said the Pharisees were not “pious Jews,” but were instead hypocrites pretending to be pious Jews. That’s why they hated him and were trying to trap him with that question. The lesson of the coin comes immediately after Jesus accused the Pharisees of being unworthy tenants of the vineyard, trees that bore leaves but no fruit. It was that accusation that set in motion the plot to kill him. Obviously, when Jesus said “give unto God that which is God’s,” he meant “give unto methe honor due to God.” And this is of course the exact opposite of the cruel and deceitful death that the Pharisees do in fact give Jesus.

  7. It suddently strikes me that the ‘render unto Caesar’ episode should only not really be regarded as a deft evasion of a trap.

    Jesus did evade *that particular trap* of condemning himself (in the eyes of authority) by not allowing an honest account of his words and teachings to convict him.

    This won Jesus some little time… But shortly afterwards Jesus was convincted by a *dishonest* account of his words and teachings.

    The lesson is that if They *really* want toi get you – sooner or later they will get you; no matter how deftly you evade their traps. If you can’t honestly be trapped, then you will be *framed* by lies.

    • They would (will) do whatever it takes. If they could (can) attain their ends without perjury, all the better. But they would (will) not stick at perjury.

  8. Some of the younger readers might be bristling at the word “submit”. Remember that JMSmith has actually been investigated by his university for writing here, and I’m pretty sure he’s not considering recanting, denouncing the rest of us, or anything of that sort. Submission primarily just means acknowledging that we are beaten. Let us by all means discuss how the existence of our religion and culture can be prolonged, and more urgently how we personally can survive with a modicum of dignity, but talk about fighting the establishment isn’t planning; it’s fantasizing. Not that I necessarily object to fantasizing, but fantasy should be either private or artful. “We’ve got the guns” is a stupid, empty boast. Give me a beautiful lament and revenge fantasy like Psalm 137. I’m always up for those.

    • Exactly. Humiliation is never pleasant, but there is a modicum of dignity in admitting that one has been humiliated. I learned this truth on the playground.

  9. My first appreciation of oratory came as I read Mark Anthony’s funeral oration for Julius Caesar, in my Year 8 anthology. Even though I was reading from the page, I thrilled to the power of the spoken word. One of the walls that enclosed me in the happy parochialism of semi-rural Queensland fell away, and I saw the world new, and vast. That moment was a paradigm instance of education, properly so-called.

    I first encountered oratory in its native habitat at a demonstration against uranium mining in Brisbane in about 1977. A crowd which had intended to march six or eight blocks to Parliament House was blocked by phalanxes of police. As the impossibility of marching anywhere sank in, a series of speakers canvassed the next steps in the campaign, how the enthusiasm must be maintained, etc, etc, as interest level in the crowd drained away.

    Then Dan O’Neill, a lecturer in the English Department, and one of the few radical leftist staff members of UQ, took the microphone. “I’m not going home. I came here to march on Parliament, and that’s what I’m going to do,” or words to much more than that effect. He spoke for only five or ten minutes, but it was as though he had injected amphetamines into everyone in the square, and there must have been at least a couple of thousand. Such a speech is described as electrifying, and that is pretty accurate.

    There were over 400 arrests that day. The increasingly leftist media were looking for an opportunity to stick it to the Premier, and they took maximum advantage of what was not so much a clash as an arrest procession. Initially, all the left had was the enthusiasm of its soft-shoe brigade and their willingness to get out on the streets. High-water was the turnout for the anti-Vietnam war “moratorium” marches in 1971, by which time most of the media had been brought on side.

    The precursor to all of this was, of course, the civil rights movement. It was the enormous mobilisation of supporters at the end of a prolonged campaign of civil disobedience that generated the template of identity politics in the Civil Rights Act. The terrible results should not distract from the lessons of mass gatherings.

    I was reminded of these events by this pall of defeatism and resignation that has fallen over most of the people I know after the “election.” That word deserves its scare quotes. If there were no other indications, the immediate and widespread appearance of the baseless word “baseless” in descriptions of the President’s complaints about the election process gives the game away. In the build-up of the anti-war movement of the 60s, the press at least knew a good story when they saw it. That is no longer the case, just as corporations loudly declare their PC credentials, irrespective of the impact on their bottom lines. Something evil this way came.

    In the 60s there was press minimisation and misrepresentation of the early demonstrations, but nothing on the scale of the lies about Trump’s inauguration crowd. That’s what gatherings of Trump supporters can expect. Trump overcame the ruling class, Democrat and GOP, by direct connection with the people and his unique brand of oratory (seen at its finest in Poland.) The same class greeted SARS-CoV-2 rapturously when it offered the prospect of thwarting his campaign; and they still couldn’t beat him. He gathered more support. The corrupt and geriatric figurehead who would be king needs to know from the outset that the “resistance” he and his cronies engineered to a legitimate election will be as nothing to the resistance of a people determined to get their republic back. The only way to do that is to maintain that determination and to get on your feet.

    It’s not my country, but I can assure you that the world is watching in trepidation. The backwash from installing a man vulnerable to Chinese influence because of corrupt dealings will sweep heavily over Australia. That’s already happening in the bludgeoning of our trade with that tyranny. Worse for us, and for all the increasingly fragile representative democracies, is the reduction of the US election process to a third world pantomime. For these selfish reasons, and for many more unselfish, I urge you to be in Washington if at all possible, and to urge everyone you know who is aware of the travesty to be there with you.

    • I have come to doubt the power of oratory. Or what I should say is that I now see oratory as a means to give people courage, but not to change their minds. Rhetoric motivates but does not persuade. The orator in your example gave the protesters heart to press ahead, but he didn’t turn any policemen into protestors. I have a certain amount of oratorical ability, and am not averse to giving a high-flown speech, but most of my speeches have been “sound and fury signifying nothing.” People listen and then follow the inarticulate oaf who has dollars to dispense. (Of course it might be that my speeches have promoted lousy ideas.)

      Oratory gives people courage to do what they already want to do, but lack the confidence, resolve, or will to do. This is no small thing, so I would not dispense with oratory. But I do think we must stop exhorting people with fantasies about silent majorities that are going to get angry and grab their guns real soon now. We should also stop exhorting people to prepare to fight battles we have already lost. We should certainly try to motivate each other with rhetoric; but we must also face the fact that we are a Resistance and the Restoration is a long way off.

      To that end, the defeat of Trump (which began four years ago) was probably salutary for our side. His being in the White House gave us delusions of grandeur. I’m rambling because I have no clear idea what to say or do. You are right about China. I disagree with what you say about traveling to Washington, D. C. and demonstrating. A demonstration is simply a publicity stunt that hopes to get good coverage by the Media. We cannot get good coverage by the Media. The Media would represent our demonstration as a snarling pack of dangerous lunatics no matter what we did. We could march into Washington and donate 10,000 gallons of blood, and they would still call us fascists.

      • I came to doubt the power of reason, and for good reason. I was, as many of you are, surrounded in my work, and worse, in my family, by those whose every waking thought was shaped in conformity to the prevailing ideology of the left. Their dominant “public emotion,” if I can describe it so, was a deep fear of not conforming. This expressed itself in a determination to induce the same fear in others who might not share the true faith.
        Such people cannot be persuaded. Many are intelligent and adept at the catechesis of conformity. These will twist and turn in argument as though deflecting the blandishments of an insurance salesman (do they still exist?) while loosing barrages of reliable slogans. The less adept will simple block you out, buoyed in the knowledge that they are on the right side of the argument, could they but articulate it.
        Only one thing changes these minds – growing uncertainty about whether they are still conforming. If cracks start to form in the wall of received opinion, they will start to hedge their bets. Given that opinion on the election is divided pretty much down the middle, similar considerations apply to our side.
        The orators of today – the talking heads, news readers, op-ed and leader writers, etc, are well aware of this, and their oratorical aim is to sow doubt. There are valid concerns for the consequences of the current division, which may have persuaded some to make their peace with this abominable election. Such a phalanx of opinion, designed to convey the perception of universal recognition of electoral legitimacy, is the single most powerful weapon for dividing and ruling the opposition. How many here harbour a nagging suspicion that maybe Biden won legitimately? I’ve felt that myself. Does oratory lack persuasive power?
        It seems to me that the only way conservatives, certain libertarians, and faithful Christians can acknowledge Biden as President and Harris as President-in-waiting, is if all are convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the election was free and fair. Refusing to address the manifold signs of fraud and continuously proclaiming in chorus that there’s nothing to see here folks, is not aimed at convincing, but at confusing and demoralising. If there is any reasonable doubt, men of goodwill must refuse to accede.
        Once you have persuaded yourself of this, your duty as a citizen, it seems to me in safe isolation, is to reinforce that recognition in your fellows, to maintain an active awareness of the many indicators of fraud and instances of illegality in the conduct of the election, and armed with this, to encourage the disheartened.
        I am not advocating the taking up of arms, riots in the streets or, heaven forbid, the blowing up of infrastructure with RVs full of explosives. There is a successful tradition of non-violent resistance in the US. Recover that tradition, whatever its particular direction or ideology, and learn from its successes and failures. The signal successes – the sign and effective agent, if you will – of such movements is the mobilising of vast numbers of citizens.
        Something like 30% of Democrat voters, until quite recently, did not believe the election was free and fair. Your silence, your lack of commitment and courage, will be taken as consent, and that number will erode. That erosion must be halted and reversed, so that the timid will gain conviction, and the convinced will gain courage.
        The future of the republic is in your hands.

      • My faith in the power of reason has diminished, but it was not that strong to begin with. I say this without claiming that truth is on my side. But I have learned that many arguments are interminable. Even with the best will in the world (which is often missing), I cannot persuade my interlocutor, and my interlocutor cannot persuade me.

        I understand what you say about the need to make dissent visible, since this is the only way to assure dissenters that they are not alone. But the new spirit of intolerance makes this very hard to do. To publicly doubt the “smelly little orthodoxies” of the day is to publicly declare yourself an intellectual nullity and a moral cretin. The conformist mind that you describe does not smile on a nonconformist as an eccentric or colorful character.

      • A part of faith is believing there is a final step without having the slightest idea what that final step will be. Our job is to prepare ourselves for taking it when that step is revealed.

      • Nell, how the situation would develop is known only to God, and They’re not saying. There is no necessary outcome to any course of action. But note the dependency of the fraud on the cooperation of the fourth estate. Many of them, and many citizens in general, do not want to believe that a presidential election _could_ be stolen. The key is this, from my previous comment:
        Only one thing changes these minds – growing uncertainty about whether they are still conforming.
        The challenge for those who want their their republic back is not, “Do we have enough ammo?” but, “Are our convictions strong enough to withstand the hourly brainwashing? Is our determination so strong that the many waverers will start to think that there must be truth in what we persistently and publicly say and _act on_?”
        We are all living in a dictatorship of opinion in which we (and this is legally enforced in Australia) can be publicly pilloried financially broken for speaking the truth. But in the US, you can still gather to express your opinions en masse. In this case, there is definitely safety in numbers. One of the reasons propaganda – oratory – is effective is that for the great majority, opinions are a kind of social accessory; they change with the occasion. Give them the occasion for change.

      • What we have learned in the U.S. of late is that the First Amendment is only valuable when it is taken as a keynote for the society as a whole. If you are fired, deplatformed and ostracized for expressing an unpopular opinion, it is cold comfort to think the government isn’t also throwing you in jail.

    • More precarious in some ways, more secure in others. Academics are very narrow-minded, but they won’t take the trouble to shaft you unless it advances their career.

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