Gospel of woke?

‘and the people bowed and prayed to the neon god they made’ – Simon and Garfunkel

I know I’m not the only one who found something to complain about during this year’s NYE firework show/dronefest. I know this because articles say others complained about it.  

It’s a relief to see that I’m not the only cynic out there. I’d like to just enjoy things – I like fireworks and drones – but Mr Sadiq Khan wouldn’t LET ME. Am I not allowed ten minutes of BBC watching without being pummelled over the head with how to be a socially acceptable human being?

I’m not quite petty enough to dedicate an entire article to ranting about the light show on its own, but I just can’t escape this gnawing feeling that the display was actually pretty symbolic of where we are, as a nation. 

Namely, a nation desperately searching for something to place our hope in, and those in positions of power are only too happy to offer us suggestions. In return, of course, we must think and behave according to their guidelines. Truth be told, it’s starting to look like some kind of manufactured religion. Woke gospel.

Maybe lockdown is frying my brain, but hear me out and decide if there’s any validity to this. 

Firstly, calm yourselves, I’m not going to discuss covid or vaccines. 

And for those who work for the NHS, I love you guys (including my mum, my aunt and several friends/acquaintances). I do not, however, appreciate the way the NHS has been elevated almost to god-like status, simply because I do not appreciate anything or anyone being elevated to god-like status. 

Collective ‘worship’

What seemed akin to collective worship of the NHS started last year with the weekly ‘clap for carers’ – and whilst it was good to acknowledge the oft under-appreciated staff, especially in times of crisis, the whole thing seemed to morph into a sort of mindless adoration for the NHS itself – a state institution that has never been without its faults. A state institution which, for all its merits, is also funding the abortions of 200,000 unborn children every year. 

Anyway, the NHS logo being emblazoned across the London sky on NYE was par for the course. 

Then came the Black Lives Matter fist. This isn’t the time for me to share my thoughts on racial injustice, which is complex and multifaceted. I side with those appalled by racism and genuinely wish to do something about it. My issue is not with the phrase ‘black lives matter’ but with the organisation of the same name (I really hate that I have to write something so obvious). But for London to honour a self-proclaimed Marxist organisation was a bit surprising. It’s up for debate as to whether BLM is really Marxist, but as the article points out, the ideology that drives BLM is still questionable. And let’s not forget, as someone reminded me the other day, that BLM were not exactly good to London last year (obviously, I’m not talking about the peaceful protesters). Statues were desecrated or torn down, whether or not you think that was justified, and police officers were injured. Hardly a gift to the city. In the States, major damage was done to private properties including black-owned small businesses. More people died as a result of the riots. At the end of it all, did race relations improve? I hope so, but I don’t even know how you’d measure that.

As for the light show’s climate change stuff, I think the propaganda there is reasonably self-explanatory. 

So get to the point already, you’re muttering. 

My point is that maybe this was just a classic Sadiq Khan move, but I believe it reflects what is happening more subtly on a wider scale.

Manufactured idols

Humanity is designed to worship. When we stop worshipping God, we must erect new idols to replace Him. We do it with money, hedonism, work, sex. That is not new.

But lately, our idols have become more centralised. Rather than the individual man choosing his own, they’re being manufactured for him (this is extra convenient now, when his usual outlets are restricted by lockdowns). 

‘Progress’ is one of those idols – that vague term which seems to have no clear end goal. Like it or not, if you are employed by a larger organisation, you’ll probably be encouraged to comply with this quest for woke utopia.

Consider these examples: 

The corporation I just left held ‘LGBT days’ where they told staff to come in wearing purple (because, reasons), and sign the ‘ally pledge’ (whatever that means). There were no definite aims with these token events – just nebulous rainbow clouds. 

My best friend works at a prestigious law firm which tells their staff to include their gender pronouns in their email signatures, in order to be more inclusive to other staff and clients. I’m sure Linda from the Grenfell estate feels much better knowing Carole her solicitor is, shockingly, ‘She/Her’. 

Meanwhile, we’re pressured to post black squares on our Instagrams, go vegan to ‘save the planet’, or attend work seminars on ‘women in the workplace’.

(Publicly) commit to these cherry-picked causes, and show yourself to be a valid and valuable member of society.  

Sometimes I wonder if it won’t be too long before the BBC starts devoting an hour a night to reading the new state-approved Ten Commandments. The first, ‘Thou shalt be sheeplike’.

Zoom out, get some perspective

Meanwhile, the world’s actual greatest injustices tend to be vastly overlooked. Human trafficking, mass persecution of Christians and religious minorities, abortion and the endless human rights abuses taking place in North Korea are just a few such atrocities both government and media is characteristically silent on. 

But it’s worse than that: In some cases, talking about such issues can earn you actual censorship from our friends at Big Tech. As one example, prominent YouTuber David Wood earned himself a stint in YouTube jail last year, after reporting on Christian persecution (the powers that be deemed his video Islamophobic). And I’ve seen several public figures have social media content removed or threatened with bans for talking about abortion. 

When you have the media dictating to you what you should care about, and which injustices you should be fighting, you have to question whether justice is really the endgame here. 

And speaking of Big Tech, the bias against conservatives (I mean conservatives, not only far-right extremists) has been notable for some time. Only today came news that Google has suspended Parler, the alternative platform to Twitter, reportedly due to concerns about growing numbers of far-righters inciting violence. There’s a lot of nuance to unpack there, but ultimately free speech matters and if you don’t fight for it, one day you won’t be able to speak either. 

Is all, or some, of this a product of cultural Marxism? (Douglas Murray explains the term here and Jordan Peterson explains it in more depth here). Also if my JP-hating friend is reading this, fight me bro 😀

I don’t know.

Regardless, I don’t like what I’m seeing. 

Gospel of Christ vs. Gospel of Woke

As a Christian, it seems inevitable that the more aggressive the messaging from the media/state becomes; the more prescriptive their sanctioning of what you should and should not do or think, the more difficult it will be to exercise our faith in public. On many fronts, the gospel of Christ and the gospel of Woke will clash, and we know which one society will favour. So, potentially some tough times ahead (and also some great opportunities). 

What to do with all this? 

Well, I humbly suggest:

Recalibrate. Take a deep breath and remember lasting hope is ultimately in Jesus Christ. Not in the NHS, vaccines, whether Boris makes the right call next week or who the next President will be. (‘Do not put your trust in princes, nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help’ – Psalm 146:3).

Recognise the wokery for what it is: a mere shadow of God’s heart for justice, which is much vaster and deeper than what our culture can ever reflect without Him. Don’t rely on the media to tell you what to believe. Ask God what His priorities are. Stay rooted in His Word and let that be the lens from which you look at the world and respond to it.

Remember we do not fight flesh and blood.

And finally, cancel your TV license (jk, sorta). 

Wishing you a happy, safe and healthy 2021.

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