Notes from Walter Wink’s award winning 1993 book ‘Engaging the Powers – Discernment and Resistance in a World of Domination‘.
(P.95-96) “Propaganda (“is not merely deception . . . it is the manufacture of idolatry” see pg. 94) is only the tip of the delusional iceberg, however. Other nations or disaffected internal critics can easily spot and expose it. Propaganda is ad hoc; it responds to short-term needs; it changes to fit every situation. But the basic delusional system has altered little since the ascendancy of the Domination System some five thousand years ago. It has successfully held the vast majority of humanity in thrall by means of a series of largely unexamined assumptions that go far deeper than propaganda.
These delusional assumptions are what Colossians 2:8, 20 call the stoicheia tou kosmou: the fundamental assumptions of the Domination System. Not all of these hold true for all countries in all times, and some would be held by only a minority of people in a given country. But over the five millenia that the delusional game has been playing, these assumptions have continually reasserted themselves. Here are some of them:
- The need to control society and prevent chaos requires some to dominate others.
- Those who dominate may use other people as a means to achieve their goals.
- Men are better equipped by nature to be dominant than women, and some races are naturally suited to dominate others.
- A valued end justifies the use of any means.
- Violence is redemptive, the only language enemies understand.
- Ruling or managing is the most important of all social functions.
- Therefore rulers and managers should be rewarded with extra privileges and greater wealth of all kinds.
- Those who have military strength, who control the most advanced technology, the greatest wealth, or the largest markets, are the ones who will and should survive.
- Money is the most important value.
- The possession of money is a sign and proof of political and social worth.
- The production of material goods is more important than the production of healthy and normal people and of sound human relationships (or the former automatically produces the latter).
- Property is sacred, and property ownership an absolute right.
- In an organization or nation, great size is proof of its power and value.
- Institutions are more important than people.
- There is no higher value or being or power than the state. If there is a God, God is the protector and patron of the state.
- God, if there is one, is not revealed to all, but only to select individuals or nations and their rulers and priesthood.
These assumptions hold for parties on both sides of a conflict. They would have been as true for the Parthians as for the Romans, as binding for the Soviets as for Americans. Propaganda divides nations.; the delusional assumptions unite them in the mutual but antagonistic quest for domination.
The Beast from the land is busy in its propaganda office churning out press releases and desirable images for the powerful (emphasis mine); but transcendent to the nations stands the Dragon, holding together the total chaotic system in its Tiamatic* order (*the monstrous goddess who embodies primordial chaos). From the propaganda point of view, the United States and the Soviet Union were enemies during the Cold War. From the prophetic point of view they were pathetically similar, sharing most of the same fundamental delusional assumptions.
Socialization is not the problem; rather, the problem is that into which one is socialized. Some elements of socialization are universal, shared by all societies and persons: concepts of space, time, number, measurement, causality, classification. Likewise, people are not merely passive recipients of tradition. They not only take in their socialization, but take it over, leaving out what they dislike. But that freedom is exercised within a highly circumscribed space, and as long as the delusional assumptions remain unconscious, they are seldom effectively transcended.
Christians have docilely sided with their governments, and justified the slaughter of millions of other Christians who, for their part, supported the other side, without any recognition that both sides were serving the values of the kingdom of death. Political elections are not a contest to see which party is capable of the greater compassion, but to see which will be truer to the delusional assumptions (increased military budgets, more prisons, stiffer sentencing for criminals).
The church has no more important task than to expose these delusionary assumptions as the Dragon’s Game (italics original, emboldened text mine).
Next: Part 3 – Principalities & Powers: In Thrall to the Dragon.