As conspiracy theorists go, I am clearly bush league.
This week’s reminder of how far one can go down this strange, winding path is one Michael Tsarion. He was proposed to me recently as a writer who advances the cause of all things Irish and/or Celtic, and thus mystically and/or politically reasonable. However, in wandering around upon his complex private “interweb” of fact and fiction, I see that he’s just another in a long line of goofy astrologists, occultists and conspiracy theorists, those colorful cats out to take wild, random potshots instead of pointing out a productive path toward the truth.
By now, a small but dedicated handful of you are saying under your breath to me: “Oh, you poor simpleton. You deluded soul, already stolen away from us, we who were only trying to free you from the tyranny of lies and deceit, perpetrated over the past 5000 years.”
Nevertheless, I must defer to a higher authority, who calls me to sing out loud and proud:
“I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.”
Meanwhile, Tsarion and his ilk are out to convince us that every U.S. president was a Freemason, that the mystical, philosophical or biological descendents of Egyptian pharaoh/priest Akhenaton are in control of every Western government, and probably that monotheism in itself is the true enemy of mankind.
Therefore the Yahweh of the Bible, for some of these theorists, does not love His people but has instead abandoned them to the slings and arrows of all these false prophets and tyrants. Or else the One True God is an invention by these past cults, to keep Everyman down, to keep us from accessing our inner power, which would allow us to practice magic, travel by astral projection, and tear down well-armed despots the moment we encounter them. I don’t know, maybe I’m getting it wrong though. These amateur symbologist types draw such tenuous and strange connections that it’s easy to get confused.
For instance, did you know that Hitler was actually in league with the pre-Zionist Zionists, in England and elsewhere? Mr. Tsarion even has a photo of a young Hitler, kissing the hand of Elizabeth the Second –though he mislabels her as Elizabeth the First! This is the kind of sloppy, stupid, ahistorical hogwash that his type loves to slip by us, under a veil of actual facts and plausible interpretations, of very vague details and far-reaching symbols.
Here’s another example, taken directly from Tsarion’s site:
The Bohemian Club – Elite members of this secret order (that includes most US presidents) meet at a time when the sun (Aton) is at its highest point during the year – at the summer solstice – June 21st. The summer solstice was adopted by Hitler and his Nazis as their most important day of ritual and celebration. It was the most sacred day in the Nazi calendar.
Dude, if you so smart, where’s my local Boho meeting being conducted tomorrow? I wanna be there! Are they really THAT good at keeping secrets?
Tsarion tries to make a case for the Nazis and others co-opting and altering many basic Druidic or similar ideas. Yeah Mike, it’s well-established already that Hitler co-opted everyone’s mythology, from India to Scandinavia to Ireland to God only knows where else. But that doesn’t mean he was secretly in compliance with some long-standing plan of the Knights Templar to rule the world. It just means he was crafty and evil, a tool of Satan, a disenchanted but brilliant nutjob who veiled his megalomania in intense nationalist, populist, pseudo-religious bullshit.
Tsarion’s not the first one to try connecting Hitler, Pat Robertson, Pope Paul VI, Satanist Anton LaVey, The Illuminati, philosopher Francis Bacon, and the ancient Persian prophet Zoroaster (it’s like some fascinating but intellectually dishonest variant of the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game!). Anyone with a will to think creatively can build a case and turn up potential evidence. Remember the Lone Gunmen, from The X Files? (Oh My Gawd!!! I was such an X-Files fan… and here’s a thought: was it The Man who secretly killed off the Lone Gunmen’s short-lived spinoff show, or just really crappy writing?)
There are thousands of people like this out in the world, who believe they’re doing important work. In my opinion, a few of them actually are. But they get lost in the midst of all the noise, and because of the very nature of evil, which works to remain hidden and secret for as long as possible.
Every once in awhile, I get sucked into exploring this complex web of numerologists, Kabballah enthusisasts, astrology buffs, and ultra-conservative Christian Pentacostals on the lookout for secret but powerful cults to pray against. And again, I’m not saying these groups, alliances and spiritual connections aren’t out there. They definitely are out there (the “powers and principalities” that Paul speaks of), though I can’t claim any expertise in which theories are solid and which are misguided. Frankly, it just makes my head hurt whenever I read all the fundamentalist, neo-paganist or other misguided tripe that tries to explain every last war and historical development as part of some evil Master Plan.
Sometimes, you gotta just pick a lane and drive. The fact is, sin is real. A negative spiritual force or personality does exist in the universe. But so does the eternal Creator and Redeemer. Thus, every human ever born is capable of both incredible mercy and unspeakable evil, depending upon whom we align ourselves with, and how much ethical and spiritual discipline we are willing to practice.
Yet we are lazy and fearful by nature, and prefer to conform, so we mostly tend to aim down the middle, ignoring Jesus’ path of radical love (and political change, and true justice) because it requires us to feel like such aliens in a world gone wrong. Even Christians, in most cases (myself included), can’t manage to be in constant, peaceful communion with the Creation and Creator, choosing instead to practice religion rather than faithful, risky, loving action and forgiveness like Jesus himself.
On the other hand, if we are also hungry or powerless, or have not forgiven past wrongs against “our people”, we are then ripe for the picking by every jihadist, neo-con, or self-aggrandizing leader looking to play upon those fears and physical needs by promising a comeuppance for “the godless infidels”.
If you think about it, commiting to remain disenfranchised, to share equally amongst ourselves, to hang with the prostitutes and have nowhere to lay one’s head, doesn’t sound like such “good news”, does it? It’s so much nicer to sit with a big steak in air-conditioned comfort in front of an HDTV at the ESPN Zone and watch the Boston Celtics (BTW, did they have a Druid priest saying incantations, arranging for their victory?… or perhaps bribing the referees to call fewer fouls?). Fasting and praying under the stars in front of a Celtic cross, clothing the naked, taking in and feeding the orphan, admitting you’re wrong once in awhile… these are works of radical discipleship that require God’s grace precisely because they’re so hard to perform without His help. Ignorance, of both the good and bad in the world, really is bliss. Anyone with the guts to look into his or her own soul will tell you this.
I say “his or her” above, but let’s be honest: most spinners and practitioners of these crazy conspiracy theories are men — emasculated or psychically wounded men, pseudo-religious pirates, a much different brand of “outsider” than the disciples of Jesus. They’re the fickle followers of Barrabas, the Judases who took a wrong turn, or the self-appointed shamans looking to justify themselves, while leaving others (especially in the undeveloped Two Thirds World) to fend for themselves.
Most are looking for a systemic or external explanation for why they’re forever on the outside personally. Some want power, others merely acceptance. Meanwhile they’re in denial themselves, avoiding the “dark night of the soul” that might actually transform them into credible witnesses to the true Eternal Light and the truth. This is why other outsiders (you may call them geeks, but we all need to embrace our inner geek) find these theories so attractive. It’s cafeteria-style, libertarian, serve-yourself, super-sweet philosophical candy in an attractive package. The theories free us from any responsibility for our own situations, be they personal or political. They let immature, adolescent, me-against-the-world attitudes fluorish and find justification, irrespective of any higher authority or personal call to holiness and service.
What’s more, the anarchic, non-theistic, or factually fuzzy solutions these theorists often recommend don’t account for the contentiousness and will to power that inevitably sets in among all us sinners. They make it easier to attach blame beyond ourselves, to the eternal THEM — whether THEY are the liberal Jewish media, the conservative fundamentalist Zionist warmongers, the Black Jesus-denying racists, the imperialist/royalist/fascist aristocracy, the Wahabist (or Shi’ ite) usurpers of the true Islamic faith, the Socialist/Communist hippie baby-killers looking to give away the store and crucify Christ again, or the Christian witch-hunters out to kill every horned owl and tree sprite that ever sought to set us free.
Sure, a few modern conspiracy analysts are on a genuine quest for the truth. But many are just the next generation of pawns and liars in the eternal struggle of good and evil.
Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m not advocating we remain ignorant. Just that we consider the source, question authority with a healthy but non-obsessive skepticism, and then lead with our hearts … but without disengaging our heads. Be faithful first. Then be smart. And be careful not to get caught on the wrong side in this battle of disinformation and distraction, only to find out too late you could have instead been enjoying the fulfilling fellowship of true believers all along, the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.
As Peter once said to Jesus when Jesus gave him leave to abandon their difficult journey: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life? We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”