Were the September 11 attacks on America a false flag event orchestrated by the Bush White House? Did they fake the moon landings? Did Bush Senior conspire to kill JFK, or was it LBJ in cahoots with the gangsters? What’s the real story on Area 51? Are the Freemasons behind the plot to create a one-world government or is it the Bilderbergers, the Jews, or the creepy guys who meet at the Bohemian Grove? Did the Duke of Edinburgh bump off Lady Di, and are the British royals secret reptilian shapeshifters?

Why are Americans so obsessed with conspiracy theories? I lived in England for twenty-five years, and the British are not nearly as serious about conspiracy theories as we are.

I have a theory which explains our national pastime of paranoia. I think it has to do with our heritage. Think about it. Who came here in the first place? Our ancestors were most often refugees from some kind of persecution. Some came seeking the religious freedom they were denied by the “powers that be” in the old country. Others fled the political persecution, poverty, or pogroms imposed on them by the unelected and ineluctable powers that be.

The “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” came to escape the oppression at home, but the persecution by invincible powers was lodged deep in their corporate memory. That memory bred within them and their descendants a suspicion of the government, the elite, the aristocracy, the enlightened ones, the intellectuals, the Illuminati, and glitterati of society. The privileged ones belonged to an inner circle, a cabal of contacts—the invincible doyens of dark rooms and dirty deals.

Deep within America’s psyche, therefore, is the belief that someone, somewhere is the shady puppet master who is pulling all the strings. We’re convinced that it is all a fix, that the show is run by clandestine societies with secret handshakes, and that it is all controlled by a select society whose ultimate aim is a one-world government. All is controlled by the inner ring, and this ring, like Tolkien’s, is the “one ring to rule them all and in the darkness bind them.”

The power of conspiracy theories to seduce is fueled when everything in our relativistic society seems no more than a tissue of lies. The media seems like a conjurer’s game of smoke and mirrors keyed by the old trick of distraction and illusions. When the government is composed of decomposing liars, slick politicians, lobbyists, and corrupt financiers, it becomes impossible to discover the truth about anything, and so in the climate and context of scandals breeding ever-more complex layers of scandal, the conspiracy theories proliferate and the paranoia prospers.

It is easy to tut-tut and dismiss the conspiracy theories as so much paranoid idiocy. We assert that there is no international cabal intent on imposing a demonic one-world government. Such theories are silly and insubstantial. Of course, there are diplomatic meetings between government and economic leaders. Such meetings are necessary to oil the wheels of international trade and diplomacy. Yes, there is the United Nations, and some people favor increasing globalization, but it’s out in the open and no big deal. Right?

This is where it becomes interesting because for a conspiracy theory to work there has to be just enough factual truth to give it credence. The conspiracy theorist gathers enough truth and connects the dots to construct the rest, and if there is no further evidence, the sign of the true conspiracy theorist is that he will conclude that the lack of evidence for his theory is simply a sign of how effective the cover-up has been. “Of course you never see the Queen of England turn into a reptile. If she did that her cover would be blown!” You get the idea.

Behind the attraction to the conspiracy theory is our need for order, meaning, and structure. A conspiracy theory is a sick imitation therefore of a reliance on God’s providence. God’s providence is the secret plan, the hidden meaning, and the underlying order of all things. Conspiracy theories are our attempt to impose a different order and structure to give meaning to the world’s events.

To bring some common sense into the conversation, perhaps we should step back and admit that there are inside deals. There are a few wealthy families who have more power than we would like to imagine. There are financiers who wish to gain more wealth and power and who will do most anything to do so. There are politicians who intrigue to bring about a new world order. There are media moguls who supply the propaganda.

But this should not surprise us. It is not a conspiracy. It is simply how the world works.

From the Tower of Babel down through human history it has always been so. The rich and powerful have always schemed behind the scenes. They have always made alliances and broken them, built secret armies, waged war both secret and open. They have always built vast wealth, met in secret, and schemed to control the world. Through the ages, their secret societies have taken different forms and moved across the globe and across human history like a pack of ravenous and cunning wolves.

We do not need conspiracy theories to know this. Why are you surprised that politicians are seduced? Are elections rigged? Of course. Thrones are forever being overthrown. Are there wars, assassinations, arms deals, bank bailouts, bribes, and back-handers? It has always been so. This is how the world turns. Satan has always had his minions in the corridors of power, and he has always and everywhere been working behind the scenes to dominate this world and reward his servants with power, prestige, and prosperity. Indeed, the “rough beast” of the anti-Christ has always been “slouching toward Bethlehem to be born.”

Our response is not to be forever sniffing around with ludicrous conspiracy theories because it is not really a secret that this is how history unfolds. Instead, we should be realistic and realize that while this world turns on a dime, ours turns toward the Lord of Time.

In other words, we are citizens of another city whose maker and builder is God. This world is not our home. We’re just passing through. We’re nomads here as we make our pilgrimage to a different homeland. We realize that we are aliens and that this land is ruled by the enemy.

Our eyes are on our homeland, and as we  journey we could do worse than ponder with J.R.R. Tolkien’s Pippin the end of all things.

Pippin: “I didn’t think it would end this way.”

And Gandalf replied, “End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.”

Pippin: “What? See what?”

Gandalf: “White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.”

“Well, that isn’t so bad.”

 “No. No, it isn’t.”

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