WHAT DO THEY WANT? These motley collections of the angry and the ignorant in whose eyes the Covid-19 Pandemic is a “Scamdemic”. What do they hope to achieve? Some part of them, aware of their pitifully small numbers, must know that they have placed themselves beyond the comforting approbations of the tribe. How do they deal with such painful awareness? Human-beings are social animals: they draw strength and confidence from one another. So, to deliberately locate oneself outside the circle of the tribal firelight requires a motivating force of enormous power.
At the heart of their decision to step away lies an unshakeable conviction that they possess special knowledge. By “doing the research” they have discovered that the world is not as the Government and its “experts” would have them believe. They are convinced that these, the Powers-That-Be, mean them and their unenlightened fellow citizens harm. It is, therefore, their moral duty to call out these malign “mis-leaders”, and to bear steadfast witness to the “Truth” – no matter what.
This very old delusion (if ‘delusion’ is the right word) can lay claim to a surprisingly honourable cultural pedigree. For what else were the religious leaders and prophets of the past, if not a motley collection of individuals who believed fervently that they had been vouchsafed a vision of the Holy City, and had been chosen by God himself to rescue the sinful masses from themselves?
Nobody who has read the Old Testament will have the slightest difficulty in recognising the prophetic archetype: the outsider who descends upon the city from the wilderness: wild, unkempt, eyes ablaze with the certainty of God’s mandate; to stand before the King and rebuke him for his sinful failure to safeguard the welfare of the people.
In this age, the Internet has taken the place of God. And why not? It feels as powerful and omniscient as the Almighty, and seems to possess the same ability to reward the pious seeker with all manner of alarming insights and arcane knowledge. Jehovah is said to have communicated with Moses through a burning bush. Is a cellphone, laptop, or PC, any less preposterous as a vessel for the word of God?
Once the prophetic archetype is understood, it becomes much easier to comprehend why a group as tiny as the one which gathered outside the TVNZ studios in Auckland on Wednesday morning (18/8/21) did not feel in the least embarrassed. The prophetic narrative doesn’t work if the world around the prophet nods in enthusiastic agreement. The masses have to be so mired in sin and ignorance that they can no longer recognise the truth – even when it is laid bare before them. The evil mis-leaders, similarly, cannot slap their foreheads and cry ‘My God, you’re right! How could we have been so blind?’ They have to remain as steadfast in their vice as the prophets remain steadfast in their virtue.
An open confrontation with evil is critical to the prophetic narrative. One cannot be a true prophet in secret (or even online). It is crucial that the eyes of God, or, in this case, the cameras of TVNZ, witness his servant in action. Proof must be supplied of the prophet’s willingness to suffer for the Truth.
A man as well-versed in the Bible as the charismatic Billy Te Kahika knows that a true prophet goes Kanohi ki te Kanohi with the Devil, and that, in this fallen world, the Devil usually wins. Which is why, when the Police closed in upon him outside TVNZ he was at pains to calm his angry disciples, telling them that the officers were only doing their job. It wasn’t quite “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.” – But it was close.
The conundrum which presents itself to Billy TK – and to all others who aspire to be the mouthpieces of God – is how to differentiate the lies of the Devil from God’s truth. For the Devil is deceitful and delights in pretending to the wisdom and beneficence of the Almighty, while all the time leading the deluded down the primrose path to perdition. How can one know that what one believes to be the truth isn’t a big fat fib?
The greatest of all the biblical prophets, Jesus of Nazareth, wrestled with this question. This was his answer:
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
What manner of evil king – or queen – would encourage her “team of five million” to be kind and keep one another safe? What true prophet would feed evil fruits to his people? Only the Devil craves the chaos and division in which evil takes root. If your harvest is all thorns and thistles, Billy, then maybe you’re barking up the wrong tree.
This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Thursday, 19 August 2021.