Conspiracy Theory

People with limited horizons tend to go for small and utterly implausible conspiracy theories. Blokes with some theory about the assassination of JFK are a dime a dozen. And for just that reason, they tend eventually to cancel each other out, leaving me simplistically thinking Lee Harvey Oswald was a trained marksman and a jerk who got up in a tall building and shot the President.

For much the same reason, I don’t put any stock at all in conspiracy theories that range from “Roosevelt Flew the Lead Plane at Pearl Harbor” to “Bush and Mossad Phoned the Jews at the World Trade Center on 9/10 and Informed Them of Their Nefarious Plan”. I don’t believe Building 7 was dynamited by the CIA. I don’t think fluoridation was a Commie Plot.

I believe in almost no conspiracies except the Cosmic One. The reason I believe in that one is because God says it’s real:

For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)

I do not believe this merely because God has revealed it to be so. No, I believe it because it also explains so many things that would otherwise be inexplicable.

Consider these mysteries:

  • Why would apostate Episcopalians who celebrate homosex and revel in the work of liberal New Age theological quacks piddle on the floor in spaniel-like obsequies when graced by the presence of a Bronze Age gay-murdering monotheist like former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami?
  • Why would NOW spend all its time fretting about the mythical imposition of “theocracy” in America by those bogeymen, conservative Christians, yet remain stone silent about the threatened horse-whipping of a British woman in the Sudan for the horrific crime of naming a teddy bear Mohammed.
  • Why would an atheist set out to write a book for children that undermines Christianity and wind up writing a book that says, not that God doesn’t exist, but that he does exist and is evil? Why would that same author be obsessed with the wickedness of authoritarian despotism in the name of religion and yet focus all his hatred at “Yahweh, El, the Father” and never so much as mention “Allah”?
  • Why would the media do much the same, walking on eggshells regarding a few satirical Danish cartoons to avoid harming the sensitivities of savages and various “youths” who bear a strangely uniform religious identity, while lecturing Christians offended by “Piss Christ” to learn art appreciation.

These and many other strange contradictions in our culture are explicable by only one thing. It’s not “follow the money” and it’s not about sex or power.

At the end of the day, it’s only explicable by the passage from St. Paul above. We are in the middle of a cosmic war and the center of the battle is Jesus Christ Himself. Only that passage explains how Pharisees and Herodians, who hated each other, could make common cause (Mark 3:1-6). Only that passage from Ephesians can explain how Jewish leaders who hated the Romans could declare, “We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15). Only that passage can explain how Pilate and Herod Antipas could become good buddies after a life of mutual enmity (Luke 23:12).

It comes down to this: the real and final conflict in this world is between Christ and those who hate Him. When push comes to shove, those who make hatred of Christ the highest priority in their lives will forge alliances with anybody in order to maintain that priority. Take seriously the reality of War in Heaven and no small number of bizarre and baffling friendships among seemingly mortal foes suddenly snap into focus.

The warm bonhomie between enemies of Christ may or may not be explicable by the human agents of the War in Heaven. Some rare few humans, the Anton LaVeys and such, may actually mean to be serving the devil. Some of them, like Phillip Pullman, may be quite surprised to discover that the fallen angels they invoke as a literary device in their attacks on God turn out to be real. Ultimately, it will not matter to the devil whether human stooges know he is pulling their strings as they do his bidding. The important thing to the High Command of the Lowerarchy is the damage these stooges do. Most human stooges of Hell will, like the goats in the parable, be stunned to find that it was Jesus they had been treating with when they labored to destroy the faith, hope, and love of the least of these.

That, of course, is why we are commanded to pray for them and for all human enemies of God. They are not the real enemy. There is a fundamental ontological difference between them and the “powers and principalities” of this present darkness. Jesus shares the human nature of Anton LaVey, Phillip Pullman, the Apostate Piskie/Radical Islam Partners for a Better World, the signers of the Hitler-Stalin pact to carve up Catholic Poland and all the other strange bedfellows the War in Heaven has created over the centuries. He does not share in the nature of angels and He did not die to redeem them.

That matters, because grace and repentance happens, usually in response to our prayers. One such prayer was offered by a man named Stephen on behalf of the human stooges who were murdering him. A Pharisee who had been manipulated by the powers and principalities into the unlikely position of finishing the dirty work of Pontius Pilate, Caiaphas and Herod Antipas was given the grace to repent his cooperation in that strange and hellish alliance by the prayer of the man whose death he had cheered on (Acts 8). And as converts from every age can attest, that miracle of grace continues to this day. For at the end of the day, the nations conspire, and the peoples plot in vain. The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and His anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds asunder, and cast their cords from us.” But He who sits in the heavens laughs.


Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog and regularly blogs for National Catholic Register. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.

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