I painted this early morning scene in Acrylic on Masonite board several years ago.  I don’t recall the photo inspiration. In my mind it’s early morning in early spring when snow still blankets much of the ground.  I’m a morning person. I also like spring’s arrival, if only an embryonic stage. To me the church structure sits at a strategic entry to this waterway.  I see a natural and a supernatural kind of conspiracy.  Spring will conspiratorially overtake winter even as morning replaces darkness.  What about the church—body of Christ?


 “Recently a pilot was practicing high-speed maneuvers in a jet fighter.  She turned the controls for what she thought was a steep ascent—and flew straight into the ground.  She was unaware that she had been flying upside down.” [1]

More often than not, I see ‘conspiracy’ used in a negative context. Someone or group conspires to overthrow a government or assassinate a leader.  In reality conspiracy is a scheme or plan. In many ways we live in a world that is ‘flying upside down”, in desperate need of what author Dallas Willard calls a “Divine Conspiracy”.  He continues the above quote.

“This is a parable of human existence in our times—not exactly that everyone is crashing, though there is enough of that—but most of us as individuals, and world society as a whole, live at high-speed, and often with no clue to whether we are flying upside down or right-side-up.  Indeed, we are haunted by a strong suspicion that there may be no difference—or at least that it is unknown or irrelevant.”

How did we get this way?  For a longer, insightful answer, I recommend getting a copy of the book below.  It’s at the top of my most favorite books in the last 20 years. I re-read it about every 2 years.  Here is my shorter explanation, best illustrated by excerpt from Derek Bok’s “President’s Report” for 1986-1987.  “He referred to some well-known moral failures in financial circles and the political life of the nation (sound familiar?). He wondered out loud what universities might do to strengthen moral character in their graduates.

“Religious institutions,” he continued, “No longer seem as able as they once were to impart basic values to the young.  In these circumstances, universities, including Harvard, need to think hard about what they can do in the face of what many perceive as a widespread decline in ethical standards.”

Bok points out that in other days “the instructors aim was…to foster a belief in commonly accepted moral values” (p. 10). Now all is changed: “Today’s course in applied ethics does not seek to convey a set of moral truths but tries to encourage the student to think carefully about complex moral issues.”  One senses that the governing assumption of his discussion is that these two objectives are mutually exclusive.”

“There is now not a single moral conclusion about behavior or character traits that a teacher could base a student’s grade on—not even those most dear to educators, concerning fairness and diversity….The teacher would be reminded that we are not here to impose our views on students, “however misguided the student might be.”  And if the administration of the university did not reach that decision, a court of law soon would.”

This week I re-read (I read lots of books more than one time!) Prayer Powerpoints, given to me by Dennis Carlson of Send International in 1996, and came across this:

“Let every student be plainly instructed

And earnestly pressed to consider well

The main end of his life and studies is

To know God and Jesus ‘Christ

Which is eternal life, and therefore to lay

Christ in the bottom as the only foundation

Of all sound knowledge and learning

And seeing the Lord only giveth wisdom, let

Everyone seriously set himself to prayer

In secret to seek it of Him.”

Moto of Harvard university – 1636

Clearly, between 1636 and Bok’s “President’s Report” for 1986-1987 somethings gone very wrong—flying upside down!

The Devine Conspiracy – Overcome evil with Good

 “[Jesus] comes where we are, and he brings us the life we hunger for. An early report reads “Life was in him, life that made sense of human existence” John 1:4.  To be the light of life and to deliver God’s life to women and men where they are and as they are, is the secret of the enduring relevance of Jesus.  Suddenly they are flying right-side up in a world that makes sense.”

Jesus said, I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.John 10:10


[1] The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard p. 1-13

One thought on “Conspiracy

  1. In my opinion, too many pastors today want to lay out the options for belief and action without providing direction from their own beliefs. Is it any wonder, then, that so many are flying upside down? Go ahead and explain the options, but then say, “After studying this thoroughly, this is my conclusion. I’ll be happy to talk to anyone who would like to explore this further.”


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