What do those able to resist immense social pressure do right?

Cliffjumpers. Credit Dennis Graves. Creative Commons https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

Cliffjumpers. Credit Dennis Graves. Creative Commons https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

“The Day After Trinity” is a one-hour documentary on the unusually sensitive and literate organizer of the American 1940s atomic bomb scientific team. We ve been hearing about the seventieth anniversary of the testing of the first A-bomb in New Mexico, July 1945. For most of the period of the bomb’s development 1943-1945, the fear that the European fascists might get it and use it first compelled a counter project to deter its use. (Mutual Assured Destruction seems to have rationalized the horror device from the beginning.) However, well before testing, the European fascists surrendered in the first few days of May, 1945. After Victory-in-Europe Day, no “reason” for continuing the development existed. Yet, of the thousands of scientists working at the secret LosAlamos site on the “gadget,” only one resigned. “The Day After Trinity” includes the regrets of a scientist brought up as a Quaker who had convened meetings at Los Alamos to talk about the morality of the work, but who did not resign. Partly the solidarity was from J. Robert Oppenheimer’s personality, it seems. The sheer jouissance of the project brought its own inertia, too. Oppenheimer began to think differently almost as he saw the test explosion. He became an advocate of limitations on the use of the weapons that got him into trouble with the US government in the middle 1950s.

Zygmunt Bauman says about the Nazi genocide that it would have been well-nigh impossible even to conceive of exterminating a people apart from an engineering approach to society, entailing expertise, scientific management, and bureaucracy — all characteristic of an advanced state of modernity (reference below). Social settings make cruelty possible.

Perhaps these two observations above underline the contrary power of God’s people who fear God first and foremost. The book of Daniel includes this well-known-but -worth-studying window:

(The three Jewish civil servants) answered the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to present a defense to you in this matter. 17 If our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire and out of your hand, O king, let him deliver us. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue that you have set up.” (ch. 3, NRSV)

Jesus said,  “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!  Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Luke 12 paralleled at Matt 10)

The earliest church discovered the gumption to implement Jesus’ advice. Early leader Tertullian coined the saying, “The blood of Christians is seed,” actually, “Semen est sanguis Christianorum.” Such severe witness is seed of new life. Confirmation that you have something worth living for that you have something worth dying for, .

Perhaps there is no “best practices” or “how to” enabling resistance at the point of fierce temptation. Perhaps a rule of thumb is to be in tune — be read up in scripture, keep alert, be in prayer on a regular basis. No substitute for general spiritual well-being exists, neither in pill form nor one-hour crash session, or other. When Cranmer or Latimer or Hus or Clement, to say nothing of Stephen (Acts 6-8) faced the flames or stones, perhaps only empowerment by the Spirit of God made persistence possible. Jesus said as much:

“Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:34-36)

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Day After Trinity, first part of nine (as of 20150719) is at

Thanks to http://thegoodheart.blogspot.ca/2009/06/blood-of-christians-is-seed.html for clarification on the Tertullian quote.

Roberts, David D. The Totalitarian Experiment in Twentieth-Century Europe: Understanding the Poverty of Great Politics. New York and London: Taylor & Francis, 2006 p. 387
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