The Lamb and Rattler Manifesto
How Christianity and Freedom Can Form the Foundation of an Excellent Life
At the core of Lamb & Rattler is a deep desire to discover the best way to live. The place I have arrived is a result of constant examination and re-examination of principles and ideas that govern our thoughts and decisions.
The two core tenets I have come to believe in are Christianity and freedom. Unfortunately, both of these ideas come with their fair share of baggage, unfounded political attachments, and shallow interpretations.
With Lamb & Rattler, I seek to wade through these caricatures and unearth the immense philosophical and practical value these two philosophies have in improving the way we live and impact the world around us.
The name comes from the lamb of God, Jesus, and the symbol on the Gadsden flag, the rattlesnake. Although too often co-opted by people that don’t actually understand the values of limited government, its original meaning was meant to convey the patient strength of a rattlesnake: never attacking without being provoked but always willing to do what is necessary to combat aggression.
I did not embrace Christianity until diving deep into it and taking the time to understand what it really is and not what cultural caricatures have made it out to be.
Specifically, N.T. Wright has been a major influence in discussing the importance of what we do here on earth mattering tremendously.
Too often I would hear people talk of just having faith on the one hand and never bothering to examine their faith rigorously, even though the Bible itself commands us to.
On the other hand, I also became annoyed with the constant judgmentalism combined with a hands-off ‘God will fix everything’ mentality.
It always bothered me that so many Christians would at the same time be so critical of other people’s actions while being so lazy with their own.
It was these things, among others, that kept me from Christianity, but something about it kept drawing me back. My wife encouraged me to learn as much about it as I could and be genuine in my pursuits. I did so and was greatly surprised by the intellectual weight many Christians carried.
So I continued to learn from great minds like C.S. Lewis and N.T. Wright and slowly discovered that the image of Jesus and Christianity as a whole painted by the culture was not what I imagined it to be.
It was actually full of psychological, sociological, and philosophical wisdom for how to best live our lives and explain the deepest desires of the human heart.
But fulfilling these deepest desires comes with a cost. We need to live in a certain way and enforce certain constraints on ourselves in order to realize these desires.
This brings us to the second major theme of Lamb & Rattler, freedom.
Everyone has an inherent desire for personal autonomy, but we are shown over and over again that when we fulfill our personal desires without constraint things tend to go haywire.
This is made very apparent when we look at the problem of the seen and the unseen. Human beings tend to only examine the immediately seen effects of our actions, while completely ignoring or underestimating the unseen effects of those actions.
F.A. Hayek won the Nobel Prize for discussing this concept and its implication on economic policies enforced by a disconnected, elite group of people attempting to enforce an arbitrary set of rules on diverse populations that will not have the same response to those rules.
Most often, this happens because we attempt to force constraints on others while applying a minimal amount to ourselves.
So as I see it, we need to apply constraints to our freedom in order to live the best life we can, but the key lies in having the freedom to determine those constraints for ourselves and having a good blueprint for how to do so.
Too often people turn to other people to create these for us and enforce them through rule of law or rule of societal exile.
The result is one of many dichotomies that exist in the world, the dichotomy of freedom, where the only way to be truly free is to place constraints on ourselves in order to best live. An analogy I like to use is that of a fish. A fish out of water is not free, he is incapacitated and if left there too long, dead.
People often think freedom means doing whatever we want when we want to do it, but true freedom can only exist when we understand our limits and the way we were designed to operate and work within our constraints. When we attempt to do things outside of the way we were built it usually results in unintended and unexpected negative consequences, like a fish wanting to find freedom by exploring dry land.
We are designed to function well in certain environments and with certain constraints placed on ourselves.
But where do we get those constraints?
In my thinking and exploration, I’ve come to believe the ideal way to do this is to use the teachings of Jesus as the bedrock on which we base our deepest values and principles while learning about specific ways to apply these from people and the world around us.
The guiding principle of Lamb & Rattler is that in the life and character of Jesus we have a blueprint for what constraints to apply to ourselves. But an essential component of doing this correctly is to have the freedom to do it ourselves without coercion. We need to genuinely want to live by these principles in order for them to mean anything or do any good.
That can’t happen without the free exchange and rigorous inspection of ideas, principles, and actions and by writing about the virtues of these principles, providing both logical and emotional arguments for their validity and practicality.
This brings us to the critical second half of the dichotomy of freedom. Once we have determined which constraints are best placed on us, we will be tempted to force everyone else to use those constraints because we have deemed them the best way to live out our humanity.
But this is a trap. These constraints must be taken on willingly for them to have any effect, and they will backfire when attempted to be forced on people.
It’s important to note that when I talk of freedom, I don’t simply mean freedom from government tyranny, although that is certainly a piece of it. I mean freedom in a more holistic sense of freeing ourselves from the horrors that come along with applying no constraints or the wrong constraints to ourselves (in Christian terms, freedom from sin). Freedom from private organizations is also critical, like when powerful institutions like academia and large media organizations try to impose constraints on us.
Personal autonomy is also a critical component of true freedom, which involves placing physical, financial, and vocational constraints on ourselves in order to design a life around personal autonomy.
Physical health is an excellent example of this dichotomy. We, as modern people, are free to indulge in all sorts of sweet, manufactured ‘food’ that will satisfy our taste buds and dopamine receptors.
At the same time, while we fool ourselves into thinking we have created freedom through our nutritional ingenuity, we will enslave ourselves to diseases caused by unhealthy food that will slowly poison us to death.
We are literally killing ourselves with our own hubris. But this plague of pride can only be fought by critically examining the prevailing wisdom of the times.
This combination of the free exchange of ideas and personal autonomy is why I am choosing to write for a platform like Substack. The ability to create smaller, independent media outlets that can coalesce to combat the powers-that-be is something that is immensely valuable and should be jealously guarded.
Along with this comes the freedom to disagree on big, important issues and discuss the pros and cons of ideas and principles, even if we vehemently dislike them.
The censorship of words and ideas not only undermines the freedom of discussion that makes societal improvement possible but actually strengthens the causes that are being censored.
Censorship and forced enforcement of constraints almost always backfire. This is obvious with large examples like prohibition, and more recently, the disastrous war on drugs.
Both of which caused vastly more death and crime than the problems they were intended to solve.
The same problem happens with media censorship. When something we disagree with is censored by a major news outlet or social media organization, it only gives more ammunition to the supporters of that idea and fuels the fires of conspiracy theories.
“See, they don’t want this information to get out!”
Let the information get out. Let it be examined, critiqued, fought against, ripped to shreds, and if it is worthy, built back up from the ashes to prove its worth and truth.
The open discussion and defense of ideas against criticism is what strengthens them and proves their value and worth in the world.
This is, ironically, what turned me off of Christianity originally and then brought me towards it.
I had assumed that Christians were against the rigorous examination of their claims and ideas, and this wasn’t completely unfounded.
Many Christians fall back on the intellectually lazy “just have faith” argument that has turned so many young people away from the faith. But there are a great many Christians, both ancient and contemporary, that have engaged in and encouraged a detailed examining of the faith, what it entails, and what it teaches about how to live our lives.
Some of the biggest examples that have influenced me are C.S. Lewis, N.T. Wright, and John Lennox.
When humanity goes wrong, it usually does so by straying from one of these two principles, or both: either choosing the wrong constraints, forcing others to apply them to themselves or both.
And that brings us from the guiding principle of Lamb & Rattler to its primary goal: to facilitate the spread, examination, and discussion of the ideas of Christianity and freedom so we can live ideal lives that are the most beneficial to ourselves and the people and world around us.
There is obviously a great deal of philosophical and practical implications in these ideas.
In this publication, we’ll be expanding on all the ideas presented here, along with many others, such as:
Whether an absolute ‘best’ set of constraints exists and can be applied universally
Why Christianity, and specifically the life and example set by Jesus, provides the best set of constraints we have available to us
How to properly understand and read the Bible to best apply it to our lives
Explorations of how and why forcing constraints on others always goes awry
Why seemingly ancient and outdated teachings from the Bible still apply to us today
Why constraints are necessary, and why they must be self-imposed
The indescribable importance of critical thought, examination, and criticism of ideas, especially those we hold most dear
And much, much more. Many of the posts and ideas discussed will be driven by reader feedback as I better learn and understand what drives people and what people want to understand and learn about.
If we abandon the free spread and discussion of ideas, we will inevitably fall into a society ruled by the mere personal preference of the currently reigning elite, as differing worldviews are prohibited from being examined and discussed.
It is my personal opinion that the best values to embody are that of the life and character of Jesus, with a mind towards freedom to come to these values and ideas of our own volition.
Lamb & Rattler exists to demonstrate that this is indeed the best way to live, show practical ways of living this out in our modern world, and routinely examine whether or not we are on the right track.
I’d love to have you join me in this never-ending journey to discovering the best ways of thinking about the world and living in it by subscribing.