On the battlefield there is a handy dandy technique that can be used where a group can hide what they're doing by blowing smoke. It's called a smokescreen and it covers up your location, activities, and plans. How does it work? Well, there are a variety of ways to make smoke, but that's not what I mean. It works by blocking the vision of the opponent and giving them something else to look at. Smoke is very visible. You are not. Viola! You are now invisible!
Smokescreens are very popular in other battlefields as well. Skeptics like to ask leading questions intended to baffle the Christian not because there are not valid answers or even because they want answers, but because they can use these questions as smokescreens. I've spoken to many atheists/agnostics who have tried that technique repeatedly only to discover that, underneath that screen, they're not unbelievers, but actually mad at God for something. Even without being mad at God, typically they're using the questions and objections to put you off the real issues. Smokescreens.
A current smokescreen in play is being deployed by politicians (whose leanings you'll have to figure out on your own) via the media. We just saw one of these finally drift off the battlefield at the beginning of this last month. The screen was "the fiscal cliff". It was a very effective screen. It warned us of impending doom, of a coming recession and loss of income and, oh, my, the end of the world as we know it!! Do something! Do anything! Just don't let that happen!! And we fell for it. You see, the reason for that "fiscal cliff" was that our government has made a practice of spending way too much money -- far beyond what it takes in. Fixing that, however, was not on the table. There was no plan to take enough from the "rich" to solve the problem and clearly there was no intention of cutting the spending down to a functional level. So if they could just scare you into thinking there was a crisis and then avert that crisis, you'd be grateful ... even though the problem remained.
That was the recent one. The current one is the "debt ceiling". Those rotten Republicans are going to get us all bankrupted because they want to not limit the debt and everyone knows that if we don't borrow the money we need we can't pay our debts. That's what the President told us. We need to be able to borrow the money to pay our debts responsibly. "We've got to pay our bills," the President said. "To even entertain the idea of this happening, of the United States of America not paying its bills, is irresponsible. It's absurd." You see, the smokescreen is the fear of the elderly not getting their checks, the specter of an insolvent nation, the ordeal of not paying our debts, the horror of another financial crash. What is not being said is, "How is it responsible to increase our debt to pay our debt? In what world does that make sense?" According to the New York Times, "Public debt as a percentage of gross domestic product was around 38% in 1965. It is around 74% now. Debt could approach a ruinous 90% of G.D.P. in a decade and a cataclysmic 247% of G.D.P. 30 years from now." That is the real problem, not whether we can borrow more money. Smokescreen, you see. "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!" Or, perhaps more appropriate, "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain."
Smokescreens. Very popular in battle, whether the battle is political, social, or religious. Give the enemy something else to look at while you work. Obscure the facts, your purposes, your activities. Appeal to their senses, their fears, their emotions. Very effective. Watch for them. If you're paying attention, you'll see them. Then you can start to look through them to find what's real rather than what's distracting.