What is Woke?

What is Woke? Recently someone asked on social media, “what is woke”? The question was followed up with, “I mean, is it a bad thing? Why are people not understanding the importance of being woke?” Interestingly, many individuals see woke as a higher understanding of progressive ideas, an ability to be more “aware” and intellectually superior. In an effort to better understand this perspective I set out to explore the origins of “woke” ideology. One perspective in particular, compared the Age of Enlightenment (1685), and, the Renaissance (15th and 16th Centuries) with Galileo’s famous “gravity” experiments as an example of woke. I would like to point out that Galileo (1564-1642) indeed, validated Copernicus’s heliocentric orientation hypothesis (1543) where the planets revolve round the sun. And, this observation posed a serious threat to the current religious paradigm. It marked the beginning of modernity—atomism, elemental reductionism—this was science, and it shook the foundations of organized religion. The chain of events that followed (the Inquisition, as example) failed miserably (Kuhn, 2010). The church at that time called for censorship, index, and inquisition instead of seeking the Truth. The difference between Galileo’s scientific paradigm shift and socially constructed woke ideology is that woke is not science. Woke is actually similar to a kind of pseudo religion where ideological beliefs and feelings are valued more than apodictic (absolute, irrefutable) Truth. What is truth, you might ask? Woke culture focuses on identity from the perspectives of politics, psychology and sex, through the lens of social constructivism and expressive individualism, that is, “you can be anything you want to be.” Accordingly, “the contemporary political scene is dominated by the issues of identity politics where the belief in human authenticity are found in the freeing of oneself from religion and the traditional nuclear family and it’s moral/ethical values which inhibit “free agency” and a return to the natural self” (Truman, 2020). Thus, the idea of the “modern self” clearly finds their roots in the intellectual developments that took place in the eighteenth and nineteen centuries where oppression of feeling became a psychological category. This political, emotional and sexual psychological idea of selfhood is not new. It was first introduced by secular atheists including, Rousseau, Descartes, Nietzsche, Marx and Freud. This represented a reversal of perspectives from an outside-in (man created in the image of God) to a inside-out (man is god) human psychology. Coupled with the rise of the modern self is the idea of sexual freedom with its focus on expressing authentic natural human feelings. And, this pits woke ideology against traditional family values, marriage and institutional Christianity (Truman, p. 201).

What is woke? Woke therefore, is an ideological social construct and not science. Social science, on the other hand, stands up to repeated evidence-based rigor. This is called construct validity. Social constructs do not meet the criteria of the scientific method. True social science such as Solomon Ash’s “conformity theory”; Albert Bandura’s “Social Learning Theory” on aggression through observation; Muzafer Sherif’s “robber’s cave experiments on compliance and competition”, and the brilliant Gestalt psychologists social experiments on “perception, functional fixedness and group think” and finally, cognitive learning theory (Jean Piaget, Erik Erikson, and Lev Vygotsky) are all evidence-based. All these studies are valid and replicable social science. Again, woke is not a social science.

How absolutely arrogant and absurd it is to proclaim that woke people are more aware. Awareness, after all has to do with “consciousness”; the state of being awake and aware of one’s surroundings. It is important to understand oneself in relation with others. This is especially valuable in a multicultural environs where people share common values but embrace different worldwiews. And this kind of awareness (consciousness) is social science (Ornstein,1991). Wokeness hijacks science and truth and replaces it with ideological, socially constructed unreality. This is hardly awareness, it is unawareness. In other words, woke people don’t know what they don’t know. In addition, consciousness is closely associated with “conscience”; an inner feeling or voice acting as a guide to the rightness or wrongness of one’s behavior. This implies that there is an innate awareness of goodness and evil, rightness and wrongness. Of course, these common-core, innate human values interfere with the woke narrative, “there are no absolute truths”. There can’t be truth if one is socially constructing their own reality. And this is why so many informed and educated parents are concerned about the indoctrination of woke ideology on youth within the education system, where traditional value systems are deconstructed and replaced with socially constructed unreality such as, relational anarchy, Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) policies and Critical Race Theory (CRT). As example, there is the “woke” argument that there are more genders than just biological binary male and female as is evidenced by DNA and genetics(1). For instance, Supreme Court Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson could not respond to the question, “what is a woman?” This is woke politics and now represented in the Supreme Court.

The greatest lie that woke advocates tell children is that, “you can be anything you want to be”. This is a recipe for self-condemnation and depression. We all have strengths and limitations. But believing this one lie creates a culture of entitled narcissists which eventually leads toward learned helplessness, despair and nihilism (Miller & Seligman, 1975). In a prior post I shared my personal experience and understanding of critical race theory (CRT) and gender identity. What I have observed is either/or group think, division, separation and what amounts to racism and liberal privilege. The woke cancel culture suppress and censer valid alternative research perspectives and the researchers who challenge woke assumptions. This merely exacerbates, either/or binary thinking. Shouting down reason and debate is in every way, fear-based censorship which confirms my point about woke being more like the 15th century religious institutions mentioned in the first paragraph. But, there is some good news.

There is hope! Woke culture is not new. And while it finds its roots in the enlightenment period, woke is just another fad(2) and not a paradigm shift. There are still a few very good universities that teach critical thinking such as the Acton Institute and Colorado Christian University (CCU) and education/leadership institutions that bring together people from all cultures and worldview and debate and discuss the values of a free and virtuous society. A virtuous society is an emotionally and spiritually healthy society, one that is blessed with economic prosperity. Are you interested in becoming a lifelong learner and with a humble heart, willing to seek the truth? Please view the video presentation (below) and respond to this blog post sharing a heartfelt, thoughtful and edifying post.

Kuhn, T. S. (1996). The structure of scientific revolutions. (3rd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Ornstein, R. (1991). Evolution of consciousness: The origins of the way we think. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Miller, W. R., & Seligman, M. E. (1975). Depression and learned helplessness in man. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 84(3), 228–238. 

Truman, C. R. (2020). The rise and triumph of the modern self: Cultural amnesia, expressive individualism, and the road to sexual revolution. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway

(1). According to the World Health Organization (WHO) gender refers to characteristics of women, men, girls and boys that are socially constructed and include actual or perceived sex, gender identity, and gender expression including a person’s actual or perceived gender-related self-image, appearance, behavior, expression, or other gender-related characteristic regardless of the sex assigned to that person.

(2). Fads have short lifespans while trends have true staying power. Whereas fads are discovered by influencers, receive mainstream adoption (usually after intense media coverage) and then die off, trends take much longer to be cultivated. Once embraced, trends put down cultural roots and grow stronger.

To Everything There is A Season and A Time for Change

We live in times of great change. The COVID-19 pandemic, shelter at home and social distancing marks an unprecedented disruption of business as usual and an opportunity to explore Jesus and leadership as business unusual. As the wisdom of Solomon advises, “there is a time for everything” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, ESV). This is a time for change, deep change from the inside out and outside in. Change that affects everyone for the obvious reasons, loss; of gainful employment, of ability to provide for our families, even loss of life but, for the most part, the ubiquitous loss of our liberty. God created man to be extraordinarily flexible and agile, indeed, to be creative and innovative, agents of change. According to William Bridges, change is a natural, organic process, we are quite adaptable to change.  However, it is not change we fear, no, but rather, the transformations that require reorientation, it is the letting go, of familiar patterns of interaction; attachments, addictions and idols that make us anxious. It is the in-betweens that cause us to stumble and fall. In this sense, change is about loss. And we tend to mourn and grieve loss. We experience the stages of grief–denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

It has been said that God is in the business of transforming people’s lives. However, I believe, He often calls us into a journey, not of our own choosing. If we have the courage to step into this new normal with arms wide open, we discover how the Lord has “opened doors for us no one can shut” (Revelation 3:8). Transformation involves an interesting “experiential dance” between solitude and community. It is a collaborative journey of joint exploration, understanding self in relation with God and His creations–each other. Change, therefore involves both an intrapersonal and interpersonal, within groups and between groups dynamic. So, while we have been created to experience community together, we must also be intentional about spending time alone with our Heavenly Father, just as Jesus showed us. So, what happens when we are forced into exile–isolation and separation? Is God absent in this darkness? Of course not.

I believe, solitude is an opportunity for self examination, introspection and reflection–an opportunity to rediscover our heavenly Father’s Love, Truth and Grace. Solitude provides the opportunity for restoration and renewal of the spirit. In these times of solitude and reflection, we come to realize some things may have subtly changed or, need to change. We might have had to surrender or let go of something (attachment, addiction, idol) in order to experience a rebirth, a new identity emerges. N. T. Wright (2008) proclaims that “the resurrection of Jesus’s body points toward the time and affirms God’s promise to fill the earth with His Glory, transform the heavens and earth and raise up all believers in a new relationship with the Lord” (p. 265). Space, time, matter and hearts are renewed. Take time and find a quiet space to reflect on your life experiences prior to and during COVID through the end of 2020. Where do we go from here? Who can we trust?

Questions: How has the Lord re-directed your steps? How have you responded? How have you been, in some way, transformed or reborn?

Jesus’s resurrection is directly instrumental in bringing about this new birth (p. 271). But first, according to Wright, there must be a death and the curtain veil, must be torn so that we can draw closer to Him and no longer experience this separation of God and self. As we seek Him, we must meet Him in a place of full surrender (Acts 17:27). To be sure, we all enter this journey with a bit of trepidation (approach / avoidance) because it rattles our perception of ourselves, what we know, how we know what we know and, who we are in Christ Jesus which is oftentimes very different from who we think we are in the natural world. We have to take the risk of removing the mask and meeting oneself in the presence of our Lord.

Some of us have an intense fight or flight response and at the same time, we are all learning how to be more resilient and adaptive. I have been in the business of change my entire adult life and frankly, since I was a child. I am used to being all alone and pushing myself or, I should say, picking myself up from my bootstraps. So, I tend to feel confident in the in-between transitions and times of uncertainty. A child sent into the basement, for punishment finds creative ways to overcome darkness and loneliness. After a while, your eyes adjust, and you begin to see glimmers of light everywhere. I have learned that there is more than one way, one truth, that is, we can choose to perceive the world around us as dark and sinister, living in the shadows and, as such, cast same or, we can choose to see lightness gleaming through the darkness. What is obvious is that we need Spirit-led leaders that cast light and hope for rebirth, restoration and renewal–a vision for new beginnings, assuring our God-given inalienable rights for faith, family and freedom. But, what is less obvious is, leaders need followers. America’s exceptional individualism has given way to extreme individualism, narcissism and nihilism.

Indeed, times of great change. This event is different. It’s a tipping point, a paradigm shift. It casts its shadow in the light of day. And, it’s big, really big. The scale of this darkness is global touching the lives of everyone. Again, it eclipses and transcends our God given inalienable rights. This is cataclysmic. Remember, not so long ago, before everything changed, we had so much hope and vision for a prosperous future, didn’t we? The economy was doing extraordinarily well, unemployment was way down, job security was at an all-time high and compensation was on the rise. We were emotionally and spiritually healthy, spring had arrived and we were all looking forward to a new season of prosperity; summer vacations, future successes and unbounded opportunity. But, and it is a rather big BUT, we were divided as a nation. How can we assimilate? Looking back 2,000 years, within that zeitgeist (spirit of the time), I am struck by the request of James and John in the following scripture of (Mark, 10:35-38, ESV);

35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”

36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.

37 They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”

38 “You don’t know what you are asking” (Mark 10:35-38).

This scripture sets the stage for a dramatic turn in events–business unusual, indeed. It was getting exciting, this “movement” was becoming something really big. Think about Palm Sunday and how Jesus was greeted. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hallelujah! Then it takes a sudden turn. It gets very dark. Everything changed in a heartbeat. This story always reminds me of how proud and risk aversive God’s people can be in times of uncertainty, when we need Him most. Leading without God’s divine direction is not only foolish, it’s pernicious. People want to be a part of something that is successful and exciting. But when the tables turn, the same people turn and run away, they’re nowhere to be found. Life’s experiences are mostly cyclical. We have ups and downs and no one can ride the wave without crashing. The challenge is understanding the benefit of risk. There is a difference between taking risks and recklessness. How can we accept this challenge, to take a risk and step into the epicenter of the COVID-19 storm and create something new and innovative, something all people need. This is the time for innovation. God want’s us to experience the richness of our inheritance in Christ (Ephesians 1:11-17). But this is risky because we need to trust His Word. We need to trust that He is who He says He is. And, He always keeps His promises (Hebrews 10:23).

A lot of decisions that have been made over the past two-three decades focused solely on short-term ROI. And, now we see serious long-term consequences. Trusting in the Lord is like a long distance marathon. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-3). Where do we turn in these times of great disruption and uncertainty? Bible studies and small groups have relocated online. Join one or, start one. Others have turned their attention to binge watching Netflix or social media where social influencers spin fanciful stories and rumors for their own personal self gain. And, we are all riveted to the daily news where the progressive news media sow seeds of despair, nihilism and darkness. The Good News, the Word provides reassurance, hope and salvation.

Perhaps it is our own brokenness, co-dependence, projection and denial, approach avoidance that keep us from becoming the people the Lord created us to be. So, I see these times of extreme uncertainty as an opportunity to lead change, encourage and inspire one another, to do God’s will that He has for each of us, individually and collectively and fight the good fight, go the distance and keep the faith (1 Timothy 6:12). Although these times can appear very dark, sinister and frightening, we know how the story ends. We should be singing halleluiahs right now, here on earth as we will throughout all eternity in Heavenly places. Praise God, He is good.

Here are some more tips for leading in times of uncertainty. https://aboutchange.com/services/coaching/

Wright, N., T. (2008). Surprised by hope: Rethinking heaven, the resurrection, and the mission of the church. New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishing.

Bridges, W. (1980). Transitions: Making sense of life’s changes. New York, NY: Addison-Wesley Publishing.

The Platform for Children’s Books

Today, our children think they are not enough and they let society decide who they are (Westenberg, 2019). The current educational zeitgeist[1]sows seeds of moral, ethical and  emotional confusion.  This is worrisome because if your Truth is not biblical you will not be sustained and you will always be let down. Education at the youngest level, through reading, can help empower those that listen and encourage those who read. I am passionate about this because it is a platform so rarely used to empower young ones to know who they are. I work in a school setting and I am able to see the lies, nomenclature, social constructivism, moral relativism, post-modern, progressive perspectives teens believe and I feel that if they were spoken truth to at a younger age they would have a better foundation of who they are. Knowing who you are, your confidence, your self-esteem is important because it heavily influences people’s choices and decisions. It serves a motivational function by making it more or less likely that people will take care of themselves and explore their full potential (Oswalt, 2019).

And that my friends is why I am writing a children’s book to address youth suicide. As simple as a children’s book may be it provides a platform for parents to check in and ask tough questions like suicide. 

My goal with this book (book series) is to take complex issues and an ethically confused world and influencing social change and public opinion through an intergenerational children’s book series that aims to empower listeners and lead readers through the spirit of the truths of the Lord. 

From ages zero to five children learn the basic virtue of hope, will, and purpose” (McLeod, 2018).

In my opinion, children’s books have long shelf-life and legacy and are less likely to go out of style. This provides a platform to speak truth’s into the lives of generations to come and provide words the readers that guides conversation. Mixed methodology will allow me to use meta-data analysis to inform my etic (deductive) analysis and community praxis (action learning) to inform the emic (inductive) analysis and the narrative will be the written book narrative that expresses both the etic and emic. My books are intended to bridge the gap between believes and truths and formulate a discussion on epistemology. I plan on diving into a disciplined inquiry of children and trends from ages 5-15 and frameworks and systems that are flawed. This field is so tempted by the false and socially constructed narratives that my goal is to educate around tough subjects with biblical Truths. “That is the paradox of the epidemic: that in order to create one contagious movement, you often have to create many small movements first” (Gladwell, 2002). 

“A majority of the general population reads five books or less every year (67%). Broken down a little more, one-quarter of all adults don’t read any books at all (25%), while two out of five read anywhere between one and five books a year (42%). One-third of adults read five or more books a year (34%). Among the generations, Elders are the true bookworms—with about one-quarter reading more than 15 books a year (23%) (Kinnaman, 2015). 

Figure 1. Pie chart of statistics of why each demographic reads 2015. Adapted from ‘). The state of books and reading in a digital world’ (Kinnaman, 2015).

Figure 2. Bar graph of statistics of number of books each demographic reads per year in 2015. Adapted from ‘). The state of books and reading in a digital world’ (Kinnaman, 2015).

Thus the idea that children are soaking up their environment and are a byproduct of their society stems from the same concept organizational theorists.  As example, organizational theorists relate non-profit organizations as a direct reflection of the pressures and constraints presented by their environments. Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development states, “children constructs a mental model of the world. He disagreed with the idea that intelligence was a fixed trait, and regarded cognitive development as a process which occurs due to biological maturation and interaction with the environment (McLeod, 2018). Researcher Lev Vygotsky’s social development theory states that social interaction precedes development; consciousness and cognition are the end product of socialization and social behavior (Vygotsky, 1980). Erik Erikson’s stage theory articulates the importance of the formidable mind at a young age. “Erickson maintained that personality develops in a predetermined order through eight stages of psychosocial development, from infancy to adulthood.

We must be purposeful with words, actions, and truths we let our children hear at a young age. “A person’s words can be life-giving water; words of true wisdom are as refreshing as a bubbling brook” (Proverbs 18:4). Their behavior reflects their resource dependency, and risk of goal displacement and loss of autonomy if they are too dependent on one item (Worth, 2017, p. 68). 

This is my second masters and fourth degree from CCU and I am most excited to see where this thesis goes. I am currently working with a book editor and in the process of choosing an illustrator. My book, You are You, is expected to hit shelves and be available online in 2020.


Cassidy Burke

[1]spirit of time



Gladwell, M. (2002). The tipping point: how little things can make a big difference.Back Bay Books, 

Kinnaman, D. (2015). The state of books and reading in a digital world.Barna. Retrieved from https://www.barna.com/research/the-state-of-books-and-reading-in-a-digital-world/

McLeod, S. (2018). Erik Erickson’s stages of psychosocial development.  Simply Psychology. Retrieved from https://www.simplypsychology.org/Erik-Erikson.html

Oswalt, A. (2019). Why self-esteem is important and its dimensions. Mental Help. Retrieved from https://www.mentalhelp.net/articles/why-self-esteem-is-important-and-its-dimensions/

Westenberg, K. (2019). Identity crisis: how to help your children know their worth. I Choose Brave. Retrieved from http://www.ichoosebrave.com/identity-crisis-how-to-help-your-children-know-their-worth/

Worth, M.  (2017).  Nonprofit Management:  Principles and Practices.  Los Angeles, California: Sage.  

Vygotsky, L. S. (1980). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Harvard University Press.