Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Plague of Lawlessness

It's hard to imagine the chaos and suffering of truly lawless countries, but they do exist today. In North Korea, Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast, Somalia, or a dozen other countries, there is no legal system or justice as we define it. Tribal dictators rule according to their whim. No one's property is safe from theft, and anyone can be imprisoned and killed. Poverty reigns and productivity is reduced to a bare minimum. There is hopelessness and no personal security. This is life as it was lived in the Stone Age.

Civilization began about 5,000 years ago when humankind awoke to the presence of God within, and people realized that laws and effective law enforcement were mandatory for progress. When Moses codified God's laws and formed the nation of Israel there was a surge in productivity, security, power, and national wealth. The Greeks and Romans discovered that the more refined the laws were, and the more fairly and universally they were enforced, the more orderly and sophisticated economies and society could become. These civilizations collapsed when their respective legal systems were breached by corruption.

Much of modern history since the Renaissance has been focused on rediscovering, recreating, and refining  the accomplishments of the ancient Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian world.  The Charter of the United Nations, with its statements on human rights and the intrinsic worth of the individual, is modeled on the Declaration of Independence; which in turn was entirely inspired by Judaism and Christianity. The Book of Job in the Old Testament teaches that we can challenge and wrestle with God; and Jesus gave himself up for all humanity, rich, poor, black, white, male, or female.

Almost everyone who reads these words lives in a nation or state that has laws that protect them to some degree, but probably all of us are beginning to feel the awful sense of insecurity that comes with approaching chaos. There is an ongoing global breakdown of lawful institutions, and more distrust of government now than at any time since the Great Depression.

People of little or no conscience are on the ascendant. Like the captain of the Costa Concordia (who ran his ship into the rocks, abandoned it, and jumped into a lifeboat), government, law enforcement, and business leaders all over the world are trying to escape blame for their stupidity, corruption, egotism, and incompetence. They will not escape, and the reckoning is approaching. Time is running out. God is forgiving, but not infinitely forgiving.

This is from the Gospel of Matthew, 3:7:  "But when he [John the Baptist] saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?  Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.  And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father’. For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.  Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
"I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me [Jesus] is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

This is happening now. God is leveling an indictment on the world, and it has three facets based in law:

1) Reckless endangerment
2) Implied malice
3) Depraved indifference

No matter where in the world or in what kind of society you live, these are crimes. Civilization cannot survive in any meaningful form unless those who commit these crimes are stopped and brought to justice. But what exactly do these terms mean, and why are they so important?

Reckless endangerment often refers to child abuse, but it is becoming common in national and military leaders. It is the callous disregard for the lives and fortunes of others.

Implied malice is related to reckless endangerment, and speaks to motive. Craven disregard for the lives, limbs, and property of others indicates clearly that malice - criminal intent - is present.

Depraved indifference can be seen every day in the world, particularly in leaders such as North Korea's recently deceased Kim Jong Il. At least two-million people starved to death during his seventeen-year reign, and North Korea's economy is an ongoing catastrophe. Kim's son is now imprisoning people who weren't sufficiently mournful over his father's death a few months ago.

What is sufficient punishment for those who violate God and have perpetrated these crimes? Only God knows our hearts and can decide, but it will be terrible. Conversely, those who are on God's side in this conflict will have glory, honor, joy, riches, wisdom, and eternal life on a new earth.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Tyranny of Arrogance, Incompetence, and Folly

Almost exactly one-hundred-years ago, on April 15, 1912, the new ocean liner R.M.S. Titanic struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic and sank, drowning more than 1,500 passengers and sparing very few survivors. There were not enough lifeboats on board, but it didn't matter because, the ship's designers insisted, the Titanic was "unsinkable". Consequently, very few of the crew members knew how to evacuate the ship, and some lifeboats were launched almost empty, or left dangling from their rigging.

It was the worst disaster in maritime history up to that time, and was seen as a metaphor for human arrogance, incompetence, stupidity, and folly. The proud captain of Titanic was racing through a field of icebergs at twenty-five knots, unable to stop quickly, and completely oblivious to the dire peril he was in. Very likely he was thinking that a catastrophe could never touch him. He went down with his ship. We invite catastrophe whenever we  think it can't happen to us.

Two years later, in August 1914, a vastly greater catastrophe unfolded: World War I.

It, too, was a monument to human arrogance, stupidity, incompetence, and folly. When it ended many millions were dead and wounded, untold suffering had wracked dozens of nations, competent governments were destroyed, and nothing had been settled. The stage was set for Soviet communism, Italian Fascism, Nazism, holocausts unseen in human history previously, and World War II.

Human arrogance, stupidity, incompetence, and folly are again on display; and the Titanic metaphor is alive and well today.
A beautiful new Italian cruise ship, the Costa Concordia, with more than four-thousand passengers and crew aboard, ran aground and sank last Friday night off the coast of Tuscany. The captain guided the ship into the rocks on the shore of an island, ripping a one-hundred-foot-long gash in the side of the 1,000 foot-long ocean liner. He then got into a lifeboat and abandoned ship ahead of everyone else, refusing Italian Coast Guard orders to return. The crew "had no idea what to do", passengers are now saying.

(Link to Costa Concordia tragedy)

It happened at 10:30 p.m., and the weather was calm and clear. The island is populated and the lights from buildings on shore clearly marked the coast to the unaided eye. Considering the technology on board the Costa Concordia - including radar, GPS equipment, autopilot, and electronic charts of every inch of the ocean - this is an act of staggering stupidity and incompetence, even criminality. It illustrates perfectly the state of Italy and our world today.

There's one possible explanation for this tragedy based on motive; specifically, who stands to benefit from it? The following scenario is highly probable considering the rampant greed and evil in the world:

Coincidentally, the mega-hit film Titanic is planned for re-release this April 15, and the studio that originally produced it has spent millions of dollars re-shooting it in 3D. It should be spectacular and successful, worldwide. But one can never be sure in the entertainment industry.

What if someone in the promotional department of the studio decided that a publicity stunt - such as a contemporary cruise ship ripping open its hull - would be just the thing to stimulate interest and empathy for the story? The 'accident' would provide a real boost for ticket sales. The 'accident' should be minor and close to shore so that nobody is drowned or hurt. A cruise ship captain might be bribed to just brush past some rocks. It would be worth many millions if the stunt went off just right. Would a million euros persuade a skipper to betray his honor and oaths?

Perhaps the captain of the Costa Concordia miscalculated. It wouldn't be the first time a publicity stunt went horribly wrong.  It's just another sign of our times.

 (Link: Titanic re-release, in 3D)

National economies and societies all over the globe are foundering and collapsing at a furious rate. Many of the nations of the developed world - excluding Germany, Brazil, and China - are technically bankrupt. There has been massive mismanagement, corruption, and outright theft of resources. Politicians and leaders of all kinds have micro-managed, over-regulated, and bureaucratized formerly productive economies. They've promised benefits and entitlements to their people that can never be paid. At the same time, these leaders and national managers have strangled the private industries and businesses that generate the wealth needed to pay those benefits. Meanwhile, a craven United Nations has allowed Iran, Pakistan, and North Korea to to build  nuclear bombs. World war again looms on the horizon.

Ignoring the very recent lessons of Red China and Soviet Russia, people everywhere are talking about Marxism and Socialism as if they would cure our ills, when clearly they are - more than any other cause - the reason for our stagnation and decay.

Because we are abandoning the ideals of individual freedom, including free market economics, we are ruining ourselves. But it's not too late for us as individuals. We can't fight evil and defeat it with violence. We can seek out the forgiving and loving God who created us. We can allow the spirit to enter and calm us. Forgiveness - in the sense of not seeking vengeance for wrongs - will heal us.  We can be active in the world, and not give in to the encroaching darkness.
Jesus said, "See, I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. So be as cunning as serpents and as innocent as doves." Matthew 10:16.

Monday, January 9, 2012

More On 'Christian Nations'; A Reader Responds

Your observation that a nation cannot truly and completely live the teachings of Christ and survive is quite true. The charge of Christian nations, as it is with individual Christians in their lives, is to comport themselves in their struggles for survival in the most Christian-like fashion possible.

As we are given the instinct for survival, and the will to carry it through, we must align the toughest basic demands thereof to our higher sensibilities of charity and mercy to the greatest extent that we can.

The United States, founded upon the principle that the lives of all men are of value to them, to society, and to God, has done a miraculous job of living those higher values; and instituting them to the greatest degree that has ever before been achieved.

Unfortunately, in our lifetime we have seen the devolution of the notions of both national survival and the value of individualism. The leftist Progressives, in their zeal to diminish the value of personal freedom - in exchange for the supremacy of collective society - have insinuated upon us the notion that the quest for moral perfection demands a suicidal acquiescence to the notions of a nebulous universal fairness and moral relativism.

Christian values then, which we as humans understand are impossible to achieve in their totality, and still allow for survival, have been treated as being offensive to the effort of societal  perfection.

This is all a ruse however. It is a completely cynical and deceitful attempt to disparage the belief in a higher and greater aspiration in the souls of men and in their societal values, in order that humane-thinking citizens will look to government itself for all things related to the pursuit and realization of perfection.

Needless to say, this can never be, and we are seeing this so obviously today, as our government grows ever larger in the lives and spirits of our citizens, and as daily we see the corruption in the souls of those who would replace God and Christ as our lights of guidance.

What a crock they serve us. Charles Krauthammer [a Washington Post columnist] writes that today "we live in an age of Holy terror" (Link)  How true, and the totalitarians seek to capitalize upon that fact in order to capture and cultivate the souls of men for their purposes of total control.

Their big problem, though, is that they are only men who think that they can be as gods. And in their pride and dishonesty, they are more flawed than the "average" reverent and believing souls (earnest citizens of goodwill) that they seek to control.

Moreover, in their flaws and greed they make all the wrong choices, and therefore can never fulfill the role of the false gods that they dream of being.