The Raiders News Network
by S. Douglas Woodward
Each day we awaken to a new headline telling of a cataclysm somewhere on our globe. With one crisis building upon the next, there’s no respite for the anxious. In the first article in this series, we talked about the horrible tornadoes we are experiencing in America this spring. If not already, we are soon to exceed the most deaths in a single tornado season. Most experts believe that storms are getting worse. This fall we are warned to expect 18 named hurricanes off our eastern and gulf seacoasts. We can’t help but be anxious. We experience all of this anxiety while much of our nation is still to fully recover from the horrible hurricanes of six years ago. But it’s much more than weather that worries us today.
Unsolvable problems of all kinds continue to mount. Cable news incessantly broadcasts the latest developments, 7 by 24. Japan stared down a nuclear meltdown brought on by a 9.0 earthquake while seeking to overcome the effects of its killer Tsunami. At least 20,000 Japanese died. On the other side of the world, as I write these words, Islamic social unrest and wars in the Middle East consume no less than seven separate nations, highlighted by the attack of Western coalition armies on Libya’s military and dictator, Muammar Gadhafi. Syria’s President, Bashar al-Assad, continues to murder his citizens as a means to control their protests. Iran continues aggressive action to create a nuclear weapon threatening to throw the entire region into war. We’ve just learned that they, not Iraq, were likely aiding Al Qaeda, in the 911 attacks. What will this mean? Is retaliation from the United States a possibility? Then there is the tension between the Palestinians and the Israelis which continues to be seen as the primal fuse to set off yet another mid-east war.
Domestically, prices for food and for energy continue to rise. Unemployment increases and governments sit on the brink of bankruptcy. People everywhere are beginning to panic, assuming the next mega disaster will occur on their doorstep. As the world grows smaller, the horror we witness on television from far across the sea now seems a real possibility in our neck of the woods. The catastrophes are no longer remote.
Lest we think our problems are only temporary, intellectual ‘think tanks’ remind us that food shortages are with us to stay. The rising cost of energy reduces the chance for economic recovery; even advances in medicine, information technology, communication, and agriculture all could back-fire as we introduce dramatic new technologies producing unintended consequences. Future climate scenarios forecast stronger hurricanes, more extremes in temperature, and coastal flooding as ice packs in the Arctic and Antarctic relentlessly melt away. It’s obvious we are not masters of nature.
In the U.S., prospects for improving our lot diminish as we move toward tomorrow. Most Americans opine that the so-called American Dream is dead. We anticipate our children’s lives will enjoy much less prosperity than what we’ve experienced – a gloomy expectation indeed never present before in American economic forecasts.
Over the past two decades, our popular culture grows increasingly edgy. Movies, television shows, and documentaries play on our fears, presenting catastrophes as entertainment. Disaster movies, frequently starring frightful aliens from outer space, are standard fare. Since entertainment is an escape from everyday difficulties, our captivation is all the more surprising given these ‘getaways’ reinforce our helplessness against overwhelming forces always beyond our control.
We seek other kinds of relief in the strangest places with the worst substances we can manufacture. Our society has never been more addicted to hard alcohol, recreational drugs, overeating, consumerism, and sex. If we aren’t eating ourselves to death, we forfeit our future, purchasing ourselves into such deep debt our only relief comes through extraordinary measures. What’s worse, our favorite pastime is staring enthralled at Hollywood celebrities doubling as icons for our moral breakdown. Their addictions and bad behavior feed our insatiable appetite for scandal.
What can satisfy the hunger of our souls? Popular religions spin cosmologies more outlandish and over the top than ever. Pseudo-spiritual movements hype their mystical solutions for these tempestuous times. The 2012 phenomenon has generated scads of books and self-help DVDs during this first part of the 21st century. Study shows, however, the core issue for those captivated by 2012 is not the end of the world, but the crisis of personal and political choice. In many ways, this ‘movement’ is nothing more than a relabeled New Age pseudo-religion which dominated spiritual discussions during the last third of the 20th century. In the final analysis, those that are tuned into this new spirituality are turned on to drugs, yoga, meditation, and spiritual disciplines whose practice promises psychic reality – a titillating ‘high’ absent in religious experience of common folk. Even more telling, the acceptance of the supernatural is astounding. Movies and television shows based on the paranormal are legion. The History Channel, that bastion of well-documented truths, celebrates belief in extraterrestrials as nurturing parents to the human race. UFO documentaries are replete with undeniable encounters of the unknown. How the scene has changed from the secularism and skepticism of the 1960’s and 70’s! Once upon a time, we strained to believe anything ‘out of the ordinary’ – now, we accept whatever’s whacky and ‘out of this world’ in due course.
Underlying all of these gimmicks to find meaning lurks a ‘creeping death’ – a deep despair regarding Western civilization rooted in our dissatisfaction with the ‘old ways of thinking.’ Decades ago (centuries ago in Europe), we advocated principles originating in the Bible. We accepted a transcendent basis for law that guaranteed absolute truth. Practicing ethics in business mattered to most of us because we didn’t separate our spirituality from secular pursuits. Since we accepted the notion of an all-seeing, all-knowing God whose laws demanded justice and compassion, we expended considerable time and effort in charitable activities.
Nowadays, we much prefer to think of God as a reality ‘residing within.’ Harkening to ages old ‘metaphysics’ plagiarized from eastern mysticism then mixed with ‘modern’ physics, we’ve chopped God down to size. The notion of God only serves as a subtle encouragement to be ‘centered’ and thoughtful – but primarily directed at the person we care about most – me. We’ve adopted a pantheistic piety. Today, it’s all about us. Consequently, when we choose to acknowledge the divine, we can now place His (his) name in lower case. What’s more, since we perceive our deepest problems result from our failure to be in touch with ourselves, only we need take responsibility for our reclamation. Apparently, by accepting our personal divinity, we gain power to live, love, and be happy.
However, some gurus and spiritual guides advocate a much more radical departure from our Western religious past. They promise new answers to satisfy our personal needs and rectify our political problems once we cast away the archaic notions of the old order – guidelines that are inflexible, materialistic, and legalistic. In some cases (such as in the movement self-named “Awakening as One”), subtle threats lie buried within its message of ‘hope’ challenging all inquirers to change to this new way of thinking or face the devastating consequences! Those who do not fall in line – who do not choose ‘to sing out of the same hymnbook’ with these spiritualists – won’t make the transition to the ‘new age’ (an epoch they predict arrives on or soon after the end of 2012 of course). The ‘non-illuminated’ will be eliminated. What’s the means to exterminate the uncommitted? The next inquisition’s tools aren’t plainly disclosed as of yet. But since the philosophy behind this program was rooted in Nazism (to be specific, esoteric Theosophy), we should worry whether a second holocaust hides in the plans of its activists.
So is the apocalypse near? From many perspectives, it certainly appears inevitable. But whether it commences soon, several decades from now, or beyond – more than ever before – I profess the only hope for our troubled nation and our world is the truth of the Bible and its prescriptions for our personal lives, our culture, and our nation. Many will object to this assertion; the tag-line likely being, “Been there, done that.” However, wherever we were and whatever we did failed to resemble what true Christianity teaches and true spirituality demands. Those meant to serve as ‘salt’ in the world lost their savor.
In the last 100 years, America’s pulpits have been compromised by clergy whose vitality for Christianity was drained by the intellectual bankruptcy of naturalism (through its denial of the miraculous) and the attempt to accommodate the Christian gospel to an unbiblical form of truth. As Francis Schaeffer, a noted Christian intellectual assessed, modern theology split truth between two spheres: (1) ‘Spiritual’ matters and (2) scientific or historical ‘factual’ matters. By agreeing with this definition of ‘truth’ encouraged by the conclusions of what is known in theology as ‘higher criticism’ (purporting the gospel is contaminated by folklore, myth, and unscientific presuppositions of ancient times), Christian ‘truth’ became detached from rationality (and reality).
This ‘escape from reason’ led to a terminal case of anemia for the mainline Protestant Christian Church and in many cases, Catholicism as well. Christianity lost its voice as it lost touch with its historic understanding of the nature and reality of God.
The Christian message isn’t relevant to most members of our society not because it was tried and found wanting; but because many of its teachers today and in the recent past rarely represented the most essential elements of the gospel of Christ, leading too few converts to commit themselves to its fulfillment. Modernist ‘priests’ ceased preaching an authentic gospel when they jettisoned elements fundamental to the gospel, in particular the biblical catchphrase “The Kingdom of God is coming!” Fearing the accusation of preaching ‘hell, fire, and brimstone,’ too few ministers heralded what Jesus proclaimed, “Repent and believe – before it’s too late!” This message is crucial for it is this “edge” which catalyzes all other aspects of Christ’s solution for humankind. When the gospel of Christ doesn’t include a strong dose of apocalyptic fervor, the audience interprets the offer of salvation as a “take it or leave it” proposition.
True Christianity and true spirituality (what we believe and how we put it into practice) are founded on the premise our time in this life is short – every moment counts. And yet, in the short period we have on this planet, we leave a legacy – good or bad. Each and every day our actions leave an indelible imprint in the fabric of time. Our lives either enhance the weave in the tapestry or disfigure its picture. We choose the impression we wish to leave. Nevertheless, this reality is the basis of Christian spirituality and our ability to impact the world in which we live.
In the next article, I will discuss whether political solutions can be achieved that could alter the course of our nation and forestall the Apocalypse I claim is heading inexorably toward us.
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S. Douglas Woodward has authored three books:
Are We Living in the Last Days?
Defender Publishing Group.
See also his web sites: Decodingdoomsday.com and