Abundant Grace

“The grace of God is abundant. It is for all lands, for all ages, for all conditions. It seems to undergird everything. Pardon for the worst sin, comfort for the sharpest suffering, brightest light for the thickest darkness.”

—Thomas De Witt Talmage (1874)

,

Justice or Redemption?

Redeemer

Just a couple of additional clarifying (hopefully) thoughts about my previous post on theologically conservative Christians’ accelerating embrace of the term social justice.

First, note the qualifier in the sentence above—“theologically conservative.”

The fact is, theologically liberal Christians have been waving the social justice flag for more than 100 years. For example, I recently read a fascinating book published in 1917 titled, A Theology for the Social Gospel. The author, Walter Rauschenbusch, was a key figure in the Progressive – Social Gospel movement in the United States at the turn of the last century.

In it, he frankly admits that it’s impossible to reconcile the Christian faith’s traditional, atonement-centered theology with his and others’ to desire build the Kingdom of God on earth through governmental power and institutional reform—or in the modern liberal vernacular, through seeking “justice.”

So he concludes that orthodox Christian theology must evolve . . . i.e., be “expanded and readjusted.” From the opening page . . .

We have a social gospel. We need a systematic theology large enough to match it and vital enough to back it. [This] book offers concrete suggestions on how some of the most important sections of doctrinal theology may be expanded and readjusted to make room for the religious convictions summed up in ” the social gospel.”

In other words, if your preference for how the Kingdom of God manifests on earth doesn’t line up with the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith, instead of adjusting your preferences you simply endeavor to reinvent the faith.

The spiritual descendants of the Social Gospel justice-seekers are very much with us today in the Progressive/Liberal (theologically and politically) segment of the evangelical world.

This impulse to reshape Christian doctrine to fit a preferred socio-politico framework is on display in recent books like Brian McLaren’s A New Kind of Christianity and Tony Campolo’s Red Letter Christians. As with Rauschenbusch 100 years earlier, these leaders recognize that our stubborn devotion to a Gospel that is first and foremost about transformation of broken people, rather than the transformation of broken social systems, is the primary obstacle to establishing the Kingdom of God as they understand it.

Sorry

Man’s fall broke two things—Man and Creation.

Jesus’ work opened the door to the restoration (redemption) of both, but in a specific order. Redeemed people first. Then the restoration of the created order . . .

For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. (Romans 8:19,20)

Like the well-intentioned Social Gospel crusaders of a century ago, today’s Social Justice seekers turn this order on its head. They seek to roll back the effects of the curse on individuals–poverty, oppression, addiction, abuse–by healing creation (or the macro-order within it). This is precisely why any conversation with a justice-minded person about poverty, crime, or racism invariably turns to “root causes.”

And the identified root is almost always something “systemic.” (Systemic inequality of wealth distribution, systemic racism, systemic sexism, etc.)

capitalismIf the ills that must be cured are “systemic” rather than rooted in the brokenness of individuals, then the only logical solution becomes reform or replacement of the “system.”

By the way, this is why the favorite target of social justice seekers— both secular and liberal Christian—is the economic system known as Capitalism.

In reality, the Kingdom is revealed on earth from the bottom up–one redeemed person at a time. Yet a focus on social justice seeks manifestation of the Kingdom from the top down–by endeavoring to heal the systems and institutions of society. Viewing the world’s ills through the lens of justice (as currently defined by many young believers–See my previous post) makes every problem a “fairness” problem instead of a brokenness problem.

Justice-minded efforts to heal the pain of individuals by reforming/replacing systems invariably require concentrating immense power and control in the hands of an enlightened, benevolent few. This never ends well. Ever.

Why? Because people are broken. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. And the law of unintended consequences is a merciless “B”-word.

Yes, as God redemptively heals my individual brokenness He frees me to be generous to the poor with the money He has entrusted to me. But this is very different from my voting—in the name of justice and fairness—to use the coercive, life-destroying power of the State to force my neighbor to be generous, whether he wants to or not.

We currently live in a land of people that love to be generous with other people’s money. But as Margaret Thatcher once rightly observed about socialism, “. . . eventually you run out of other people’s money.”

At the same time, as God redemptively heals my individual brokenness and the brokenness of many other individuals around me, we begin to see the systems in which we participate experiencing redemptive transformation as well. Call it systemic redemption.

[Jesus] tried again. “How can I picture God’s kingdom? It’s like yeast that a woman works into enough dough for three loaves of bread—and waits while the dough rises.” (Luke 13:20,21)

Let me close by adding that most of the excellent Evangelical humanitarian and anti-human trafficking organizations that have recently adopted social justice as a key part of their missional vocabulary are indeed attacking the world’s pain at the individual level. They are bottom-up redeemers   . . . which is precisely why I wish they’d stop using the term social justice to describe their goals.

Why I Wish Christians Would Stop Using the Term “Social Justice”

social-justice

Words and meanings matter.

This truth appears consistently in George Orwell’s writing and is a key theme of both 1984 and Animal Farm. In a 1946 essay titled “Politics and the English Language,” Orwell writes:

“But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”

As I said, words and their meanings matter. I mention this because with increasing regularity I’m hearing great Christian people with great hearts doing great thing using a certain phrase to describe their work and mission. That phrase is “social justice.”

Theologically conservative Christian colleges have added Social Justice tracks to their academic offerings. Outstanding anti-human trafficking ministries feature the phrase in their mission statements.

First of all, dear Christian reader, if you’re a regular user of the term social justice—and some of my friends and colleagues are—please know that I know what you mean when you use it. A younger generation of Christians has adopted the phrase social justice to refer to action focused on helping the poor and oppressed. But adopted from where?

sjw

Now, I don’t want to be the cranky, pedantic nitpicker. On the contrary, I want to be the cheery, pedantic nitpicker, so here’s why I wince every time I hear a real-deal evangelical Christian throw out the term “social justice” in an earnest, non-ironic way.

A Murderous Thug

A Murderous Thug

For decades the term was a key part of the vocabulary of Marxist revolutionaries and Catholic Liberation Theology activists in Third World countries. It was a chosen to make the ugly implications of Marxist ideology—confiscation of private property, coercive redistribution of wealth, exalting an all-powerful government into the role of a messiah/savior—more palatable to the masses and more difficult to oppose.

After all, what decent person wants to be seen as opposing “justice?” Especially the “social” kind.

This is precisely what George Orwell was warning us about.

In true Orwellian fashion, social justice became a key fixture in the vocabulary of the academic Left on college campuses all over the nation as a code phrase for messianic, utopian egalitarianism enforced coercively by a god-like State. From there, not surprisingly, it has filtered into the vocabulary of an entire generation of young, idealistic secular Americans.

In this context, the meaning of the term has begun to broaden at the edges.

Language has corrupted thought to the point that I now frequently hear it used by socialists to refer to any situation in which all “right-thinking”, i.e. politically liberal, people are supposed to be outraged that one person has more stuff than another person.

Adopting the Vocabulary of the Pagan World

socjustYounger (and in some cases not-so-young) Christians with a commendable and throughly biblical heart for seeing poor people lifted out of poverty have fully embraced the term social justice as a banner to wave over their cause.

Here’s why that is regrettable.

First of all, “justice” is a very biblical word and you can’t read the Bible honestly without coming away with the impression that it’s something God cares very much about.

It is a joy for the just to do justice, But destruction will come to the workers of iniquity. (Proverbs 21:15)

However, if you take the time to read all the appearances of the word justice in your English Bible you’ll find that it carries a very specific meaning–and that meaning relates to punishment of criminal, lawless behavior. In other words . . .

Justice is primarily judicial, not economic.

In other words, a thing can be unfair, unfortunate, undesirable, and/or utterly unpleasant without being unjust as the Bible conceives justice.  The just-ness of a thing depends entirely upon righteous legal and civil codes of law.

“Injustice” in the Bible relates to law-breakers getting away with breaking the law. Or people being defrauded out of what is rightfully theirs.

Yes, in the Bible the poor, widows and orphans are frequently mentioned in relationship to the administration of justice, precisely because they can easily get a raw deal in the court system. The wealthy can bribe judges and bureaucrats. The poor can’t.

As God makes clear to the Israelites in His detailed instructions on how to set up a civilization: “You shall not distort justice; you shall not be partial, and you shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous.” (Deuteronomy 16:19)

occupyAs God said to Judge Moses: “You shall not pervert the justice due to your needy brother in his dispute.” (Exodus 23:6) The Bible also recognizes the danger of justice being perverted due to pressure from populist, democratic demands. “You shall not follow the masses in doing evil, nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after a multitude in order to pervert justice.” (Exodus 23:2)

Both the rich individual and the poor riot mob can influence the judge or jury. Both pervert “justice.”

Contrast this biblical view of justice with the dominant pop culture view that labels any situation in which one person (or country) has more stuff that another as inherently and by definition “unjust.”

Of course, this view is impossible to square with Jesus’ parables about about Masters who entrust varying financial sums to his stewards or who pay end-of-day workers a much higher hourly rate than all-day workers.

In the dominant, liberal, pagan culture, true social justice connotes much more than concern for the lot of the poor, it requires seething hostility toward the wealthy and successful–one that values their destruction as much or more than it seeks the elevation of the poor. By embracing the term, Christians unwittingly partake of the whole noxious stew.

eat-the-rich

SJWs

Recently, another great reason for Christians to abandon the phrase social justice has emerged . . . the rise of the “Social Justice Warrior” meme. This obnoxious meme has become so ubiquitous that you rarely hear the words social justice anymore without the “warrior” noun tacked on for good measure.

The term is in part an outgrowth of a nasty, global online food fight between misogynist gamers and grim doctrinaire feminists that goes by the name and hashtag GamerGate. If you’re not familiar with this Internet war of words known as Gamergate, I won’t try to explain it here. Let it suffice to say it’s one of those conflicts like the Iran-Iraq war back in the 80s in which there is no side to root for and you just kind of wish both sides could lose.

If all the other realities I outlined above weren’t reason enough to avoid applying the term social justice to vital Kingdom work, the fact that the phrase is now forever linked to a ridiculous and degrading online war should settle it.

We’re About Redemption, Not Justice

Frankly, the work Christians are doing around the world . . .  work like ending the horror of human sex slavery and rescuing the souls who have been swallowed by it’s hellish maw . . . is too important and too holy to be saddled with all the connotative baggage that accompanies the phrase social justice.

Jesus came to seek and to save that which is lost. He came not to condemn the world but to redeem it. In other words, we’re about redemption, not justice.

Words and meanings matter. And language can corrupt thought.

That’s why I wish my brothers and sisters would find a less polluted term than social justice to describe their vital redemptive work.

SJ Poster

Out of Egypt

Few things in life give me more pure pleasure than visiting a faraway place I’ve never seen. That delight is doubled when the place is rich with historical and biblical significance.  Add to this the opportunity to have my bride along for the ride and  . . . well, that’s the trifecta.

A few days ago we returned from a week in Cairo as the grateful guests of a ministry upon whose board I’ve served for the last ten years. This was my first time in the Middle East and my first extended stay in an Islamic country (not counting my frequent trips to the UK which, sadly, is gradually becoming an Islamic nation.)

I’m a history fanatic. And the sense of history you get in Cairo is almost overwhelming. The Pharaohs, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and a succession of Islamic caliphates have all left their marks on Cairo.

For example, on our first full day, we visited the Giza Plateau which holds the great pyramid of Cheops and the Sphinx. For more than 3,800 years it was the tallest man-made structure on earth. It was amazing to think that Abraham and Sarah might have glimpsed these architectural wonders when they sojourned into Egypt around 2,000 B.C.

If so, they would have seen the pyramids clad in polished white limestone and topped with gleaming gold capstones. They would have been almost blinding in the bright Egyptian sun. But here’s the truly mind-blowing thought . . .

If Abraham did get deep enough into Egypt to see the Great Pyramid of Cheops, at that moment it would have already been standing there in place for 1,000 years.

The City

IMG_0840Cairo is home to roughly 20 million people. To put that in perspective, that’s more than the populations of Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin combined. A lot more.

As you might expect, the traffic is astonishing. As in many non-Western nations, things like lane lines and signs are universally ignored. Even so, everyone eventually gets where they are going, although much honking of car horns is required by all.

As I observed to my wife, in Cairo sounding your horn communicates, “Be aware of me.” Or, “Look out, I’m coming through.”  In Texas, honking communicates, “Please pull over so we can have a fist fight.”

The Political Situation

Many friends and relatives raised an eyebrow when we told them we were going to Cairo. That’s understandable. It seems like just the other day that the nightly news was showing hundreds of thousands of protesters in Tahrir Square and we were hearing reports of Coptic Christians being attacked and Christian homes burned.

The fact is, Cairo is extremely stable, moderate and welcoming of visitors. In fact, they are pleading for the tourists to return. And they should.

The current government of Egypt is a secular government that has no use whatsoever for the Muslim Brotherhood. In fact, they’ve been actively squashing the Brotherhood like a bug. They have also been quietly cooperating with Israel in their conflict with Hamas and aggressively hammering IMG_0817Islamist extremists operating in the Sinai.

Egypt’s sternest challenges are economic. And the biggest hindrances to economic progress are vestigial remnants from Egypt’s experiment with Socialism under Nasser back in the 60s. Many of the populist/socialist laws enacted under Nasser have proven nearly impossible to repeal. They’re weighing Egypt down like a boat anchor.

Spiritual Climate

The most impressive and memorable aspect of our trip was the believers we met. Each day we encountered talented, passionate, delightful young Christians who are doing amazing things in media. The impact of what they are doing is reaching far beyond Cairo and is fueling ministry, discipleship, and evangelism throughout the Arabic speaking world. You’ll find samples of their work and ministry here, here and here.

IMG_0916Amazing, effective evangelism is currently taking place across the Middle East. And most of that activity is home grown. By that I mean that it’s not U.S. churches driving most of these efforts (although many generous Americans are helping to fund them.) It is the evangelical churches in places like Cairo providing the strategy, the organization, the prayer, and the people.

Throughout the world of Islam, the gospel is spreading and thriving–largely underneath the radar. And you’ll find the epicenter of this revival in Cairo.

By the way, one morning we toured “Coptic Cairo”–a ancient section of the city containing a number of ancient churches and a synagogue.

Here, the name of Jesus has been proclaimed and worshipped continuously for  nearly 1,800 years.

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.–Habakkuk 2:14

IMG_0895

 

 

 

Happy Birthday P. G. Wodehouse

PGWodehouseThe English novelist–most famous for his thoroughly awesome series of “Jeeves” novels–would have been 133 today. Here are some of my favorite Wodehouse lines of prose:

He enjoys that perfect peace, that peace beyond all understanding, which comes to its maximum only to the man who has given up golf.

 

Insidious things (mint juleps). They creep up on you like a baby sister and slide their little hands into yours and the next thing you know the Judge is telling you to pay the clerk of the court $50.

 

He felt like a man who, chasing rainbows, has had one of them suddenly turn and bite him in the leg.

 

She fitted into my biggest armchair as if it had been built round her by someone who knew they were wearing armchairs tight about the hips that season.

 

The Right Hon. was a tubby little chap who looked as if he had been poured into his clothes and had forgotten to say ‘When!

 

She uttered a sound rather like an elephant taking its foot out of a mud hole in a Burmese teak forest.

Mr. Obama’s Legacy, Part 2: The Demise of the Fourth Estate & the Death of Journalism

journo text bookI owe my vast and demanding readership a follow-up to my previous post about the long-term legacy of the Obama presidency. You’ll find the Part 1, “The Weaponizing of the Federal Bureaucracy” here.

Prior to the 1970s, Journalism students in America’s colleges and universities were taught a code of ethics that demanded objectivity in their reporting. It was understood that reporters and writers would have viewpoints and biases, but that they had a professional responsibility to keep their opinions out of their writing and to set their biases aside when reporting the news. No, this was never perfectly achieved but it was the ideal to which professionals aspired and the standard to which they were held.

Students were also taught that journalists played a vital role in American democracy–namely, keeping the government accountable and keeping the citizenry informed about what their government was up to. They inherited a tradition from Enlightenment Europe that viewed the press as a “Fourth Estate”–and therefore a pillar of civilized societies.

Americans understood that one of the key traits distinguishing the great Western democracies from totalitarian states and banana republics was a press that was free, able and willing to challenge the government.

Sure, guys like Walter Cronkite were ideological liberals. But the point is, Cronkite and his generation cared about being perceived as objective. He didn’t allow the mask to slip until late in his career and life.

All of that began to change when the maoist hippie protesters and campus sit-in organizers of the sixties became the adjunct professors of the seventies and the tenured professors or deans of the eighties.

Once these “Progressives” were solidly in control of of the nation’s “J Schools” (and the rest of Liberal Arts departments for that matter) they began turning out a new kind of journalist with a new sense of mission.

These new reporters no longer saw their mission to be informing the public of the facts (whatever those facts might be) and holding government officials accountable (no matter which party might be in power.)   This new generation of journalists very consciously viewed themselves as a force for societal transformation.

Sam-and-Helen

Sam and Helen: The Reagan Years

As the battle lines of the”culture wars”  formed (especially after 1973’s Roe v. Wade), this new breed of journalists picked a side.

This made advancing a set of agendas the primary mission of reporters, rather than objectively reporting events. And advancing agendas required actively helping one political party’s candidates and hindering the other’s. It also meant moving the electorate to the left.

All of this was accomplished subtly but powerfully through the reporter’s and editor’s power to decide what is “news” and what isn’t. To choose which questions to ask and which to leave unasked. And to choose who is questioned and who is left alone.

This wave of reporters were already well up the ranks of the nation’s news organizations by the time Ronald Reagan took the oath of office in 1981. Some older reporters sensed the shift and threw themselves into the agenda-driving fray.

As long as Republicans were the party in power, reporters and editors could continue to plausably claim they were continuing to fulfill their independent and objective watchdog role. But with the election of Bill Clinton, that claim became harder to square with reality .

Such claims became laughable when Barack Obama got his party’s nomination and the Republican nominee, the moderate John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate. The news media’s advocacy became an powerful asset for the Obama cause–and an unsurmountable obstacle for Team McCain.

After the election, the country’s most incompetent and corrupt administration since Warren G. Harding’s benefited from a news media and liberal blogosphere that saw its sole job as running interference for President and his allies in Congress.

In the early days, the agenda-mongering in the press was uncoordinated and non-orchestrated. It succeeded organically because of a shared world view — everyone pretty much agreed with everyone else. But that all changed with Mr. Obama’s candidacy and presidency.

In 2007, liberal blogger Ezra Klein quietly formed a GoogleGroups message board called “Journolist” and began inviting other influential liberal Journolist-logoreporters, writers, bloggers, and academics to join. Ultimately the list grew to more than 400 of the nation’s key journalists working at most of the elite media outlets. The secret network allowed leftist journalists to coordinate messaging and strategy.

Journolist offered the Obama administration a power to dispense preferred talking points and suppress unflattering news narratives that must have made Vladimir Putin envious . Of course, Team Obama happily accepted.

The existence of this group explains why, to the this day, Mr. Obama looks like he’s been slapped in the face with a wet mackerel on those rare occasions a reporter dares to ask him a hard or embarrassing question.

When the existence of Journolist leaked out, it was hastily shut down, but it has almost certainly been reconstructed in a stealthier way. In a broader sense, journalists now view themselves as righteous soldiers in the culture wars, fighting with the tools at their disposal to shape public opinion and make sure the “right” people get elected.

Sure there are a few exceptions — throwbacks to the earlier breed of objective journalist. ABC’s Jake Tapper comes to mind. But these are rarities. Real journalists generally don’t get promoted, or, if one slips through the system, don’t stay employed.

The most recent example is CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson, who tended to ask tough questions about the Obama administration’s Solyndra boondoggle, the Fast and Furious gun walking scandal, and Benghazi. Her pursuit of the Benghazi story was the last straw for her colleagues at CBS. She was instructed to play ball. She refused and resigned.  

No, the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama in 2008 didn’t cause the death of journalism. But it finally exposed the truth that the corpse was cold.

The Wendy Davis Slime Machine

Wendy Davis Slimey

I’ve been following politics and studying elections most of my adult life. I’m also an avid student of history. And if there has ever been an uglier, more vicious, more dishonest media campaign for political office than that of Wendy Davis for Texas governor, I’m not aware of it.

Even the left-leaning Washington Post is now recoiling in horror. (“Wendy Davis is Running One of the Nastiest Ad Campaigns You Will Ever See“) A writer for hyper-liberal Mother Jones magazine called her latest ad, “offensive and nasty.”

The fact is, those adjectives accurately describe the entire campaign–which has received massive out-of-state funding, particularly from liberal coastal elites who fell in love with Wendy the state legislator when she conducted an 11-hour filibuster on the floor of the Texas House against a bill that restricted late-term abortions. When Davis’ filibuster–which was accompanied by pro-abortion supporters hoping to pelt Republican legislators with tampons, condoms, bricks and jars of urine and feces–became a widely covered national story, she became the darling of the Left and Big Abortion.

Thus out-of-staters have poured millions into the Davis campaign. And those dollars have funded a relentlessly negative, misleading and ubiquitous television ad campaign. Her campaign has been carpet bombing the local airwaves for weeks.

Meanwhile, the Greg Abbott campaign has barely bothered to respond to the stream of ugly accusations in the Davis ads. In fact, he’s hardly bothered to advertise at all–which tells you everything you need to know about what Abbott’s internal polls are saying about the election.

And explains why the Davis campaign is plumbing new depths of sliminess as election day approaches. May that day come quickly.

Update:

Forgot to mention that the campaign media company that created Davis’ latest ad is the same one that crafted the attack ad against Mitt Romney that falsely suggested a woman died of cancer because of him. So . . . lie down with dogs . . . fleas . . . and all that.

We’ve Seen This Before (Part 2)

You’ll find the first installment of this series here. The premise is that we’re living at a time in which it’s easy to think we’re experiencing unprecedented levels of global dysfunction and entropy.

Yes, a lot of ugly and troubling things are happening. But we’re also victims of the 24-hour news cycle and instant video from every corner of the planet.

A generation ago we might never even read about a handful of ISIS-besieged Yazidi citizens being rescued by helicopter from a remote Iraqi mountaintop. Today we watch video of it shot by a camera-phone in the chopper a few hours after it happened and share it with all our friends on Facebook.

Social media streams fed to our smart phones 24/7 provide a constant adrenaline drip of alarm and dismay.

If something unspeakably horrific happens somewhere, we know about it within minutes. Often we watch it unfold in real time. We lose sight of the fact that the unspeakable has been happening with regularity ever since the Fall of Man — beginning with one guy named Cain taking a rock and bashing in the skull of his brother.

It’s just that in most generations, we had the luxury of not hearing about it. Or seeing graphic pictures of the body.

Furthermore, most of us know precious little history. So, with this series I hope to provide a few morsels of historical perspective. So welcome, time traveler, to this installment of “We’ve Seen This Before” . . .

*****

It is 1918 and and you live in a Duluth, Minnesota.

War

For four long years most of the world’s great powers have been engaged in a war of unprecedented scope and scale. The industrial revolution has made a new kind of warfare possible.

Mechanized. Chemical. Terrifying. The miracle of mass production has come to the business of killing humans.

It’s called The Great War . . . or The War to End All Wars . . . because the horror has been so appalling that no rational person can imagine another war ever being fought. Here in 1918, the war shows signs of winding down but it has already produced the deathsWWI War Bonds of 9 million combatants and another 7 million civilians.

Disappearing Liberty

Over the past few years, you’ve watched President Woodrow Wilson–using the war as justification–roll back civil liberties and turn the U.S. into a quasi-fascist state.

The Espionage Act of 1917 was followed by The Sedition Act of 1918. This act forbade Americans from using, “disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language” about the United States government, flag, or armed forces while we were at war. The act also let the Postmaster General deny mail delivery to anyone considered a “dissenter” of any government policy during wartime.

You watched Wilson create the “War Industries Board,” with the aim of placing all American industry in the service to the state. In a few years it will serve as a model for the policies Mussolini and Hitler.

Communism

A gate of hell has opened up in Russia and disgorged something new, dark and unimaginably oppressive. The newspapers tell you that the Czarist monarchy there has been overthrown and replaced by something called a Marxist revolution. The world’s first atheistic totalitarian regime is now ruling the world’s largest piece of geography with an iron-fist.  And the blood is already beginning to flow.

Before the 20th Century comes to a close, Communism will kill nearly 100 million.

Plague

A mysterious new viral disease is sweeping the world and killing millions–with no abatement in sight. It will come to be called the Spanish Flu.

Spanish FluPrevious influenza outbreaks had tended to kill only the very young and the very old. But this plague specializes in killing healthy young adults. Each day your morning newspaper carries the reports of how many more thousands died over night–around the world and across America.

Your Halloween news for the morning of October 31, 1918 informs you that Spanish flu has killed 21,000 of your fellow Americans in that week alone.

This plague is everywhere. From the remotest Pacific Island to inside the Arctic Circle. You know many people who have died from it. Everyone does.

In fact, before this disease burns itself out, one third of the earth’s population will have contracted the disease, and somewhere between 50 million and 100 million people worldwide will have perished.

In many places, there are so many dead, and so many others sick and weakened, that the dead are being buried in mass graves dug by steam shovel.

It’s terrifying. And many preachers have taken to their pulpits and the street corners declaring the plague a punishment from God. Many others are confident that this pandemic, along with the global war and many other signs, indicate that the end of all things is at hand.

Disaster

A world increasingly connected by telegraph lines means your morning newspaper frequently contains news of recent disasters–both natural and manmade. Every day brings the news of a new earthquake, tsunami, flood or famine.

cloquet_fireThen on October 12, you witness with your own eyes what will be remembered as the greatest disaster in Minnestoa history as a huge portion of of the northeast corner of the state burns to a crisp. For three days it seems like the apocalypse has come as walls of uncontrollable fire burn through the forests and sweep east toward Lake Superior.

It is initially rumored that the fire was started by foreign agents.

Before it is finally extinguished, what comes to be known as the Cloquet Fire chars more than a quarter million acres,  burns three communities to the ground, and kills nearly 500 people. Scores of unrecognizable victims are buried in mass graves.

In 1918, you and countless other people around the world are convinced that events are spiraling out of control, the pinnacle of Western civilization has been reached, and that life will never be as good and calm again.

But you are wrong.

We’ve Seen This Before (Part 1)

Sure, it seems like the wheels have come off and the world is rolling down the freeway out of control with showers of sparks flying from all four rims.

ISIS. Murderous domestic islamists abroad and at home. Ebola.  A cluelessly inept president who seems embarrassed by America’s historic power and prosperity.

Terrible? Oh, yes.

Unprecedented? Not at all.

Americans under the age of 50 have no meaningful memory of what things felt like in the 1970s. And many of us who lived through it have done our best to forget.

Hi. Remember me.

Hi. Remember me.

Allow me take you back to a few years before Jimmy Carter. To 1973 . . .

>The year begins with the U.S. Supreme Court handing down it’s infamous Roe v. Wade decision–ripping from the individual state legislatures the ability to regulate the delicate, divisive issue of abortion. It will set off decades of polarizing debate–what will later come to be known as “the war within the states.”

>Cold War tensions with the Soviet Union are as high as at any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis. The U.S. is locked in a global chess match with the Soviets. And losing.

It isn’t just that the Soviets have thousands of nuclear missiles–on land sea and air–most pre-targeted on every major U.S. city. On every continent, dominoes are falling to communism as Soviet client states and marxist insurgencies emerged in strategic places–including in our own front yard of Central America.

Many are predicting the ultimate triumph of global communism and believe that the West has entered its twilight period.

>The “ecology” movement–birthed out of the chaotic cultural upheavals of the 60s  is pointing out scarcity and environmental devastation everywhere. Just a few years earlier, the Cuyahoga River in Ohio had become so polluted that it actually caught fire.

We seem to be running out of everything–especially energy. Especially one particular form of energy:

no gas

 

>The economy is in freefall. OPEC cuts oil supplies and the price of oil doubles overnight. Inflation and interest rates are rising at a dizzying rate and people are getting panicky.

>The Watergate scandal has the  government paralyzed even though the nation is facing an overwhelming number of crises–domestic and international. A Constitutional crisis ensues. The President of the United States will ultimately be forced to resign the following February.

>The Irish Republican Army launches a long, deadly campaign of terrorist bombings in the UK.

>In October, an open shooting war breaks out when Israel’s Arab neighbors launch a surprise attack on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur. The Soviets are backing the Arabs. The U.S. is supporting Israel. And the two superpowers come perilously close to war themselves.

Munich72>The previous year the Olympics in Munich had been desecrated by the murder of 11 Israeli athletes by a PLO terrorist squad.

> Seemingly every other week either the French and the Soviets are testing a nuclear device. Each test reminds everyone that a nuclear holocaust is hair-trigger pull away at all times.

>A strange new flu epidemic sweeps the world. They name it Hong Kong Flu. In a few years Swine Flu will also emerge.

For the average American in 1973, it seems the madness and cultural decay that began in the late 60s is only accelerating. The nation has lost it’s way. Our enemies are too strong. Our leaders aren’t up to the task. Events are overtaking us on every side.

Understandably, many Americans look around in fear and dismay. It is 1973 and it looks like times will never be good again.

Yes, we’ve seen this before.