We are wondering about something else Paula Wong came across, which helped us see how your unfolding drama in America may play out.
It’s the idea of canary in a coal mine…
An allusion to caged canaries (birds) that miners would carry down into the mine tunnels with them. If dangerous gases such as carbon monoxide collected in the mine, the gases would kill the canary before killing the miners, thus providing a warning to exit the tunnels immediately.canary in a coal mine, Wiktionary
Something whose sensitivity to adverse conditions makes it a useful early indicator of such conditions; something which warns of the coming of greater danger or trouble by a deterioration in its health or welfare.canary in a coal mine meaning, topmeaning
As we came to see the victory of our secular story allies in America’s Story War, Paula us this…
The Catholic Church is now the canary in the coal mine. If the religious freedom of the largest Christian denomination in the US is impaired, we Jews will be next.Once again, the Catholic Church Defends the Religious Freedom of Jews –Why Don’t Jews Defend Catholic Religious Freedom?, by David P. Goldman, Pajamas Media, July 17, 2013
But if you refuse to change and make an exodus out of the minimalist corner, it is revealing, because Paula showed us this…
The definition of a republic, Augustine insisted, must take into account the traits that lead to its preservation or its downfall. States fail, Augustine argued, because peoples fail, and peoples fail because they love the wrong things. A nation defines itself by what it loves, and the wrong sort of love condemns it to eventual ruin.David Goldman, How Civilizations Die
And then these…
The desire or intentionality of the human heart is in reality its love. As Augustine noted, love is what moves an individual. A person goes where his love moves him.Robert L. Saucy, “Sinners” Who Are Forgiven or “Saints” Who Sin? BSac 152:608 (Oct 95)
If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’; aim at earth and you will get neither. It seems a strange rule, but something like it can be seen at work in other matters. Health is a great blessing, but the moment you make health one of your main, direct objects you start becoming a crank and imagining there is something wrong with you. You are only likely to get health provided you want other things more — food, games, work, fun, open air. In the same way, we shall never save civilisation as long as civilisation is our main object. We must learn to want something else even more.C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
So, we want to know what you want the most, here in your story.
Because, are you even considering the possibility that your love crisis is playing a deep underlying role in the unraveling of your country?
Look what your Tony Evans guy wrote…
What most Christians do, unfortunately, is change books. When it comes to politics and elections, far too many Christians spend more time appealing to family, history and tradition, culture, racial expediency, and personal preference than they do to what the Bible teaches. While Scripture is good enough for individuals, families, and churches, it seems that somehow it has been deemed insufficient for how we respond to politics and government.Tony Evans, How Should Christians Vote?
Yet the same book that can restore a person, home, or church is the very same book that can restore and transform our nation. Friend, we don’t need to change books. In fact, it is precisely because we have changed books that the chaos in our country has gotten worse than ever before.
And look at this…
If Catholics in the United States are going to be healers of our wounded culture,we’re going to have to learn to see the world through lenses ground by biblical faith. That form of depth perception only comes from an immersion in the Bible itself.BIBLICAL PREACHING AND HEALING THE CULTURE, by George Weigel, First Things, May 18, 2016
And consider the following insightful analysis from David Gelernter, which Paula Wong showed us…
Since the Bible and biblical religion underlie the invention of America, it’s hard (unsurprisingly) for post-religious people to understand America sympathetically. Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural, the most sacred of American texts, is (precisely) a sermon describing North and South as equally guilty in God’s eyes for the sin of slavery and, ultimately, for the war itself:
Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”
The quote is from Psalms 19; Reagan’s famous “shining city on a hill” paraphrases the gospels. Expecting post-religious, Bible-ignorant thinkers to grasp America is like expecting a gerbil to sing Pagliacci. The gerbil might be brilliant in his way, but he’ll never make it in opera. (If this be species-ism, make the most of it!) How can my post-religious colleagues and countrymen, many of whom have never even opened a Bible, understand Lincoln or America or Americans?Dismantling of a Culture, An NRO Interview With David Gelernter, National Review, July 18, 2012
And look at this…
America can be proud of many things: our innovation, generosity and entrepreneurial spirit are unsurpassed. Yet when it comes to our nation understanding one of the greatest gifts ever given to humanity — the Bible — we’re moving from dumb to dumber … and it’s no laughing matter.Biblical Illiteracy by the Numbers Part 1: The Challenge, By Ed Stetzer, Christianity Today, October 17, 2014
No laughing matter. And if Christianity is the story we are in, then it looks like Stetzer is right.
Because what if the following passage is relevant to America’s situation as you Christians push your God away …
My people are bent on turning away from me, and though they call out to the Most High, he shall not raise them up at all.
And your problem of biblical illiteracy appears to be contributing to the crumbling of the church in America…
The dumbing down of the faith has been a pastoral disaster, contributing to the mass exodus of two generations from the Church. A childish, intellectually shallow religion cannot stand in the face of the trials of life and the questions of a skeptical mind.EVANGELIZING THE NONES: THE 2017 ERASMUS LECTURE, by Robert Barron, First Things, January 2018
And all this made us wonder if America is beginning to experience its own Great Famine.
Look what Paula showed us…
“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord God, “when I will send a famine on the land— not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.”
As part of His judgment, God would withhold His words from His people. This would be like a famine, not of physical food and drink but of spiritual food. God’s words provide spiritual nourishment and refreshment, so when they are not available, people suffer spiritually (cf. Matt. 4:4).
The Israelites had rejected the Lord’s words to them (2:11-12; 7:10-13), so He would not send them to them any longer (cf. 1 Sam. 3:1; 28:6). This is a fearful prospect. If we do not listen to the Word of God, we may not be able to hear the Word of God (cf. Luke 17:22; John 7:34). This does not mean that God would remove all copies of His Word from them, but that when they sought a word of help, advice, or comfort from Him, they would not get it (cf. King Saul). Prophets would not bring God’s words to them anymore.Notes on Amos, By Dr. Thomas L. Constable, Sonic Light
In the book of Amos, people who experienced a “famine of hearing the words of the Lord” are portrayed as undergoing divine judgment. Amos paints a picture of people without access to God’s revelation searching for a message from God like desperate people — hungry and dehydrated — in search of food and water (Amos 8:11–12). In Amos they want it, but are not permitted it. In our case, although we have unlimited access, we often don’t want it.
The irony is intense. Who would deliberately and knowingly put himself under God’s judgment? Would someone move his family to a land that was soon to suffer drought if he knew ahead of time that God was going to send a judgment of drought to that land (Amos 8:13)? Are we somehow positioning ourselves in the domain of God’s judgment when we spiritually starve ourselves by not “hearing the words of God” (Amos 8:11–12)? Is this what happens when we severely limit our engagement with the Word of God?The Crisis of Biblical Illiteracy and What We Can Do About It, By Kenneth Berding, Biola Magazine, Spring 2014
So you can imagine why this caught our attention…
Actually, very little of the Word of God is getting out in this land today. There is a Gideon Bible in every room in every hotel and motel in this country. Nearly everyone owns a Bible. But who is studying it? Who is reading it? Who is believing it? I think we are beginning to see the famine of the Word of God in this country.Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee
And there is something else you really may want to consider…
Satan’s greatest deception is to persuade us that we do not need to acknowledge the sovereignty of God. As with Adam and Eve, he continues to deceive human beings regarding God’s authority. Not surprisingly, he is particularly keen to have people ignore or reject the biblical meta-story. By doing so Satan bolsters his own position as ruler of the world.Desmond Alexander, From Eden to the New Jerusalem
So… if your God is the Great Storyteller, and, you are pushing him away… wow.
The implications for your future are fascinating!
Because, it looks like if you don’t change, America will eventually get a divorce or commit suicide.
So, are you going to begin to see your love crisis as the canary in the coal mine?
Because, if you don’t, well, you might want to embrace Hector Klumpp’s Anticipatory Peace Proposal, because Paula Wong showed us this famous observation from one of our greatest enemies…
More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”
Since then I have spent well nigh fifty years working on the history of our Revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.” …. What emerges here is a process of universal significance. And if I were called upon to identify briefly the principal trait of the entire twentieth century, here too I would be unable to find anything more precise and pithy than to repeat once again: “Men have forgotten God.”Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Templeton Address, 1983
And this appears to connect…
The Great Books of the Western World, published in the 1950s, gave the longest space to the theme of “God,” addressed by the most notable Western thinkers of the day. When Mortimer Adler, the editor, was asked why that theme occupied such length when many other notable themes were given less space, he answered without hesitation, “Because more consequences for life and action follow from the affirmation or denial of God than from any other basic question.”Ravia Zacharias, Jesus Among Secular Gods
Sure, you can push that away, but what if this is relevant to your unfolding drama in America?
I would like to remind you all that in Russia before 1917 nobody ever proposed that the collapse of a centuries-old Christian empire would happen and that it would be replaced by an atheistic totalitarian regime. And even when that did happen, few believed that it was serious and for long.
The modern-day decline of Christianity in the western world may be compared to the situation in the Russian Empire before 1917.
The revolution and the dramatic events which followed it have deep spiritual, as well as social and political, reasons. Over many years the aristocracy and intelligentsia had abandoned the faith, and were then followed by common people.Russian Orthodox Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev has a warning for the West, By Elizabeth Scalia, Aleteia, September 25, 2017
And your Sasse man doesn’t have his eyes closed…
We’re the richest, most comfortable, most connected people in human history.Ben Sasse, Them
And yet . . .
In the midst of extraordinary prosperity, we’re also living through a crisis. Our communities are collapsing, and people are feeling more isolated, adrift, and purposeless than ever before.
We’re not talking much about this crisis. Nonetheless, we all have a sense that something’s not right. Our marriages aren’t satisfying, our kids seem hypnotized. We quietly feel that adulthood has been a disappointment. We sense that somewhere along the way, everything went off the rails.
So, feel free to ignore him. Because if you do, then we believe we can persuade the Central Military Commission that you are not going to change.
You see, since so many of you hang out in that minimalist corner and ignore all these possibilities, it’s almost like this observation is moving into motion…
Sacrifice is not a condition millennials consider. Hip hop doesn’t prepare the young for the vicissitudes of war against a foreign foe. And the implacable voice of narcissism in social media suggests you don’t do for our country, you do for yourself. The state of America is grim amidst the corrosion in the culture. Of course, one should never rule out redemption in a nation that often exhibits resilience. At the moment, however, a U.S. coming apart influences a world in disarray. The beasts of evil are watching with anticipation at this social epidemiology thinking this may be their moment to leap forward.WHAT SOCIAL EPIDEMIOLOGY MEANS FOR FOREIGN POLICY, By Herb London, London Center for Policy Research, February 17, 2017
We know you won’t give this much thought. After all, you didn’t pay attention to this warning…
There was a time when the church was very powerful–in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. . . .Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent–and often even vocal–sanction of things as they are.
But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter From a Birmingham Jail
And we’re curious as to whether you will take this warning from George Washington seriously…
Americans, Washington wrote on another occasion, should guard against “listlessness for the preservation of natural and unalienable rights,” for “no mound of parchm[en]t can be so formed as to stand against the sweeping torrent of boundless ambition on the one side, aided by the sapping current of corrupted morals on the other.”The Vision of the Founding Fathers, by Myron Magnet, July 3, 2015
So, our team has concluded it is entirely possible you won’t change.
We believe the minimalist corner which most of you occupy is far more powerful than you realize.
And your continuing occupation shows us that what most of you Christians in America really want… is not… what your King wants you to want the most.
So these guys really may be right about the question you are facing in the midst of your love crisis…
But as Abraham Lincoln once said in another context, “If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher.”
The question is this: Will we love God with our whole heart, soul, and mind, and our neighbor as ourselves?When the Sky Really Is Falling, By Eric Metaxas, Breakpoint, July 27, 2016
Changing our nation is fundamentally not about who is in the White House, but what happens in your house and in your heart. … True national renewal takes place only when a movement of men and women choose to evaluate their heart and choose to walk according to the ways of God.
Stand Strong America: Courage, Freedom, and Hope for Tomorrow, By Alex McFarland, Jason Jimenez
What does it mean to follow the Lord? The Great Commandment offers a simple summary: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it. ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40).
See how that subtitle begins? Courage and Freedom. They go together. Or at least that’s what we’ve heard some of you say.
But it looks like you are moving the opposite direction …
As seen from the outside, the amplitude of the tossings of western society is approaching that point beyond which the system becomes metastable and must fall.
The spirit of Munich has by no means retreated into the past; it was not merely a brief episode. I even venture to say that the spirit of Munich prevails in the Twentieth Century. The timid civilized world has found nothing with which to oppose the onslaught of a sudden revival of barefaced barbarity, other than concessions and smiles. The spirit of Munich is a sickness of the will of successful people, it is the daily condition of those who have given themselves up to the thirst after prosperity at any price, to material well-being as the chief goal of earthly existence. Such people – and there are many in today’s world – elect passivity and retreat, just so as their accustomed life might drag on a bit longer, just so as not to step over the threshold of hardship today – and tomorrow, you’ll see, it will all be all right. (But it will never be all right! The price of cowardice will only be evil; we shall reap courage and victory only when we dare to make sacrifices.)Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Nobel Prize Lecture, 1970
And consider this…
I confess that I often wonder what America will have become in fifty or one hundred years. What will the future hold for our children and grandchildren? Will they be free, happy, prosperous, independent, and secure? What will be left of our constitutional system? Will the Bill of Rights have the force of law? What about property rights? Will they matter? How many will remember or care to learn about our founding principles, as concisely and brilliantly set forth in the Declaration of Independence? How many remember or care today? What of the civil society – or the social compact? Will it have frayed beyond repair? Will we have been conquered from within, as Thomas Jefferson, Joseph Story, and Abraham Lincoln feared might be our fate? Will we have avoided the doom of Athens and Rome? If we are honest with ourselves, we must agree that the outcome is unclear. ….Mark Levine, Rediscovering Americanism
Future generations will look back on what we have done and know the answers. They will draw their judgments about this generation and record them in their history books. What lessons will they have learned? What will they say about us?
Will they say that we were a wise and conscientious people who understood and appreciated the blessings of our existence and surroundings and prudentially and conscientiously cared for them; or will they say we were a self-indulgent and inattentive people, easily shepherded in one direction or another, who stole the future from our own children and generations yet born, and squandered an irreplaceable heritage?
Our team knows you will feel insulted by all this. We get that. We’d feel insulted too. But… once again… you can see how all this raises that simple, but astonishingly powerful question…
What do you really want … here in the story?
Because it sure looks like this may be in play…
An empire like fifth-century Athens, though, was not a tribe that could be assimilated into its neighbor. Which brings us to Spengler’s Universal Law #16: Small civilizations perish for any number of reasons, but great civilizations die only when they no longer want to live. Athens could not be assimilated; it could only perish of disappointment and disgust. Loss of faith sooner or later sapped them of the will to live.David P. Goldman, How Civilizations Die
So we’re wondering — are you going to pay attention to Abraham Lincoln and “take courage to renew the battle”?
Because, if Christianity is the story we are in, then you Christians in America are now faced with one of the greatest challenges in the story of America.
And this sure seems like it is still very relevant…
You and I have a rendezvous with destiny.
We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.Ronald Reagan, A Time For Choosing
So the question is…
What do you really want?
Will you consider this?
What we need, then, is a way to analyze one-time situations. Peter Bernstein himself has embraced this position. In a lecture given in 1997, he addressed the issue of “How do we decide?” He noted that there is a persistent tension between the probabilities that are based on measurement and the probabilities that come from our gut: “[W]hat do we do when the probability of one outcomes is much greater than the probability of another outcome, but the consequences of being wrong are much greater for the outcome with the lower probability?” In the end, those consequences must dominate the probabilities.Ron S. Dembo & Andrew Freeman, Seeing Tomorrow: Rewriting the Rules of Risk
let us know, because we are under a lot of pressure right now. But it looks
like you are too.