February 5, 2009

Reality Check, Early 2009

Back in the 1930s, a few prescient individuals living in Europe could foresee a growing storm gathering over the continent, especially in Germany. In response, they moved themselves and their families to the safe haven of America to start a new life. Today, similar, but much bigger storm clouds are roiling towards us, this time, however, over the whole world. So, where do you run?
In today's 'global village,' no place is safe from possible calamity resulting from war, industrial-ecological mess, natural disaster, or whatever. Sometime in the 1970s, a couple moved their family from the America to a remote island in the Atlantic, where life was hard, but they expected would be peaceful. Within a decade, their lives were in ruin, as they found themselves in the middle of an all-out shooting war between Britain and Argentina over a small group of islands called the Falklands by the Brits, and Maldives by the 'Argies.' It is impossible to predict what location might escape notice or attack by either nature or pernicious mankind. In a worldwide danger zone, we have to look in another direction for security.

Since my epiphany of 2001, I have become increasingly certain that the world-- as we think we know it-- is in it's final throes, and has only limited time left before hitting a global catastrophe of some kind... probably, several kinds at once. Those are the dark clouds gathering over us, and predictably, it's not a fashionable message. Despite the 'global economic crisis' that suddenly appeared in the last months of 2008, many people in the Western nations would still challenge me for being pessimistic. The popular fad of the times is optimism, as if a positive attitude is the thing that will extricate us from our convoluted trap regardless of its magnitude. By being contrarian enough to call the situation as it is, for raising the alarm, I am labeled a pessimist, which is a supreme put-down in an age of denial. Even if a majority have a growing suspicion that there may some truth in the warnings, one must not voice them; it is deemed better to pretend all is well, than to acknowledge the monster in the room.

To those who are solidly employed, earning a handsome salary, enjoying all the goodies of the affluent, Western lifestyle, the idea that it may be in imminent danger of collapse is just too horrible to contemplate, even for a moment. Sure, our follicles bristled when the price of crude oil hit $140 or more in the summer of '08; but, ha, ha, see-- it was just a temporary aberration of the capitalist mechanism, a bit of greed that was quickly overturned. Life is back to normal now, let's breathe easy, jump in the SUV and grab a venti latte. Then there was a little 'dust-up' somewhere in a place called, what was it?-- Ossetia, yeah, South Ossetia, between Georgia and Russia. But that's just a remote corner near a mountain range called the Caucasus, and it blew over quickly, and never really involved 'us', did it? Oh, and we can't forget the global economic crisis that came out of nowhere, and now is said to threaten the welfare of every person in the industrial world... and beyond. But, so far, I'm okay, Jack, and so are most of the people I know. And the talking heads, and my financial advisor insist that everything is under control. These 'corrections' are just part of the recurrent 'financial cycle,' and we just have to hang tough for a little while, and soon the indexes will be rising and we'll be kicking ourselves if we haven't positioned ourselves to take advantage of the next growth spurt. And those reports about the melting of the Arctic ice cap? Well, that's another of those cyclical processes, and notice how cold it's been all over the northern hemisphere, this winter. Surely the speculation about the Arctic melt-down is just screwy science. As for earthquakes occurring in every part of the world, well, we've always had earthquakes, but today our measuring equipment and recording systems are better than ever, so it just appears that there are more tremors.

Yes, everything is just dandy on planet Earth; every signal of looming disaster can be facilely and glibly explained away, so there is nothing to worry about. Sure, except for a few annoying details. The problems alluded to above are only the most obvious and egregious ones that even the mainstream media can't ignore. But there are more, and they are troubling, and are often reported in the news because the media don't yet realize that these curious incidents may in fact be harbingers of great grief yet to fall upon us; otherwise, they'd be cencored. Let me illustrate. For several years, citizens of the central, eastern states (ie. roughly a corridor from 'tornado alley' up to about Pennsylvania) have reported occasional loud sound blasts, described as a 'boom' like a sonic boom, or an explosion; yet no supersonic aircraft were in the area, and no explosive damage discovered. No official explanation has been forthcoming. Similarly, there have been reports of 'sink holes' appearing suddenly in various locations, some over 100 feet across, and in one case, over 300 feet deep. So far, no one has been killed or injured, so the stories quickly fade. Then there are flocks of birds that simply fall, dead, out of the sky, for no apparent reason. Those are some of the more curious phenomena.

On the political scene, we've had a terrorist attack in the heart of the metropolis of Mumbai; an attack that was quickly pinned on Islamist extremists of Pakistani provenance. The smoke had hardly cleared from the fires of Mumbai when the Israelis attacked the helpless enclave of Gaza, bravely throwing the latest, US-supplied weaponry against a rag-tag people armed with little more than Kalashnikovs and home-made rockets. After killing a suitable number of women and children, the IDF celebrated the inauguration of their new puppet in Washington by pulling back and calling what they term a cease-fire. Meanwhile, the rumor-mill has ramped up the old whispers of an attack against the Israelis' favorite bogeyman, Iran. And while Barack Obama makes plans to pull American troops out of a ruined Iraq, he is simultaneously arranging for a dramatic increase in the US presence in Afghanistan. It's like a global shell game.

The point I'm constructing here is pretty clear, but has some less apparent facets. While I argue that the above evidence is proof that world events are headed in a nasty (or nastier) direction, I realize that others will immediately pounce on each specific example and tear it down with their brilliant rebuttals. Humor yourselves, clever optimists; it's only for a while. Because there's more. You see, those strange booms, and odd sink-holes, and bird deaths, may not be 'just' silly phenomena that we simply haven't noticed before. If the speculation of certain commentators is correct, these things are linked by a common thread, a very bothersome thread. Their theory is that the North American continent is stretching, and tearing apart along a rough diagonal line from south-west to north-east, from the Mississippi valley to the mouth of the St. Lawrence river. As it tears, the shearing causes occasional loud booming sounds, and may release methane or other gases into the air above, sometimes catching birds in mid-flight. (And we know that birds are particularly sensitive to noxious gases, hence their use in mines and near volcanoes, as early warning systems). Likewise, sink-holes are forming in areas of loose soil where the stretching leaves gaps. If that weren't bad enough, in the period of barely two months, over the Christmas-New Year season, that same sector of the US experienced the drastic rupture of a huge drainage pipe that flooded a major road artery (Maryland, Dec. 23/08), then the breaking of a dam releasing millions of gallons of toxic sludge from a holding pond adjacent to a coal-fired generating plant (Tennessee, Dec. 23/08), followed just days later by a second, similar spill at another plant (Alabama, Jan. 9). Of course, the explanation is the failure of old infrastructure, but a little research will quickly cast reasonable doubt on that convenient pretext. This is where you have to exercise two latent, human faculties. First, you have to force yourself to discard, if only for a moment, the all-too-glib 'explanations' of the experts and spokespersons who are employed for their ability to sound convincing. You must play the role of objective investigator, even if it's only acting. Second, you have to exercise the long-denigrated faculty of common sense. When you get a cluster of incidents, all sharing certain characteristics, in a particular region, and conforming to a theory that offers an explanation; then, surely, there may be some truth to it.

There's even more to the story. If you found the previous speculation bizarre, this is the part that will really upset some readers, especially the ones who call themselves atheists. You see, many of the events and phenomena I describe above fit into another pattern. That is the clues given in the passages of the Bible. Okay, I can practically hear some readers howl that Christians have been spouting that nonsense for decades, if not centuries. True; I know that. Yet, never have the conditions been as closely fitting as they are today. Numerous Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled during Jesus' first advent, 2,000 years ago; it is reasonable to expect that New Testament predictions concerning his second advent will, likewise, find fulfillment. The question, as always, is one of timing. The prophecies are deliberately opaque in foresight, but more transparent in hindsight. The idea is that they had to prevent tampering with the text by opportunistic exploiters, while still demonstrating their integrity once the events had transpired. If we could find one or more milestones that can be confidently established, then we'd have a better idea of where we are in the time scale of prophecy. The NT writers told their hearers that they were living in the 'last days,' but this expression covers the entire 'church era' from their day forward.

While there's much chatter in 'alternative sources' regarding 'Bible Predictions,' most of them are self-serving propaganda for some cult or another. A few sober sources can be found, but how can anyone, especially a 'layman,' discover the true story? It sounds like an impossibility; yet I think it's up to each individual to examine the scriptures for themselves, and to study various proposed explanations, and then to pray for proper discernment. No matter what the churchy preachers try to imply, the scriptures were written for ordinary believers, not for specially educated Doctors of Law who arrogate knowledge to themselves. This is not my opinion, it is stated bluntly right in the scriptures. Of course, the preachers don't tell you that; if they do, they first tell you what to believe, and then they tell you to 'find it for yourself' in the Bible! Yeah, sure.

After studying the Bible prophecies on my own, I believe that there is a 'milestone' that can be determined, and that indicates we are living in the 'final days' of the present age. As I've stated elsewhere, there are numerous other traditions that converge on this period as being the last days of the current 'aion.' How many such coincidences does it take before a thinking person takes some notice? Of course, if you're solidly in the camp of the optimists, you have a handy rebuttal for every one of those esoteric schools.

Anyway, back to the Biblical signpost, I will spare the suspense, and divulge a nutshell summary of my conclusion... and leave it to you to carefully research the subject and arrive at your own opinion. If you carefully read Revelation chapters 13 and 17, letting the text define its own images (paying special attention to vs. 13:3, 12, 18; 17:8, 11) it seems completely obvious to me that the words refer to the establishment of modern Israel. (See my website studies for a full elaboration). If this conjecture is correct, it means we are living in the final time frame described in Biblical prophecy. How long it will last is unknown, but certain clues in scripture hint that the 'end times' will likely conclude within a generation of the reappearance of Israel. In any case, even secular writers aver that the world simply cannot sustain for much longer the Western, capitalist way of life, which is (when you strip away the jingoistic rhetoric) a vast pyramid scheme.

Not surprisingly, then, it is my belief that our security can only be found in the realm of the spirit. This will upset some 'survivalists' who are banking everything on the gamble that they can stock enough food and ammunition to keep their families secure during, and in the aftermath of, an 'apocalyptic crisis.' As I stated at the beginning, no place on Earth will be safe from all turmoil once the cosmic guano starts to hit the earthly fan. Only those with a simple faith in a divine Creator/Protector will retain their mental stability and some hope of survival. Those who trust their own resources could find themselves completely unbalanced and overwhelmed by the disintegration occurring around them.

There's one recurring theme of atheists that strikes me as particularly lugubrious. Many of them would agree with me that, yes, things in the world are getting worse and worse, and we appear to be a race headed for self-destruction. Then, incredibly, they will invoke this evidence as 'proof' that God does not exist! Their reasoning seems to go like this: if there were a God, He would not possibly allow this evil, self-destruction to go on; but since it continues, therefore there's no God. How wonderfully anthropomorphic! Why should they presume, arrogantly, that God must be constrained by the loony logic of non-believers? Scripture indicates that God endowed humanity with free will, and-- guess what? He actually respects it. Yes, as difficult as it must be, God will allow humanity to play out the logical consequences of our own self-destructive nature. That, it seems, is the only way that we will learn the true degree of our pernicious spiritual state, and of our utter need for a divine Savior. But for the secular society, it is more convenient to blame God for our ills than to accept the responsibility ourselves.

And another barometer of the sorry state of the Last Empire, was provided recently in a spectacle that was, so they boasted, viewed by multi-millions of enthralled bio-bots worldwide. Yes, I refer to the 'Super-Bowl' football game, with its unrelenting focus on what really matters in America, namely, numbers and money. It's a three-ring circus, among the half-time entertainment, the fawning adulation of (get this!) TV commercials, and, oh yeah, the game itself. Said advertising reflects a feverish need to degrade men into some kind of mindless and violent state, and complete the dumbing-down process with attendant numbing of the moral and intelligence faculties of Americans. As the US goes, so goes the rest of the world, is the expedient logic of the enemies of decency. This is a hedonistic society in full melt-down, and like the denouement of the Roman Empire, it's a vicious spiral of wars, sports and entertainment, consumption, vacuous patriotism, and the nauseating, perfunctory invocation for God to 'bless America' at every public manifestation of godless activities.

So, here we are, in the exciting days of the long-prophesied end times. We are like the passengers and crew aboard the Titanic, just in the last minutes before the vessel struck the iceberg. The captain has been notified of danger ahead but refuses to slacken the speed. Wealthy passengers are dancing the night away to the blaring music of a live band, drowning out the cries of poor passengers down in the lower decks. Under a full moon, the lookout sees an island of white looming directly in their path... and can do nothing more than stare, after giving his unwelcome report.

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