IMAGINING ETERNITY, Part 2.

DECEMBER 9 2017

IMAGINING ETERNITY. Part 2: Setting the stage.

From CHAOS to COSMOS to CHAOS to COSMOS.

It’s truly amazing how history is going full circle today. The Bible starts with, “In the Beginning the earth was formless and empty”. Formless means no shape, no order, no law, no structure, amounting to nothing. The word NIHILISM has at its root ‘nihil’ which means ‘empty, nothing’. Nihilism typifies today where much of society lacks cohesion and purpose and stability.

In the Beginning: Chaos. Then God spoke – Psalm 33:9 – and chaos became cosmos. Cosmos is the opposite of chaos. Cosmos means everything chaos is not: purpose, logic, harmony, cooperation. No wonder God loves COSMOS – John 3: 16!!
The Garden of Eden symbolized all that: perfection in spades.

That state of serene wholeness did not last long. Almost immediately after the FALL humanity imposed its will upon creation with such disastrous results that today again we have CHAOS, needing complete renewal. This means that everything is going full circle: from CHAOS to COSMOS to CHAOS to COSMOS.

J.H. Bavinck in his “BETWEEN THE BEGINNING AND THE END” puts it this way:

“The end time again picks up the threads which have deter¬mined human life throughout the ages; in the end-time all things return to their beginning. Just as the book of Genesis paints us paradise, the place where human life started, so the book of the Revelation of John brings us back to that same place. End time and Urzeit are indeed intimately related. In short, the end time reveals again the realities of the Urzeit”.

We have seen in Part 1 that Abel was killed by his brother because of different views of the future: Abel envisioned an organic development, in tune with creation, while his brother Cain favored ‘dominating’ creation. Guess which force is dominant today?

The dispute between two brothers basically was a religious matter: ever since, religious wars have been the most atrocious and long-lasting.

Primary Productivity again.

At the time of Creation the entire budget for life, its Primary Productivity, the total amount of planetary mass, for One Hundred Percent, was directed to maintain all of Creation. Everything and every creature flourished. Cosmos meant balance, meant complete harmony, total shalom for trees, plants, animals, people. People then learned the secrets of plants, the edibles and the medicinal value, the pros and cons of certain trees and shrubs. They were the original Nature-Gatherers. There was symbiosis, absolute affinity between plant, animal and human.

The way I picture Paradise, the Garden of Eden is having total respect and complete comprehension of all created matter, treating everything as equals. I can imagine how humans, desiring a certain fruit, would ask the trees for permission.
It could quite well be that the original sin was to grab fruit without properly asking, asserting that humans were the dominant force in creation, rather than the servants in chief.

As we have seen in the previous blog, Dr. William Rees has calculated that we, the human race, now need 98.5 percent of all of life to satisfy OUR own wants and needs. That include the domesticated animals we (ab)use for our consumption, as well as the house pets we keep. All this leaves little or nothing for the original wild life and other species, much of which has disappeared.

This astounding number – 98.5 percent – explains why the current extinction rate is 1,000 times that which existed before human domination of the planet. We, 7.5 billion of reckless and feckless fools, have simply stolen the food, the rich – that means us – a lot more than others.

Destroying the earth has a long history.

Herodotus, a Greek historian who lived in the fifth century BC, a contemporary of Socrates, reported that there had been a time when a person could walk across North Africa from the Atlantic to the Pacific and always be in the shade of trees. One look at the world map tells me that this covered Morocco, Algiers, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
Today, most of this is endless emptiness of undulating waves of sand, unforgiving sun, oppressive heat and desperate people.

So, what spurred the shift from woodland to wasteland?

A new study suggests humans played a big role. Author David Wright, an environmental archeologist at Seoul National University, says that as humans spread west from the Nile river 8,000 years ago, they brought with them sheep, cows, and goats that gobbled up, mowed down, and trampled over native vegetation. This transformed the landscape and altered the local climate.

When God created, the earth was perfect. Not anymore.

Six thousand years before sodbusters broke up Iowa, our Caucasian ancestors broke up the Hungarian plain, an area just northwest of the Caucasus Mountains. Anthropologists call them the wheat-beef people. These early Europeans had a full set of domesticated plants and animals, but wheat and beef dominated. All the domesticated animals came from an area along what is now the Iraq-Syria-Turkey border at the edges of the Zagros Mountains. This is the center of domestication for the Western world’s main crops and livestock, ground zero of catastrophic agriculture.

I don’t know when Job lived (if he ever did), that fellow now famous for having ‘the patience of Job’ – not altogether correct, but that is beside the point – but, good man as he was, he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, and thousands of oxen and donkeys. Fine and dandy, but this is exactly the reason why we now have deserts.

Reading Genesis, when Abraham and Lot dwelled in what today is Israel, they then too had trouble finding adequate pasture for their huge herds. I imagine the NEGEB desert found its beginning there.

Don’t look to the Bible for guidance on sustainability. Another example of misguided practices is found in Joshua 17:14-18 relating to the period around 1400 BC. There Israel’s leader, Joshua, the successor to Moses, instructs the tribes of Joseph to clear the trees from the hill country to have enough land for his tribe. This practice was clearly unsustainable; it would lead to erosion of the soil on hilltops.

For ecological guidance, for all matters scientific, we must not go to the Bible, but to God’s Primary Word, his creation. The one explains the other: they go hand in hand. If you don’t believe what God’s creation tells us then you can’t understand the Scriptures.

In other words, The Bible is not to be used as a guide for environmentalists, nor to follow for health rules.
I often have a glass of wine, but as a cure for stomach trouble? Yet the apostle Paul recommends to his young friend Timothy (1 Timothy 5:23), “Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.”

Back to the church which still thinks strictly in anthropocentric terms.

I just looked up Exodus 20, the chapter where the Ten Commandments are listed. The commentary on “you shall not misuse the name of God”, says that ‘swearing falsely by his name is sin’.

That is the way the Church explains this, the anthropocentric –man – centered reading. If, however, we believe that God is the creator, this really means that God’s name, his signature, is on every created item. To abuse any part of God’s creation is ‘swearing falsely by God’s name,’ something we do all the time.

Seen in that light we do a lot of swearing, constantly taking God’s name in vain. The result is that all systems are threatened, not only the air, but also the 70 percent of the planet, the seas and oceans. “Oceans are under greatest threat in history”, warns Sir David Attenborough. The BBC shows in its Blue Planet 2 series lay bare the shocking damage humanity is wreaking in the seas, from climate change to plastic pollution to noise.

Of course our land mass too is poisoned. Take growing crops and keeping life stock. We can give it a pious twist, but fact is that farming has been disastrous for the earth.

Iowa is a more recent example. The state used to be beautiful prairie land occupied by millions of bison with the native people killing the odd one for meat and other uses.
Iowa is almost all agricultural fields now. Little prairie remains, and if you can find what Iowans call a “postage stamp” remnant of some, it most likely will abut a cornfield. Walk from the prairie to the field, and you probably will step down about six feet: that’s how much topsoil has disappeared since 1900.

Plows destroy the deep mat of prairie roots that hold the whole business together, triggering erosion. The Dust Bowl was no accident of nature. A functioning grassland prairie produces more biomass each year than does even the most technologically advanced wheat field. The problem is prairie grass is mostly of a kind that humans can’t eat.
So what did we do? We replaced the prairie with our own preferred grass, wheat, corn and soybeans. Never mind that we feed most of this to livestock, even though that livestock is perfectly content to eat native grass. And never mind that there likely were more bison produced naturally on the Great Plains before farming than all of beef farming raises in the same area today.

Just imagine the folly of industrial farming: 40-60 million bison freely roamed the immense grasslands of North America. We now grow grains to feed captive cattle, jail them in feed lots with hundreds of heads crowded together, emitting a terrible stench, exposing the cattle to immense pain and suffering, injecting them with antibiotics, and producing a substance – red meat – that causes strokes and heart attacks, taxing the medical system where – at least in the USA – it bankrupts many, as the cost of healthcare is so high.
The process poisons the soil, killing the Gulf of Mexico with the fertilizer overflow, kill people: all that evil, while nature provided free-ranch for the bison.

We still call the human race: homo sapiens, which means ‘the wise human. This same human race has abandoned God, even though honoring him – loving his creation – is the beginning of wisdom. No wonder we travel:
From CHAOS to COSMOS to CHAOS to COSMOS.

No doubt today we live in CHAOTIC times. All steadiness has disappeared: no more steady jobs, no more steady climate, no more steady families, no more steady politics: everything is in a flux.
The CHAOS is not confined to matters of soil where we have switched from a soil-based diet to an OIL-based diet.
Take a look at your kitchen: every food item there has been shipped from far away, has been grown on oil-based fertilizer, worked with colossal equipment, processed by machinery, transported by truck or train or plane to your home, wrapped in oil-based plastic.
It is no exaggeration that we use TEN energy-carbon-based-calories for every ONE food-calorie we consume. If we want to stop Climate Change we have to stop eating or grow your own.

Politically, socially, religiously, financially, instability reigns. The weather is weird, earth tremors abound, warning us of greater quakes to come. Greenland last week saw temperatures 30 Celsius above normal. Chaos is now universal.

So what are we to do?
Godspell comes to mind, that musical with the catchy tune, “Prepare ye the Way of the Lord,” sung by John the Baptizer.

We live in times not unlike 2000 years ago when Jesus appeared on the scene, his coming announced by a crazy character, a nature-gatherer, in direct touch with the earth. Does that give us a hint? Then the official church also ignored Jesus, even as three kings from the East came to honor him, and the lowest rank of people, shepherds having nightshift, were the first to be informed.
Today total CHAOS calls for total renewal, a restored COSMOS.
I was greatly encouraged reading Barbara Kingsolver’s FLIGHT BEHAVIOR, a novel squarely dealing with Climate Change. I was delighted to read how in that book the author has a church minister in the Baptist South proclaim from the pulpit that “A love for the Creator means we love his creation.”

In next week’s Part 3, I imagine a sustainable nature- gathering society, Chapter 20 of my 65,000 words novel DAY WITHOUT END.

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IMAGINING ETERNITY

December 2 2017

IMAGINING ETERNITY

Part 1: Setting the stage.

This week I start a three – perhaps a four – part series with the ambitious topic of IMAGINING ETERNITY.

It is true that nobody has come back from eternity, so I cannot rely on eye-witness accounts or can consult ancient sources to bolster my ideas. You may say that Lazarus, who had been dead four days before Jesus resuscitated him, could give an account, but no luck there either. As a kid I asked my mother why Jesus called him back from ‘heaven’, believing all the stories I heard about it being so wonderful up there. Kids ask the craziest things.

The first part will touch upon the early chapters of Genesis, relating what happened when two brothers, with different outlooks, Cain and Abel, sons of Adam and Eve, then already had totally opposite views on how life should develop. Today, after many millennia, this very question is coming to a head.

The second and perhaps a third essay will trace how early human development still has significance for today, with particular emphasis on agriculture and its consequences.

In the last part I visualize eternity, the NEW CREATION. To illustrate that episode I have selected a chapter from my book DAY WITHOUT END, a 66,000 word fantasy, playing entirely in the New Creation. The book itself is available from LULU.com-Bert Hielema.

By the way: my visualizing eternity is not all that unique. The church has done this for many centuries: it has described heaven, especially by means of hymns. Almost all church songs somewhere have a hint or sentence referring to heaven, in spite of Jesus’ very own words, recorded in John 3: 13, “No one has ever gone to heaven, except the one who came from heaven, Jesus himself, the son of man”. This has not prevented the church to teach that heaven is our final destination. Invariably almost every Sunday I sing hymn extolling the merits of heaven. Funerals especially feature them, “By the Sea of Crystal saints in glory stand… robed in white apparel…. myriads in number?”
Questions abound: Everybody dressed the same way? Yet every snowflake, every leaf is different! Reigning in heaven, ignoring creation? Myriads in number? How to square that with Jesus’ words, “many are called, few are chosen”, see Matthew 22:14.

So why do I venture into the unknown?

Call it my gut reaction. I feel that Christ’ return is imminent, something the Bible keeps on repeating: it’s got to happen someday, so why not soon!

I sincerely believe that the time for ‘conversion’ is over. The church no longer has the courage and conviction to radically change people. Revelation 22: 11, “Let those who do wrong keep doing that”, suggests to me that people no longer can be convinced, because, by and large, churches have lost the Message of the Kingdom. The words of Jeremiah come to mind (51:9), “We would have healed Babylon but she cannot be healed; let us leave her and each go to his own land, for her judgement reaches to the skies, and rises as high as the clouds.”

I also believe that the world has gone too far on the road to ruin to change course, so now we must consider the next step and prepare for our ultimate future. That Babylon – the present world – is beyond healing is evident from the essence of our Capitalistic system which can only function by destroying creation. America and our entire Western world have been built on creational domination and exploitation of the most vulnerable.

In THE TECHNOLOGICAL SOCIETY Jacques Ellul, the eminent French philosopher and astute Christian, accurately describes the present state of affairs. He writes that “technique has become indifferent to all the traditional human ends and values by becoming an end-in-itself…..which has nothing human in it to which we must accommodate ourselves as best we may…… In the technological society we humans are but a single tightly integrated and articulate component.”

Now in 2017 we are indeed so tightly enmeshed into The Technological Society, especially with Television, its Internet offspring and mobile devices that escape is nigh impossible.
Neil Postman in his classic AMUSING OURSELVES TO DEATH has phrased it correctly. In our Brave New World, Postman writes, “we are moving toward some preordained paradise, and technology is the force behind that movement.”

Technology’s march is indeed relentless, but the “paradise” paradigm is no longer possible because there is no leisure without work: there simply is no solution to the unemployment situation as robots rob jobs from workers while brains have been dulled by the BOOB TUBE and by the incessant silly chatter on the many media tools.

Revolt was possible earlier.

It happened in the early 19th century. That’s when the first generation of workers had the experience of being suddenly thrown out of their jobs by automation. But rather than accept it, they fought back—calling themselves the “Luddites” – and staging an audacious attack against the machines.

In the first decade of the 1800s, the textile economy in Great Britain went into a tailspin. A decade of war with Napoleon had halted trade and driven up the cost of food and everyday goods. Fashions changed, too: Men began wearing “trousers,” so the demand for stockings plummeted. The merchant class—the overlords who paid hosiers and croppers and weavers for the work—began looking for ways to shrink their costs.

That meant reducing wages—and bringing in more technology to improve efficiency. Huge factories were built where coal-burning engines would propel dozens of automated cotton-weaving machines. And the owners grew rich. The Luddites were not so much against progress: they revolted because the owners made millions while the workers starved.

Today is no different: the rich have grown richer while the poor now have TRUMP, the ultimate conman. Today the redundancy of labor, supplanted by efficient machines, is already creating an enormous “useless class”, without economic or military purpose. So what will happen to this human surplus? Cannon fodder as was the case in the 1930’s?

The real culprits are Robots and computers which are taking over the work place where once humans toiled. So will Corporate Capitalism outlaw robots and computers?

We simply cannot set back the clock to the 17th Century when wind and water fueled economic life. Yet eliminating fossil fuels has become necessary as continuing and increasing its use – as the current USA regime wants to do – will hasten the Day of Reckoning.

Let’s not fool ourselves: we are in for the most terrible of times. The rumblings are all too evident, in the weather, in the economy, in the deteriorating state of the global health, in the TRUMP tragedy, in the irreparable Middle East drama: it’s time for the people of God to extract ourselves from political, economic, self-destructing circumstances that inevitably will lead to total disaster.
Yes, let me be honest: my Calvinistic tentacles, my Bible-based opinions tell me that we will self-destruct. I now suspect that Climate Change is the deciding factor with the Arctic holding the key, the place where untold trillions of tons of methane are about to emerge. Before the final denouement, before our entire world will go up in flames, we will experience wars, famines, mass migration and state failure. These are the Horsemen of the coming Collapse of Industrial Civilization.

The Titanic to come.

Just as in the case of RMS Titanic, when today’s ship called Industrial Civilization sinks there will not be enough life boats, and those that there are will not be fully utilized. That is the reason why we must prepare for eternity now.

All the way back to ABEL and CAIN

You may recall how the two first sons of Adam and Eve were quite religious and made an offering to Yahweh. God accepted Abel’s gesture of devotion, but rejected Cain’s, because he was not sincere in his approach to God. This infuriated Cain so much that he killed his brother.
Pursuing eternity – as Abel did – is a dangerous business: it cost him his life. Jesus embodied eternity which got him killed. The same with Bonhoeffer who wrote that, “The Church of Christ witnesses to the end of all things.” The Nazis hanged him: his grave was never found. Churches that proclaim true eternity will lose most of their members.

Cain, after killing his brother, fled and we read that he built a city, signifying that the human desire to exclude God from creation is the prime motive behind the founding of the city.

Cain, who murdered his brother Abel, is the first city builder. He called it Enoch, which means a New Beginning.

Jacques Ellul in his book THE MEANING OF THE CITY mentioned that it was Cain’s intention to re-make the world over again, with not the Garden of Eden but the City as the new paradise.

Ellul wrote: “Cain has built a city. For God’s Eden he substitutes his own, for the goal given to his life by God, he substitutes a goal chosen by himself. The city is the direct consequence of Cain’s murderous act and of his own refusal to accept God’s protection. ….The city is opposed to Eden….God’s creation is seen as nothing. Cain made a new start, a start no longer seen as God’s beginning, but of human making.

“And thus Cain, with everything he does digs a little deeper the abyss between himself and God….. With Cain we have a sure starting place for all of civilization. Paradise becomes a legend and creation a myth……..Cain takes possession of the world and uses it as he wishes…….It is man’s highhanded piracy of creation that makes creation incapable of giving glory to God. Cain bends all of creation to his will.”

Today we see this clearly in the aims of Trump: no consideration of nature whatsoever.

In his book Ellul does not glorify the country over the city, because, today, by and large, the countryside simply has become an extension of the city.
Ellul mentions that, “Babylon is not A city, it is THE city……..When the wrath of God is loosed, she is struck first…. She is the very home of civilization and when the great city vanishes, there is no more civilization, a world disappears…..The very fact of living in the city directs a person down an inhuman road. They are taken into the service and worship of a somber goddess.”

Is that the end? Does Ellul in his THE MEANING OF THE CITY offer no hope?

He does. No hope for the present system, but, as a sincere Christian, he points to the NEW CITY to come, a city the exact opposite of the city Cain founded, and in which we now live, which has to be destroyed, as it was and still is the representation of human security and human thinking and human intentions.

In the new city, the City of God, the Lord’s presence will be constant, his spirit all pervasive. And, promises Revelation 14: 13, “Our good deeds will follow us there.” Writes Ellul: “The new city is founded in humility, constructed in the acceptance of God’s decisions. ……….Just as the new city is the accomplishment of what we humans were never able to realize, she is also the exact opposite of the earthly city….and the exact counterpart of what we humans had wanted to do.”

Properly speaking the new world to come will totally reflect God’s will, will be a world where communion with God is perfect and for all who live there.

I believe that it is later than we think. The Bible also says that the collapse will be sudden and unexpected. ARCTIC NEWS keeps on raising the alarm. Here is what this blog says, “The outlook is terrifying. As I calculated last year, surface temperatures of the atmosphere could rise by some 10°C or 18°F within a decade, i.e. by 2026,” making true 2 Peter 3: 10-13, I might add.

We have to reorient our goals, away from the City of Man to the City of God where SHALOM reigns, where full harmony within all spheres of life and within all humans, animals and plants will be universal.

Next week Part 2 of IMAGINING ETERNITY

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THE 29th DAY

NOVEMBER 25 2017

THE 29TH DAY

First a brain teaser, not difficult, not really taxing your intelligence, just a simple riddle involving the nature of exponential growth, here it is.
“A lily pond contains a single leaf. Each day the number of leaves doubles – two leaves the second day, four the third, eight the fourth, and so on. If the pond is full on the thirtieth day, at what point is it half full?

The answer: On the 29th Day!”

I have a book by that name, THE TWENTY NINTH DAY, bought in May 1979, almost 40 years ago. Then already the author, Lester R. Brown of World Watch, thought the earth was in its final growth spur, even though the world had only 4 billion customers. Imagine: Forty years ago the problem of Climate Change was not yet a topic of discussion and the melting of the Arctic had not yet begun, yet, I think, that year was the start of the fateful 24 hour- perhaps 40 year – 29th day.

Don’t forget the weather now is the result of what happened 30-40 years ago. Picture the scene a few decades ahead when the impact of today’s much larger carbon exhausts come into play.

A few words about the USA in the past and now.

In 1941 on December 7 the USA entered World War II which assured victory. The same happened in 1917, in World War I, when the American entry into the conflict was decisive for the outcome.
Today we all are directly involved and indirectly victims of OUR WAR AGAINST CREATION. And here, in this most decisive universal event, the USA is not only NOT coming to the rescue, as it did in 1917 and 1941, but, fully fueled by Satanic folly is siding against creation, against God the Creator.

The USA joining the enemy camp is the direct result of THE AMERICAN RELIGION. Harold Bloom was completely correct when, in his classic THE AMERICAN RELIGION, he writes that “No Western nation is as religion-soaked as the USA, and while claiming to be Christian, it has ceased to be so…We are Americanized Gnostics, standing outside creation.”

I believe that Dr. Bloom, who calls himself an agnostic Jew, provides the correct analysis of the current state of affairs in the USA: estrangement from creation in essence means estrangement from the Creator. No wonder the entire American political scene is confused and totally divorced from reality, the truth being that the American Way of Life, so separated from the all-too-evident Change in Climate, has become the American Way of Death, evident in tens of thousands dying from gun violence, tens of thousands dying in automobile accidents, tens of thousands dying from overdoses, tens of thousands dying from obesity, tens of thousands dying from smoking and other preventable deaths.

I’d say that as a whole the American Public suffers from mental illness, brought about by its religion, which they claim is Christian and no longer is, if it ever was. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, upon leaving the USA in 1939, after declining a teaching position at Union Theological Seminary, wrote:
“God has granted American Christianity no Reformation. He has given it strong revivalist preachers, churchmen and theologians, but no Reformation of the church of Jesus Christ by the Word of God.”

No wonder the American population is dysfunctional: it acts as if they are threatened, as if the enemy is at the door, and there is no defense: the whole world is against them, and they see no hope. NAFTA is seen as a means to deprive the USA of an advantage in trade. The Paris Climate accord? Scrap it. And the leader of this paranoia is the President himself, who displays it in manifold ways: It’s us against the world!
Diane Beresford-Kroeger in her book THE GLOBAL FOREST starts her chapter THE PAPER TRAIL by asking us to picture a blind man sitting on a tree branch with a saw. He is cutting away on the limb that sustains him. That’s America.

The truth is that “The Times They Are A’Changing”.

It’s no surprise that people are nervous, become defensive, crawl back into the old truths, which no longer are valid: we’re in a historic transitional moment and the very foundations of society are now open to question.

This past week I read an interview with bio-ecologist and ecological economist Dr. William Rees, professor emeritus of the University of British Columbia’s School of Community and Regional Planning.
Rees is best known for his development of the “ecological footprint” concept as a way to measure the demand a particular population places on the environmental resources it needs to survive. In one of his papers he singled out the Netherlands as a country living totally unsustainably: “With an area of 33,920 square kilometers and a human population density of 440/km2, the Netherlands depends on the ecological productivity (carrying capacity) of an area almost 15 times larger than the entire country.

“Since the beginning of modern agriculture (around 1800), human activity has increased demand on planetary resources at an exponential rate. More energy has been expended, and more resources consumed in the past 40 years – since 1978 the start of the 29th Day – than in all of human existence beforehand. That is placing an ever greater strain on ecosystems that are now dangerously depleted.”

Dr. Rees relates how at the dawn of agriculture, just ten thousand years ago, we humans accounted for less than One Percent of the total planetary biomass of mammal creatures. Today this percentage has increased to about 35 percent. And when we throw in our domesticated animals and pets today this totals to 98.5 percent of the total weight of mammals on Planet Earth.

Almost One Hundred Percent!!

Not only are we on the 29th Day: we are at the very end of that day NOW: it’s close to midnight: the global tipping point is nearly there. Through sheer growth we have claimed for ourselves almost the total of the available Primary Productivity, leaving next to nothing for other species with the consequence that on our Finite Planet, with a limited energy flow, the more we take for ourselves, the less there is available for everything else.

Plenty of examples.

We have gone from millions of elephants to a few thousand. We have gone from hundreds of thousands of tigers to a handful. We have gone from billions of passenger pigeons to zero. North America used to have 40 to 60 million bison regularly migrating north and south through our great plains. Well, today there’s only a few thousand bison on domesticated farms or in a couple of parks—they have been replaced by the food crops that we grow to feed humans or to support our domestic animals.

All wildlife on the planet today is clinging to the edges of existence. They may not have gone extinct, but their populations have been reduced to a tiny fraction – a few percent at best – of what used to be.

Take the cod situation. It was sustainable when local fishermen caught them off the Newfoundland coast. Then the mechanized foreign trawlers came and depleted them in a few years. Thirty years ago the fishing ban was issued, but the cod never recovered.

Asked why he studied sustainability, Dr. Rees said, “It started a long time ago when I was a young fellow in southern Ontario, growing up part of the year on my grandfather’s farm. And I became very, very appreciative of the extent of which we are connected deeply to the land. There was one particular day, I remember, we’d all come in from the fields early – this is in the early 50s. I had loaded hay by pitchfork on horse drawn wagons. There were maybe fourteen of us around that table, eight cousins and a bunch of uncles and we were waiting for grandpa to come in to say grace. On that particular occasion it came to me as a ten-year-old that everything on my plate was related to me. I had weeded the tomatoes and dusted the eggs. I realized, as if the rug had been pulled out from under me or I was in freefall, that I was deeply connected to the Earth. In fact, it came to me that I was made out of the food that I eat and therefore out of the ground that we stand on.”

This episode reminds me of similar scenes when visiting my maternal grandfather, living without electricity, almost exclusively existing on a homegrown diet, bartering eggs for coffee, sugar.

Dr. Rees observation echoes both Bavinck and Bonhoeffer. In CREATION AND FALL Bonhoeffer writes, “God, the human race and the earth belong together.” Bavinck writes, “A human being, adam, belongs to adamah, the life bearing earth. With every sinew of his exis¬tence he is tied to the earth, which bears him and feeds him.”

Back to the 29th Day.

People can say, “Hey, the glass is only half full, we’ve got a long time to go.” The fact is we’re pretty much near the end of our rope, at the end of Day 29, after an enormous and exponential increase in consumption and economic throughput in the last four decades.

Dr. Rees relates: “It turns out that just this past week a paper was published in Germany showing that in the last twenty years or so, insect populations have plummeted by about seventy five percent.
And we’ve seen amongst insect eating birds, almost the entire group of insects eating birds – this is everything from whippoorwills to nighthawks to swallows and swifts and so on – experienced declines up to seventy percent. And in my own region – the Greater Vancouver area – there are really quite good data. Since 1970 there’s been a ninety-eight percent decline in barn swallows and bank swallows and other insectivorous birds of that kind.”

Sustainability.

He uses this example: “Supposing your rich uncle dies and leaves you a million dollars. You invest it at five percent, and produces fifty thousand dollars a year. That’s your interest. So if you’re willing to live on fifty thousand dollars a year, you can live in perpetuity. That’s called sustainability.
“But as soon as you take sixty thousand or seventy or eighty or ninety or a hundred you begin to use not only all of the interest produced in that year but you’re beginning to eat into your capital. And the point comes at which you’ll get an NSF check because you’ve liquidated your entire capital. And that’s exactly, I think, the path we’re on today.

“We are depleting our oil supplies, we’re depleting our mineral supplies, and we’re depleting our supplies of soil. Fish stocks are in precipitous decline. The numbers I gave you earlier show that even insects from insect eating birds, mammals are all rapidly in decline because humans are virtually, literally displacing them from their habitats and from their sources of energy.

“Economists tell us that technology is enabling us to decouple – becoming less and less dependent on nature, but the raw reality is that humans have never taken more from nature.”
So far Dr. Rees.

It reminds me of Psalm 24, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. Colossians 1: 16 says the same, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.”

All things, (ta panta in Greek) include everything created, all animals, all plants, all insects, all fish, all humans. Eliminating them spells doom. We are annihilating God’s creatures, supposedly for our benefit. THE AMERICAN RELIGION which disdains creation is causing us more and more to become insecure, in this FINAL HOUR of the 29th Day.

Us claiming 98.5 percent of the earth means that the DOOMSDAY clock is only a few seconds away from Christ’s RETURN. Last Monday a NYT editorial had this line, “It’s systemic change or bust“.

Christmas is approaching and Handel’s Messiah will be performed everywhere. It contains one aria that should make us think: (Malachi 3: 2) “But who shall endure the day of his coming? And who shall stand when he appeareth? For he will be like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ lye.”

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CAN WE STILL DO IT?

NOVEMBER 18 2017

CAN WE STILL DO IT?

It is beyond any doubt that we live in a world totally at war against Creation, the ultimate work of art which God called good after each phase, and very good once it was completed.

It is now deteriorating at a clip unique in the millions of years of its gradual evolution. Its pace of degeneration has culminated in a state where today in Bonn, Germany the nations of the world are meeting to assess the damage and devise ways to stop our earth from choking on its own excrement and are unable to do so. After 23 meetings solely concerned with Climate issues, the poisons are still rising.

Of course, the church knew the outcome all along even though it now ignores it. In my youth every Sunday one sermon of the two was on the Heidelberg Catechism. In it the preacher drilled into my sub-consciousness that I was a ‘born sinner, corrupt from conception on’. Oh my….

So, following that logic, this stern command made sense: “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues.”

CAN WE STILL DO IT?

That’s the question I struggle with.

The rich see the writing on the wall, and have bought their retreats. Some, like the Amish, never became part of modernity, while the poor in Asia and Africa never did have the chance to indulge in Western culture because, thanks to us they have droughts and floods, degraded soils and overpopulation which will prevent the basically innocent African and Asian population from becoming self-sufficient again.

CAN WE STILL DO IT?

The poet T.S. Eliot predicted that, after the disintegration of Western society, civilization would be conserved and restored by a new monastic movement. He wrote this almost 100 years ago when the world was still underpopulated by today’s standards, and basically pristine.

Eliot knew his history and being acquainted with the events at the end of the fifth century, knew how in Benedict’s day, the once-great Roman Empire had collapsed into chaos. He knew how, through economic disaster, famine, plague, moral decadence and political corruption, the society was on edge and vulnerable, as Barbarians invaded Rome from the north and east, sensing lucrative spoils to be had. So Benedict of Nursia, experiencing the decay of the Empire, established small communities of men and women dedicated to prayer, work and study.

Fine, that was 1500 years ago, when the Western World still could retreat into fortified settlements, exist on local produce, and people had high regard for the Clergy who had sold themselves as The People of God with answers people believed to be true. The GADFAEL series written by Ellis Peters, set in the 12th Century in England, portrayed a society that was sustainable where the religious retreats were an integral part of society and all people adhered to one faith.

Today a BENEDICT movement is becoming popular fueled by a book on that topic. My question is whether something similar can be undertaken today, a time somewhat resembling the Fall of Rome.

Actually the situation is far worse because today the natural elements also are in uproar, with hurricanes inflicting major damage, with droughts and floods and earthquakes increasingly molesting minds and mortar. Can the nations – now gathering in Bonn, Germany, COP 23 – prevent an increase in CO2 emissions, as the Gods of our Age demand more and more goods and greater and greater luxuries?

Will there be popular movements to halt ‘progress’? Will people, the many millions who know the score, band together and vouch to cut consumption, live within the means of nature and so preserve creation?

Well, I’ll tell you right now: it ain’t gonna to happen. We will continue our destructive ways till the very end.

We have advanced 1500 years beyond the collapse of Rome, which brought on what the history books call THE DARK AGES. Then, indeed, monasteries and convents were instrumental in preserving civilizations and slowly prepared the populace for the MIDDLE AGES.

The designation “Middle Ages” tells a story: it resembles the normal life cycle: Birth, Youth, Middle Age, Old Age, Death. Our civilization has seen birth, experienced Middle Age and now is dying and in the throngs of Death.

Not too long ago Pope Benedict XVI – who retired to make place for the present Pope Francis – predicted:
“From today’s crisis will emerge a Church that has lost a great deal. … It will become small and will have to start pretty much all over again. It will no longer have use of the structures it built in its years of prosperity. The reduction in the number of faithful will lead to it losing an important part of its social privileges. It will start off with small groups and movements and a minority that will make faith central to experience again. It will be a more spiritual Church and will not claim a political mandate flirting with the right one minute and the left the next. It will be poor and will become the Church of the destitute.”

Surely a somber message from the man who was Pope just a few years ago.

Another Roman Catholic priest predicted that,
“A “Benedict Option” would undermine clericalism in a positive and creative way. There would be natural renewal of worship, religious education and service based on the needs of the local community rather than top-down “good ideas” by diocesan bureaucrats.”

That’s realistic talk in our days of growing estrangement from religion, at the very time when, paradoxically, the only hope is religion, of the all-encompassing kind. Fact is that the Church of Rome, and all denominations, sees the future strictly in religious terms. There’s no creational aspect to what the clergy sees as the future, that biblical notion so beautifully expressed in Psalm 24, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness there of”, has not become a truth for the church in general.

That something is astir, however, was strikingly featured in the NEW YORK TIMES a few weeks ago. The headline said:

Are Christians Supposed to Be Communists?

I know that Communists have a bad name. A long time ago, in my schooldays I was told that the difference between a Christian and a Communist is that a Christian believes that All That is Mine is Yours while a Communist says All that is Yours is Mine.

David Bentley Hart in his NYT article maintained that the early Christians lived a common life and voluntarily enjoyed a community of possessions.

There`s no doubt that Acts 2 tells us that in Jerusalem the first converts to the proclamation of the risen Christ affirmed their new faith by living in a single dwelling, selling their fixed holdings, redistributing their wealth “as each needed” and owning all possessions communally. This was, after all, a pattern Jesus himself had established: “Each of you who does not give up all he possesses is incapable of being my disciple” (Luke 14:33).

Jesus lived that ideal. When Jesus came to earth, forever to retain the status of both God and Human, he could have been a human being of any description, stature, degree and condition; and yet he chose to be poor. The English poet Christopher Harvey said of him in the seventeenth century:
It was Thy Choice, whilst Thou on Earth didst stay, And hadst not whereupon Thy Head to lay.

David Bentley Hart wrote: “Down the centuries, Christian culture has largely ignored the more provocative features of the early church or siphoned off their lingering residues in small special communities (such as monasteries and convents). Even when those features have been acknowledged, they have typically been treated as somehow incidental to the Gospel’s message — a prudent marshaling of resources against a hostile world for a brief season, but nothing essential to the faith, and certainly nothing amounting to a political philosophy.”

Hart struggled with the Greek words that contained the word “koinon,” or “common,” and most especially the texts’ distinctive emphasis on “koinonia,” a word usually rendered blandly as “fellowship” or “sharing” or (slightly better) “communion.” “But, he wondered,” is that all it implies? After all, the New Testament’s condemnations of personal wealth are fairly unremitting and remarkably stark: Matthew 6:19-20, for instance (“Do not store up treasures for yourself on the earth”), or Luke 6:24-25 (“But alas for you who are rich, for you have your comfort”) or James 5:1-6 (“Come now, you who are rich, weep, howling out at the miseries that are coming for you”). While there are always clergy members and theologians swift to assure us that the New Testament condemns not wealth but its abuse, not a single verse (unless subjected to absurdly forced readings) confirms the claim.

Hart came to the conclusion that koinonia often refers to a precise set of practices within the early Christian communities, a special social arrangement — the very one described in Acts — that was integral to the new life in Christ.

Hart also wrote, “When, for instance, the Letter to the Hebrews instructs believers not to neglect koinonia, or the First Letter to Timothy exhorts them to become koinonikoi, this is no mere recommendation of personal generosity, but an invocation of a very specific form of communal life. As best we can tell, local churches in the Roman world of the apostolic age were essentially small communes, self-sustaining but also able to share resources with one another when need dictated. This delicate web of communes constituted a kind of counter-empire within the empire, one founded upon charity rather than force — or, better, a kingdom not of this world but present within the world nonetheless, encompassing a radically different understanding of society and property.”

The early Christians were different, totally different. All around them Paganism prevailed. Then Christians expected Christ to return any minute, so their notion of possessions was different: they saw themselves as transient tenants of a rapidly vanishing world, refugees passing lightly through a history not their own.
Hart writes, “Well into the second century, the pagan satirist Lucian of Samosata reported that Christians viewed possessions with contempt and owned all property communally. And the Christian writers of Lucian’s day largely confirm that picture: Justin Martyr, Tertullian and the anonymous treatise known as the Didache all claim that Christians must own everything in common, renounce private property and give their wealth to the poor. Even Clement of Alexandria, the first significant theologian to argue that the wealthy could be saved if they cultivated “spiritual poverty,” still insisted that ideally all goods should be held in common.”
He continues,
“As late as the fourth and fifth centuries, bishops and theologians as eminent as Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, Ambrose of Milan, Augustine and Cyril of Alexandria felt free to denounce private wealth as a form of theft and stored riches as plunder seized from the poor. The great John Chrysostom frequently issued pronouncements on wealth and poverty that make Karl Marx and Mikhail Bakunin sound like timid conservatives. According to him, there is but one human estate, belonging to all, and those who keep any more of it for themselves than barest necessity dictates are brigands and apostates from the true Christian enterprise of charity. And he said much of this while installed as Archbishop of Constantinople.”

That was then: a sharp difference between Christianity and paganism.

Today whatever is left of Christianity is basically indistinguishable from society at large. Actually the majority of church people have no earthly expectations anymore as heaven is the goal. Care for the earth is seen as New Age, a sort of modern paganism. Christ’s return to earth as THE ESSENCE OF HUMANITY, has been replaced with RAPTURE, a miraculous fetching up to heaven to leave the sinful earth to its deserved destruction.

CAN WE STILL DO IT?

What is the tiny remnant to do in these last days? Those who look forward to Christ’s coming and his New Creation, the Kingdom to come for which he gave his life?

Can we still choose the BENEDICT option? Can we still form religious communities, holding all things in common, at a time when we are so individualistic, so rich, so spoiled, so enraptured and en-captured by technology?

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TIME AND ETERNITY

NOVEMBER 11 2017

TIME AND ETERNITY.

Jeremy Rifkin gave his book TIME WARS the subtitle of “The Primary Conflict in Human History”. I bought it in Los Angeles on December 5 1987 at a book fair on the grounds of the UCLA, the University of California. Yes, thirty years later I still love books and book stores.

Rifkin portrays the right perspective. He writes that a battle is brewing over our conception of time, the outcome determining the future of society. How true! The conflict is between those who advocate speed and efficiency and those who look for values more consistent with human needs and the dictates of nature. The real struggle – so said Rifkin – is between those who favor an artificial world where past, present and future blur together without benefit of real time or memory – a fully simulated ‘paradise’ – and those time rebels who question society’s capitulation to computer-related models and nanosecond-culture.

Rifkin, without mentioning it, touches here on the age-old division between Nature and Grace, in which Organized Religion has been an eager enemy of Nature, in essence battling God.

Eternity starts now.

My premise is that our life today determines our life in eternity. Eternity is not a matter of the future, it starts in the present. Already now and here, in this temporal life, we embrace eternity. If Christians are true to their status then they experience their religion as an existence before the face of God, the Creator.

We, as the human race, wander between the first and the second Paradise. We know the past and we all face eternity. That gives us a notion of time that determines our very humanity. It belies the belief that at death our life ceases to exist, that then all traces of our beings disappear forever.

Look at Creation: it breathes ETERNITY.

Scientists, acute nature observers, people who have far advanced in their fields, more and more realize that in their research and probing they have merely scratched the surface, have hardly made a dint into their field of enquiry. The reason is that the world, the cosmos, has been so created that scrutinizing created matter is an infinite enterprise, proceeds forever, so that we never will be able to describe and label at all.

E. O. Wilson, not a Christian, let me correct that, not a church adherent, in his book HALF-EARTH makes that very observation. Only a never-ending eternity is long enough to complete and fathom all that is inherent in creation.

Revelation 14: 13 encourages us in this regard because “our good works will follow us”. These good works apply especially to the acquisition of knowledge regarding creation, God’s ultimate work of art, just as our bad works – causing creational stress and distress in persons and nature – will forever come to haunt those who unrepentantly cause them.

The Apostles’ Creed confirms this where it says, “I believe in LIFE eternal.” That life refers to all living matter. That life also refers to all scientific enterprise, where we need ETERNITY to come to the bottom of all that is contained in creation. That means that this sort of searching starts in mortal life and continues in eternal life: so curious minds, don’t despair: there’s lots of time to come. All we need is unbounded curiosity: to live is to question; to live is to wonder; to live is to relax: we have all the time in the world.

This implies that dying does not mean that time stops: death is simply sleep, as Jesus always maintained. Death is nothing but an interval, a time to reflect, “the pause that refreshes”, as COCA COLA used to say. That also indicates that eternal life starts in the here and now.

So forget about dividing life into two sections where temporal time is seen as less valuable, while eternal life is regarded as of higher quality.

It is true, of course, that life today where the Christian can show only a small start of being obedient to God’s laws, is less perfect than life later in eternity, where all sin is banned forever. It is quite understandable that we call life after the Resurrection as ‘eternity’ while life from cradle to grave is seen as transitory: however the Scriptures tell us that we must include this period of transience as belonging to life eternal.

What is the situation today?

Back to Jeremy Rifkin, who sees a sharp division in his 30 year old book, a chasm that since has become so wide that it is almost impossible to distinguish church-going Christians from non-Christian. It is beyond question that society as a whole has chosen to live the planet-destructive way.

What Rifkin calls The Primary Conflict in Human History has largely disappeared: the MACHINE has won: we all are wedded to technology, the most trusted of all human enterprises. The old-age revolt of the godless versus the people of God has gone to the Satan crowd.

The Bible tells us that this has always been the case.

The prophets of old spoke with deep sadness about revolt, about how the human race had broken the COVENANT, had strayed away from the harmonious unity of the universe and chosen to go its own way. “Even the stork in the skies knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. But my people do not know the requirements of the Lord”, lamented the prophet. (Jer. 8:7).

We all have ruptured the Kingdom; we all have brought dissonance into the world order.

At one time everything in heaven and on earth was united in one over arching purpose, in devout submission to him who created it all. We now have excluded ourselves from this goal. “The heavens declare God’s glory and the expanse tells us the work of his hands” sang the poet in Psalm 19, but we, the human race, we alone have refused to be included in that act of worship. We have torn ourselves away from this all embracing body and have declared ourselves to be sovereign. We have become a law to ourselves and by that act clothed ourselves with the mantle of loneliness, no longer able to hear and understand the song of creation, and, sadly, in turn no longer seen by creation as part and parcel of it.

The Book of Revelation calls this state BABYLON. We all are in Babylon.

The frightening part is that Babylon, that glorious Babylon, with its infinite charm, basically presents a pathetic picture. With it insistent advertising, with its tinkering and peddling, with its visual effects, it may entice the naïve, the easily fooled, who fail to see that Babylon is an empty shell, “who was and is not”, the way John described this world-tyrant. It simply cannot endure because it is not vested in God. Outside God nothing is safe, outside God everything, however beautiful it may seem and however great it may appear, in essence is nothing other than vanity.

That we live in THE LAST DAYS becomes plainer by the day because today is being fulfilled the basic message of the book of Revelation: everything will become what it is. Today we experience that.

Everyday there are new revelations of long hidden sex crimes, of money secretly stashed away to escape legitimate tax, of the true nature of the electorate, wanting independence, revealing their base, nihilistic nature.

What we call world history is one tremendous masquerade where each single item carries a disguise, where everything is different than it seems. But soon, very soon, this entire tomfoolery will end and every mask will be removed. That is the meaning of everything that has happened and will happen, and that is what the last things are all about.

Today we see Revelation in spades, everywhere, fulfilling in its last chapter: “Let those who do wrong, let them do wrong even more, let those who do vile, let them continue to do more so; let those who do right continue to do right; and let those who are holy continue to be holy.” (Rev. 22: 11).

That hits the nail on the head. The masks have to go, the secrets must be unveiled: everything in the end must become what it always has been already.

Nature already is falling upon the human race as a provoked lion: nature will breach all constrains humanity has placed upon it, and will explode into extraordinary catastrophes, earthquakes, floods, failed harvests, pandemics. All these will be more severe than ever.

Humanity has not turned to God, has only become more outspoken in his resistance, more spiteful in its hatred, more determined in its powerless hate, more relentless in its rage against God’s children. Indeed, who is unjust, more injustice will ensue, who is vile, more vileness will follow. The masks fall off.

We already are seeing how human vilest intentions rise to the surface. All veneer is vanishing, melting away in the heat of the last days

Where is the church?

In these last chapters of Revelation we notice little of the church. We often do hear heavenly songs of praise but the hidden ways of the church on earth are no longer shown. History no longer concerns her.

Fortunately, in the melting pot of the final time the church too becomes more and more what she is; in spite of all pressure and persecution, the church slowly assumes the features of her true character: love for God expressed as love for the Cosmos. Then, in the end, the new Kingdom, the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, the New Jerusalem will dawn.

In the end everything in the world becomes what it should have been all along when Christ returns.

Nature has no independent existence but is an instrument in God’s hand and is part of God’s plan and does what God wants. She does not become that: she is that. And we humans, we who revolted against God, we who in the depth of our striving are the great fugitive from God, and always rebel against him, we grimly keep on embracing this world because this is our last and only refuge.

What happens in the end is not something new, is not something miraculous. No, all this amounts to is that when humanity has spoken its last and most important word, then God starts to speak his mighty word. That is the most radical revolution of all times, but in essence it is nothing else than that everything becomes what it is. The secret is dug up from every reality and exposed for everybody to see. The ultimate meaning of every creature becomes exposed and held up to public view in the hands of the True God.
That is the Judgment Day,
the most horrible what can be imagined
but also that is redemption,
the eternal liberation of all who have loved Jesus’ appearance on earth.

At one time he exclaimed on Calvary the triumphal call: “It is accomplished”. Already then the great plea was settled, and already then everything was changed. On the last day it again will be exclaimed: “It is done!” (Rev. 21: 6). That second exclamation is exactly the same as the first. It is the same word, but now it is in the acute, present tense, is now the full reality.
Now, indeed, it is for ever and ever ‘done’.

Thirty year ago Jeremy Rifkin reminded us that the battle between wisdom and foolishness, between TIME and ETERNITY was raging and quickly intensifying.

The real question is not that there is the conflict. That’s becoming more evident by the day. The real question is at which camp are we. There’s no such a thing as the right church or the wrong church: all of them have gone astray.

It boils down to John 3: 16: God so loved the world that, in order to free it from Satan’s clutches, he offered his Son as payment.

What is required of us? Love God and his creation, above all, and all human creatures as ourselves.

That transforms TIME into ETERNITY.

(Part of this has been translated from J.H. Bavinck’s book on Revelation.)

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TURMOIL

NOVEMBER 4 2017

TURMOIL

I like that word TURMOIL. It sounds like what it portrays.
I sometimes write lines of the rhyming kind. TURMOIL for instance, rhymes with toil, spoil, oil, soil, with boil, foil, roil, foil, with despoil, embroil, recoil — oodles of possibilities to make up something that ends in …oil. Rhyming lines make for easier remembering and can be made into singing versions.
I once wrote six verses on a minister who was retiring and I had the congregation sing them on a familiar tune: “Praise God from whom all blessings flow” (8888LM). Here are 3 of them.

A man acquainted with each trend,
in dogma steeped, in creed not bend,
unerring knowledge quick to lend:
our dear beloved Reverend.

The sick to see, the rifts to mend,
And always justice to defend,
The Gospel preach, Goodnews extend,
Our dear beloved Reverend.

On the Lord’s will he does depend,
he must, he can’t on his stipend,
another reason to commend,
our dear beloved Reverend.

For some I could have added, but never did:

His sermons are, I must contend
Quite often boring, without end,
That’s why I simply do pretend
To listen to the Reverend.

On TURMOIL here’s what my muse tells me:

Our world today, by using oil,
Has done away with human toil,
But poisoned our so precious soil,
So will it end in great turmoil?

Yes, soon there’s nothing left to spoil
Then all of nature will recoil
Who do we think we can still foil
Before it ends in great turmoil?

The ocean waves already boil
The forests burn and tempers roil
Our rulers lie and truth destroy
Yes, it will end in great turmoil.
(Can be sung on the tune: By Babel’s streams we sat and wept)

Turmoil is the trend: wherever I look matters are in motion, often violently.

Jonathan Wiener, in 1990, wrote, “THE NEXT ONE HUNDRED YEARS, Shaping the Fate of Our Living Earth”. He relates how already in 1896, a Swedish chemist, Svante Arrhenius, wrote, “We are evaporating our coal mines into the air. …Eventually this change might very well heat the planet to heights outside all human experience.”

Wiener relates how Charles David Keeling, 60 years later, in 1956, when 26 and with a fresh Ph.D. in chemistry made it his life’s goal to measure CO2 in the atmosphere. Carbon Dioxide is the gas that our cars exhale through their tail pipes, causing Green House Gases.

Now, another 60 years later, these gases are fueling WEATHER TURMOIL. As of October 31 this year the count had accelerated to 404.16 parts per million, the largest annual increase ever. Historically 280 was the norm. Globally trees – thanks to forest fires and clear-cutting – now emit more CO2 than they absorb.

A recent report points out that concentrations of CO2 are now 145%, methane 257% and nitrous oxide 122% above pre-industrial times.

The beginning of the End.

This year is signaling the beginning of the end. From now on the most watched website will be ARCTIC NEWS which also gives details on what happens in the air above us, where NORMAL is no longer a current word.

As I have written before: everything is connected to everything else. That ‘everything else’ reminds me of Colossians 1: 15-16. It says that: “Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.”

Now, with Satan in charge, ALL THINGS are about to change, in the air, in the soil and in the seas, including all that is not visible such as the airwaves, the rays that are bounced to and from the satellites, the TV streams that are received via the dishes sporting on our roofs, the thoughts that penetrate our minds: all these invisible things shape our minds more than the few sermons on Sundays: everything is about to change; nothing is stable anymore: TURMOIL is the new state.

A Chinese curse is with us: may you live in interesting times.

This past week Washington was awash in turmoil. It’s just one example of what’s going on over the entire globe. The election of Donald Trump is not exceptional: he is the exact outcome of the mentality of the American Psyche: brash and loud and abrasive and entirely focused on money, given to exaggeration, stretching the truth, seeking to appear bigger and richer than they really are: the proverbial American. Trump so resonates with the American psyche because he embodies it.

What is so dangerous is that America claims to be religious, except that its religion is no longer Christian. As Harold Bloom so acutely observed: America claims to be Christian, but has ceased to be so: Gnosticism rules the church, and not any church but all the churches: it’s built into their very structures.

The USA is not the only country is disarray. Great Britain, when it chose by a tiny majority to leave the European Union, has also been at odds with itself as its economy is facing declining growth prospects. The ruling Conservatives have no clue how to quit the E.U. without doing even more damage to their country’s future. That’s what happens when you vote for “disrupters” who never spent a second thinking through how all of their disruptions connect the morning after the morning after.

Everywhere in the Western world the rulers have an impossible task: how to pay for the generous social benefits – pensions and healthcare – when faced with old and older people and a declining younger work force. So far mountains of debt have done the trick, impossible to sustain.

RELIGION AGAIN.

Last week the Guardian had a long article on the state of the Roman Catholic Church, in particular on Pope Francis. It started with the ominous words: s
“Pope Francis is one of the most hated men in the world today. Those who hate him most are not atheists, or Protestants, or Muslims, but some of his own followers. Outside the church he is hugely popular as a figure of almost ostentatious modesty and humility. From the moment that Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio became pope in 2013, his gestures caught the world’s imagination: the new pope drove a Fiat, carried his own bags and settled his own bills in hotels; he asked, of gay people, “Who am I to judge?” and washed the feet of Muslim women refugees.
But within the church, Francis has provoked a ferocious backlash from conservatives who fear that this spirit will divide the church, and could even shatter it. This summer, one prominent English priest said: “We can’t wait for him to die. It’s unprintable what we say in private. Whenever two priests meet, they talk about how awful Bergoglio is … he’s like Caligula: if he had a horse, he’d make him cardinal.” Of course, after 10 minutes of fluent complaint, he added: “You mustn’t print any of this, or I’ll be sacked.”

To judge by the voting figures at the last worldwide meeting of bishops, almost a quarter of the College of Cardinals – the most senior clergy in the church – believe that the pope is flirting with heresy.
His most violent opponent is Cardinal Burke who represents a long tradition of heavyweight American power brokers of white ethnic Catholicism. The hieratic, patriarchal and embattled church of the Latin Mass is his ideal, to which it seemed that the church under John Paul II and Benedict was slowly returning – until Francis started work.
Cardinal Burke’s combination of anti-communism, ethnic pride and hatred of feminism has nurtured a succession of prominent rightwing lay figures in the US, from Pat Buchanan through Bill O’Reilly and Steve Bannon, alongside lesser-known Catholic intellectuals such as Michael Novak, who have shilled untiringly for US wars in the Middle East and the Republican understanding of free markets.

It was Cardinal Burke who invited Bannon, then already the animating spirit of Breitbart News, to address a conference in the Vatican, via video link from California, in 2014. Bannon’s speech was apocalyptic, incoherent and historically eccentric. But there was no mistaking the urgency of his summons to a holy war: the second world war, he said, had really been “the Judeo-Christian west versus atheists”, and now civilisation was “at the beginning stages of a global war against Islamic fascism … a very brutal and bloody conflict … that will completely eradicate everything that we’ve been bequeathed over the last 2,000, 2,500 years … if the people in this room, the people in the church, do not … fight for our beliefs against this new barbarity that’s starting.”
To guarantee Francis’ changes will last, the church has to accept them. That is a question that will not be answered in his lifetime. He is 80 now, and only has one lung. His opponents may be praying for his death, but no one can know whether his successor will attempt to contradict him – and on that question, the future of the Catholic Church now hangs.” End of quote.

I welcome the TURMOIL in the Roman Christian Church, a situation brutally necessary for arriving at the TRUE state of the Gospel: away from heaven – still 100 percent Roman Catholic teaching – and honoring God’s creation, and its eternal existence, which many Catholics do.

BACK TO MUNDANE MATTERS

As we well know, all is not well.

Climate Change is the catalyst here, already causing Pandemics, deadly droughts, flooding rains, and hellish heat that devastate the crops.
As a prelude to THE END, the Bible Book REVELATION mentions EARTH QUAKES, especially in Chapter 16: 18: “No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth.”
You can imagine how the seismographs in the capitals shake wildly in record numbers beyond any ever registered. You can visualize how the houses tumble, the palaces are flattened. No human technological expertise is any help. Nothing can withstand this force of nature: no nuclear bomb has this devastating power. Now an endless series of ever more frightening events roll over the world.

The catastrophes mentioned here extend to the entire cosmos. They affect people everywhere. In the disastrous happenings preceding the last things, two types of distress can be detected. There are calamities that originate in nature and there are those that are the result of human action. Here only the first type is mentioned. It is as if the tamed earth, given by God as a gift to humanity as his own domain, is now rebelling, is now rising up against her tormentor. It is as if nature that, for so long, for so many centuries, has faithfully furnished humanity with all its needs, has now become recalcitrant, and full of revenge has thrown itself upon humanity.

And this humanity, this so superior human race, with her nuclear energy, her mighty medical system, her military prowess, and her entertainment establishment all of which made her feel so immense mighty and strong, these same men and women are now in a total humiliating fashion confronted with the fact that in the final analysis they amount to nothing, that they are a mere rag that is thrown out as useless.

Today the signs of looming earthquakes are everywhere.

One newspaper reports:
Europe Fears ‘The Big One’ After 140 Earthquakes Strike The French Alps In 40 Days.
The same is happening in Yellowstone Park where also hundreds of small earthquakes have been detected. The danger there is so immense that a volcanic explosion there could spell the end of the world. Other regions too report volcanic unrest: in Bali, Indonesia, in Alaska, in Iceland, wherever volcanoes are found.

To make sure that this message penetrates the dull minds of humans the Bible mentions earthquakes in various places, such as in Matthew 24: 7, in Luke 21: 11, in Ezekiel 38: 19, in Joel 2: 10, all as preludes to THE END.

We, as the modern Humanity, are unleashing powers and disasters which today are the harbingers of world-wide calamities. All the signs are there.

TURMOIL visible and invisible will only accelerate. Be prepared. John the Baptizer comes to mind: the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.

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