Saturday, April 30, 2016

More Signs of Civilizational Collapse: Increasing Ignorance and Spiritual Death

In his book, The Twilight of American Culture, Morris Berman speaks about much more than that. In the first chapter (pp. 14-70), he lists four signs indicating the collapse of any civilization: (1) accelerating inequalities of income and wealth, (2) diminishing returns on solutions to problems, (3) increasing ignorance, and (4) growing spiritual death. He finds all four signs occurring, to an alarming degree, in Western Civilization as represented by America.
In our previous essay of April 29, we summarized the accelerating inequalities of income and wealth noted by Morris. Today we will look at what Morris regards as indications of increasing ignorance and spiritual death.

Friday, April 29, 2016

One Sign of Civilizational Collapse: Accelerating Inequality

In the first chapter of his book, The Twilight of American Culture (2000), Morris Berman asks whether American culture is decaying or simply changing.
Morris begins by noting that, in the past, all civilizations have followed the same general pattern of developing, reaching a peak of creativity, and then collapsing. He does not believe that America will be an exception. It too will collapse.
He nonetheless believes that America’s current state of decline is worth examining.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Morris Berman on the Decline of Western Civilization

To witness meaningfully to Jesus Christ today, Jesus Christ must speak a new word to us and the Holy Spirit must inspire us to discern and affirm it. We always do well to remember that Jesus himself is the source, center, and goal of our witness. Without him we can do nothing.
Then, we must grow more familiar each day with the biblical witnesses to Jesus. The Bible is by far the most unconventional collection of books ever written. Jesus best likes speaking to us through the words of his Bible and always speaks to us words that are consistent with them.
Finally, we need to have as realistic an understanding as possible about the context in which we witness to Jesus. Jesus never speaks to us words of general information let alone trivia. He always speaks the best possible words about who he is, who we are, and how we might best share his truth, freedom, love, and vitality with those we’re with.
To improve our realistic understanding of our contemporary global technological context, we will reflect briefly on the introduction, “The American Crisis,” written by Morris Berman for his book, The Twilight of American Culture (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2000).

Saturday, April 23, 2016

On Loving One Another: Reflections on Jesus in the Fourth Gospel

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35, New Revised Standard Version, here and following).
Here, during the last supper with his disciples before his crucifixion, Jesus tells them to love one another as he has loved them. Let us review the Gospel According to John for examples of how Jesus loved others. Let us also note how others chose not to love Jesus.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Christian Reflections on the Fukushima Disaster

On March 11, 2011, a nuclear disaster occurred in Fukushima, Japan. On December 26, 2014, Katsuya Hirano and Hirotaka Kasai interviewed Koide Hiroaki, a retired nuclear engineer, about that disaster and its aftermath. That interview was published as “‘The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster is a Serious Crime,’” by The Asia Pacific Journal on March 16, 2016.

Background. The first nuclear power reactor in Japan started generating electricity in 1966. Since then a total of 58 nuclear power reactors have been built in Japan. Six of these were built at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant between 1971 and 1978.
On March 11, 2011, an earthquake and resulting tsunami caused equipment failures at the Fukushima Daiichi plant that led to three nuclear reactor meltdowns. These meltdowns, in turn, led to a release of radioactive contaminants which continues to this day. These radioactive contaminants will cause cancers, leukemia, and other illnesses in an unimaginably large number of human beings and other creatures.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Summary of the Continuing Fukushima Disaster

As prophetic witnesses to Jesus Christ, it isn’t enough for us to go to church on Sundays and simply be nice the rest of the week. Jesus refuses to leave us that much alone. While we would rather sleep, he calls and enables to respond creatively to the challenges of our times.
What exactly are these challenges? As Christians and churches, we have the sad habit of getting excited over the same issues as everyone else in our Olympian society. These issues are the ones identified as important by the handful of individuals who control the corporate media of communication.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Proclaiming the Good News to an Olympian Church

These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near’” (Matthew 10:5-7, New Revised Standard Version, here and following).
When John the Baptist first appeared, he stood on the margins of Jewish society but did so near the very heart of that society in Jerusalem. What did he say? “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 3:2).
To repent means to completely abandon one’s entire way of living. In personal terms, this involves a complete reversal of one’s thinking, feeling, movements, goals, gods, and relationships. It means questioning everything! In societal terms, it means freedom in relationship to the entire status quo.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Making Each Day Densely Meaningful

Following the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we human beings now have not one but two personalities. The first is our Olympian personality. It is structured in terms of the six conventional gods of Olympianity. It is daily strengthened by the Olympian society and culture in which we all live. The other, more important one, is our Christian personality. It is structured in terms of Jesus Christ. Hopefully it is daily strengthened by our church as it strives to be a meaningful alternative to the society and culture in which to live.