Forget the stagnant American economy and our severe debt crisis and the rapidly mounting financial troubles in Greece and Spain, at least for a moment. Consider what’s driving American headlines these days.
Pornography – Did you know the #1, #2 and #3 books on the New York Times fiction best-seller list, and on the USA Today best-seller list, and on Amazon for the last few weeks have been the Fifty Shades of Grey erotic novels by E.L. James that are being widely described as “Mommy Porn”? The sexually explicit trilogy, which revolves around adultery and BDSM (sexual bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism) has become an overnight, viral phenomenon among American girls in their young teens all the way up through grandmothers in their seventies and eighties and is making headlines across the nation. The novels have sold more than 10 million copies in just six weeks. Yes, you read that right — 10 million copies in six weeks. A backlash is beginning on Facebook, blogs and other social media by women who are revolted by such pornography and warning of its dangers, but it’s coming slow and late. “The series portrays BDSM in the context of an engaging, passionate, tender, romantic relationship that culminates in the characters falling in love, and the conflicted girl assuaging the billionaire’s troubled soul,” wrote Mary Kassian, author of the “Girls Gone Wise” blog. “But it doesn’t matter to me how the author sweetens it up. The tasty red Kool-Aid doesn’t offset the bitter poison. Smut is still smut.” (See “Hotel in ‘Mommy Porn’ novel offering 50 Shades-themed packages,” Fox Oregon, May 23, 2012; “How ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Is Shaking Up the Business of the Romance Genre,” The Daily Beast, June 6, 2012)
Cannibalism — Have stories about human beings eating other human beings ever been a major story in the United States, much less a series of headlines that lasted day after day? Not that I recall in my forty-five years. But the Drudge Report and media outlets across the U.S. have been dominated in recent weeks by stories of six different instances of cannibalistic acts, some here in America and some around the world. “Miami police shot and killed Rudy Eugene, 31, on May 26 after he refused to stop eating another man’s face,” read one news story. “The victim, Ronald Poppo, a 65-year-old homeless man, remains hospitalized in critical condition. Alexander Kinyua, a 21-year-old student at Morgan State University in Maryland, was arrested May 30 on suspicion of killing his roommate, Kujoe Bonsafo Agyei-Kodie, and then eating his heart and portions of his brain.”
Such stories are almost too horrifying to read, yet where is the outrage? People are almost treating these stories as bizarre but even a bit humorous, it as if it were no big deal, just another news story. (See “Exclusive: Causeway Cannibal Had Bible, Recently Smoked Pot When He Attacked,” CBS Miami, June 6, 2012; “Cannibal Copycat? Police Say Man High On Bath Salts Threatened To Eat Officer,” CBS Tampa, June 6, 2012; “Cannibalism Trend Can Feed On Itself, Experts Say: 6 Acts Of Human Consumption Draw Lurid Attention,” ABC Indianapolis, June 6, 2012)
Gay Marriage – For thousands of years, society believed that marriage was a sacred union between one man and one woman. In 1996, only 27 percent of Americans supported homosexual marriages. But by 2011, support had grown to 53 percent. Governor Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential presumptive nominee, doesn’t want “social issues” to be prominent in the 2012 campaign. But last month, President Obama came out in favor of gay marriage, and homosexual activists are determined to force the issue not only into the headlines but all the way to the Supreme Court, hoping to force gay marriage (already legal in some states) on the entire country. This is a very serious development, as I am not certain by any means that there are five votes on the High Court to protect the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman. (See “Obama says he supports gay marriage,” Wall Street Journal, May 10, 2012; “Prop. 8: appeals courts set stage for Supreme Court review of gay marriage,” Christian Science Monitor, June 6, 2012)
Abortion – Since 1973, Americans have aborted more than 53 million babies. Before long, we will reach the point where the U.S. will have murdered ten times more human beings than the Nazis murdered during the Holocaust. Try as we might, we cannot seem to get the atrocious Roe v. Wade decision overturned, and the murders just go on and on. How much longer can this go on until God intervenes? And if that were not bad enough, last month President Obama and 168 Congressmen decided to go on the record in support of sex-selection abortions. (See “President Obama, 168 House Members Defend Sex-Selection Abortion,” National Right To Life news story, May 31, 2012)
What in the world is going on? With a stagnant U.S. economy, more than $15 trillion in national debt, and some $65 trillion in unfunded federal liabilities fast coming due, America faces the very real possibility of an economic collapse in the not-too-distant future. But is it possibly we’re already imploding culturally? The country is deep in a full blown political war between Democrats and Republicans, but do we honestly believe either party – or either presidential nominee – knows how to fix the mess we’re in? And where is the Church? In a nation of tens of millions of self-professed born-again, evangelical Christians, how can we be in so much trouble? And is there any hope of turning this around?
In my new non-fiction book, Implosion: Can America Recover From Its Economic and Spiritual Challenges In Time? (which releases on Tuesday, June 12th), I write that these are not normal times. Americans have been gripped by a widespread and deeply rooted pessimism in recent years. They are open asking whether our nation can survive. A growing number of Americans fear that this period of our history is different and the crises we face today – and those coming up over the horizon – may be far worse than anything we have experienced in the past. Many Americans genuinely fear that God is preparing to removed his hand of protection and blessing from our country, or perhaps already has. The fear that unlike previous dark times in our national history, God may not intend to help us turn things around and get us back on the right track.
We must not kid ourselves. The evidence suggests we may very well be aboard the Titanic, heading for icebergs and inexplicably increasing our speed toward disaster. So many on board are unaware of the dangers fast approaching and not concerned in the slightest. We haven’t hit the icebergs yet, but if we don’t make a sharp turn fast, we soon will, and we will sink. Who will serve as our captain and crew going forward? Will they understand the gravity of the threat and have the wisdom, courage and speed to take appropriate action before it is too late? What is our role as passengers? Are we to succumb to decadence, indulging ourselves in amusements and entertainment and alcohol with no regard for our own safety or the safety of others aboard? Or will we rise up, sound the alarm, and take action will we can?
The good news is that God has shown mercy to our country in the past. In the early 1700s we experience what became known as the first Great Awakening. In the early 1800s, we experienced the Second Great Awakening. As I describe in Implosion, these were massive, widespread, game-changing eras of spiritual revival in which millions of people became deeply devout and passionately evangelistic followers of Jesus Christ. In 1770, for example, there were fewer than two dozen Methodist churches in America. By 1860, there were nearly 20,000. In roughly the same time frame, the number of Baptists when from under 200,000 to more than one million.
These revivals were not a panacea. They did not save every soul or solve every social ill. No revival ever has or will. But the good news is this: the historical evidence is clear and compelling that many Americans found salvation during these periods, and American society as a whole was dramatically impacted and improved by both of these revivals. One piece of observable evidence in this regard is the explosive growth in the number of church congregations that were established in the wake of both Great Awakenings. At the same time, Christians during this period sought to put their faith into action to improve their neighborhoods and communities and the nation as a whole. They persuaded millions of children to enroll in Sunday school programs to learn about the Bible and pray for their nation. They opened orphanages and soup kitchens to care for the poor and needy. They started clinics and hospitals to care for the sick, elderly and infirm. They founded elementary and secondary schools for girls as well as boys. They established colleges and universities dedicated to teaching both the Scriptures and the sciences. They led social campaigns to persuade Americans to stop drinking so much alcohol and to abolish the evil of slavery. These Christians didn’t expect the government to take care of them. They believed it was the Church’s job to show the love of Christ to their neighbors in real and practical ways. They were right, and they made America a better place as a result – not perfect, but better.
Today, the central question of our time for Americans is this: Will God in his grace and mercy decide to allow the American people to experience a Third Great Awakening? If so, may this spiritual renaissance begin immediately, for we are desperate for God’s help. If not, then I believe our days are numbered and a terrible implosion is coming. There is no more middle ground. It is one or the other.
CBS reports that the Los Angeles Unified School District is partnering with Planned Parenthood to open an on-campus "health" clinic at one of the city's high schools. The concept is that students can go to the clinic for free birth control, pregnancy tests, counseling and screening for sexually transmitted diseases. The target market, so to speak, is the Hispanic and low-income residents around the school because birth rates in that demographic are soaring. The LA Times says this is the first program of its kind in the country. Given the targeting of minors, the encouragement of sexual relations, and the so-called "counseling" that may result in many abortions, it also should be the first to be shut down.
The news reports say that half the visits to the school's health center so far this year have been about "reproductive health." This is a politically correct term used by the news media to cover a wide range of sexual issues, including disease, unwanted pregnancy and, most assuredly, abortion. In essence, the LA school district is a co-conspirator in putting an abortion referral service in its school to control the population of Hispanics and Blacks in the Roosevelt High School neighborhood. In doing so, the school is promoting a culture of promiscuity and death. How far have we come from reading, writing and arithmetic?
I have attended Planned Parenthood briefings where minions of the organization openly admit that they need government funding to keep the lights on at their abortion clinics. They say that the money does not fund actual abortion procedures, but without it, they would not be able to keep the clinics open. I have also interviewed former Planned Parenthood officials who have confirmed that they purposely hand out low-potency birth control pills to unsuspecting teens in hopes of them getting pregnant and coming in for "counseling." The so-called "counselors" would then walk them through their options, of course, leading them down the path to an abortion--what we call in the sales business a "slaughterhouse" close.
Making matters worse, Planned Parenthood and the school are training students to act as counselors, calling them "peer advocates." This not only promotes sexuality among those seeking counseling, but also institutionalizes it in those conducting counseling. Planned Parenthood is an evil upon this generation, responsible for the infanticide of some 50 million pre-born citizens of the United States. And now we have educators inviting them to set up shop in a school. Americans should be incensed. YHVH says in Jeremiah 2:34: Also on your skirts is found the blood of the souls of the poor innocents: I have not found it by secret search, but plainly upon all these things." YHVH sees, but our people don't.
Actual conversation between two college professors and a student - overheard at ocean cliffs south of Bar Harbor, Maine:
Young Prof: "If there were a zombie apocalypse, I think I'd hole up here." Student: "But, when you get here to the cliffs, you'll have nowhere to go. When the zombies come, where do you go?" Young Prof: "But see, it's defensible, and zombies can't swim." Student: "Oh, you'd get on a boat… maybe go out to one of those islands?" Young Prof: "Yeah." Old Prof: "There's a weakness in your position, Dr. G." (whispering) "There are no zombies." Young Prof: "Not yet. A hundred years ago there wasn't air travel."
While there may be no hoards of zombies (yet), the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has posted on its site a comic book entitled, "Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic" that uses the easy-reading format to give its audience basic guidelines on stocking up for a zombie emergency. When hiding from the brain-starved undead, its apparently wise to have stores of water and food, flashlights and batteries, extra clothes, a first-aid kit, medications and sleeping bags. In other words, preparing for the zombie attack is just like preparing for any emergency, and while the virus that turns people to zombies may not have surfaced, there are enough floods, fires, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and deadly diseases around the world to warrant making plans for them ahead of time.
Deadly Diseases: Public bioterrorism fears have subsided somewhat since the anthrax attacks of 2001, but the Department of Defense does not consider the biological threat a thing of the past. Both newly synthesized diseases and old favorites might still be used against a human population, and the DOD recognizes the need to be ready.
"It's going to be a defense problem," said Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter on May 30th. "They will be used in war. They will be used in terrorism."
Carter's concern does include the old bugs like anthrax, smallpox and plague, but these have been well-analyzed and there are plans in place to deal with them. The big worry are the new and unknown pathogens, the ones the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are not necessarily equipped to handle on a nationwide scale within days of an outbreak. Some of these might be naturally occurring and some will be developed in the sterile laboratory environment.
Rather than just working with conventional weapons, the Department of Defense is keeping up with the field of bioscience, even to the point of breathing down scientists' necks a little. Carter said the DOD is, "…looking at the frontier as well… to get our feelers out there in the world so that we're engaged with the community of researchers … to the extent possible with those who in the past created stocks of pathogens … or have that know-how, to make sure they don't get into trouble..."
The Stockpile: If there is a biological attack, there are plans in place to deal with it. In 1999 the HHS and CDC began to establish what is now the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS), from which states and communities are to receive emergency medical supplies within 12 hours of a major biological emergency. Plans have been developed for those supplies to be dispensed at the federal, state, and local levels. On April 26, 2009, for instance, the SNS began releasing a quarter of its supplies to the states to protect and treat people during the swine flu scar. Supplies included antiviral drugs, face masks and respirators, gowns, gloves and face shields.
The Cities Readiness Initiative (CRI) was established in 2004 to streamline the distribution of antibiotics or other necessary materials to the populations of major cities within 48 hours of a major bioterrorist attack or outbreak. Each city develops its own mitigation plan, but the University of North Texas Center for Computational Epidemiology and Response Analysis has been breaking down scenarios that would allow the smoothest distribution of necessary assets.
Most outbreaks will likely look like the swine flu - affecting small groups of people in easily accessed locations. Natural disasters or series of massive biological attacks might create the innate problems involved in large-scale emergencies, however, including general panic, the breakdown of rule of law, slow movement of supplies due to traffic and congestion, or the destruction of basic infrastructure.
Anthrax Vaccine: There is also the question of how to treat children versus adults in the case of a major attack. The best course of action in an emergency is not always known, even for well-known pathogens. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asked a bioethics panel in mid-May, for instance, to determine whether anthrax vaccines should be tested in children. "There are serious ethical issues around the development of medical countermeasures for children" in general, said Sebelius.
Anthrax is on the top list of known bioterror pathogens. Anthrax spores can be sprayed into the air in a population center, endangering anybody who breathes. The bacterium is relatively simple to culture, and it's not contagious, which means a specific population could be targeted and the spread of the disease could be controlled. A month-long regimen of antibiotics is currently the method of combating the disease in those who have been exposed, although, it's not certain how long it takes to ensure all the spores are killed.
The anthrax vaccine is not an easy, people-friendly dosage of dead pathogens, though. It is made of formaldehyde-deactivated anthrax toxins (no actual little bugs themselves), and it is given in a five-shot regimen. It is apparently 95 percent effective, but there can be unpleasant side effects in adults. One out of a hundred people given the vaccine will experience serious pain and swelling at the injection site, and four out of 7000 people will react with fevers and chills, nausea and muscle soreness.
Botulism, pneumatic plague, smallpox, tularemia, and viruses that cause hemorrhagic fevers are also on the HHS watch list. Dealing with each one requires a different approach.
The Strategic National Stockpile of medical supplies offers hope for help after a disaster or outbreak, but basic preparedness can give families some immediate security in the case of an emergency. Having the ability to stay inside and off the streets for a few days until help arrives could make the difference between health and danger, whether facing a natural or a biological disaster ... even if the zombies never show up. See the CDC site below for a full list of recommended supplies.