Tag Archives: Pew Research Center

Flashing Signs of Danger!

warning signs generalAnyone traveling on the roads needs to be constantly alert to signs of danger. For the last few months the morning commute to work in Victoria, B.C. has been an increasing hassle due to the on-going construction on one of the main traffic arteries leading into the downtown core. A bicyclist who usually took this route to commute to work downtown observed on one particular morning a few weeks ago that all traffic was being squeezed into just one lane by a small group of flaggers who had placed numerous warning signs, barriers, and orange plastic cones to block off the inside fast lane. But, while most people feel obliged to take notice of the warning signs and make the appropriate inconvenient travel correction, a commuting cyclist, a 30s-something woman, decided to ignore the warning signs.

She deftly zig-zagged through the cones and barriers on her bike and proceeded down the warning allegatorvacated inside traffic lane that had been closed off. Not seeing any overt evidence of construction machines at work, the biker picked up speed, zooming past the bumper-to-bumper line of cars slowly inching along. The safety flaggers’ franticly waved their arms and shouted to the cyclist to get back in line. “Stupid control freaks,” she may have smugly thought. As the cyclist pedalled along, perhaps she was planning to crow a bit in the office today about how her commuting style was not only “greener-than-thou” but also faster—until, suddenly, like a speeding pool ball dropping into a pocket, both woman and bike disappeared in the blink of an eye into the yawning maw of a steep, deep, rectangular hole whose opening, however, was only about the size of a house’s front door. In this case ignoring all the warning signs meant instantaneous death.

warning challengesRight now there are serious warning signs flashing on the world scene.

  1. America’s President and his Secretary of State have agreed to a “framework” protocol that will allow Shi’ite Muslim Iran, the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism, to retain its nuclear infrastructure allowing it to develop nuclear weapons—at a more convenient point down the road. Right now, Iran wants economic sanctions relief so it can more effectively support its allies in Syria and Iraq in their civil wars. In an unmistakable sign of his displeasure with the American President over this decision, Saudi Arabia’s new leader, King Salman, refused to personally attend the recent six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) hosted by Obama at Camp David. This was a very public snub.
  2. In another big snub to America’s superpower status, Washington’s closest European allies, despite American pressure and unprecedented public complaints by Washington, have rushed to sign up as founding members in China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Development Bank (AIIB). The implications of China’s rising power and America’s declining power are clear. According to former U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summer,

     “I can think of no event since Bretton Woods comparable to the combination of China’s effort to establish a major new institution and the failure of the US to persuade dozens of its traditional allies, starting with Britain, to stay out of it.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/11519001/How-China-grew-desperate-to-conceal-its-power-from-the-world.html

  3. The IMF’s just released World Economic Outlook describes a prostrate planet drowning in debt. There has been a persistent reduction in the global growth rate since the Great Recession of 2008-09 with no relief in sight. This is unprecedented and very much a wild card in the game of high stakes poker, that is the global financial system.

    “Total public and private debt levels have reached a record 275 per cent of GDP in rich countries, and 175 per cent in emerging markets. Both are up 30 points since the Lehman crisis.” http://business.financialpost.com/news/economy/welcome-to-the-new-mediocre-of-global-growth#__federated=1

  4. The developed world’s poster child for a country drowning in debt is Greece. For months warning bad thinkingnow, Greece has continued to stagger along like a zombie, even after some fresh flesh of debt relief from the IMF or the European Central Bank. Even Mario Draghi, the ECB’s president, is warning of unexpected, unanticipated consequences if Greece finally defaults on its debt.
  5. Meanwhile, barbaric Islamic State terrorists continue to behead Christians. Yet the Western world still doesn’t take all that seriously the IS spokesmen’s repeated declarations of a worldwide religious war against Christians, Jews, non-conforming Muslim sects and anyone else who isn’t their clone. http://www.jpost.com/Christian-News/After-second-incident-of-ISIS-murdering-Christians-in-Libya-foreign-minister-appalled-398665.

    According to General Alexander, the former chief of the National Security Agency (NSA–Edward Snowden’s nemesis), the West is losing the worldwide fight against jihadist terrorism. He said that the U.S. and its allies had failed to check the advance of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or its expanding network of franchises across the Middle East. The West is increasingly at risk of a strategic defeat in the region. “It is getting worse. Twenty-five countries are now unstable, just look at Yemen,” he said. http://business.financialpost.com/news/energy/hackers-could-cripple-the-west-with-a-hi-tech-blitz-on-energy-sector-infrastructure-u-s-general-says?__lsa=2d0c-cb5e#__federated=1 accessed 4/27/15

  1. As a direct consequence of the current widespread instability, there is a virtual flood of
    desperate people from Syria and throughout North and Sub-Sahara Africa, all desperately trying to get into Europe in search of a better life. In 2014 a total of 170,000 entered Italy alone. Recently, the number of unwanted immigrants has swelled to 11,000 in just one week.

    “We’re swamped,” Sandro Gozi, the Italian minister for European affairs, told French daily Le Monde. “There’s not even enough space in Sicily’s cemeteries to bury the dead.” Where are the Italians going to put them? Who wants them? There’s just not enough work. http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/20/africa/italy-migrant-boat-capsizes/index.html

  2. On the other end of Africa, in South Africa, one of the more prosperous African nations, there is an ongoing wave of what is called “xenophobic attacks” against the 10 percent of the population who are migrants from neighbouring African states, like Zimbabwe, and  Asia who seeking a better life for themselves. But poor South Africans see them as unwanted competition for the scarce jobs available in a country where the unemployment rate is 24 percent. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-32377743
  3. And finally, the Pew Research Center confirmed that over the past seven years, from 2007 to 2014, the number of Americans who identify themselves as Christian has dramatically fallen nearly 8 percentage points from 78% to just 71% of the population. Fifty-six million Americans don’t observe or practice any religion. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-32710444 accessed May 14, 2015.

What do all these signs mean? As a society, collectively we are like the eco-warrior bicyclist in Victoria, ignoring all the warning signs as we make good time pedalling rapidly toward our doom. There’s no doubt that these are serious, even dangerous times. So what should you and I do? Jesus said this to his disciples:

“Keep alert at all times. And pray that you might be strong enough to escape these coming warning run like hellhorrors and stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:36 (New Living Translation)

Pray to God? That’s the last thing this secular society wants to do. The Canadian Supreme Court recently decided to prohibit municipal officials from praying to the Bible’s God for help before starting on the public’s business.

Many people in the Western world have indeed turned their backs on the wisdom and knowledge that is offered to humanity by God. They have reinterpreted freedom of religion in the 21st Century to now mean freedom FROM religion. After all, they think that in a prosperous, secure society with good health care and abundant food and lots of entertainment, who needs to really seek the Bible’s God?

But, the warning signs are flashing out that there’s danger up ahead. Our future personal safety and security depends upon paying attention to those spiritual flaggers trying to get our attention and get back in line according to the Creator’s established House Rules for Humanity that are spelled out in the Scriptures. As a civilization we are ignoring the warnings to our peril.

Is ignorance bliss?

Do you believe that “ignorance is bliss”—especially when it comes to the world’s most important belief system? On September 28th the Pew Research Center published the results of a survey they conducted in the United States about religious knowledge. Surprisingly, the Pew survey discovered that Atheists, Agnostics, and even Jews could answer correctly more questions about the Bible and Christianity than your average Joe or Jane Christian!

What? Unbelievers and Rejectionists know more about the religion Jesus Christ is credited with establishing than those who claim Him to be their Saviour!!! If I hadn’t looked at the stats with my own eyes I would not have believed it. Out of 12 questions about the Bible and Christianity your average Christian could correctly answer only 6.0 questions. Atheists/Agnostics came in statistically with 6.7 right answers with Jews slightly trailing at 6.3.

Mormons as an identified group came in with the highest scores at 7.9 correctly answered out of 12.  Among the various identifiable Christian groups, White Evangelicals scored highest at 7.3, Mainline Protestants came in at 5.8 while Black Protestants did slightly better at 5.9. White Catholics matched the Black Protestants with 5.9, however Hispanic Catholics lagged the entire Christian group with a score of only 4.2.

Out of curiosity, I took a similar test consisting of 15 questions that Pew has online at http://features.pewforum.org/quiz/us-religious-knowledge/index.php in order to see how hard were these questions. I thought it was easy, scoring correctly 14 out of 15 questions. I missed the question about teachers being allowed by the U.S. Supreme Court to lead a class in prayer in U.S. public schools. When I was in public school during the 1960s in New Hampshire my public school teacher read from the Bible and led us in prayer. Okay, things change.  But even with my blooper I still came in ahead of 99% of everyone else who took the test, including university students with post-graduate training who got only 68% right.

Yeah, I know. I’m a preacher and I better know my stuff. But really, these questions were just so…. Well, so basic. I wonder what kind of results a Pew Reseach Center survey would get if they asked really important questions about what the Bible teaches on issues of spiritual life or death?

I just finished celebrating the annual round of Scripturally sanctioned Holy Days that Jesus and his original disciples personally kept as recorded in the Gospels and the Book of the Acts of the Apostles. Yet most Christians as well as fun-loving Atheists, Agnostics, and not a few assimilated Jews will be celebrating this Fall and Winter the Halloween and Christmas holidays—being ignorant of what the Judeo-Christian scriptures actually teach. Does it matter?  Any excuse for a party, right?

Well, you might check out what Jesus thought about those who play fast and loose with true knowledge, or who think that going along with the crowd is bliss even if it is in ignorance.

Jesus replied, “You hypocrites! Isaiah [the 8th century B.C.E. prophet] was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’ For you ignore God’s law [the knowledge actually found in the Bible] and substitute your own tradition” (Mark 7:6-8 New Living Translation).

I guarantee that whoever prefers to live in ignorance rather than in truth will not find bliss in the World Tomorrow that Jesus talked about throughout the Gospels.