Call me Cassandra

I heard from my prospective renter a few minutes back. He decided he’d fit better in an apartment of his own.

Maybe God’s telling me that’s where I belong too.

Gave a lecture to the Northfield, Minnesota Sons of Norway lodge last night. It was a special Twenty-fifth Anniversary meeting, held in a banquet room at St. Olaf College (which was fitting, since I was lecturing on the original St. Olaf, among other people).

It was one of my better lecturing experiences. Excellent meal, receptive audience, and I sold a lot of books.

And yet, my heart is bowed down.

I wrote the following years ago, in my novel Wolf Time. The speaker is a television news reporter:

“Look, don’t get me wrong. I’m sorry we have to bury America—it has its good points. But we’re talking survival now. This is the nuclear age, the killer virus age, the age of terrorism. As long as we can defend ourselves there’s no chance for survival…. I want to live, and I want my children to live, if I ever decide to have any. In a world like this we can’t afford honor. My honor, if you want to call it that, is to persuade people, any way I can, that nothing—nothing in the world—is worth dying for. And I think people are getting the message. You know why we’ve only fought little wars since Vietnam? Because Americans don’t have any stomach for long-term sacrifice anymore. I like to think we [the news media] had something to do with that. It’s an incredible power we have.”

I hate being right. I had the hope, when I wrote that scene in a novel set in the near future, that the Universe (not Providence. They’re two different things) would step in, as it usually does, to prove my prediction false. Unfortunately the Universe backed me up this time.

I’ve heard all the arguments that nothing big will happen in the wake of the power shift in Washington, because of gridlock, etc.

I don’t buy it. I keep hearing smart people on the radio saying the election was mostly about the war. And it doesn’t matter that a lot of people who voted to throw the bums out were angry that the war wasn’t being prosecuted aggressively enough.

The message sent by this election was, “America has given up. We’re pulling out. We’ll do what we can to save face as we leave, but you’ve beaten us.”

I think we’ve turned a critical corner, pulled the pin on the grenade. The message of Vietnam has been confirmed—fight the Americans long enough and you’ll wear them down. They’re soft. They won’t make sacrifices.

I have a vision of the future. I hope I’m wrong this time.

I see embattled people all around the world, Christians and non-Christians, fighting against the pressure of Islam. They’ll know that there’s no help to be expected from America, and far less from the United Nations. In other words, there won’t be any polite, Geneva Convention answer to their problem.

They will do what they need to do to survive.

It will be very, very ugly. There will be acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing. There will be terrible battles and massacres and atrocities. On both sides.

I don’t think it will happen in America. At least not soon. But it will happen elsewhere, and it won’t be long now.

And it will be our fault. Because we had the chance to stop jihadism in Iraq, and we couldn’t finish the job.

But I see something else. It came to my mind as I sat in church on Sunday.

Our guest preacher was a missionary from Mexico. He spoke, among other things, of signs and wonders.

I need to explain here that we’re not a charismatic group. We mistrust faith healers, and positively oppose tongue-speaking.

But this pastor spoke of miraculous healings in answer to prayer, on the mission field. He spoke of a man raised from the dead. He spoke of exorcisms. He named names, names of several people who are known to us from mission trips, or as students at the Bible School.

He talked of all this matter-of-factly, as things just to be expected when God is working.

And that reminded me that the Kingdom of God is bigger than my fears. God is at work today, and what He’s planning to do is probably something that hasn’t occurred to me. His instruments will come from places where I’m not looking.

So be comforted.

But not too comforted.

14 thoughts on “Call me Cassandra”

  1. Ah well, the future ain’t nothin’ but history that hasn’t happened yet– and we all know how boring history is, right?

    We survived the Clinton years; we’ll get through the next two years as well.

    The Democrats had to recruit center-right candidates to win the seats they took. If they hang them out to dry, they lose. If they move right, then the “liberal ratchet” has been reversed, and the future, long term, looks good.

    One day at a time.

  2. Lars,

    I think many people are lost as to how to address problems at so many different scales of distress.

    Neighborhood, town, township, county, state, region, nation, continent, world.

    Which trumps which? If the big employer in town closed down, is that a bigger threat than some jihadist planning the next attack? How can I tell?

    Human beings can’t process like that. It’s hard enough being a local citizen, much less a global one. No human being can handle the weight of the world. Yes, mudslides destroyed a town in Guatemala, but my next door neighbor died and left a wife and three kids. Where do I throw the limited time and attention I have?

    I’m not a stupid person, but the sheer number of crushing questions I must face in the 21st century makes me feel like I’m walking through a minefield from the second I step out of bed. Make the wrong decision and BLAMMO!

    I think a lot of people feel that same way. How can we fault anyone for being overloaded by the weight of the world? Every decision before us is sold as life or death. Stem cells–life or death. Abortion–life or death. Gay marriage–life or death. Terrorism–life or death. One world government–life or death. Immigration–life or death. Nukes in the Mideast–life or death. The price of coffee in Peru–life or death. And on and on and…

    If I choose not to participate in one of those “life or death” decisions, I have some PAC or parachurch organization ready to string me up. Back in WWII, the worst crime was “Someone Talked.” But nowadays, it’s not what you DO, it’s what you DON’T DO. Well, the list of things I do pales next to the nearly infinite list of what I don’t do. Yet I have one group after another chastising me for what I don’t do. That only leads to burnout and despair.

    Which question is the lightning rod for this generation? I can’t know the future. Perhaps illegal immigration will ultimately bring our country down faster than terrorists will. How can I truly know? If being forced to treat illegals who do not pay bankrupts my local hospital, resulting in untold pain and suffering when it no longer exists, is that any worse than some terrorist exploding a dirty bomb in my area?

    Is it any wonder so many people are withdrawing into their own little fortresses?

  3. The Miracle aspect is interesting. While we’re ready to commit such things to the archives, they’re still reported world-wide and were even fairly common in the early days of the US, from what I understand.

    What did Lewis say? ‘We have to wonder if the people of the past were especially gifted or we are especially crippled’ when it comes to miracles? Something like that.

    I actually agree with you to a large extent about the Iraq War and its after-effects.

    But, people faced a pretty impossible dilemna, I think. Sort of ‘Sure, we’re corrupt and spendthrifts and our approach to the War on Terror doesn’t seem to be working at all. But vote for us or the terrorists will be encouraged’.

    Which isn’t to say that the terrorists won’t be encouraged. In fact, I think they are, given what I’ve seen here and there. But how long can you let that hold you hostage to a failed government? That’s a bit of terrorism all it’s own…

  4. That’s good, David. The Republicans have waged a type of governmental terrorism through weak-kneed leadership and egregious spending. Someone said the GOP learned their bridge to nowhere lead them to minority status.

  5. I sympathize, but I still hold that war against a deadly enemy is Priority 1. Too many conservatives have bought the Democratic line that the war is a secondary matter. I do not attribute this to small-government principle. I attribute it to immaturity.

  6. “Stop the jihadism in Iraq”??? While I would love to see that happen, I don’t believe with 1.5 billion Muslims on the planet, kicking ass in one country is going to do the job. There are bound to be enough loose screws in the Muslim world to keep jihadism going at a good pace no matter what. As long as there are kafirun in the world the battle will continue. Not to say we can’t fight it, but the conflict needs to be prosecuted in a different way than in the past few years. There are lots of wise people out there who have a clue how to do this. I’m not saying they are Democrats. It will involve a much more surgical military use, propaganda, back stage political manipulation, etc. Will it be a clean war? No, far from it. But it will give us results. The way we’ve been going about this war in the past few years is akin to fighting fog with a howitzer. Good intent, poor results. The problem with fighting the war in a new way is that it’s not terribly profitable. President Eisenhower knew of what he spoke when he warned about the military industrial complex and it’s dangers. The question is, do we want to win, or make money?

    Also I would urge you to not sell the American people short. Just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t mean they are weak, or cowards. Their belief may in fact prove wrong, but steal’s temper is proven not debated.

  7. I hope so, but we’ve elected the Democrats, and I think they will fight a more effective war against Jihadism about the same time they appoint Jerry Falwell Senate Chaplain.

  8. I sympathize, but I still hold that war against a deadly enemy is Priority 1. Too many conservatives have bought the Democratic line that the war is a secondary matter. I do not attribute this to small-government principle. I attribute it to immaturity.

    Well, if there was much evidence in Republican DC that they believed the same thing, they probably would’ve won handily. Instead, we have North Korea and Iran (2/3 of the original Axis of Evil) thumbing their noses at us, Iraq in a semi-permanent state of ‘meh’, and Afghanistan quietly worsening.

    All this combined with multiple scandals involving corruption, blatant lack of financial discipline, and a constant rhetoric that all is great and we should keep going on as we have been, makes a lot of former supporters think the Bush administration has gone off its collective rocker.

    In a two party system, you have three options: vote for the party in power, vote against them, or stay home. I don’t think it’s too surprising that many people that are right of center chose the second two given the job Congress has been doing…

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