Rest in Pieces By J. Reagan

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2012/11/30 at 9:11 AM

George Santayana, the Spanish philosopher, said that those who do not learn from the lessons of history will be condemned to repeat it. This means that, if we fail to determine why people and events went wrong, they will go wrong again under similar circumstances. It appears that people do not seem to learn the lessons of history because they repeat the same mistakes over and over.

Historians tell us that world has seen about twenty-one civilizations, Greece, Rome, Egypt, Byzantium, Persia, Babylon  etc. The contemporary civilization is called “Western Civilization”. (It used to be called “Christian Civilization” and before the Enlightenment the term Europe was not used.  It was Christendom.)  All these civilizations are gone (except our own).

Sometimes the names remain, such as Greece or Rome; the former now a minor player in the world; the latter reduced to a city.  For others, the site remains, but the name passes into disuse such as the empires that preceded Iraq. All of these past civilizations had one thing in common; they all committed suicide and all in much the same way.  Not one of them, once decline had begun, ever reversed it and saved it self.

Let’s look at one of these fallen empires and see what the lessons of history tell us.  Rome was once the dominant empire and controlled the territory around the Mediterranean Sea and elsewhere.  The British historian, Arnold Toynbee, cites five reasons for the fall of Rome that can be applied to other fallen societies as well.

1. The loss of religion and morality whose influence diminished more and more as the decline advanced.

2. Severe damage to the family structure through divorce, infanticide and approved homosexuality.

3. Inordinate demands for more and more sports and entertainment.

4. Excessive taxation to pay for increasing military needs and to pay for public entertainments.

5. The constant influx of the neighboring peoples, often called the “Barbarian Invasions”. (“Barbarian” here does not refer to table manners, but simply to “foreigners”.)

By 476 A.D. the Western Roman Empire had officially collapsed.   How does it happen that a whole society can seem to blindly march to its own demise?

The following are some suggested reasons:

1. People traveling a downward path become inured to what is really happening.  Decline does not happen overnight; it is gradual.  Each downward step is seen in isolation rather than a part of an ongoing pattern of loss.

2. Those who are “enjoying” the causes of decline resist unsettling thoughts. They don’t want to stop the party and hear about possible dangers. Before the Flood, people laughed and sneered at Noah for his “folly”.  There are always voices of warning, but they are ignored as out of touch, irrelevant, fanatics  etc.

3. People become complacent in the presence of contradictions;  moral opposites are considered quite acceptable.  Ex. the release of Barabbas and the condemnation of the innocent Christ.  The idea that tax money solves all problems even when money has nothing to do with the cause of the problem. Refusing to profile those who might be terrorists because they might get upset.

4.  Eventually, the society loses its ability to think and react rationally, and, therefore, cannot seem to solve it problems because it has substituted emotion, impulse, demagoguery, name-calling, labeling  etc. in the place of reasoned discussion. This is not a pretty picture, but it is reality. It is history. Western Civilization is on the slippery slope to oblivion.

Can we apply Toynbee to the U.S.A.? Without doubt. The whole world is now in what is probably the biggest mess since the beginning of written history. For the second time, Western Civilization is faced with an onslaught by Islam.

I personally think there is no way to save ourselves except by falling on our societal knees in repentance and asking forgiveness of the much-offended God.  God has been banished from the seats of power and culture in this country. (There is not a single word about God or religion in the Constitution of the European Union.) I have heard no leader anywhere mention the importance of religion…except, of course, the Muslim leaders.

Will history repeat itself once again? It doesn’t matter. As Christians, we are very temporary residents of this planet. It is not a lasting or final home. We can certainly pray for a good outcome to the present cultural conflict. If we are true Christians, even now, we can psychologically rest in peace regardless of what events bring for good or bad.

The rest of society, having ignored is Creator-God will eventually rest in pieces.


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