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Posts Tagged ‘Civilizational Collapse’

Financial Crisis

A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished.

Proverbs 22:3

When I began writing this series back in early August, I did so as a response to a hard selloff in the stock market that followed the Fed’s decision at the end of July to lower interest rates.  As I noted in that first post in this series, I decided on the title “The Ongoing Financial Crisis of 2008” because it is my view that the market melt down that began in earnest in the fall of that year has never really gone away.

What occurred was that central banks took money printing into hyper-drive in late 2008 and early 2009 and managed to reflate the stock market bubble that had popped earlier in 2008.  I likened their actions to what the prophet Ezekiel called plastering walls with untempered mortar.  In other words, the Fed addressed the symptoms of the financial crisis, but not the cause of the crisis itself.

Eleven years later, this is still the case.  Nothing has been fixed.  Nothing has improved.  In fact, not only have things not improved, they have gotten far worse.

The 2008 crisis, what is sometimes called the Global Financial Crisis or the GFC, was a debt crisis.  There was simply more debt in the financial system than could be repaid.  So what was the response of the Fed and the federal government?  They conspired to create even more debt to solve a crisis caused by too much debt, as if somehow more of the same thing that caused the problem in the first place was also the solution!

To borrow an English proverb, this was the financial equivalent of bringing coals to Newcastle.

If a man is an alcoholic, you don’t cure hm by giving him another bottle of whiskey.  While another bottle may make him feel better for the moment, in the long run it will kill him.  Yet this is not so very different from what governments and central banks all over the world did in 2008.  They went on a spending and money printing spree, which managed to kick the can down the road but did nothing to solve the underlying problem.

As a result, while the economies of the United States and other Western nations have appeared to recover their health, the underlying fundamentals of those economies have grown steadily worse.  Just in America, our national debt has more than doubled since 2008 and now sits at $23 trillion.

Just to give you as sense of how fast debt is now piling up, it took the federal government from the founding of our country until 1982 to compile $1 trillion in debt.  Now, even mainstream sources are predicting that the annual deficit for fiscal year 2020 – this is the federal government’s fiscal year which began on October 1, 2019 and ends on September 30, 2020 – will be in excess of $1 trillion.  In other words, the federal government is adding the same nominal amount of debt in a single year that it previously took about 200 years to accrue.

Oddly, no one in Washington seems the least bit concerned about this.  Not the Democrats.  Not the Republicans.  No one except an odd fellow here and there such as Senator Rand Paul.

The Bible teaches us that debt is a burden.  At best, it is something that is to be used prudently and paid off timely.

Yet we all live with a debt-based financial system that, not only encourages debt, but actually requires debt to increase at a faster and faster pace just to keep the system from imploding.  This debt-based system of financial perdition was put in place in the United States with the passing of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913.  The Fed has been destroying not only the financial fabric of the nation, but its moral fabric as well, for over 100 years.

What is true of America is also the case with all other Western nations.

We have become enslaved by debt, and all the more with each passing year.

But just as untempered mortar quickly shows itself when exposed to a little rain, so too are the phony fixes put in place in 2008 beginning to come unglued.  In fact, this author has been amazed by how badly the financial system has deteriorated in the past three months he has been writing this series.

In just that short time, the Fed has, apparently on a permanent basis, started baling out the overnight repo market, twice cut interest rates and resumed Quantitative Easing (QE).  These are all various forms of money printing, which have the long-run effect of weakening the dollar resulting in higher prices and a lower standard of living.

And these are just the activities they openly acknowledge.  In the opinion of this author, the Fed rigs all financial markets 24/7 to provide the appearance of normalcy.  Stocks, bonds, real estate and oil are propped up, while precious metals – gold and silver – and crypto currencies are suppressed.

Bet even as the Fed rigs all markets and the government statisticians put out phony economic numbers designed to understate unemployment and inflation while overstating economic growth, there are some stats that cannot be rigged.

If one looks closely at the economic numbers that are put out, he will see that, all the economic cheer leading from the administration aside, there is almost no good economic news to be found.  Here is just a sample of recent headlines showing just how serious things are getting:

 

I could easily produce many more such headlines, but I trust the reader gets the point that, economically speaking, things aren’t all that great out there.  What’s even more remarkable is that these headlines are showing up at a time when the Fed has put the money printing pedal to the metal, intervening more aggressively in the market than at any time since the height of the 2008 crisis.

But while all that money printing has, apparently, not turned around the economy, the stock market is hitting new record highs.

So which is it?  Are we to believe, the stock market, the politicians and the Wall Street cheer leaders, who tell us everything is awesome, or the economic statistics which point to an oncoming recession?

For my part, I’ll trust the economic statistics.  Not, mind you, because I think economic statistics furnish us with knowledge.  Only the 66 books of the Bible do that.  No, it’s not that economic statistics are true that causes me to trust them.  Rather, it is that the monetary and fiscal policies pursued by central banks and Western governments – that is to say, money printing and deficit spending – are morally bankrupt and will, in the long-run, inevitably lead to financial bankruptcy as well.

All this naturally leads to the question, when will the next economic crisis hit?  My answer:  I don’t know.

In my opinion, the entire world economic system should have collapsed in 2008, but extraordinary action by the world’s central banks managed to resuscitate the system.  The financial system could easily have collapsed any time since then, but for the ongoing interventions – both public and secret – of central banks and governments ever since.

In short, we’ve all been living on borrowed time.

So how much more time are the masters of the universe able, or even willing, to buy?  I don’t know.

In my opinion, the apparent quickening pace of the slide into recession seems to indicate that the time before the next major financial crisis is relatively short.  That said, this author has been amazed at the ability of the establishment to maintain order as long as they have, so I would caution against any predictions that the wheels are definitely going to come off in the short-term.  Quite obviously, the Trump administration is doing everything in its power to maintain normalcy until after the November 2020 elections, which are just under a year away.  Can they hold things together until then?  We’ll see.

But regardless of the timing, it is my thesis that a major financial crisis is coming.  This will not be a garden variety recession.  It will be like the 2008 crisis, only worse, for the simple reason that the debt crisis has gotten worse.  Instead of dealing honestly with things in 2008, all we did was double down on the debt and kicked the can down the road.

But the point is coming when the can is no longer kickable.

That’s when things will get interesting.

And that’s the reason I’ve written this series on prepping.  The bill for our debts is coming due, and I have a great burden to alert my fellow Christians to this, so that they may, as the prudent man in Proverbs 22:3, foresee trouble coming and hide themselves.

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Pride 2019_Pride Flag Cincinnati

The Pride flag is raised for the first time at Cincinnati City Hall, June 21, 2019.  Photo by: Dwayne Slavey.

“Today is about saying that we are in this fight for civil rights and social justice and that love is love is love is love.”

    – Cincinnati Councilwoman Tamaya Dennard

When I was growing up, way back in the day, the sixth month of the year was known as June. It was a without a doubt one of my favorite months. School ended for the summer – yes, we had to go to school into June – the weather was beautiful and I had three glorious months do pretty much whatever I wanted.

But all that has changed over the years. June has largely been wiped off the calendar and replaced by something called Pride Month. Now when considering just the name itself, Pride Month, this ought to give any Christian reason to be skeptical of it. Pride is not a thing commended in the Scriptures. In speaking of the wicked men of his day, the psalmist wrote, “Therefore pride serves as their necklace.” In Proverbs we read, “Pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate,” and, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Luke records for us Mary’s words, “He [the Lord] has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.” Writes the Apostle John, “For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world.”

Clearly, pride is a concept at odds with the Word of God. But these passages do not exhaust what the Bible has to say about pride and its related concepts.

Writing to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul said of the enemies of Christ that their, “glory is in their shame.” These enemies of Christ were guilty of doing what the Prophet Isaiah had warned of, calling good evil and evil good, putting darkness for light and light for darkness. In the things of which they should have taken shame, in these they instead found honor, praise and enjoyed an excellent reputation among men.

When thinking about contemporary applications of this principle, that is, taking pride in that which should bring shame, it is hard to find a better example than in the many assertions of pride in the homosexual lifestyle made both by homosexuals themselves as well as by their supporters.

Now it doesn’t exactly take a theologian of the caliber of Martin Luther or John Calvin to understand what the Bible has to say about homosexuality. The Scriptures condemn homosexuality and homosexuals in the strongest terms. There’s really no debating this point, although some have tried.

But despite the clarity of the Bible on the issue of homosexuality, American society’s view of it has undergone such a profound change in just my lifetime that it constitutes a most extraordinary revolution.

To give you just one example of what I mean, consider the quote at the time of this post by Cincinnati Councilwoman Tamaya Dennard. The occasion for her remark was an event held outside Cincinnati City Hall where, for the first time ever, the Pride flag was raised. The event received a good deal of coverage in both the local and national press.

According to this report from a local television station, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley, echoing the remarks of Tamaya Dennard, said that life is too short to prevent people from loving each other, the decision to fly the flag by Cincinnati City Council was unanimous, and Pride flags also were flown over six Hamilton County buildings as well as Cincinnati City Hall.

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And Asa did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, as did David his father. And he took away the sodomites out of the land…

– (1Kings 15:11-12)

“How did it come to this?,” I muttered to myself the other day. “How did it come to this?” My words were my reaction to the latest story in the mainstream press about the collapse of Western Civilization. Specifically, I was referring to yet another story about the normalization of homosexuality in the United States.

It was a story about how the State of California banned official travel to yet another state deemed by its all-wise legislators to be insufficiently submissive to the enlightened LGBT – or whatever this month’s alphabet soup variant happens to be – movement. If you’d like, you can read USA Today’s version of the story here. The short version is this, California has a state law requiring its attorney general to keep a naughty list of states subject to a travel ban due to “laws that authorize or require discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.”

Now you’re probably wondering what outrage against humanity Oklahoma committed to earn the opprobrium of California’s Attorney General. It was this, the Governor or Oklahoma recently signed into law a statue that allowed private adoption agencies to refuse to place children with same-sex married couples.

How did it comes to this? Well, I doubt a single blog post can fully answer that question, but I would like to outline at least a few of the major factors that have produced the current state of affairs: the disappearance of Christianity in the West, the usurpation known as Judicial Review, and the Civil Rights Movement’s attack on property rights.

The Disappearance of Christianity in the West

As John Robbins argues in Christ and Civilization, Western Civilization is the by-product of the widespread preaching of and belief in the Gospel of Justification by Belief Alone. In nations to which the Reformation came, the role of government was reduced to something close to its Biblical norm of punishing evildoers and the secular work, what the Reformers called “vocation”, came to be seen as pleasing to God. As a result of this explosion in political and economic freedom, the nations of the West became the most prosperous on earth.

But Christianity has long been under attack in the West. 200 years ago, higher critics in Germany were ruining the nation’s universities with their skeptical attacks on the truth of the Bible. At the same time, those who professed to defend Christianity embraced irrationalism, perhaps the greatest heresy of all. Feminism, Marxism, Darwinism all rose to prominence as the 19th century wore on and helped to lay the groundwork for our modern world. Even many in the professing church, instead of being salt and light in the world as Jesus commanded, were instead swept up in these anti-Christian movements and began to use the aegis of the Bible as cover for advancing their unbelief, and thus was born the social gospel.

It stands to reason that if the ideas that formed a civilization are no longer held by the people in that civilization, the laws and social mores of that society will be changed to conform to the new belief systems that rush in to fill the void.

Even in the churches, few there be who hold to the teachings of the Reformation which birthed the West. And if the spiritual heirs of Luther and Calvin no longer believe what their forefathers believed, why would one expect those outside the Protestant churches to have any use for laws based upon a Biblical worldview?

The Old Testament associates the presence of sodomites in Israel with times of apostasy, and the removal of such persons from the land with periods of reformation. In the New Testament we find homosexuality condemned as a sin, saying of those who practice it that they will not inherit the kingdom of God. And from the colonial period right up to the recent past, the American legal system reflected this with the multitude of sodomy laws on the books.

But to take such a stance today in our post-Christian world is to court being branded a hater, a bigot, and unfit for polite society. The shift from laws criminalizing homosexuality to ones promoting it is a stunning change, and one that was made possible by Americans’ rejection of Christianity.

The Usurpation of Judicial Review

One assumption shared by both political liberals and political conservatives is that the Supreme Court has the right to declare a law either constitutional or unconstitutional. Liberals want to pack the court, so that liberal judges can give constitutional blessings to current laws favored by liberals and pave the way for more such legislation. Conservatives want conservative justices to do the same for their favored causes.

Almost no one stops to ask whether the Supreme Court actually has the power to do what it does, declare laws constitutional or not.

The short answer to this question is, no, it does not. This probably comes as a shock to many people. I know it did me when I first heard it.

As originally conceived, the Supreme Court was to decide, not whether a given law was Constitutional, but whether it had been applied properly. With Marbury v Madison in 1803, that all changed. For it was in this decision that the Supreme Court first asserted what is now known as judicial review, the power to decide whether a given law is constitutional.

Judicial review is essentially the Roman Catholic view of the Church applied to Constitutional law. In Rome, the Bible is what the Church says it is. In Christianity, the church is what the Bible says it is.

In like fashion, those who argue that the Constitution is what the Supreme Court says it is are legal Romanists. The correct view, the Supreme Court is what the Constitution says it is, is legal Protestantism.

The Romanist view of the Supreme Court is one of the major, and very underappreciated, sources of the massive change in American law with respect to homosexuality. It was just three years ago in 2015 that the US Supreme Court in one fell swoop declared unconstitutional all laws prohibiting same-sex marriage.

The astounding arrogance of five lawyers on the Supreme Court has basically gutted the ability of Christians to find any legal recourse to resist the unchristian and aggressive LGBT agenda.

But these ungodly men and women would never have had the power to do this were it not for the Court’s prior usurpation in claiming for itself the power of judicial review.

The Civil Rights Movement’s Attack on Property Rights

Of the three reasons for the success of the homosexual movement, probably the most controversial is to point out the role of the Civil Rights movement in paving the way for the explosion in LGBT friendly legislation in recent years.

The Civil Rights Movement was a mixed bag. To the extent that its supporters sought to overturn Jim Crow laws, they have the support of this author. But to the extent they attacked property rights they deserve to be rebuked.

The attack on property rights by the Civil Rights Movement was codified into law in Title II of The 1964 Civil Rights Act. This section of the Act drew an unbiblical distinction between types of property, one called places of public accommodation and another called private clubs. Specifically, it made it illegal to discriminate in places of public accommodation – places of public accommodation were defined, for example, as inns, restaurants, movie theaters – “on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.”

One could read the Scriptures from cover to cover and find no such distinction between places of public accommodation or private clubs. Private property is private property, regardless of whether it’s a home, a private club or a lunch counter in a drug store. And just as a home owner has the right to refuse to all someone in his house, so too does a business owner have the right to refuse to serve someone.

“So,” someone will say to me, “Matthews, by arguing this way you’re just an apologist for racism!” To which charge I would answer, “Not at all.” Racism is a sin. It is a failure to love our neighbor as ourselves.

But not all sins are crimes. Just look in the case law of the Old Testament. Some sins, theft for example, were crimes. We know this because theft, while being condemned in the 10 Commandments, which are the summary of the moral law, also had civil penalties attached to it in ancient Israel. It is the presence or absence of civil penalties that determine whether a specific sin is also a crime.

The Bible’s stance on private property is summed up in Jesus’ parable of the workers in the vineyard. When the workers complain to the vineyard owner about their wages, he responds, “Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things?”

The answer to this rhetorical question is, yes it is. And one implication of “doing what I wish with my own things” is that a business owner has the right to decide with whom he wishes to do business and with whom he does not. This includes making decisions with which we may disagree and which, in fact, may even be sinful. Ultimately, that’s between the businessman and God to whom he must give account.

So why do I bring up the errors of the Civil Rights Movement? Because the LGBT Movement has followed in its footsteps. For example, the homosexual activists have applied the principle of public accommodation to those who refuse services to LGBT persons. For example, there have been a number of Christian business owners in serious legal trouble for refusing to provide cakes, flowers, or wedding photography services for same-sex weddings. These cases occurred in states that have statues preventing business owners from discriminating against homosexuals in the same way the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the ground of race, color, religion, religion, or national origin.

Had the principle of “places of public accommodation” not been established in the 1964 Civil Rights Act, LGBT activists would not be in a position to force Christians to serve them.

Many veterans of the Civil Rights Movement have been shocked by the tactics of LGBT activists, who have appropriated the logic and methods of the Civil Rights Movement to promote the homosexual agenda.

For example, commenting on then President Obama’s use of 50th anniversary of the “Bloody Sunday” march to advocate for same-sex marriage, Rev. William Owens of the Coalition of African American Pastors said, “I marched with many people back in those days and I have reached out to some of my friends who marched with me, and all of them are shocked. They never thought they would see this day that gay rights would be equated with civil rights. Not one agreed with the comparison.”

Admittedly it is shocking. But once the LGBT Movement was able to attach itself to the Civil Rights Movement, by force of logic all the laws enacted in the 1964 Civil Rights Act also apply to them. Hence the proliferation of state-level laws prohibiting business owners from denying service to someone based on his being a homosexual.

And don’t suppose that this is going to stop with traditional businesses either. For example, this 2017 story “Ohio LGBT Group Announces Plans to Target Churches for Homosexual Weddings” is a shot at Evangelicals, not just in Ohio, but across the nation. As the article explains, An LGBT organization in Ohio has announced plans to target churches if they refuse to offer their property to be used in a homosexual wedding. In opposing the Ohio Pastor Protection Act (HB-36), the group Equality Ohio announced that they would target churches, forcing them to rent church facilities to groups that oppose their beliefs.”

This is seriously dangerous stuff, and perhaps represents the biggest threat to religious freedom in the US today. Given the current legal climate, it is this author’s opinion that it is just a matter of time before we see such a case in court.

Had the “places of public accommodation” clause not been included in the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the threat posed by the LGBT Movement to the churches would be much less than it is today.

Conclusion

In conclusion, as a Christian I’m embarrassed at the current moral climate of our nation. And nothing highlights the current mess we’re in more than the stunning advance of the LGBT Movement over the past 50 years.

I’m embarrassed and ashamed that every year we’re enjoined to “celebrate Pride Month” as if sodomy were something to rejoice in. I’m embarrassed and ashamed that the leading institutions in my country not only do not stand up to the LGBT lie, but actually actively promote it. But perhaps most of all, I’m embarrassed that we Christians have been so ineffective in putting a stop to this nonsense.

Perhaps one of God’s purposes in allowing the stunning success of the LGBT agenda in the US is to chastise his people for their intellectual laziness and lack of faith. If so, may God grant us repentance as well as the knowledge of the truth and the wisdom and the courage to apply it to good effect.

In times past, God raised up Asa, Jehoshaphat and Josiah to put an end to the LGBT agenda in Israel. Has his arm been shorted that he cannot save today?

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Ruth_and_Naomi_Leave_Moab

Ruth and Naomi Leave Moab, 1860, by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (1794-1872).

He [the Lord] pours contempt on princes, and disarms the mighty. He uncovers deep things out of darkness, and brings the shadow of death to light. He makes nations great, and destroys them; He enlarges nations, and guides them. He takes away the understanding of the chiefs of the people and of the earth, and makes them wander in a pathless wilderness. They grope in the dark without light, and He makes them stagger like a drunken man (Job 12-21-25).

 

“Many councils lack strategy for care of returning ISIS fighters’ children,” ran the Radio Sweden headline. Sigh. What shall I say to this?  When coming across an absurdity of this magnitude, I’m almost at a loss for words. Almost, but not quite.

In the article from what I take to be the official Swedish government radio outlet , we are informed earnestly, and one supposes sincerely, that there are grave concerns many areas of Sweden are ill-equipped to deal with problems faces by the families of returning ISIS fighters. Only Gothenburg, we are told, has a strategy in place for this.

Terrorism researcher Magnus Ranstorp states that about 65 women have returned to Sweden after spending time is ISIS controlled areas. Notably Ranstorp says nothing about the status of their husbands who presumably are the actual ISIS fighters.

Ranstrop goes on to note that boys as young as nine have been recruited as soldiers for ISIS, girls are considered marriageable at that same age, and that ISIS uses children as informants against their parents.

Of course, the most obvious question – Why on earth were such people ever allowed to settle in Sweden in the first place, let alone return there after fighting for ISIS? – is never asked. The only concern is how to care for the traumatized families, especially the children, who, based upon what was said in the article itself, may themselves by ISIS recruits.

This is madness.

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david-stockman

David Stockman

This time last week it was 75 degrees and sunny. Today? Well, let’s just icy roads and accidents made the morning commute a little more exciting than usual. How can the weather change so much in seven days?!

 

Well at least one thing hasn’t changed over the last week, and that’s the dicey state of the nation’s economy. With the stock market hitting records level, that may seem like an odd thing to say. But the economy is not the same things as the stock market.

In fact, the past several years have seen an almost inverse relationship take hold between the performance of the Dow Jones and S&P indices and important economic indicators. In a normal, rational economy, if corporate earnings decline or unemployment spikes signaling a economic slowdown, the stock market should decline.

But in today’s Keynesian casino markets, bad economic news is good news from the markets perspective. Why is this? It all has to do with the Federal Reserve’s interest rate policy. You see, bad economic news means big money speculators believe the Fed will continue its policy of suppressing interest rates to near zero to stimulate economic growth. On the other hand, if the economy appears to be doing well, the market starts to think the Fed may hike interest rates, making stocks a less attractive opportunity. Thus the stock market goes down.

In short, it’s a stupid economy that rewards fraud and punishes success.

And after over eight years of stupidity such as near zero percent interest rates, we are now faced with simultaneous Fed created bubbles in stocks, bonds and real estate, which will all at some point burst. And that leads me into today’s story…

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zedekiah_is_chained_and_brought_before_nebuchadnezzar

Zedekiah is chained and brought before Nebuchadnezzar, from Petrus Comestor’s “Bible Historiale.”  

Traditionally attributed to the prophet Jeremiah, Lamentations recounts the author’s reflections on the ruins of Jerusalem in the aftermath of the city’s fall to the Babylonians.

 

When a city, when a nation, falls, it is natural for people to ask why it happened. Chapter One of Lamentations provides the following succinct summary of the sorry state of Jerusalem.

Her uncleanness is in her skirts;

She did not consider her destiny;

Therefore her collapse was awesome.

Now that’s what I call getting right to the point. Jerusalem, which was really a part standing for the whole of Judah, had become morally unclean. God sent prophets to warn the people, but they did not heed, they, they did not consider their end, therefore judgment befell them.

Now I’ve always been a history buff. And, in particular, I’ve always been fascinated by the notion of civilizational collapse. That sounds pretty depressing, I know. But I don’t say that, because I’m rooting to see a contemporary collapse myself.

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