Friday, December 05, 2003

A Spiritual Geostrategic Assessment

GEM 03:12:04

Over the past several months, the three-way clash for the future has again been underscored: the secularist-neopagan-apostare West, the islamists, and the Southern Christian Reformation.

So, as I wind down the course I have been working on over the past little while [cf ], it is appropriate to do a quick review and examine our outlook. From this point on, I intend, from time to time, to develop similar reflection pieces, and to resume regular news clippings and comments: for, we must discern the times if we are to know what we should do.

This piece is a sort of catch up.

1. Review:

Headlines have been dominated by the continuing clashes associated with the renewal of the 1,000 year Jihad war; not only due to the campaigns and terrorism events, but also because the leader of the USA, an Evangelical Christian, has been the subject of not just criticisms of to this policy or that but an evident campaign to remove evangelicals from serious consideration for high office. Similarly, over the past several months, in the USA the 10 commandments were put in the closet as a threat to liberty; while so-called ¡§same sex marriage¡¨ is being imposed on society through the courts system in several leading western countries. Thus, we see how rapidly the three-way clash for the future is developing.

The Israel-Palestine clash continues ¡V with truth being the principal (but far from only) casualty of the ongoing war of terror, but has now taken on menacing global overtones. For, it reveals the rot in the international institutions, not only the UNH and its extensions, but also the media and pundits.

For instance, at a recent meeting of the 57-member international Islamic Conference Organisation; the retiring Prime Minister of the ¡§moderate¡¨ Islamic country, Malaysia, went on record that the Jews rule the world by proxy, and have others do their fighting and dying for them. This, to loud applause by an organization whose members include Guyana and Suriname in the Caribbean. There were some brief remarks in the media, then the world simply moved on.

Contrast: in the UN, when Israel recently offered a resolution regarding concern for the safety of its children ¡V as a parallel to a similar resolution offered earlier regarding Palestinian Arab children, it was reversed in intent through amendments, and was withdrawn. And that, against a backdrop where dozens (maybe hundreds) of Israeli children have become actual intended targets for ¡V and/or victims of ¡V murderous suicide terrorism attacks.

The latest development is of course a ¡§peace plan¡¨ in Geneva, where unofficial persons representing the Israelis and Palestinian Arabs have ¡§negotiated¡¨ a settlement to the conflict. However, reports are, that the Palestinian strategy in this was not serious: it was intended to sow discord within Israel, and logically, to further isolate Israel. More to the point, negotiations can only serve propaganda purposes when they are not between those who can undertake binding agreements ¡V and the warning that we are prone to say ¡§peace, peace¡¨ when sudden destruction stalks, should give us pause.

Sick. And, ever so sad.

Here in the Caribbean, we seem to be asleep at the wheel. On the agenda is business/sin as usual, and especially in Jamaica, desperation as usual. However, it is increasingly clear that none of our would-be political messiahs has a sound set of answers.

2. Key Trends and Challenges

The Israel situation is highlighted above because it reveals the underlying cynical hypocrisy and corruption in the world at international levels. [cf ]

This underlying issue is vital, as globalist institutional initiatives are the ¡§standard solution¡¨ to problems advanced by the secularist, internationalist policy-makers and pundits who dominate the thinking in our media culture and educational institutions. In turn, these institutions clearly show their alignment with the secularist, neo-pagan and apostate Christian agendas that are the first of the three major players in the global battle for the future.

In this context, the campaign to desensitize us to the destructive nature of sexual perversions is being boosted by the same forces. Suddenly, ¡§same-sex marriage¡¨ is on us, with evident intent to destroy marriage as a stable foundation for society ¡V if something comes to include everything, it has no meaning. Those who object are, as usual, being characterized as intolerant bigots; and the high incidence of divorce is being cited to hint that maybe there isn¡¦t anything there worth saving.

Of course, in fact, we see in this the very strongest proof that this agenda is extremely destructive to society. For, here we have an evident intent to exploit postmodern confusion about morality to remove the protective fences that for millennia society has rightly seen as vital in controlling the aggressive, lustful and violent passions of men in particular. From the days of Plato¡¦s Republic, this has been recognised as perhaps THE challenge to those who manage societies!

Running a close parallel are some worrying developments in the ongoing renewal of the 1000 year Jihad. For, serious reports by Mansoor Ijaz, a news analyst on the war, place bin Laden in Iran, currently near the border with Iraq. Other reports seem to back this up. Thus, the Sunni and Shiite branches of radical Islamism have come together, and in a context where the nuclear ambitions of Iran have been put on the international agenda under very worrisome circumstances that suggest collaboration with the Pakistani and possibly the North Korean programmes.

Given these links and the availability of weapons of mass destruction, I now project a dangerous but all too plausible possibility. Since a major goal of the islamists would be to unseat the current president of the USA in the next US election, it is likely that a plan is afoot to attack the US with such weapons during the next 11 months, most probably next summer or fall. For, that would ¡§demonstrate¡¨ the failure to protect the public and would greatly push the ¡§peace in our time at any price¡¨ policy. But, of course, false peace is no peace.

I hardly need to underscore the global panic that would be created by such an event, especially if it is a nuclear attack. (Of course, there have long been missing so-called ¡§suitcase nukes¡¨ ¡V i.e. demolition devices comparable to the Hiroshima Bomb but small enough to fit in a suitcase -- from the ex-Soviet arsenal.).

In summary, the two tidal waves that were envisioned as threatening the Caribbean are now in full flood. We see the secularists, neopagans and Apostates from the North, and the Islamists from the East.

3. What, then, should we do?

Jesus once rebuked the Pharisees, that they were able to read the signs of the weather quite well, but could not read the signs of the times. The contrast to the famous wise men of Issachar, who understood the times to know what Israel should do, is absolutely telling.

Unfortunately, this observation is equally telling against the governance ¡V that is, decision-maker ¡V levels in the church, institutions and wider community across the Caribbean. For, on the one hand, the region is ill-equipped to respond to the above global threats that now batter our region; on the other, we do not seem to be even aware of our mortal danger!

The first response is along the lines of the ANC¡¦s motto: UNDERTAND THE PAST, ACT IN THE PRESENT, BUILD THE FUTURE. For, as the Russians warn: ¡§Dwell on the past, lose an eye; forget the past, lose both your eyes.¡¨ That is, those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

So, it should be no surprise to see that the first battle is for history and the heritage we have derived therefrom:

1] The modern experiment in liberty and self-government by free people was a reformation legacy to the world. But, that was predicated on the judaeo-christian, biblical world view: men, governed from within by the words and spirit of the scriptures, can be trusted to be free. We see all around us the consequences of forgetting this lesson as Western culture has decisively shifted to radical skepticism, secularism, neopaganism and associated apostasies of the Christian Faith.

2] The biggest single social challenge is ¡V and has always been -- men, especially young men. For, such men in the ¡§natural¡¨ state have the physical power, hormone-driven aggressiveness and lack of empathy that leads them to spin out of control once they forget God and the restraining influences that flow from a godly order for life, family and community. As Paul pointed out in Romans 1 ¡V 3, once this dynamic is let loose in a society, it disintegrates in an orgy of false wisdom, ungovernable and perverted passions and violence. This is clearly happening ¡V again ¡V in western culture in our time!

3] In the Caribbean, especially Jamaica, we have forgotten the key element in our heritage of liberty. It is no accident that the first black missionaries arrived in Jamaica in 1783, i.e. Gerorge Liele from Georgia, leading to parallel processes of evangelization, education, emergence of leadership, empowerment and liberation, culminating in the end of slavery as of 1834. Thereafter, Baptist missionaries and other evangelicals took the lead in the creation of the free villages that empowered the ex-slaves as citizens with stable economic foundations and families living on their own land. But of course, while heavily sexualized ancestral spirit statues are much in evidence, not one word about the history and heritage of emancipation can be found in the Emancipation Park in Jamaica!

4] Indeed, we see instead, that Dr Sultana Afroz, of UWI Mona Campus History Department, has spent the past decade imagining an Islamic past for Jamaica, one heavily weighted towards: jihad as the model for overthrowing oppression. It can easily be shown that the evidential basis for her claims is quite sketchy and over-extrapolated [ cf. ]; but in the absence of concern for truth in our history in a post-modern era of skepticism about truth, the historian has become a mythmaker, not a detective trying to find out the truth about the past so we may have understanding of our own times that will guide us as to what to do.

The obvious solution is to fix the past deficit. But, the governance levels in church and community alike are so influenced by the times, that this is now a very hard row to hoe. This is a long-term project.

That brings us to the way forward: a remnant-renewal and reformation strategies driven by faith-based covenant communities of trust and common vision. Once we get this going in our region, we can exploit the fact that the Caribbean is the region that was the first project of globalization, to carry such solutions to the wider world. Of course, that implies a renewal of our missionary heritage, which started in 1843 wit the first missionaries who went out from Jamaica to West Africa with the gospel and with ideas and techniques that helped pioneer development there.

4. The Example of Jeremiah:

Jeremiah¡¦s prophetic letter to the exiles from Judah, circa 600 BC, brings out some of the subtleties of how the remnant-renewal and reformation pattern can work in a diverse, potentially hostile community:

¡§Build houses and settle down, plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage . . . increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper. . . . . For I know the plans I have for you . . . plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.¡¨ [Jer. 29:5 ¡V 11.]

These are of course general remarks; they are consistent with individual cases where disappointment or worse happens. But, the community of the exiles as a whole is counseled to seek the peace and prosperity even of the land of their enemies and oppressors, who have carried them off into exile. And God promises to bless them and eventually to restore their fortunes:

„X Instead of the very natural focus on resentment over harm done in the past or even currently, the letter¡¦s focus shifts attention to undertaking projects that create progress, peace and prosperity in one¡¦s family, the people of covenant at large, and the wider (and often potentially or actually hostile or even oppressive) community. [This has much to say to our tendency to focus on our own unfinished history of slavery and oppression, rather than on opportunities for progress provided by the rich resources of our region!]

„X This shift of focus also illustrates the power of the GR/CI to break the cycle of mistrust, resentment and violence by setting out to build a future that reaches out across barriers and hatreds to promote community-wide peace and prosperity by building on opportunities that are within one¡¦s reach.

„X Further, Jeremiah reverses the usual view of the SD principle, that it is the powerful who must make the first move to promote sustainable development. Instead, he counselled a grass-roots up, start-small-and-grow, self-help based approach that moves out from building on opportunities to produce for oneself and to build a family, to seeking and praying for the prosperity of the wider community, as a covenant community of faith within the wider culture.

„X Thus, we see a shift from the typical development approach that emphasises the central role of the state ¡V statism ¡V to one that emphasizes individual, family and community-based strategies: moving from the margins to the centre, in short. (This exploits the so-called iron law of oligarchy: power circulates among elites, so until one has become a credible alternative leadership, one¡¦s needs, complaints or proposals will simply not be seriously entertained by those who hold power and so dominate the state.)

„X Similarly, there is an emphasis on nurturing the environment so that the way in which its resources and associated opportunities are exploited promotes meeting of basic needs across time and across generations: food, clothing and shelter. (Integrating Prov. 31:10 ¡V 31, such initial efforts can be turned into quite thriving business initiatives that build up the wealth of families and communities.)

„X Further, implicit in the focus on the family within the wider covenant community of faith, is the concept that a godly culture must be nurtured even in a hostile environment, and that the covenant community of faith should reach out to the wider community in concern and prayer, backed up by appropriate action that promotes the good order and prosperity of that wider community. (This is underscored by the point that this is in the mutual interest of all members of the wider community, including that of the community of the faithful.)

The long-term sustainability and benefits that flow from this path can be seen from the fact that this has been the consistent, and often successful, approach of the Jewish Diaspora ever since those dark and painful days of the Babylonian exile.

Across time, communities that work in the above way tend to become prosperous, well-educated and influential; as the stories of Daniel, Nehemiah, Ezra and Esther illustrate. However, this progress may also provoke resentment and persecution, especially if there is an unwillingness to compromise core moral commitments and/or to assimilate to the wider community. (This has been one root of the many persecutions the Jews ¡V and Christians -- have suffered. Cf. 1 Peter 3:3 ¡V 6.)

But also, when communities are open to the importance of justice and broad-based participation and fairness in the community, the approach opens up to include possibilities for involvement in the sort of democratic participative governance approaches described above. (It should be noted that such approaches can be manipulated by clever interest groups who are able to distort perceptions or suppress key facts, so that the community¡¦s actions become disconnected from reality. In our time, this is unfortunately a commonly used tactic.)

CONCLUSIONS: Why not now? Why not here? Why not us?

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