The Devil pulls the strings which make us dance; we find delight in the most loathsome things; some furtherance of Hell each new day brings, and yet we feel no horror in that rank advance.” – Charles Baudelaire
It’s been dubbed the ‘ostrich problem’ by a British research team – disregarding reality in order to sidestep unpleasant situations. The expression ‘ostrich problem’, is apparently a reference to the urban myth that an ostrich, when surrounded by danger, will bury its head in the sand. The notion is that the supposedly dumb bird believes that if it doesn’t see the problem then the problem will go away. According to this study, people often ignore what is going on around them to avoid the “negative feelings” associated with confronting the truth – in other words, they either ignore or reject the facts. Evidently, denial can also be therapeutic. I guess for some folks, ignorance really is bliss.
Meanwhile, here in modern Sodom and Gomorrah, the decline and fall of decency and rudimentary moral behaviors continues unabated. Everyday a new “evil” is declared to be “good”. What was once shunned by polite society is now not only embraced and promoted, it is also being forced upon those who continue to recognize it as sinful or inappropriate.
The 8th-century BC prophet Isaiah ben Amoz, penned a warning aimed at his own malevolent culture:
18 Woe to those who drag their sins behind them like a bullock on a rope. 19 They even mock the Holy One (God) and dare the Lord to punish them. “Hurry up and punish us, O Lord,” they say. “We want to see what you can do!” 20 They say that what is right is wrong and what is wrong is right; that black is white and white is black; bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter. 21 Woe to those who are wise and shrewd in their own eyes!” (Isaiah 5:18-21 – TLB)
This ancient text got me wondering; is there a word that can help us to grasp the mechanism that drives a cultural breakdown? Sin comes to my mind. But for so many post-moderns, sin is “so yesterday”. Okay, let me offer you a new “old” word. Maybe we can hash tag it. Make it “so today.” Here it is: Decadence.
By living a life “against nature,” the deviant or pervert becomes a hero or heroine in decadent fiction.” – Asti Hustvedt
Are you at all familiar with the term decadence? The word literally means to descend from a higher order to a lower level in quality, character, or vitality. A decadent person is sometimes also referred to as a degenerate – one who is in spiritual, intellectual, or especially moral decline. Social decadence is a process; a slow and sometimes barely perceived deterioration in the moral fiber of a culture. Like hidden decay, the rot can often go unnoticed for a very long time; eventually reaching a point where the damage produced is well beyond mending.
Here in the United States of Sodom, concepts like honesty, decency, honor and ethics have already lost much of their significance in these post-modern times. It appears that our culture operates in such a state of delusion that people believe society is actually moving forward in a progressive triumph when in truth it is crumbling at its very foundations. Have you heard this Proverb?
2 “When the righteous (honest and upright) are in (positions of) authority and become great, the people rejoice; but when the wicked man rules, the people groan and sigh. (Proverbs 29:2 – AMP)
Groan… sigh… groan…
I’m fairly certain you are familiar with the idiom “it’s my lot in life.” That is actually a Biblical reference. In the Older Testament book of Genesis, Lot parts ways with Abraham to seek his own future and he “pitched his tents toward Sodom” (Genesis 13:12). Unfortunately for him, he also parts ways with what God had planned. This places Lot on the wrong life path. Consequently, his days are filled with much trouble and sorrow. And that my friends is the origin of the idiom, “it’s my lot in life.”
Sometimes, I cannot help but notice the growing number of people who wish to focus the blame for their lot in life on someone or something other than themselves. Whatever happened to individual responsibility; the understanding that we are each accountable for our own actions and outcomes? There was a time when attainment came from hard work and perseverance. People once took delight in getting an honest education, acquiring useful skills and learning self-sufficiency. Today these qualities are being replaced by a dependence on various forms of public assistance as the proletariat population continues to become ever more reliant on various forms of “tax payer” handouts to earn a living.
Promises of freedom through economic equality (socialism), and a quasi-fascist approach to governance (quite often championed by our modern liberal reformists) are regularly advanced through a highly sophisticated deception perpetrated upon an under-informed population. As a result, moral and religious beliefs are routinely attacked, and the once cherished traditions of faith, virtuous family values and a genuine sense of community are quietly being eradicated. Modern progressives call this “fundamentally transforming society”. I call it the new Babylon.
Some would argue that we are simply discovering alternative ways to look at community. In this current Cultural Revolution, our society is progressing for the furtherance of the collective through diversity. But others see a new way of life emerging where the people are being methodically stripped of any remaining self-determination. Weighed down by our post-modern confused logic and inconsistent (or non-existent) morality, we are losing sight of the higher purpose in and for our human existence.
The mother tongue of politicians is that of ancient Babylon: a language designed to severely limit discourse within a tower of praise to elitism, a language carried on breath’s reeking of the fecal matter from their paymasters” – Dean Cavanagh
The United States of America was once firmly rooted in a Judeo-Christian certainty. Our traditional way of life (born of a faith in the providence of a Divine Creator) was central to our well-being as individuals and as a nation. It was a shared moral code which allowed our founding fathers to find common ground and mutual cooperation. The “great experiment” called the USA cannot survive the death of the very system of belief that brought it into being. When we lose touch with the Divine order of our Creator, the culture will most certainly decay precipitously.
Nearly 2000 years ago, a man named Saul of Tarsus (who later become known as Paul, an Apostle of the Liberator Jesus) waxed eloquent as he predictively saw the future,
18-23” But God’s angry displeasure erupts as acts of human mistrust and wrongdoing and lying accumulate, as people try to put a shroud over truth. But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse. What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat him like God, refusing to reverence him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life. They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figures you can buy at any roadside stand.
24-25 So God said, in effect, “If that’s what you want, that’s what you get.” It wasn’t long before they were living in a pigpen, smeared with filth, filthy inside and out. And all this because they traded the true God for a fake god, and worshiped the god they made instead of the God who made them the God we bless, the God who blesses us.” (Romans 1:21-25 – MSG)
The morality and justice of God set against the wickedness of mankind is nothing new. The Creator will eventually put a stop to all of this abject stupidity. He alone can and will impartially judge mankind. Our days are numbered here on spaceship earth. In the meantime, we who know the one true Spirit will indeed cling to our cherished traditions of faith, virtuous family values and a genuine sense of community as best as we can.
The Newer Testament writer Paul also once wrote a word of instruction to his friend and fellow believer, Pastor Timothy,
2“Everything that you have heard me preach in public you should in turn entrust to reliable men (and women), who will be able to pass it on to others.” (2 Timothy 2:2 – PHILLIPS)
That is an assignment we can all embrace! Fighting “Caesar” is not the answer. Obsessive preoccupation with the tomfoolery of partisan politics will only stress you out. Right and truth are neither Republican nor Democrat. Governments may turn oppressive, but it’s always the TRUTH that sets you free. That is why I follow the Liberator Jesus, He said, “I am the way, the TRUTH and the life” (John 14:6).
Let me share these additional thoughts from the pen of the Newer Testament writer Paul as originally written to the Christians living in the ancient city of Philippi,
8-9 “Here is a last piece of advice. If you believe in goodness and if you value the approval of Almighty God, fix your minds on the things which are holy and right and pure and beautiful and good. Model your conduct on what you have learned from me, on what I have told you and shown you, and you will find the God of peace will always be with you.” (Philippians 4:9 – PHILLIPS)
There are many righteous, pure and beautiful things still crying out for our attention here on space ship earth. Never ignore the dangers of this present darkness and “bury your head in the sand.” But likewise, never let the sands of adversity entomb your faith and destroy your effectiveness. The Newer Testament writer Matthew quoted the Liberator Jesus as saying,
5-8 “Don’t begin by traveling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers. And don’t try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy. Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the (spiritually) dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously.” (Matthew 10:7-10 – MSG)
Look out mates, there may be many squalls ahead. But come hell or high water, we can be ready for anything through the strength of the one who lives within us. Never give up on hope, it is the anchor of your soul.
Father of all life, we your people on spaceship earth, called by your name, are humbling ourselves today, calling out to you, seeking your presence, and turning away from the wickedness that has become so pervasive in our nations. We respectfully call your attention to the promise recorded in the older covenant book of 2 Chronicles, 14 “…if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” We put you in remembrance of your word today. And we ask you to watch over us, protect us and if it is not already too late, to heal our land. Thank you Sovereign Creator. Amen.
Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher and a rabbid Coastal Junkie ®
For additional information write to: Coastal Life Ministries, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656