Notre Dame on fire ...
As we begin a new year, it is well to remember that you won’t be the same person next year as you are this year. You will be a better person or a worse one, but you will not be the you who now reads these words. Things will happen (that you can’t help), and you will make choices (that you can help). Robert Frost, because poets are not statisticians, spoke of two roads diverging in a yellow wood that “has made all the difference.” But it would be more accurate to describe an ever-branching outcropping of paths beneath your feet that lead to Christ-likeness or its opposite.
The rest of the world won’t be the same next January as this January either. I heard a finance counselor on the radio tell a caller that he should pay off his debts first and then think about going on vacation. “Europe will always be there,” he said. The advice was sound but not so much the travel tip. Europe—as you know—will not be the same in one year’s time as it is now. Seventeen of its countries have slipped to a birthrate too low to replace itself and are embarked on a historically unprecedented course of self-extinction. It’s not that the banlieues and boulevards will be deserted, but pedestrians you stop to ask directions will more likely be named Mohammed than Hans.
There is a process by which a thing becomes, over time, transformed into another thing. Uncannily, the stages in that process can be traced throughout the manifold strata of reality under the sun—individuals, nations, churches, cultures, and biological cells.
An ever-branching outcropping of paths beneath your feet leads to Christ-likeness or its opposite.
Nations: “In the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army came against Jerusalem, and besieged it. In the eleventh year of Zedekiah, in the fourth month, on the ninth day of the month, the city was penetrated” (Jeremiah 39:1-2).
Thus do once-healthy entities fall: first the siege works; two years later, the penetration. It is not a little chilling to read, in the very next verse, the names of the new guys in town, the ominously non-Jewish-sounding spellings of the princes who have replaced the Jewish courtiers in Jerusalem: “Nergal-Sharezer, Samgar-Nebo, Sarsechim, Rabsaris, ... Rabmag.”
Individuals: Consider Judas’ destruction. The target has been softened: “During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus … rose from supper” (John 13:2-4). Fatal penetration follows: “Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, ‘What you are going to do, do quickly’” (v. 27). Judas has been flirting with the dark side, and by the dark side he is finally devoured.
Churches: Mark Steyn writes in America Alone: “Most mainline Protestant churches are, to one degree or another, post-Christian. If they no longer seem disposed to converting the unbeliever to Christ, they can at least convert them to the boggiest of soft-left political clichés, on the grounds that if Jesus were alive today he’d most likely be a gay Anglican bishop in a committed relationship driving around in an environmentally friendly car with an ‘Arms are for Hugging’ sticker on the way to an interfaith dialogue with a Wiccan and a couple of Wahhabi imams.”
Cells: Science cannot help but employ the language of personality to biology: “To enter a cell, viruses must recognize certain proteins encoded by host genes.” “A virus will bind to these receptors, employing them as entryways into a cell.” “The virus tricks the cell into thinking that the virus knocking at the door is nothing more than nutrition or harmless goods.” “Once inside a cell, retroviruses insert their gene into a host’s chromosome.” “It finds a safe haven in them while it continues to replicate.”
Satan’s “designs” (2 Corinthians 2:11) of penetration, infiltration, and death are manifold. God’s grace reaches far as the curse is found. You and I can be a better individual by this time next year. Our weapons are clinging to Christ, keeping His word, wielding the sword of faith, and praying every day.
And as for Europe, I would recommend you visit earlier rather than later.