or the beginning of something else
By J. Jeff Toler for Shenandoah Christian Alliance email@example.com
“If something cannot go on forever, it will stop” – Herbert Stein
- For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
Who hasn’t heard the expression, “Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse…” quickly followed by any example of something that just got worse? The idea that things couldn’t get any worse is simply laughable. It doesn’t require a genius, a psychic—or even a cynic—to know things can certainly get worse. Of course they can get worse, as anyone one of who has lived long enough will testify. The issue is not a question of inevitability, but of how willing we are to prepare for it.
Oddly enough, many who predicted the year 2023 could only get worse after 2022 might have been somewhat relieved, if they really think about it, insofar as it really wasn’t as bad as it might have been… it could have been much worse. That may be due in large part because 2021 and 2022 were so very, very awful.
Murphy’s law is an adage or epigram that’s typically stated as: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” In some formulations, it’s extended to “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong, and at the worst possible time.” [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murphy%27s_law]
Technically, as it turns out, Murphy wasn’t the first one to have made this observation. In 1866 Augustus De Morgan, a British mathematician,[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augustus_De_Morgan] wrote that “whatever can happen will happen.” The only real difference in the two quotations is the degree of cynicism.
We shouldn’t be limiting ourselves to mere adages and epigrams when considering what’s really happening. Instead, we must see the bigger picture.
As I pointed out in an earlier essay, the world is heading for a great upheaval this year. I’m not the only one who thinks so. For most people, there has been a sense of something not quite right about our lives anymore. Something unpredictable, something portentous even, which again, I alluded to just last week. I’m reminded of this line from “Macbeth” by Wm. Shakespeare, “By the pricking of my thumbs, Something wicked this way comes.” [Second Witch, Act 4 Scene 1] Admittedly, that may be laying it on a bit thick, but most of us can understand the “signs of the times” in which we are now living.
Very recently, I discovered someone who is describing this postulate in ways to help us better identify and understand. His name is Jonathan Pageau, (pictured) and he is an Orthodox Christian. Many of his podcasts can be found here: [https://thesymbolicworld.com/content-categories/media] His podcast, “The End of the World” however, can only be accessed within the DailyWire. [https://www.dailywire.com/episode/episode-1-state-of-chaos] Unhappily for some, it resides behind a paywall, but content like this is actually worth the monthly subscription, and so I can heartily recommend it. Try it. You can cancel at any time.
Pageau makes some very important observations in his first installment, aptly titled: “State of Chaos.” I say aptly because chaos is precisely what’s happening. We’re now living in chaos. All of our basic conventions of thought; the social, cultural, and institutional constructs that have survived the twentieth century, have begun to spin and fly apart. When people can no longer hold on to meaning, tradition, values, or even basic truths, it is probably because great civilizational change is happening.
More than this, it’s even happening to us. The introduction to his series reads, “The carnival of chaos has managed to supplant the traditional, rational world. The wheel of cohesion that keeps society together is breaking down spiritually, culturally, and mentally.”
He begins by identifying, “the breakdown of religious thought, [worship] the breakdown of the national narrative, even the mental breakdown of people around [us]… these are symptoms of the end of something.”
Pageau explains that our lives are lived in “little worlds” and that this is always the way things have abeen. There is a beginning and an end to every world in and of every life. It would seem that when we notice the things beyond us that have always provided cohesion for us individually and collectively—are now shaking our trust in them, we take notice.
For example, Pageau wonders, “Why is it that in the movies, girls are beating up guys—non-stop—for the past ten years?” This simple observation is just one part of the overall gestalt of the myriad of identities—and identity confusion that seem to literally engender (pun intended) endless permutations.
We can honestly say that little, if anything, is sacred anymore. And I will maintain that this is at the heart of the chaos: the loss of what has always been considered sacred and holy. Indeed, even among the holy men of God, there is confusion and incoherence. The past year (or so) included a number of examples of which “social justice gospel” pastors and teachers are promoting messages that embrace many of the artifacts of a secularist culture—as if the gospel needed a prefix of any kind other than Christian.
Scott David Allen, author of “Why Social Justice Is Not Biblical Justice” [https://www.amazon.com/Why-Social-Justice-Not-Biblical-ebook/dp/B08HW2CPTL/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=] writes, “Conformity to God’s moral standard as revealed in the Ten Commandments and the Royal Law: “love your neighbor as yourself.” [Its two components are:]
- Communitive justice: (as relating to community) living in right relationship with God and others; giving people their due as image-bearers of God.
- Distributive justice: impartially rendering judgment, righting wrongs, and meting out punishment for lawbreaking. Reserved for God and God-ordained authorities including parents in the home, elders in the church, teachers in the school, and civil authorities in the state.
And so it is, while some people are altering—even transmogrifying [https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/transmogrify] their bodies to become distortions—even monsters—of the imago Dei, the Holy is being cheapened and adulterated with false teaching, heresy, and something secularists are so fond of vaunting: inclusivity.
This last point is extremely important in understanding and confronting chaos and those who facilitate it.
- “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.” (1 Corinthians 14:33)