Bread & Circuses

As the decline of Trump enters the final phase, this post from a year ago – before it all started – works even better than it did then.

Now that no one buys our votes, the public has long since cast off its cares; the people that once bestowed commands, consulships, legions and all else, now meddles no more and longs eagerly for just two things – bread and circuses!

– Juvenal, Satire X, “Wrong Desire is the Source of Suffering”

The “Fall of Rome” trope has always been an easy one to dismiss. After all, we’re stronger and more connected than they ever were, yes? The public is more literate, our history is stronger, and times are simply different than they were back so very long ago.

Aren’t they?

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China, Standing Up

Nothing causes anxiety in America quite like China. The rise of this nation is perceived as our greatest threat in many critical places the US is used to dominating – economic power, military might, and technological leadership. It’s not a question of where China is today as much where it might be if the growth keeps up.

Yet for all of this, Richard Nixon’s observation in 1972 remains true – “China is not a threat.” To understand why it’s best to turn not to the policies and pronouncements of politicians but to popular culture. This is ultimate gauge of the most important resource of China and every other nation, the people.

On the surface, the huge summer hit “Wolf Warrior 2” may seem like everything we have to fear. Yet it shows exactly how China’s self identity and culture are evolving as much as their economy.

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What Did Jesus Teach? And Why?

It’s one thing to say what Christianity is not, but quite another to say just what it is. It is easy enough to rail against its use as a political tool to support an agenda of control, but how was it a radical religion of liberation?

This is a good topic for the season, as the Western world contemplates the real meaning of Christmas. That story alone is an interesting one because it is nearly the only information known about the man named Jesus before he was thirty years old. It’s also dubious at best, but let’s leave that aside. Let’s even leave aside what Jesus himself actually preached. What did he do for thirty years? Where did he learn and meditate and eventually produce the faith that now dominates the world?

It’s a fascinating story with no clear conclusion. But we have some clues which point to a very different view of what Christianity is than what is common understood in the Western world.

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The Eyes of a Child

This time of the year, the holidays bring back memories that allow us to see the world, once again, through the eyes of a child. This is not some sentimental side effect of the rituals we go through, but is in many ways the reason they are important. A few moments spent contemplating this over a swirling mug of cocoa can show that seeing the world through the eyes of a child is actually a vital lesson.

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The Core Sickness

Something is terribly wrong in America. Like an ER doctor, all of us feel compelled to treat the life-threatening symptoms in front of us.

Useful stooges run the White House, boardrooms, and apparently at one time the DNC. Drug addiction is rampant. People simply go crazy and kill dozens for the sheer thrill of it. It is more than fashionable to readily assume the worst about every person, every debate, and every event. Guns honestly seem like a solution to many problems to many problems. Spirituality itself is weaponized almost casually.

As we will continue to learn, our political system was completely corrupted and compromised by a hostile foreign power. But what’s far more troubling is how easily we let it happen.

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Reformation

Five hundred years ago a young priest named Martin Luther nailed to the door of Wittenberg Cathedral a list of 95 debate points for anyone who wished to challenge him. Some of them were, in themselves, challenges to the prevailing practices and theology of the Catholic Church of the time.

His immediate intent was to spark discussion of what it means to be a follower of Christ and receive his blessing. The result was the publication of these points around Europe and revolution in views about the divine, the individual, and the practices and structures which link them. The world has not been the same since.

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Guns: Change the Attitude

Another senseless gun tragedy – this one bigger than the previous. When does it end?

It ends when we as a nation get serious about the situation. Like nearly every problem we have it is primarily a mindset. New gun laws aren’t necessarily going to be the answer unless they are part of that important change.

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