Friday, March 11, 2011

Tidal Waves of Destruction

The video images from Japan, all over the Web, are mesmerizing. The inexorable progress of a tsunami, sweeping aside everything in its path and advancing steadily inward, toward areas previously thought safe from the sea's destruction, is testimony to nature's raw power:

The video depicts the waves of destruction in real time. Civilization and its poor trappings are no defense against such an onslaught, which can wipe out everything built up over hundreds of years within mere minutes.

Such waves of destruction, however, occur on longer time scales, as well. For an extremely well-constructed graphic showing the many dynastic waves of destruction which have engulfed the Middle East over the last 5000 years, take a look at this map:

It takes only ninety seconds to recap the full span of events, and after watching it a few times, one begins to understand why peace in the Middle East is far from likely in our time. As you watch the colored waves of each dynasty advance, and then succumb to a later one, think of the turmoil and destruction which occurred -- largely through the clash of arms -- to the previous civilizations in their paths.

A similar graphic map at the same site traces the advances of the various religions throughout history. It is not as accurate (middle and southern Africa, for example, do not become wholly Christian in the twentieth century), but it is still useful in portraying how the fronts in the culture wars have advanced and retreated over the centuries:

Living on a planet whose very ability to carry life through its stages of evolution is due to its plate tectonics, we cannot escape the waves of destruction when they occur as part of the periodic shifts in the earth's mantle. But we are also tested by the shifting waves of culture, as divers religions, countries and empires go through their stages of advance and decline. Taking the larger perspective does not alleviate the immediate tragedies and suffering; that is the job of alms -- especially in this Lenten season, as we sacrifice in our own lives to be able to help others more. In thus celebrating our faith, and sharing our good fortune and bounty, we honor God's creation -- including the thin veneers on the surface, as well as the solid substance at our core.


  1. Allan - Heres something you might wish to post about the Fort Worth Diocese Litigation.

    The Dallas Court of Appeals has just held that "neutral principles of law" are to be applied in the property ownership context when dealing with a heirarchical church.

    In Retta v. Mekonen:

    The case is about the Eastern Orthodox church, which is hierarchical to be sure.

    While deciding that the court could not entangle itself in a "church membership" dispute:

    "However, the church's failure to follow its bylaws on a matter of internal governance is also a matter of internal church governance and ecclesiastical concerns, and the courts may not interfere with that decision. See Drevlow v. Lutheran Church, Mo. Synod, 991 F.2d 468, 461 (8th Cir. 1993); Smith v. N. Tex. Dist. Council of Assemblies of God & House of Grace, 02-05-00425-CV, 2006 WL 3438077, at *3 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth Nov. 30, 2006, no pet.) (mem. op.); Dean v. Alford, 994 S.W.2d 392, 395 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth 1999, no pet.)."

    The court however, also held that "neutral principles of law" were to be applied to determine property ownership:

    "More recently, the Texas Supreme Court has implied that the neutral-principles approach does not extend beyond the property-ownership context. See Westbrook, 231 S.W.3d at 398-99 (“But even if we were to expand the neutral-principles approach beyond the property ownership context . . . .”)."

    As we say in Texas, the rump diocese in Fort Worth is about to get a can of whoop-ass opened on it by the Fort Worth Court of Appeals.

  2. Mr. Haley, I appreciate this post...watching the longterm political and religious tsunamis was fascinating. Is there a map movie that shows how/when/where the various schools of secular/academic thought developed and rose over time to vaunt themselves against Christianity?

  3. While it is true religion has been involved in wars in the past, they can usually be traced to maniacs who manipulated religious fervour to gain land, slaves, or gold.

    Atheists rightfully point to the advances of science. But they fall silent when shown images of the victims of the wars of the last 100 years, fought not over religion but over land, gold, slaves and oil. What also fails to evoke their normal outbursts are the victims of nuclear bombs.

    These Hellish machines are designed to roast hundreds of thousands of people alive – men, women, children and infants – just because they live in another country. Atheists often point to the horrors of the medieval church. But a single such device in a modern city would create a million burnings at the stake, and leave countless survivors homeless, flayed alive by a boiling wind.