Slouching Away From Prosperity (Part 2)

[Dateline: 24 November 2008]

In Part 1 of this evolving series of essays I wrote about the deleterious effect that our current economic crisis and continuing decline may have on the big business of NASCAR and other professional sports. That essay had some tongue-in-cheek elements but this one does not. This is pure seriousness.

I’ve read that the average stock market investor has lost half the value of his portfolio in the recent stock market plunge. A man I work with, who has faithfully saved for years, and invested in stocks, admits to losing $250,000 this year, thus far. I have not lost so much. That’s because I don’t have so much. But if I did, I still wouldn’t have lost it because I wouldn’t have had it in the stock market.

People seem surprised that this economic downturn happened so fast and so seriously. Everyone from Alan Greenspan, to small business owners, to factory workers are expressing shock and awe at the sorry financial situation our country is in.

But why are they so surprised? I'm not surprised. A lot of people aren't surprised. It was no secret that the economy had some serious underlying flaws. It was no secret that we were due for a collapse of some sort. Even I, a relative financial ignoramus, knew that prosperity could not continue indefinitely, that trouble was soon to be, and that it would be significant.

All anyone had to do was read Bill Bonner’s free daily e-mail newsletter, “The Daily Reckoning,” to see that “Mr. Market” was due for a significant correction; that the whole interconnected, global house of cards was going to come down. And Bonner was just one of many voices in the wilderness, sounding the contrarian alarm.

I can recall a discussion with some coworkers a few years ago in which I asserted that the stock market was not a safe place to put one’s money. They laughed at that. They told me they had made a lot of money in the stock market. They said it could go down a lot and they would still be ahead. They told me that the stock market has always proven to be a very good investment over the long run.

I replied that, historically speaking, the stock market could go way down and stay there for years. What if it went down when they needed the money? I explained that the massive Baby Boomer generation was buying most of the stocks, that the stock market is, to a significant degree, driven by supply and demand. The demand for these stocks will not be so high when the Baby Boomer generation starts selling off. I told them that stock market profits, as long as they remain in the stock market, are something of an illusion; they can disappear as fast as they appeared. And I told them they didn’t have any idea what they were doing. Very few people really understand the stock market.

I was, of course, dismissed as a Doom&Gloomer. Now that the market is sinking like a rock, and the credit crisis is upon us, everyone is a Doom&Gloomer. The difference is that I still have all my money and they don’t.

But I’m not gloating. Really, I’m not. That’s because I’m persuaded that, before long, we are all going to suffer the significant consequences of an economy that is very likely only in the beginning stages of collapse.

What’s next? I sure don’t know. I’m no expert. I’m no prophet. But when I look at the big picture, with historical precedent in mind, the possibilities come into focus a little better, and it gets kind of frightening. That said, there are a couple of possible scenarios.

But before I talk about them, I want to say that these kinds of events can happen very quickly, as we’ve seen in the past couple of months. Look at Iceland. Up to a couple months ago, Iceland was a prosperous country. Their economy unraveled in a few days. Now the country has had to get emergency loans from the International Monetary Fund. It came apart in a matter of days.

Right now our American government is, as you well know, spending money like there is no tomorrow. It is bailing out private businesses with hundreds of billions of dollars that it doesn’t have. Under the Obama presidency government spending is sure to increase significantly. Where is the money coming from? It is borrowed. Who are we borrowing from? You know the answer as well as I do. The money comes from foreign investors.

Those foreign investors are not stupid. They will not invest their money in the debt of this country forever. There is some evidence to suggest that foreign investors are already putting on the brakes. Whatever the case, how will America pay back the debt, plus interest? We are not the rich industrial nation we once were. It is doubtful that we will ever pay off the debt.

The only “solution” to the problem would appear to be to print more money. That amounts to inflation. The more paper dollars in circulation, the less they are worth. Inflation is a devious way for governments to extract wealth from the masses. If inflation gets out of control, that could be a nightmare for America.

But there is another, possibly even worse, danger. At some point, it seems likely that American dollars will no longer be accepted as the reserve currency of the world. If, because of it’s unreliability and instability, the dollar is discarded, and another currency is adopted, that could well be the deathblow to our American economy, not to mention American hegemony.

We are not immune to experiencing a prolonged economic downturn equal to or greater than the Great Depression. Fact is, for the first time in the 79 years since 1929, America is in such dire financial shape that some who know far more about economics than I are suggesting we could be on the brink of a very long period of depressed economic activity; that we are on the brink of a Greater Depression.

While economic events can happen very quickly, the ramifications of those events on the masses of people can be somewhat slow to materialize. This is how it happened in the Great Depression. The full effects of the stock market crash did not hit most people until many months later. It is entirely possible that what we are now seeing in the news each day is nothing compared to what will happen as the full effects of the current crisis trickle down.

Some people are of the mind that a cartel of powerful people behind the scenes are manipulating all these events for their own wicked purposes. I suppose that is a possibility. I don’t know. All I know is that powerful forces and significant events are coming together in such a way that we are facing a form of reality that few people in this nation are prepared to handle.

Could it be that, one day soon, American money will, as a result of inflation, be so worthless that it is unable to purchase us the necessities of life? Or. could it be that, one day soon, the necessities of life will no longer be so plentiful or available for purchase in the stores of America? Answer: Yes, and Yes. Both outcomes are not only possible, they are probable, if current economic trends continue unabated to their logical conclusion.

Oh, there I go again... being a Doom&Gloomer. But,no, I’m being a realist when I write such things. I’m being a pragmatist. I’m being an activist. That is to say, I’m urging you to consider the situation, be decisive, and take action.

Right here is where I switch gears and sound my refrain. This is where I bring up Christian-agrarianism. It is the solution that I have been promoting here at this blog for the last 3-1/2 hears. I am now speaking to readers who are followers of Jesus Christ, and who take their Christianity seriously.

First and foremost, the economic downturn we are seeing is the physical consequence of spiritual disobedience, in the nation as a whole, and in those who call themselves Christians. We must, as individuals and families, humble ourselves, seek God’s face, confess our sins, repent, and pursue righteousness.

From there, we need to break our bonds with the Babylonian system that we live in and depend on for our sustenance. We must eliminate such dependencies. We must return to and focus upon a life of simplicity and separation. This is the clear Biblical mandate for God’s people (as I’ve discussed in other essays here). I’m not talking about some form of legalism. I’m talking about obedience and wisdom in a culture full of rebellion and foolishness.

Simplicity and separation calls for reducing our needs and wants, eliminating debt, growing our own food, preserving the harvest, homecooked meals, and working with our own hands to provide for ourselves apart from the goods of the industrial culture.

For many Christians, simplicity and separation may mean selling a large and comfortable home so they can move to a far more humble setting. To pursue this way of life is to pursue deprivation and hardship. Separation from Babylon is not easy.

Few who call themselves Christians in today’s culture will understand or agree with those last three paragraphs. What I am saying is so contrary to what they have known and what they desire for themselves and their children. Clearly, not all Christians will hear the call to this kind of life. But the calling is there.

The physical objective is to be able to provide for yourself and your family in such a way that, were money to become worthless, or were the stores shelves to become bare, you could still sustain your quality of life.

Some people define that kind of objective as “survivalism.” But I see survivalism as a temporary expedient, something to sustain life until the crisis passes. On the other hand, Christian-agrarianism is a lifestyle for a lifetime, and for generations to follow. It is the kind of lifestyle that my family has been pursuing for years. It is a full, active, healthy, satisfying way of life. It is not a lifestyle that revolves around the acquisition of money and things and success as the world defines it. It is a life centered around faith, family, community, and the daily work of the family on a section of land.

As I have said in the past, I am not the best example of a Christian-agrarian. I am still connected to Babylon primarily through my daily job. But I and my family are making progress away from our worldly dependencies all the time. It is a process. And, as the economies of the world crumble, we see much more clearly the simple wisdom of this process.


Brenda said...

I agree with EVERYTHING you've written. I'm taking steps to come out of Babylon, but worry that it's not happening fast enough. The important thing, besides the physical preparation, is as you said, to humble ourselves and pray to the Lord, so that we can find refuge in Him. I appreciate your courage in speaking out like you have, since it is truth. Yet, sadly, many will ignore your warnings, just as they did Noah's. The more we separate from the "group think" of the world, and of the so-called Christian world, the more unpopular we will be. But then, it's not about being accepted by the world, but it's about obedience and conformity to the mind of Christ. Thank you, Herrick, for your obedience in sounding the alarm.

2peasnapod said...

Many of the Christians that I personally know seem to have one of two attitudes.

The first is that it doesn't matter what happens, will be okay. "We survived the first depression, we'll do just fine through a second."

And I just have to shake my head. The folks who survived the depression were a wholly different caliber of people than most folks are today. The folks back then were accustomed already to providing their own food and doing without store boughten things. Folks today ... not so much. Even many of the so-called "survivalists" that write on the web are relying on store bought supplies for their "preps" (I shudder whenever I see that word), it's just like you say they are "prepping" for a short term event.

The second attitude that I seem to be running into more often lately is from folks who call themselves Christians. And it is the attitude that "I'm not going to do anything, the Lord will return before anything gets too bad."

And that attitude just really gets my goat. Which church was it that Paul upbraided in the NT for that attitude? I need to go look that up.

One of the reasons that upsets me so is because I was raised in that kind of attitude. The churches my mother took me to were very heavy in that kind of teaching, the Lord will return any moment!

Granted, he might. But he might not also. I had many discussions with my wife when we were younger, "Should we invest the time in this since the Lord's coming back so soon?" I kid you not. It is a very wrong attitude to have.

Anyway, thanks for writing.

Anonymous said...

Per 2peasinapod, the comment "I'm not going to do anything, the Lord will return before anything gets too bad." troubles me as well. It is a very industrialized and westernized way of thinking filled with pride. Can you imagine those poor persecuted Christians in China making such a statement? How about those persecuted Christians in Sudan, or the Christians in WWII Germany and Poland who were marched to the death camps? I can just see them all saying "I know things look bad but Jesus will rapture us out of here before it really gets bad." I guess we American Christians are more holy and blessed than they - a shameful thought! Truly the heathen mock Jesus because of the things so-called Christians say and do. ~Sonya

Doug said...

I know survivalism has been kind of poo-pooped here, but I encourage you to visit The editor, Jim Rawles, is a very conservative Christian. What he encourages his readers to pursue is essentially Christian agararianism. There's a particularly good post today about preparing for the coming collapse versus expecting manna to fall from heaven.

James said...

It is precisely because you are not a full-blown pioneer that I find your writing so helpful. I can see a man who is doing what he can in the place God has placed him. It encourages me to do the same. If you were a voice crying (literally) from the wilderness, I would say, "I can not go so far. My family could never walk that road." But since you are speaking for separation and simplicity from a place that my family CAN achieve, it gives hope. Thank you for being faithful with what you have, where you are.

Scott Terry said...

Just read Jim Rawles latest post and I do hope "2peasinapod" (Nick) reads it. Make sure you read the scriptural defense of armed defense, Nick :)

try2help said...

"Clearly, not all Christians will hear the call to this kind of life. But the calling is there."
Are you saying that not all are called to "this kind of life" or are you saying all are being called but most aren't listening?

Herrick Kimball said...

Hi Brenda-
Just do what you can as the Lord leads you and your family. Don't worry that its not happening for you as fast as you like. It's a step-by-step process. One step at a time. Thanks for your comment here.

I also grew up in the rapture theology church and the mentality profoundly affected my early years. I've blogged about it here somewhere in the archives.

I will visit the link you gave. I think we who have a mind to can learn from the survivalism blogs. Thank you.

Thanks for the positive feedback. I'm encouraged that you are encouraged.:-)

Good question. I think God is clearly calling a people out of the Babylonian system for His own purposes. I believe that He is speaking to individuals and families and showing them the wisdom of this way of life which I think is well summed up in the term, Christian-agrarianism.

Are all Christians hearing the same calling? Clearly not. God works in mysterious ways, His wonders to behold.

Perhaps it is akin to Gideon's army. Gideon raised an army of 32,000 men to fight the Midianites. But God only needed 300. All were God's people. But he used the 300 for a special purpose.

All I know is that I feel called to live this way because the Lord has made it clear to me that it is the Biblical imperative. That is the way I see it, and that is the calling that I am pursuing.

Other Christians will not see it the same way. That is fine. I have no control over that. I do not judge them in a negative way if they do not see things as I do. They are responsible to God for how they respond to His calling in their lives.

The Lord is sovereign. He leads and directs. The Christian-agrarian "movement" is not a man-centered, man-driven movement. It is a Christ-centered movement. Those who see and understand the wisdom of this way of life, are responsible to follow the call.

rob said...

There is a wall in Geneva and upon it is written the words, 'Post Tenebras Lux'. I find that we are looking at having to change that sign to 'Post Lux Tenebras'. Keep up the great work!

Jeff said...

The current problem that we are experiencing started in 1913 with the invention of the federal reserve system. The government gave the sole authority, given to them by the constitution, to print and coin money, to this newly created monster banking system. When our money was "backed" by the gold standard, our money and the value thereof was determined by the value of gold, which for the most part, the value of gold has stayed constant all these years. Any fiat money system to date has failed. Do to greed and "power with money" our country has been destroyed from within. What needs to be done, is that the federal reserve system needs to be shut down some how, some way. Our monetary system needs to be put back on the gold standard. To prove that gold has stayed constant I have been told that back at the turn of the century a brand new suit could be bought with a one ounce gold piece. Today you can still by a top of the line men's suit for a one ounce gold piece. Inflation is not prices going up, it is really the buying power of the federal reserve note has gone way way down.
Anyone interested in how money comes into existance and how the money system works needs to read and research Byron Dale. Here is his website. He puts the "money" issue in plain English so laymen like myself can understand it.

And yes, I believe the sole reason for all of this is we as a nation, we as individuals have turned from Almighty God and Jesus Christ. We have no morals, holy convictions, and personal responsibilities anymore.

Kenneth said...

I truly applaud your zeal of living for everything that God asks of us. It is a journey of purification of character that few will find there way to. Jesus promised that our walk with Him would be fraught with trial and persecution...not abundance and decadence, at least not in this world. Satan has deceived the world and most are happy to go along for the ride... sad, they really think they can have there Babylonian cake and attain eternity too.
I do have a question for Herrick, but it also applies to all those that purport to be obedient to the Fathers will. Do you follow the Ten Commandments as God wrote them with His finger in stone, or have you succumbed to Babylonian tradition of worship on the venerable day of the sun. I ask this, because I believe with every faculty that God blessed me with, that Sabbath worship is one of the cornerstones of obedience and will be a deciding factor of divine loyalty in the near future. I welcome you comments as to why you worship God on the day you do...

Ohiobenz said...

For those who read their Bibles - this nation is prophecied to fall far further than the past Great Depression into a time of trouble such as we have never seen before. I believe that time has started - Jacob's Trouble has begun! Eze 5:11-17, 7:10-27 Our financial and economic collapse will reverberate throughout all economies and cause Europe to rise to a power far greater than us. The Euro is already proving to be stronger than the USD.
The closer we get to the bottom, the more evident it will become that unless we rely on His hand to save us - we will not be among the survivors - regardless of our skills or knowledge. When we read the percentages of survivors who will come out after that Great and Dreadful Day of the Lord - it should make the hair stand up on the back of our neck!
The GOOD news is that it will all end well and there is a hope for mankind Isa 40:3-11, Isa 12

Gary Maske said...

Paul warned the church in Thessalonica (see 2 Thes.3) to separate ("withdraw yourselves") from disorderly men--those who believed that the Day of the Lord was at hand and that they thus didn't need to work. These men and women advocated and evidently practiced "holing up." However they were not "holing up" due to a belief in the imminence of the Rapture but because they thought they were experiencing the Day of the Lord.

"The Day of the Lord" is the time of judgment for the world. It is when our Lord comes back to take that which is rightly His. In order to do that He must first destroy Babylon--the godless, world civilization. "Great tribulation" is another name for "Day of the Lord." Or, perhaps, "Day of the Lord" is the time when Jesus Christ makes himself visible to the nations at the end of the great tribulation, at which time the nations are judged. Either way the Day of the Lord is NOT the time when Christ comes for His saints. They are two distinct events.

The same apostle who warned the Thessalonians against disorderly men also encouraged them that the return of the Lord was imminent. Paul said, "We which are alive and remain shall be caught up with (the dead in Christ) in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." 1 Thes.4:17.

According to what I've read in other posts here, it seems as if people are associating the "hole up" mentality with belief in the Rapture and not with the belief that we are in the Day of the Lord. But that's not what Paul warned the Thessalonians against. Paul taught both the Rapture and the Day of the Lord, but he warned the Thessalonians against "holing up" in belief that the latter was at hand.

The obvious reason for Paul's warning was that the church will not be on earth during the Day of the Lord. You don't "hole up" for something when you're not going to be here to experience the event.

Some people say "the Rapture" isn't in the New Testament. That's like saying there is no Trinity because "Trinity" doesn't appear in the Bible. The Rapture is assuredly in the New Testament. "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed" (1 Cor.15:51) is very straightforward and unequivocal. And so are the passages in 1 and 2 Thessalonians.

"The Rapture" gets a bad rap because lots of Christians believe in it who are carnal, worldly, or immature in the faith. But the same is true of disbelievers in the Rapture. What does it prove? Nothing. I see no correlation between belief or disbelief in the Rapture and spiritual maturity. We do not grow to maturity simply by believing the basic truths of Scripture; but we cannot grow up in disbelief of these truths, either.

I am leery of Christians who base an argument on the fact that they formerly believed X but now believe Y, as if that proves anything. The only thing that matters is what the Bible says. We can grow in our faith or we can regress in it. True, God will finish the good work He begins in all believers; but that doesn't mean we can't regress in the faith. Our faith may, indeed, be shipwrecked, as was the faith of Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom Paul expelled from the church in order that they should learn not to blaspheme, by which is implied they promoted heretical doctrines.

I heard recently a local conservative radio commentator say he used to believe in the Rapture, but that when it didn't happen in the '80's like he thought Hal Lindsey was predicting, he stopped believing in it. This is a prime example of men following men. I don't believe in the Rapture because Hal Lindsey wrote about it. I believe in the Rapture because Paul wrote about it.

Another way sound doctrine is deprecated is by associating it with "oppressive" or "dictatorial" churches. But virtually all the churches today are oppressive and dictatorial. They are mostly under the control of the clergy and not a biblical eldership. What the person is really saying is that he prefers the doctrines of a different kind of oppressive and dictatorial church. The fact that the Rapture is taught in an oppressive and dictatorial church does not make it untrue.

Then there are the Christians who base their belief or disbelief in the Rapture on the writings of esteemed theologians. But there are "esteemed theologians" on both sides of the ball, and they aren't going to settle the dispute. You will have to go to the Word yourselves, because YOU are ultimately responsible for your own theological growth, "building on the foundation that is Christ." We will be judged on the theological house we build. Yes, we will be judged on our theology.

My wife and six kids and I live in the country on three acres. Like Herrick, I work in the city, forty-three miles away. I would like to be free of working in the city, but it is a slow process. We are dedicated to living quiet lives and, indeed, the agrarian lifestyle. We have church in our house, refusing to participate in clericalistic churches that, among other things, emasculate the men and are harmful to families. We homeschool and always have. We raise some chickens, both broilers and layers, and are endeavoring to expand. We are enlarging our gardens and planting more fruit trees and shrubs. My wife and kids are working to develop various cottage industries. But we are far from the day when I can quit my job in the city. We are still, like most of you, in bondage to our wonderful civilization, and it is hard to extricate oneself.

We have lived in the country going on twelve years now. It was not easy getting there. That is because it is cheaper to live in the city, and we tried it. It didn’t work for us. I could walk to work, but the living was oppressive. We lived in a decent neighborhood, and yet there were drug dealers living next door. They did their business at night. It makes it harder to sleep.

We couldn’t find an affordable place in the country, so we moved to a small town. But since I expressed strong disapproval for the public schools (at the time I was getting ready to resist the authority of the state over my first school-aged child), we quickly became pariahs. In small towns, you know, you have to be strong supporters of the schools, or at least be quiet about them.

We looked again for a place in the country, but ended up in another small town, this one further away from Iowa City. Our experience was the same. If you have children and you don't participate in the churches or the schools in a community it is hard to connect. And how could it be otherwise, unless you "keep quiet?" The schools above all else are the sacred institutions in a small town. After all, they field football teams and provide all sorts of opportunity for hanging various (worldly) awards on our trophy children.

Finally we found a place in the country. Praise the Lord! Of course we have almost twenty years left on our mortgage, but we have survived our culture. The Lord has helped us all the way. Just as with the manna for the Israelites, He provides us enough for each day. From a "financial planning" standpoint, well, we will not make the cover of any of the "personal finance" magazines where you see a thirty-something man and a woman, two kids, and a dog in front of a nice city house, who have all their financial ducks in a row. (So they thought, until about October.)

We are a one-income family to this point. We have homeschooled our kids. If my wife had continued teaching in the public schools (she quit before our first child was born twenty years ago), I suppose we could have all our financial ducks in a row now, too. But we eschewed that corrupt lifestyle. Do I regret it? Not at all. We are gaining eternal benefits where most people are only serving mammon.

What does all this have to do with the Rapture? I am here to tell you it is possible to believe in the Rapture and at the same time endeavor to live a separated, agrarian lifestyle. We are not "holing up." We will plan and continue to plan until the Lord comes for us.

The statement "the Lord will take us out of here before things get too bad" is a watering down of Bible truth. Do not ascribe it to “Rapture theory.” The Lord will take His saints out before the tribulation of the world. But things can get pretty bad before that happens. Things are pretty bad, now, agreed? How much worse can they get before the Lord returns for His own? I have no idea. But I have this hope in the Lord's imminent return, and "every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." 1 John 3:3. The Bible plainly says anyone who has hope in the imminent return of the Lord purifies himself. We can purify ourselves.

I firmly believe that when Christ returns and assumes His throne, He will facilitate the reestablishment of farming as the predominant and preeminent occupation of men. (You notice I said “facilitate.” That is what good kings do--they enable their subjects to live free and godly.) We will have come full circle back to the Garden. There is a scriptural basis for my belief in that we know the swords will be beaten into plowshares. Men will not achieve this. The U.N. will not achieve this. Christ will achieve this. Perhaps the world will be covered with farms, small farms, healthy farms. No doubt there will be cities, but of a different quality than we see today.

And if that is what is going to be, why shouldn’t we aspire to it now?