Fascinating it is, the parallels between President Donald J. Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Now, this is not to equate the two! President Trump has never been accused of ordering his political enemies killed (as Putin has).
But the similarities can be remarkable. Both, for example, court the major Christian movements, in Putin’s case, the Russian Orthodox Church, in Trump’s case, Christian evangelicals (and other conservatives). Interesting is that at the same time Trump has run into a bit of a problem with one evangelical faction (or at least, publication — Christianity Today), Putin is beginning to take heat from the Russian Orthodox Church, which is upset over what they see as his totalitarian crackdown (and use of religion) to tamp down protests. “While the institution of the Russian Orthodox Church remains broadly loyal to the country’s secular authorities, the Kremlin’s relations with some grassroots believers — once viewed as a bedrock of support for Putin — are increasingly tense,” notes a magazine. “Not only did Orthodox Christians make up a significant number of the scores of protesters who took to the streets in pro-democracy protests across Russia this year; many of them openly cited their faith as grounds for taking action.”
If you want to gauge the morality of the modern world, you can look at things such as its materialism, political oppression, persecution, charity, and abortion rates — but perhaps most tellingly, in the category of hedonism, its use of pornography. One website called Pornhub had (let this sink in) 42 billion visits during the past year. That breaks down to 115 million a day — more than Wal-Mart, Netflix, or Wikipedia (just behind Facebook and Twitter). More incredible still: the top searched item on Pornhub was “alien” (and in ET). Is bizarre the word for this, or perverse, perhaps bestial, or simply “alarming”?
Also alarming is the tremendous and growing division in America, which shows no sign of abating and in fact is deepening. It’s not pitchforks and torches quite yet, but some very inflammatory language (to say the least) has been used by those on the political “left” (one prominent actor, Robert DeNiro, recently said a bag of excrement should be thrown in the president’s face) while you get some fairly salty exchanges too from the “right,” and indications that soon, militias may explode onto the scene. Consider this news item from this week: “Matt Shea was 34 years old when he ran for the State Legislature in eastern Washington” and “began attracting the attention of law enforcement for his growing embrace of fringe ideologies and conspiracy theories. He networked with local militia groups, talked about plans to create a 51st state called Liberty and distributed to his closest followers a ‘Biblical Basis for War’ document that calls for the ‘surrender’ of those who favor abortion rights, same-sex marriage, “idolatry” and communism. “If they do not yield — kill all males,” it said. Ouch. Similar threats come from radical liberals, where even a newly elected congresswoman publicly used the mother——er word. Words are also violent (as well as vile). Have you noticed how acceptable scatological language is now during media broadcasts and political events? The crude terms for micturation and the derriere are all over, including in once staid publications. The f-word? That’s used nearly as much as the word “so.” Never mind shock-jocks, movies, and late-night “comedy.” Scream! Holler! Yell! It really accomplishes a lot, doesn’t it? Words can be forerunners to civil strife (and certainly sound nothing like Christianity.)
Said a Chicago doctor, Dr. Theodore Homa, who had a near-death experience during which he saw his entire life, “I even saw the effect of calling God’s Name in vain,” says Dr. Homa. “I saw how much that hurt Him. I saw the ripple effect. I did not have a full appreciation of the Holy Name of Jesus. I saw that I was not worthy to be with God.”
During the holidays, and of course on New year’s Eve, many can use a sobering up, and so is this said in the interest of sobriety. (At LaSalette in France the Blessed Mother said a chastisement was coming due to use of her Son’s Name in vain; it turned out to be the French-Irish potato famine not a year later.)
Back to Russia: will it return to being a major threat, along with China (and North Korea)? If so, and especially if these powers ever move, militarily, against the U.S., it would be in line with a good number of prophecies. Said General Jack Keane Monday, “Russia and China, even though they voted for the [United Nations] resolutions three times, have never abided by them. … We’ve got to sanction China, sanction their banks … the firms involved. The Russians, we can stop them, we can stop them cold and we should be doing that.” Earlier this month, the North Korean foreign ministry warned that Washington would decide what “Christmas gift” it would receive from Pyongyang if the United States failed to change its “hostile policies” on denuclearization before the end of the year, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency.
It is a time not just of “the great deception” but “great deceptions,” plural.
Pray this coming year through the year that you have not been deceived in any walk (or talk) of life.