A sign of a good op-ed newspaper column is its ability to reveal the magnitude of a problem in such a direct, easily understood manner that even the most cursory reading will be internalized, hopefully in a big way.

Here’s an exceptional example of what I’m talking about. On Monday, New York Times columnist Bob Herbert wrote, in part: “Toyota is paying the state (of California) back with the foulest form of ingratitude.

“The company is planning to shut down the assembly plant in Fremont, Calif., that makes Corollas and the Tacoma compact pickup. The plant closure will throw 4,700 experienced, highly skilled and dedicated employees onto the street during the worst job market since the Depression, and it will jeopardize nearly 20,000 other jobs around the state.

“It is a cold and irresponsible act on Toyota’s part, a decision that was not necessary from a business standpoint and that completely disregards the wave of human misery it is setting in motion.

“It will be a crushing economic blow if Toyota, as planned, high-tails it out of Fremont. Like the rest of the nation, California is struggling with the worst employment crisis since the 1930s. The NUMMI plant closure would be the single biggest layoff in the state since the start of the Great Recession in December 2007.

“Those who are trumpeting the alleged fact that the recession is over should consider that the unemployment rate in California in January (the last month for which complete statistics are available) was a mind-numbing 12.5 percent. That was the fifth worst in the nation. In eight California counties, the jobless rate — not the underemployment rate, mind you, but the official jobless rate — was higher than 20 percent. Those counties are suffering through a depression.

“The human toll behind such data is of no apparent interest to the fabulously wealthy Toyota operation.”

*****


Just this past Sunday, at a congregational luncheon following our morning church service, I sat next to a long-time member of my congregation who was surprised to hear I was still living on the lakefront on the North Side of Chicago.

This man, a native Chicagoan who I believe to be around the same age as me, informed me he and his wife were seriously considering moving to Montana or Idaho with the next year or two.

When I asked what would prompt him to leave a bustling major metropolis for the boonies, he responded something like: “We’re just at the start of a Great Depression. I foresee the cities becoming quite violent as the times get worse.”

*****

As the two of us talked, we recalled some of what Jordan had to say last summer (at our church’s annual family Bible conference) about how our nation is in the midst of a “winter cycle,” only the fifth since America’s inception. The others were marked by the American Revolution, the Civil War, the Great Depression and World War II. The events of 9/11 signify this current one.

“The Winter season is where sweeping, major political realignments take place; when the public’s mentality and mood changes dramatically,” Jordan said in one particular study I saved on cassette tape. “You can read about the Roaring ’20s because of Al Capone and Eliot Ness, but the old folks that lived then are pretty much unable to communicate to you now the mood of the country in the ’30s.

 

“You see the movies about the Dust Bowl—Henry Fonda in Grapes of Wrath, for example—and it gives you a little bit of the sense of it, but you come away from those movies almost thinking they’re not real because they don’t relate to the circumstances of your own life.

 

“But you can relate to counting money and you can look back at the New Deal and F.D.R. and all the things that happened there. You can see the economic changes and understand the same things are fixing to happen today.

 

“If a hurricane’s coming you can do one of a couple of things. You can get ready for it, batten down and put up the shingles, or you can NOT get ready. Or you can manage it. But you can’t stop it! It’s not a question of do we have the choice to stop the hurricane. You can stop a lot of things, but you can’t stop a hurricane.

 

“My point to you about these cycles is you’re not going to stop this stuff. This isn’t something that you, through political action, or prayer, or ministry action or whatever, are going to stop . . .  these things come because of everything that makes the seasons and winter is going to be winter, not summer or spring.

 

“Now, obviously, some are worse than others and one might not be as severe, but it’s still going to be winter. Well, this (current) one has the previous one as an example and the predictions that people are making economically . . .

 

“I commend to you the book The Fourth Turning by Strauss and Howe. I also commend the book by economist Harry S. Dent called, How to Survive the Coming Great Depression. Any of Dent’s books would be great. In the year 2000, he took this generational cycle, understanding what we’re talking about, and applied it to economics and wrote a book he called The Roaring 2000s, and said the decade of the 2000s are gonna be just like the decade of the ’20s.

 

“In 2000, he predicted the economic collapse of the fall of ’08. He predicts the current economic stresses won’t be over until 2019. Why? Because it took it that long before to get over it.

 

“He predicts there will be massive government intervention as there was back then. Unemployment back then was 25%; he’s predicting it will be 12% this time.

 

“What does all this mean? It means you can’t change it but you can plan for it. And what Dent does is he takes that kind of understanding and says, ‘Okay, understanding that this is what it was then—the massive infusement of government money, the massive infusement of government takeover of economy, the massive infusement of social welfare programs . . .

 

“By the way, in the ’30s, the big government takeover was what? What did the government do in the ’30s that still affects everybody? That’s where Social Security came from. ‘We’re going to take care of your retirement.’ Now what are they trying to take over? Healthcare.

 

“Now, you can beat your chest all you want to about how we’re not going to let it happen and you’ll be just like the birds back there who beat their chests and said, ‘We won’t let it happen!’ I’m sorry.

 

“So what do you do? Well, you either prepare for it or you don’t, and if you don’t, you know what happens? Whap, the hurricane wipes you out. If you do prepare, you live to fight another day.”

 

*****

 

Speaking specifically about the winter trends as they relate to fundamental Bible-believing Christians, Jordan said, “I know you’re interested in the politics of it as well as the economics, but the reality is most of your political views are on the outs anyway, even when they’re in.

 

“You see, there’s this myth of a ‘Christian Nation’ that we live in and there’s this myth that’s been sold to you to get your votes that says you can do something about the world we live in.

 

“What would a Christian nation look like in your mind? Sit down sometime and right down what it would look like. You say, ‘A world in which there’s no abortion. A world in which there’s no this or that.’ Then ask yourself what is God doing today. Is God today reclaiming nation states? ‘Boy, that’s a disappointment if when I go into the polls to vote He isn’t reclaiming nation states. My view of a Christian nation all of a sudden got a little different.’

 

“Where’s God working today? In the Believer. So if a nation’s going to reflect what God’s doing today, what would be the first thing available in a nation? Grace churches. Not that apostate religious system, but the sound churches where the Word of God is taught. Where God lives and work’s through His Word. It wouldn’t identify the political structure of the nation; it would identify the working of the Body of Christ.

 

“So, instead of trying to Christianize the government . . . You see, that’s what the reconstructionists, the ‘Kingdom Now’ people, dominion theologians like D. James Kennedy, Jim Dobson, Jerry Falwell—you just keep naming the leaders . . . That’s their doctrinal viewpoint. Jerry didn’t believe the Bible; he just used the Bible and was willing to allegorize the Bible just like D. James Kennedy or the guy on family radio, Harold Camping. And these guys are out reclaiming the power structure.

 

“If you got a desire to serve your community, go serve your community, but I say to you we’ve got a wonderful system: the American system of government. We’ve never been a Christian nation, but we’ve certainly been a nation that was formed by the fruit of the Protestant Reformation—the greatest spiritual enlightenment that’s ever hit the planet in the Dispensation of Grace.

 

“And the social impact of the Protestant Reformation helped to form a government based upon the concepts of freedom that are based upon the liberty that’s in Christ extended out into life. And you’re not afraid to live in a world that isn’t dominated by an oligarchy, but it’s left for individual Believers to function.”

 

*****

 

Jordan continues, “I understand the political stuff. We who are Americans are extremely fortunate to have a heritage. But it’s all over with, folks, I’m sorry. When the toothpaste is out of the tube, it’s gone. The foundations that built that are not in our country anymore.

 

“I have a book called The Next 100 Years. Boy, if you want to read something fun to read, this is the book! The author, George Friedman, predicts what’s going to happen for the next century and he says it’s impossible to predict the next century. He says, ‘You can’t even predict the next 20 years so I’m gonna do it anyway.’

 

“He says, ‘I’m gonna be wrong after 20 years. Absolutely, positively when my great-grandkids read this, they’re going to read it and say grandpa is wrong and I want them to know that I know I was going to be wrong but I’m going to be in the ball park.’

 

“Think about every twenty years. Twenty years ago you could have never predicted where we are today. Think about the last century. 1900. The capital of the world in 1900 was London. You don’t remember that, you weren’t there, but it was. Europe ruled the world. The European Empire controlled the whole planet basically. Peace, prosperity, trading—everything was wonderful.

 

“Twenty years later, Europe is in a shambles. Everything’s been torn apart by a war; a whole European continental war. World War I we call it, but then it was just called the world war. The Austro-Hungarian, the Russian, the German, the Ottoman Empire that had filled up the world was gone. Communism dominated Russia.

 

“America, that little pipsqueak across the pond, has sent a million men to Europe and they’ve gone home in that 20-year period. Germany is decimated and they set up an armistice so that it could never again threaten and we had a ‘war to end all wars.’ You’d have never thought about that in 1900.

 

“Fast forward to 1940. Uh, huh, a little bit different again. In 1920 you’d have never thought that Germany would have risen back to its heights, conquered France, and dominated Europe. The Communists in Russia are allies with Nazi Germany, and the little island nation of Britain stood alone against the tyranny of Communism and Fascism.

 

“And you thought, ‘Well, Germany’s won, the war’s over; they’re going to dominate Europe and the old European empire for the next century.’ So you fast forward from 1940 to 1960. Where’s Germany? It’s been crushed. Europe’s been divided with what Churchill called the ‘Iron Curtain.’ It descended across the continent. The European empires collapsed around the planet.

 

“The ‘Cold War’ between Russia and the United States is in full swing. In 1960, what was the great threat, if you remember? People building bomb shelters in their backyard. Nuclear war. And there’s a stalemate. You look east and there comes Red China across the horizon. You’d have never predicted any of that in 1940.

 

“So you come to 1960 and then fast forward another 20 years to 1980. Every 20 years, if you’re looking forward you would have never predicted the scenario that actually happened. So when you look at life now . . .

 

“People say, ‘Well the 20th century was The American Century and the 21st is The Asian Century.’ And in a lot of ways that’s going to be true, but let me encourage you about something. Don’t give up yet on America. The inherent power of the U.S. coupled with its geopolitical position make the U.S. the pivotal anchor for the 21st Century. That’s the thesis of (Friedman’s) book.

 

“He predicts, for example, that every wintertime there’s a war that is decisive. He tells you there are three places it might happen. One of them (Turkey) is right where God’s Book says there’s going to be a world war one time. It’s fascinating!

 

“When I first read that I went, ‘Oh, whoa, man, that’s interesting because, just like Strauss and Howe didn’t know anything about the Bible but were teaching what the Bible teaches about history, this guy doesn’t believe anything about the Bible but he’s teaching things that when you read them you say, ‘That’s exactly how the Scripture says the scenario’s gonna come about!’ I’m not saying that’s what’s going to happen; I’m just saying he said something that matched Scripture and he says you see it in the tea leaves.”

 

*****

 

Jordan continues, “When I say don’t give up on America, geopolitics is based on two things. No. 1 it’s based on Genesis 9, 10 and 11. People organize themselves into larger units than families. In Genesis 1-6, all the units are families. What you learn is that family structure, volition; marriage . . .  family is not enough to provide the safe, orderly maintenance of humanity and culture.

 

“So God wipes the slate clean, starts again, but when He starts again, He adds nationalism. Paul says in Acts 14, ‘God sets up the bounds of their habitations.’ The way He sets up the bounds of their habitation is through the character of a nation being determined to a great extent by its geographic boundaries.

 

“If you look at (Shorewood’s missionary in China) Bobby Barlow’s book Origin of the Races, you’ll see where he goes through Genesis 10 and how they divided up the nations, families, languages. Borders, languages and culture are basically what make up a nation and that’s exactly the foundation in Genesis 10.

 

“Geographic boundaries and a common language and the two things that will produce a common culture. Geopolitics is based upon the fact people instinctively organize themselves into bigger units than families—into communities and the homeowners associations and local towns—into nation states, and that they gain a characteristic based upon the geographic boundaries.

 

“Now what that has to with America is there is no nation on the planet like America or ever can be like America in that regard. There are two great oceans on the planet. The Atlantic and the Pacific. The only nation that has any potential to have a significantly large border on both oceans is us.

 

“You say, ‘Well, Canada can.’ Yeah, but who can get into Canada in the wintertime or would want to. You can get on the borders of Canada, but going TRANS-Canada isn’t easy for most of the year. You ever watch the show the Ice Truckers? Well they only run three months of the year. That’s why they make that ungodly amount of money.

 

“You say, ‘Well, South America.’ You ever wonder why Chile is such a little bitty country down the side? Look at the map. There’s some big mountains. You’re not going to go across South America down in the southern quarter of it because of the topography.

 

“When the settlers came from Europe to America and started going west and got about to the Mississippi and went a little further, they developed a concept called ‘Manifest Destiny’.

“It just made common sense to go all the way to the Pacific—‘Look at all that territory out there!’—and made no sense not to. And you say, ‘What happened when they got to the Rockies?’ They said, ‘Oh, that’s no big deal, if the antelope and the caribou can go through it we can too and they built two railroads across it and you say, ‘Wow, geez, how’d they do that?’ They used their creative genius but they KNEW.

 

“So what we have is the ability to dominate the Atlantic and the Pacific, and the nation that dominates the ‘sea lanes’ dominates the world. The only Asian nation that can potentially challenge us in the Pacific is China because they have an ever-growing navy that they stole from us. And they’re crafty.

 

“But listen, they are way behind, and while I believe China and India are THE two significant future 21st Century places in Asia . . .

 

(Editor’s note: To be continued . . .)