Predictions 2010/2011

Last year, I took note of Vox Day’s predictions for 2010 and noted the following:

Not sure it will get this bad by the end of next year–there will be more government-induced prop-ups that may mitigate the damage for a season–but I’d wager that Vox is closer to the truth than Krugman is.

In fairness to Vox, I didn’t quantify anything; I simply had a hunch that this year was going to be an otherwise flat economy propped up by government spending.

While Vox and Denninger were/are spot-on regarding the factors driving the economy–which is why they are absolutely correct in that there is no recovery and there has not been a recovery as yet–government spending managed to keep the economy floating.

How does this factor into 2011? No one really knows. But I know this much: if you lose your job, and then proceed to support your pre-unemployment lifestyle through credit cards, you had better get a new job before the credit lines get dry. Oh, and that new job had better be sufficient to cover your cost of living AND service the debt you piled up in your unemployment. Otherwise, you will be insolvent.

If creditors see excessive debt–and, trust me, they monitor these things–then your life can get ugly very fast. They can raise interest rates, making it more expensive for you to borrow money. If the situation is bad enough, they can cut off lines of credit. That spells default. When that happens, they can sue you and lay claim to your assets. Once you reach that point, the only way out is bankruptcy.

With sovereign nation-states, the dynamics are similar: you cannot live on borrowed money forever. At some point, you will run out of room to service your debts. Creditors will demand higher rates. Creditors may even refuse to lend more money.

Governments can and do run out of money. Governments can and do default on debt payments.

And when major columnists–such as Pat Buchanan–openly remark that America is on the path to default, which has NEVER happened, the situation is far worse than Bernanke and TurboTimmy want you to believe.

What am I predicting? Heregoes:

1. Unemployment (U-3) will exceed 11%. U-6 (which includes discouraged workers) will reach 20%.
2. Illinois will go Tango Uniform.
3. At least one major city will file for bankruptcy. I’m betting Detroit.
4. The layoffs of state and municipal workers will continue.
5. At least one major bank will go Tango Uniform.
6. The Dow will fall at least 10% for the year, 30% for the 4th quarter.
7. Oil will exceed $100 per barrel, before crashing in Q4 to about $80.
8. The current commodity bubble will pop.
9. Housing prices will fall 5%.

The Gestapo Are in Force

Irrespective of what you think of pilot Chris Liu’s decision to make a video showing terrible airport security standards, the federal reaction to his video is particularly disturbing.

Liu had been part of a federal security program allowing him to carry a gun in the cockpit. But after he posted the video, federal agents showed up at his house Dec. 2 to confiscate his weapon and suspend his Federal Flight Deck Officer credentials.

So let me get this straight. Because Liu made such security issues public, the federal government is stripping Liu of his ability to keep his passengers safe.

Effectively, they have reponded to Liu by saying, “F*** you!” to his passengers.

That would sum up my response to the TSA.

Are Christians Hoarders of Their Faith?

With my girls at their dad’s for eleven days, I’ve had time to think. The first few days were spent resting and just catching up with time – the first few weeks of December were crazy. Then came the very sad days of missing my babies. The last couple of days I’ve had much time and opportunity to think.

Yesterday my Husband and I spent the afternoon and evening with our new neighbors across the street. I doubt they are believers, but they welcomed us into their home, and we had a lot of fun talking and laughing together.

Last night we went to my Husband’s ex-wife’s home to pick up their son, my Step Son. In attendance were Ex-Wife, their son (my Step Son), Step Son’s older Half-Sister, Ex-Wife’s Boyfriend, Boyfriend’s 16 year old son, Ex-Wife’s Mother, Ex-Wife’s Brother, SIL, and their two, young daughters (about 1st and 3rd grade), Ex-Wife’s late sister’s Oldest son by her first marriage, and Ex-Wife’s late sister’s Youngest son by her second marriage. Then come in my Husband and myself. You kinda need a map to get all of that!

It was very hard not to have my girls with me, and I about lost it a few times. It was also hard watching these two little girls, about the same age difference as my two girls, because I don’t often see what it would look like if my Youngest did not have special needs. Last night I had a long time to see what that would look like. Much emotion stirred in this Momma’s heart.

But what surprised me the most was the unexpected reality that this melting pot of people accepted me into their “group,” and when I was divorced as a single mom, not one “church family” accepted me into their group. Not one family, intact or not, invited my girls and me to spend any holiday with them. Not one offered to invite us into their home for a shared meal. At that time about the only people I knew were intact, Christian, church families. Not once did any of those families invite my girls and me to spend a holiday or a meal with them, even though they all knew me, knew my girls, and knew our situation. Even though they all knew we were alone.

I went to sleep with a very heavy heart last night, unable to digest all of this. As I have thought some today, I wonder that Christians are not Hoarders of their faith and culture. We do not want our children becoming friends with kids from broken homes – truly, I totally get this. I struggled with this before my divorce. We have our family traditions. We have family to share with whom we haven’t seen in a long time. We don’t want to alter that.

When I, as a deep-faith-believer, look at intact, Christian, church-active families, as a now-rejected outsider, how do non-believers look at us? What do we offer that makes non-believers want what we have? that makes non-believers want to warm their hands and hearts in the warmth of our homes?

Sometimes I feel as though I can argue both sides of this. I have dear friends whose families are like this. One Thanksgiving my girls and I shared the holiday with a friend’s family, but I invited us. They were kind and gracious, and there were no young children, only older children.

We want to reach a dying world for Jesus Christ, we want to touch the hearts of those whose hearts are void of love and joy and full of sorrow … but what are we willing to give up to do so? What should we not be willing to give up? We need to protect the strength of our own families.

Do we, as believers, Hoard our faith in such a way no one else wants what we have?

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

I know this day isn’t perfect for many … is depressing for some … discouraging. I’m sincerely sorry.

May there be some place in your day where God gives you a glimpse of His love for you.

Today my Husband and I are walking across the street and sharing a Mexican-food Christmas meal with our new neighbors who moved here from out-of-state this past year due to a job. We’ll eat and play some games and get to know each other a bit better. My girls are with their dad. We’ll see my step-son later tonight.

Our day certainly is not “traditional,” but I pray it will be beautiful. May your day be beautiful, too.

Oh, and my Dear Husband, on a tweaking budget, got me a heated, neck-roll massager …. awwwwwww! Gotta love that man!

Supply and Demand

I don’t know anything about Matt Rossano, but his article, Sacred Brands: Consumerism as a Modern Religion, was brought to my attention. Some interesting quotes from his writing:

In a 2001 Financial Times article, the global advertising firm Young & Rubicam declared that “Brands are the new religion. People turn to them for meaning.” They went on to argue that the ad man is the equivalent of a modern missionary. 

Researchers have documented how Macintosh users bear an eerie resemblance to a religious cult: a tight-knit network of emotionally committed adherents, faith in a “savior” figure (Steve Jobs), and a generalized hostility toward an external “evil” (Microsoft, IBM, etc.).

I’m sympathetic to the view that humans will, either by design or default, end up worshipping some god, if by god we mean “that to which we willing offer service and sacrifice in exchange for a sense of meaning and purpose.”

I remain to be convinced that the world is a better place if increasing numbers of people bow at the altar of Gucci, Gap and Lexus rather than Jesus, Allah and Vishnu.

Thoughts?

Normality

For some reason, this year, I find myself not quite a joyous around this time as I normally am. I’m still settling into the new rhythm of married life. We had a theory for how we were going to approach the holidays and it’s kind of gotten blown to shreds in Round 1. (Or is this now Round 2?? Do I even count last year since we were newly married and just wanted to stay put after all of the wedding hoopla??)

Christmas is different this year. It’s not so much that it’s different, but of why it’s different.

Family is spread out all over the place. Part of that is just life in the 20th/21st century. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. Part of it is a bad thing. Divorce happened. There will never be a Christmas when everyone is all together.

I was excited for Christmas last year because it was my first Christmas when I was not going to have 3 or more separate Christmas celebrations. It was just going to be my husband & I. It was thrilling for many reasons.

I’m excited for Christmas this year, too. I’m also a little sad. Amir’s family is spread out all over the country. There will never be a Christmas when all of them are together.

This gets the wheels in my head turning. I have to think what would cross a person’s radar to want to splinter everyone up. Why would they not want to at least make a real effort to keep the family intact? Why desire the splintering?

Now, I’ll admit, I had/have it easy in that respect. Both of my biological parents are more or less in the same area. They never made an effort to move out of state. I’ve always been glad for this. Yet, there are the 3+ different Christmas celebrations to attend. Growing up, some years where as high 5. I got tons of presents, but I was going to 5 different places to celebrate Christmas.

Still, though, it’s frustrating. Hopefully, after a couple generations of Larijanis, our offspring will be able to have an “at-home” Christmas celebration. Family will (want to) gather together. It will a good time of reflecting on the past year, they can thank the Lord together for what has been, is and is to come.

Amir & I are quite used to fractured Christmas celebrations. It will be somewhat normal for our children too, as they will be with us as we travel together to visit different parts of the family. Hopefully, we can teach our kids that the fractured Christmas isn’t our goal and shouldn’t be theirs. It’s a result of the ancestral sin that, by God’s grace, we are granted repentance from.

Hopefully, our kids can give their kids something different than what they were given. Something along the lines of an in-tact Christmas. One big celebration for the whole family. It can be the start of something new.

Something that wouldn’t have been possible if not for the work of Christ.

Christmas Columns

As I’ve said before: I really have no dog in the “fight over Christmas”. Jesus wasn’t born in December, although I am cool with celebrating it then. But cross-dressing a Pagan holiday with Christian veneer doesn’t appeal to me. As far as I am concerned, Santa Claus is a fat child molester in a red suit.

(Fair disclosure: in the Larijani abode, we have lights–MrsLarijani did a fabulous job–and Christmas stockings, but no tree.)

That said, I get amused when groups like American Atheists waste money on brainless ads (“You KNOW it’s a myth/This season, celebrate REASON”), and when the Anti-Christian Litigation Union (ACLU) gets their panties in a bunch over Nativity Scenes. I similarly get amused when our national leaders totally miss the boat about the birth of Jesus–just as the powers that were missed it when He was born.

Even worse are the columnists–who should know better–who, even as they rail on Obama’s Christmas gaffes–also miss by an orbit or two.

Chuck Norris is probably not a bad guy. Truth be told, he and I probably agree on a number of things. That said, beating up Obama over his apparent inability to grasp the Gospel, strikes me as petty.

Also, in the spirit of intellectual honesty, even though I am a die-hard Reagan fan, I cannot say that Reagan totally got it right either, even though I’ll give him a very honorable mention by calling attention to the divinity of Jesus:

At this special time of year, we all renew our sense of wonder in recalling the story of the first Christmas in Bethlehem, nearly 2,000 year ago. Some celebrate Christmas as the birthday of a great and good philosopher and teacher. Others of us believe in the divinity of the child born in Bethlehem, that he was and is the promised Prince of Peace. … Like the shepherds and wise men of that first Christmas, we Americans have always tried to follow a higher light, a star, if you will. At lonely campfire vigils along the frontier, in the darkest days of the Great Depression, through war and peace, the twin beacons of faith and freedom have brightened the American sky. At times our footsteps may have faltered, but trusting in God’s help, we’ve never lost our way. … So, let this holiday season be for us a time of rededication. … Tonight, in millions of American homes, the glow of the Christmas tree is a reflection of the love [of] Jesus. … Let those candles remind us that these blessings bring with them a solid obligation, an obligation to the God who guides us … Christmas means so much because of one special child.

Where did Reagan get it wrong? Jesus’ idea of freedom is not the kind that governments deliver (which was the context of what Reagan was saying). Jesus even said it: “My kingdom is not of this world.” While I laud Reagan’s efforts to reach out on behalf of those oppressed by other regimes–unlike Obama, whose administration has yet to offer asylum to religious minorities who are persecuted in fascist nations–the “freedom” Jesus had in mind was freedom from sin, not necessarily freedom from government. The First Century Church prevailed and grew in spite of some of the worst governmental oppression in history. Christians in China have also recognized such dynamics.

Similarly, Herman Cain gets it wrong as he spins Jesus’ ministry into a political rant. In so doing, he is committing the same error that befell many Pharisees of Jesus’ time. They all wanted Jesus in their camp. They wanted Him to give them legitimacy. They wanted Him to support their side in the circle-jerk over which view of the Law was valid. They wanted Him to support their political views. They wanted Him to relieve their burdens so they could live their lives as they wanted.

Jesus gave them something better than that, but they were too blind to see it. In fact, the Disciples didn’t even “get it” until after the fact. Instead, they haggled over who was greater, over who was going to be in charge, and who could get access to Jesus. When Jesus wanted their support, they were snoozing. When the bad guys came for Jesus, the Disciples fled with Olympic-caliber speed.

We humans have the tendency to create God into our own image. That’s what Obama does; That’s what Cain does. Cain’s rant is in the same league as Obama’s spin-doctoring. It’s wrong when liberals do it; it’s wrong when conservatives do it.

In contrast, Vox Day gets it.