Thursday, May 28, 2020

Pestilence

U.S. COVID-19 death toll surpasses 100,000 milestone - UPI.com
UPI reports: "The death toll from COVID-19 in the United States surpassed 100,000 people as of Wednesday afternoon. The United States has the world's highest death toll, with 100,271 connected to the virus and also has the greatest number of confirmed cases at 1,697,459, according to figures by Johns Hopkins University."

What about the rest of the world? The New York Times reports: "Outbreaks have accelerated especially sharply in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, with caseloads doubling in some countries about every two weeks. On Tuesday, the World Health Organization said it considered the Americas to be the new epicenter of the pandemic. And although much of the Middle East seemed to avert early catastrophe even as the virus ravaged Iran, case counts have lately been swelling in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates."

Comment: While there are those who seek to make this a political issue to divide people, this remains primarily a threat to public health and welfare. Most people I know take this seriously and are doing what they can to stop the spread of the virus. 

Friday, May 01, 2020

Some Thoughts on the COVID-19 Era

Sorry for that lack of posts of late. Like many of you, I've just been overwhelmed with the pace of events. When I started this blog years ago I would carefully search the news of the day for reports that I considered to be of prophetic importance. It was like finding a needle in a haystack. Now, of course, we are living in a deluge and, I suppose, that's a sign in itself. So, this new coronavirus era, is it important from a BP-perspective? Here are my thoughts.

First, in very general terms, fearsome events and outbreaks tend to cause people to reflect on their own mortality. This means millions of people have been set on a spiritual path and perhaps on the road to salvation. It was documented that after 9/11 the churches in America were filled. I bet the same is true now for the virtual attendance of online church services.

Second, the outbreak may be causing a fundamental change in our use of mobile payments and other form of financial technology. There is now a great emphasis on paying with mobile apps rather than handling currency (that could be contaminated) and even though many countries in the world (particularly in Asia and Europe) are further along than we are in the States, we are quickly catching up. In my own life, I've been using Apple Pay now more than ever. We may be closer than ever to a cashless society.


Third, I think the outbreak has also revealed the emptiness of our fears of global government. It's just not there. As has been well documented, the UN's World Health Organization (WHO) had been co-opted by one member country (China) and failed in their obligation to the rest of the members. The UN has no coercive power and can't tell member countries what to do, so governments were left on their own decide how to fight the virus. Some did well and others did not. We are still learning the lessons that need to be learned from those experiments. As for the United States, under Trump's leadership, the U.S. dropped the ball. Not only could we not even care for our own citizens we could not offer the leadership the world expected from us. There were no grand plans from the U.S. for a coordinated global response to this virus. It was not a good showing for America. So, most countries of the world were left on their own and that lack of central authority and leadership is, I think, one of the big takeaways of this outbreak. There is a vacuum of leadership in the world right now and I can't help but wonder if that is because the AC is waiting in the wings?

Finally, there is one big trend I think we need to keep a close eye on, and that is how this outbreak has strengthened the powers of the surveillance state. People living in oppressive countries have been aware of this for some time, but we in the West are just starting to wake up to what it means to live in a tech powered surveillance state where our every move is monitored by computer networks and cameras. It's all in the name of health, of course, but still, it's real. Google and Apple are working on apps that will help in contact tracing (by using Bluetooth to monitor movement). Some places are installing infrared cameras to track temperature from a distance. Countries are talking about issuing "immunity passports" that would enable people to freely travel and get verified for work and public spaces. I think they are debating this in the UK and moving forward with it in Chile and now that  it's on the international agenda, it's an idea that will never go away. Will the future be back to the past, "papers please," a demand from authorities at any time and any place?

For Further Reading

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Pestilence

How Humans Will Fight Back After the Wuhan Virus Outbreak | Time
Time reports: "The emergence of a powerful new infectious virus for which there is (as yet) no vaccine should scare us, of course. But at the same time, humans are better equipped to fight these kinds of outbreaks than ever before. New technologies, specifically ones that make possible the sequencing of any living thing’s genetic blueprint, are finally giving us a meaningful advantage over microbes."

Comment: Like most of you I've read a lot of news about the COVID-19 and I've been wondering what is appropriate to post here, since I'm sure not only are you reading most of the headlines as well but that the situation is so fluid that by the time I'm ready to make a blog post the headlines have moved on. So, here is something different. It's a more general look at how humans can adapt to cope with emerging diseases. 

In terms of Bible prophecy,  the COVID-19 virus is an example of the normal course of history. Jesus said to expect wars, famines and pestilence in the course of history and not necessarily end-times prophetic. This new virus is certainly far less severe than the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 or the plague in the Middle Ages, so we can say with confidence that it could have been worse. I think what is different now is global communications and social media highlighting and amplifying fear. It becomes a cycle that feeds on itself. Panic perpetuates panic.The once thing we can safely say is that this is not the last pandemic human society will have to deal with.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Pestilence

WHO declares COVID-19 pandemic, alarmed by inaction - UPI.com
UPI reports: "The World Health Organization characterized the coronavirus outbreak as a global pandemic on Wednesday, as new cases spiked in Iran, Italy and other locations. [...] There were more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries as of Wednesday, with near 4,300 deaths worldwide."

Comment: It's taken a while to reach this milestone but here it is. The COVID-19 virus is now a pandemic. The medical community have tried and true methods for containing the virus but it's not clear if politicians can follow advice and act prudently to protect public health.  Praying for wisdom and goodwill to prevail among leaders everywhere.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Covenant With Many

Trump leaps into Middle East fray with peace plan that Palestinians denounce - Reuters
Reuters reports: "U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday proposed creating a Palestinian state as part of a Middle East peace plan, drawing Palestinian condemnation for imposing strict conditions and agreeing to let Israel maintain control of long-contested West Bank settlements."

Comment: Before this peace plan was announced, the Palestinians rejected it. Can you imagine? I think it's pretty clear they are not interested in peace. I've actually been convinced of this for some time. When they rejected Bill Clinton's peace plan in 2000 (a very generous plan) it became clear that the Palestinians did not want peace with Israel, they wanted peace without Israel.  Nothing has changed in the intervening years to convince me otherwise. Thank you President Trump, you tried. Now it's time for Mideast peace to return to the back burner and for life to go on as usual until the appointed time.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Covenant With Many

Trump's Mideast peace plan will be 'historic': Netanyahu
AFP reports: "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday said he expected US President Donald Trump's peace plan for the Middle East to be 'historic' ahead of a trip to Washington. [...] Trump on Thursday said he will release his long-delayed plan before meeting Netanyahu in Washington. 'It's a great plan. It's a plan that really would work,' Trump said."

Comment: Every American president in recent history has released a Mideast peace plan and now it's Trump's turn.  What can Trump do that would be any different than his predecessors? Judging by his behavior, the answer would seem to be, a lot. Can't wait to read the details of this new plan for bringing peace to the Middle East.

Pestilence

Factbox: Latest on the coronavirus spreading in China and beyond - Reuters
Reuters reports: "The coronavirus outbreak that began in the central Chinese city of Wuhan has killed 42 people in China and infected more than 1,300 globally, most of them in China. The virus has caused alarm because it is still too early to know how dangerous it is and how easily it spreads between people. And because it is new, humans have not been able to build any immunity to it."]

Ancient never-before-seen viruses discovered locked up in Tibetan glacier | Live Science Live Science reports: "For the past 15,000 years, a glacier on the northwestern Tibetan Plateau of China has hosted a party for some unusual guests: an ensemble of frozen viruses, many of them unknown to modern science. Scientists recently broke up this party after taking a look at two ice cores from this Tibetan glacier, revealing the existence of 28 never-before-seen virus groups."

Comment: Two reports that tell us something very important. New virus strains are dangerous because we don't have immunity to them. But there are also OLD viruses locked in the ice that we also don't have immunity to and those viruses may be released into the environment as the ice melts. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Pestilence

CDC confirms first case of coronavirus in Seattle - UPI.com
UPI reports: "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday confirmed the United States' first case of coronavirus in a traveler who returned from China."

Comment: This is a worrisome development. With modern travel it is likely that this outbreak could spread very quickly. 

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Earthquakes

6-magnitude aftershock rattles Puerto Rico - UPI.com
UPI reports: "A magnitude-6 aftershock rattled Puerto Rico on Saturday morning, days after temblors caused widespread damage and power outages on the island, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The earthquake was one of dozens to shake the U.S. territory this week, beginning with a 5.8-magnitude earthquake Monday and a stronger 6.4-magnitude one Tuesday."

Comment: Praying for the people on the island, for their faith and resiliency. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Merry Christmas




I'm off for my holiday break and wanted to wish you all a happy and joyous Christmas. I know that the news we link to here is often grim but I'm sure that most of you who visit this site are Christians who understand that beyond the headlines we know that God is sovereign and always in control. We know that this effort to be watchful has a purpose and a focus, and that focus is on Jesus Christ.

We watch the signs of His return, but this season is all about the First Coming and not the Second Coming, so as we turn to our families and friends to celebrate the holidays we offer thanks and praise to God and above all, celebrate Jesus as the reason for the season. I'd like to leave you with the lyrics to one of my favorite holiday carols. I like this one because the words share the Good News of salvation.  Merry Christmas!

Hark the Herald Angels Sing
lyrics by Charles Wesley

Hark the herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled"
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
"Christ is born in Bethlehem"
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Christ by highest heav'n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin's womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris'n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"