Thursday, May 27, 2010

Support the Free Speech About Science Act

Support the Free Speech About Science Act and restore freedom of health speech
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor
Thursday, May 27, 2010

(NaturalNews) The Alliance for Natural Health, a nonprofit organization committed to protecting access to natural and integrative medicine, has recently come up with a Congressional bill designed to stop government censorship of truthful, scientific health claims about natural foods and herbs, and restore free speech to natural health. The Free Speech About Science Act (FSAS), also known as HR 4913, will allow manufacturers and producers to reference peer-reviewed, scientific studies that highlight the health benefits of a particular food or herb that they grow or sell.

For too long, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have blatantly censored the truth about food, herbs and dietary supplements. These government agencies are supposed to be protecting public health and well-being, but they accomplish precisely the opposite by actively censoring the truth about natural products and working to keep the public ignorant about the health benefits of nutritional products. It's all part of the plan to prop up the profits of Big Pharma by eliminating the competition.

Current law restricts health claims to drugs only
The FDA says, ridiculously, that only pharmaceutical drugs are capable of preventing or treating disease. Even though this is scientifically false, the agency has structured the rules to categorize anything that treats or prevents disease as a drug. So if you eat walnuts, and those walnuts lower high cholesterol (which they do), the FDA declares your walnuts to be "drugs."

Existing law dictates that if anything is advertised as providing health benefits without the FDA's approval, it's automatically considered to be an "unapproved drug", even if it's a common, everyday food like walnuts, cherries, grapes or oranges.

Amazingly, references to peer-reviewed scientific studies are not allowed to be made by companies without permission from the FDA because the agency considers this to be an illegal health claim. So if you sell walnuts, and your website merely links to published scientific studies that describe the cholesterol-lowering benefits of walnuts, then you can be threatened, arrested, imprisoned and fined millions of dollars by the FDA for selling "unapproved drugs."

If you flee the country, you can be then be listed on INTERPOL as an international fugitive wanted for "drug offenses." This is exactly what happened to Greg Caton, who was recently kidnapped from Ecuador by U.S. agents working on behalf of the FDA (, brought back to the USA against his will, and sentenced to federal prison where he remains to this day.

The FDA thinks walnuts are drugs
If you're skeptical that what I'm saying here is true, take a look at the warning letter the FDA sent to Diamond Food, Inc. back in February concerning the health claims the company had been making about its walnuts.

Diamond Food, Inc., a large producer of nuts and nut products, had put some information on its website about the health benefits of walnuts (which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids). Some of this information included the following statements (all of which are verifiably true):

1) "Studies indicate that the omega-3 fatty acids found in walnuts may help lower cholesterol; protect against heart disease, stroke and some cancers; ease arthritis and other inflammatory diseases; and even fight depression and other mental illnesses."

2) "[O]mega-3 fatty acids inhibit tumor growth that is promoted by the acids found in other fats..."

3) "[I]n treating major depression, for example, omega-3s seem to work by making it easier for brain cell receptors to process mood-related signals from neighboring neurons."

4) "The omega-3s found in fish oil are thought to be responsible for the significantly lower incidence of breast cancer in Japanese women as compared to women in the United States."

All of these statements are true and have been demonstrated in various scientific studies about omega-3s. In fact, the University of Maryland has a complete reference page about the benefits of omega-3s that verifies the statements made by Diamond Food. Sixty-five different scientific studies are cited on that reference page alone!

But apparently the FDA has little concern with truth and science, because the agency wrote in its warning letter to Diamond that, "[b]ecause of these intended uses, your walnut products are drugs... they are not generally recognized as safe and effective for the above referenced conditions." It goes on to say that, "they may not be legally marketed with the above claims in the United States without an approved new drug application."

When all was said and done, Diamond was essentially coerced into removing virtually all the truthful information about the health benefits of walnuts from its website in order to stay in compliance with the FDA's ridiculous demands.

So when science discovers the amazing health-promoting and healing abilities of natural, whole foods, you are not allowed to actually tell people about it. If you do, those foods automatically become unapproved drugs, according to the FDA, and they are subject to seizure. This is how the FDA enforces nutritional ignorance across America. The agency is actually an ANTI-EDUCATION group of knowledge destroyers who want the American people to remain ignorant of the health benefits of natural foods and supplements.

FDA flip-flop on the walnut issue
What's interesting about this recent Diamond walnut case is that, back in 2004, the FDA (sort of) approved a request made on behalf of the California Walnut Commission to include information about the benefits of walnuts for lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of coronary heart disease.

The petition to the FDA included references to scientific information that backs these claims (which were largely rejected by the agency), but it did allow a modified version of the claim to be made that included the phrase "Supportive but not conclusive research shows...". Some other details included a reference to eating a diet low in saturated fat.

But in the Diamond case, the FDA decided to launch an all-out attack on true health claims about walnuts, despite comprehensive evidence that they are extremely beneficial to your health in many scientifically-proven ways.

The FDA does not believe in nutrition, period!
It's important to note here that the FDA believes there is no such thing as any food, vitamin, herb or supplement that has ANY beneficial effect on the human body. Sadly, this outrageously ridiculous and indefensible position has become the law of the land in the USA.

All foods are inert, the FDA claims. And the vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals in those foods have no effect on your body. This impossible belief is what the FDA continues to maintain as "scientific" fact.

But it's obvious to anyone with a couple of brain neurons still firing that the FDA's position is pure madness. Of course foods have beneficial health effects on the human body! Foods contain more than mere calories... they are storehouses of phytochemicals and nutrients that have medicinal effects on the body.

The FDA is good at giving lip service
It's important to note that a new drug application is not the only way certain health claims can be made. Similar to how the California Walnut Commission issued its request, producers and manufacturers can request permission from the FDA to make certain health claims about products, and the agency makes it sound as if it is more than willing to approve such claims as long as proper evidence is given. But in reality, no matter how much evidence is provided to back a set of claims, it's almost never enough for the FDA to actually approve them.

Omega-3s are one of the most studied nutrients in recent years, but the FDA apparently considers all this research useless. It hides behind all kinds of legal mumbo jumbo in defending its position to reject credible science about the health benefits of omega-3s. To anyone paying attention, it's becoming abundantly clear that the agency is completely irrational in the way it approaches the regulation of health claims and the definition of a "drug."

Based on its track record of how it handles truthful health claims, it's also clear that the FDA doesn't actually care about the truth. The agency has decided that only drugs prevent and treat disease, and that's the end of it. So only those companies that complete its expensive drug application process will be granted permission to make health claims -- and the only organizations with the funding to do this are drug companies!

It's sort of like the old floating witch test: Throw the suspected witch in a pond. If she floats, she's a witch and gets burned at the stake. If she sinks, she wasn't a witch... may she rest in peace after drowning. The test is rigged for failure by the "authorities." And yes, the FDA's assault on dietary supplements is a metaphorical witch hunt.

FDA threatened cherry growers in 2006
Of course this isn't the first time the FDA has gone on a witch hunt to stop health claims from being made about healing foods. Back in 2006, the FDA demanded that 29 companies cease making claims about the health benefits of cherries.

Of course all the claims were true and backed by scientific studies, but this didn't matter to the FDA or the FTC, which acts as the enforcement arm of the FDA. The agencies threatened to take action against these companies if they didn't comply with removing the health claims, indicating that they would even go so far as to seek a court order to seize the products that were in violation.

An interesting fact about this case is that many of the scientific studies that supported the health claims being made were funded by none other than the USDA, another arm of the U.S. federal government. Talk about a bureaucratic failure!

All of this seems almost too crazy to actually be true, but it's all quite real, I assure you. It happens all the time. Millions of taxpayer dollars are spent trying to reclassify food as drugs, censor truthful health claims and rid the market of safe, healthy items like raw dairy products. Meanwhile, drug companies are fraudulently marketing dangerous chemical medications that injure and kill millions of people every year around the world. But these chemicals are, of course, "generally recognized as safe and effective" by the FDA.

Cherries and walnuts, in other words, are dangerous. But statin drugs, antidepressants and rat poison blood thinners are all backed and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Frito-Lay snacks are 'heart healthy'
Like almost everything else the FDA does, there's a double standard in the enforcement of health claims. Over at the Frito-Lay website, there are a whole lot of ridiculous health claims being made about Frito-Lay snack foods that the FDA doesn't seem too concerned about.

Statements include the following, which are in reference to "how much good stuff goes into your favorite snack":

"Good stuff like potatoes, which naturally contain vitamin C and essential minerals. Or corn, one of the world's most popular grains, packed with Thiamin, vitamin B6, and phosphorus - all necessary for healthy bones, teeth, nerves and muscles."

Too bad all these ingredients are fried at really high temperatures and can't be considered "healthy" by any stretch of the imagination. The page goes on to claim that its frying oils are filled with "good fats" that help to lower cholesterol (seriously, I'm not making this up).

Somehow Frito-Lay, a division of PepsiCo, gets away with marketing its junk food snack products as healthy, making all kinds of ludicrous claims about them, but walnut and cherry growers are the target of FDA investigations about labeling fraud.

The message? Raw natural foods and non-processed fruits and nuts are bad for you, but fried snack foods, dead foods and processed foods are incredibly healthy. In opposition to all common sense, this is the position the FDA now maintains.

Things are seriously out of control.

The Life Extension Foundation has also written about the madness of this situation. Read "FDA Says Walnuts are Illegal Drugs" at:

The Free Speech About Science Act
There is some good news, though. My friends over at the Alliance for Natural Health have come up with a solution to take back our freedom to tell the truth about the health benefits of natural products. It's called the Free Speech About Science Act, or HR 4913.

You can read the entire legislative text of the bill at the following link:

The bill is only seven pages long, and you can read it fairly quickly if you want to. Here's a quick summary of its primary objectives with some added commentary:

1) Food producers and manufacturers, dietary supplement makers, and any others who sell or market natural health products will no longer be restricted from referencing and citing independent and respected scientific research that highlights the health benefits of natural products. (Current FDA guidelines are in violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibits government restrictions on free speech, even those that relate to natural health.)

2) Referencing valid research will no longer convert food and dietary supplements into "unapproved drugs" in the eyes of the FDA.

3) Only legitimate research may be referenced, and guidelines for what is considered legitimate include studies that are conducted in accordance with sound scientific principles (because natural health is not in opposition to science; science actually supports the healing properties of foods and supplements).

4) The FDA and FTC will still be permitted to go after fraudulent claims, but they will no longer be able to censor the truth about healing foods and supplements.

Help end FDA tyranny against food and supplement companies
As it currently stands, most Americans are unable to make responsible, informed lifestyle decisions about foods and supplements because truthful information is restricted by agencies like the FDA and FTC. Mainstream society is flooded with drug advertising making all sorts of false claims, but true claims about natural products are routinely censored.

It's time to put a stop to this FDA madness, and one way to go about that is to support the Free Speech About Science Act. Every American deserves access to the truth so that he or she can make informed lifestyle choices, and you can help make that happen by supporting this bill.

The Alliance for Natural Health has created a convenient legislative portal by which you can contact your Congressman and urge support for the bill.

To learn more about the bill itself, visit the following link:

In the mean time, keep on buying (and consuming) natural foods, medicinal herbs and truly natural supplements, because that's where the real medicine in our world is found. The FDA can try to censor the claims about healing foods, but they cannot stop your body's own innate healing process from being activated by those foods.

Eating healing foods, in other words, helps your body heal whether the FDA approves or not.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Flowers and Polka dots

For the latest Kit dress I dispensed with all the contrast except for the binding. I think it turned out well. I still need to make a belt or put a ribbon around her waist or buttons down the front. It needs a little something.



This jacket was so much fun to plan and very easy to sew. The only thing I don't love about it are the buttons. It was hard to decide what color considering the white polka dots. I picked black because of the contrast and there's black in the lining. I used Simplicity 3551 view D and added the buttons.



Friday, May 21, 2010

Foto Friday

Foto Friday IMG_2488

This week's challenge was ARCHITECTURE. There is no great stuff outside my door, so here is my first idea for the photo. I wanted to get a picture of the bird houses, but the rain kept me from it.


I really do like the color of our picnic tables! I suppose that a picnic table, no matter how pretty isn't really architecture, so here are a few other pictures taken in Hawaii.


Because of our trip to HI, I've decided that the open-air airport in Kona is my favorite airport. The breeze was relaxing. That whole atmosphere made the typical airport wait so enjoyable.


Here's the house we stayed in. Besides being very green, it was a great place to stay, much better than a hotel.



If I had been brave (which I wasn't) we'd have slept outside in the bed on the porch. But I am NOT a camper by any stretch of the imagination. It just looks inviting.


We had a family worship service right there under that gazebo on the Sunday morning we were there.

Head over to Renaissance to see what the others came up with.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A bit of spring

I'm the first to admit that I love winter. It's probably my favorite season, however one just does not see these things in winter. Here's to spring!


A couple years ago, or was it last year, we bought two blueberry bushes. Of course, they are no where near being bushes yet. In fact, they don't look like they've grown much in the last year. They're about 12-16 inches tall and still look very much like saplings. But this year one of them has blossoms! The birds might get to enjoy about five blueberries this summer. :) Someday I hope to get some myself.


While sitting at the kitchen table schooling I looked out the window to see three different birds at the feeder. I interrupted Amy's reading and asked her to get a picture. So if you're not a bird enthusiast the mourning love is on the left; the brown-headed cowbird is in the middle; the red-wing black bird is on the right.


This guy showed up in the middle of the school interruption. This time I practically ordered Amy to get a picture I was so excited. We've seen the rose-breasted grosbeak here before, but it's a rarity.


This is the second year to have geese at the pond. Yesterday there were three families (one with goslings, two without) visiting. They can be messy, but they're usually gone by summer when we'd be out there. Those little goslings are so fun to watch.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Amy's amazing raindrops

Bragging on my daughter a little. The pictures speak for themselves.



If you look closely at the above you'll see a reflection in the raindrop on the crabapple. The bigger drop is about 1/8th inch.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

This week's sewing

Since Kit is the newest member of our girls she is lacking in clothes. This week Amy picked out fabrics from the stash and cut out several patterns. There are more to go, but here are the first two.




The second one is one of Simplicity's newer patterns for doll clothes. Amy made the shrug and the pants, I made the brown shirt and the little dress (although how they can call a dress is beyond me--no one in their right mind would wear a dress that short!)



I'm also excited because I bought a Spencer Jacket e-pattern for dolls from Sense & Sensibility. They're new site is up and running now and through May 21st everything is 15% off. Now I can make jackets to go with the Regency dresses.

Foto Friday--A Day Late

Foto Friday IMG_2488

This week's challenge was SKY/CLOUDS. I'm a day late in getting any pictures for this and while they're not bad, they're not great.




There are other participants over at Renaissance

Thursday, May 13, 2010

This Momentary Marriage


I just finished reading John Piper's book This Momentary MarriageThis is probably the best book about marriage I've ever read.  The basic premise is that marriage is "the display of the covenant-keeping love between Jesus and his people."

There are 15 chapters:
1. Staying Married Is Not Mainly about Staying in Love
2. Naked and Not Ashamed
3. God's Showcase of Covenant-Keeping Grace
4. Forgiving and Forbearing
5. Pursuing Conformity to Christ in the Covenant
6. Lionhearted and Lamblike--The Christian Husband as Head: Foundations of Headship
7. Lionhearted and Lamblike--The Christian Husband as Head: What Does It Mean to Lead?
8. The Beautiful Faith of Fearless Submission
9. Single in Christ: A Name Better Than Sons and Daughters
10. Singleness, Marriage, and the Christian Virtue of Hospitality
11. Faith and Sex in Marriage
12. Marriage Is Meant for Making Children...Disciples of Jesus: How Absolute Is the Duty to Procreate?
13. Marriage Is Meant for Making Children...Disciples of Jesus: The Conquest of Anger in Father and Child
14. What God Has Joined Together, Let Not Man Separate: The Gospel and the Radical New Obedience
15. What God Has Joined Together, Let Not Man Separate: The Gospel and the Divorced

The main points from chapter one:
1. Marriage is God's doing.
2. Marriage is for God's glory.

From page 25, Staying not mainly about staying in love. It is about keeping covenant. "Till death do us part" or "As long as we both shall live" is a sacred covenant promise--the same kind Jesus made with his bride when he died for her. Therefore, what makes divorce and remarriage so horrific in God's eyes is not merely that it involves covenant-breaking to the spouse, but that it involves misrepresenting Christ and his covenant. Christ will never leave his wife. Ever. There may be times of painful distance and tragic backsliding on our part, but Christ keeps his covenant forever. Marriage is a display of that! That is the ultimate thing we can say about it. It puts the glory of Christ's covenant-keeping love on display.

Here's an excerpt from chapter three that was convicting to me. Page 46:
Colossians 3:12-13  Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

"As the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive" your spouse.  As the Lord "bears with" you, so you should bear with your spouse.  The Lord "bears with" us every day as we fall short of his will.  Indeed, the distance between what Christ expects of us and what we achieve is infinitely greater than the distance between what we expect of our spouse and what he or she achieves.  Christ always forgives more and endures more than we do.  Forgive as you have been forgiven.  Bear with as he bears with you.  This holds true whether you are married to a believer or an unbeliever.  Let the measure of God's grace to you in the cross of Christ be the measure of your grace to your spouse.

In the last chapter Piper deals with four questions regarding divorce and remarriage. I have to say that he deals with the issue with grace.
1. Does death end a marriage in such a way that it is legitimate for a spouse to remarry?
2. If a divorced person has already married again, should he or she leave the later marriage?
3. If an unbelieving spouse insists on leaving a believing spouse, what should the believing spouse do?
4. Are there no exceptions to the prohibitions of remarriage while the spouse is living?

I've just given a tiny taste of the book. I highly recommend it to anyone, single, married, divorced, remarried. Clicking on the link above will take you to the Desiring God website.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Regency for the dolls

I made two regency style dresses recently. Kit and Josefina are both modeling the first one. I used Josefina's Christmas dress pattern for both.






Amy put a Spencer jacket on Josefina.  I really like that look.  I'd like to make some of those.  This one came from American Girl.


I'm not sure why the back is rumpled like that, it looks fine in person.

Amy's got a whole line up of doll clothes she wants me to make.  :)  The next one she has cut out involves Winnie the Pooh.  

Friday, May 7, 2010

Foto Friday

Foto Friday IMG_2488

This week's challenge is Still Life. I took advantage of our friends' recent trip to Russia. They brought back these Matryoshkas to sell in order to raise funds to continue their ministry to Orphans in Eastern Europe.




You can read about their Little Loaves and Fishes Ministry here. I should also mention that Amy maintains their website. :)

Go see how others have photographe Still Life at Renaissance.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Fear Factor

Here's another encouraging article from last month's Tabletalk.

Fear Factor

by Keith Mathison

When I moved to central Florida in 1992, I was told that this part of the state had not been directly hit by a hurricane since the fifties. We were hit by the outer edges of some hurricanes and tropical storms on occasion, but nothing major. All of that changed in 2004 when this one small part of the state was hit by not one, but three strong hurricanes in the short space of six weeks. Hurricane Charley hit us the evening of August 13. Three weeks later we were hit by Hurricane Frances. Three weeks after that we were hit by Hurricane Jeanne. It was not a pleasant time to live in this part of Florida.

There was one side effect of the 2004 hurricane season that I probably should have expected but did not, and that was the effect it would have on our local meteorologists. As the 2005 hurricane season approached, some of them lost their minds. If I may be permitted a bit of hyperbole, the typical weather report that year could be paraphrased as such: “A tropical depression has formed off the coast of Africa. It is probably going to turn into a major hurricane. It is probably going to hit us, and we are probably all going to die.” They seemed to have one goal — to create a perpetual state of fear and anxiety. I stopped watching after a few weeks of this and asked my wife to let me know if and when we needed to board up the windows or evacuate.

Those who have watched or read the news over the last several years have likely noticed this tendency regardless of where you live. Watch the news long enough and a monologue begins to develop in your mind: “The economy will soon collapse, hampering our war against the terrorists who are on the verge of attacking us again. The only thing that may stop them is a pandemic of bird flu, swine flu, or the black plague, but this pandemic will only affect those of us who haven’t already succumbed to the dire effects of global warming. Stay tuned for a report on what popular food product has been shown to cause cancer in lab rats and chimpanzees.”

How do we deal with all of this media-induced paranoia, fear, and anxiety? An example from church history proves instructive. Saint Augustine (354–430) lived at a time of great fear and anxiety. His world changed dramatically in A.D. 410 when the barbarian Alaric entered Rome. This was the beginning of the end for the western half of the Roman Empire. As refugees fled to northern Africa, bringing all manner of ominous reports, Augustine was forced to deal with the issues as many were going so far as to blame the fall of Rome on Christianity. His classic work The City of God was written to respond to the crisis. One of my favorite quotes from this book addresses the fearfulness of his readers. He encourages Christians who are surrounded by danger on every side, saying: “Among the daily chances of this life every man on earth is threatened in the same way by innumerable deaths, and it is uncertain which of them will come to him. And so the question is whether it is better to suffer one in dying or to fear them all in living” (bk. 1, chap. 11). These are the words of one who trusts the sovereignty of God. Augustine knew there was no point in being constantly fearful about all of the dangers surrounding him. He knew God was in control and that not a single hair could fall from his head apart from God’s will.

The world is fearful and anxious, but it is fearful and anxious about the wrong things. The world is fearful about the economy. The world is fearful about retirement accounts. The world is fearful about natural disasters and man-made disasters. The world is fearful of terrorism, and the world is fearful of disease. The world, however, is not fearful of God. Jesus tells us that we are not to fear those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Instead we are to fear God who can destroy both (Matt. 10:28). The wrath of God makes all other objects of the world’s fears seem like nothing in comparison. A truly fearful thing is to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb. 10:31).

Those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ, however, have nothing to fear from man, or from anything else for that matter. Those who trust Christ have nothing to fear from hurricanes, diseases, economic collapse, war, famine, or even death. All of these things are under the control of our sovereign Father in heaven. Of course, this is easy enough for us to say, but we all too easily take our eyes off of God and dwell on the dangers surrounding us.

Is there anything we can do to fight worldly fear and anxiety? I believe Paul provides one important clue by contrasting fear with prayer. He writes: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6–7). A neglect of prayer almost always results in a corresponding rise in our fear and anxiety. This is no coincidence. Prayer is an act of faith in God, and faith in God leads to the peace of God.

From Ligonier Ministries and R.C. Sproul. © Tabletalk magazine. Website: Email: Toll free: 1-800-435-4343.

Monday, May 3, 2010

What we did...

We built.


We played with bubbles.


We talked to fish.


He rode.


She did the hula hoop. (I tried. Ha!)


We played games.


We played other games.


We watched. ("Can I watch something? Can I watch something?")


He slept.


They played music.


We also went to the grocery store, the fabric store, to Target, to the library and to church. I think dh even took the little man to McDonald's.

I sewed three skirts last week, two of which may be seen in the previous picture, although not well (C & K's). I made one for Amy also. Maybe someday I'll remember to post a pic of it.

The beginning of the story is that our friends went to Russia and left three of their children with us. You may read all about their trip at her blog. You may also read about it on the website.

Tonight I was listening to a talk about missions from the Sufficiency of Scripture conference.  One of the first things the man said was about the work of missions:  "You are either called to go down into the well or you are called to hold the rope for those who go down.  Either way there will be scars."  I hope we held on to that rope well for our friends. 

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Family Worship

Sunday nights at our house include family worship. Last week was special because we had three additions. Here's a brief video of part of the evening.

I was thrilled to have C & K add their talents. Their little brother got in on the action as well.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Unshakable Purposes of God

This article was encouraging to me, so I thought I'd share it here.

The Unshakable Purposes of God

by Douglas Kelly
Hebrews 12 approaches the vast changes to come in church and culture as orchestrated by God for the advancement of His kingdom of grace: “‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.’ This phrase, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of things that are shaken — that is, things that have been made — in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain” (vv. 26–27).
Periods of change, at times dizzying and violent, are providentially ordained by God for the advancement of His unchangeable, unshakeable kingdom. Changes in world culture, often accompanied by a literal “shaking down” of established institutions make way for something better, something that can never be shaken — the glorious reign of the crucified, risen Christ, of whom Isaiah says, “Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end” (Isa. 9:7).
As we attempt to keep our balance in the midst of the billowing surf of rapid change that is breaking upon us constantly, our attitude must be informed by the perspective of Hebrews 12 and Isaiah 9. With the serene plan of God in mind, we never have an excuse for panic or despair, even in the face of frightening shifts and disruptions in the economic and political systems where we have to live. This twenty-first century is, for instance, not an occasion for Christians to despair over the certainty of the Islamization of Europe. Philip Jenkins in God’s Continent argues that this grim scenario is very far from certain. Nor is it a time to wring our hands at the long-predicted, “inevitable” secularization of America. One could easily argue that current statistics actually point in another direction. A leading sociologist of southern American religion, Professor Samuel Hill, had predicted in the early 1960s (when he was my much-respected teacher) that evangelicalism in the south would be largely washed out by American secularism within the next thirty or forty years. But recently, in the 2000s, he has concluded that the precise opposite has happened: evangelical Christianity is even stronger in the southern states than it was forty years ago.
It is probable, though not yet certain, that the last 150 or so years have placed us among the four or five great “shakings down” of Western history since the incarnation of Christ some two thousand years ago. In AD 70, Jerusalem was shaken down by the Roman army, the old Jewish church-state system, which had in many ways hindered the expansion of the gospel, lost its major power. Its people were scattered, and many parts of the world were opened in a new way to the victorious mission of the Christian church.
Within four or five hundred years of Christian expansion, the powerful Roman Empire itself, which had once persecuted the church, and then nominally established Christianity, was also shaken down by its own corruption that made it impotent to stand against barbarian invasions. The downfall of a mighty centralized empire made way for the eventual rise of decentralized Christian kingdoms throughout much of eastern and especially western Europe. The central Roman state was no longer the key institution of Europe; it was for over a thousand years replaced by the Christian church. After the shaking down of Jerusalem, millions were brought to faith in Christ. After the shaking down of Rome, far more millions were won to Christ throughout Europe.
Alasdair MacIntyre, in his book After Virtue, identifies what happened: a world empire was functionally replaced by more local moral and civic communities: “A crucial turning point … occurred when men and women of good will turned aside from the task of shoring up the Roman imperium and ceased to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of that imperium. What they set themselves to achieve instead — often not recognizing fully what they were doing — was the construction of new forms of community within which the moral life could be sustained so that both morality and civility might survive the coming ages of barbarism and darkness” (p. 244).
Another massive shaking down of established institutions severely limited the control of western Europe by the Roman Catholic system after a thousand years of apparent hegemony. The Protestant Reformation burst forth like a tidal wave in Germany around 1520 and spread in nearly every direction. This shaking down came on the wings of religious revival, frequently accompanied by a resurgence of nationalism and hastened by the recent invention of printing. The gospel of salvation by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ came into ascendancy, causing the collapse in many lands of the medieval synthesis between sacramentalism and works-righteousness. The breaking of Roman Catholic unity wrought by earthly political structures within European Christendom made room for something truer to the gospel of Christ: a reformational return to the truths of Holy Scripture and the joyful deliverance of millions of souls from lack of assurance of salvation, which was part and parcel of the medieval penitential system.
I suspect that our Western culture is now once again in a time of massive shaking down “of things that can be shaken” in order that that which cannot be shaken may remain. The aftermaths of the earlier Industrial Revolution, followed by the more recent Information Revolution, and the radical unbelief of the various phases of the European Enlightenment have all come together and constituted the most severe challenge to Christianity in all its two-thousand-year pilgrimage. In addition to these emitters of deep shock waves, the early twenty-first century is in the beginnings of the breakdown of the once mighty nation state.
Ironically, it was rapid changes in technology that made possible the nation state, and it is also technology that is eroding its viability and relevance today. In Imagined Communities, Benedict Anderson maintains that the invention of printing and accurate timekeeping are what allowed the development of the modern nation state in the sixteenth century. But new technologies are leading to the irrelevance of the nation state. Dr. Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of Britain and the Commonwealth, shows us what is currently happening: “New forms of technology, especially information technology, fragment culture … [and] threaten the very existence of the nation state… . The new instantaneous global communication technologies are not marginal to how we live our lives. They affect the most fundamental ways in which we think, act and associate… . Information technology changes life systematically. It restructures consciousness; it transforms society… . The growth of computing, the modem, the mobile phone, the internet, email and satellite television will change life … . Ours is a transitional age” (The Home We Build Together [London: Continuum, 2007] 67–68).
What is perhaps most characteristic of what Alvin Tofler several years ago named as “future shock” is the sheer rapidity of the changes that make our heads swim. Tom Hayes and Michael S. Malone described this in a recent Wall Street Journal article as “The Ten-Year Century”: “Changes that used to take generations — economic cycles, cultural cycles, mass migrations, changes in the structures of families and institutions — now unfurl in a span of years.” They note that “when your computer hard drive becomes overwhelmed with too much information it is said to be fragmented — or “fragged.” Today, the rapid and unsettling pace of change has left us all more than a little, well, “fragged” (August 11, 2009, A17).
Yet the grand overarching viewpoint of Hebrews 12 on all change gives us hope. In all of history, instead of remaining “fragged” and bewildered, we may face the unknown future with glad confidence and strong hands to take advantage of new opportunities for the spread of the gospel and the renewal of the culture on a more biblical basis. In all of the shakedowns we have surveyed — from Jerusalem to Rome to the end of medieval Catholic dominance — after every collapse of authority structures, there has been the advancement of something generally more Christ-honoring and humanly edifying. Old structures were shaken down to make room for the growth of the kingdom of God in Christ. Why should it be any different with the shaking down of our secularized nation states today? Their dominance will be replaced by something more amenable to the spread of the good news of Jesus Christ and the liberation of millions of men and women by the power of the Holy Spirit. What it will look like, we do not yet know, but we do know who is in charge!
The otherwise exhausting changes comprised in “the ten-year century” present the church with remarkable opportunities to offer something better to a “fragged” society. Let us speak of only one. The church should employ a classical response to the technologically based shift from “word to picture,” which has shortened people’s attention spans to as little as three minutes. Why not once again require our children to memorize parts of Holy Scripture and the catechisms of the church? That will do wonders to increase their ability to comprehend and concentrate in every area of truth. By returning to that and to the other biblical elements of worship and service, the church will always be ahead of the curve — a refuge for the fragmented and a mighty instrument of redemption and renewal as she moves in to inhabit the ground being vacated by the shaking down of things that can be changed by He who cannot be shaken nor changed.

From Ligonier Ministries and R.C. Sproul. © Tabletalk magazine. Website: Email: Toll free: 1-800-435-4343.