The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports, “Suicide rates are climbing in nearly every demographic, age group and geographic area” in the United States (Time, June 7, 2018). Suicide deaths have increased by almost 30 percent since 1999 and “among all racial and ethnic groups and in every age range except adults older than 75.”
According to the World Health Organization, nearly one million people die globally each year from suicide and, tragically, suicide is the second-leading cause of death among those 15 to 29 years old. In the USA, suicide is the second-leading cause of death among those ages 10–34 (CDC). Many factors impact suicide rates, including depression, hopelessness, family tragedy, crisis, feeling isolated, illness, family history and substance abuse.
Yet, is there hope for the future? Absolutely! The prophet Isaiah wrote of a time, following Christ’s return, when the blind, the deaf and the lame will be healed, and the environment will be restored (Isaiah 35:5–7). This will be a time of great joy and hope for all (v. 10), when “the whole earth is at rest and quiet” (Isaiah 14:7). This will be a time when people will “dwell in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places” (Isaiah 32:18). Even the children will live at peace (Isaiah 54:13). Jesus Christ, as the Prince of Peace, will return and restore peace and quiet to the world, and there will be no more death, sorrow, crying or pain (Revelation 21:4)—and no more suicide! This will be a time when God’s Spirit of power, love and a sound mind will be poured out on all of humanity (2 Timothy 1:7; Joel 2:28). To learn more about this future time, and what people can do today to obtain more peace, watch “Do You Have Peace of Mind?”
Kirsten Powers is a self-declared liberal. She became alarmed by what she saw and responded by writing The Silencing: How the Left Is Killing Free Speech. Another liberal, Juan Williams, describes the book this way: “Kirsten Powers explodes and skewers ‘The Silencing’—the demonizing and repression of different views, especially conservative views. Here is a liberal calling out other supposedly liberal people who claim to believe in free speech but tell all who disagree with them to shut up.” Powers calls these speech censors illiberal, to distinguish them from true liberals.
Earlier this year, Dennis Prager explained to attendees at the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Nashville, Tennessee, the difference between liberal and leftist—pointing out that liberals promote open-mindedness and compassion, while leftists preach tolerance, but only for their causes. Left and right are often political terms, but extreme leftists—who have taken over many universities—are totalitarians who suppress opposition by whatever means are at their disposal. It is important for all of us to understand these differences. Whether we speak of leftists or illiberals, we are not attacking liberals or promoting conservatives. Leftists, Marxists and anarchists are making huge inroads into our culture. This is a dangerous turn for Western nations and a frightening attempt at totalitarian thought control.
University of Toronto psychology professor Jordan Peterson burst onto the public square by refusing to use so-called “alternative pronouns” or refer to a single individual as they, as some gender-confused individuals demand. “‘I’ve been watching the rise of political correctness on campuses basically since the early 1990s’…. It seemed to go away for a while, he said, then ‘over the last five years, it has come roaring back’” (Tom Spears. “How controversial U of T prof Jordan Peterson became a lightning rod.” Ottawa Citizen, March 10, 2017).
When Britain’s former mental health tsar Natasha Devon told the head teachers of the country’s leading girls’ schools that they should no longer refer to students as girls or ladies but should address them with gender-neutral terms, liberal-leaning Piers Morgan came unglued on Good Morning Britain: “‘It’s preposterous. Utterly preposterous. It’s over. No more boys, no more girls. No more men, no more women. The world is over,’ Morgan said. He added that People who ‘agree with this garbage’ were ‘virtue signalling clowns’” (Luke Kinsella. “UK teachers told to use gender-neutral pronouns.” News.com.au, November 23, 2017).
Ben Shapiro is a conservative voice decrying authoritarian thought control. The titles of three of his seven books explain why the most leftist universities attempt to shut him up: Brainwashed: How Universities Indoctrinate America’s Youth; Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences Americans; and Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV.
Articulate voices—both liberal and conservative—are pushing back, but biased media and courts seem to be, at this time, on the side of advancing behaviors and lifestyles contrary to biblical values and suppressing free speech.
A Dangerous Impact
Some erroneously think we at Tomorrow’s World spend too much time talking about political correctness, LGBT issues, “bathroom bills” and the like—that we should only focus on the Gospel as they view it. They are naive. The Gospel of the Kingdom of God calls for people to repent of behaviors that are contrary to God’s ways.
These issues should concern every morally sound person, and they affect our ability to preach the truth of the Bible to a chaotic world. Without freedom of speech, we cannot sound the alarm and call on people to repent. How right and wrong are defined is at the core of repentance.
The prophet Isaiah was instructed, “Cry aloud, spare not; lift up your voice like a trumpet; tell My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins” (Isaiah 58:1). God told Ezekiel, “I am sending you to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against Me… I am sending you to them and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’ As for them, whether they hear or whether they refuse… yet they will know that a prophet has been among them” (Ezekiel 2:3–5).
Jonah told Nineveh that destruction was on the way in 40 days. Their king called for a city-wide fast and commanded everyone to “turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands” (Jonah 3:8). God responded to such heart-felt repentance.
The gospel of Mark reveals the beginning of Jesus’ message. “Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying… ‘Repent, and believe in the gospel’” (Mark 1:14–15). Yes, Jesus commanded repentance—and people must know what sin is to be able to repent of it! Matthew 23 is a red-hot scolding of the religious leaders of His day for their hypocritical practices. In Matthew 5, He magnified the law of God, showing the spiritual intent: Hatred is the spirit of murder and lustfully looking at a woman is the spirit of adultery.
The Truth Is Not Politically Correct
The Apostle Paul told the Corinthians that many of the sexual sins and perversions that our Western world is embracing would keep them out of the Kingdom of God: “Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, not thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9–10). See Galatians 5:19–21 as well as Revelation 21:8 for two more examples out of many in God’s word in which behaviors that will keep you out of God’s Kingdom are explicitly listed.
The point is that behaviors that God calls abominations are promoted and leftist activists strive to silence any who disagree with their agenda. Dr. James Dobson laid bare their plan in his 2002 book, Bringing Up Boys, pointing out that “feminists and homosexual activists want to dissolve the traditional roles of mothers and fathers and, in time, eliminate such terms as wife, husband, son, daughter, sister, brother, manhood, womanhood, boy, girl, masculine, and feminine. These references to sexual identity are being replaced with gender-neutral terms, such as significant other, spouse, parent, child, and sibling” (p. 17). Dr. Miriam Grossman explains their agenda this way: “Their goal is an androgynous culture, where the differences between male and female are discounted or denied, and the bond between them robbed of singularity” (Unprotected, p. xxi).
Their ultimate goal is to destroy the family! Any informed and thinking person can see this. They are out to destroy the very purpose for which God created mankind—a vain attempt to defeat God!
We are not the result of blind chance. We are part of a plan designed by a Being whose intelligence, power and love far surpasses ours. The difference is literally night and day.
I am amazed at how disinterested people are in discovering the very purpose of life—the reason why they were born. If you are interested, please call or write to the regional office nearest you, found on page 4, to receive a free copy of the booklet Your Ultimate Destiny. It tells you straight from the pages of the Bible what that purpose is, and it is likely not what you have assumed.
Questions like these have long puzzled leaders and scholars—such as historian Davis Landes, whose work The Wealth and Power of Nations: Why Some Are Rich and Some Are Poor focuses on the mystery. However, the Bible contains important answers to these intriguing questions, answers that are largely absent from academic textbooks and little understood by world leaders. The rise of what has been called “the Anglosphere”—Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and America—was no accident. The Bible reveals that God is working out a divine plan on this earth (Daniel 2:21), and these British-descended nations were prophesied to play an important role in this God-ordained plan that would have a powerful impact on the entire world.
God’s Divine Plan
The beginning of that plan is found in the book of Genesis, in a remarkable series of prophetic promises that God made to Abraham and his descendants. In Genesis 12:1–3, Abraham was told that if he obeyed God, he would become a great nation and be a blessing to all nations. In Genesis 17:1–8, Abraham was promised to be the father of many nations, and, as a result of his obedience, these promises became unconditional and were expanded. Still later, he was told that his descendants would multiply “as the stars of heaven” and possess the gates of their enemies (Genesis 22:16–18; 24:60). They were prophesied to spread around the world, and Abraham was told that “in his seed” all nations would be blessed (Genesis 28:14–15). In Genesis 35:9–10 the name of Abraham’s grandson Jacob was changed to Israel (his descendants would be Israelites), and in Genesis 48:14–22, Joseph’s two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, Jacob’s grandsons, were prophesied to become a great nation (Manasseh) and a great company of nations (Ephraim). Our free booklet The United States and Great Britain in Prophecy explains how the peoples of the “Anglosphere” have fulfilled these amazingly specific prophecies and are the modern nations that have descended from Abraham through Joseph.
The Impact of the “Anglosphere”
But why did God record these ancient prophecies about the future of the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? While the Apostle Paul mentions that the nations of the world will be blessed spiritually through Abraham’s seed, Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:8, 16), history records how Abraham’s other descendants have been a blessing to many nations of the world as well, and in many ways.
In Exodus 19:5–6 we read that the Israelites (descendants of all twelve sons of Jacob) were to be a “special” people because they were given the laws of God that would set them apart from other nations (Exodus 20–23). God intended the Israelites to be a model nation, benefiting from the blessings that would flow from Him in the areas of health, prosperity, peace and happiness when they obeyed His laws—showing them to be “wise” in the sight of other nations (Deuteronomy 4:1–9; 6:17–18; 7:12–15). Jesus gave similar instructions to His disciples—to be “lights” to the world (Matthew 5:14–16). Although the ancient Israelites eventually turned away from God and His laws and disappeared into captivity, this did not invalidate the prophecies and unconditional promises of future greatness and future blessings for other nations.
Numerous ideas have been advanced to explain the so-called “miracle of the West”—an event that includes the rise of the British-descended nations, particularly Britain and America. Historian Jonathan Daly catalogues these ideas in his work Historians Debate the Rise of the West. While these speculative ideas credit the role of geography, climate and even luck, what is largely overlooked today are the biblical prophecies that foretold the rise of the Israelite nations to global prominence after a lapse of 2,520 years (see The United States and Great Britain in Prophecy, p. 29). What is also overlooked by most progressive scholars is the role of the Judeo-Christian ethos in molding and fashioning the unique culture of the British-descended nations.
Innovations, Concepts and Values
Some researchers believe that the burst of scientific and technological progress in the West was the result of a way of thinking fostered by a unique approach to the Scriptures in northwest Europe, where the influence of Judeo-Christian culture prevailed: that God, “the Intelligent Designer of a rational universe,” created the universe to operate on laws that were discoverable, and that the duty of “Christians” was to learn to apply the discoveries to improve the lives of people (see How the West Won, Rodney Stark, pp. 5, 315–317). This approach, and other vital factors, launched the Industrial Revolution in England. That “revolution” brought many difficulties to families and society, to be sure, but also many startling benefits, and began “an era of immense and stunningly rapid progress” with the unprecedented development of labor-saving technologies. Innovations that followed include power looms, steamboats, railroads, electric lightbulbs, telephones and, eventually, computers, medicines and advances in understanding the transmission of disease, which have benefitted peoples all over the earth—and, in a real way, have created our modern world (Stark, pp. 325–337; Daly, pp. 23–26). Interestingly, 80 to 90 percent of all Nobel prizes in science and other fields for work that has improved the lives of millions have been awarded to individuals in the United States and the United Kingdom.
While the nations of the “Anglosphere” share a common language and similar institutions, many of their common cultural values—similar ideas of right and wrong, individual liberty, the rule of law, secure property rights, respect for human life as a creation of God, a biblical approach to marriage and family, the importance of God-centered education, the ideas of progress, freedom to innovate, and concern for others as for self—have roots in biblical ideas and have been fundamental aspects of Western Civilization. As the influence of the British-descended nations spread around the world (including through the translation and distribution of Bibles), these values also influenced the civil laws and cultural values of many other nations in beneficial ways (Daly, pp. 7, 13, 25; Stark, pp. 339–355). And it was the “Anglosphere” nations that led the effort to eliminate the global slave trade, liberated Europe and nations of the Pacific from tyranny during World War II, and helped lift the “Iron Curtain” from Eastern Europe.
The rise of the British-descended nations around the globe fulfilled ancient Bible prophecies and was a turning point that dramatically altered the course of world history. The nations of the “Anglosphere” were able to positively influence the health and prosperity of untold millions of people all over the earth—both through generously sharing their material blessings, and through spreading certain Judeo-Christian moral and cultural values. In spite of their many imperfections, the evidence of history indicates that these nations have played a significant role in physically fulfilling God’s word to Abraham that “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3)—a promise that will soon see its complete fulfillment in the return of Jesus Christ.
The portrayal of violence has dramatically changed, as well. In the 1960s “Batman,” there were only three deaths portrayed in all 120 episodes. In contrast, there are often more than three deaths in a single scene of a modern superhero movie!
In addition to the darker tone and increased violence, technological advances such as computer-generated imagery and vastly improved sound and presentation methods have ratcheted up the overall potency of the cinematic experience.
More than Movies
The video game industry reflects the same trajectory as we see in our theaters. As our computers (including the ones in our pockets) and game consoles become more powerful and sophisticated, game play becomes more realistic. Recent best-selling games such as “Far Cry 5” and “Call of Duty: WWII” reflect the same preoccupation with extremely intense action and violence as the movies, but with the added dimension of allowing the player to participate in some way in the mayhem.
Ultra-violent and gritty story-driven “games” such as “Grand Theft Auto V” also include graphic elements of sex and drug use—all to supposedly make the experience more intense and “lifelike.” The use of Google Maps recreates actual locations around Los Angeles. “It’s a world with which you interact and exist, it doesn’t feel like a facade that’s created around you” explains Aaron Garbut, Rockstar North’s art director (“The Tech That Built an Empire: How Rockstar Created the World of GTA 5”, Techradar.com, September 16, 2013).
Here Comes VR
As if increased intensity in traditional entertainment isn’t enough, expect it to explode with the growth of virtual reality (VR). According to Common Sense Media, “Everything in VR is more intense. Because the brain processes virtual reality experiences similar to how it processes actual experiences, it can provoke feelings of fear, anxiety, disorientation—as well as joy and excitement” (“What Parents Need to Know About Virtual Reality”, CommonSenseMedia.org, April 3, 2018).
VR is an emerging market that can be experienced using a variety of devices. A CommonSenseMedia.org report cited Jakki Bailey of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab as saying that “the effects of VR tend to be magnified compared to those of traditional media such as television. An experience in VR—which perceptually surrounds people and for which people use natural body movements to interact with the scene—tends to be more impactful than a similar experience using other media” (“Virtual Reality 101: What You Need to Know About Kids and VR,” April 4, 2018).
Like most technologies, VR will have both good and bad applications. For instance, you can use a smartphone to identify the constellations in the sky, or virtually “tour” the world’s best museums. However, the big sellers are many of the same titles “ported” from video games, that include themes of sex, drugs and graphic violence. Instead of sitting in a chair playing a game, participants are more engaged as they act out the scenes in which they find themselves virtually immersed.
Because VR is relatively new, researchers admit that they don’t have enough experience to understand the long-term effects, especially for children. According to the same report by CommonSenseMedia.org, Jeremy Bailenson, the founder of the Stanford VR lab, said, “The truth is, when it comes to VR and kids, we just don’t know all that much.” But don’t expect such concerns to slow down the entertainment industry.
Maybe as you read this article you are thinking, “What’s the big deal?” Many teens are very familiar with this hyper-intense entertainment and see it as “normal.” However, those who have lived long enough to see the trajectory from the 1960s “Batman” to modern superhero movies, along with other broad societal trends, may see potential problems from consuming a steady diet of such entertainment. Here are two:
1) Desensitization: Think back to the first time you were shocked by something on television or in a movie. Perhaps it was a scary scene in a children’s movie, or someone getting shot in a western. Witnessing such acts for the first time can be traumatic, but over time the shock wears off.
Researchers estimate that the average American youth sees 150,000 violent acts on television by age 18 (“Television Watching Statistics,” StatisticBrain.com, May 23, 2017). Experiencing anything 150,000 times will desensitize you! Is this what we want?
Because we are so desensitized now, media creators must look for ways to intensify the effect, portraying them in ever-increasing graphic detail, with realistic sounds and accompanied by dramatic music. This leads to the next associated problem.
2) Craving more intensity: As one becomes desensitized to what was once thrilling, the intensity must be increased. We see this phenomenon in extreme sports and substance abuse, for example. Reproducing the “rush” requires increasingly more stimulation.
Hollywood knows this as well as any industry, which is why intensity through technological advancements has increased—and will continue to do so. And the tech industry is in an arms race to make those virtual experiences increasingly and more intensely “real.”
It’s impossible to say where all this will lead, but every potential consumer of this entertainment needs to decide how much is enough.
It’s Your Choice
With this rush to increase intensity unfolding before us, a good question to ask is, “Do I need to take part?” It’s important to analyze what is missing in our lives that compels us to pursue artificial intensity. If we unplug and move away from the ceaseless treadmill of stimulation, we may find that there is more than enough intensity in the world around us.
For example, when was the last time you camped outside under the stars, or stood in front of a thundering waterfall, or just stretched out on the grass under a tree and absorbed the many sensations that come with such a simple act? No, this isn’t the same as watching the latest Avengers extravaganza in IMAX 3D or dueling Darth Vader with a lightsaber in virtual reality—but it is learning to appreciate God’s marvelous creation without “enhancement.” In time, and with true appreciation for all the works of Almighty God (Psalm 143:5; Revelation 15:3), reality may be all the intensity you need.
Upon reaching Valcartier, Quebec, Harry embarked on a Royal Navy vessel and sailed across the Atlantic with “Winnie,” as the bear was affectionately called. Winnie was a female black bear and became known for her playful but gentle behaviour. Black bears, unlike grizzlies, are very timid in nature, lacking the territorial aggression of other bears. They tend to be curious and relatively quiet—which isn’t to say that wild black bears should be considered cuddly and playful! Winnie was unique in that she was raised among humans, and it wasn’t long before she became the unofficial mascot of Harry’s regiment.
When Harry was informed he was to leave for France to serve near the front lines, he left Winnie at London Zoo. She quickly became the star attraction. When visitors knocked on her door, Winnie would come out. Children were permitted to ride on her back and she would eat from their hands. The zoo handlers had complete trust in Winnie’s gentle nature (“The History of Winnie The Pooh, White River Ontario.” WhiteRiver.ca, 2018). Initially, Harry intended to take her back to Winnipeg, but after his service in France and upon realising the public’s love for Winnie, he changed his mind and left her at the zoo. This is where Christopher Robin enters the story.
Christopher Robin Milne, the son of the famous author A. A. Milne, was born in London, England in 1920. On his first birthday he was given a teddy bear named Edward. After frequent visits to London Zoo, Christopher decided to rename Edward “Winnie-the-Pooh,” as both he and his father had great fondness for the playful bear.
On weekend trips to the tranquil surroundings of their country house, Christopher ventured from the garden at the family cottage to explore the woods beyond the garden gate. As an only child, his various stuffed animals were the friends who accompanied his explorations in what became known as the “Hundred Acre Wood.” In his book, The Enchanted Places, Christopher Milne later described how the bridge he played by was “Poohsticks Bridge” and a walnut tree was designated as “Pooh’s House.” His stuffed toy kangaroo became “Kanga” and his toy tiger became “Tigger.” Christopher’s father noted his son’s imaginative and joyful interaction with both the woods and his toys and was inspired to write his famous stories of Winnie-the-Pooh.
“It’s not much of a tale, but I’m sort of attached to it.”
On the surface, the story and its background appear idyllic. However, over time, the publicity that came from the overwhelming success of the Winnie-the-Pooh stories caused strife in the Milne family. A. A. Milne became indignant that these stories, out of all of his writings, received such acclamation. Christopher Milne reportedly came to resent his fictional namesake. When he went to boarding school, the other children bullied and teased him, and the public wanted to know the boy behind the story, so his parents took him around the world to book signings and press conferences. An article in The New Yorker states that he “wanted an anonymous boyhood to play in the woods, free of the exploitative public appearances, whirlwind media interviews, and fan mail that followed him throughout his life” (Robin Wright. “On Christopher Robin, War, and P.T.S.D.” NewYorker.com, October 25, 2017).
Christopher became estranged from his parents, and after his father died in 1956, he never saw his mother again. However, over the many years that followed, he became more at ease with his part in the children’s stories. Though he had initially refused any royalties from the books, he eventually accepted them and, in his bookstore, would sometimes talk to customers about his childhood and fondness for Winnie-the-Pooh (Gyles Brandeth. “I knew Christopher Robin—the real Christopher Robin.” Telegraph.co.uk, October 14, 2016).
“I’m just a little black rain cloud.”
Today, it seems almost impossible to have a good story without a dark underbelly, or to hear good news without also hearing the bad. Yet by now, generations of children around the world have enjoyed dropping Poohsticks from bridges and have been entertained by the illustrated and animated renditions of Pooh Bear and his friends. Compared to most entertainment today, even children’s entertainment, the stories are harmless and innocent tales.
In 2014, Ryerson University in Toronto held an exhibition called Remembering the Real Winnie, noting that “The World’s Most Famous Bear” had turned 100. The four enduring and charming Winnie-the-Pooh books that A. A. Milne wrote reflected happy times in the lives of the real-life characters upon whom they were based, and the legacy of Winnie-the-Pooh was neatly summed up by exhibit director Doina Popescu when she was interviewed by The Globe and Mail. Popescu said, “Winnie was a symbol of peace and love in a time of horror, a symbol of survival, and I think we still have a need to gravitate toward these kinds of mascots” (Mark Medley. “Remembering the real Winnie-the-Pooh.” TheGlobeAndMail.com, November 4, 2014).
We live in a society full of corruption, struggle and disappointment. Yet, this magazine’s purpose is to focus not only on the challenges of today’s world, but also on the silver lining of tomorrow’s. The Apostle Paul wrote that “whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8). In a world such as ours, this advice is essential if we are to rise above and overcome the negativity all around us.
The good news is that one day we will have uplifting stories without the sadness and turmoil of this present age. Christopher Robin’s happy childhood will not be the exception but the norm, as we are told that, one day, “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6).