Current Events & Trends
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Current Events & Trends: March/April 2023
Could Ukraine war lead to nukes, regime change?
U.S. and European government aid has enabled Ukraine to keep resisting and prolonging Russia’s invasion of the country—and it has raised growing fears of Russia resorting to nuclear warfare.
Many in America were disturbed several months back with the appearance of a New York City public service announcement on TV about what to do should there be a nuclear attack (“New York Put Out a PSA in Case of a Nuclear Attack, Leaving Many Residents Confused,” NPR, July 13, 2022). Mayor Eric Adams said it was not alarmist.
A Time article on Nov. 4 was headlined “The Risk of Nuclear War Is Now a Daily Issue for the Biden Administration.” A Business Insider headline Dec. 26 reported, “The UN has said nuclear war is ‘back within the realm of possibility.’ Here are the places in the US most likely to be hit in a nuclear attack.” A Daily Mail headline stated on Jan. 17: “How to survive a nuclear explosion: Scientists reveal the safest places to take shelter when a blast wave hits . . .”
Could this really happen? Horrifically, it could, especially as Vladimir Putin is backed into a corner. He and other Russian leaders have made several threats about nuclear options, especially with Western nations sending in tanks and other advanced weapons—with further talk of possible troops on the ground. Putin said in December that he might consider adding a nuclear first strike to disarm an opponent to Russia’s military doctrine (“Putin Says Russia May Add Nuclear First Strike to Strategy,” Bloomberg, Dec. 9).
The next month, Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who serves as deputy chairman of Putin’s security council, sent a message to NATO stating that “the defeat of a nuclear power in a conventional war may trigger a nuclear war” and that “nuclear powers have never lost major conflicts on which their fate depends” (“Putin Ally Warns NATO of Nuclear War if Russia Is Defeated in Ukraine,” Reuters, Jan. 19, 2023).
A few days later, the symbolic “Doomsday Clock” of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, representing their estimation of the closeness of the world to apocalyptic devastation, was moved up from 100 seconds before midnight—where it sat for two years—to 90 seconds before midnight—the closest it has ever been to the cataclysmic hour (“2023 ‘Doomsday Clock’: This Is How Close We Are to the Apocalypse, Scientists Say,” ABC News, Jan. 24).
Several Western leaders have spoken of keeping the pressure on until Putin resigns or is removed by others among his people. But as one writer asks: “Is anybody focusing on what would happen in Russia if Putin is ousted? What does a destabilized Russia look like as criminal oligarchs scramble to fill a power void? Some are wondering about this age-old truth, ‘better the devil you know than the devil you don’t’” (Mark Stevens, “Do We Really Want Putin Ousted?”, PatriotNewsfeed, Jan. 26).
Journalist Stanislav Kucher gives a more comprehensive analysis, sorting through expert opinions in a piece titled “Russia After Putin: When and How It Might Happen—and How Dangerous It Might Get” (Grid News, Jan. 23). Regime change seemed unthinkable not long ago, but now it looks like a real possibility. A major question is whether there would be a quiet voluntary departure for Putin to get away safely or a coup. The former could come in stages, with Putin selecting a successor—who would need to be less hardline and more acceptable to Western leaders. On the other hand, with a coup, there could be a bitter struggle. One Russian media analyst imagines “a fight between ‘clans surrounding Vladimir Putin today [that] look like organized crime groups.’”
Kucher points out that many Russians aren’t interested in a softer, peacetime leader—“they dream of an even stronger hand than Putin’s at the till.” Yet he feels that protracted internecine warfare could lead to the collapse of the country, which many predict will happen.
That said, we could still see some limited nuclear exchange amid all this. The situation is dire.
These are grave times—leading on to the last days of this age. The Bible does foretell terrible catastrophic world war to come, with weapons of mass destruction unleashed. But it seems we have some time yet. Still, there could be some great calamities before that—even nuclear ones. Keep reading Beyond Today, with hope fixed on the Kingdom Jesus Christ will bring to the earth at the end of the madness of this age.
American unbelief growing
According to a recent Pew Research Center report, if present trends continue, “Christians could make up less than half of the U.S. population within a few decades” (“Modeling the Future of Religion in America,” PewResearch.org, Sept. 13, 2022). “Depending on whether religious switching continues at recent rates . . . the projections show Christians of all ages shrinking from 64% to between a little more than half (54%) and just above one-third (35%) of all Americans by 2070. Over that same period, ‘nones’ [non-affiliated] would rise from the current 30% to somewhere between 34% and 52% of the U.S. population.”
The report further points out: “These projections indicate the U.S. might be following the path taken over the last 50 years by many countries in Western Europe that had overwhelming Christian majorities in the middle of the 20th century and no longer do. In Great Britain, for example, ‘nones’ surpassed Christians to become the largest group in 2009.”
Pew further found that whereas 60 percent of Americans believe the United States was founded as a Christian nation, lest than half (45%) believe it should be a Christian nation now to one degree or another. And “when asked about the amount of influence the Bible should have on our laws, 27% of U.S. adults said, ‘If [laws] conflict, Bible should have more influence than will of people,’ and 19% said, ‘Will of people should have more influence’” (“Pew: 45% of U.S. Adults Think America Should be a ‘Christian Nation,’” CNS News, Nov. 8, 2022). Yet it seems that governance today follows neither the Bible nor the will of the people.
“The survey also revealed that 23% believe religion is gaining influence in the U.S. while 74% said it was losing influence” (ibid.).
War on wellness?
Many today suffer with health issues, but it’s good to try to be as healthy as we can, which is greatly impacted by our choices. During Covid lockdowns, athletic participation declined while screen time went up dramatically—worsening physical health and making people more susceptible to disease.
A recent study found that “men and women who worked out at least 30 minutes most days were about four times more likely to survive covid-19 than inactive people . . . The study found that exercise, in almost any amount, reduced people’s risks for a severe coronavirus infection” (“Regular Exercise Protects Against Fatal Covid, a New Study Shows,” Dec. 21, 2022). And, as is well known, physical fitness helps in avoiding all kinds of other health problems.
In a recent social commentary, TV host Laura Ingraham spoke out against the increasingly common approach of normalizing obesity among children and adults as part of inclusivity and diversity affirmation.
As she stated: “While encouraging kindness is one thing, glamorizing obesity with its many health risks is quite another. But that’s exactly what’s happening in this inclusivity cult. They’re normalizing something we should be strongly discouraging . . . The more overweight we are, the greater the chance we’re going to develop diabetes, heart disease and cancer. But the popular culture says, ‘Stop the shaming, start the selling’ [with advertising promoting obesity acceptance along with unhealthful foods and habits] . . . If we truly care about young people and adults who are struggling with their weight, the last thing we should do is slather them . . . with happy talk. We should respect them enough to tell them the truth. This overwhelmingly is about self-control, diet and exercise . . .” (“Unhealthy and Unaccountable,” Fox News, Jan. 11, 2023). But as she further points out, to even suggest that is now labeled fat-shaming and bullying.
Parents are being told by medical professionals to help overweight children as young as 12 and 13 by turning to prescription drugs and major surgeries, when that used to be reserved for extreme cases. It’s “removing personal responsibility from life and replacing it with the ‘We’re all victims of circumstances’ mentality and offering shortcuts courtesy of big pharma and the medical industrial complex.”
On top of this, Time magazine recently published a bizarre article claiming that exercise originated in white supremacy and was later promoted to shame gay people with AIDS (“Exercise Is ‘White Supremacy’: Time Magazine Article Connects Peloton, AIDS and 9/11 in Fitness Conspiracy Theory,” The Blaze, Dec. 29, 2022). This is of course absurd—but it’s all of a piece with the movement to effectively promote unhealthiness.
A spiritual war is being waged against society, with the ultimate goal of collapsing it and destroying our nations and mankind at large—the principal foe being Satan the devil.
The Bible is clear that bodily exercise does profit us, though not to the extent of godliness (1 Timothy 4:8). Of course, being in good health positively affects our spiritual life, as it helps us to remain alert in prayer and Bible study, to more easily fellowship with others, and to do more in our serving of others and continuing to do so. Again, this concerns matters of health we have some control over—not disabilities our efforts have no effect on.
American beliefs on last days, whether Bible determines right and wrong
As the world around us gets crazier and darker, a recent U.S. poll by the Pew Research Center shows that a majority of respondents, 58 percent, said no when asked if we are living in the end times. Yet 39 percent said yes, including nearly half (47%) of professing Christians (“2 in 5 Americans, Nearly Half of Christians, Believe ‘We Are Living in the End Times’: Poll,” Fox News, Dec. 12, 2022).
The Bible gives us definite signs of the end time. And Jesus told us, “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:28). Terrible events will come, but God will see us through these if we remain close to Him. To better understand the times we live in, be sure to send for or download our free study guide Are We Living in the Time of the End?
Meanwhile, a July 2022 study shows that while a majority of Americans express support for traditional moral values, just 29 percent believe the Bible should serve as the foundation for determining right and wrong. The America’s Value Study by the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University found that the most prominent determinant (from 42% of respondents) is “what you feel in your heart” (“Most Americans Don’t View the Bible as Primary Determinant of Right and Wrong: Study,” The Christian Post, Nov. 6, 2022). Yet Scripture tells us that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). Right and wrong is defined by God, not by us. His Word tells us to “trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). And it further warns us, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12).