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Tsunami Warning


Recently, I watched a compilation of home-videos taken during the massive tsunami of 2004 which claimed the lives of 250,000 people in Indonesia, Thailand, and Sri Lanka.

The tsunami resulted from an underwater earthquake, displacing a huge volume of water that  rushed onto land, ripping into the ocean everything in its path.

If you’ve been to the shore and watched the action of the waves, you know that a wave rolls onto the beach, and then slides back into the sea. That sliding backward, the recession, feeds the next wave. The bigger the recession, the bigger the next wave.

In the videos shot at the various beaches around the epicenter of the earthquake, every one of them captures the consternation of onlookers as the waters of beach and bay suddenly slide far back into the sea, as if sucked in by a mammoth marine vacuum, stranding boats on rock and sand in a dramatic and unplanned ‘low-tide.’  Locals in the background chatter about how they’ve never seen this before. People run to frolic where moments before, waves had been.

A lot of water suddenly sliding backward into the sea.

Feeding a deadly force.

Inexorably, the water returned,  roaring back with unstoppable strength, destroying everything in its path, beginning with those caught on the newly-exposed mud flats.

The ferocity, strength, and incomprehensibility of what fell on the coast that day made after-the-fact resistance impossible. Those who survived could only cling to life and watch others die.

Island nations have experienced tsunamis time-out-of-mind. Why then, in each of the videos did no one know what a suddenly empty bay means? Did parents and grandparents fail to transmit this information to their children? Was there no one who took seriously the ancient skill of reading the signs of the sea?

In 2011, an earthquake off the coast of Japan triggered another tsunami.  A story emerged from the wreckage about the tradition of the ‘Tsunami Stones.’  Previous generations placed stone markers at the high-water mark of tsunamis they witnessed.  Wisdom insisted no village, home, or business ever be built at a lower elevation than these stones.

Wisdom was forgotten.

Why? For economic reasons? Was it bad for tourism?  Did they simply forget the nature of their fickle neighbor, the mighty Pacific?

Christians in the United States are experiencing a similar phenomenon. Water is rushing back from the beach as our consciences are exploited and our religious freedom eroded. Something is just over the horizon, fed by this massive slide backward, and it will rush in on us with a fury that will leave death and destruction in its wake.

Unlike the beaches of Indonesia, however, there are voices on the American seawall, reading the signs of the times, yelling for the happy-go-lucky to run for higher ground. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, Joel Rosenberg, John Eldredge, to name a few, prophets not so much in their skill at foretelling the future, but in their ability to read the signs of the times.

Already, the water is licking at our heels as wanton crimes against human life pour in upon us without pause.  Soon, it will be a flood in whose merciless grip we will be swept away.

How will we respond, knowing as we do, that our actions in this crucial moment-before-the-wave may mean the difference between death and life?

Run for higher moral ground.
Reinforce your spiritual house.
Pray and fast for our nation, our communities, our families and friends.
Hold fast to the Rock of Our Salvation.
Read the signs of the times.

Heed Wisdom.

Death and Video Games

No, this isn’t a diatribe against video games. I think we all enjoy indulging in a little gaming on the computer from time to time – or perhaps a little more often than that.

But video games make a great analogy for life and death.

Here we are on Earth, a “copy and shadow” of Heaven, the Bible tells us. Like an alternate reality – beautiful, intriguing, complex. The Programmer of this virtual environment designed it to reflect the world in which He lives, as if it’s possible to reflect Heaven in three puny little dimensions.

In this game, you, the player, explore Level One, overcoming its challenges, discovering its hidden mysteries, gaining as many points as you can. But once you conquer the level, or your time runs out, you don’t hang around.

No. A player moves on to the next Level.

There is nothing more to gain from the now-empty surroundings of Level One. The sterile, flat, shallow environment has only surface beauty. You have already received the training, earned the points, overcome the evil. It’s time to move on. This place has nothing more to offer. Like a house without furnishings.

God equipped us with a burning desire to live. The instinct to survive is as basic as the instinct to seek happiness and to reproduce, and it’s a good thing, too. If Earth is to Heaven what a virtual environment is to the real world, who would want to stay around? What would be the incentive to finish the Level?

Real life has its shades, nuances, emotions, personalities, history, organizations, societies, and experiences – complete with hot chocolate, Gold medals, newborn-baby smell, and tomato plants. Imagine the new dimensions we’ll find in Heaven!

Nevermind, you can’t. Jesus said we can’t even conceive of what is waiting for us in Heaven.

Don’t be afraid to die. When He calls you, leave this Level for the empty shell, the proving ground that it is. Empty, except for Christ’s presence in the Eucharist. Let Him take you to the Real World, the next level.

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