I am sure that everyone believes.
I am a Christian, and that comes from a choice that I made when I was young. Now I follow and worship Jesus. Many of the people around me, including some friends, do not follow Jesus; but everyone believes. Everyone has a god.
Recently a famous journalist in Canada published an article starting with the words “People my age grew up believing the world, led by the West, was becoming more progressive. It wasn’t and isn’t.” The title was “Lose your illusions. It’s an ugly, dystopian world.”
If you read Mr MacDonald’s article, you might be offended. He has some strong negative opinions, and he gives out much anger. For example, he describes the United States and Saudi Arabia as “Republic of Dystopia, our southern neighbor, and the Kingdom of Draconia, Canada’s most violent and temperamental weapons customer.” He also describes the President of the U.S. and his American supporters as the “savage, braying president, and guffaws from the simple-minded flying monkeys he commands at his rallies.”
If you are wondering; no, I do not agree. Mr MacDonald is a clever man with many years of experience as a journalist, but don’t share his dislike for the neighbors. Also, when I want to see the worst problems in my life, I look in a mirror. That’s why I became a Christian.
It is easy to get lost in other people’s anger these days. There is always someone in a rage about something, and it’s wise to not react, or buy in. The Bible tells us “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” (James 1: 19 and 20)
So let’s listen.
We are told to ‘lose our illusions’ and people ‘grew up believing’ but we were wrong. The progressive liberal society that was going to lead us a better world, has failed. We look like all the other societies in history, except we have more guns. We have failed to make ourselves better.
If we call the thing we believe in a ‘god’, this anger is what happens when a god falls and belief collapses. Imagine a statue falling off a pedestal and shattering when it hits the floor. Neil MacDonald is an honest man who speaks for millions like him. Many educated and sophisticated people believed sincerely and lived their lives by those beliefs, and the world did not get better.
I remember my crisis. I was seventeen and I had to write an exam for high school. I believed sincerely in a better, liberal society, and I wanted in. That meant going to university, and I desperately needed a good mark on that exam. I stood in the snow, in December, waiting for a bus, and I thought, ‘maybe I should try Jesus’ so I prayed and asked that God to help me.
I did not see any changes right away, but in the next months and years, I saw plenty of dystopia. That god of liberal progress let me down hard, and in my young adult life, that liberal society was a corrupt disappointment. The other God that I prayed to stayed with me and I can honestly say now that Jesus has been good to me.
If you are wondering, I fretted about my final exams, until I got a letter in the mail. The school board computer had failed somehow, so we all got our teachers’ marks. The teachers didn’t think their marks mattered, so they were generous and I started university with excellent marks from high school. God is good.
I share in Neil MacDonald’s stress about this world, except I don’t believe in that god anymore. I live in this world, but I believe in a different God.
So I said:
Do not take me away, my God, in the midst of my days; your years go on through all generations. In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. But you remain the same, and your years will never end. The children of your servants will live in your presence; their descendants will be established before you. (Psalm 102: 24 to 28)