In 1973, I attended a church tent revival. It was a bit over the top for my conservative United Methodist upbringing with all the bible thumping going on, yet it mesmerized me as something one might picture right out of a Hollywood movie. And under this big tent in the field, with cars parked out to the road, with hundreds of gathered faithful protected from the harsh rays of the sun flapping their paper fans in unison to cool the sweat of mid day, a Billy Graham like preacher began to reach over the lectern and shout out his prophecies toward the pews.
As a young boy, I thought his words heretical for he was prophesying the end of America’s reign. Of course, he spoke in terms of greed and sin and the like but his predictions of the world to come sounded impossible to me. He out and out said that America would fall from grace and would no longer be the world’s super power. I did not know how he could even say such a thing, yet it was only the beginning of his supposed blasphemy.
He said that the world would come to desperately need oil. Now at the time, the land was producing plentifully, off shore developments were promising, and predictions of greater untapped oil beds were optimistic. In 1973, America’s dominance of the Mid East’s oil supply was evident and the world’s consumption was only hampered by OPEC so once again, I didn’t understand how this could come to pass.
He stated that the Soviets and all of Europe would form an alliance of governments. This was most strange to me, because in 1973, everywhere I turned I heard the horrors of communism, including however quirkily it seems, the fact that most mothers in Russia did not stay home to raise their children. That to my nurtured mind was the essence of communism. How could this Powerhouse of the communist world ever ally with free Europe unless Europe was no longer free?
His prophesies crescendoed to what every great Biblical prophecy proclaims, the battle of Armageddon. Yet this man was peering into my eyes and telling me not only that a great battle would occur, but he detailed how this great battle would unfold. He proclaimed that the great nations of the world would move their armies overland to the Middle East for this climatic war or wars. He said that the Soviet Union, Europe, and America would battle the great army of China in the oil fields of Persia. Wow, to me as a 13 year old boy who had just lived through the nightly news horrors and social upheavals of Viet Nam, this caricature of a travelling preacher shouting out these things was just fantastical.
At 13, the world seemed intransigent. Almost 40 years later, it seems much more pliable, and this now long past preacher’s words seem much more plausible. Certainly to a nation formed of Protestants and dominated by leaders proclaiming their beliefs in the bible, this preacher’s prophesies and those similar to his may have even set America’s expectations of fatalistic world events beyond our control and could have shaped our obsessions to dominate the world with our military in efforts to avert our future.
While my hope is that if in fact the Bible infallibly predicted such occurrences, that they occur well after my life is a distant memory of anyone living. My deeper hope is that those interpreting the words of this book are much more wrong than right in their assessment, or that if their interpretations are correct, that the Bible’s revelations are not fatalistic but that they can change if mankind changes our path as well. Yet interestingly, world events seem to continually be aligning themselves with this preacher’s prophecies, eerily supporting the fatalistic Christian view of an apocalyptic future.
The world does seem to be sliding toward a demise of America’s dominance and Europe is beginning to sense an alliance of Russia and Germany in an axis of financial strength that may dominate the collapsing Euro zone. As America exerts its continuing over sea dominance in the Pacific during its waning days, the East may in fact develop over land routes that thwart the West’s attempt to block its access to oil, free of western influence. And environmentalists’ and geologists’ claims of peak oil plus China’s accelerating demand for oil as she rises to dominance may in fact be a motive for the world’s next great conflict.
If America’s military dominance was in part influenced by our obsessive attempt to resist the outcome of prophesy, perhaps other, more globally accepted means of avoiding our down fall could culminate in time to save America. Perhaps financial and business obsessions can be an alternative to our obsession with military solutions and can be influenced to seek powerful energy alternatives to the draw of Mid East oil.