The Too Few Flu

Cultural messages beamed into us from entertainment, media, and politics often enter our hearts. When we become ‘infected’ by absorbing the message, it becomes a spiritual schematic inside of us that then influences our beliefs and soon also our thinking. Eventually, we become capable of infecting others and so the virus spreads.

For a physical equivalent, one can think of viruses such as Covid that spread through a population. Not every single person will necessarily fall victim, but doctors recognize the passage of the virus through a population. Initially, not everyone knows why they are feeling the way they do. From a spiritual perspective as well, ideas, thoughts, and themes spread through a population. Not every single person necessarily becomes infected but cultural observers can easily monitor the spread of the idea through a population.

For instance, during World Wars One and Two, the spiritual virus of patriotic enlistment quickly spread. It drove men to enlist and women to view non-enlisted men with disdain. By the time of the Vietnam War in the 1960s, an entirely different kind of spiritual virus infected vast numbers of America’s younger population. There are reasons for the spread of these spiritual viruses just as there are reasons for the spread of the Covid virus. I am less interested here in the underlying reasons as I am in the fact that spiritual viruses do spread, and often the infected are unaware of why they feel the way they do.

One of the most damaging spiritual viruses currently spreading like an epidemic is the idea that we live in a world of shortage and limits. It’s not a new idea. Back in the 1850s Americans were advised to extinguish reading lamps no later than 10 pm in order to conserve…. that’s right, you’ve got it…. energy! The ‘experts’ rightly observed that the world was going to run out of whales at the rate at which they were being hunted for their oil.

They were right of course; whales were tragically becoming extinct. However, they were wrong about energy. In 1859, a railway conductor named Edwin Drake discovered oil in a well he drilled in Titusville, Pennsylvania. America lit up without needing to harpoon whales.

The influential British economist William Stanley Jevons warned England in 1865 to slow down its industrial development because it was exhausting its coal reserves. This year England all but ceased use of coal in its electricity generation even though several centuries of coal still wait in its mines.

The spread of the shortage virus throughout American culture causes many complications. It is one of the justifications people give for not having children. Fear of shortage causes millions of otherwise healthy people to live their lives in anxiety. Something, or everything, will run out.

Folks made miserable by physical viruses react angrily to well-wishers assuring them, “It’s nothing, you’ll feel fine in the morning.” The same is true for those who suffer from this spiritual virus. If you try to reassure these patients that there is really no shortage of oil or opportunity, they become highly irritable.

The main source of the scarcity scourge is secularism. If there is no spiritual reality, we live in an utterly materialistic world, and everyone knows that all material things come to an end. Even that fine Swiss watch will eventually stop running. Only God is truly without limits, thus a world without God has to be a world of limited resources. The more aggressively a culture ejects God from daily life, the more that culture becomes infected with the dreaded limits virus.

Is there a looming shortage of paper, oil, water, money, or jobs? God provided His children with a touch of His limitless creative powers with which we can solve anything. We can smile gratefully at His bounty which echoes in our optimism. We eagerly confront challenges knowing that God’s gift of human creativity can help us find the solution. Above all, we see no limits in our own lives. Anything at all is possible.

In a secular worldview, there is no hope. We must make plans to live with less and assume that the government will help us survive. It sounds ridiculous but, hey, you can’t argue with a virus.

Or we can protect ourselves with an alternate belief system that is more reliable than the flu shot. We can strive to imitate God and His infinite capabilities. We will fall short, but we can reach higher than we ever thought we would.

It seems a bit odd to post this Thought Tool in a week where we are having a closeout sale on our physical CDs and DVDs as we are saying that there is going to be a shortage of these items. However, as F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”

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