Three Times a Year

Back when I was fortunate enough to own a sedan whose engine boasted, not 6, not even 8, but 12 cylinders, I was often accosted by people approaching me in parking lots. “Why don’t you get a car that uses less gasoline?” complete strangers would ask. It was initially startling, but I got used to it and even enjoyed the shocked looks on my interlocutors’ faces once I’d crafted some satisfying ripostes.

From their indignant faces, I assume that they believed I was being anti-social by using more than my fair share of a limited resource—gasoline. Warnings that we are running out of oil constantly resurface and yet proven oil reserves are now higher than they were in 1960. There is good reason to embrace the abiogenic theory of oil, which is to say that oil is not a limited and diminishing resource derived from long-ago decayed organic matter but instead, it is constantly being produced by geological processes. Nonetheless, the warnings of oil shortage persist.

That’s not the only shortage that the supposedly most modern, most developed, and most wealthy nation apparently suffers from. This summer, California has been issuing emergency energy alerts to citizens’ phones in an attempt to stave off the electrical blackouts that have plagued the state in previous years. Water too, is portrayed as problematic. I have enjoyed a shower in a hotel in the desert city of Dubai. It felt like standing beneath Niagara Falls. I was utterly enveloped in a limitless cascade of water shooting out at me from many nozzles. Did I mention that from the window one looked out at a desert? It was deliciously sybaritic and felt decadent. You know why? Because in any hotel in America, from a small-town Motel Six to a Ritz Carlton resort, one showers in a comparatively puny stream, a drizzle of water trickling down from a water-flow-restricted shower head.


Have you tried to get your groceries packed into a plastic or paper bag at your local market lately? The government is demanding that those are rationed as well. Want to frame a house? Good luck importing your lumber from Canada since we do not grow enough trees in America.

It seems that in America we’re enduring a shortage of almost everything. Water, electricity, oil, paper, eggs, plastic, and trees. Don’t you think that with American ingenuity, resources, capital, and manpower, these shortages could be eliminated forever? Don’t forget that after an unexpected attack thrust America into the war only a couple of years earlier, in 1944 alone, America built over 96,000 warplanes, from lethal fighters to enormous four-engine bombers. That is eleven complete airplanes built and hurled into air combat for a single hour of every single day of 1944! Think of what that took. Yet, today in America people must turn off their air-conditioning to save diminishing supplies of electricity. We are told to drive flashlights on wheels to save oil. Why hasn’t that same American ability to solve problems made the shortages go away?

I’ll tell you why. Because living with shortage has become a religious observance. Not an observance of my religion, which is a religion of abundance, but a religious observance of the fundamentalist faith of Secularism.

Let me explain: There are physical viruses and spiritual viruses. Physical viruses include herpes, influenza, and chicken pox. And oh yes, covid. They can imperil societies.

Spiritual viruses are every bit as dangerous to the public health of a society, and they are every bit as contagious. Spiritual viruses have swept earlier societies and brought their periods of prominence on the stage of world history to an end. In the 1930s Nazism swept Germany, turned mailmen into murderers and by 1945 it had left the country in ruins.

In the 1980s, members of the McMartin family who were running a Californian childcare facility were accused of unimaginable abuse by a mother whose mental instability later became an issue in the case. The court was told that teachers chopped up animals, clubbed a horse to death with a baseball bat, sacrificed a baby in a church and made children drink the blood, dressed up as witches, and flew in the air. The trial took years, one of the longest in American history. In the end, lives were undone but no one was ever convicted of a single act of wrongdoing. That allegation launched a spiritual virus as otherwise sane people in Massachusetts, New York, and many other states decided that preschool children, coached by psychologists to make absurd claims, were telling the truth. Daycare operators were put on trial, some wrongly imprisoned because of the spiritual virus that infected much of America that decade. It took several years for that virus to end.

That we live in a world of shortage is another spiritual virus that is sweeping America. By contrast, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is a God of abundance. Consider these three verses:

Three times in the year all your males must appear before the Lord God. (Exodus 23:17)

Three times in the year all your males must appear before the Lord God, the God of Israel. (Exodus 34:23)

Three times in the year all your males must appear before the Lord your God in the place which He shall choose; in the festival of unleavened bread (Passover), in the festival of weeks (Shavuot/Pentecost), and in the festival of booths (Sukot)… (Deuteronomy 16:16)

Readers who think the Bible is the work of assorted human authors must ask themselves why some early editor didn’t remove two redundant verses. After all, how many times does anyone need to be told something?

Those of us more comfortable knowing that God authored His book, must ask what is one of God’s messages encoded into the triplicating of the message. We understood it the first time—males must pilgrimage to Jerusalem three times a year.

Three times a year? Message repeated three times. Hmmm…ancient Jewish wisdom to the rescue. Each of those three instances is preceded by a message of abundance. Prior to appearing before God on those three statutory occasions, reflect upon His abundance.

A principal attribute of the Lord is that He is limitless in every sense. He can bestow limitless abundance upon His children. Rejoice in your closeness to Him and enjoy His abundance. Reject Him and you will suffer the opposite of abundance—shortage. That’s right. Secularism is the religious doctrine of shortage. As America abandoned God in a long and lamentable sixty-year journey, it has embraced the doctrine of shortage. Just as I see abundance as validation of my faith in God, the religion of Secular Fundamentalism sees shortage as validation of their faith.


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