2014 was a good year, a regular year. At the end, my father died. That wasn’t regular. We weren’t close. I hadn’t seen him in 8 years, and not for many years before that. But it’s still hard to know that he isn’t just distant, but forever gone.
Last January a third cat adopted me. I wasn’t looking for another cat. I was very happy with two older cats. But the kitten was gong to die out there in the frozen cold, so…He’s inside now and very loving and sweet. Murray.
Otherwise, it was a year that clicked along normally, albeit on the school calendar and not the calendar calendar. I love the school calendar year that goes from August to May. (As an expatriate New Englander, an Aug to May school year just wrong. The school year should be September to June. But I digress). I love my job. In 2014 I went to work, went to church, went out a (very) few times with friends. I read books and wrote my 3,024th blog essay and adjusted to the changing seasons, and all the normal things. It’s a normal life. A quiet life.
What happened in the world, though? A lot! Too much for me to cover, even if I wanted to. I like to pick and choose a few things to look at as signs of the end of the age, trendsetting biblically prophesied Christian events that we should perk up and take notice of. Earthquakes, Apostasy. Weather, Scientific advances. And other just plain stuff that shows where our heart as a society is.
If you’ve followed this blog for very long you know I have a fascination with earthquakes and sinkholes. I don’t live in a highly seismic area, though we had a house-shaker in here Georgia this year. It’s just the notion of the ground which seems so solid suddenly turning liquid. Or shaking and opening up in cracks. Nothing else in my opinion shows the sovereignty of the LORD as much as earthquakes do. On a daily, regular visible, basis that is.
Jesus said that the time of the end will contain more quakes and in diverse places. (Matthew 24:7).
At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” (Hebrews 12:26)
Let’s look at a long-term trend of global quakes. I update this table every year. Click to enlarge
The average trend is still a heightened number of quakes. In 2003 we saw the beginning of meeting or exceeding the USGS number of average quakes, an average the USGS has settled on since beginning to track quakes in 1900. We saw the first year where all four of the major magnitudes’ averages were smashed in 2009. The number of quakes has stayed high every year since. 2012 showed a slight lessening, with “only” two of the four magnitudes averages falling below the USGS number of average quakes for that year. 2014 saw a smashing of the average in the 5.0-5.9 magnitude category. Time will tell what 2015 will bring.
Oklahoma continues to be shaken daily by quakes.
Chart below, as of FEBRUARY 2014. I wonder what the total would be if they carried through to December 31 instead of stop counting in Feb. These are quakes of magnitude 2.0 and greater. They say that the dramatic rise in quakes in Oklahoma is due to fracking. Sure. Sure it is.
Here is another view. This shows Oklahoma quakes 3.0 or greater, through Dec 22, 2014.
Whoa. Is all I can say.
Getting numbers for volcanic eruptions is hard. Eruptions have a start date and some go on for months. I have to rely on scientific articles to report on the numbers, and there are fewer articles tracking volcanoes than there are tracking earthquakes. This article from the Florida State University is from 2011.
Frequency of Volcanic Eruptions on Rise
The ash-fall events impacting northern Europe are increasing, a USF study spanning the past 7,000 years concludes.
Among its findings, the team reported that Icelandic eruptions — like the 2010 eruption Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland which brought European air travel to a week-long standstill — have sent volcanic ash plumes drifting over Europe with increasing frequency in the past 1,500 years.
This article below is from February 2014
The Earth seems to have been smoking a lot recently. Volcanoes are erupting in Iceland, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ecuador and Mexico right now. Others, in the Philippines and Papua New Guinea, erupted recently but seem to have calmed down. Many of these have threatened homes and forced evacuations. But among their spectators, these eruptions raise question: Is there such a thing as a season for volcanic eruptions?
Don’t get too excited. The headline was much more definitive than the article was.
Yes, Florida has more sinkholes than any other state in the nation, according to the local agency that oversees insurance regulations and compliance. Sinkholes have been spotted at least three times in as many months—May in Winter Haven, June in Jonesville, and July in Spring Hill.
The article goes on to dispel the perception that there are more sinkholes now than there used to be (in FL). This, despite the fact that sinkhole claims have skyrocketed. How about sinkholes across the globe?
ABC News: ‘Gateway to Hell’: Sinkholes open across the earth
A look at some of the most astonishing sinkholes which have turned up around the world.
The above article doesn’t try to explain sinkholes or whether they are increasing or not. The point is the photos, astounding photos of the earth suddenly opening up and swallowing whatever was topside. [shudder]
And as soon as he had finished speaking all these words, the ground under them split apart. And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the people who belonged to Korah and all their goods. So they and all that belonged to them went down alive into Sheol, and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly. (Numbers 16:31-33)
Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons (1 Timothy 4:1)
Apostasy will be a telling marker of the Lord’s return. Many scriptures speak to the numbers of people falling away from the faith, not just the verse above. In the last 9 years I have seen an incredible collapse of Christianity. Incredible. There has been wholesale abandonment of fundamental doctrines, such as the deity of Christ, what sin is, the need for repentance, abandonment of expositional preaching, unbelief in Jesus as the only way, the completeness of the atonement, who is in the faith and who is not, (according to Billy Graham, everyone’s in), absorption of pagan practices (prayer circles, labyrinths, enneagrams, contemplative mysticism), attacks on the sufficiency of scripture, and abandonment of the completion of the canon (direct revelation is de rigueur). When Southern Baptist Beth Moore began preaching personal visions without correction or rebuke, we all knew the last conservative bastion of Christianity had been penetrated.
The article below is from 2013-
A new analysis of the 2011 census shows that a decade of mass immigration helped mask the scale of decline in Christian affiliation among the British-born population – while driving a dramatic increase in Islam, particularly among the young. It suggests that only a minority of people will describe themselves as Christians within the next decade, for first time.
As a direct result of the atheistic triumph of the culture wars in the West, which took place during the decade of the 1960s, Gentile Christianity as the great social power it was for the last 20 centuries has become irrelevant and virtually dead to secular culture. Calling this “the death” of Christianity in a video interview about his book, “Suicide of a Superpower,” the American political commentator, Pat Buchanan, described our current social/cultural scene as follows…
I wrote about the collapse of Cultural Christianity in October. While true Christianity will never collapse (Matthew 16:18), the number of social pretenders in recent decades seemed to inflate the faith to large numbers. What we are seeing today, in my opinion, is the pretenders fleeing, and the truer, smaller, numbers of Christians being revealed, even as the society in which we find ourselves has become anti-Christian.
That said, Christianity has become me-centered. Let’s take a look at what verses people searched for in 2014.
2014 year in Review: Biblegateway
Most-Popular Bible Verses in 2014
Here are the overall most-popular Bible verses in 2014 on Bible Gateway:
Rank Verse Text
1. John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
2. Jer 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
3. Phil 4:13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
4. Rom 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
5. Ps 23:4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
The list goes to 100. Biblegateway also lists the top word searches. The list goes to 25. The word “Sin” was not searched for. Neither was “Repent.”
Speaking of me-centered:
Missing from those resolutions were the concepts of giving, philanthropy, sacrifice, saving money…
For generations, religious beliefs have influenced the way people think about and participate in philanthropy. For people who are not religiously motivated to give, the religious belief systems of other people help to define what is considered “good” or “moral” in society. For this reason, it is important to consider the impact of religion on philanthropy in the past and present (Bremner 1988). (Source)
Religion News Service article below is from yesterday.
Scores of studies and surveys in 2014 revealed myriad, quirky ways we live out our faith and values. But the most intriguing findings were not always the headliners. Here are 10 telling numbers about religion and society that caught our eye.
Choral laments. Since 1998, there has been a 23 percentage point drop among white conservative evangelicals who heard a choir at worship and a 28 percentage point drop for members of liberal and moderate Protestant congregations.
Grads, leave religion off your resume. New grads hunting for jobs can be 24 to 30 percent less likely to hear back from potential employers if they included a mention of religious ties in college on their resume.
You skipped church and then fibbed about attending. Nearly 1 in 7 falsely claimed they attended a religious service.
As the winter months dragged on, they brought numerous snow storms, including Winter Storm Leon, which paralyzed the South, causing traffic backups on major highways. The 2.6 inches of snow that fell on Atlanta caused more than 1,460 accidents, including two fatal crashes. April brought a deadly tornado outbreak in the South, and June brought another tornado outbreak in the Great Plains and the Midwest, where two tornadoes trekked directly through a 350-person town in a rare twin-tornado formation.
Looks like there were fewer tornadoes this year.
Hurricanes: Seems poor Bermuda was a bulls eye more statistically often than usual
The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for November 2014 tied with 2008 as seventh highest in the 135-year period of record, at 1.17°F above the 20th century average of 55.2°F.
The global land surface temperature was 1.48°F above the 20th century average of 42.6°F, the 13th highest for November on record. For the global oceans, the November average sea surface temperature was 1.06°F above the 20th century average of 60.4°F, record high for November.
Spain reported its wettest November since 1997, at 180 percent of average November precipitation.
Accuweather says, Speaking of 2014, the year has pulled into a 3-way tie with 1998 and 2010 for warmest on record through September despite a cooler start.
The number of anti-Semitic attacks in the UK in 2014 is set to be the highest recorded in the past three decades, figures for the year suggest. The record number of incidents includes everything from violent assaults to verbal abuse, hate-mail and attacks on social media.
SARCELLES, France — From the immigrant enclaves of the Parisian suburbs to the drizzly bureaucratic city of Brussels to the industrial heartland of Germany, Europe’s old demon returned this summer. “Death to the Jews!” shouted protesters at pro-Palestinian rallies in Belgium and France. “Gas the Jews!” yelled marchers at a similar protest in Germany. The ugly threats were surpassed by uglier violence. Four people were fatally shot in May at the Jewish Museum in Brussels. A Jewish-owned pharmacy in this Paris suburb was destroyed in July by youths protesting Israel’s military campaign in Gaza. A synagogue in Wuppertal, Germany, was attacked with firebombs. The list goes on.
Nearly a third of the nation’s bank failures so far this year — five out of a total of 16 — have occurred in Illinois. Illinois ranks 45th in the nation in job growth, report says BUSINESS Illinois ranks 45th in the nation in job growth, report says. The state also has another unwelcome distinction: The two biggest bank collapses so far in 2014 also have been Illinois institutions, according to SNL Financial.
Six years after its financial system nearly sank and nearly that long since the recession ended, the United States is expected to grow in 2015 at its fastest pace in a decade. Its expansion from July through September — a 5 percent annual rate — was the swiftest for any quarter since 2003.
Sure, Associated Press, just keep thinking that. Keep on thinking that, honey.
The UK Telegraph has a slightly more pessimistic outlook.
How the world fell back into economic meltdown:
2014 in charts From Russia’s economic collapse, the threat of deflation, and another year of record low interest rates, here’s how crisis beset the world economy once again
The chart above, based on calculations from Piketty and his colleague Emmanuel Saez, has been described as the most important chart of the year. Produced by economist Pavlina Tcherneva, it shows that for most of the post-war period, the income gains from economic expansion went to the bottom 90pc of the population in the United States.
A recession may be looming in Russia, as the economy shrank for the first time in five years and the value of the ruble dropped another 5 percent Monday, but that’s not stopping wealthy Russians from eating expensive caviar – and posting images on Instagram with the hashtag #whatcrisis.
Top 2014 US trends in Google searches
The leaders of St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church in Fletcher are claiming that an oily liquid recently began seeping from a wooden church icon. The church’s rector is calling the event a miracle.
I’m crying, and it ain’t oil
Any year that has this in it has to go.
Hey, we’re one year closer to the rapture! THAT is Happy New Year news!
Shalom and peace to you all