Thursday, January 23, 2014

Vortex Vexation

Oh, great! Something new I am expected to be afraid of. The fear-mongers of the media have introduced a new character to the evening weather report: the Polar Vortex. Why have I not heard of this before? I watch the weather report. I am not a religious devotee of it like my wife, but I watch the local forecast with her.

Now on top of the jet stream, El NiƱo, and garden variety high and low pressure systems, there is the dreaded Polar Vortex. It comes from the north like an army invading from Canada. It reminds me of the Cold War scenarios depicting Soviet missiles coming over the North Pole toward the U.S. But this threat brings sub-zero temperatures, not nuclear fire.

I guess the Northeast needed something to excite the viewing audience. The West has its wildfires, the Midwest has its tornadoes, and the Gulf has it hurricanes. All we had were Nor’easters. But now we have the newest meteorological supervillain – the ice monster known as The Polar Vortex.

Yes, this winter has been colder than normal, and it is icier. The roads in town are ice rinks. I came back from a recent vacation in sunny Florida to find that my driveway had turned into a sledding hill. This week has my thermometer hovering around zero. But it is winter in New Hampshire, after all!

As so often happens, my mind finds a spiritual application for almost anything. Is there a spiritual polar vortex? I read an article yesterday by atheist Michael Shermer. He is gleefully tracking the demise of religious belief in America. According to his figures, every new generation is becoming less religious. The younger you are, the less religious you likely will be. Based on this trend, he predicts the extinction of religion by the year 2220. He is already writing the Lord’s obituary.

Does this mean there a spiritual deep freeze sweeping the nation? Are we on the verge of a religious ice age? It is certainly not true of my life or my church. Furthermore I am always wary of statistics. Surveys are yesterday’s news. I never take predictions seriously. I have seen too many dates for the return of Jesus come and go unfulfilled. Predictions tend to say more about the predictor than the future.

My experience is that what goes around, comes around. Religion, like everything else, moves in cycles. Spiritual renewals come with the regularity of spring appearing after winter. I predict that spring will come again this year, regardless of how cold it is today. In fact I will venture to predict it will arrive on March 20. (I got that one from Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.)

The same is true spiritually, although I would not venture to predict a date. Do not fear. Be patient, wait upon God. Watch and pray. By the grace of God, the spring will come. I see signs of it already. 

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