The Rise of Trump, Populism, and Global Political Chaos

As of this writing, it looks like Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will be the most likely nominees for the general election for President of the United States.  Maybe not.  Regardless of whether these two make it to the general election or not, there will be plenty of people that feel angry, left-out, and as though politics has failed them when the eventual winner is announced.  That much is inevitable.  The bigger, more nuanced (and thus ignored story) is that our ever-integrating, globalized world is becoming more complicated than our simple, slow-moving, non-progressive political governments can handle.  Whether it is the well-established countries like the United States, Germany, or the U.K., or transitioning emerging nations like China, Brazil, and India, or marginalized laggards like Iran and North Korea--globalization is presenting problems that our political systems cannot solve rapidly.  What we do have is anger, the internet, and media.  In many ways, the rise of Donald Trump exemplifies a global problem.

In my 2006 book, "Passport of Faith" I wrote the following:

"Each period of hyperglobalization demands a radical amount of change and adaptation.  New world orders form that seemingly connect the world together.  In these periods, people and governments turn to religion, nationalism, and ideology to help them cope with change....this can be a counteraction to globalization." (p.277)  

I wrote that the most likely visible symptoms would be: Islamic terrorism, poor economic choices by global powers (Europe, the United States, and China), shaky alliances, great power rivalries, an extreme divide between Rich and poor, and nationalism (p. 271-278).

Today, 10 years later, all of this is visible, whether through the continued expansion of ISIS, the stock market collapse in China, the E.U.'s anemic growth and political turmoil, renewed rivalries between the USA and Russia, the huge wealth gap between rich and poor everywhere, and the rising nationalism visible in places as diverse as Hungary, France, India, China, and the United States.

TRUMP AS THE MODEL OF POPULISM

All of this may best be exemplified by Donald Trump, a billionaire who openly flaunts gaming the political and financial system.  He bought politicians and took advantage of America's huge corporate welfare state through generous bankruptcy laws.  A Republican, he has mostly espoused Democratic political ideas in his life and still today, he  does not model conservative moral values through his language and behavior, has little awareness of religion, and is capable of changing his position on most any subject even within a single interview.  None of this matters, however, because he challenges the political system promising that the regular man will take back control of the government (and thus be able to find easy solutions for this complicated, fast-changing, globalized world).  That is populism, and there are variations of Trump in Turkey, France, the Netherlands, India, and many other countries.  They promise and overthrow of the current order and promise a return to happier times.  They are vague on solutions, but convince the people that it can be done.  That is enough for them; forget the contradictions. They look the other way because it feels good to be validated.

What Trump, ISIS, and many other individuals and movements have are not coherent ideas or actual solutions, but cheap mass communication.  It is now easy to promise a perfect Islamic Caliphate (or a United States that closes its borders to its biggest trading partners but somehow stays wealthy), to a large group of people around the world and you can develop a following.  If the Republicans had not started with 19 candidates, and were a party based on conservative political philosophy as opposed to populist ideology, Trump would not have made it far in the political race.  His actual positions and ideas are totally incoherent and don't really consistently represent anyone but Donald Trump himself.  But because the party has become a source of constant anger, the  most effective, angry communicator with the most air-time was inevitably going to come in first.  Compared to Trump, other potential populists looked boring.  

What quickly happens is that the anger and promises of solutions become more important than the actual logic and plausibility of what the populist is saying.  Consequently, Trump can suggest insane things like cutting off trade with China and Japan (two countries in severe economic turmoil that actually bring a lot of profit and even open factories in the United States), or deporting millions of people (which would not only be logistically impossible and economically damaging, but would be an national and international embarrassment).  You can hold competing views that cancel each other out:  "We should get out of the Middle East.  I said it was a mistake."  "I will bomb the hell out of ISIS."  You can even behave poorly by making fun of a disabled-person, make jokes about menstruation or killing members of the free press."  In Trump's case, you can even talk about "Making America Great" while suggesting things that would trample on the Constitution.  None of it matters.  What matters is guaranteeing a simple solution:  "You will have high wages" (even though the global economy has fundamentally changed).  "We will win all wars and never face terrorism ever," (even though it's impossible to actually stop random acts of terrorism).  "We will never have to be dependent on immigrants ever again" (even though borders can never really be completely guarded, and immigrants create start-ups, start businesses, and do jobs locals won't do. A lack of immigrants is actually the greatest pre-cursor to the downfall of a civilization).

A Need to Adapt to Seismic Shifts

The problem is that neither China, India, the United States, the European Union countries, nor ISIS, nor any other political movement in the world will be able to truly respond to the 21st Century challenges without a massive amount of painful adaptation.  China is in an economic free-fall.  The government of the Chinese Communist Party will play the part of Trump and increase military tensions with its Asian neighbors, create show-trials and purge its wealthy, and call on the people to love China above all else.  Modi will do it through Hindusim and prejudice.  ISIS through the promise of a new golden era of the Caliphate.  U.K. leaders may do it by leaving the E.U.  Hungarian leaders by building a fence around the entire country.  Greek leaders by embracing Marxism.

But populism reduces problems to a level so simplistic that it is useless.  The reality is that China is in trouble and has to get beyond simple manufacturing and create a domestic market that consumes instead of saves.  Furthermore, China will have to learn to compete with Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and other nations that are going through the same transition into cheap manufacturing that led to their rise.  There is no easy solution. Neither the USA nor China can prevent other countries from wanting what they have.  Neither is it a zero sum game (China wins-USA loses).

Brazil and India, like China, are going to have to respond to the political demands of the emerging wealthy and middle-class that globalization has created.  Because the more upward mobility there is, the more the citizens demand their governments to open up in transparency and efficiency.

The United States will have to re-invent its economy so that local communities drive innovation and commerce, while government pays off its two credit card wars, rebuilds the nation's infrastructure, and reforms the financial system.  It also means, Americans are going to have to self-educate themselves, develop new skills, go to trade schools and self-invent jobs that can't be outsourced to computers, robots, or cheap labor countries.  It will be painful because this is a seismic shift.  Be wary of the populists who tell you that it is as easy as voting for a Democrat, a Republican, for Islam or Evangelical Christianity, or for Marxism or hyper-Capitalism.  Sorry no easy answers that avoid personal responsibility and community effort.

What should the Democratic and Republican debates have been about?  Alternatives to traditional university, the danger of weak infrastructure, the challenges and benefits of automated jobs and robotics,  the role of taxation in a Democracy, the new forms of manufacturing that are emerging in America, the need for educational reform to encourage an entrepreneurial mindset:   These are issues that deal with actual adjustments that need to be made in the 21st Century.

Instead, we get simplistic discussions that demonize immigrants, calls for more expensive wars, calls (from Hillary Clinton) for more of the same, and belligerence toward our greatest trading partners.  None of this deals with the core issues, none of this will help the people who believe they are being saved and heard.  Politics (especially under the baby-boomers), is now extremely dualistic, hates nuance, and views cordiality and working together with contempt.  Until this generation that grew up immersed in counter-cultural cynicism is truly dis-empowered, there will be lots of room for Trumps, Clintons, and Palins.  

A Bumpy Road Ahead

Because the United States is inherently entrepreneurial, shockingly self-reflective, and addicted to problem-solving, fifteen years from now, the United States will have re-invented manufacturing, dominate in global trade, and punished and shamed its populists.  But for now, the US, Europe, China, India, and many other places around the world will be addicted to easy answers and choosing one incomplete side over the other incomplete side.  In an age of extreme democracy where Facebook users make up one of the largest "countries" in the world and where hatred and simplistic thoughts can be globally transmitted in a second, the irony is that the long-term solution will only come from the bottom-up, when individuals demand more of themselves, thus demanding more of their government representatives.  The problem is not really Trump.  The problem is us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Tribute to Sharon Skaggs

The longer I live, the more I think life boils down to two things:  strength of character and love.  

We lost our Mom suddenly and unexpectedly this past week, and more than anyone I have ever met; Sharon Skaggs exemplified these two things.  Her strong character meant that she was exactly who you thought she was, and who she said she was.  There was no disparity between the public Sharon and the private Sharon.  The kind, graceful, gracious, smiling Sharon that you saw in public, was exactly who she was behind closed doors.  And as far as love is concerned, she had no enemies and showed love to all equally regardless of their status.  Sharon, unlike most of us, was who she needed to be every day in the exact same way. 

Although she was a baby-boomer, born in 1947, she was really more like someone from “the Greatest Generation.”  She shunned showiness, she cared not for material things, she prized loyalty and consistency, and she didn’t know “rock” from “roll.”  She missed Woodstock, but she was born on a different farm in South Dakota to very godly Germanic farmers who believed in hard work, godliness, and keeping true to your word.  There was no bragging or pursuing success for personal gain; it was all about serving others and doing it with a smile.

Sharon’s smile may be the thing most remembered about her.  She was always smiling to everyone equally.  It was a big, beautiful smile that her daughter Jamie inherited.  The above picture (taken by Keli Oldham on Sharon’s last trip to Egypt) is perhaps one of the only photos you can find where she was not smiling.  She never complained about anything, including the loss of her husband to cancer in 1993, and she was always an optimist.  That optimism would serve her well working with troubled youth in Washington State at a ranch, or as a missionary for 10 years in Cairo, Egypt enduring the chaos of the Sadat assassination in 1981 and many other trials that would come her family’s way.  She raised two children, Byron and Jamie, to have the highest moral integrity, and she blessed people throughout the five continents that she traveled and worked in throughout her life.  

She was an administrative genius.  She was great with numbers and excellent at administration—especially dealing with complicated, detailed issues.  These skills helped her rise in the Church of God mission-agency to the highest levels where she worked until she retired.  Sharon was a wealth of knowledge on extremely complicated matters having to do with the CHOG’s international work.  There were complicated histories, numerous policies, the challenges of dealing with different governments and red tape, and yes; an infinite amount of church politics to navigate.  In addition to that, there were lots of numbers and accounts to master and difficult people to work with.  The reality of all of that was hidden behind the warm smile and the unflappable external demeanor.  The amount of knowledge regarding the Church of God’s international efforts that has now passed away along with Sharon is staggering.  It is lost knowledge and it is not replaceable.  She knew THAT much!  One of the most knowledgeable people on the subject of the International Church of God just passed away and she was so humble, some think she was never anything more than an administrator.  

I honestly do not believe the mission-agency would exist if it were not for Sharon Skaggs.  There were years upon years in which she put in infinitely long work-days beginning at 5:00AM and leaving at 12AM.  For years, she was the first to arrive and the last to leave the office.  We worried that she was literally working herself to death.  We had to beg her to slow down for fear of losing her.  The stress was extremely intense, in what is already one of the most stressful jobs in the world.  Very few people knew about all she endured and the amount of time and effort she made to keep things running in difficult times.  It was often  a very thankless job, but she never expressed bitterness or sought recognition.  When she was finally honored upon her retirement, she had to be tricked into it and was surprised to find both Jamie and Byron there to celebrate her decades of hard-work.  How much did those years of extreme stress age her body, I now wonder?  And how many said “thanks?”  

Perhaps it’s a moot point, because Sharon could never take a compliment.  Like her parents, you did what you had to do, and you didn’t seek recognition.  But she certainly could give compliments.  From troubled youth, to hurting widows, to everyone in between—Sharon was a smile, a friend, a non-judgmental comforter.  She was drawn to service, even in retirement.  At Children of Promise, she was an administrative miracle worker—as always.  She loved to volunteer at the Park Place Church of God food pantry, and upon moving back to the Pacific Northwest, she was already getting put on mission-committees and finding places to help others.  She couldn’t sit still. She had to help others and be useful.  

 Fortunately, she made some key international trips in her final couple of years.  We were able to spend two holidays with her:  one in Ireland and one in the Greek Isles.  Both times, she loved being able to sit back and let us do all the planning and work.  She deserved it.  Little did we know that this would be our last time with her on holiday.  She also was able to see Byron and his family in Egypt as well as visit her dearest friends in Cairo.  Once again, who knew that it was a farewell?  

For us, the loss is huge.  Sharon was the fourth member of our family.  No matter where we lived:  Hong Kong, New Haven, Berlin, the Black Forest—she found a way to be there.  Every birthday and anniversary remembered, every accomplishment celebrated, every grandkid loved to the extreme.  She was our biggest fan; providing the unconditional love that children need from their parents.  After her husband Russ died, she poured her life into work, but it was always her family that mattered most.  Her parents, her in-laws, her brothers and sisters, her kids and grandkids—she would drop everything to tend to their needs.  They were her pride and joy.  Her last Facebook post was of her grandkids.  How very appropriate and unsurprising.

I noticed that it’s hard for anyone to talk about Sharon without talking about themselves.  That's because she always made the conversation about you, your accomplishments, what made you special.  She was the embodiment of humility.  But to say she was a simple farm girl misses the complicated life that she led.  It was her strength of character and her love that made it all seem so simple, so modest, so humble.  Only those who knew her very well knew the extent of her experience,  talents and genius.  It was not a theoretical knowledge which can easily be gained from books:  it was concrete knowledge borne from massive international experience.  

That knowledge was most apparent when she helped hurting missionaries—which was her true passion.  Book knowledge and academic knowledge were nothing compared to the intimate knowledge that Sharon brought regarding life on the mission-field—the way it actually is, not the way we imagine it to be.  Many deeply wounded people found their healing in conversations with Sharon.  Whether it was the pain of losing a parent while serving overseas, or having problems adjusting to a difficult foreign culture, or missing your favorite American food—nothing was belittled by Sharon.  Yes, she knew the intricacies and complications of mission-fields, but she will be most remembered for understanding the intricacies and complicated lives of missionaries and those who live and work overseas.  Yet another treasure of hers that we have now lost, and will not easily be replaced.  

I’ll never forget when I first met Sharon.  She was intimidating, believe it or not.  Her husband Russ was in the final stages of cancer and Sharon was dealing with it all with such dignity, class and grace I was completely stunned.  There were times I would actually watch her, completely speechless, and in complete awe of her strength in that situation.  I had just nursed my own mother through cancer and was reliving it through Jamie’s experience, and here was this woman, Sharon, who was completely in control.  I’m sure there was, crying and breaking down—but I never saw that.  I saw her 100% committed to the task at hand—carrying for her dying husband and her family.  It took me years to feel comfortable around her after that impressive display.  She was on another level.  

Of course, in time, she did become my mother and filled that enormous hole in my life.  I’m sure she knew she filled that, although we never talked about it.  I liked to tease her, especially on Facebook, about her meth addiction, her penchant for cocaine, her drinking, and her stints in rehab.  It was all irony, of course.  She was the most controlled, disciplined person any of us had ever met.  And she was the most dependable person we ever met.  Mom.  

We just received mail from her here in Germany.  She sent it the day before she died, most likely.  It was filled with things we needed, things she was helping us with, a Time Magazine for us with Angela Merkel on the cover (and a note), plus a personal card—the contents of which will remain cherished and private.  That is what I will miss the most, how she was always there.  How after my parents were long gone, through death or geographically removed from my life—she stepped in and became the parent I needed daily.  I will miss how committed she was to her grandson and how she played the role of the only constant relative he had in his young life.  I will miss how natural it felt to have her in our home, in our family, in our life.  But what I will miss the most is watching her relationship with Jamie.  How close they were, how much alike they are, what great girlfriends they were to each other, and how they shared the same sensibility, talents, personality, and smile .  Their friendship was so much fun to watch and she was so very proud of Jamie.  I cannot imagine them apart.  I do not want to imagine them apart.  That is what hurts me the most.

Of course, life for Sharon was never the same since Russ died.  But there was never an ounce of self-pity or acting lost.  My only comfort is that her separation from him no longer exists.  That the stresses, trials, and disappointments of this world no longer matter.  She leaves a massive hole in our lives that will never be replaced.  Ever.  There was only one Sharon.  So graceful, so kind, so very serious, and so quick to smile.  She is our beloved mother who earned that title not just biologically or through marriage, but through love and character.  She lives in us and is with us always.  And although she could never take a compliment, I pray that her ears are ringing today with this eternal message:  “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  Well done, indeed.  We will love you always.  

Remembering Sharon Skaggs

sharon.jpg

Sharon E. Skaggs

January 9, 1947 – January 8, 2016

 

Sharon Elaine Skaggs passed away unexpectedly in Salem, Oregon on Friday, January 8, 2016. Born to Ed and Marilyn Gossen on January 9, 1947, she lived a full life characterized by her service to others. Sharon grew up on a farm in South Dakota and, after graduating from Warner Pacific College in Portland, Oregon, financially managed The Double K Ranch, a non-profit organization providing alternative care to troubled teens in Washington State. From 1981 - 1991 she and her family lived in Cairo, Egypt serving the church community throughout Egypt. She was a loving caretaker and primary support for her late husband in his battle with cancer from 1988-1993. After his passing, Sharon continued serving others, working in missionary care through Global Missions (now Global Strategy) of Church of God Ministries in Anderson, Indiana. She served in many roles including Living Link Coordinator, Director of Personnel and head of Finance and retired in 2011, having served the organization and the greater church for 30 years. Sharon served on the Children of Promise Board of Directors for 15 years.  She also served on the staff of Children of Promise for much of 2015.  Even in retirement, Sharon was actively involved with the local food pantry and traveled internationally as a volunteer for Children of Promise.  Sharon recently moved to Salem, Oregon to be closer to family. She had already begun to serve in another local food pantry and anticipated more international travels.

Sharon is preceded in death by her husband, Russell Skaggs, parents, Edwin and Marilyn Gossen and in-laws, Wilbur and Evelyn Skaggs.

She is survived by her son and wife, Byron and Jennifer Skaggs of Cairo, Egypt and daughter and husband, Jamie and Patrick Nachtigall of Badenweiler, Germany as well as three grandchildren, Jonathan and Aubrianna Skaggs, Marco Nachtigall, five sisters and brother, spouses, sister-in-law and numerous nieces and nephews.

 Occasions to celebrate the life and legacy of Sharon Skaggs:

Memorial Service: Saturday, February 6,1:00 pm at Mt. Scott Church of God, 10603 SE Henderson Street, Portland, OR

Memorial Service: Monday, February 8, 1:00 pm at Park Place Church of God, 501 College Drive, Anderson, IN; Visitation following in Bessie Byrum Lounge

 Cards for the family may be sent to: 1416 Cunningham Ln S; Salem, OR 97302 USA

In lieu of flowers, the family encourages memorial gifts to the organizations Sharon loved and to which she committed her own time and resources:

 Children of Promise

P. O. Box 2316, Anderson, IN 46018 USA

Online giving: http://www.echildrenofpromise.org/

 

Park Place Church of God

Designate: Park Place Food Pantry

501 College Dr, Anderson, IN 46012 USA

 

Global Strategy, Church of God Ministries

Sharon Skaggs Memorial Contribution – for the sending of new missionaries

P.O. Box 2420, Anderson, IN 46018 USA

Online giving: https://cgm.formstack.com/forms/cgm_gm_single  (drop down menu at bottom)

10th Annual Patty Awards: Top 10 Books of 2015

It's time for the 10th Annual Patty Awards, where I give out the awards for the best books I've read in 2015.  All of the big stars are walking onto the Red Carpet.  Is that Meeno Pelucci of "Voyagers" fame?  Look, it's Don Rickles and Sally Struthers!  And there's Nancy McKeon of "the Facts of Life."  Truly an astonishing Red Carpet Crowd.  

Well, it was a very eclectic reading year full of really good books.  There was no real theme this year, it was a hodgepodge of things with an attempt on my part to read more fiction.  And so we begin:

10)  The Terror by Dan Simmons.  A novel about a maritime Arctic expedition that goes horribly wrong in the mid-1800's.  Based on real experiences of arctic explorers, this is a novel about a supernatural enemy, and even more frightening, the unbelievable hardship caused by being stranded in Arctic conditions for years aboard a foul ship.  Very entertaining and surprisingly educational about life at sea.  The amount of suffering these sailors endured in those voyages is amazing.    

9) Hammer of the Gods: The Led Zeppelin Saga by Stephen Davies (408 pages):  A classic rock biography of the life and decadent times of Led Zeppelin.   Obviously for hard-core Zep fans only, and even then, proceed with caution. 

8)  China's Second Continent:  How a Million Migrants are Building a New Empire in Africa by Howard W. French (269 pages).  An extremely well-done look at Chinese investment in African resources, land, and infrastructure.  By traveling to various parts of Africa, French fleshes out how the new Chinese influence and "colonization" looks very different from region to region and country to country.  Excellent in its balanced and nuanced view of China's influence in Africa. Both the positive sides and the negative sides of China's influence are exposed. A crackin' read!

7) A Wind in the House of Islam by David Garrison (Kindle version).  The largest global survey of Islamic people groups and their mass conversions to Christianity.  Garrison shares true stories from every part of the Islamic World of Muslims turning to Christianity at an unprecedented rate.  The number of conversions and Islamic people groups choosing Christianity over Islam has been exploding since 9/11.  A highly-recommended overview of something you never hear about:  The growth of Christianity and the shrinking of Islam in the Muslim world.

6)  The Epic of Eden by Sandra L. Richter (259 pages). The Old Testament in the Bible is very misunderstood, misinterpreted, and complicated.  Much of this is due to the fact that this is Ancient Hebrew literature which is concerned with the issues, styles, language, and genres of Hebrew Literature, not Western-style literature.  This is a Freshman-level introductory book to the Old Testament that does an excellent job of introducing the main themes of the Old Testament in a way that is very easy to understand and helps it to all make sense.  

5)  The Sicilian by Mario Puzo (Kindle version).  A story that takes place between "The Godfather I" and "The Godfather II" while Michael Corleone is hiding in Sicily after avenging his father's shooting.  The story revolves around a Robin Hood-like bandit causing trouble for the Sicilian Mafia in the 1940's.  Full of action, but also a fascinating look at the very unique Sicilian culture. Sicily is colorful and mysterious, and this book is a great way to learn about it.

4)  The Almost Absolutely Nearly Perfect People: The Truth About the Nordic Miracle by Michael Booth (393 pages).  I absolutely loved this book that seeks to find whether the Socialist, Democratic Scandinavian countries (Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Iceland) are really as great as people think. Booth is a British journalist that lives in Denmark who is not only a great writer but also very funny.  The book shows the good sides and the dark sides of each country, but overall---yes, life in Scandinavia is very good compared to the vast majority of the world's nations.  What is remarkable is not only how similar each country is, but how very different they are as well.  How history, culture, and geography shape a nation is a subject that always fascinate me, and Booth does his homework.  While he doesn't shy away from their problems:  high cost of living, divorce rates, immigration issues, etc.,--the overall picture that emerges is of societies that try very hard to provide the most important services for their people so that they are free to pursue their own goals. Everything I hoped the book would be!

3)  The Cartel by Don Winslow (Kindle version).  The sequel to one of my favorite novels of all time, "the Power of the Dog" which tracks the rise of the U.S. War on Drugs in Mexico.  An angry DEA agent and a rising drug lord face off again, but this time in an era of globalized drug trade, Los Zetas, and the anarchy of a Mexican state dominated by competing cartels.  Just as good as the first novel and based on real events that are taking place now.  It shows you what  mess the drug war is.  

2)  A Kim Jong -Il Production:  The Extraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Filmmaker, His Star Actress, and a Young Dictator's Rise to Power" by Paul Fischer (Kindle version). Super-riveting true story of how South Korea's most famous Director and Actress were both kidnapped by Kim Jong-Il to jump start North Korea's fledgling movie industry.  As is true with any book about North Korea, reality inside the Hermit Kingdom is as bizarre as humanly possible.  The portrait of their life inside North Korea and their desire to escape is a total page-turner.  It is often hilarious to read about how absolutely poorly made North Koreans films were.  It is also tragic and frightening and, well...utterly insane. This came so close to being number one.  

AND THE WINNER IS....

1)  The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel Van Der Kolk, MD (Kindle version). Finally, a book that explains why your extended family is so screwed up and why your Uncle is crazy.  This is a must-read for anyone from a dysfunctional family, anyone who has struggled with depression, anxiety or trauma, or anyone wanting to understand where psychotherapy is headed.   Trauma could be anything from divorce, being fired at a job, or more severely sexual, emotional, or physical abuse, war,  rape, car accidents, abandonment or other life-changing traumatic moments.  Van der Kolk began studying trauma by looking at Post-Traumatic Syndrome Disorder in Vietnam veterans.  This led him on a journey to understand how traumatic events in our lives affect us psychologically and physiologically.  He explains the ways that our bodies act out under stress and how disorders develop.  He also chronicles the various ways that medics have tried to deal with this from the rise of antidepressants and SSRI's like Xanax and Prozac, to EMDR therapy, Yoga, and many other techniques.  Each chapter is divided into smaller sections so it is not a difficult book to read.  The author makes complicated subjects regarding neurology and neuroscience very easy to read.  This is a book that will give you a ton of "aha!" moments and explain a lot about you, your family, your friends, and the world we live in. I can't recommend it highly enough--especially to those that have endured significant trauma in their lives or work closely with people that have.    

Honorable Mention: 

Fate is the Hunter by Ernest Gann (383 pages):  Memoir by a pilot who worked during the rise of the airline industry when planes were just being understood and crashes were not at all uncommon.  Gann flies people, mail, and war supplies in the 1940's and sees a huge majority of his fellow pilots and co-pilots die. He has near-disaster after near-disaster as the science of aviation has not been perfected and you learn as you go.   It's a reminder that the extremely safe air travel we have today came at a huge cost.  Many accidents happened and many people died in order for corrections to be made that now enable us to fly almost without fear of anything going wrong.  

The Beast:  Riding the Rails and Dodging Narcos on the Migrant Trail by Oscar Martinez (Kindle version).  A journalist from El Salvador hangs out with Central Americans trying to get smuggled across the U.S. border.  The journey is extremely deadly as human-trafficking, drug-violence, and robbery and rape threaten migrants at every turn of the trip.  Unlike what Donald Trump suggests, the border is already extremely hard to cross and getting more difficult every year.  These true stories of people's attempts to escape the violence in their homelands is tragic.  

Biggest Disappointment:

Matterhorn:  A Novel of the Vietnam War by Karl Malantes.  A much acclaimed novel about young soldiers fighting in Vietnam and all the complex realities they have to quickly figure out in order to survive.  Technically, it's great and educational, but I just found that I didn't care about hardly any of the characters.  

Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box by the Abridger Institute.  Also very acclaimed, this books is about the importance of creating an organizational culture that has a high E.Q (emotional intelligence), which we intentionally try to do at Three Worlds here in Europe/Middle East.  I thought the book sucked however, because the whole book is based on a fictitious company that is already full of high E.Q. employees and they are trying to help their new low E.Q. employee.  This is not helpful since the vast majority of companies and organizations are filled to the brim with low E.Q. employees and bosses.  So if the point is just to say E.Q. is important organizationally, okay.  But if this book is somehow supposed to help the poor sod stuck in a low E.Q. environment, forget it.  The question is how to get the power to change it.  That is much more difficult.  

Next Year:

Well, that's it.  The big stars are heading home and the limousines are pulling out.  We'll be back next year for some more book reviews.  Up next year:  A two volume biography of Elvis Presley, a journalists look inside the NFL, A biography of Christopher Columbus, A Christian novel about a Roman Centurion, a Novel of the Civil War, and books on Russian history.  Thanks for joining us at the Patty's.  See you next time!

 

 

Announcing 3W Leadership Network

Our Three Worlds Team is very excited to announce the creation of the 3W Leadership Network which will be launched in Interlaken, Switzerland October 26th-30th, 2015 with a special Young Leaders Forum. The 3W Leadership Network will enable young Church of God leaders in the Europe/Middle East to be in constant contact and do ministry together across borders in a way that has never been done before.  It raises the level of inner-connectivity to a whole new level and will be a source of encouragement, synergy, strategy, and dynamism for the whole Europe/Middle East Church of God Region.  

1   Who will be attending the Young Leaders Forum?

The goal is for this network to be run and sustained by regional leadership.  We are inviting an initial group of young leaders from the following countries: England, France, Holland, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Russia, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, as well as the USA and Canada to begin with. The vast majority of these young leaders speak 3 to 4 languages. Nearly all of them are fluent in English. They range in age from 20 to 45. Samir Salibi of the Paris Church of God, Sarina Hennig of the Church of God in Hannover, and Laszlo Debreceni of the Church of God in Hungary will be the regional leaders of 3WLN with assistance from the 3W team.

One of the goals of 3W and of this new 3W Leadership Network is to work closely with Church of God congregations in North America as they deal with new post-Christendom realities. We hope the success of this network will have a direct impact on the Church of God globally.

2   What is the 3W Young Leaders Forum?

In a 2008-2010 global study of the Church of God commissioned by then General Director Ron Duncan (Mosaic), it was found that three key challenges the Church of God faces in almost every Church of God country in the world are: 1) Lack of young people in church and in ministry. 2) A lack of support for pastors and people in ministry under the age of 35 and 3) A lack of inner-connectivity and extreme isolation due to the Church of God’s emphasis on autonomy and its lack of functioning structures to bring direction, vision and unity.

In the 21st Century, it is vital that there be new generations emerging in ministry, young people filling our churches, and clear ways for the church to create cross-cultural synergy.  Mechanisms have to be created to sustain a higher level of networking and coordination.

Our Three Worlds team desires to create the first ever multi-national network of CHOG leaders under the age of 45. The 3WLN (Three Worlds Leadership Network) will encompass 16 countries in the Europe/Middle East and bring together all key youth leaders biennially (for training, encouragement, and synergistic regional strategizing). The network will be a source of camaraderie, synergy, ideas, and support. Camaraderie is particularly important and isolation is particularly deadly. In many of our countries, the percentage of Evangelical Christians is between .25% and 4%. Many of our young people have never been in a room with more than 5 or 10 Evangelical Christian youth. Events that bring them together are enormously inspirational and healing in a way that North American, Latin America, and African Christians cannot understand because the European and Middle Eastern cultures are so deeply secular and/or hostile to Christianity. The question is whether this effort can become exponential and sustained over the long term, and 3WLN is meant to do that for this region.

3   Where is the Forum? 

The first meeting is planned Monday, October 25th – Friday October, 30th at the Credo Center in Interlaken, Switzerland.  This location is ideal for the initial event as it allows everyone to meet and stay together in one central location. Many of the young leaders are able to drive to Switzerland, saving on transportation costs. Others will have low-cost carrier options into Zurich, Basel or Bern. The Forum will be a platform for establishing further interconnectivity and regular interaction via the web, regular forums, 3W Seminars, conferences, youth camps as well as opportunities to attend each other’s ministry events.

4   What is the Format of the event?

The Conference will feature a combination of spiritual, exemplary and testimonial sessions. Representatives from different regions will have the opportunity to share the challenges and successes of their ministry in their home countries.  There will also be break-out sessions focusing on youth ministry, pastoral ministry, and music ministry.  Matt Anderson, Preaching Associate at Crossings Community Church in OKC, will be the keynote speaker throughout the event and messages will also be delivered by Ken Oldham (3W- The Middle East) and Daniel Kihm (3W- The Netherlands). There will also be a Q&A session, as well as a Roundtable Discussion on the purpose and vision of forming a network.  All the events are are structured to bring about new friendships and lead toward a commitment service that will challenge all of us to raise our level of commitment to each other and to the Lord in ministry.  It will be a powerful event.

5   Actions of 3W Leadership Network (3WLN)

The October Young Leaders Forum will be an initial meeting for young leaders throughout the region. From this meeting, we hope to create an ongoing 3W Leadership Network (3WLN). This network would be a commitment to further interconnectivity and regular interaction via the web, regular forums, 3W Seminars, conferences, youth camps as well as opportunities to attend each other’s ministry events. The network will assist in the development of local youth programs, young singles and young married couples programs in each country. This will be the first international group of young leaders in the Church of God that will grow up doing strategic, coordinated international ministry together across multiple countries, knowing each other, having regular contact, and changing the world for Christ.

6   When will 3WLN meet in the future?

We hope that the 3W Leadership Network will informally bring together all key young leaders at least biennially for training, encouragement, and synergistic regional strategizing.  Individuals and small groups of the network will also support one another’s ministry events. For example, Italy leadership will be joining Bulgarian Youth Camp in 2015 and UK Young Leaders plan to attend Budapest Lectures in the future. 3W Seminars may also be offered in their home countries.  The delegates in Switzerland will be able to decide at a special roundtable session how they would like to move forward.

7   Funding 3WLN

We do not want to foster financial dependency and we hope to create something that can be as self-sustaining as possible. However, churches in Europe tend to be very small (10 to 30 on average) and have very few resources.
Our desire is to cover expenses in several ways:
1) Grants
2) Three Worlds Ministry Budgets
3) 3WLN member contributions
4) International countries contributing to support their young leaders
5) North American Church of God Partnerships/Sponsorships

8   How can my church be involved?

Many of the leaders who have been invited come from small congregations in Europe/ME and may have difficulty with paying the cost of room and board or travel expenses. The cost of Room/Board for the full week is $350. Travel expenses may vary depending on if delegates require flights. If you or your church would be interested in sponsoring an individual or delegates from a specific country please contact us at pj@three-worlds.com . Gifts of sponsorship can be sent online or through Project Link -  NextGen Fund (42.30401). Make checks payable to Church of God Ministries and indicate the project number and “3WLN” on the memo line.

Church of God Ministries
c/o Project Link
PO Box 2420
Anderson, IN 46018-2420

3W Seminars: Children and Family Ministry

This month, Three Worlds is excited to host a team from County Line Church (Auburn, Indiana) to lead seminars in Paris and Rome on Children and Family Ministry.  The team includes Nathan Tatman, 3W Roundtable participant and Mission Advancement Pastor, will be joined by Mary Ellen Rayle who is County Line’s Kids Ministry Pastor, and Chelsea Buckwaler who is the Kids Ministry Assistant.  The team will present the seminar at the Church of God congregation (Eglise de Dios) in Paris on March 21-22, and then again for Italian Church of God congregations in Ostia on March 28-29.

 

Joining the presentations in Paris will be Ken and Keli Oldham, 3W Middle East.  The EDD in Paris was planted by Michel Fegali, a Lebanese graduate of the Mediterranean Bible College, and it consists largely of believers from Lebanese, Egyptian, and other Arabic speaking backgrounds.  The congregation worships in French and Arabic each week, but their children’s ministry is offered only in French.  The EDD pastoral ministries have recently been handed over to a young Lebanese born believer, Samir Salibi.  The Oldhams have been getting to know and encouraging Samir via Skype video conferences over the last year.  With the work the Oldhams are doing with congregations in Egypt and Lebanon, and the weekly children’s ministry program they offer to Egyptian children in English, this is a great opportunity to begin creating relationships for future partnership and mutual support between the Church of God in France and the Middle East.

 

We asked each of the County Line team to answer a question about the upcoming seminars for this post; here are their questions and answers.

 

Nathan, as a Missions Advancement Pastor who has been actively supportive of the approach of 3W in Europe and Middle East, what excites you most about the future of the Church in our region?

"I am very excited for this next season of ministry and church life within the Europe and Middle East Region. Over the last four years I have seen exponential increase in connectivity amongst churches and leaders, a hunger for partnerships with pastors and churches in Europe, Middle East, and North America, the next generation of leaders adding a voice to the local church, and health beginning to permeate in these congregations. The church in North America must take notice of what is happening as we are in the midst of seeing God do some amazing work in and through His people and the local churches. I believe the foundation has now been laid for these next years to see these once struggling churches and isolated leaders to flourish in the gifts, abilities, and ministries that God has designed for them." 

 

Mary Ellen, your approach to Children's Ministry is family-centered; what are one or two things you hope to encourage or inspire the congregations in France and Italy to do as they minister to the next generations?

"One of the best opportunities the Church has to reach more people for Christ is through children and families. I am looking forward to meeting with the congregations in France and Italy to share my passion about the great power we have when the family and church unite in shaping  faith development and nurturing spiritual growth.  I want to encourage them to think about creative and meaningful ways to include children in their worship and church life.  I hope leaders will consider prioritizing ministry to children and families in their planning with the potential of impacting more people for Christ.  And ....we hope it is fun!  We are bringing some engaging ideas for Bible stories, memory projects, crafts and games that will help all of us, kids and adults, learn to look with fresh eyes and listen with understanding ears."


Chelsea, you are the youngest on the team presenting next week; what are you most looking forward to experiencing as you interact with Christians in these different cultures?

"I am so excited for this opportunity and eager to see how God brings everything together. I can’t wait to meet and build relationships with the people in France and Italy. God has placed on our hearts Bible stories, activities, and teaching methods to share about Children’s Ministry. Although we are coming to share with other church leaders from different cultures, I know that we will be learning from them how they do ministry and interact with each other.  I am very thankful and honored to be a part of this workshop and look forward to sharing my heart for family and children. I have grown already through preparation and prayer over the last several months. God is amazing and doing great things and I can only hope to be a light to the people we meet in Europe." 

 

Three Worlds is so thankful for the partnership and support offered by congregations like County Line.  We are hopeful for the seminars in the next two weeks, and we want to invite you to pray with us for the equipping and inspiration that will take place in each location.  Pray also for the Church throughout the region to intentionally, creatively, and powerfully work to pass the faith on to the next generations.

3W's Fight Against Sex-Trafficking

The problem of sexual slavery and sex-trafficking has exploded around the world in the last 15 years.  New technological inventions, open-borders, conflict, and the ease of travel at the beginning of the 21st Century  has made it easy for sexual slavery networks to erupt around the world.  Approximately 20 million people are caught in sexual slavery and 98% of those trafficked are women and children.  Three Worlds works in three regions where the problem is particularly acute:  Western Europe (home to street prostitution and many brothels), Eastern Europe (the source of many of the trafficked women and children), and the Middle East (where conflict and refugee migrations are making it easy to prey upon women and children). Becoming involved in the fight against this scourge was not an option, but absolutely necessary.

Berlin is one of the most international and open cities in the world.  It is also a city connected to many of the networks involved in sex-trafficking.  The number of red-light districts has increased from 2 to 7 in just the past couple of years.  Five years ago as part of her ministry on the Three World's Team, Rhonda Philips (3W-Berlin) began working at a cafe that provides food, shelter, counseling, and friendship to women working as prostitutes on the streets.  The vast majority of these women are working the streets against their will.  It is common for women from Eastern Europe to be promised work as domestic helpers, nannies, or other jobs in Western Europe, only to find that they have been tricked and forced into slavery.  In some cases, "boyfriends" lead them to Western Europe on a romantic vacation and lead them to apartments where they are repeatedly raped, enslaved, given a crushing debt to pay-off and have their families  back home threatened.  Others were forced into slavery or captured as children and have been living on the streets ever since.  

In the past few years, Rhonda (who has spent more than 20 years on the mission-field and can converse in English, Russian, Hungarian, and German) saw her role in the cafe increase.  Over the years, there were women that longed to escape and who did with the help of Rhonda and her friends at the cafe.  It became increasingly clear that what was needed was a long-term shelter; a place where the women could safely escape their pimps, get off the streets, and begin the process of rebuilding their lives and returning to their homes.  Surprisingly, Berlin--a city of 4 million people, is not remotely prepared to provide this kind of shelter to victims.  

Rhonda's dream of creating a shelter became a multi-denominational reality in a very short-time.  A talented team assembled around Rhonda and includes Josh and Audrey Weiger (3W-Berlin) our newest team members.  Rhonda, Audrey and the rest of the team began the process of registering a new non-profit in the city of Berlin and it is called Pink Door (see website).  The speed at which this has come about has been a God-ordained thing.  The need is immense and the amount of women wanting to escape (and the danger) has increased dramatically in the last couple of years.  Everyone understands this is a tremendous need and the city of Berlin needs faith-based organizations to help fight the problem.  Even a local mayor of a suburb is wanting the Pink Door project based in his town.  In November, Pink Door's official registration as a recognized Non-Profit was granted.  We are now at the phase of finishing up the writing of the business plan (which has already been steered considerably by Audrey Weiger), applying for funds for the project and beginning the training of the staff.  We will first open an office in the city, which will not only be an "office," but also a counseling center.  Our target date for opening is late Spring 2015.  The shelter will come later in Fall 2015.  

Meanwhile, Rhonda and the team continue to minister to women and see them accept Christ, escape from slavery, or receive love with no strings attached.  They are also assembling a team to go into the brothels!

Pink Door is just the beginning.  It will provide more opportunities for our ministry partners to serve the women, furnish our shelter, and fund this safe-space.  With our regional network, our dream is to continue building on Pink Door by helping with job-training, re-location back home, impacting a new generation with scholarships for women and children, and even assist the women in starting businesses.  The first step, however, is creating a safe space where the life of sexual slavery can be left behind.

The team that has been assembled is outstanding, the need is great, and the strategy is wholistic and long-term.  Three Worlds is looking for individuals and churches that want to help fund these first key years of the shelter's expenses, or women that are willing to work as volunteers in the near future, and people that want to contribute to invest in the new life of these women.  If you or your church are interested in joining our 3W team as we launch Pink Door, please go to the CONTACT US page and write us a message.  We will respond immediately.  We can't do it without you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Weeks in the Life of the 3W Team

Is there a way to help the Church of God be more inner-connected, more effective at creating support for people in ministry, and a more intentional way of engaging people?  Our Three Worlds team believes that the answer is "Yes," and we have designed our whole Europe-Middle East strategy and team to achieve those goals.  So four years after the team was launched, how is Three Worlds doing?

Just in the past two-weeks, you can get a glimpse at how effective the team approach has been.  Last week, Daniel and Christy Kihm moved into their new permanent house in the Netherlands.  They were helped by 3W Teammates the Philips (3W-Berlin) and XZ Berlin intern Catherine Groeber from Germany.  Previous interns have come from the U.S.A, Hungary, Singapore, Spain and other countries.  Just a few days before, Christy Kihm (3W-Netherlands) had been busy setting up the first ever Europe/Middle East European Youth Network which will meet for the first time in Interlaken in October of 2015 bringing top youth leaders from 16 countries together.  Audrey Langford (3W-Liverpool) is also the co-organizor.  

Now the Kihms take a group from the Netherland CHOG to Belgium for the annual Paris Church of God Retreat which was moved to Belgium this year to welcome French-speaking people from the Netherlands.  Among this group, will be a number of French-speaking Africans that are part of the Church of God in Europe, including Kenneth Morikang of Bulgaria/Cameroon, Emmanuel Zivo of Germany/Senegal and many from the Geleen Church of God which includes people from the Congo, Ivory Coast, and Angola. An "Africans in Europe" network is starting to take a form which could lead to lots of exciting possibilities both in Europe and Africa.  

Meanwhile, Kelley Philips (3W- Berlin) and Ken Oldham (3W-Middle East) went to Frankfurt, Germany to meet with the National Ministry Leader of the German Church of God to make sure that the excellent relationship between Germany CHOG and USA CHOG continues to grow as we expand our inner-connectivity in European-Middle East ministry.  Relations have never been better between the two countries.  Three Worlds team members will be presenting at the next European Theological Meeting in 2015.  Ken Oldham now sets off to co-organize the tri-annual Budapest Lectures that were started in 2012 along with 28 year old National Leader Peter Kiss. and 33 year old Pastor Laszlo Debreceni.  The Budapest Lectures are open to all CHOG people.  This latest set of lectures will be the first led by the Russians from Chelyabinsk and will have attendees from Lebanon, Bulgaria, and Hungary.  Previous presenters have been from the USA and Germany.  

The Simpsons (3W Bulgaria) were at the at a 3W Seminar in Rome for the Italy Church of God, which was in partnership with Healthy Growing Churches Network and County Line Church of God (Auburn, Indiana).  It's part of our Italy Expansion Initiative which has helped launched 2 church-plants and preparing for a third as well as a new, highly-innerconnected Italy youth-group.  The Simpsons now prepare to meet up with Ken Oldham in Budapest along with a group from Bulgaria.  

The Langfords (3W Liverpool) just landed in the U.K to take up residence in Birkenhead, England, reaching out to youth in one of the countries most difficult and economically-depressed urban areas.  

Last, Patrick (Regional Coordinators) was in Western Canada and Ohio meeting with regional partners that are interested in supporting this healthy way of missions continue to expand in Europe and the Middle East.  While not every team member is mentioned in this past 2 week summary, all of them are constantly doing this type of work.  

Everyone works for the common good and women are highly-empowered on the Three Worlds team and are often the key leaders.  Keli Oldham (3W-Middle East) travels to the region on her own without Ken (and drives through Cairo traffic)!  Our most important 3W event ever is in the hands of Christy Kihm and Audrey Langford, and Rhonda Philips is spearheading the establishment of the Pink Door for women caught in sex-trafficking.  These two weeks are an accurate snapshot of how the Three Worlds team is trying to help the Church of God at the dawn of the 21st Century.  It's a new day in the Europe-Middle East Church of God.  This is a totally new approach and we are glad to see God blessing it.  Thank you for supporting our team!

Patrick Nachtigall's New Book: "In God We Trust: A Challenge to American Evangelicals" is Coming Soon


Patrick has written a new book that deals with the americanization of Christianity the future of the United States, and how American Christianity looks when viewed through the prism of historical and global Christianity. It is an eye-opening look at the way American culture and myth has formed what we think of as "Evangelical Christianity." 

 

The book suggests that there are three gods that have always dominated American Christianity:  Religious Freedom, Radical Individualism, and Materialism.  A combination of historical amnesia and an obsession with apocalypticism has created a form of Christianity that is very americanized and exported all over the world.  "Caught between triumph and apocalypse" American Christianity veers from cultural arrogance to deep pessimism about the future of the country--a pattern that has existed for more than 400 years.  

 

The book also deals with the rise of non-Western Christianity and geo-political questions such as the rise of China, Russia's renewed threat, and the rise of Islamic terrorism as well as making predictions about America's political, economic, social, and religious future. Heavily documented and intentionally citing many Christian and evangelical scholars, the book makes a powerful case that the American church needs to re-examine itself at this point in history.  You will never look at American Christianity in the same light again, but you will walk away with a more Globally-minded, historically accurate view.  The book is released in November.  Order now

here.

 

 

NOVEMBER 2014

Why Care About Missions in Europe? These 10 Answers May Surprise You!

What kind of response do people get when they decide to support ministry in Europe? Here are some samples:

"So you are going on a ministry trip to Paris? Yeah, right!"  

"A work-camp in Italy?  You mean a vacation right?"

"I'd rather go to Africa or someplace where they need Christianity."

"The Europeans had their chance. I'm going to support a place where Christians have never heard the Gospel."

These kind of responses are what some people receive when they decide to help the Lord's work in Western Europe (Eastern Europe is a different story, associated as it is with poverty and communism).  But when people respond this way, they are showing their ignorance about the current state of Christianity around the world.  Here are some reasons why you should care about missions doing work in Europe:

1) Non-Western Growth vs. Western Decline: Today Africa has over 390 million Christians (3/5ths of the continent), Brazil is the 2nd largest Evangelical nation in the world, China is experiencing the fastest growth of Christianity in history.  Many of the places where the West concentrates its missionary efforts have an abundance of churches, leaders, and resources.  These countries are now sending missionaries to the USA.  In Europe, however, the church struggles in isolation, but is full of sincere Christians needing help to make an impact in their communities.

2) They have not heard:  For many Europeans, it has been 4 generations or more since there was a religious believer in the family.  Many countries in Europe saw widespread religious belief disappear after World War I, or at the latest, World War II.  So this means that even the elderly may not have ever heard the Gospel message in any form.  Shouldn't they get a chance to hear or is the Gospel only for non-Europeans and North Americans?

3) Europe is pagan:  The "Christianity" in Christian Europe has been greatly exaggerated.  Through most of Europe's history, it has mostly been a pagan society with people following superstitions and local religions that were sometimes incorporated into a state religion.  Even Calvin and Luther complained about the few people that were actually involved in the church in a serious way.  The very fact that Christianity was institutionalized by Emperor Constantine set up the foundation of Christendom which would limit the dynamism of Christianity.  Europe needs genuine Christian movements as opposed to state-sponsored or forced Christian initiatives.  

4) What we learn doing mission in Europe can benefit the American Church.  At Three Worlds we see how quickly the U.S.A. in particular is entering into a post-Christendom atmosphere.  As  America secularizes, we feel that the work we are doing and what we are discovering in the European context can be of use to the American church.  You should care about Europe because the next generation in the U.S.A. will look like Europe.

5) The rate of born-again Christians is small.  In many European countries, the Evangelical community is less than .25% of the population.  That is less than a quarter of one percent!  It means that we are literally talking about a few thousand people in large countries like Poland, Italy, or Czech Republic.  Very few people are sharing the life-affirming gospel of Jesus Christ.

6) If European Evangelical churches close, they may never re-open!  In countries like Greece or Bulgaria, you cannot take for granted any Evangelical church that has the permission to be open.  Local laws and the state church can make it extremely difficult to own property, register as a legal church, or bring in missionaries.  Even if a church is down to 10 people, it may be vital to keep it open or else there will be no way to get back into that particular European country.  In many places where the Church of God operates in Europe, we cannot afford to let churches go under.  This is also true in the Middle East.  Our registration as the Church of God is golden in most of these countries and cannot be allowed to lapse.  

7)  There are many lonely Christians in Europe trying to stay encouraged as they are vastly outnumbered.  Most churches, pastors, and believers in Europe are very lonely and desperate to connection to any other believers.  Unlike many believers in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, European evangelicals are extremely isolated not only from other Evangelicals (a given), but even people of any kind of religious persuasion whatsoever!  And few churches in North America bother to connect to lonely Evangelical churches in Europe.  

8) There are not enough workers, experts, and helpers in European churches.  Because churches are small, it is not always easy to find people that are talented at church management, children's programs, youth, theology, and many other areas that North Americans take for granted.  We need North American churches to pass on their talents and skills to our sincere workers who are eager to learn.  

9) Because it's Not About You and Your Image. Let's face it.  Some people love going to poverty-ridden places because it seems much more dramatic and sacrificial.  But we are called to go to those that have never heard.  Jesus says nothing about the conditions or geographical location, but rather teaches us to go the whole world.  That includes Western Europe.  There is poverty in Europe, (particularly Eastern Europe), but it is the spiritual and eternal poverty we should focus on above all else.  

10) Because the world comes to Europe:  Berlin, Barcelona, Paris, Rome, Athens--all of these places put you in contact not only with the locals but with people from every continent.  Many of these cities are filled with people that would love to attend evangelical churches for Latin Americans, or West Africans, or Chinese, or Koreans.  Globally connected as they are, it's easy to impact the rest of the world with the Gospel when reaching international people in Europe for Christ.  

Consider the importance of investing in the church in Europe.  We need your skills, talents, and resources.  It is a gorgeous continent that has a lot to teach us not only about Christian history, but about the whole world in general.  Three Worlds is committed to making a big difference in Europe and using that to touch the world.  Won't you join us?

 

 

 

 

 

 

3W Team Keeps Growing

SPECIAL 3W NEWS!!! The Three Worlds Team keeps growing! We are so thrilled to announce that Josh and Audrey Weiger (and baby Emma) are joining 3W to work regionally in Europe and the Middle East based out of Berlin, Germany.

The Weigers... will be continuing to develop the emerging 3W Europe/Middle East youth network and pay particular attention to lending strategic support to youth workers and youth groups in the region while creating a new level of inner-connectivity.

Audrey will be joining the Philips in Berlin as 3W seeks to expand its ministry to women and children caught in human trafficking and sexual exploitation.

Their motto is: “Love God, Love People.” They are passionate about bridging generations, building up young leaders, equipping others to fulfill their God-given dreams, and using business as mission to provide for God’s people.

“We enthusiastically accept the call to join the Three Worlds team."

Audrey was born in Ohio and worked recently for Anderson University admissions for eight years. Her undergraduate work in communications (public relations), Christian ministries, and German, as well as her MBA, were done through Anderson University. She has studied in Austria and teaches at the Anderson University School of Business. She ran a nonprofit organization, Bound For Freedom, with friends from college, making and selling handmade journals. Proceeds went to organizations that supported women with HIV/AIDS and women emerging from sex trafficking.

Joshua was born in Maryland and moved to Alabama at the age of eight. He’s pastored students and families at Park Place Church of God for seven years and brings innovative ideas and superb interpersonal skills to youth ministry. He also has served as a 3W Seminar speaker in England and France. He completed his undergraduate studies in Christian ministries at Anderson University and interned in two youth ministries and with the International Youth Convention, helping to plan and coordinate IYC 2008.

Audrey and Joshua are the parents of the delightful Emma and are expecting their second child in the fall of 2014.

You can support them by giving to PROJECT # 42.10094 at Church of God Ministries. We hope to have them on the field by the fall of 2015. Pray for them as they begin the difficult fundraising process.

Josh & Audrey.jpg

Introducing 3W America: Seminars for the American Church

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We are excited to announce "3W America."  These are 3W Seminars that are meant to be held in the North American church when we are on home-assignment.  It is another way for us at 3W to add-value and give back to the North American Church that supports our work.  The topics will be relevant to the North American church and will share what we have been learning as we face ministry in the complicated 21st Century global environment.  The more we can share and exchange ideas, the stronger all of our churches will be.  Our Three World's team is committed to serving the church in North America as well as the Church in Europe and the Middle East.  Below are our first dates:

 

SEMINAR TOPICS 2014-2015

1)  The Three Worlds of Christianity:  The Changing Face of Christianity in the 21st Century

Christianity is growing and changing at a dramatic speed.  This seminar discusses how global Christianity is present in three worlds 1) Traditional 2) Post-Christendom and 3) Non-Western and the challenges and opportunities that rapid Christian growth and rapid Christian decline bring, as well as how to engage the church in the future.  (90 Minutes)

2) Is Europe's Past, America's Future?  The Challenge of Secularism in America.

Christian belief seems to be in rapid decline in the United States.  Why has secularism grown so rapidly and how does American secularization compare with Europe's secularization over the past 400 years?  (90 minutes)

3) Developing an Effective Mission-Strategy for Your Church

How do you create a global missions reach for your local church?  This seminar covers how churches can learn to effectively engage with other countries and with missionaries.  It helps churches understand how to help without hurting, how to have proper expectations, accountability structures, how to maximize their churches skills, and most importantly, how to leave the countries stronger than before.  (2 hours)

4) The Challenge of Missionary Life:  What You Need to Know

This seminar helps the American church understand the life of missionaries, their challenges, the pressures they face, and how a church can better and more thoroughly support the missionaries they support.  Also useful for those considering being missionaries. (90 Minutes)

5) Is the Middle East Blowing Up?  Understanding Recent Events

The Middle East has entered into its most destabilized period in decades.  What is happening in the world of Islam and how frightened should we be?  This seminar examines the growth of Islamic Fundamentalism, the challenges various countries in the Middle East are facing, the effects of persecution on Christians, the conflict between the U.S. and other nations. (90 minutes)

6) What's Going on with 3W?  A Comprehensive Look at the 3W team in Europe/Middle East

A country-by-country and missionary-by-missionary look at the ministry being done by 3W team-members in 16 countries throughout Europe and the Middle East. (90 minutes)

7) Mosaic:  The Future of the Church of God

The Church of God (Anderson, IN) is at a critical cross-roads.  This seminar is based on the findings of a two-year global study of the Church of God presented in the book "Mosaic: A Journey Across the Church of God."  An overview of the global Church of God is presented as well as the top challenges facing the Church of God are discussed in detail.  The seminar also discusses how the Church of God is well-configured for the trends of the 21st Century. (2 hours)

Churches that host 3W America Events are invited to choose 2 for a Saturday presentation, or Friday night or a Sunday night.  Some can be in done mid-week.  3W America weekends can provide a lot of useful information for the local church, or the State or District.

Contact  Patrick Nachtigall for scheduling and details.  

 

 

Is this the Beginning of World War III?: Making Sense of 2014

As Russia faces off with the West and terrorism hits the skies again, the news looks increasingly bleak around the world.  The European Union is fragile, much of the world is in a recession worse than the one hitting the United States, China's presiding over the world's largest financial bubble, North Korea acting increasingly erratic, the Middle East is spinning into chaos, and Latin America's two-decades of stability look to be coming to an end.  Is this the beginning of World War III?  Is something unusual going on, or is this just the result of too much satellite T.V. and our having got used to a Post-Cold War era of peace?

First of all, much to the disappointment of Apocalypse-predictors everywhere of all religions, even if we enter into a period of extended chaos, life-expectancy has never been higher, infant mortality never lower, the poor never wealthier, nor has the world been as free from international and domestic conflict than it is now.  If you had to pick a century to live in, this is the one.  The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse were far scarier in the 20th, 19th, and 18th, Centuries.  

What is happening, is that we are seeing the inevitable counter-action against the latest wave of hyper-globalization that I wrote about in 2006 in my book "Passport of Faith."  Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the speed of global integration on the cultural, economic, technological, and political levels has been unprecedented.  While some form of globalization is always occurring throughout history, this is an era of hyper-globalization of which we have only seen two previously (the Age of Exploration and the Industrial Revolution).  "In this era we have seen the birth of the Internet, the shrinking of the microchip, the establishment of new nation-states, the growth of immigration, the creation of mega-cities, the integration of world financial markets, and the practicality of satellite technology.  At the same time, these rapid changes are responsible for new challenges and dilemmas in the medical, environmental, financial, political, and social spheres. Cloning, the homogenization of cultures, global stock market crashes, the disintegration of nation-states, environmental degradation, and the rise of transnational terrorism all remind us that globalization brings benefits as well as challenges.  Globalization always demands radical change and adaptation." (p. 258 Passport of Faith).

That rapid, large-scale change causes global instability eventually, even though the foundation is being set for an era of greater prosperity and stability in the long-term. In POF, I spoke of the counteraction to globalization that would come and that it would involve competing ideologies, a new divide between rich and poor and lead toward shaky alliances, imperial overstretch, great power rivalries, an increase in terrorism, and anti-Capitalist movements.  Today 8 years later, I suggest that the prediction was accurate and in 2014, we can see 3 key global trends that are threatening to cause the counter-action to Globalization that is now ushering in a period of instability.  They are:  1) A Clash of Fundamentalism 2) Disillusionment with Democracy and 3) Severe Wealth Disparity.

1) A CLASH OF FUNDAMENTALISM

Samuel Huntington was much criticized for his politically incorrect article and book "The Clash of Civilizations: the Remaking of the the World Order" which predicted that in the Post-Cold War era, we would see religion and cultural differences re-assert themselves.  He spoke of new fault lines between the Orthodox East, Islam and it's neighbors, and the West.  The war in Yugoslavia in the early 1990's was a foretaste of this.  

Huntington has been proven right in many ways, but what is becoming clear is that--in general--nationalism and fundamentalism has become a response around the world to globalization's rapid change.  It is not just Islamic Fundamentalism that is having  re-awakening, it is Hindu Fundamentalism in India, Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel with Netanyahu government following suit, and Christian fundamentalism from Uganda to the U.S.A. making itself known.  Fundamentalist movements are often fueled by time of rapid change and modernization.

There is political fundamentalism as well.  The polarization of the U.S. Congress is mirrored in a number of countries.  Germany is increasingly divided into two, and India is seeing its political system paralyzed.  Thailand, like many countries, is divided between the rural class and the more urbane, wealthy class.  Leftist extremists are making a comeback in Latin America,  Right-wing extremists are gaining traction throughout Europe, both East and West. Even in peaceful Scandinavia, the 2011 Norway shooting by a right-wing extremist broke our image of the Northern countries being peaceful places of tolerance with no division.

The largest and most volatile Fundamentalist division is between Islamic movements and their non-Muslim neighbors (as Huntington predicted) and between Muslims themselves.  This division includes everything from a Sunni-Shia divide, to Fundamentalist Islam against Liberal Democracies, Fundamentalist Islam against secular regimes in Islamic countries, and division between Fundamentalist groups themselves.  

It is very likely that the path toward "peace" in the Middle East will only occur after a period of "Christendom-like" religious wars in which theocracy is proven to be an unmitigated disaster and Muslims come to reckoning with the need for a division between church and state.  Since this idea is not inherent to Islam, this civil war within Islam may long and bloody.  

We will continue to see fundamentalism and extremism grow throughout the world.  But extremists and fundamentalists make lousy governors, so many economic and democratic gains will be lost as these regimes take over playing on the nationalistic fears and fear of change of the general populace.  

2) DISILLUSIONMENT WITH DEMOCRACY

The next area of the inevitable counter-action against globalization that is becoming very clear is "disillusionment with democracy."  After the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the assumption was that Western-style Liberal Democracy had triumphed over communism.  The first two decades did see a democratic wave sweep the Earth.  By 2007 there were 123 elected democracies, up from 40 in 1972.  Since 2007, another 69 or so have been added.  Some have been complete surprises:  Russia, Burma (Myanmar), South Africa come to mind.  

But the past few years have seen democracy rejected, rolled-back, or corrupted to such degrees that widespread disillusionment is settling in.  Russia's experiment was pretty short-lived, the Afghanistan and Iraq experiments in Democracy are widely accepted to be a disaster now, Turkey's leadership has increasingly turned its back on Democracy after leading much of the world in economic growth and development, Greece is seeing extremists win votes, and the E.U. is becoming a symbol of a non-democratic trans-national organization issuing directives from above.  Meanwhile, the US has become a model of paralysis, lobbying, and financial recklessness over the past 20 years--never saving for a rainy day and always assuming problems can be postponed and delegated to future generations.  

China has opted to keep its democracy very limited (only at local levels) and its central government has been able to accomplish a lot more than countries like India or the USA that have to go through a messy political process to get anything done.  The downside for China is that the rising middle-class is demanding more a say over their daily lives, and issues like corruption and environmental degradation are infuriating the average Chinese and leading to emigration.  

Then there is the Arab Spring, where democracy has been messy and violent.  From Libya, to Egypt, to Tunisia and Syria--democracy has been far more fragile than people had hoped.  It's too early to give up on democracy in the Middle East, but one thing has become very clear:

Democracy needs healthy institutions to flourish.  When there is no Civil Society, no common sense of national identity, and no national institutions present, the choice quickly becomes anarchy and disintegration and/or authoritarianism.  The U.S. experiment in Afghanistan and Iraq after September 11th, 2001 has become a textbook case on the limitations of a country like the United States being able to create democracy out of thin air.  It required an almost mind-blowing amount of naivete to believe that a country like Afghanistan--addicted to war, marginalizing women, and comfortable with the use of children as sexual objects--could somehow become a democracy after a short-invasion, some financial assistance, and a puppet leader installed.  

3) SEVERE WEALTH DISPARITY

It must be understood that liberal democracy and free-market economics as has been practiced in this recent period of hyper-globalization have eradicated diseases, created a middle-class, integrated women in the workforce, and raised living standards faster than any other system in history.  This is something I have witnessed first-hand in more than 70 countries and I could literally give hundreds of examples of how this is true.  However, as I've consistently argued since 2006 (in two different books, and a fourth to be released this year), the potential for dangerously high levels of wealth disparity is very real. 

From Nigeria, to Peru, to Ukraine, to the United States, there is a global elite that is emerging that not only has greater wealth than everyone else, but has an enormous level of control over the economies of entire countries.  With smaller groups of people and a handful of corporations dominating economies as different as Russia's and the United States', this version of Capitalism doesn't look too different from China where a handful of government families and the few state-owned businesses they have run the country.  The lines between Liberal Democracy and oligarchy have become increasingly blurred in the 21st Century and people around the world are noticing.  Both Ukraine and Russia which are at odds from this suffer from a democracy that is really beholden to a few wealthy people that have the freedom to use the state's money and industry to enrich their coffers.  But we saw the same thing in certain Middle Eastern countries and in Latin America.

While living standards have raised over-all, the amount of money that globalization generates overwhelms and easily gets too centralized in the hands of few.  Brazil is a good example.  Under President Lula, Brazil's economy did improve dramatically and a new Middle-Class and wealthy class emerged.  The wealthy, however, became extraordinarily wealthy.  All this wealth doesn't always trickle down in the ways people would like to think.  It doesn't stand to follow that the needs of society are developed sufficiently.  This is what the recent protests in Brazil were about:  the government can invest in large showy projects such as hosting the World Cup and Olympics, but basics like bus service don't improve.  As in Ukraine, Russia, Venezuela, and many other countries--the people wonder--"Where does all the money go?"  In the United States, our recent financial windfall did nothing to change the extreme amount of debt college kids are racking up with their 8% government loans, but large corporations that go bankrupt and nearly collapse the economy do not have to pay even 1%.  

In the same way that airlines now have two classes:  Luxury for the global elite, and poor-service economy--the countries are themselves becoming like this.  There have always been classes on airplane.  But today, airlines base their entire service on the jet-setting, wealthy, elite--even if it means that half-of a 747 is taken up by 40 seats.  The whole airline and aircraft is built to cater to those 40 while 360 see no evidence of much effort made for them.  This is how many around the world feel from Brazil to Iran to the U.S.A.  

Wealth disparity when it gets to a certain level, can cause huge problems--even for the wealthy themselves.  It is not sustainable for very long.  As time goes on, more and more generations will have grown up seeing this stratification and they will have no problem reigning in capitalism and globalization.  If free-market champions and supporters of Liberal Democracy don't want to see extreme solutions to the problem (such as a resurgence of class-warfare and Marxism), then it will be up to them to address these issues in concrete ways striking the middle-ground between hyper-capitalism and sclerotic re-distribution that stifles wealth.  The temptation in an era where fundamentalism, disillusion with democracy, and severe wealth disparity are so present will be to resort to cheap-shot name calling, demonizing, caricatures, and disengagement.  This would be an enormous mistake and cost us greatly.  

The world is not ending, but it is returning to its more natural, complicated state.  The years 1991-2008 were a peaceful aberration and the counter-action to globalization is beginning in earnest.  There is nothing that a U.S. President (Republican, Democrat, or Independent) can do about it.  It is an unavoidable part of the process.  The limitations of wealth-generation minus healthy governing institutions is becoming clear from East to West.  Brace yourself for a bumpy ride.

 

If you liked this essay, my new book:  "In God We Trust?  A Challenge to American Evangelicals" will be available this summer 2014 and released this Fall! Stay tuned for details.

 

What 3W Missionaries Wish They Had Known...

At our recent 3W Staff Meeting in Rome, we asked veteran 3W missionaries what they wish they had known before going on to the mission-field.  Here are their responses.

 

I wish...

1) "I had known how much stress would be involved."  

On the Holmes-Rahe scale, a stress score above 200 can result in incredibly negative health effects, especially over the long run.  The average missionary scores 800 their first year and 600 every year after.  "My body will never be the same," said one 3W missionary. 

2) "I had known how many transitions would be involved."

"These are not even about cross-cultural issues," said a 3W missionary.  The changing dynamic with your spouse, working together all the time, leaving a normal job and going to an unusual job, leaving family, helping children transition, perpetual fundraising etc.

3) "I had known how important it is to have friendships outside of your church."  

We come to serve people in a particular ministry setting and culture, and we feel obligated to completely let our life center around them.  But sometimes the differences and demands can be too much.  Not having any relationships outside of the people that you serve can be exhausting--particularly when you are always in a different language and culture.

4) "I had not felt so much guilt about vacations and money."

As people that have to raise all of their support for ministry, many missionaries feel that they must live cheaply and never splurge on themselves or even take vacations.  Most avoid both for years and years.  Ultimately, this is unhealthy. It is neither psychologically or physically healthy to not take breaks or occasionally splurge on a special treat--but many missionaries don't out of guilt. While missionaries have budgets that help with ministry expenses, their actual take-home pay and personally expendable income is often very, very low.

5) "I had spent 6 months just focusing on my children."  

Moving your children overseas is a big deal and often traumatic for the whole family--particularly the  kids.  New missionaries feel the need to produce immediate results, but this can come at the expense of truly settling the family and creating a feeling of "home."  

6) "We had focused on our marriage."

Once you are on the mission-field, it feels like ministry must always come first.  It is easy for a couple to not take the time to get used to the unusual job, the cultural stress, and living and working together constantly.  Supporting churches make constant demands, national leaders and local churches make constant demands, and it is easy to never take a sabbath or even week-ends off.

7)  "I had realized that it's a very hard job for introverts."

the public speaking, the need to embarrass yourself learning a language, the constant fundraising, and the need to meet people of other cultures and get to know them all come easier to extroverts.  Yet many times, one or two members of the family are natural introverts.

8) "I had known that there would not be much affirmation."

Isolation, loneliness, families back home that can't understand your life, and people on your mission-field who have no idea what it would be like to leave their home country and move far away often cannot offer much affirmation.  Sometimes churches are not interested in your stories, may not know who you are, or do not want to hear you speak.  

9) "That I had realized I need to be careful who I aligned myself with."  

It is common that the first leaders that you raise up will leave you or betray you.  Relationships can easily become broken and many times the "first-fruits" don't pan out at all, which can be demoralizing.  The local culture may be as dysfunctional as the worst places we know of back home--and that can come as a shock.

10) "That we had created a few traditions."  

It may be a weekly movie night, or always ordering pizza on Fridays, or some other ritual--but the life of the missionary can be so chaotic and irregular that the lack of routine and constants can be stressful.  Finding ways to be grounded and rooted is important.

11) "That we had realized it shouldn't be a male-dominated job."

The role of the missionary-wife is often ignored, down-played, marginalized, or viewed as insignificant.  But the missionary-wife is usually someone dealing with all the background things so that the missionary-husband can be out front doing ministry.  Just getting groceries in some countries can be a whole day's exhausting endeavor.  Raising the children and helping them to adjust, dealing with homework (and teachers) in a second language, managing the complex finances, hosting people constantly, cooking meals that are more complicated to make than back home, are just some of the things that a missionary-wife does that never get seen or written about.  Of course, most wives also have to do public speaking, working in the ministry, fundraising, and probably have their own ministries apart from their husbands--but they get far less recognition.  Often, people think they do nothing.

12) "I had made sure to laugh more."  

Aside from the constant high stress levels, it is easy to believe that being a missionary should always be about martyrdom, self-sacrifice, and seriousness.  It is easy to see one's jovial spirit disappear on the mission-field.  Depression is EXTREMELY common amongst missionaries.  It is rare to find a missionary that has not experienced considerable depression.  Neither are mission organizations or teams constructed to really provide fun or laughter.  Instead, any get-togethers must be frugal, serious, spiritual, and business-oriented.  Having fun produces too much guilt and may be misunderstood by the church back home which only views our lives as exotic and a constant adventure.

At 3W, we definitely try to learn from our mistakes.  Having a team that looks out for each other is one of the first steps of correction.  We try to have fun, encourage mental-health, and give each other outlets to vent, process, and definitely laugh.  We all love our jobs and wouldn't give up our experiences for anything.  But it is extremely rare for people to see the sacrifices missionaries make and the toll it takes on their bodies, hearts, and minds.  Thank you for supporting 3W.

 

 

 

The Future is Singapore: An Essay

The Future is Singapore

China's future may be the Developed World's future 30 years
from now; A world where the state represents corporate
interests at the expense of liberal democracy.


By Patrick Nachtigall (January 2009)

In the late 1980's, numerous articles and books were written
suggesting that Japan was on the brink of becoming a new
superpower. With its fast-growing economy, high-tech
society, and expanding global influence, it was argued that
they would soon surpass the United States and become our new
primary military rival. Of course, nothing of the sort
happened. In 1989, Japan went into a decade long recession,
and as the global economy mutated into something different,
Japan's rigid and closed way of doing things suddenly seemed
outdated and inflexible. To paraphrase Mark Twain, “rumors
of America's decline were greatly exaggerated.” Today Japan
remains a key player on the global stage, but it has
certainly not become the new global leviathan. What may be
dying is not America's ability to be the world's dominant
economic and military superpower, but rather the Western
concepts of liberal democracy and the nation-state.

Today, many are assuming that China will continue its
meteoric rise to equal America's global status, wealth, and
military dominance within a few short decades. Astute
China-watchers believe China is on the cusp of greatness but
must navigate through some difficult political, economic,
and environmental challenges. The conventional wisdom
suggests that China is headed toward one of the following
four scenarios: 1) China will become a democracy with
Chinese characteristics—a Chinese version of the more
traditional democratic models, 2) remain a one-party state,
3) revert to a rigid authoritarianism, or 4) disintegrate
into many smaller nation-states as the former Soviet-Union
did. All of these scenarios, however, are viewed through the
classic nation-state paradigm. They try to gauge China's
future as a nation-state in relation to other nation-states.
Will the new China look like the United States, Mexico,
North Korea, or the Russian Federation?

But what if we are trying to analyze China's rise with the
wrong lens? What if the nation-state system itself is being
transformed as rapidly as China, so that in the future these
various models will make no sense because a new order for
states has been created? What kind of new order could
replace the traditional nation-state paradigm? Perhaps an
order that would require the rest of the world to move
toward today's China as much as the PRC is moving toward the
rest of the open world. The truth that China may need to
become more like us in the West may be overlooking the fact
that we may need to become more like China. The city-state
of Singapore may best exemplify the New World Order I
believe is on the way; a world order that would demand that
the most economically successful countries are highly
connected to economic globalization, but highly regulated as
well. City-states in and of themselves do not have good
historical track records of survival, but the make-up of the
Singaporean model of a city-state may merge with the model
of the nation-state to create a brand new entity: the
Corporate State.


The Corporate State

Unlike the nation-state which is rooted
in self-determination and autonomy, the Corporate State will
be highly dependent on the rule-sets created by the global
economy. The corporate state will not be able to afford
extreme nationalism, or wars, or too much chaos within its
borders because it is too dependent on internal and global
stability for its prosperity. In the same way that the
“nation-states” of Europe have ceded much of their autonomy
to faceless bureaucrats in the E.U., nations like China and
the United States will continue to have their
self-determination and autonomy limited in the future. This
may seem surprising since both countries seem unlikely to
submit their national interests and identity to outside
bodies. They will not, entirely. Of course there will still
be 4th of July celebrations and elections in America and
nationalistic propaganda and military build-ups in China,
but true autonomy will be less possible as liberal democracy
becomes increasingly viewed as too unpredictable and
dangerous in an extremely decentralized world.

The Corporate State will be comfortable with both democratic
and authoritarian elements. Nations that want to be
successful today need to be involved in free-market
economics, they must have strong free trade agreements, open
up their borders to foreign companies (and often immigrants
as well which can be risky), attract foreign direct
investment, create a significant upper or middle class, and
be able to respond quickly to the changes being brought on
by the new knowledge-based economy. Extreme corruption,
isolation, and instability can too easily deal a death blow
to the Corporate State so it must be an open society but a
highly regulated society at the highest levels. In the same
way that China allows democracy at the lower levels but
retains enough centralized power to make the most critical
decisions, the Corporate State will allow citizens to have
input on the local level, but corporations will dominate at
the higher level. This will not be the result of some
melodramatic, Orwellian vision of corporate tyranny; rather
it will be the result of an increasingly economically
interdependent world where corporations are the biggest,
most nimble players on the global stage. The Microsofts,
Googles, and Tata's of the world will have more global
connections and flexibility than their host countries
government. Their influence on their nations' economy and
the global economy will mean that their interests will need
to be protected at to a degree we have not seen in the
history of nations and corporations. Already the CEO's of
these companies can command more attention than a
head-of-state when traveling to foreign countries and more
often than not, a lot more is accomplished with less fanfare
and bureaucracy.

Kinder Gentler Tyrants and Oligarchs With the end of the
Cold War, it seemed that Free-Market Economics and Democracy
had won the day. The Thatcher-Reagan Revolution seemed to
usher in a new age in which the most successful economies
would need to promote privatization of state companies, a
larger role for central banks, lower taxation, oppose trade
unions, create export-led development and decrease the
Welfare state. This neo-liberalism has spread to unlikely
places such as China, Kazakhstan, Chile, Malaysia, and many
other places. Today a large majority of the world is
plugged-in to this system of economic globalization. Along
with the push toward neo-liberalism has been the assumption
that democracy can lead to fast-growing economies and vice
versa.

For those countries with a history of strong centralized
rule, the argument was that they would slowly transition
from their undemocratic state to emerge as healthy, liberal
democracies. Taiwan, South Korea, and other East Asian
countries supposedly seemed to model the way forward.
Economic liberalism appeared to pave the way for democracy
even if cronyism and oligarchies were deeply imbedded in the
system. The impressive growth rates of East Asia in the
1980's seemed to make the case.

But after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Collapse of
the Soviet Union, many new democracies stumbled quickly out
of the gate. In the Balkans and much of Eastern Europe,
throughout the Central Asian republics, in Africa and in
Russia democracy was not enough. In the case of the former
Yugoslavia and Rwanda, for instance, democracy was the
problem as it empowered destructive parties preaching ethnic
hatred. In nations such as Kazakhstan andAzerbaijan
opportunities for new wealth quickly opened up in the new
free-market world order, but democracy did not. In the
Ukraine, the economy stalled because democracy had quelled
centralized rule and led to governmental gridlock with
reforms difficult to implement. .

The world seems to be learning two important things in
regard to democracy and liberal economics. First, democracy
requires a healthy economy, strong institutions, law and
order and a well-educated population in order to have a good
chance at succeeding. Neither the United States nor Europe
were perfect liberal democracies at their inception as
modern nation-states. They too were corrupt, oligarchic, and
undemocratic but over decades they emerged as models of
liberal democracy as those key elements became present in
their societies. The failure of the United States to usher
in democracy in Iraq has become the exclamation mark on that
first point. Western-style liberal democracy and free-market
economics cannot be introduced in a vacuum oblivious to a
nation-state's cultural, historical, institutional, and
demographical challenges.

The second lesson came from contrasting Russia and China's
modernization which made clear that a centralized government
can transform itself economically better than a
de-centralized one. In the last two decades, the world has
gazed at China admiringly, while turning away in disgust at
Russia. One nation's national morale is sky high while the
other has felt a collective humiliation. Sudan, Rwanda,
Bosnia, and Haiti are also examples, but none looms as large
as the former Soviet Union which for the Chinese provides
the blueprint of how not to modernize. Indeed, Vladimir
Putin seems to be overturning the Yeltsin years and
attempting a more China-style of capitalist authoritarianism
and the disturbing thing for idealistic democrats is that it
is working better than Yeltsin's more democratic Russia.

As for rising India, a recent trip there confirmed my
suspicions that a lack of a strong, centralized government
is hindering that country's development. India's
infrastructure in comparison to China is abysmal, mostly due
to the fact that democratically-elected leaders play to
their constituents desires and prevent development. We my
say that it is admirable that farms are not being seized to
be turned into freeways, but the people of India are
expecting economic miracles—miracles that their multi-ethnic
admirable yet messy democracy may not be able to provide in
time.

Singapore, while infinitely smaller than China, was a
multi-ethnic nation that was born out of post-Colonialism.
Unlike Sri Lanka, Singapore retained enough control at the
top to create a state that valued multi-culturalism, that
was plugged-in to the global economy, and which offered
transparency and security to a much higher degree than its
Asian neighbors. Of course Singapore is small and has its
own issues of corruption, racism, nepotism, but they are
controlled enough to allow them to be a prosperous actor on
the world stage. While the lack of freedom in Singapore may
disturb our Western sensibilities (and many Singaporeans
too), many countries may come to realize that they resemble
Sri Lanka too much and Singapore not enough. What could make
countries desire benevolent, corporate authoritarianism?
Perhaps, the sense that they cannot afford to wait 100 years
for the more natural, democratic development that the United
States and Western Europe has enjoyed.

According to the Economist, we now live in a world where
emerging economies account for more than half of total word
GDP (measured at purchasing-power parity).[1] Their effect
on the economy of the wealthier, developed nations is now
very significant. For this and many other reasons,
interconnectivity requires rule-sets that all obey in
tandem, and countries that can create the right corporate
atmosphere (like Lithuania, China, Chile) will be rewarded.
In many places, global interconnectivity will pave the way
for illiberal democracy as opposed to liberal democracy.

The nations that are Emerging Nations are much more
comfortable with authoritarianism. They will not long for
the idealism of the American dream in quite the same way as
before. Freedom levels will rise enough to satisfy the
emerging middle and upper classes in countries that have
never known that unique, style of American democracy and
openness. Most of the world, in fact, has never really been
predisposed toward American-style Democracy. Our great
economic ally during the Cold War, Japan, always resembled a
Socialist, one-party state aiming for true communism despite
the Democratic rhetoric. Today, most countries resemble the
People's Republic of China in that they are trying to
modernize quickly, they have pockets of poverty as well as
highly-plugged in global regions, and they have governments
that are corrupt. The need to centralize at the highest
levels will be tolerated by the people and supported by the
companies who ultimately will support the economy.
Furthermore, many nations like China have minority groups
whose participation in democracy would probably lead to
disintegration and the creation of new dysfunctional states.
The track record for democracy amongst multi-ethnic states
since the end of the Cold War has not been good. The
invasion of Iraq has only confirmed that strong
institutions, security, rule of law, and a healthy, literate
middle-class are pre-requisites to democracy otherwise chaos
ensues.

4 Reasons the Corporate State will replace the Nation-State
It may be tempting to believe that Baywatch, Starbucks, and
American Idol will create a demand for democracy in
previously closed-off countries. But perhaps it will not
create a demand for democracy as long as Baywatch,
Starbucks, and American Idol are provided. While
Singaporeans seem dissatisfied with their current system,
there are no revolts or revolutions. A huge gap between rich
and poor is developing (which will be a problem across much
of the world), but the overall quality of life is getting
better in Singapore each decade as it is in most of the rest
of the world. Nevertheless, the question must be asked: Will
the citizens of the world really want their lives dominated
by governments which provide less democracy in an effort to
guarantee prosperity? Are we not creatures made for freedom?

There are 4 developments that will pave the way for a less
democratic order in these Corporate States.

First, The rule-sets created by the global marketplace
demand a high level of openness and security. China would
not be able to be as successful as it is today if it were
not opening its doors to foreign investment and developing
trade relationships with countries throughout the world.
Ideological and nationalistic differences between
nation-states mean less than ever before because the
corporate state needs to have as many economic partners as
possible. The Chinese may bicker occasionally with South
Korea, Taiwan, and Japan, but trade and cultural interaction
remains untouched. Distrust remains between India and the
United States, but the market demands that the channels
remain very open and that tensions be avoided.

Of course previous periods of globalization seemed to be too
inter-dependent to lead to war and they resulted in the War
of Religions cumulating with the Thirty Years War (which
ended with the Peace at Westphalia) and the two World Wars.
Have we really moved beyond the era of international war?

While war between large nations like China cannot be ruled
out, most conflicts are now within nation-states and this
new economic interdependence is solidified by technology. A
nation-state would be cutting themselves off from too many
things if they opt for war with too easily. For
dysfunctional failed-states, this might be an option. For
nations like China that want to go see their economies go
from being Agrarian and Industrial to services-oriented and
high-tech the cost may be too high. The Corporate-State's
global interests trump the nation-states nationalistic
sentiments. This leads to the second development which will
pave the way for the Corporate-State: The nation-state's
biggest threat is assymetrical open-source warfare waged by
intra-state actors or trans-national terrorist organizations.

While terrorism has been around for centuries, today's
terrorism is radically different than in previous eras.
There are five reasons why this is the case. Today's
terrorism is larger in scope than in previous eras when it
was limited to the assassination of a particular army,
ruler, or occupying force. Open borders, cheap and powerful
new methods of communication, well-educated terrorists,
technological innovations, and international financial
networks, have completely changed the face of terrorism
making it far more expansive.

First, today's terrorism is larger in scope and has far
larger goals than in previous eras. Throughout history, the
goals of terrorists have been fairly limited. Terrorism
involved the assassinations of kings and princes, the defeat
of an army in one fixed location, or the terrorizing of
particular populations for limited goals. Even as late as
September 10th, 2001, the terrorist organizations we worried
about had very limited goals. Hijackers in the 1980's
usually demanded the release of prisoners from Israeli jails
or statehood for Palestine. Terrorists in Ireland, Sri Lanka
and Spain were attempting to carve out a piece of land from
an existing nation-state. Great wars and great campaigns
were the stuff of large empires and nations doing battle,
not small, decentralized groups. Prior to our current era,
technology had not enabled a small group of actors to have
such global aspirations.

This is no longer the case. Today, the changes brought by
globalization allow terrorism to be truly trans-national.
Open borders, cheap and powerful new methods of
communication, well-educated terrorists, technological
innovations, and international financial networks, have
completely changed the face of terrorism making it far more
expansive. While groups like the Tamil Tigers and the I.R.A.
began ushering in the age of international networks to raise
funds (and smuggle weapons), their fight was contained to
specific regions. Narco-terrorists in Columbia were able to
buy expensive equipment and even compete with the best that
American drug enforcement officials had to offer.
Nevertheless, their goal was still limited to smuggling
drugs. Today, the most lethal organizations are not so
limited in their scope. In fact, Al Qaeda (which means “the
base”), is not really a particular organization but a loose
affiliation of terrorist groups that have common objectives
and global ambitions.

Second, today's terrorists are able to poison the well on
many different levels. The “War Against Terror” has not
always been prosecuted in the most effective way, but we
must also realize that this war is not just an effort to
stop individual attacks, but rather it is an international
effort to close gaps in our international systems which
allow terrorists to flourish. Terrorism challenges us on
many fronts which are not as visible as the carnage of a
suicide bomb. Illegal financial transactions and weapon
smuggling operations are part of terrorism as well and “a
war” does need to be waged against these criminal activities
because they terrorize and victimize innocent people
throughout the world. While the war against terrorism is
often reduced to a fight between the West (particularly the
United States) and Al-Qaeda, the reality is that this is a
larger battle between the civilized world and the criminal
underworld. Today the global economy is growing at a
phenomenal rate. Disturbingly however, the criminal economy
is growing seven times as fast.

A third major difference is that the weapons terrorists are
pursuing are far more lethal today than ever before. While
smuggling a suitcase nuke, or executing a biological or
chemical attack is not easy, make no mistake about it,
people are trying to do just that as William Langewiesche
has documented in his new book The Atomic Bazaar. It is true
that there is a much higher chance that the person reading
these words will die in a fatal car accident than of dying
in a terrorist attack. Even waves of terrorist attacks would
not be able to hurt the majority of the population. However,
those attacks can be far more lethal, cause more damage and
cover a greater area in less time than ever before. The cost
of protecting the nation-state is increasing exponentially,
while the cost to wage destructive attacks for terrorist
organizations is decreasing at the same rate in the opposite
direction.

Armed with box cutters and just a few thousand dollars, the
9/11 hijackers were able to kill 3,000 people and shift the
world geo-politically costing America and the world billions
of dollars. In other words, you get more bang for your buck
than ever before if you are in the terrorist game. It is
because those attacks can be done so easily and effectively
on so many different levels of society, that there will be a
need to be vigilant against terrorism. One of the biggest
lessons of the Iraq was is that it costs the U.S. military
millions of dollars to create hardware that can identify and
defuse terrorists bombs that operate using garage door
openers. Open-source warfare is empowering terrorism with
everyone learning and borrowing from everyone. Destroying
life has never been cheaper, and saving life has never been
more expensive. The real danger is not today's cartoon
version of Al Qaeda which I call Al-Qaeda 1.0. In the
future, globalization's unequal distribution of wealth will
open the door for more sophisticated groups that represent
new ideologies or even corporate or anti-corporate
interests. Think not of Osama Bin Laden representing the 7th
century, rather think of a rogue Gazprom terrorist
organization—part of a corporate militia which are already
becoming more common.

A fourth major difference is that today's terrorists are far
more educated than the terrorists of the past. Great Britain
was shocked to find out in 2007, that doctors in their
health system attempted to carry out terrorist attacks in
Scotland and England. But this increasingly fits the profile
for many Muslim terrorists in particular. Doctors,
engineers, students at prestigious European universities, or
upper and middle class youth are the ones most likely to
choose terrorism—not the poor and disenfranchised. Most of
them have been educated in the secular ideas of the West,
particularly those that are suspicious of capitalism,
imperialism, and the foreign policy of countries such as the
United States and Israel. In this sense, Osama bin Laden and
Ayman Al Zawahiri are not too different than the
Western-educated monsters that represented the worst of the
Marxist revolutions of the 20th century. Many attended
schools in the West. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who confessed
to masterminding the September 11th attacks, the Bali
nightclub bombing and the 1993 World Trace Center bombing
amongst many others attacks, attended a Baptist school in
Murfreesboro, North Carolina before completing a degree in
mechanical engineering at the North Carolina Agriculture and
Technical State University. Mohammed Atta had a degree from
Technical University of Hamburg-Harburg. Zacarias Moussaoui
received flight training in Norman, Oklahoma and had a
degree from South Bank University in London.

A fifth difference is that in the case of Islamic Fascists,
negotiations are not an option. Unlike the I.R.A. or even
the Tamil Tigers with their clear objectives, some militant
Islamic organizations hope to usher in the apocalypse or at
least achieve the unachievable such as a peaceful
pan-Islamic world . With these groups negotiations are
pointless. Due to their decentralized and individualistic
natures, there is not even anyone to negotiate with anyway.
In the past, the enemy was another country, kingdom or tribe
and the goals were limited. Even the use of atomic weapons
on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States had a goal—to
end the fighting quickly. The Cold War, in which thousands
of nuclear missiles were pointed at places around the world
had a goal as well—to deter the enemy and keep the war from
turning hot. A hotline was even set up between the General
Secretary of the Soviet Union and the President of the
United States in case the tension reached crisis level. Many
of the new terrorist organizations, however, could care less
if the whole world goes down with them. Unlike Presidents,
dictators, or generals of the past, they are not accountable
to anyone if they bring destruction on their own people.
Even Mao Zedong and his indifference toward the suffering of
his people was ultimately reigned in after the disastrous
Cultural Revolution. The war-weary Soviets had many nuclear
weapons but had no desire to use them and still had many
citizens to take care of in one way or another. Today's
Islamic-Fascists can hardly wait to use nuclear weapons and
they will not need to explain to anyone afterward why they
did what they did. The death and destruction is the glorious
goal in and of itself.

The decentralized nature of modern-day terrorism which leads
to rogue, unaccountable, independent cells, combined with
their pursuit of incredibly lethal technology and their
desire to destroy for the sake of destruction (as opposed to
fighting for a particular attainable objective) makes
today's terrorism one of the world's greatest problems. The
Corporate-State will need to be decentralized when it comes
to its business atmosphere but more centralized in its
geo-political positions and policing efforts as it
increasingly deals with non-state, transnational actors.
Global trade will be so important and assymetrical
open-source warfare so dangerous that the citizens of
prosperous and emerging nation-states will accept the
reigned in civil liberties of the nation-state. Winston
Churchill, Alexis De Toquevillle and many others have warned
about how difficult democracy is to sustain and how willing
the comfortable will give up their rights for security and
prosperity.[2]

China's response to power and wealth may not be a resurgence
of imperialism but rather create citizens like the ones in
Hong Kong: unable to have full democracy, but mostly
satisfied and apolitical in exchange for the right to make
money in a secure environment. Thus far, China's people seem
tired and ill equipped for war (as do the peoples of Western
Europe, North America, Japan, Australia and other developed
nations). If China develops bad actors in its minority
population or in the majority Han, the bulk of the nation
would probably be happy to give up its demands for civil
security and more democracy in exchange for peace and
prosperity.

Third, the need to find natural resources and control the
environment will require that all global corporations be
global and globally responsible. Keeping corporations global
and accountable will be too difficult for the nation-state.
But the Corporate-state will always have their nation and
companies interests at heart. In order to avoid resource
wars, and skirmishes across the globe, nations and
corporations will work together to make sure that everyone
profits. Key decisions will be made that will be out of the
sight of the general population, free from democratic
restraints. We now live in a world that has not only added 2
billion to the work force, but which is creating an enormous
class of new consumers. Global corporations and
conglomerates are aiming for all of these consumers, with
their products interconnected to other products. It is not
just us in the First World that are dependent on our
Japanese laptop, partially made in Malaysia, China, and
America—it is the Emerging Nations as well. The process by
which products and natural resources are distributed will
need to be protected. This dependency of global consumers
combined with the need to care for the environment and
prevent war will give more power to Corporations to make
back-room deals that secure the peace. The backward politics
of Saudi Arabia which keeps a country pacified by providing
wealth through backroom deals with U.S. corporations may be
more a model of the future of China and the world, than the
image of Iraq successfully embracing democracy.

The fourth is the emergence of a global elite that has
vested interests across borders and represents the most
influential people in the nation-state. They will be
supporters of the Corporate-state which keeps the world
peaceful allowing their business, investments, and
citizenships to remain valuable. From Mexico to Malaysia,
people are working for companies and investing in economies
that are highly dependent on cross-cultural interaction. It
is creating people that are more cross-cultural. I myself am
from a Latin American country, have citizenship in America,
and residency in Hong Kong. There are more and more of us
who for a variety of reasons see citizenship to the
nation-state meaning less than less. It does not mean the
end of nationalism or loyalty to ones country and people,
but it brings a perspective and reality about the
limitations of particular cultures and nations that was not
so easy to understand in previous eras where travel,
residency and communication where more limited and harder to
come by. This global elite tends to be well-educated, speaks
a lingua franca (English and possibly Mandarin in the
future), and spearheads the most successful class of workers
in this new age which requires high level of education,
cross-cultural skills, and an understanding of Western
corporate sensibilities. The Corporate-State's citizens are
ultimately global citizens in every way. Nationalism will
provide identity, but for the world's global citizens,
nationalism at the expense of global corporate interests
will not be an option. China does not yet have a “global
citizenry,” but China's future leaders will have been
educated in the West, have investments throughout the globe,
and will reward and promote those companies and Chinese
citizens who best fit the global mind-frame. China may call
on nationalistic sentiment from time to time, but the movers
and shakers in China will be those global elites who are
sophisticated enough to have cross-cultural skills that open
the way toward economic dominance. The country bumpkin may
be good for October 1st, but China is banking on the
Stanford-educated entrepreneur to create businesses and
serve as the model for a new globally engaged upper and
middle class.

The world that we are entering into may be too
inter-connected, too environmentally fragile, with far too
many consumers and too threatened by assymetrical
open-source warfare for liberal democracy to flourish. The
situation fragile China now finds itself in may be a
harbinger of the future of the nation-state. We are too
wealthy, use too many of the world's resources, and are too
vulnerable to de-centralized forces to disregard the role
that a strong, state can play. The nation-state with its
promotion of liberal democracy may have only been possible
in the era between the 1648 Peace of Westphalia and the end
of the Cold War1991. The triumph of capitalism has resulted
in a world with far too many consumers. These consumers
interests and economic growth will be perceived as needing
to to be protected at all costs. Democracy will be a luxury
few countries can afford in a world where the masses demand
such a great degree of comfort. The result will be a world
that will trade its freedom for security and comfort. As
globalization creates winners and losers the failed-states
of the world will become greater threats. The desire to live
in a Singapore-like state of peace and prosperity will grow.
Security cameras, which are already very prominent in
Britain, and eye scanners will seem like a small price to
pay for the global worker and consumer who will fly through
safe airports to find bargains on another continent before
returning to work on Monday at their global corporation. And
it will be a small price to pay for the nation-state which
will be happy to provide its citizens with peace free from
the fear of war and pillage. Relations between
nation-states, the dominant global theme of the last four
centuries will take a backseat to the relationship between
the community of Corporate States and subversive, non-state
actors.

As a nation China faces enormous challenges and its
successful transition to a world power is anything but
assured. But sadly, China's problems increasingly mirror the
problems of much of the world. Deng Xiaoping's desire to see
China mirror Singapore may be the fate of all liberal
democracies. Oligarchy, not democracy will be the promise of
the new century to a global citizenry of consumers who will
be too busy living in the virtual world to notice.


[1] “The New Titans.” The Economist, September 14, 2006.

[2] For a more detailed discussion see, “The Terrorist
Threat is Different Now” in Chapter 9 of Faith in the
Future: Christianity's Interface with Globalization by
Patrick Nachtigall (Warner Press April 2008).