The Sinking Sand

DesertSandby Deana Chadwell6/15/16
For the last century Western civilization has been playing make believe. We have been “slouching toward Bethlehem” across a desert filled with bones and all we seem aware of is the mirage of an oasis out on the horizon. The longer we stagger across these burning sands, the further off paradise seems, and yet we are sure it’s out there — if we just take another step –just one more bill passed in congress, just one more Supreme Court decision, just one more election and we’ll reside permanently in Shangri-La.

The unease of the country – and of Europe – belies this, however. Deep in our bones we know that if we keep going in this direction, we’ll find nothing but pain. The human soul was not made for deception – the Fall cramped our hearts so that we turn to it whenever we’re in a tight place, but we can’t thrive on prevarication, we can’t plant our crops in fake dirt, and more and more people are beginning to understand this. We can taste the difference between saccharine and sugar; the former leaves a tinny aftertaste that betrays its poison –so with this terrible mirage.

Evidence of this mass delusion pops up everywhere:

Many of our churches are satisfied with the mere appearance of growth. Just get the butts in the pews and the mortgage paid off, and leave actual spiritual improvement for someone else. True spiritual growth is tedious and painful and is unlikely to attract crowds. The “health and wealth” gospel does. So does loud music (which eliminates, in good Harrison Bergeron fashion, any tendency to actually think). Youth groups draw crowds where little but fun games and soda pop fill the agenda. If we just concentrate on the hallucination on the horizon – a better world, one made by man, one filled with fuzzy feelings and emptied of pain. Just lift your hands heavenward and sing one more tuneless chorus and the pearly gates will open here on earth.

Our schools have been most guilty in promoting the hazy hopefulness.  Educators (and parents) thought they could merely praise kids into learning; there would be no risk of failure, no hard work. When that produced miserable results school districts did two things: they demanded more money, and they opted for good PR instead of good performance. Before long students caught on that it was all just pretend and the scores dropped even lower. Not only did public education become a mirage of its own, but what little was successfully taught was just more of the illusion – global warming, multiculturalism, evolution, white guilt, sexual license, all smoke and mirrors, all slight of hand.

Philosophers dreamt of financial equality for all – a beer in every hand, and financiers (who liked the idea of moving money around, shell game style) thought they could use government to accomplish that (and get rich themselves while they were at it). They instituted the Federal Reserve as a smoke machine to protect and manipulate the illusion. Now no one knows where the money is, and the public is choking on the phony figures we’re supposed to swallow. We live out here in the sand and we’re beginning to doubt the fantasy.

Government, like the Wizard in Oz, hides behind the curtain pretending it’s God, selling always the idea that it is the goose laying golden eggs while it creeps around stealing our chickens. Apparently half the country still thinks government will provide for them and protect them just as a parent or as God might, but more and more are realizing that any contact the government has with the goose is the stranglehold it has on it.

The press, the supposed 4th estate, is nothing more than the screen the Wizard hides behind. It has also bought into the phony utopian fog. Journalists seem drunk with the power they have to herd the public off into the wilderness of financial and social experimentation. But arrogance won’t get you paradise because arrogance makes us all stupid.

The concept of actually loving our fellow man proved difficult so we decided to fake it. We sought to eradicate racism by merely imagining a world in which no one ever talked down to, or badly about anyone – ever, so we learned to be aggrieved about everything. We made petty rules about words and symbols, about cakes and bathrooms, and then we ruthlessly enforced those rules. We made racism (sexism, homophobia, etc. ad nauseum) even worse by talking about it all the time, picking the scab, and by concentrating on the differences between groups, therefore making everyone into faceless members of an angry club. So the oasis recedes before us.

Women attempted to bolster their sense of importance by complaining about every imagined slight – being called Mrs. or Miss, or having a door opened for them, or suffering through a compliment. They complain about our supposed rape culture, but have become immodest and sexually aggressive themselves. They falsely accuse and then complain that they haven’t been taken seriously. Then they support Sharia Law and Muslim extremists even though, of all people groups on earth, the Muslims treat women the worst. Thus feminists have become laughing stocks, and women cringe at the thought of voting for the first female president because she is the perfect caricature of womanhood – shrill, snarky, power-mad and devious, shackled to a philandering thief.  Have we reached Nirvana yet?

We thought we could rid the world of war by inculcating a multicultural ethic – teaching that all cultures are equally effective and equally able to provide health and prosperity for their constituents, which is pure nonsense. All we’ve done is destroy our own customs and ethics. American culture has always been fragile because it is always being altered with each new immigrant group, but now it is overloaded with South American Marxism and with Islamic practices – neither of which mesh well with the energy and independence of American life. Instead of creating utopia, we’ve created chaos.

We thought all foreign policy problems would go away if we worked toward a one-world government. It has only made us weak and vulnerable. The Bilderbergers can plan all they want, but a complete world government will not happen under the auspices of mere humans – not even in the tumultuous events of the Great Tribulation. Not until the reign of Christ the Messiah will that happen.

We thought we could get rid of sin by just calling it something else, as if the word we use somehow changes the very nature of the behavior. That’s not pederasty; it’s a preference for sex with children. That’s not sodomy; it’s a same-sex attraction. That’s not adultery; it’s open marriage. That’s not a man; it’s a woman. That’s not promiscuity; it’s free love. That’s not lying; it’s misspeaking. That’s not treason; it’s diplomacy.

The truth is that man is not suited for building heaven. It’s not ours to build. Christ said He was going to prepare a place for us, so we should leave it up to Him and quit pretending that we can do it ourselves. There’s a reason we refer to the perfect society as Never-Never Land. We’ll never get there. To think we will is delusional. What was it Paul said? “For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie.” (2nd Thessalonians 2:11). We have bought that lie hook, line, and sinker and we’re sinking deep into the shifting, hellish sand.

Deana Chadwell blogs at and is a writing and speech professor at Pacific Bible College in Southern Oregon.
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Deana Chadwell

About Deana Chadwell

I have spent my life teaching young people how to read and write and appreciate the wonder of words. I have worked with high school students and currently teach writing at Pacific Bible College in southern Oregon. I have spent more than forty years studying the Bible, theology, and apologetics and that finds its way into my writing whether I'm blogging about my experiences or my opinions. I have two and a half moldering novels, stacks of essays, hundreds of poems, some which have won state and national prizes. All that writing -- and more keeps popping up -- needs a home with a big plate glass window; it needs air; it needs a conversation. I am also an artist who works with cloth, yarn, beads, gourds, polymer clay, paint, and photography. And I make soap.
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38 Responses to The Sinking Sand

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    This is why “you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs” so atrocious. Aside from the fact that people aren’t eggs, the omelette never turns out to be worth all the eggs — human lives — broken to make it.

  2. Tom Riehl Tom Riehl says:

    Deana, another fine essay; it’s complicated but it rings of truth. Even though we are now wallowing in the sinking sands, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to improve out lot. We are always empowered and commanded to move towards Him.

    In the secular realm, this may mean that Trump is one small step towards sanity. We must live in our times, and not hope for an impossibly perfect solution. After the abhorrent massacre in Florida, Trump had the best realistic response. Sorry to inject politics onto your fine essay, but we can’t divide the realms.

  3. Tom — I so agree that we must keep on praying for, and working toward, a change in direction. I also agree that Trump may be a weird choice, but God works in mysterious ways. Who knows? And we have to remember David; he wasn’t morally perfect either, but he was by far Israel’s best king.

  4. Anniel says:

    I just finished speaking to a dear friend laboring under that “powerful delusion.” Let’s hope that God’s mysterious ways lead to hope for our country and waken good people from their delusions.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      It’s important to realize that as long as people are capable of thinking (however poor they are at it), they’re capable of learning the truth. This does no good with liberal ideologues, but most people fall out of that category. They fail to think, but they still can — and occasionally they do, and they learn. Will enough do so soon enough to save the country? We shall see.

  5. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Nice essay, Deana. You minted a number of great points.

    It’s difficult to explain what happened and why. And there surely is no one single explanation. But I believe there are some easily-identified general trends (which we conservatives tend to bunch under the word “materialism” or even “atheism”).

    I was reading Anything Goes by Lucy Moore. It’s a pastiche of 20’s people and events…the chapter I am reading is on the emergence of mass media in the form of moving pictures.

    Read this next excerpt with our modern culture in mind, the one that now idolizes (makes idols of) entertainment figures and where every popular figure — whether in politics or sports — tends to be shoved through this same entertainment sieve:

    This was one aspect of what Elinor Glyn described as the “Hollywood disease”—to which she confessed she also succumbed, although (in her sixties) perhaps not to the same extremes as some. It started almost on one’s arrival, Glyn wrote, producing “a sense of exaggerated self-importance and self-centeredness, which naturally alienates all old friends. Next comes a great desire for and belief in the importance of money above all else, a loss of the normal sense of humor and of proportion, and finally, in extreme cases, the abandonment of all previous standards of moral value.

    A lot of people parse the problems of modern life in terms of a lack of adherence to Biblical values or belief in god. And this is valid if only to show the “vacuum” principle. Nature abhors a vacuum. And what has sucked us in is the entertainment culture. And I believe we, in the rank-and-file (not just the rich elites), are experiencing the same pathologies as was first noticed and described by Elinor Glyn.

  6. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Many of our churches are satisfied with the mere appearance of growth. Just get the butts in the pews and the mortgage paid off, and leave actual spiritual improvement for someone else. True spiritual growth is tedious and painful and is unlikely to attract crowds. The “health and wealth” gospel does. So does loud music (which eliminates, in good Harrison Bergeron fashion, any tendency to actually think). Youth groups draw crowds where little but fun games and soda pop fill the agenda. If we just concentrate on the hallucination on the horizon – a better world, one made by man, one filled with fuzzy feelings and emptied of pain. Just lift your hands heavenward and sing one more tuneless chorus and the pearly gates will open here on earth.

    Coming from a real Christian, that certainly confirms what I understand to be the case.

    Seeing the evil of Islam once again, its worth reflecting on what Christianity is. Is it a faith? Is it a religion? Is it an identity? Is it a club? Is it just a heaven-based entitlement?

    This is something I struggle with, especially as I look out and just see so much nonsense. And I’m not talking about hypocrisy whereby one professes one thing and does another. This is, generally speaking, a disingenuous Leftist attack on Christianity and not one I make. Having standards, even if we don’t always meet them, is a good thing and far better than having no standards so that you can’t ever be a hypocrite.

    My beef is just with the mush thinking the seems to pervade Christianity these days. I think it’s the same phenomenon concerning the Republican Party where we now have Trump. Politics is fleeting, but the very high probability of a conscious Creator means that getting off the mark concerning Cosmic stuff is far worse than supporting some guy just because he berates the press.

    Suffering and redemption are at the core of the idea of Christianity. And I look at how so many people, inside or outside of religion, have expectations of non-stop pleasure and it makes me sad. And, of course, the idea of redemption kicks in only if the precious little perfect snowflakes out there will admit fault, which is increasingly not the case as things such as “fault” are now cast off as an inappropriate concept for an age where everyone chooses one’s own “values” appropriate to themselves.

    I’m a mix of humility and brashness. I’ve gotten in touch, through books and experience, with what I think is something authentic. And at the same time, there needs to be allowances for how other people understand and approach this stuff. But too often any apt criticism of this kumbaya nonsense that pervades Christianity has been deflected by the idea of “I can’t criticize someone else’s faith. Faith is a personal thing.”

    Well, so is going to the toilet. But if you pee on your shoes, you’re not doing it right. And I think a lot of people have learned bullocks about Christianity. And as offensive as this might sound to Protestants, you could do worse than read a few good (authentic) Catholic authors. I’m not talking about Marxist frauds such as Pope Francis. And the Catholic Church today is full of such fools. But the length, breadth, and tradition of the Church is deep and long-lived enough that you will find the Spirit of the thing.

    Not that you can’t outside of the Church. But I believe much of Protestantism has been eaten out by being unattached to good tradition. You’ve got every congregation doing their own thing. People shop for churches like they do clothing. I ran across a sincere (I think) twenty-something kid the other day who was visiting a church and he told me “I’m still looking around for a good fit.” Okay, fair enough. But is it about the church changing to fit your requirements or the other way around? Shouldn’t you be trying to eat your spinach instead of just looking for something that is comfortable all around and doesn’t and never chafes?

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      I ran across a sincere (I think) twenty-something kid the other day who was visiting a church and he told me “I’m still looking around for a good fit.”

      Perhaps it was just a matter of poor articulation. By “fit”, maybe he meant “a church which teaches adherence to the text and truth of the Bible.”

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Well, being hierarchical doesn’t necessarily work. Baptists are oriented toward the congregations, and remain strongly Christian. By contrast, the Episcopalians have made political correctness their god, though many local congregations do disagree and are beginning to affiliate directly with the Anglicans.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        What the Catholic Church does have is a long, continuous history of scholarship and serious thought about the thing called Christianity.

        Of course bureaucracies have a tendency to move to self-perpetuation and corruption.

        The hierarchy of the Episcopalian Church has been taken over by a bunch of non-believers who probably resemble the lesbian Lutheran I previously wrote about. They are part of the long march through the institutions with which the Left has stomped on traditional beliefs.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        The core advantage and attribute of Protestantism is that it can be bible-based. You don’t have to have a lot of intermediaries, bureaucracy, hierarchies, and such. The Truth doesn’t have to be watered down and spoon-fed, often for reasons quite apart from learning and understanding. And it meshes to the idea of God>You. Not God>Someone Else>You. And given that the Bible is a message to people, not an assent to collectivism, this is important.

        In practice, we might as well call it “Cafeteria Protestantism” because Catholics do not hold a monopoly on this. Good tradition can provide an anchor in the face of the shifting sands of fad and fashion. Doesn’t always work out that way, of course.

    • “If you pee on your shoes, you’re not doing it right.” Wow — I’m still chuckling. I may have to rent that line from you now and then. You are partly right in your assessment here, but I’d like to address some of your concerns more completely than I can right now. Brace yourself for another essay shortly.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Sounds good! And glad to provide a chuckle. Free of charge and free for your use.

      • Rosalys says:

        ” Brace yourself for another essay shortly.”

        Yes, please, Deana! And the shortlier the better! This was, as usual, excellent.

  7. Rosalys says:

    Collective insanity just isn’t (to borrow a concept misused by the left) sustainable. The pendulum swings one way, and eventually swings back the opposite. But the pendulum has swung so-o-o-o high, far, and wide into Lalaland, that when minds are snapped back into reality I fear it must swing back with a savage brutality that ain’t gonna be pretty.

    Pray for revival!

    • I worry about that too, Rose, and a revival is all that stands between us and destruction.

      I’m concerned for the gay community. Eventually, public opinion on that issue will snap back and all those folks who “came out” when it was trendy to do so will be stuck out there on a collapsing bridge with nowhere to go. It’s a pity that so many got lured into that lifestyle.

      But then, “the world is too much with us, early, late.”

      • Timothy Lane says:

        I read a piece in Conservative Chronicle by Marvin Olasky that suggested Psalm 73 as a good one for conservatives today. I would be interested in the opinion of our more religious writers here on this.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Speaking of “snapping back” (and perhaps wising up), in an otherwise unusually mediocre article by John Hawkins, he quotes an anonymous writer at PJ Media:

        “I also now realize, with brutal clarity, that in the progressive hierarchy of identity groups, Muslims are above gays. Every pundit and politician — and that includes President Obama and Hillary Clinton and half the talking heads on TV — who today have said ‘We don’t know what the shooter’s motivation could possibly be!’ have revealed to me their true priorities: appeasing Muslims is more important than defending the lives of gay people. Every progressive who runs interference for Islamic murderers is complicit in those murders, and I can no longer be a part of that team.” — Anonymous at PJ Media

        • Timothy Lane says:

          People can learn, however rare this is. And if conservatives bring this point home, a lot of homosexuals may realize that the liberals really aren’t on their side anymore. Of course, women should have realized this years ago (as Tammy Bruce learned over the O. J. Simpson trial), and most haven’t. But no one stressed the point.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            If I were a 100% bona-fide pole-smoking rainbow-wearing fag, I would rather align with hardcore Christians who merely want to deny me blurring the distinction between man and woman (by denying the fraud of “gay marriage”) than align with a party that puts the interests of Islam (a religion that routinely murders gays) above homosexuals and then has the mendacity to throw mere trinkets (such as peeing in the bathroom of your choice) at homosexuals and the gender-nihilists/exhibitionists as a sign of solidarity.

            Blacks face the same thing. To paraphrase Telly Savalas, “Who really loves ya, baby?”

            • Timothy Lane says:

              One might also note that Christians don’t actually try to stop homosexual weddings; they just seek to deny them formal state recognition. Homosexual activists and their synoptic media claque carefully hid this by always talking about “bans” when no such action was involved. The early homosexual marriage vs. Christian business cases occurred in states that “banned” homosexual marriage.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                One might also note that Christians don’t actually try to stop homosexual weddings; they just seek to deny them formal state recognition.

                Good point. And the weak, flimsy libertarianesque answer is to get government out of the marriage business. But we forget…we are supposed to be a self-governing republic. Marriage and families are very much in everyone’s interest to stay strong and primary. We are supposed to be a people who have a government and not the other way around. Too often (and for reasons I understand) “the state” becomes this entity that is alien, as if there is only our liberties and the state, and one is inherently opposed to the other (the pure libertarian position).

                Of course, it is decidedly not in the interests of collectivists, Leftists, Progressives, fags, freaks, and others to keep the family strong. As far as these ninnies are concerned, Original Sin starts with the family. We are all broken little snowflakes because of the family, especially because of paternalism.

                My family was no picnic and it left deep scars. But at some point one has to live by the Tarzwellian philosophy of “Buck it up, buttercup.” It is a dead-end street to blame the parents, blame your neighbors, or blame “society” unless real material harm has come from them. It probably doesn’t help to blame God either, although surely ultimate blame/credit lies there. And the quandary of the existence of evil may never be solved in our lifetimes.

                It matters what our first principles are. It is logical and reasonable to assume a Creator who created the forms of male and female with the intent of them being joined as one flesh. We can scratch our heads at why some men have girl-like qualities and some women have man-like qualities. But that doesn’t change the outlook that man and women are not arbitrary categories. And if you believe that these are not arbitrary categories, then certainly it does not occur to an authentic Christian to try to reorder society with the state acting as surrogate parent or spouse.

                Those who don’t examine these most basic and first principles are left arguing in circles, never getting to the substance of the thing, although occasionally you will run across an honest atheist who will admit they believe nothing means nothing and thus anything goes.

  8. pst4usa says:

    Well said or typed as the case may be, Deana. In our small group Bible studies we have put some of this mess as beginning in the garden. God created man in His own image! We took a bite of the fruit from the wrong tree and, we have been trying to create God in our own image ever since.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Pat, I don’t believe in the literal Garden of Eden. But I do believe the metaphor is apt.

      Tenet One: For man to be an independent creature with a life worth living, he has to have free will to some extent.

      We have the ability to choose good, bad, or indifferent. Many choices that we make are not a clear-cut example of good or evil but are merely a function of preference. You like apples. I like grapes. Neither choice is good or evil.

      I find the thought of a literal Garden of Eden untenable. Surely an omniscient god would understand that free will meant that no one short of a perfect God could always choose good. Parents certainly don’t expect their children to always choose good all the time and yet they have children anyway.

      So we humans invent the metaphorical story of the Garden of Eden to 1) try to explain evil and 2) to try to wash God’s hands of all responsibility for the existence of evil. I find this garden story fails on both accounts.

      But we were just talking about Lincoln and the Civil War. Lincoln is the forbidden fruit for Libertarians and others. He is the Original Sin of Big Government. But the fruit that was eaten was the uncompromising and spoiled fruit of unreasonableness. Offers were made to the South, including the idea of simply paying for the slaves. All offers were refused, and all comprimises were eventually not honored. The South had eaten from the fruit of zealousness and they would not do a sensible or constructive — let alone Christian — thing.

      Instead of wasting tens of thousand of lives, they could have sat down and hashed out a sensible agreement to phase out slavery. Granted, “phasing out” wouldn’t have been fast enough for some. Still, it was a process easily conceived and certainly economically viable. As John Adams noted when he saw slaves working on the unfinished White House that he would soon inhabit: One Yankee paid worker could have done the work of a half dozen of the slaves.

      Slavery was inefficient. An easy economic case could be made that simply moving to a regular and free for-pay system would have worked well. But evil was deeply embedded in the hearts of the Southerners. They had gotten used to treating an entire class of people as animals and it would have been a blow to their egos to treat them as equals. They had eaten from the poisoned fruit of excessive pride, if not a kind of Nazism.

      Life daily presents us with fruits, sweet and poisonous. I consider Trump a poisonous fruit. Others wish to take a bite. I say “You first.”

      • Timothy Lane says:

        In many ways, the story of slavery was also the story of Jim Crow. The more enlightened Southerners realized that eventually it would have to go, but insisted on states’ rights. This was fine in view of the 10th Amendment, but then they never did anything at the state level to bring about any move toward racial equality.

      • pst4usa says:

        Well Brad, I think you missed the point of my story completely, or I botched my story so badly that I misslead you. You focused on the Garden part and I was trying to focus on how we try to change God to fit our image of what he should be, to avoid self evident truth or anything that we might call black and white. I.E. you have a penis, you are male, if you are to be married, then it must be between man and woman, not how you feel about your sexual identity at that moment.
        We could have a discussion about slavery, the civil war, Lincoln and the South, or even one about the merits of the Garden story, but that seems like a whole new subject.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Pat, although I said what I wanted to say about my views on the literalism of the Garden of Eden, I wasn’t refuting you as much as I was taking off on a tangent. From the Garden of Eden to Trump in 6.4 seconds. And runs on regular.

  9. Rosalys says:

    Deana, the title of your essay, The Sinking Sand, brings to mind the lyrics of a hymn (as it was was it meant to?)

    On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
    All other ground is sinking sand…

  10. Glenn Fairman says:

    I don’t know how I missed this one. But every single word was true.

  11. Mike Walsh says:


    In addition to having the same name as my spouse of 54 years (she spells it Diana, but pronounces it in the European way) having been born there; you’d be a welcome member of any small groups that I attend or referee. You have summarized in several words, what it took me an entire book to write.
    Perhaps you might check it out; it’s titled “Alternatives.” You can check it out on Google. Just type in “Alternatives Mike Walsh.” It comes up on Amazon and a few other sites.

    Mike Walsh

  12. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    The below link will take you to the commencement speech of Justice Clarence Thomas at Hillsdale College.

    Nothing he says is new or would be viewed as amazing as recently as 30-40 years ago. But given our present situation, his message comes across like thunder. It is based on eternal truths which we all knew to be so.

    It is to undermine people’s understanding of and belief in these truths that the Left and many Libertarians have misused the language, spread disinformation and called black white and white black.

    Thomas’ message is one which clears away the smoke of confusion which seems to have settled upon much of this country. Duty, honor, country. And all citizens can play their part.

    I urge everyone to read this.

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