"And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom." (Matthew 24:6-7)
The wording implies an expected increase in conflicts due to the stresses of the time leading up to the end. In other words, amplified contention is a precursor of the end time.
A primary means of repression throughout history has been economic in nature. If a person or a group can be kept at the subsistence level—that is, financially able to afford only the bare necessities of life—he or it can be controlled. For instance, a man who must work from sunup to sundown to make enough to feed himself and his family does not have time to further his education, start a business, travel to see how others live, or collude with neighbors to rebel against his rulers. Essentially, such a person is a slave, a serf, a pauper, and those in authority have little trouble holding his nose to the grindstone day after day after day. Either he plods on, or he and his dependents starve.
Westerners usually think of famine in terms of mass starvation in remote, Third World countries. In our mind's eye, we see stick-thin, little children with distended bellies and bones clearly visible under their skin, flies buzzing around their gaunt, staring faces. We imagine interminable lines of such people, bowl or cup in hand, waiting to receive their daily ration of grain or milk. Others we envision lying in the dirt without the strength even to walk.
But there is another kind of famine, not as severe but ultimately just as calamitous. It is the famine of protracted undernourishment, one that weakens the body, making it sickly and short-lived, and crushes the spirit, causing hopelessness and apathy.
This famine will not be just physical but spiritual, as well. So make sure what you believe in is not built on sand, that the roots hold.
The Roman Character: Confidently Facing the Future, Conserving the Past
ROME NEVER FOUGHT TO IMPOSE a political idea or a religious creed. On the contrary, she left local institutions and manners of thought untouched.
In Rome's imperial expansion, self defence was accounted the first motive; but trade inevitably followed and the first motive was mingled with that of commercial exploitation. True, reasons of safety safety were sometimes alleged in order to hide greed and ambition.
Rome fought to 'impose the ways of peace' and by peace she meant the positive blessings of settled order and security of life and property.
We can't say that a religion such as the old Roman religion promoted greatly the religious development of man; it carried no intellectual appeal and was therefore unable to contribute a theology. But it is certain that with the associations and habits which clustered round its contribution to Roman character was great. Great men were almost canonized for their characters or for their achievements.
To the beliefs and manners of these days we must ascribe that sense of subordination or obedience to exterior power, whether a god, or a standard, or an ideal, which in one form or another - marked the Roman to the end.
To the same source must be traced the feeling for continuity which preserves the constant, assimilates the new and refused to break with the past. For the future could be be faced with greater security if the values of the past were conserved.
The Roman Character: Firm and Righteous Will
The Romans were bound up with the duty laid upon househould and state. Here is to be found the root of that sense of duty which marked the Roman at his best. It might have made him unintersting, but he could become a martyr for an ideal. He did not argue about what was honourable or just; his notions were traditional and instinctive and they were held with an almost religious tenacity. Thus the Roman was hard.
The man of firm and righteous will,
No rabble clamorous for the wrong,
No tyrant's brow, whose frown may kill,
Can shake the strengths that makes him strong
Romans had no sacred writings beyond the formula of prayer; there was no myth-made morality to be undone. The individual's purpose was to establish right relations with the gods, not to speculate about their nature.
The Roman attitude was always the same - Tolerance, provided that no harm was done to public morals and that no attack was made upon the state.
How the redbreast got its colour.
"But little by little he gained courage, flew close to him, and drew with his little bill a thorn that had become imbedded in the brow of the Crucified One. And as he did this there fell on his breast a drop of blood from the face of the Crucified One;—it spread quickly and floated out and colored all the little fine breast feathers.
"Then the Crucified One opened his lips and whispered to the bird: "Because of thy compassion, thou hast won all that thy kind have been striving after, ever since the world was created."
As soon as the bird had returned to his nest his young ones cried to him: "Thy breast is red! Thy breast feathers are redder than the roses!"
"It is only a drop of blood from the poor man's forehead," said the bird; "it will vanish as soon as I bathe in a pool or a clear well."
But no matter how much the little bird bathed, the red color did not vanish—and when his little young ones grew up, the blood-red color shone also on their breast feathers, just as it shines on every Robin Redbreast's throat and breast until this very day."
Christ Legends, by Selma Lagerlöf