--The official unemployment rate in the United States is now 10.2%, the highest since 1983. The broadest measure of unemployment, the U6 index, puts the rate at over 17%.
--We've had 2 more gun rampages in the last 24 hours with a total of 14 dead.
--The war in Afghanistan is rapidly becoming the latest in a series of military quagmires.
--Economists are warning that the foreclosure crisis, far from being over, is about to go through a second and even bigger wave, this one created by the unemployment and under-employment created by the first wave of the crisis. Thousands more people will lose their homes and join the ranks of the poor. No matter what policy or ideology is pursued in Washington, it won't matter. The middle class created by the post WWII boom is being wiped out.
And yet, religious conservatives complain about the "smorgasbord" quality of modern life, that everyone picks and chooses their way through this world according to what makes them comfortable.
It looks more to me like most people these days are groaning in the iron chains of Necessity and don't seem to have any choice about much of anything now.
Fundamentalists don't really need heaven, but they need hell. Without it, their vision of Christianity-as-protection-racket ("Turn or Burn!") could not possibly work. Without hell, that imperial cult of legalism and machismo which some call Christianity would lose its power to conquer and to frighten into submission.