So what does the Bible have to say about contagious diseases or pandemics? In the older portion of the Bible, the primary language is ancient Hebrew. The Hebrew word for contagious disease or pandemic is dever. It occurs around 50 times in the “Old Testament”. The root word in the Hebrew has the meaning of “destroying”, with an extended meaning of “pestilence” or “plague”. Ironically, this word is not only associated with contagious disease, it is often associated with animals; it is the “cattle disease”of Exodus 9:3.
God was planning to use the threat of pestilence to scare off the Canaanites (local inhabitants of the land of Canaan), so Israel wouldn’t have to fight to enter the “promised land” (Numbers 14:12). We know, from current experience, how easily a pandemic can induce panic and irrational behaviour.
The most common occurrence of “pestilence” in the Hebrew portion of the Bible was as a consequence of Israel’s unfaithfulness to God. When Israel was unfaithful to God, they lost His protection, with the result that enemies would invade their land and cause destruction. In that context we repeatedly find the infamous trio: war, famine and pestilence (Leviticus 26:25; Jeremiah 24:10; Ezekiel 14:12–21). The three together portray the siege of an ancient city. War drives a people inside the walls of the city, famine follows as the siege continues and the end-result is contagious disease followed by exile (Leviticus 26:21–26; Jeremiah 21:6–9; Ezekiel 7:15). The important point for us, wondering about the spiritual significance of our current situation, is that contagious disease (Hebrew: dever) is not in these contexts portrayed as an active punishment from God, but rather as the consequence of disobedience, which results in a loss of God’s protection (Jeremiah 27:13; 32:14; 34:17; 38:2). Pandemics don’t come because God is angry with people, they are the natural consequences of human foolishness and rebellion.
The more recent portion of the Bible (the New Testament—written in the common Greek of the Roman world) has less to say about contagious disease. Luke 21:11 associates pestilence (Greek: loimos, loimoi) with earthquakes, famines and heavenly signs that would occur at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. But the word is not found in the part of Luke 21 that addresses the end of the world (Luke 21:25–28).
Some Bible versions, which rely on later Greek manuscripts, refer to “pestilence” in Matthew 24:7, which is a parallel text to Luke 21:11. But even if this were an accurate translation, Matthew 24:8, again, does not mention pestilence as a feature of the end times, but as part of “the beginning of birth pains”.
Pestilence was seen by Jesus as something general to the human experience, not something especially associated with the end. The word is also used metaphorically in Acts 24:5—“This Paul is such a pest.” That derogatory reference gives, of course, no clue as to the meaning of COVID-19 today.
There is another Greek word that often translated as “pestilence.” It is thanatos—a common Greek word for “death” and the usual word chosen in the ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, to translate dever. So the Greek word for death at the time when the New Testament was written can carry connotations of “pestilence”, or pandemic.
Thanatos is used in this way three times in the book of Revelation. In Revelation 2:23, it is used in the context of a specific event that is in the past today. The second reference is found in Revelation 6:8. The rider on the pale horse is given authority over a fourth of the earth, to smite with sword, famine, and pestilence. Like Matthew 24 and Luke 21, pestilence is predicted to be a general characteristic of human history, which has certainly been the case.
The third reference to thanatos (death/pestilence) is clearly in an end-time context, however. Pestilence is one of the consequences of “Babylon’s” fall just before the second coming of Jesus. This text does not tell us that Covid-19 is a sign of the end—there is not enough information to be that specific. But it does indicate, more than other biblical texts, that pandemics are likely to be a feature of the end-times.
There is one other end-time text that could be relevant to our questions, and that is Revelation 16:2, which speaks of sores afflicting those who have the “mark of the beast”. While these sores are serious, the biblical words for contagious disease or pandemic are not used there.
The short conclusion of this biblical study is two-fold:
1) Pandemic as such is not a “sign of the end”. Since far worse pandemics have occurred in history, Covid-19 should not be used as an indicator of where we are in history. If the end-times are at hand, other indicators will prove to be more significant that this one. To put it plainly, Bible prophecy does not indicate that pandemic is a key element of the “signs of the end”, but neither does it rule it out as one of the troubles of the End.
2) Pandemic is not a direct, active punishment of God; it is a consequence of the human condition that the Bible calls sin and rebellion against God. According to the Bible, God (through Jesus Christ) is the Author and Sustainer of life (John 1:3–5). But there are forces in the universe that oppose God and create pain and destruction (Job 1:6–12; 2:1–6). To the degree that the word “judgement” is appropriate in a pandemic, it is God allowing the human condition to take its course and reap its consequences.
Is there anything else in the Bible that may be helpful in the current crisis? In the Old Testament contexts, contagious disease was a condition that could and should be alleviated by human action (Jeremiah 27:13; 38:2). The most practical remedy offered for contagious disease in the Bible is, in fact, social isolation (Numbers 5:1–4; see also Numbers 12:10–15 and Leviticus 13:45–46), the very strategy many of us are now using. It is important for a community to place a separation between those who have the disease and those who do not, as far as this is possible. Co-operating with authorities in these matters should not create an issue of conscience for believers; in fact, conscience should encourage co-operation in a crisis like this (Romans 13:1–5).
Having said all this, prophecy clearly indicates that panic is one characteristic of the final events (Luke 21:25,26). Could Covid-19 lead to eschatological levels of panic? I am not a prophet, an economist or a scientist, so take the following with a grain of salt. Covid-19, as we experience it, could get a whole lot worse, killing (in the worst case scenario publicly stated) more than 130,000 Australians and tens of millions worldwide. That would put it in Spanish flu territory, but not Black Plague numbers. The greatest concern would not be the current virus, but a mutation of the virus into something even more dangerous. This possibility is something to watch closely, but it does not seem likely to me (I am open to correction on this from scientific sources, not internet speculation). Viruses tend to decrease in potency over time rather than increase. And, due to lack of widespread testing, the death rate is probably much lower than three per cent right now, as many people who have COVID-19 don’t even know it. In Germany, a nation where testing has been much more widespread than most places, the death rate is currently about 0.08 per cent, around a quarter of the world rate. In the USA it is currently less than two per cent.
My greater concern for the future is the economic fallout of social isolation over many months (if that proves necessary). Worst-case estimates are that unemployment could reach 20 per cent or more here in the USA if the lockdowns last 6–12 months. This could trigger another Great Depression. Given the panic buying already occurring, the social order in a Facebook, post-Christian world could easily break down, leading to rioting, looting and other consequences. Among the likely consequences would be the end of face-to-face higher education as we know it, a long-term decline in tourism and international travel, a major decline in the restaurant industry and in–person retail, and in today’s climate, a serious increase in perceived anti-Christian persecution.
A couple of years from now, it is very possible that the current, global response to Covid-19 will be perceived as an over-reaction. But since we will never know for sure if that is really true, I am glad we are doing what we are doing, just in case. As to when the final events of earth’s history will happen, the words of Jesus remain relevant: “Stay awake, because you don’t know” (Matthew 24:42).
Dr Jon Paulien is Dean at the Loma Linda University School of Religion, California USA. Re-posted with courtesy from his blog, revelation-armageddon.com.
Scientists across the world have been anticipating a pandemic. A year before COVID-19 was first detected, biologists at the University of Warsaw published “Bats, Coronaviruses, and Deforestation,” a paper that links the rapid destruction of the natural habitats of bats to the spread of coronaviruses such as SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV.
The rainforests of Southeast Asia have been reduced by 50 percent over the last 70 years. .Across the world, natural habitat is being destroyed bringing disease-carrying animals in closer contact with humans than ever before. It then details that 31 percent of the viruses that bats are capable of carrying are different forms of coronaviruses. Finally, it ends with a prophetic warning: “The risk of newly emerging CoVs-associated diseases in the future should be considered seriously.”
The total amount of infectious disease outbreaks around the world has been steadily increasing over the last four decades, according to a 2014 study by Brown University scientists. During that time, the world’s forest coverage has been reduced to half its size. The majority (60 percent) of these new outbreaks were animal-borne (zoonotic) diseases, including the Ebola virus, SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, H1N1 “swine flu,” Nipah virus and many others. The Brown University scientists therefore attributed this recent global rise in infectious disease primarily to an increase in “pathogens spilling over to humans from wildlife.”
Carlos Zambrana-Torrelio, the associated vice president for conservation and health at the EcoHealth Alliance, analyzed over 704 different infectious disease outbreaks between the years 1940 and 2008, and found that measuring the rate of deforestation in a given area was the number one predictor of where the next pandemic will occur. “Scientists have been sending out warnings about this for years now,” Zambrana-Torrelio told Truthout. “We can’t keep encroaching upon the natural habitats of wildlife without taking into consideration what deadly diseases might spill over from that wildlife into the neighboring humans.”
Regions of the Amazon with increased rates of deforestation have concurrently experienced increased rates of malaria in humans. As climate change withers away the canopy of trees that act as the “ceiling” of the rainforest, puddles of stagnant water are becoming increasingly common on the ground. Mosquitos, particularly the kind that carry malaria, love to breed in this murky standing water. This increase in mosquito population in deforested areas is going largely unchecked due to their natural predators, mainly frogs and dragonflies, dying off in the destroyed habitat.
“Normally, trees can absorb stagnant water through their roots,” Andy MacDonald, a disease ecologist and environmental scientist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, told Truthout. “But if there’s not enough trees around, the stagnant water remains, creating a prime breeding ground for mosquitoes.” The areas of the rainforest where there’s the most standing water, MacDonald said, corresponds to the same areas where humans are encroaching upon and destroying the trees. “This creates deadly potential for interaction between people and malaria-carrying mosquitoes.”
A similar phenomenon happens in the rainforests of Southeast Asia, where El Niño droughts are becoming increasingly intense due to rising global temperatures. The 1998 El Niño drought, for example, occurred at the exact same time as the 1998 Nipah virus outbreak in Malaysia. “The drought caused mass forest fires that swept the region. These fires created a huge smog that prevented the plants from growing fruit,” said Amy Vittor, an assistant professor at the University of Florida’s Emerging Pathogens Institute told Truthout. “This forced the flying fox bats of the rainforest to migrate to the towns of Malaysia.”
Measuring the rate of deforestation in a given area was the number one predictor of where the next pandemic will occur.
Some of these bats flocked to Malaysian pig farms, where the first cases of Nipah virus were reported. Bats would bite into fruit that the pigs ate, causing the virus to spread to the pigs. Humans caught the virus when they came in contact with the pigs.
The majority of global deforestation today is driven by multinational corporations, including Cargill, JBS and Mafrig, as well as their creditors BlackRock, JPMorgan Chase and HSBC. These corporations clear acres of land for the mass production of a single cash crop. The Amazon, for example, is primarily being destroyed for products that people in Western countries buy but do not necessarily need — palm oil, sugar cane or various biofuels like ethanol.
Monocrop farming, in which large swathes of land are dedicated for the repeated production of a single crop, is a relatively new phenomenon that depletes soil (such as in the case of the 1930s Dust Bowl), leaves crops vulnerable to pests (as in the case of the Irish potato famine) and leaves humans vulnerable to disease by reducing the biodiversity of animals in the surrounding region (as in the case of global bee populations).
“Farms that produce a variety of crops will attract a variety of wildlife that come to feed on the crops,” biologist John Swaddle of the College of William & Mary told Truthout. On the flip side, when a farm is only producing a single type of crop, it will only attract a limited variety of animals. If one type of animal from that limited variety catches a disease, the entire ecosystem is threatened. This dynamic creates what is commonly known as the dilution effect: The more types of species there are in a given ecosystem, the more resistant the overall ecosystem will be to the spread of disease.
West Nile virus, for example, infects some species of birds more easily than others. Ducks and geese are naturally more resistant to contracting and spreading the virus, so they act as a kind of “buffer” against the species that are more vulnerable to the virus, like crows and finches. If a mosquito carrying West Nile virus bites into a duck or goose, it is likely that the virus will simply die off in their system. To investigate this phenomenon, Swaddle compared every county in the eastern U.S. that reported a case of West Nile virus in 2002 (the first year of the outbreak) to a neighboring county that did not. The result? On average, the counties that reported cases of West Nile virus had a significantly lower diversity of bird species than the counties that had no cases. And what factors affect the biodiversity of bird species in a given area? Deforestation, climate change and monoculture farming.
The Amazon is primarily being destroyed for products that people in Western countries buy but do not necessarily need.
Likewise, the rise of monocrop palm plantations in the forests of West Africa have been a significant driver of the spread of the Ebola virus. The first known cases of the 2013 Ebola outbreak occurred in the Guinean villages of Guéckédou and Meliandou, which are both surrounded by areas that had been heavily deforested for monocrop palm plantations. Much of the Upper Guinean forests have been reduced to 16 percent of the size that they were in 1975. This is largely due to the industrial monocrop farming of western-backed corporations like the Guinean Oil Palm and Rubber Company, which is financed by the European Investment Bank. As Ebola-carrying bats are pushed out of their natural habitat, they flock to places like palm oil plantations, where they can find ample food and shelter.
Another one of the largest corporations driving deforestation, and thereby the spread of Ebola in West Africa, is the London-based Farm Lands of Africa, Ltd. Between 2010 and 2012, the three years leading up to the 2013 Ebola outbreak, Farm Lands of Africa acquired over 1,608,215 hectares of forest in the Congo Basin. This massive land grab forcibly displaced thousands of families, turning land that was previously used primarily for vegetable farming by Indigenous people into monoculture plantations for the export of cash crops like palm oil. It also displaced thousands of Ebola-carrying fruit bats — many of which are attracted to the rich vegetation and shelter of the palm plantations.
The world’s rainforests are not being destroyed to feed people. “Many options exist to meet the global food supply in 2050 without deforestation,” wrote University of Klagenfurt ecologist Karl-Heinz Erb in the journal Nature. Forests are primarily being cleared for the plunder of cash crops that mostly benefit the wealthy heads of multinational corporations.
Such is the case with the PT. Hardaya Inti Plantations company, owned by billionaire Siti Hartati Murdaya, which has seized over 22,000 hectares of land in Indonesia for monoculture palm oil plantations. The acquisition displaced over 6,500 families by destroying the subsistence farms and forests that they relied on to live. Half of those families ended up working on the palm plantations, where they were cruelly exploited for meager wages. So it is questionable whether this deforestation is benefiting the majority of Indonesians, beyond its billionaire kleptocrats. On top of that, the resulting environmental destruction is causing a mass displacement of wildlife in the region, leading to the proliferation of malaria and dengue.
As University of Ferrara scientists state in their April 2020 paper, “The novel zoonotic COVID-19 pandemic: An expected global health concern,” the current COVID-19 pandemic was highly predictable. Based on the patterns of deforestation associated with the two most recent outbreaks of other coronaviruses, SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, as well as countless other animal-borne diseases, including Ebola, malaria and dengue fever, there is much evidence to suggest that this current pandemic is part of a larger global trend.
“If we want to do everything we can to prevent the next pandemic from occurring,” Zambrana-Torrelio said, “we must stop deforestation.”
Reproduced courtesy of Truthout 14/5/2020
We demand action on Climate Change. Why are we NOT outraged at the proliferation of nuclear weapons?
Albert Einstein wrote: “Man has within him a lust for hatred and destruction. In normal circumstances this passion exists in a latent state; it emerges only in unusual circumstances; but it is comparatively easy to call into play and rise to the power of a collective psychosis”. How do we tame the human animal? When a world government was suggested the west thought it a communist idea and the east thought the west was wanting supremacy. Perhaps it was a good idea, but nobody wanted it. Is there hope for a federation of nations coming together for peace?
I, for one, am outraged at the assassination of Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force. I cannot believe this was a rationally calculated decision, but one reflecting President Trump’s instability, narcissism and envy. Further, it came after the U.S. President had said he had no desire to go to war, he was against wars. In fact, he had pulled troops out of the region.
This act of war carried out against Iran demonstrates the unpredictability of the U.S. President and the need to have him removed immediately. There is an impeachment notice pending, but action appears to have stalled due to the fear that an impeachment trial to convict Donald Trump will fail. This raises the question of why the man, pending such a hearing, is still allowed to make crucial decisions that impact directly upon the nation’s safety and well-being. It is a constitutional question that America needs to address.
Qasem Soleimani was one of the most influential and popular figures in the Islamic Republic and a thorn in the side of the United States, but he made no direct threat against the American homeland, in fact he fought against one of Americas main enemies, Islamic State (ISIS). Had the U.S. stayed out of Middle Eastern politics in the first place, we may never have heard of Qasem Soleimani.
In effect, we must rely on the western media, from which we learn that Qasem Soleimani led Iran’s campaign to arm and train Shiite militias in Iraq, the war that America fought on the basis of Iraq having weapons of mass destruction that were eventually found not to have existed. America’s miscalculations in respect of this war were incomparable.
While Qasem Soleimani could be said to be responsible for the deaths of an estimated 600 American troops from 2003 to 2011, tens of thousands of people died fighting in the Iraq War, which lasted for 15 years. Nearly 5,000 of them were U.S. service members. Tens of thousands were insurgents battling the transitional Iraqi government put in place after Saddam Hussein was ousted.
The true number of deaths is not known. During the Islamic State’s occupation (they held a third of the country) the death toll escalated into the hundreds of thousands. Many civilians were killed as a result of violence and many died due to the collapse of infrastructure. The emergence of the Islamic State increased the ensuing instability and prolonged what was a three-phase war brought about by the U.S.
Qasem Soleimani was the chief purveyor of Iranian political influence in Iraq, most notably through his efforts to fight the Islamic State (ISIS). At the closure of this epoch America did not only turn on its enemies, but also its friends.
The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump argues that Soleimani was a terrorist and that assassinating him was a defensive action that stopped an imminent attack. Accordingly, the Washington Post, details how Qasem Soleimani is said to have driven “Iran’s policies to arm and support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, including by deploying an estimated 50,000 Shiite militia fighters to Syria”. He was believed to be “the point man for Iran’s relationship with Hezbollah in Lebanon, helping to supply the group with missiles and rockets to threaten Israel”. In addition, he was accused of creating “Iran’s strategy to arm the Houthis in Yemen”. Undoubtedly, Soleimani was a cult hero in Iran and across the region.
There is no simple answer to these accusations, it comes down to issues of neo-colonization by the west and if this is going to be acceptable or not. Seemingly, it is not! And why should it be?
Whether the accusations against Soleimani are true or not, the action against the Iranian general by the U.S. was just another example of the reckless policy the U.S. administration has pursued since it came into office.
In May 2018, Trump left the Iran nuclear agreement and adopted a “maximum pressure” policy of economic sanctions on Iran. For a year, Iran responded with restraint in an effort to isolate the United States diplomatically and win economic concessions from other parties to the nuclear agreement.
There was no restrained approach by the U.S. The President is known for throwing his weight around and his tactics of bullying. By May 2019, it was alleged that Tehran had chosen instead to breach the nuclear agreement. The President had thought the agreement irrelevant anyway.
This escalated tensions across the region.
Then came Iranian mine attacks against international shipping in May and June, if they were caused by Iran, all we have is the American President’s say so… Then Iran shot down a U.S., drone. Was the drone in Iran’s territory? It was open to question. In September, Iranian missiles struck the Abqaiq facility in Saudi Arabia, the most important piece of oil infrastructure in the world. Again, we only have the word of the President and his cohorts as to who was responsible for this breach. Then we are told, Shiite militia groups began launching rockets at U.S. bases in Iraq.
The fact is, who can we believe? The President is not known for his honesty.
Where is the rule of law, innocent until proven guilty? Personally, I am, not one who is willing to take Donald Trump at his word.
None of the actions carried out by Qasem Soleimani or other parties give the U.S., the right to assassinate him, it brings the International Law into disrepute and it only serves to escalate the already existing tensions in the region.
Can America pull back from this without going to war? Maybe, but frankly, I feel this whole scenario is not going to end well.
Where to now? This from the Washington Post’s correspondent.
“The most important question now is how will Iran respond. The Islamic Republic’s behavior over the past few months and over its long history suggests that it may not rush to retaliate. Rather, it will carefully and patiently choose an approach that it deems effective, and it will likely try to avoid an all-out war with the United States. Nonetheless, the events of the past few days demonstrate that the risk of miscalculation is incredibly high. Soleimani clearly didn’t believe that the United States was going to dramatically escalate or he wouldn’t have left himself so vulnerable, only a stone’s throw away from U.S. military forces in Iraq. For his part, Trump has been adamant about his lack of interest in starting a new war in the Middle East—and yet, here we are at the precipice”.
The correspondent goes on to say,
“United States must, at a minimum, expect to find itself in conflict with Shiite militias in Iraq that will target U.S. forces, diplomats, and civilians. Iraq is the theater where the U.S. strike took place and therefore the most rational place for Iran to immediately respond. Moreover, the militia groups have already been escalating their activities over the past six months. They are among Iran’s most responsive proxies and will be highly motivated, given that Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, one of their top commanders, was killed in the strike along with Soleimani.”
The assassination was such an extreme violation of Iraqi sovereignty, Many Iraqis have no love for either the United States or Iran and they fear being put in the middle of a confrontation. Nonetheless, the United States should not expect to get away with this. No one wants a declaration of war, but it is about time the U.S. received the kind of sanctions it is happy to dish out to other nations. America cannot be permitted to rule the world.
If the U.S. find itself in conflict with Shiite militias in Iraq all we can expect is another rise to the death tolls. The President has shown himself to be a revengeful individual with little restraint, so we might find a full-on confrontation with Iran unless the more rational country leaders can pull the President back. The only group who will benefit from this in the long run are ISIS who appear to still retain a strong underground presence.
I feel for the victims who have no voice in these matters, but who bear the consequences.
 Philip Bump Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2018/03/20/15-years-after-it-began-the-death-toll-from-the-iraq-war-is-still-murky/ March 21st 2018. Retrieved 5th January, 2020.
Dr Chris James
Junitta Vallak passed away on the 12 of December, 2019 and she will be sadly missed.
I first met Junitta in the early 1980s. She had retired as an art teacher and was living on a property at Maldon in Central Victoria. Out of the dry and dusty farmland Junitta and her husband had carved a magnificent place of healing, which they called Casuarina. It was named after the tree (also known as the she-oak) because the Casuarina was said to have sonic qualities that relate to the sound of the singing earth. It was a place for peace.
Junitta and her husband built the first Peace Chamber in Victoria. There were Peace Chambers around the globe and the couple visited most of them. The aim was to have all the Peace Chambers inter-connected for the purpose of healing the Earth. Junitta’s goal in life was to heal what needed to be healed. She was an active environmentalist, a geomancer, a member of the inter-faith movement and an advocate for Aboriginal Rights.
At the time of Casuarina’s inauguration, I was working with women in crisis and I had organised for a small group to visit the Maldon Peace Chamber for the weekend. As soon as we turned off the main road towards the property, there was something very special about the location. It had been chosen carefully, it was the home of the Jarra people and it was a sanctuary where everyone could feel welcome regardless of religion, race or creed.
Junitta had a very close affinity with Aboriginal people and she was constantly drawn to Australia’s red centre for meditation and spiritual guidance. However, this affinity was not limited to one nation. Junitta supported the cause of Aboriginal Rights across the world.
Open a conversation with Junitta and it would generally turn to the topic of Aboriginal knowledge or the placement of ley lines upon the Earth.
The Casuarina Peace Chamber rested on the crossing of ley lines and their vortex. Above the vortex there was a large Aboriginal healing crystal. I remember thinking, it was the most magnificent crystal I had ever seen. Surrounding the crystal there was a mystical mosaic in the shape of a lotus. People would sit in a circle around the lotus awaiting instruction. Junitta would tell of her travels and of her experiences with the Native American Indian Joseph Rael, also called Beautiful Painted Arrow. Junitta studied with Joseph and they became close friends. Later Joseph visited Australia for the official opening of Casuarina and the healing sanctuary. It was the first time a Native American Indian had set foot on the land and together with local Aborigines it made for a splendid token of indigenous unity. Junitta was all about unity.
Junita was a teacher of the arts and of the mystical cultures and it made for some wonderful conversations between us. She had studied the Holy books of just about every belief and religion and she always reminded me, when I mentioned the word “God”, not to forget the Goddess. People called her “the goddess of Gippsland.”
Whether one believed in the mysteries or not, everyone who visited Casuarina marvelled at its creation. Hundreds of trees were planted on the land as an example of Junitta’s love for the environment and nature. She liked to walk in nature, especially among the banksias of our region.
Junitta was truly an advocate for peace and she was a great inspiration to the up and coming generations. In 2018 she had her final exhibition at the Stockyard Gallery with her great god daughter Skylar Farley who was eight years old at the time. The exhibition was called “A Cosmic Exhibition of the Rainbow Serpent and the Comet Venus” and it represented every aspect of Junitta’s thinking; that we should better honour the marvels of the world.
The generations exhibiting work together was another way Junitta would spread her message of peace, compassion and understanding. Her motto was “learn by teaching” so wherever she went she shared her knowledge and she was, without doubt, an excellent teacher.
When Junitta finally left Casuarina and moved to Gippsland her work for peace did not stop. Her sanctuaries in Gippsland were a small cottage in the green hills, Wilsons Promontory and the Foster Community House. She loved the majesty of the hills, the sea, the sky and the universe and she loved people.
I spent many happy hours with Junitta, sometimes it was just over coffee in Foster. Sometimes a drive through the country. There was always something new to talk about. Junitta was a highly accomplished artist and literary scholar who created art and poetry of the highest calibre. She had an innate sense of humour and was known for her one-line jokes.
Junitta was fascinated by the role of Angels in the various traditions. In one section of her book “Angelology”, she quotes the Book of Exodus 23.20 “See, I am sending an Angel ahead of you to guard you along the way.” Junitta has been a guarding angle for many and now, I hope she has an Angel guarding her into the ultimate sanctuary of peace.
We all dream. We all have fantasies. Our world is made up of dreams and fantasies, made more mysterious by the virtual landscapes of the modern media. Where then do we draw the line between normal and abnormal dreaming? When are dreams and fantasies acceptable and when are the maladaptive?
Maladaptive dreaming is not classified as a mental illness. It does not appear in the fifth and current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSMV), but is can be a problem to those who take fanciful dreaming to another level of compulsion and addiction and this in turn can lead to anxiety, addiction, loneliness and alienation.
We all have a mental repository for vision and wishful thinking, but fantasies and daydreaming need to be distinguished from simple reverie as they can cause pain, trauma, loss, and feelings of sexual inadequacy. Dreaming and fantasies can also give rise to sexual arousal at times when it may n0t be appropriate. So, what is maladaptive dreaming, what does it do and how should we treat it? We do not yet know exactly what precipitates maladaptive draming, we do there are similarities between maladaptive dreaming and Obsession Compulsion Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, there are areas where symptoms overlap.
We know that maladaptive dreaming is highly scripted, there is usually a plan or a plot. We know that there is an extensive emotional component and we know that there is movement attached to the maladaptive dreaming practice. We also know there is a degree of fantasy. The fantasy is structural and the fantasiser is secretive for fear of embarrassment or losing the dreaming.
The biggest problem of maladaptive dreaming is that, like any addiction, it can be enjoyable (fun) to begin with, but then it prevents a person from living in reality and appreciating real life situations, plus it undermines the ability to achieve real goals. People who experience maladaptive daydreaming say that they love their characters so much, it makes it impossible to relinquish them for a real life. For example if I were to engage in an elaborate plan to meet someone and I take time to plan the perfect meeting, the moment that meeting becomes a reality the dreaming, upon which the dreamer depends for stimulation, is lost.
Sometimes them maladaptive characters are fictional, at other times they are real, There are also occasions where the dreaming and fantasies are about someone real, but the real character cannot be brought into the real world without the same feeling of loss. This can cause pain to the party who in not controlling the dreaming or fantasies.
The capacity to fanaticise raises a number of questions. To begin with, we live in a society that is so bound by rational thinking that fantasy and daydreaming become a soothing escape. In the book By Force of Fantasy: How We Make Our Lives, Dr. Ethel S. Person discusses how fantasies can affects us. She tells us that the terms daydreaming and fantasy are often used synonymously, but there are differences we need to be aware of. “Daydreams are building castles in the air, taking time out for a reverie. They are idiosyncratic and repeating, you concoct a daydream that becomes a favourite and at will you can call it up again”. These fantasies and daydreams are normal, we all experience them. The shift beyond normal is manifest in the fantasy prone personality (FPP) which is a disposition or personality trait where a person experiences a lifelong extensive and deep involvement in fantasy.
American psychologists Sheryl C. Wilson and Theodore X. Barber first identified FPP in 1981, and it was said to apply to about 4% of the population. Besides identifying this trait, Wilson and Barber reported a number of childhood antecedents that likely laid the foundation for fantasy proneness in later life, such as, “a parent, grandparent, teacher, or friend who encouraged the reading of fairy tales, reinforced the child’s … fantasies, and treated the child’s dolls and stuffed animals in ways that encouraged the child to believe that they were alive.” They suggested that this trait was almost synonymous with those who responded dramatically to hypnotic induction (people who are easily hypnotised). Interestingly, susceptible subjects are not necessarily those who have had traumatic childhoods, rather they are those who identify fantasy time mainly by “spacing out”.  Exposure to abuse, physical or sexual, can be a cause of fantasy whereby it provides a coping or escape mechanism, but physical or sexual abuse is not the only cause, exposure to severe loneliness and isolation, can also lead to fantasizing, which provides a coping or escape mechanism from boredom. Creativity can also be predicated on extreme forms of fantasy whereby the thing created offers the escape. Here we see Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and/or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder playing a part. None of these findings are conclusive.
Sigmund Freud stated that “unsatisfied wishes are the driving power behind fantasies, every separate fantasy contains the fulfillment of a wish, and improves an unsatisfactory reality.” This shows childhood abuse and loneliness can result in people creating a fantasy world of happiness in order to fill the void. 
Maladaptive dreaming which incorporates fantasy sits in a category of its own. Not yet classified as psychological disorders, they probably will be as the imaginary activity is not just obsessive, it replaces human interaction and interferes with work, relationships and general activities. Those who suffer from this condition experience excessive fantasies where they take on characters and roles in scenes and landscapes that they find appealing. People who suffer from excessive dreaming are aware that the scenarios and characters of their fantasies are not real and they have the ability to recognize what is real, this makes their practice of fantasizing and dreaming different to that of the schizophrenic who loses all touch with reality. 
A 2011 study reported on 90 excessive, compulsive or maladaptive fantasizers who engaged in extensive periods of highly structured immersive imaginative experiences found that fantasizers often articulated distress stemming from three factors: difficulty in controlling their fantasies that seemed overwhelming; concern that the fantasies interfered in their personal relationships; and intense shame and exhaustive efforts to keep this “abnormal” behaviour hidden from others.  The secretive behaviour of fantasizers is also a precipitating factor in acute anxiety and debilitation. The loss of will to act, especially in a discontent person is supplemented by the fantasy contained in the dreaming. The habit is difficult to break because we are not used to telling others about our fantasies and daydreams. We are permitted these traits as children, but the general rule is, we grow out of them.
When does fantasy and day dreaming become a real problem?
Maladaptive dreaming is forms of dissociative absorption, which uncontrolled can interfere with normal functioning and cause immense distress. Any maladaptive behaviour can separate people from their daily social activities and cause them to live in alternative worlds where the love, attention and security they have been missing are seemingly replaced by a story, scene or comforting imagery. Once the love is experienced the dreaming must be maintained. Feelings of sexual inadequacy are commonly placated with maladaptive dreaming and/or fantasy. What is more this situation can go unnoticed if it is acted out alone. When this behavior involves other people it can be read as deception, but the dreamer is unable to see it tis way.
Maladaptive dreaming or fantasy is not classified as a mental illness because it is not a psychosis. The psychotic is unaware of what s/he is doing. Conversely, the maladaptive dreamer is fully cognoscente of what s/he is doing. This does not mean the action should be judged or punished. The maladaptive dreamer has an addiction. can, however be an addiction and anti-social behaviour can still have serious consequences, including at include an increased proclivity to continue the addiction.
Normal to abnormal daydreaming and fantasies.
Many human experiences range between the normal to the abnormal. Fantasies and dreaming are a forms of normal dissociation associated with absorption, which is a highly prevalent mental activity experienced by almost everyone,  to the extent that it is thought to encompass almost half of all human thought, with hundreds of dreaming sequences experienced daily. 
Some individuals possess the ability to dream so vividly that they experience a sense of presence in the imagined environment , this kind of visualization has often been used as therapy to lift self-esteem and to reduce the impacts of trauma. When this happens in a controlled clinical setting it works to alleviate pain. Our instincts can use fantasy and dreaming in much the same way. This experience is reported to be extremely rewarding to the extent that some of those who experience it develop a compulsion to repeat it, over and over again, like a drug addict with a needle of heroin.
The scientific literature suggests that a portion of people with maladaptive dreaming can spend up to 60% of their waking time dreaming, and could, therefore, be classified as suffering from a behavioral disorder. 
Maladaptive dreams and fantasies are so prevalent diagnosing the problematic incidence is difficult, especially in today’s virtual worlds of the mass media. We recreate places and events, that have come from wishing thinking, but which have also been grounded in a virtual world of media and daytime dramas that bode with the accounts of our own personal experience. The “symptoms” are also numerous.
The overall condition of dreaming and fantasies is also extremely animated and vivid with storylines and histories that are rewritten to suit individual needs. Media sources, such as movies, video games and music can be major influences in a maladaptive dreamer’s life, they can be serialized or one-off events. These fantasies are often shaped like a book or movie. The emotional component involved in their fantasies, causing them to react physically by talking, laughing or engaging in acts of sexual gratification.
A better understanding of maladaptive dreaming.
In Israel, maladaptive dreaming is considered a psychiatric condition that was identified by Professor Eliezer Somer of the University of Haifa.  The following description has been reproduced from Healthline. Somer can also be found on Youtube. Somer writes:
This condition causes intense dreaming that distracts a person from their real life. Many times, real-life events trigger day dreams. These events can include:
- topics of conversation
- sensory stimuli such as noises or smells
- physical experiences
This disorder does not have any official treatment. But some experts say it is a real disorder that can have real effects on a person’s daily life.
What are the symptoms of maladaptive daydreaming?
A person who is purported to have maladaptive daydreaming may have one or more symptoms of the disorder, but not necessarily all of them. Common symptoms include:
- extremely vivid daydreams with their own characters, settings, plots, and other detailed, story-like features
- daydreams triggered by real-life events
- difficulty completing everyday tasks
- difficulty sleeping at night
- an overwhelming desire to continue daydreaming
- performing repetitive movements while daydreaming
- making facial expressions while daydreaming
- whispering and talking while daydreaming
- daydreaming for lengthy periods (many minutes to hours)
Dr. Ethel S. Person By Force of Fantasy: How We Make Our Lives,
 Lynn, Steven J.; Rhue, Judith W. (1988). “Fantasy proneness: Hypnosis, developmental antecedents, and psychopathology”. American Psychologist. 43: 35–44.
 Wilson, S. C. & Barber, T. X. (1983). “The fantasy-prone personality: Implications for understanding imagery, hypnosis, and parapsychological phenomena.” In, A. A. Sheikh (editor), Imagery: Current theory, research and application (pp. 340–390). New York: Wiley. ISBN 0471 092258. Republished (edited): Psi Research 1(3), 94 – 116. http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/1983-22322-001.
 Barrett, D. L. The hypnotic dream: Its content in comparison to nocturnal dreams and waking fantasy. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 1979, Vol. 88, p. 584 591; Barrett, D. L. Fantasizers and dissociaters: Two types of high hypnotizables, two imagery styles. In R. G. Kunzendorf, N. Spanos, & B. Wallace (Eds.) Hypnosis and Imagination, NY: Baywood, 1996 (ISBN 0895031396); Barrett, D. L. Dissociaters, fantasizers, and their relation to hypnotizability. In Barrett, D. L. (Ed.) Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy (2 vols): Vol. 1: History, theory and general research, Vol. 2: Psychotherapy research and applications, NY: Praeger/Greenwood, 2010.
 Mackeith, S. & Silvey, R. (1988). The Paracosm: a special form of fantasy. In, Morrison, D.C. (Ed.), Organizing early experience: Imagination and cognition in childhood (pages 173 – 197). New York: Baywood. ISBN 0895030519.
 Singer, J. L. (1966) Daydreaming. New York, NY: Random House.
 Killingsworth, M., & Gilbert, D. T. (2010). “A wandering mind is an unhappy mind”. Science. 330 (6006): 932. And Klinger, E. (2009). Daydreaming and fantasizing: Thought flow and motivation. In K. D. Markman, W. M. P. Klein, & J. A. Suhr (Eds.), Handbook of imagination and mental simulation (pp. 225-239). New York, NY: Psychology Press.
 Somer, E. Somer, L. & Jopp, S.D (9 June 2016). “Parallel lives: A phenomenological study of the lived experience of maladaptive daydreaming”. Journal of Trauma & Dissociation. 17 (5): 561–576.
 Professor Eliezer Somer of the University of Haifa. https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/maladaptive-daydreaming Retrieved 10th December, 2019.
the German American Bund 1930. Courtesy of the Atlantic.com
In 2013 I wrote a book called The Deep Green Delusion: Vitalism and Communal Autarky. It was a critique of the deep ecology movement, arguing against the views of one of its gurus, named Pentii Linkola who advocates a return to primitivism. Linkola calls for an end to democracy and the establishment of an authoritarian ecological regime that ruthlessly suppresses modernism and all forms of consumerism. My argument was that Linkola was promulgating eco-fascism, which has its roots in a nineteenth century German movement called the Heimatschutz. When we think about fascist groups we tend to assume they are to the Right of politics, but the Heimatschutz was to the Left. It was the forerunner to National Socialism.
The green movement in the west has always been thought of as being in the domain of the political Left and linked with the social justice movement, but this is not environmental history. Environmentalism began in the eighteenth century and arose from the Romantic Movement, which was deeply conservative in its politics and it was largely the realm of the well-to-do or the aristocracy. In Germany the green movement was also born from the Romantic Movement, but it found its way to the realms of the extreme Far Right who were concerned with blending ecology with racial purity.
Linkola’s discourse is no different from the Heimatschutz. It is attributable to an increase in immigration and his desire for population controls, but this is only a tiny morsel of what Linkola proposes and he is not alone. Neo-fascist organizations have been growing since the 1980s with such organizations as Germany’s Deutsche Volksunion and the French Front. In Australia it is the patriotic groups like the Australia First Party who are advocating the new fascism. The 2008 economic downturn provided a fertile grown for a burgeoning neo-fascist movements across Europe, the US, Australia and elsewhere. Further, fascist groups may be a long way from taking power, but they are changing attitudes and causing disharmony and the setting in which they articulate their aims is a very familiar one that we should all be concerned about.
Let me set the scene by reverting to history. In 1929 the Wall Street collapse was very similar to the 2008 economic crisis across Europe. People suddenly realized that the stock markets would not rise indefinitely. When the stock market finally collapsed everything was impacted. In the 1930s European agriculture was faced with a severe depression. The poor agitated for land reforms and high food production, but there was not the means to meet the public demands.
By 1931 people had lost faith in their politicians and there were violent protests on the streets. It was about this time that the writer George Orwell predicted a future of totalitarian rule.
In Germany the Heimatschutz movement began reviving an earlier green movement that was based on the land and racial purity: Blood and Soil. Cities and towns were re-ordered into small communities for food security. It would lead to the worst kind of primal behaviour, two world wars and the European Holocaust.
The popularity of the movement was promulgated through festivals and entertainment, that connected the land to families and communities. The festivals would open and close with a patriotic or religious song and there were processions and marches as well as speeches on nation, homeland and loyalty. Rituals were modelled on the ancient practices of the Druids and pagan Rome. Rudolf Steiner’s wife Marie Von Sievers gave a performance of mystical dancing similar to those performed at deep ecology and mystical festivals today. The sacred May Day glorified the God Atlas the God of War, not only an important symbol for Adolf Hitler, but also Gustav Le Bon (Freud’s teacher) and his theories of crowd control. Everything was patterned by mythology and the Heimatschutz became known as Hitler’s Green Party.
The Heimatcschutz, lasted a long time, it fed the German armies during the wars and upheld the racial policy that saw six million Jews and others exterminated in the concentration camps of the Second World War.
Heimatschutz, worked because it was built on the wider Volkish movement that aimed en mass, to reform life, an idea that originated from the German idealists, Goethe, Lessing and Schiller; all three were Freemasons, a movement which Hitler later opposed.
The Volk has a different name now and the players have different roles, but the same sentiments abound in a far more discursive and insidious way than before. The Volk has found its legitimacy in a kind of communitarianism that closes borders and ranks on anyone who is not of their thinking. Let me give you a further example.
Rudolf Steiner and his deep ecology otherwise called anthroposophy, is on trend across the western world. The Steiner schools are popular in Europe, America and Israel even though Steiner, by his own admission was active in the Pan Nationalist Movement in Vienna at the end of the nineteenth century and although he became a rival and enemy of Hitler, he appears to have advocated the same forms of racial segregation. Many of the current Steiner schools are funded by state authorities and their businesses are thriving. Should we be concerned? Should we disregard history and assume that the Steiner movement has changed its spots and is working towards a better world?
The aim of the legitimate ecology movement has been to draw peoples’ attention to the (w)holism in nature and to create a more sustainable planet. In reality, it has been a shift away from the bigger political and social problems to intimate forms of localization. It is anti-globalization and therefore not focused on the betterment of fellow citizens and their global rights.
The ecologist’s mantra is Small is Beautiful a term coined by E. F. Schumacher and his book by the same name, who just happened to be the head of the British Coal Board an industry that sent men into the perilous pits to boost Britain’s economy, while damaging their health and risking their lives. This gives a clue to the ambiguities in the green movement, today and in history.
Take for example Richard Heinberg’s advocacy of a steady state economy, which fails to address the social concerns inherent in capitalism or its polity. We are not seeing anything new. In the United States the New Green Deal was designed to kick start rabid consumption. The then President, Theodore Roosevelt used the New Green Deal as a panacea for ending the 1920s American Depression and it pushed America into a global war.
Today, the US President Donald Trump is pulling troops out of wars and leaving the warring parties to fight between themselves at the cost of innocent men, women and children. What is in it for Donald Trump? America has a reputation for destabilizing smaller nations and then restoring them, whereby America reaps the spoils. The nations at war are also rich in resources the western world needs to prop up its mass consumerism. Is this not another form of mass genocide? If this is ecology, it is ecology on steroids. No one ever asks, how green is the act of war? It is a topic that seems to escape the ecology and other green agendas.
In the 1960s when the environmental issues gave way to an apocalyptic discourse the earth was heralded as the embodiment of the Greek Mother Goddess (Gaia). Was this supposed to save the planet or would it simply invoke the same mythologies that could lead to another German Heimatschutz?
Environmental problems are very real and they are both local and global. We have to ask, does the environment movement have its investment in the same kind of transcendentalism that created the Volk? In the west there has been an acute rise in the forms of anti-Semitism that we have experienced in history. They are on the Right and on the Left of the political spectrum and where there was once an abundance of single issues groups, anti-Semitism appears to be infiltrating the entire protest spectrum covering many demands and issues.
Nations across the world are going through a massive transition, not unlike the agrarian transitions of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries that saw people leaving the land and moving to the cities for a better life. Today, while city entrepreneurs are eating up important pockets of land and cutting down forests for their larger enterprises, such as mining and the expansion of factory farming. Today’s mass production is still dependent on the natural resources as it was at the time of the Industrial Revolution. The loss of resources, combined with the drive for profits, impacts on the countryside and the traditional way of life, but how can we change it without reinventing the Heimatschutz?
Fascism arose in Europe after World War I when many people yearned for national unity and strong leadership. Today, we are no closer to national or global unity than we were a hundred and fifty years ago, but the yearning for unity has become a dangerous phenomenon driving violent protests on the streets, corrupting governments and sending the world into violence chaos. Where will it end?