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“I’ve had several conversations with folks in the last few weeks, fearful of the state of the world,” writes author Daniel Darling, who is also senior pastor of the Chicago-area Gages Lake Bible Church.

“Economic downturn, failed leadership at all levels, personal tragedy, and just really bad news all around.

“A lot of people are starting to think that this is the worst time in history. At least American history. I’ve heard various versions of ‘America has lost its greatness’ or ‘America is headed downward.’

“I’d be lying,” he writes on his personal website, “if I said there weren’t troubling indicators in America. Unsustainable debt, paralysis at the top levels of government, a culture embracing ungodliness, and a seeming decline in Christian influence.

“But I wonder if our fear is less about reality and more about our increasing knowledge in this 21st Century. Everyone knows all the bad news all time and in real-time. That makes a huge difference. We live in the days when bad news travels to us like a never-stopping ticker, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, news sites, or screen crawls on the bottom of cable news channels.

“There are advantages to this, of course. When disaster strikes, we can mobilize quickly to help those in need. But there are extreme disadvantages. Such as the paralyzing fear that is sinking into the hearts of people.

“I’ve recently been reading history, some biographies centered around the 1940′s to 1960′s. I’m amazed at the threats the world faced then.

“Three menacing powers threatened to take over the world: Stalin in Russia, Hitler in German, Hirohito in Japan. These weren’t some garden-variety nut threatening to use a nuke, but marginalized by the world powers.

“These were real, massive, imposing armies on the march. Civilization, literally, did hang in the balance.

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