Economic misery ahead, but try to adopt Robinson Crusoe outlook

Robinson Crusoe at the terrifying moment in which he sees a single fooprint in the sand.

By David Tulis

I began Nooganomics to promote the concept of local economy before the next installment of the U.S. financial meltdown. If people understand the growing conflict between the national economy and the common American, they will be somewhat prepared for the coming hazards.

I cannot say when the next crash will happen, the next financial jolt that will glue people to TV sets and their Web news portals. No one can say when, or exactly which event will be the detonator. But it will occur, as it did in 2008. The seizing up of credit and the collapse of major overleveraged players such as Bear Stearns and Lehman Bros. are a warning of future implosions. Two thousand and eight was a foretaste of ruin facing an economy that rejects three key elements of prosperity: Honest bookkeeping, lawful money and free enterprise.

Local economy is the antidote to the coming shakeup of the government-controlled economy.

It is a means of insulating yourself in community from the throb of a F$222 trillion default by a single entity — the U.S. government based in Washington, D.C. Many other forms of debt — municipal and corporate — add to the potential effect of a landslide. Local economy looks to God’s grace and the genius of America. It lets you respond and prosper in bad times. It lets you build a parallel economy, private, local. As United States Inc. thrashes about like an insect in a spider’s web, local economy gives you a potentially vibrant internal market. Odd as it may sound, local economy makes a distinction between America and the United States. The first refers to the people. The second to its national overlord. Local economy is about America.

However bad the economy will hurt you in the next two years, your goal should be to glorify God better than you are now, and to find in Him all that is sufficient for you, even though your business may fail and you are in the poorhouse.

The castaway’s logsheet

I’ve had great delight in the past days to give lessons to a 9-year-old son that include readings from a 1719 novel. The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe is an enduring classic about an early survivalist. Its great lesson is not so much how Robinson was resourceful, but how he gained a godly perspective amid tribulation. The work by Daniel Defoe is considered by many the first novel as it has plot, many devices lending a sense of realism, and character development.

In its spiritual interest, the story traces several steps in Robinson’s growing conviction of sin and his eventual repentance. He acknowledges God’s provident hand in enabling him to salvage many items from the wrecked ship, giving him a means of survival. One day outside the wall of his hidden hillside fortress he finds stalks of corn and barley, and accounts it a miracle. “I had hitherto acted upon no religious foundation at all; indeed, I had very few notions of religion in my head, or had entertained any sense of anything that had befallen me otherwise than as a chance, or, as we lightly say, what pleases God; without so much as inquiring into the providence in these things or His order in government events of the world.” His sense of a miracle having occurred and his gratitude abate when he realizes the stalks had come from his having earlier emptied out an old bag that had contained some seeds. (p. 102)

A little later, after an earthquake, he gains a sense of God’s protection, but when it was over, “that went away too.” (p. 105)

After an illness, Robinson kneels and “gave God thanks aloud for my recovery *** .” The next day he takes up the Bible and “I began seriously to read it, and imposed upon myself to read awhile every morning and every night *** . It was not long after I set seriously to this work, but I found my heart more deeply and sincerely affected with the wickedness of my past life. *** I was earnestly begging of God to give me repentance, when it happened providentially, the very day that, reading the Scripture, I came to these words, ‘He is exalted a Prince and a Savior, to give repentance, and to give remission.’ I threw down the book; and with my heart as well as my hands lifted up to heaven, in a kind of ecstasy of joy, I cried out aloud, ‘Jesus, Thou son of David! Jesus, Thou exalted Prince and Savior, give me repentance!’ This was the first time that I could say, in the true sense of the words, that I prayed in all my life; for now I prayed with a sense of my condition, and with a true Scripture view of hope founded on the encouragement of the Word of God, and from this time, I may say, I began to have hope that God would hear me.” (pp. 126-127)

From self-pity to thankfulness

On the day marking his first year on the isle, he commences celebrating a Sabbath rest, carving a longer notch as he keeps track of time. (p. 136) But the castaway suffers bouts of emotion and self-pity, feeling himself “a prisoner, locked up with the eternal bars and bolts of the ocean, in an uninhabited wilderness, without redemption.”

But God acts on Robinson in this period in which he is seized with sorrow and emotion. Then Robinson reads Christ’s saying, “I will never, never leave thee, nor forsake thee,” and realizes “these words were to me; why else should they be directed in such a manner, just at the moment when I was mourning over my condition, as one forsaken of God and man?”

Robinson perceives that God has not forsaken him.

“I began to conclude in my mind that it was possible for me to be more happy in this forsaken solitary condition, than it was probable I should ever have been in any other particular state in the world, and with this thought I was going to give thanks to God for bringing me to this place.” (p. 149) (Italics added.)

Robinson learns tribulation and distress are useful to a Christian. An evil hour is part of God’s providence and loving care, even if within that hour God removes us from this earth by separating soul from body. Peter, in talking about Christians suffering for their faith, sees trials as perfecting of the saints. “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you” (I Peter 5:10).

There’s more to glean from Robinson Crusoe as he faces economic and societal distress. Please come back for Part II of this text. I would be grateful if you would send a link to to all your friends and encourage them to visit my site. — DJT

Source: Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (Philadelphia: Courage Books, 1990), illus. N.C. Wyeth