America: The Modern Phoenicia (Guest Post by Todd Miller)

In Apologetics for the 21st Century, Louis Markos writes, “Phoenicia controlled a mercantile empire run on greed, realpolitik, and the bottom line, and they set up outposts all over the Mediterranean world to ensure their control of the sea” (Pg.86). Markos further describes them as being considered “bad pagans” by such different countries as Rome and Israel. It is something upon which even these ‘enemies’ could agree, and something that I think many modern nations would agree with as well. The question we have to ask though is could modern America be a descendant of ancient Phoenicia?

Mercantile empire. Check.
The United States trades all over the world. We import more products than any other country. Our multinational corporations sit in every country in the world. We export everything we can, and these days we are exporting work as much as products. According to the US Department of Transportation, the United States exported 901 million tons and imported 1,238 million tons in 2012. Mercantilist empire? I would say so.

Run on greed, realpolitik, and the bottom line. Check.
We only have to read the latest article of white collar crime to see that greed is everywhere. Years ago John Stossel did a report titled “Greed Is Good” for 60 Minutes. He discussed how greed is actually what leads people to create new products and services, to start businesses, and to build economic success. While I believe that there are a lot of businesses still built on a vision to make a difference, our largest companies, the mercantile empire, tends to be run by greed where decisions are made based on what is in it for me instead of what is best for the organization.

Can we even doubt that our nation has become a collection of laws and rules based on realpolitik? Realpolitik is essentially politics based on power — coercion. It also focuses more on the practical and material rather than ideology or morality or ethics. The headlines are rampant with politics of coercion in this country. Politicians threaten their detractors with retaliatory actions rather than discuss, debate, and compromise. Recently in Houston, the mayor and city attorney chose to ignore a petition with adequate signatures and in turn subpoenaed five churches to provide “all communications from pastors” regarding the mayor, homosexuality, and the petition. Many believe that this is the first step to quiet the voices of the Church and potentially its members regarding city politics. This is realpolitik in action. It is the use of power to quiet the people.

In addition to the greed and realpolitik, the bottom line rules the day. Business decisions, government decisions, leadership decisions, all decisions are based on the bottom line. Does it prosper us? Will it put money in my pocket or take it out? We lay off thousands of people to ensure that the bottom line does not suffer, while ensuring that those in power make their numbers and get their bonuses. I was part of a layoff in 2000, along with 16,000 other people, but the co-CEOs each got their million dollar bonuses for making their numbers. Business decisions are based on the numbers at the end of every quarter with little regard to what that will mean to the business in the long term or to the employees who have to continue to deliver more with less. These decisions cannot be restricted to business and government leaders either. We decide not to fund public schools, our own children’s education, because it might mean a few more dollars in taxes. I have been involved in many conversations lately about the bond vote for our school district this fall. People complain about schools being overcrowded and not having enough resources while at the same time denying the district the funds it needs to build new schools. The bottom line is what matters.

They setup outposts all over the … world to ensure their control of the sea.
The United States has the world’s most powerful Navy. We have warships that can deliver ordinance anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice. We maintain control of shipping lanes with our Navy, and while this is not necessarily a bad thing, it is evident that we control the seas. A recent trip to the movie theater to see Captain Phillips shows how involved our Navy is in the world’s oceans. Halfway around the world, it was the United States Navy that showed up to rescue the captain, crew, and cargo, not the navy of some nearby country.

We are indeed the Phoenicia of modern times. Mammon is our god, and we serve him well. Our materialist culture has more than it needs and still does not have all that it wants. We want more, and we are willing to sacrifice our lives to attain it. We work overtime, seven days a week to ensure that we have the funds to pay for the house we had to mortgage our lives to buy, to fill with furniture that we bought with interest free credit, to park our cars that we bought with no money down and low monthly payments, so that we can send our kids to every activity ever created by man. We kill ourselves for our god. We serve our master well.

Maybe there is still hope for us though. We have yet to succumb to the most heinous of the Phoenician traditions – child sacrifice. This is the practice the Israelite and Roman alike despised the Phoenicians for doing. But at least we Americans do not look at children as a mistake that will only ruin our chances for a prosperous future, that will only cost society money in welfare, and that will only cost us money and time in the long run. We have long given up on this notion with the help of science. Now we can get rid of them before they become a problem, when they are still just a “blob of cells,” so we are clearly more advanced and more civilized than those Phoenician barbarians. Maybe there is hope for us.


* Todd Miller is a graduate of the University of Houston holding both a Bachelors and Masters in Business Administration. He has spent a lifetime studying leadership and strategy and most recently taken up the challenge of a Masters in Theological Studies at Houston Baptist University.

0c66361He is particularly interested in theologies of work, business, and leadership. He is a huge fan of Walt Disney, the man and the company. He happens to have a family that is equally Disney crazy, which makes it easy to justify annual journeys to the happiest place on earth.

Follow Todd on Twitter: @toddscottmiller.

7 thoughts on “America: The Modern Phoenicia (Guest Post by Todd Miller)

  1. Wow, this article makes me ashamed to be an American. And I regret to say that I agree with you, that America is a modern day Phoenicia. I believe that intense persecution of the Church (in regards to true followers of Christ) is inevitably coming.
    What gives me hope is God’s tendency to to have believers flourish under persecution.
    Great article Todd!

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    1. Thanks Sarah.

      We shouldn’t be ashamed to be Americans though we should be ashamed if we don’t do something to change it. Carl Schurz (a Union General) said, “My country right or wrong; when right to keep her right, when wrong to put her right.” We should be especially keen of this today – Veteran’s Day. Soldiers fight and die to maintain our rights and protect our lives, and we choose to honor them by fighting for legalized child sacrifice. It’s a shame for sure, but something we can change.

      We are a long way from the kind of persecution the church is facing around the world, but it could come to this country for sure. However, the situation I mentioned in Houston took a dramatic turn when Christians decided to stand up against the realpolitik and say no more. Maybe we need to ask if we are guilty of the sin of omission. Are we being the voice we should be within our culture?

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      1. You are very right Todd. My wording was not great there. While I am not ashamed of being an American, I am very ashamed of the things our country does. Like you said, especially when we have soldiers sacrificing their lives for our sake, for our freedom to vote on legalizing heinous acts.

        What do you mean by the sin of omission? I completely agree that far too many proclaimed Christians are not speaking boldly and “politically incorrectly” about Bible truths in their daily lives. But I also see Christian leaders speaking out against the sins of our culture and receiving a lot of flack for it. So my question to you is how is it that Christians are not being the voice we should be within in our culture? And what should that look like? What practical steps do you suggest a person to take to anyone reading this? (I don’t disagree with you. I just want to know what you a looking for.)

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        1. Sarah – so many good questions. First, when I speak of the sin of omission, it’s essentially not doing something we should/could or just going along with it something we know to be wrong. That’s all.

          I think a lot of individual Christians are doing a lot of good, and I think groups of Christians are as well. But I think what we saw in Houston was something different. It was a group or a person that questioned the city’s motives and tactics. It was the church. Support came from all across the country. Bibles and sermons were delivered to city hall from across the country. It was more than a few people banding together. It was a force.

          Practical things we can do – your BLOG is one example. Share the word. But, what about the workplace? Do we take Sunday into Monday or is there an invisible shield between the two? We don’t have to preach to people at work, but we should look different. Instead of grumbling about our jobs, we should be thankful and do it as a form of worship. We have to make decisions based on what is right, not easy. This means things like people first (dealing with some of this myself right now and I’m going hard against the grain). It’s those things we can do everyday and soon it’s the type of force we experienced here that changed a government. There are other things as well I’m sure. Just ask God each day what He has for you to do and do it.

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