A year ago I made several “grim predictions.” It was my plan to review them on New Year’s Day and see if my track record was as good as Prof. Trelawney’s was in predicting Harry Potter’s demise, including foreseeing a deadly “Grim” in his tea leaves.
PREDICTIONS FOR 2019
1. The coronation of the King of Thailand on May 4-6, together with national elections and the ratification of a new constitution will consolidate the power of the military-royal alliance.
This prediction was more than fulfilled. Thailand now has a complete military-royalist government with many constitutional balances of power and restrictions set aside.
2. The US government will enter a time of crisis ... Donald Trump is losing the support he needs to stay on top. Time is running out on Trump and his dwindling backers.
Although investigations strongly indicate that the Trump administration is flawed and US foreign policy is a shambles, and the US House of Representatives passed articles of impeachment, significant crumbling of Trump’s support has not materialized.
3. 2019 will feature a major re-eruption of abortion battles but the swing is away from the radical right in Europe and America.
No major new initiatives on abortion “erupted” during the past year.
4. My grim prediction for 2019 is that the USA [economy] will pass a tipping point from which it will not recover. This may not be the onset of another economic depression, but it could be a big policy blunder like letting the national debt escalate to the point that borrowers of US dollars disappear and creditors begin to collect US gold, or failure (again) to hold financial magnates accountable at some critical juncture.
My score on this is C: the US economy remains apparently strong and China’s economy is weaker than years past, posing no immediate threat to the USA. But the US debt is skyrocketing under the present administration. Only the Brexit shadow over the European Union has kept investors cautious about withdrawing from the USA.
5. As for Christianity, 2019 will bring still more shift from the northern to the southern hemisphere. In 2019 the United Methodist Church will have its turn. It will be the year they make the choice of which side to take.
Sadly, the United Methodist Church voted to split (not in so many words, of course). The UM conferences in the northern hemisphere were outnumbered by Methodists in Africa and the Philippines when votes were counted on allowing LGBT members to have equity. Splits are inevitable. Adam Hamilton, pastor of the largest UMC in the USA estimated in a September 2019 speech that the UMC would lose between 3400 and 7500 churches of a total of some 42,000.
6. Higher education is in jeopardy. 2019 will see several closures or mergers of high-profile institutions of higher education.
The decline is slower than I predicted. After decades of increasing numbers of colleges and universities, the USA is now losing about 100 degree granting institutions of higher education a year, and the rate is accelerating. But no high-profile closures or mergers were reported in 2019.
THINGS I FAILED TO PREDICT FOR 2019
1. Public support for action on climate change has been building all year. First, Greta Thunberg swept into the spotlight on center stage and mobilized millions of marchers while getting a Nobel Prize nomination and being named Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year.” Despite government reluctance and even obstacles, public support has grown. Second, historic wildfires and heat in Australia have moved that country into the front line.
2. The Conservative Tory Party in Great Britain won a stunning election and reinforced their mandate to leave the European Union. Nationalist populism shows no signs of diminishing. Hungary, Turkey, India – the list is growing rather than shrinking.
CAUTIOUS AND CHASTENED PREDICTIONS FOR 2020
1. I join Noam Chomsky in predicting that Donald Trump will win a second term as President of the United States. Chomsky and I would love to see Bernie Sanders’s momentum continue, but “THE FEAR” of socialism is too great. As long as that label sticks, as it is sticking and not even being fought, the reality is the vote against Sanders will prevail and suck the strength out of the vote against Trump.
2. In Thailand projects will multiply to normalize the reign of the new King despite royal confiscation of finances, and palace actions being taken to obliviate vestiges of democracy and remove memorials to those who brought about the end of absolute monarchy in 1932.
3. The Church of Christ in Thailand will face possible humiliation and governmental scrutiny as one after another of the present administration’s decisions are investigated. Already, administration of Bangkok Christian College has been taken over by a commission appointed by the Thai Ministry of Education. These threats have reduced the CCT’s ability to respond to its on-going mission.
4. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s aggressive nationalism in India will either backfire as ethnic-religious minorities unite to oppose infringement of their civil rights and status, or international opposition will materialize as the specter of massive militant Hinduism again looms over South Asia.
Rev. Dr. Kenneth Dobson posts his weekly reflections on this blog.