"Where there is no vision, the people perish."
--Proverbs 29:18

My thesis is that many of the world's great institutions are dying. Last week I suggested the Roman Catholic Church, the national Republican Party and the press as examples.

The reason they are dying, I submit, is that they no longer offer a compelling vision of the future to their members.

That's not a problem limited to politically or religiously conservative bodies. In Wisconsin, the Democratic Party can't seem to muster any message more positive than the lament that it is at least superior to Scott Walker. My own United Church of Christ keeps assuring people that "God is still speaking." But it never really tells people what it thinks God might be saying.

Indeed, the full quote from Proverbs which begins this column reads, "Where there is no vision, the people perish, but he that keepeth the law, happy is he." That’s a pretty conservative position.

The problem for our institutions is that people aren't stupid. They can see big problems on the horizon. What they can't see is answers for those problems.

Our scientists warn us on an almost weekly basis that the current warming on the earth exceeds that of any time in the entire history of the human race and will lead to catastrophic changes.

Yet the world's economy still rests on the consumption of the very same fossil fuels that have created the warming; and we increasingly threaten the environment, including our own drinking water supplies, to extract those fuels.

The world just suffered a major economic recession that seems to have been brought on by money manipulators who created a house of cards economy that was built on vapors. How many of them are now in jail? So far as I know, none.

Back to religion: What does it mean when astronomers tell us there are hundreds of billions of stars in the universe and that everything sprang into being from a tiny point of energy 14 billion years ago? Is the God we proclaim the author of the Big Bang; or is God just a tribal deity limited to the earth -- or is God just a handy fiction?

I could go on, but you get the point. We have institutions that are supposed to provide answers. But they don't. And, therefore, people are losing interest.