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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

July 4th, 2012

Preface


I do not like to write about politics. People get angry. Shouted absolutes obscure grey areas and true lack of certainty.

But on national holidays I think of soldiers who took *actual* risks for my country, our country. If I'm unwilling to take even the small risk of saying something in public, well, how messed up is that? To be ashamed of staying silent is appropriate, I think.

So out of respect for those in the service, I will do one small part of my duty as a citizen today and say something. Please accept this small token of my partnership with you for the good of our Nation.

In addition, I don't like writing about politics because I work in the church. Church and State is a busy intersection with really fast traffic and the lights aren't always synchronized just right. Not to mention the people who rush the yellows and run the reds.

But as one who believes in a God who cares more than a little about so called "secular" things, as one honored and entrusted to lead in the church, again, I feel an obligation to speak, to risk the ire of those who disagree, and to risk being wrong out loud.

So, here it comes. Thoughts on the Nation in a voice of the Faith.





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July 4th, 2012

The word of the Lord came to Tim of New Brighton to say;

“There is a God, and God loves all people!  This God showed His face in Jesus of Nazareth, and gave his life as well, so that we could live, and love, like him.”

Additional words also came.  Whether they are also from the Lord or not, judge for yourself.
__________________________

On the morning of July 4th, 2012, I sat in my easy chair reading the prophet Amos on my tablet, drinking coffee.  I heard these words.

America, America, God has shed his grace on thee.

“God bless America!” the bumper stickers beseech.  Is there any blessing that has been withheld from you?  And what, indeed, have you done with the blessings you have received?

You send your sons and daughters, your fathers and your mothers, out to war.

They lose their arms, their legs, their minds to TBI, PTSD, darkness and depression; wash up on your shore like debris from a red tsunami, and you say; “This beach is icky. I don’t like it.  Let’s go swim somewhere else!”  Homeless veterans are beached beneath the bridges of your cities.  The rumble of your SUV above, driving to the lake; their lullaby.

The debts for their care, and the debts for your war, you put on the National Card.  Out of sight, out of mind, out of the way of your spending on smart phones and flat screens, take out and trips, tablets and coffee. 

Users!  Is there not a responsible adult among you?!  Pay your #&*%+!@ bills!!  You pay them, and you pay them now.  Do not visit your sins upon your own children to the second, and third, and fourth generations.

Does a soldier lose a limb?  No further taxes due – that debt is paid.  Two limbs?  Then the same for the spouse.  Lose life in service to the country?  Your sacrifice shall cover the debts of your children as well.  The rest of the citizens, had they any decency at all, would pick up that tab in a heartbeat.  Or is “The thanks of a grateful nation” just an empty phrase?

America, America.  Land of the free-from-responsibility-for-my-neighbor.  Home of the brave-enough-to-be-selfish-in-public.  “Me the Taxpayer!” tramples “We the People” in parade, carrying the flag of our “Union” so proudly.  Don’t Tread on Me indeed.

You have stretched the rubber band of inequality too tightly between the rich and poor.  Will the bands that unite you snap, and destroy what generations have built?  Will it slip from your grasp, get out of control, and send the two extremes crashing towards each other in conflict?  Little and Much are not your enemies, but Too Little and Too Much will surely kill you in their crossfire.

With false pride and short memory, you angrily protest; “Keep those nasty immigrants out of my country!”

My country?  MY country?!  HOW DARE YOU!  Did you stand up the Rockies on this land?  Wasn’t it I who drew the Mississippi on a lazy afternoon? Or was it you, you mighty ones?  Please pardon me if I have remembered it incorrectly.  I am so old, you know.

I tell you now, in no uncertain terms, that this land is MY land, this is indeed MY country, and those nasty immigrants are my own dear children, your brothers and sisters.  If you insist that newcomers are not welcome, then by all means, let me build the boats for you to sail back home as well.  Even the earliest tenants on my farm should remind themselves of the land bridge I built for them to cross so long ago.

And besides, there are rules in my family for how the children should treat each other.  Another of your siblings once had the gall to ask me if he was his brother’s keeper.  So tell me now you wise ones, have you not yet figured out the answer to that question?  Believe me when I tell you, this will be on the test.

The Cows of Bashan have nothing on the Pigs of Peoria.  An epidemic of obesity?  Can you possibly be serious?  Do you think no one is looking at you from across my globe?  Just what do you think I am hearing, day in and day out, from your brother in Bangladesh and your Sister in Somalia?  Because you will not share, they fear I do not care.  And the size of your bodies is nothing in comparison to your appetites for comforts and distractions.  You are indeed a city on a hill, but you shine a light on the lie that I play favorites with my children.  In so many ways, my own reputation is in your hands.  Well, that can be changed.

So then, what should I do about you, my gifted child, whom truly I do love?  Should I bring catastrophe and calamity to get your attention?  Smack you upside the head and shout WAKE up!!?

Well, why should I punish you when you destroy yourselves?  Why should I bother to discipline you when you throw yourselves off the cliff?  On the high elevations of Mount Cholesterol, you don’t need a push from me to fall to your doom. At the foot of the Tower of Debt you have raised up to the heavens, no need for me to tip it over upon you.  If only you knew who has prevented the falling for so long already.  But then you might be grateful instead of gluttonous.

Is this too harsh?  Does it offend and upset you?  Remember and meditate on this: If I did not love you, I would ignore you.  The one who truly cares is the one who pays the price for confronting you.

Look me in the eyes, now.  Listen to my voice.  All you have belongs to me.  If you refuse to use the blessings faithfully, I may well need to give them to others who will. But at this rate I will not have to.  You are letting it fall from your grasp on your own. 

Turn back. Turn back. Turn back.

__________________________

On the morning of July 4th, 2012, I sat in my easy chair reading the prophet Amos on my tablet, drinking coffee.  I heard these words.

2 comments:

RWhite said...

Sweet. Lord. Amos would get it... and be proud. Amen. Nicely done. I might steal this...

Anonymous said...

Thank you for a compelling prose of CS Lewis quality, intellect and biblical integrity, and honesty.

I applaud it, am humbled by it and would personalize with 2 phrases..."to whom much is given, much is expected" and "waste not want not" My only caveat is that these words be also applied to government whereof each dollar be used for its well intended purpose. For as much as our soldiers have fought for our freedom and independance, we should honor and respect them by restoring "quality" in our efforts to achieve "equality". The American Society of Quality (ASQ) has some interesting facts on our growing waste problem. http://asq.org/blog/2012/05/the-governmentquality-puzzle/?WT.dcsvid=ODk0MzY0MzMxNAS2&WT.mc_id=EM118519

JB from CG