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Friday, June 01, 2007

Does America deserve to survive?

I've never understood why most churches in this country put an American flag in the sanctuary, practically on par with the cross. As if the apostle Paul had the believers in Corinth prop up a Roman standard emblazoned with S.P.Q.R. in the corner of their meeting place.

A flag is a symbol of temporal power and authority. It has no place in a house of worship... unless what the flag symbolizes IS a focus of worship.

And if it is, then there is a problem.

Jesus called His followers the "salt of the earth". Only a little salt will preserve the meat. But if the salt loses its saltiness, as Jesus said, then it is worthless. And it does nothing. The meat will deteriorate.

That's what Christianity in America has become: it's lost its salt. Because too many of those who boast of Judeo-Christian morals don't realize the damage they have done by confusing lust for power with love of God.

And everything around us is rotting because of it.

Let's start with the most obvious thing: common courtesy and respect in America is dead.

America is now a Schadenfreude culture: everything from our moral character to our entertainment to our economy has become dependent on taking joy at the suffering of others. The "SCREW YOU I GOT MINE JACK!" mentality dominates this land. We aren't a happy people unless we are being vicious and cruel to someone else. I see it everyday, cropping up in things ranging from mundane conversation to the Internet (why does the web seem to magnify the animosity of most people?).

You see it in our political system and how it's reported on Fox News and CNN. We barely even pretend anymore that our actions are done for the greater good: "Let's hear it for the power!" as Nancy Pelosi shouted on the day she became House Speaker.

We've let people like Ann Coulter on "the right" and websites like Democratic Underground on "the left" make hating others not only something that's morally acceptable, but fashionable. Too many of us have eagerly followed their lead.

A people that have divided themselves between "conservatives" and "liberals" are shallow and ignorant. Those who insist that the world is divided into "red state and blue state" do so because they have not matured past the childish instinct to hate someone. Show me a man who rails against "liberals" or "conservatives", and I will show you a man who is unhappy unless he has someone to thoroughly despise.

Partly because of our willingness to hate, we largely don't think for ourselves anymore. The two most recent presidential administrations have proven that much. We've shown that we're all too willing to swallow any lie that is presented us. And we have readily demonstrated that we will eagerly fall into line behind whatever pretty face the powers-that-be decree we are to follow. Americans by and large don't vote for the most qualified person, or for someone who puts principles ahead of everything else. Today they vote for someone who is "electable". That is to say, someone who is handsome enough or is better known for being an actor than being a statesman. Our system of government has devolved into a high school popularity campaign.

It's come to the point where those who do dare question the qualifications and motives of these "leaders" are openly accused of "aiding and abetting the enemy". And look at what that has brought us to: government monitoring of our phone conversations and e-mails, the veritable suspension of Habeas Corpus, warrant-less searches, a "no-fly" list that apparently targets some for nothing more than stating political beliefs, forthcoming national ID cards...

Why is it again that America was a better country than the Soviet Union?

The rule of law in America is almost completely dead. Government does what it wants without restraint. Our representatives are installed by a political machine and with rare exception have any connect with the American people.

But we don't dare protest. We not only nod our heads and meekly accept this as "the way things are". Then we commence to buy things fast and loose on credit so that we can watch the Super Bowl on a plasma-screen TV, or get something else that we really don’t need and can't afford. Instead of confronting the problem we drink ourselves into numbness and hope that it will "just go away".

God bless America.

Right now two former Border Patrol agents are sitting in prison, with one already brutalized by fellow inmates. Their crime? They opened fire on a Mexican drug lord who went north of the border to conduct his "business". The U.S. government gave the foreign criminal legal immunity in exchange for testifying against two Americans who were doing their best to protect national sovereignty. They were doing a lot more than how most politicians in Washington are inclined to act.

If we can't appreciate the value of a strong border, then we might as well admit that there is no more United States at all. I'm sure the people of Mexico have their problems... but the good and proper thing for us to do as their neighbor is to tell them to clean up their own house, instead of foisting their miseries on us. Because the simple fact of the matter is: we can't take their population, and we shouldn't be expected to.

Why do I mention our border problem? Because it demonstrates how we've allowed these same politicians – egged-on by wealthy patrons – to sell out our nation's economy.

America used to be a country of manufacturing and production. We could feed ourselves, and the rest of the world. We made good products: American denim jeans helped to bring down the Iron Curtain. Today those same jeans are made cheaper in factories overseas, along with a lot of other items. They're even being made in a country that would rather America not exist at all. Now we're becoming a service economy and a lot of big business wants that as cheap as they can get it, too. Hence, the sly winking by even President Bush at the millions of illegals who are overrunning our borders.

I think this is the most material example of how God has given us something in America... and how we have abandoned it in the pursuit of worldly riches. But sadly, there are others.

Abortion is the most evil act that this country has let happen: even more so than slavery. But there are very few in either elected office or among the "activist groups" that seriously want to see abortion ended. There is too much money to be made in support of it...

...and there is even more money to be made in opposing it. If abortion were ended, James Dobson would have far fewer millions of dollars from "the faithful" rolling into his coffers. The GOP would also have lost its biggest reason to compel the "evangelicals" to keep voting straight Republican (I could also say that anyone who votes straight ticket doesn't deserve to vote at all, but I digress...).

No, abortion is going to remain nicely legal for many more years to come: both "sides" in the debate have too much to lose if it were to suddenly go away.

The same holds true for many of those claiming to oppose "gay marriage". There is no need for a "traditional family" amendment or law that "protects" marriage. Because "homosexual marriage" is a spiritual paradox: it cannot exist. Homosexuality is the pursuit of a carnal pleasure and true marriage is about something much deeper than satisfying the flesh. Marriage is something instituted by God that exists above man's law: we cannot either diminish it or endorse it.

Like I said, "gay marriage" can't really exist. But there is lots of money and power to be gained – and voters to be persuaded – by opposing it.

So now marriage itself has become a temporal weapon. We've taken something created by God and befouled it with political purpose. How can we possibly hold human life as sacred if we whore our principles so cheaply?

We see this callous disregard for the sanctity of the human soul in the most ill-conceived conflict in American history. Those who continue to support it love to cite that "only" thirty-eight hundred have died in Iraq, and they'll compare that to the number that were lost in one day at Antietam, or Iwo Jima.

But if even one soldier dies in an immoral war that we started, then that is one life too many. And we should be ashamed of ourselves that we have become so stone-hearted as to believe that the loss of one person in this situation is somehow "acceptable".

Don't tell me that those young men and women are over there serving and protecting this country. The only reason they are in Iraq is because corrupt – and I'll even say evil – politicians who have never seen combat sent them to exploit a situation... and again, for money and power. These people don't see members of the armed forces as unique and precious individuals. All they see is collective might that begs for the will to wield it without apology. The men and women who volunteered to serve did so in the good faith that their efforts would be used wisely. Yet I hear some proffer that because they did volunteer, that they can be used however their "leaders" see fit.

This government is not America. America is what we the people make of her. America is what we desire her to be. America is a reflection of who we are.

Patriotism for sake of patriotism is worthless. Patriotism has value only if there is something inherently good in a nation to be proud of.

What is there left in America for us to boast that we are blessed with?

If America is a land where her people cannot practice simple kindness, if we have made the desire for "things" our greatest priority, if we think nothing of exploiting our fellow man… then what good is there left in America at all?

When you think about how this nation was founded and the tenets it once held precious and how we are today, it makes you wonder if we in the modern day really ever wanted that America to begin with.

So I am compelled to ask: is America worth defending anymore? Does America deserve to still stand?

If we can again be a people that put ideas before ideologies, that can be courteous to others even when we disagree with their beliefs, and that can resolve to do what is right before doing what is convenient... then yes, America is still worth fighting for.

But if it has become that America and God are just convenient tools in the pursuit of avarice, then America does not deserve to persist. And we might as well admit that we do not desire God.

Indeed, if it's no longer possible that we can be kind to one another, then America does not deserve to stand at all.

"God bless America"? Why should He?

If America is no longer worth defending, it is because we who profess the Judeo-Christian ethic, having failed to seek God's will, have sought to impose our own. The Christians of this land should have long ago crucified their lust for power. Rather they ran and hid it within their hearts. In the name of collective might, we have turned our hearts away from the God of Heaven and toward a god of fortresses.

But instead of repenting and turning back from this idolatry, we dare ask God for His seal of approval.

We decided that we wanted an easy life on earth instead of righteousness before God. And the rest of the country naturally followed our lead.

These things didn't have to happen. But we let them happen all the same: because we've chosen the pursuit of power over the pursuit of good.

This was a good country once, because for the most part it was generally held that there was something higher than ourselves to which we would be held accountable.

Is America worth defending now? I don't believe so.

Could it be made worthy of honor again? Yes, definitely.

But we – all of us – are going to have to come to understand something first...

It doesn't take "the right man" being elected to Congress or the White House, or a mass rally by thousands in Washington, to change things for the better.

God doesn't act through governments or politicians who think they are "anointed". God doesn't act through the Republican Party, or the Democrat Party for that matter. God doesn't act through the 700 Club or Focus on the Family. God doesn't act through any denomination. God certainly doesn't act through the latest "church growth" fads.

God acts through that most despised of minorities: the individual.

If America deserves to be lost, it is because ordinary men and women knew that something was wrong but did nothing. Because they were too cowered by "the system": they felt they didn't have enough strength or wealth or political pull.

Without true and sincere acknowledgment of God for nothing less than its own sake, we are fast descending into a race of barbarians. It happened to Germany. There's no reason to believe it won't happen here also.

I'm amazed at the number of professing Christians who show more zeal and delight in attacking their "political enemies" than they do in preaching the kingdom of Christ. It only signifies that their primary interest is gaining favor and power in the eyes of the world, instead of being separate and looking toward something beyond this realm.

There is a spiritual decline in America's character because we as Christians let it happen: we became too fixated on acquiring power. It corrupted us and it went on to corrupt the nation around us.

There needs to be a nationwide repentance and contrition on the part of this nation's Christians, if they truly desire a country worth being thankful for again. And not repentance for sake of the America's well-being, but repentance solely for the sake of how far we have drifted from where we are supposed to be in the sight of God.

But we can't wait for a "movement" to germinate dedicated to "fix" these things. Indeed, something organized toward this goal with a "leadership" would be counter-productive. It is impossible for collective will to save us.

Whether America lives or dies depends on the individual.

Think that one person can't make a difference? Think of Gandhi. Think of Rosa Parks. It only takes a single person possessing the will to do what is right to make an empire tremble.

I don't know if that will ever happen. Pride is too much our master. We have become like the rich young ruler who could not follow Christ because of his wealth.

But if we can choose in our hearts that America and what is good about it is still something worth passing down to our children, then it seems that each of us would be willing to sacrifice some temporary luxury – and to begin to think for ourselves instead of letting others think for us – in order to give that to them.

We can decide that we want to leave this country – and this world – a little better than how it was that we found it. Or we can let it be lost forever: if not this year or the next, then assuredly at some point in most of our lifetimes.

We can opt to live for ourselves and let it all be lost, or surrender our lust for power and seek righteousness... and give America a chance to endure.

Don't wait for your government, or for Pat Robertson or Jesse Jackson or George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton or anyone else of that kind to tell you how to save this country. We know what they're really after now. They had their chance and they blew it.

If America deserves to survive for our grandchildren, then it's going to be up to you and me to make that happen.

Just as it should be.


Anonymous said...

It's great to read a fellow Christian who hasn't taken a swig of the grape koolaid that the GOP passed around the congregation back in 1980.

You're completely and absolutely correct about the destruction of the American Evangelical Christian movement. It's like when the Romans lured the church in and defiled it with power and "legitimacy". This disaster will change the face of Christianity forever. Thank you for a good read.