Saturday, April 5, 2014

Just a small stone

Here is an age-old pattern (and no pun intended) that as people get older, they have a tendency to remember the past in rosy hues and talk about the ‘good old days’ in contrast to the present, which seems cold, corrupt and indifferent to them. I know this well because I see it happening in myself, as I am now in my sixty-fourth year, but I don’t let it get past my vocal chords but nip it in the bud. No, the past is not an idyllic world, only a world to which we cannot just turn back the clock and return. It had its problems too, just as the world of the present. Scripture says, ‘Do not be hasty with your resentment, for resentment is found in the heart of fools. Do not ask why earlier days were better than these, for that is not a question prompted by wisdom’ (Ecclesiastes 7:9-10 JB).

Yet, though the first step in the direction of wisdom is to understand this, that the past was not categorically better than the present, the second step in that direction is to be able to see the present in the light of wisdom, to appraise it and, yes, even compare it to the known (not the imaginary) past, and if the present is found wanting, to work to better it. Human society as a whole is not monolithic. At any given time there will coexist healthy societies and sick ones, but one must be free to analyze them with reason, unrestrained and unaffected by political, religious or social conventions. What I mean is, if a sick man has been told repeatedly that he is not sick but the very picture of health, he will hesitate to complain of the pain in his lower right abdomen, and not seek medical attention, until it’s too late.

As I look out of my window and step out of my door into an America that has drifted so far from its moral foundations that it is almost a nation of free people no longer, but a slave state, with slave behaviors, immoralities and expectations, I realize that my country is in very deep trouble. We seem to have, many of us, lost all trust in human systems to the point where we are living just for the day, and so in effect inhabiting a world that functions as an anarchy regulated by an institution that is already dead but is hiding the fact from us. We see this in state, in church, in business, almost everywhere we look. Scripture prophesies, sees straight through us, ‘everyone tries to catch his brother in their father’s house to say, You have a cloak, so you be the leader, and rule this heap of ruins!’ (Isaiah 3:6 JB).

There has been no golden age, not since mankind exiled himself from the state of Paradise. The past was not categorically better than the present, but human society has risen and fallen in the seven thousand years we have inhabited this world. The world of today has many improvements over what we had before, but it has also many corruptions of what came before. It does us no good to cling to the past and dream, but even less good to cling to the present and not look back. At the moment the only country I know is declining rapidly because it is clinging to the present, abandoning the past, and destroying its future. ‘O my people, oppressed by a lad, ruled by women. O my people, your rulers mislead you and destroy the road you walk on’ (Isaiah 3:12 JB). I am not inciting rebellion, only revolution.

And not political, not religious, but social. What was wrong with us in the recent past was indicated by the rise of Godless Communism, which acted as a threat and containment to prevent us from devolving further. What is wrong with us now is indicated by the rise of militant Godly Islam. The one was Godless, the other claims to be Godly, but it is God Himself who chastises us into remembrance and will finally provoke latent champions to action by these forces He raises against us. There was much in Communism that was right, and there is much in Islam that is right. But the first failed as a system, and so will the second fail, because they were not sent to succeed, and because humanity never has been, never is, and never will be saved by systems, political, religious or social. Ideologies are the last and subtlest of idols.

‘I am Yahweh your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no gods except me’ (Exodus 20:1-3 JB). Yes, this is the first of the ‘Ten Commandments’ and the most easily glossed over. Since God, our God, the living God—if He exists—does not interact with us in a manner we would like, we feel perfectly justified in imprisoning Him deep inside the human conscience—not in ours, of course, but in others’. The so-called separation of Church and State has given us permission, even a mandate, to allow every atrocity, from ‘the slaughter of the innocents’ renamed ‘a woman’s right to choose,’ down to the least noticed legalizing of institutions we would recoil from if given their true names, high-interest debt seduction formerly called ‘debtors’ prison.’

What more can I say? A better question is, what more can I do? For we have become a people of unintelligible speech, and have smiths who twist words to reshape our thinking, to shackle our wills. But the man of action, whoever he (or she) be, from least to greatest (especially since the ‘greatest’ refuse to show themselves), now can fell a giant with just a small stone by careful aim. To be faithful wherever we are, to encourage the good, to correct the teachable, to be patient with the ignorant, to be strong for the weak, to stand upright when others lie, to openly confess so imprisoned hearts may be loosed. These are the acts, not mere words, of the disciple of Christ, and also of His true friends wherever they may be, who work for the good they know, for ‘happy are the merciful, for mercy will be shown them.’

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