Meaningless Fireworks of the 4th

Fireworks are funny.  I remember them being awesome when I was a boy, watching the sky light up from my seat in a packed football stadium. Now, they are still probably awesome, but I don’t care for them much.  At this point in life, they accomplish two things: cause our dogs to act like skittish mice.  Loud, barking mice.

And then there’s the risk of them waking up my baby daughter. I’m sure that my interest and appreciation for fireworks will rise in parallel to her own interest and wonder.

But to me, they will always be just pretty lights in the sky, no matter how they draw my attention.

The official date given for the colonies’ secession from the House of Hanover is July 4th, 1776.  They reacted to a form of tyranny. The independent colonists were sensitive to that sort of thing. Nowadays, we are kept on a steady injection of Novocain.  Sometimes we even push in the plunger of the syringe ourselves, and don’t squirm when our “benefactors” try to find the best place to stick us.

For comparison, compare the list of offenses given against King George III in the Declaration of Independence. If you’re not familiar, you can brush up on them here. Go ahead.  I’ll wait.

Just 85 years after the signing of this document, President Lincoln committed every single one of those offenses, in some form or another.  Against the North.  That doesn’t even take into account the kind of devastation wrought on the South. Just 85 years.

The Founders knew that no man, not even Americans, could be trusted with power. And they sought to contain it.  God must have a sense of humor, because the so-called checks and balances devised by some of the wisest of men only lasted 85 years.

And yet, the offenses listed in the Declaration, the ones that caused men to fight and die, are tepid compared to the furnace we undergo now. King George III, in his wildest imagination, could not have dreamed of the power the Federal government wields today. Our benevolent overlords impact virtually every area of our personal lives, from housing to light bulbs to food to the raising of our children, and oversee a hegemony of foreign influence far greater than the British empire of old. Compared to today, George was a very soft tyrant.

So think about that while you are celebrating this 4th. What are we really celebrating? Jumping out of the frying pan and into a deep pit of vipers? The lowering of our collective standards?

Appreciate the fireworks for what they are: pretty, loud, and sometimes impressive displays of light and creativity.  But know that beyond this, they are meaningless. Or, if anything, they represent the raising of our tolerance for evil.

Thank God for what you have, and for the vestiges left over from the American experiment. Thank Him for the prosperity he still allows us to have, even though we spit at the heavens. Thank Him for the wide eyes your child will get the first time they really notice fireworks. Thank Him that you are an American, rather than anything else, because he has certainly blessed this country.

And perhaps thank Him for the original spirit of freedom held by the signers of the Declaration, and then ask to at least be infused with the dregs for the fights in our modern era.

So happy 4th of July.  Happy Secession Day.

Only the God of Shakespeare

The story of Congressman Weiner should remind us that there is a just God.  Only the one who created the mind of Shakespeare could script a story as ridiculous, sharp, funny, and deadly serious at the same time. I mean, this story was filled dialogue like “I can’t say with any certitude that the picture isn’t of me.”

What will He come up with next?

And Douglas Wilson highlights one of the fundamental lies of our current political climate, the separation of public/private.

He wants the voters to know that when it comes to this public sphere over here, he is a man of integrity, who would never knowingly violate a House rule, or an oath of office, whatever, but who, when it comes to the private sphere over there, and the private parts contained therein, he is a liar, skunk, and inept Twitterer.

Politics stinks.  Mainly because its full of skunks.

Osama bin Laden and Heckling the Mother

The gongs of celebration resonating throughout the realm of social media and the crowds frantically waving American flags all proclaimed the good news.  Osama bin Laden, the supposed mastermind behind the attacks on 9/11 is dead (I say “supposed” because the FBI has yet to admit the fact. Strange).  Some of the scenes looked like a patriotic orgy that might put Mardi Gras to shame. Through it all, the talking heads in the media did what they do best: repeat a bunch of words over and over again, combining them into vague phrases, telling us that this was a great moment for the United States.  Terrorists, watch out.  The United States can reach out and kill an old man who is dependent on dialysis.

Granted, you probably have about 10 years until we can actually find you.  But seriously.  Watch out.

Finding the Lever of Justice

Anyone who reacts to this news with anything other than a simple, solemn nod in recognition of justice should take a step back.  Because it was justice.  Deserved justice.  And that’s all it was.

But it certainly wasn’t swift justice. And it certainly wasn’t isolated justice.

The US bumbled around for almost 10 years, trying to find the lever to turn on the electric chair.  Along the way, they managed to pick the pockets of everyone in the viewing gallery to the tune of trillions of dollars.

Thousands of live were lost on 9/11.  But over 5,000 soldiers have been lost since then.  The blood of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, shed by US weapons, cry out as we try to ignore them in our faux-victory march.  Barely any traces exist of the Christian communities in Iraq that existed before the war, a beachhead of the Christian mission gone.

And we have now finally killed this one man. Who, by the way, was hiding in a country whose dictator we give billions and billions of dollars in aid (bribe) money.

And we’re proud of this? We’re celebrating this? This means the US is awesome?

Justice.  A solemn nod in it’s direction.  God is not mocked.  Men will reap what they sow.

But everyone deserves justice of some kind.  And what seeds has the US really been sowing?

Will we celebrate when justice finally comes our way?

The Fall of Enemies

We didn’t win anything.  There is no strategic victory.  Nothing much has changed, other than Obama’s re-election prospects.  It’s just a poor excuse to thump our chests and pretend we won some victory.  A nice emotional high that we will come down from quickly, and then demand something else we can shoot up so we don’t go into withdrawal.  Perhaps a renewed enthusiasm for two futile wars will do the trick.

Like a junkie, we think this is good news.  And those who don’t join in with the ecstatic quivering of nationalistic joy will be demonized in the public squire.  Like clockwork, demonization of the “other” will commence.

But what do the Scriptures say?

Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: Lest the LORD see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him.

(Proverbs 24:17-18)

And:

Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?

(Ezekiel 18:23)

But what about the imprecatory psalms, the great prayers of rejoicing that thanked God for saving Israel and destroying her enemies?  The rejoicing did not come from the deaths and destruction themselves, but from the salvation that came through it.  Israel was right to rejoice and thank God after being led out of Egypt.  But if they had turned around and then laughed and gave the collective finger to all the Egyptians who had lost their firstborn children, how would God have reacted?

The death of Osama bin Laden brings no salvation or deliverance to the United States of America.  It was a simple act of justice, poorly executed. There is nothing to rejoice about in this.  Show solemn approval? Of course. It is appropriate to approve of the execution of a serial killer.  It is not appropriate to heckle the mother of the condemned after the execution.

President Obama said:

We are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to. That is the story of our history.

If this is really the story of our nation, may God have mercy on us all.