Populie: God Bless America… July 2, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Kate Smith

God is still pretty popular.

America, too.

Yet there are many people who believe the two are synonymous–practically inseparable.

Thus the populie: “God bless America.”

Politics loves this slogan because it enables them to incorporate just enough religion to get the evangelical vote and just enough patriotism to acquire the libertarians.

Entertainment plays off the idea by producing both tear-jerking war movies and also flicks that question the authenticity and purpose of nationalism.

And of course, religion is partial to this idiom simply due to the fact that if we are convinced that we are favored by God, we might be able to get by with a few more inconsistencies before Daddy calls a time-out.

Yet as we near Independence Day, I am focused in on the power and veracity of the statement, “To he who much is given, much is expected.”

So because I love my country, respect our attempts at democracy and favor our liberty, I would like to deny the populie of “God bless America” and replace it with, “God challenge America.”

I know that God chastises those He loves–to make us sharper and more powerful. Yet we are losing our authority, presence and respectability due to the belief in our exceptionalism.

  • When it comes to women, we should be world leaders in equality, but we trail behind others.
  • We should take it seriously to stop killing. After all, when we discover a few packages of tainted ground beef in a grocery store, every package is recalled. Yet if twenty-two children are killed in a school, we continue to taint our lives with guns.
  • We should expand ourselves in equality by including others we do not agree with, honoring their right to freedom. God respects free will above all else, even purity.
  • We should be a nation that excels in productivity. For instance, I think we’re taking the wrong approach to the minimum wage. To give people more money for what they’re already doing is not only foolish, but actually a slothful business practice. But by the same token, if we can encourage productivity in our work force while passing along the dividends by increasing paychecks retroactively or offering bonuses, then we’re making our workers part of the solution instead of tying them in with the problem.
  • Why aren’t we leaders in morality?
  • How about civility?
  • Instead of arguing about the climate of the Earth, why don’t we at least see if there’s something we could do and then surprise ourselves by doing it?
  • Why don’t we take our young generation and encourage them to be respectful, industrious and creative instead of working to legalize more drugs, to dull their senses?
  • Why do we allow our older citizens to become bitter and calloused instead of demanding they use their journey to become wise and merciful?
  • If we truly do have the best medical care in the world, why aren’t we healthier?

Hiding your talent and refusing to use it is considered to be the definition of a sluggard.

Knowing what to do and not doing it is the best example of sin.

And living beneath your privilege only generates self-pity.

The populie is, “God bless America”–a way to live off the past by pretending that the present is sufficient because a Divine Presence controls our future.

My hope in this season is that we will allow God to challenge America to live up to our ideals, abilities and dreams.

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You can’t go home again–unless?… July 5, 2012

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Pursuing an insidious inclination towards promptness, I arrived at the home of my son, daughter-in-law and mushrooming three-year-old grandson in East Nashville yesterday at eleven o’clock to participate in a most-profound, yet predictable, Independence Day cookout. I had not seen them since Christmas. Therefore, there was a “roots-and-barley” part of my Father-Earth soul that was yearning to return to the plantation and spy my young’uns.

The makeup of the list of participants included four of my sons, a grandson, one daughter-in-law, one mother of that daughter-in-law, two old friends, their daughter and her new boyfriend (whom no one had met as of yet). Also present was my wife of forty-one years and my traveling partner of seventeen summers.

It was an intriguing mixture. As I looked around the room, I realized I’d had my fingers in all of the human pies present in one way or another. Even the mother of my daughter-in-law and I had had some serious disagreements about the burgeoning relationship between her child and mine. I think she believed me to be a heretic from her particular rendition of Christianity, which, from my perspective, doesn’t get many free nights away from the campus of Bob Jones University.

I came to enjoy myself–maybe even to have a sensation of “coming home.” But I should have taken some wisdom from my heavenly Father, who handled His particular rendition of parenting and creative expression much more wisely. For after all, God created the heavens and the earth–and then He left for a long time. It’s estimated by the scientific community that the separation was billions of years. Upon returning, He discovered that His creative efforts had not progressed very far, and were without form and somewhat useless. So being the genius He was, He added water and air into the mixture–and departed again. As any good scientist will tell you, an atmosphere of oxygen in the presence of water, where the spores of life are readily available, will ultimately set in motion an avalanche of evolution.

The Creator continued to return at various intervals to review the progress of this ever-evolving creation of His, occasionally inserting some desirable conditions and always ending His visitation to the “cook-out” with a proclamation that “it was good.”

That’s the way I felt yesterday. I didn’t feel like I was coming home. Seasoned traveler that I am, I have learned that home is wherever I am allowed to be all that Goid has made me to be. But what I did feel was a great creative pride of having set something in motion and allowing it to evolve without much interference from me. The end result is that some of my creations became birds, some fish, some primates and some, mammals. I think we even have a few trees and vines mingled in there somewhere. They each take the air and water that I’ve provided and use it to grow in different directions.

But also like the great creation story, I realize that each and every one of them will reach a point in their evolution where they’re going to get tired of “monkeying around,” and would like to learn the most effective way towards leaping over the missing links in life and discovering the true passion and potential of being humans, created in the image of God. I’m not trying to be overly dramatic or analytical; it’s just that every child born of woman and conceived by the seed of man has to eventually realize that just subsisting in the natural order and sucking up resources around you will not translate you into the world of greater intelligence.

That requires a second creation–another meeting in a garden where God touches us and allows us to stop “apeing” the society around us, as we become truly human. Until then, we will go through fits of independence and fuss about the climate and difficulties in life, because we have not yet taken our place as the caretakers of the earth, responsible to be merciful to the animals, respectful of Mother Nature and equal to our brothers and sisters.

I was moved to be with my family–but I was also delighted to leave and let them continue their evolution.

  • One of them is about to become a parent and another, ready to give birth.
  • One is exploring the newness of romantic relationship, and the other wiggled on the hook as if he was being cast in a really bad Ben Stiller movie.
  • Two of them were aging, desperately needing to stop talking about their maladies and realize that the greatest joy in getting older is ripening to maturity, understanding that Day Two of that process does initiate rotting.
  • One is dealing with his own fatherhood issues from a distance.
  • Another wants to enjoy being the mother of a new grandchild while still inexplicably expressing some disapproval over the whole miracle.
  • And the other two are young and free of entanglements–trying to keep body and hearth in the same proximity while increasing their value, both as men and potentially as lovers.
  • Then I have two buddies–one of which, after many of years of being a devoted mother, would like to know what it’s like to be an upstart, youthful novice, with new places to go; and finally, a friend, who for some reason, likes to mount stages with me and squawk her best to often less-than-appreciative audiences.

Evolution. It does not belong to Darwin or to scientists. It was God’s idea. And the intelligent ones will follow His example–create, give air, breath and water–and allow the offspring of their efforts to find new avenues of progression.

You CAN go home, friends, as long as you don’t insist that everything has to stay the same. It won’t. And if you pout and object, you will be marched like the naughty dinosaur you are, to the tarpits for extinction.

I love all my creations. I love them so much that I allow them to be left alone, to evolve. I do hope that each and every one of them, at some point, will realize that hanging around in the jungle scratching yourself is no replacement for taking dominion over the earth and using the brain God gave you. I do hope they all will arrive at the gates of Eden, seeking entrance.

Then, I hope we can stand together, created in the image of God, view the journey of our upward mobility and opine in unison: “Damn! It was good.”

   

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