September 21, 2016
I was born in 1954 and was in elementary school through the early to mid 1960’s. I remember the Civil Rights movement in our country but admittedly, not well. I usually left the room when my parents, or more likely my grandparents, tuned into Walter Cronkite or Huntley and Brinkley. There must have been someone on the third network but I don’t recall who it was.
For reasons of which I’m not entirely sure, I remember the Vietnam War with greater clarity. Maybe because it was just a few years later, it was part of my High School experience and was still going on when I enlisted in the Navy. I recall each night (but not because I watched regularly as said before), the newscasters would report how many troops had lost their lives that day in that far away, very confusing war. I remember reading on one occasion that the death toll was getting too high (and the war too unpopular), so the government (who ever that is/was) decided to redefine “dying in combat.” If a soldier died in the field, they were part of the daily tally. If they died in a field hospital or anywhere else, they were not. Overnight the reported death toll plummeted. If that’s true, is there any wonder then that my generation began to distrust the government and institutions?! “America right or wrong,” my foot!
The deaths of President Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy are clear in my mind. The song “Abraham, Martin and John” by Dion stirs me to this day and on occasion causes me to tear up. And that brings me to a question. We were a country torn apart in the 60’s. Not unlike today. The issues are, for sure, different but there is great division. In the 1960’s many of these divisive issues were addressed by artists, performers, college students, folk singers, rock singers… Peter, Paul and Mary; Pete Seeger; Crosby, Stills and Nash to name only a few, sang songs intended to challenge the corporate mind set of Americans. Where are these people now? I don’t mean the exact people; I mean where are the folks who ought to be addressing our corporate conscience?
This is not intended to be a partisan comment but did you know that President Obama will be the first president in our history to leave office having been at war for his whole 8 year presidency? And yet… where are the anti-war people? Seriously…where are they?! And where are the people who will sing songs about terrorism and how it causes us to behave like animals? Where are they? Where are the poets and celebrities who should challenge us to think about what’s happening with race relations in this country? No, not a multi millionaire who will kneel during the National Anthem.. give me a break. I mean someone who can really speak to us and be heard. Someone who actually makes sense; not the retreads from 20 years ago who just can’t live without being in the lime light. Who are the folks that can lead us through the malaise of partisan political and social agendas to a place that allows for real change? Where are the college students who in their youthful enthusiasm will stand up for what’s “right” rather than seek “safe spaces” against those who would “personally offend” them. How cowardly and selfish this generation has become! I do not point fingers because I am part of the generation that raised them. Where are they? Where are our leaders? Because lets be very clear… without leaders we don’t know where we are going. And that’s just another way of saying: “we are lost.” Right?
I would be remiss if I did not ask one additional question: Where is the Church? Is there anyone in the Church who is or can speak to the moral issues of our day? In my mind the answer is a rousing NOPE! We in the church are tired, weak, irrelevant and silent. And we are so busy battling one another that addressing conflicts outside of ourselves… well… not today. We are so split on so many issues that we can’t possibly have a collective voice. In the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) alone, there is a major push to support the Palestinians and oppose and criticize the Israelis. I’m not arguing at this point for one or the other. I’m simply commenting that we are deeply divided on some very controversial issues so how can we effectively come together and speak about other matters that are equally divisive. The truth is… we can’t and we don’t.
Our country is currently a rudderless ship. We are being blown about by the winds of those with the biggest voices… not those that make sense or that have our best interests in mind. How do we prevent this random path that we find ourselves on? One solution is to have a rudder but it seems that there are none on the horizon. The second is to be grounded. If one is grounded then winds and broken or non-existent rudders mean little. And I don’t mean “grounded” in the negative sense of that word i.e. broken and stuck. I mean “grounded” in the sense that we know what we believe and what we stand for. “Grounded” in the sense that we are firm in where we are. “Grounded” in the sense of the man who built his house upon the rock and not upon the sand.
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
We may be in the process of collectively forsaking our Christian faith in this country. That does not mean that Believers need to pack it in. But if you are not grounded in Jesus, you might as well. Read the text above. The rain is coming and the wind is blowing… what will become of you and your family? Are you grounded or are you a rudderless ship? You need to be very honest with yourself… the stakes are too high!!