Faith and Freedom

During this long weekend of celebrating, let’s take time to reflect on the privileges we enjoy as Americans and remember the many patriots who helped make it possible.  Among the many we should be most thankful to is Almighty God who continues to bless us, in spite of our lack of gratitude, our arrogance and our self-centered nature.

As we continue goosestepping toward a totally secular nation we need to pause and rethink the decisions we’re making as a country regarding what God teaches through His Word.  While seeking to be inclusive of all forms of belief, we’ve eroded the very foundation of America’s strength.  On this path, collapse is only a matter of time.

“Without God, democracy will not and cannot long endure.”
— Ronald Reagan

Why is this so?  A culture that worships athletes, entertainers, comfort, wealth and pleasure above a relationship with the God of the Universe, cannot remain free.  This is true both individually and collectively as “we the people.”  Cultural idolatry is an unholy alliance between a self-centered, pleasure-seeking electorate and a power hungry governing body that will promise anything to perpetuate and grow its own power.  Each increase in power results in loss of liberty and one step closer to  a voluntary form of enslavement.

“The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God;
it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.”
— Bible, Romans 8:7 (NIV)”

 “Despotism may govern without faith, but liberty cannot. How is it possible
that society
should escape destruction if the moral tie is not strengthened
in proportion as the political tie is relaxed?
  And what can be done with a people
who are their own masters if they are not submissive to the Deity?”

— Alexis de Tocqueville

American culture has changed radically over the last 200+ years.  I wonder if historian de Tocqueville would recognize America today.

“The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in
their minds,
that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other;
and with them
this conviction does not spring from that barren traditionary faith
which seems to
vegetate in the soul rather than to live.”

— Alexis de Tocqueville

Is turning our backs on God an effective strategy for human progress?  I say, “no!”  Yet, we’re on the same circular path that the Old Testament records.  It looks like this.  God blesses His people.  The people rejoice.  The people become complacent, taking God for granted.  The people succumb to their own selfish desires.  God punishes the people, which includes the consequences of their own actions.  Out of desperation, the people repent.  God forgives.  God blesses His people.  Decide for yourself where America is in the cycle.

“For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of
neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”

— Bible (NIV), Romans 8:6-8

A friend of mine once said, “We would be better off if we would just forget about all this God and Jesus stuff.”  He had it backwards, upside down and inside out.  Our spiritual sleep is what put us in the current mess.  We need to wake up.  He NEVER sleeps.  What we need to do is welcome Him back into our once faithful country by inviting Him into our own hearts.

Freedom: the gift whereby ye most resemble your Maker
and are yourselves part of eternal reality.
— C.S. Lewis

“The American Spirit”

Officially, July Fourth is the anniversary of our nation’s birth. When 56 brave colonists applied their signatures to Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence (an “in your face” rejection of British authority) they were potentially signing their own arrest warrant and death certificate.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” — U.S. Declaration of Independence

Had Britain prevailed in the ensuing war for American independence, these men and others who were sympathetic to the cause would have gone down in history as traitors. Instead, Britain’s loss made heroes of these renegades and an independent nation of the colonies.

This date deserves to be more than a “Happy Birthday America!” party. Known as the “Land of Opportunity,” the “Land of the Free and Home of the Brave” and the “Great Experiment,” our great nation was made possible by a unique set of qualities we might call “The American Spirit.” I believe a celebration of that spirit would be a more complete recognition of what the holiday represents.

At the far end of DisneyWorld’s Epcot there is a colonial-style pavilion called “The American Adventure.” Here visitors will find a fife and drum routine, a cappella singers with a Manhattan Transfer kind of sound, a museum of historical artifacts, and a Disney-style animatronics presentation hosted by Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain, which recalls transforming events of our past. The underlying theme is a celebration of the American Spirit.

Spirit of Adventure, Innovation, Discovery, Pioneering and Knowledge

These characteristics define our curious side. The “new world” as it was called, offered opportunities to learn and experience new things and the settlers responded in spite of the risks. Young America was a place and time of adventure.

“What kind of man would live where there is no daring? I don’t believe in taking foolish chances, but nothing can be accomplished without taking any chance at all.” — Charles Augustus Lindbergh

Spirit of Freedom, Individualism, Independence and Self-reliance

America has thrived when the spirits of freedom and independence were the cause. Over the decades, Americans have had a showdown with British oppression, slavery, would-be conquerors, natural disasters, the Great Depression, terrorism and institutionalized discrimination. When faced with major challenges, America has survived and become better in the process.

“Liberty is the right to choose. Freedom is the result of the right choice.” — Anonymous

“Freedom is a package deal – with it comes responsibilities and consequences.” — Author Unknown

Spirit of Heritage, Compassion and Tomorrow

Gratitude for the sacrifices of those who came before us, compassion for the less fortunate in our midst and concern for the legacy we leave could be called America’s “Spirit of Goodness.”

“No matter what accomplishments you make, somebody helps you.” — Althea Gibson

“Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.” — Cesar Chavez

“Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans, born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage, and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today, at home and around the world!” — John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address, 1961

Where We Stand Today

If these Spirits of America were the original seeds of greatness, then we best beware. Today, different seeds are being sowed. The “Spirit of Tomorrow” has been replaced by the “Spirit of Instant Gratification”. The “Spirit of Knowledge” is overshadowed by a hunger for gossip and pop culture trivia. The “Spirits of Pioneering and Adventure” are becoming hard to find amidst today’s “Spirits of Comfort and Safety.” We live our adventures vicariously through television and movies.

The “Spirits of Conformity and Dependence” now rule over the “Spirit of Freedom, Individualism and Self-Reliance” resulting in a self-imposed slavery. The “Spirits of Innovation and Discovery” seem to be dying, too. An inability to exercise our imaginations, think outside the box and to ask simply “How?” and “Why?” will take a toll on our future. But, what will ultimately cost America her greatness is the self-centered nature and apathy that are killing our once revered “Spirit of Heritage” and “Spirit of Compassion.”

“America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” — Alexis de Tocqueville

Sadly, America has become a body of “Me First” citizens. John Steinbeck summarized our current plight as follows:

“I have named the destroyers of nations: comfort, plenty, and security – out of which grow a bored and slothful cynicism, in which rebellion against the world as it is, and myself as I am, are submerged in listless self-satisfaction”

I believe the solution to our national sickness is to adopt a “Spirit of Gratitude.” Without thankful hearts, we are destined to remain mired in selfishness; unappreciative of the many blessings we have been given.

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” — Cicero (106 BC – 43 BC)

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” — William Arthur Ward

“Praise the LORD! Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” — Bible, Psalm 106:1

Thankfully, America remains the Land of Opportunity. Even with all of our problems, we still have the opportunity to choose the kind of country we will be. Will you help lead the way?

“Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their own vision.” — Ayn Rand

Today would be a great day for every American to choose a renewed vision of greatness and to embark on a journey to achieve it. The following Francis Spellman quote offers a good place to start.

“Pray as if everything depended upon God and work as if everything depended upon man.”

God Bless America!

— CC

© Copyright June 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
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