Wish I'd said that!

In recent decades, the ACLU has used its so-called "wall" to fight tooth and nail to prevent government sponsorship of the Pledge of Allegiance, memorial crosses, Ten Commandments displays, nativity scenes, Bible displays, and virtually every other acknowdgement of America's religious heritage.

At the same time, it is worthwhile to note that there have been some instances in which the ACLU has endorsed public displays of religion. For example, When New York City Mayor Rudi Giuliani threatened to cut taxpayer funding from the Brooklyn Museum of Art for displaying a painting of the Virgin Mary with cow dung and pictures of female sexual organs pasted all over her body, the ACLU was first in line to defend the display. U.S. District Court Judge Nina Gershon ruled that New York City's elected officials were not allowed to place conditions on the museum's funding.

In another instance, the ACLU offered its support to the taxpayer-funded National Endowment for the Arts, after the agency sponsored an art show featuring "Piss Christ" - an exhibit consisting of a crucifix submerged in a jar of urine.

In the ACLU's myopic world, it appears that the only permissible publicly-funded displays of religion are those which blatantly mock or disparage the Christian faith.

-- Indefensible: 10 Ways the ACLU is Destroying America, Sam Kastensmidt, 2006

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thank God!

This may not come as a surprise to many, but my rants are often filled with "dooom and gloom" news and scary scenarios. But I want to take this Thanksgiving opportunity to strike a different chord.

I've made a LOT of mistakes over my lifetime, and I've got a truckload of regrets. I'd offer some of them to you, but you probably have plenty of your own. Oh, well; our crosses to bear. But I make it a personal point to thank God daily that the crosses I bear are insignificant in comparison to the one His Son took in my stead. More on that in a bit.

Now, there are many people who say they don't believe in God, and I'm sure they're convinced they are right. Logically, they can't prove He doesn't exist, and there will be literal Hell to pay if they're wrong. There has never been conclusive proof that God is a mere figment of the imagination, and there is plenty of historical, logical and circumstantial evidence to indicate that He does indeed exist.

Okay; the skeptics (you know who you are) reading this are rolling their eyes. They don't believe historical evidence because, hey, we're so much smarter than ancient people were. I mean, they didn't even have the internet! These people are so intelligent in their own minds that they will quickly tell you, for example, that spiritual beings are impossible. Why? Because they haven't seen any? Logic would conclude that unless you know everything there possibly is to know, you cannot be absolutely certain there is no God. But if you did know everything, wouldn't that mean you were God, thereby contradicting your own thesis (and because the one true God - by definition - cannot be wrong, it would also make it impossible for you to be God - oh, the quandary)? Besides, as anyone who watches the current "reality" TV hits Ghost Hunters and Ghost Lab comes to realize, there are things that are difficult to explain via our normal experiences (you'll have to judge their credibility for yourself). Besides, the Holy Bible tells us clearly that there are ghosts and that a spiritual dimension exists. It is sheer arrogance - and foolishness - to deny even the remotest possibility that such things are true.

Actually, some of the greatest minds in history predate the computer age, and most were absolutely convinced of a greater being. Brilliant minds such as Socrates, Archimedes, Shakespeare, Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Bacon, Luther, Calvin, Adams, Franklin, Washington and others were the inseminators of the great civilization we now take for granted, because they developed their truly great ideas without all the electronic noise and instantaneous research assistance we have available to us. They had little but the writings of their contemporaries and their predecessors to go on, and the (quiet) time to dwell on those concepts. They each, incrementally, carried those thoughts and added their own, building idea upon idea, until we finally arrived at this tremendous yet tragic moment in history wherein we seems to have lost our philosophical roots and turned away from our spiritual grounding.

Ken Ham, the founder of Answers In Genesis and the Creation Museum once said something that I have never forgotten. He was speaking of the danger of great civilizations forgetting their moral foundations. He asked the audience, "How long does it take a civilization to descend into savagery?" After a pause, he offered the answer to his question: "One generation."

His point was that when parents stop teaching their children how to be good, eventually no one will remember how to be good, and other behaviors willgradually fill that void until there is no good left. It is when a great and successful civilization leaves behind its foundational values and virtues that it begins its decline; and that descent incrementally speeds up because each successive generation of parents has less of that foundational ,moral base to pass on to their children.

In the beginning stages of a cohesive society, parents teach their children the acceptable behavioral standards strictly, because they - often coming out of bad times themselves - recognize the importance of those virtues that kept them steady. But parents naturally want their children to have a better (often misinterpreted as "easier") life than they had; they work harder and make sacrifices so their children won't have to work so hard or make so many sacrifices. And over each generation, the parents get a little more lenient with their children; see them in an increasingly softer light; and eventually become less effective teachers themselves. They spend so much time working - away from their family - that they spend less and less time with their children as parents; to make up for their absence, they try instead to become their childrens' friend. As cultures improve their lifestyles there is less imperative for the parent/friend to put hard demands on their children, and the estranged parents try to avoid further alienating their kids.

Part of this loss of essential and personal instruction includes teaching them the foundational values in a context the kids can actually see. It's one thing for a child to grow up watching - and helping - his father work and sweat in the fields and his mother toiling in the kitchen and tending babies, and to observe and experience firsthand those virtues in action; it's another thing to have your earliest memories of some daycare facility, and only occasionally hearing of what a tough day your Dad had at the office, or that your Mom had to deal with customers at the shop all day. And rather than being the social center of the family and community, Church - if it's in your experience at all - becomes only a place where your parents drag you to hear boring sermons with Old English quotes you cannot comprehend, or it is a place where you go to hang out with your friends or watch skits involving some old, bearded dudes climbing mountains, wearing dresses and dodging imaginary thunderbolts.

As our culture (for want of a more accurate term) leaves behind our connection to God, our "culture" becomes exponentially less cultured and more coarse. Any "good" we see coming from most folks today is only the vestige of the virtues (genuine kindness, generosity, selflessness, humility, faith, etc. -- the kind we show when we think no one is looking) and values (friendship, loyalty, trustworthiness, courage, etc.) which were once so common that they influenced every sphere of society. As we turn away from God's basic principles for the good conduct of the human race, we race toward the savagery Ken Ham spoke of. And most people have no real concept of how depraved people can get when it's "every man (and woman) for themselves."

This Thanksgiving, I suggest we take time to look at our lives and where we're headed as a nation. There is so much going wrong, and it will only get worse unless each one of us does whatever we can to make things better. And more importantly, think on those good things that still remain. Be thankful for what you have, not envious of what someone else has. Be grateful for whatever health you have because you won't always have it. Be thankful for solid friendships based on trust instead of favors. Thank God for all the bad things that He allowed you to survive and learn from, and from all the terrible things which didn't happen to you or to those you love.

Be most thankful for the love of Jesus Christ, who - though He is King of kings and Lord of lords - surrendered Himself to the severest cruelties that the human mind could devise, so that He could conquer sin and Death itself, and deliver us from the condemnation and judgment of a perfect God, into life eternal in His own house. And that's infinitely better than 72 imaginary virgins.

For those who actually read this far, I also thank you. Now, pass it on. and Happy Thanksgiving.

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