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

Friday, August 27, 2010

"Earn this"

The most poignant line from Saving Private Ryan comes at the end of the final battle scene, where the dying Lt. Smith whispers to Pvt. Ryan, "Earn this." The scene still chokes me up each time I watch it. "This" was the lives of the men who died trying to bring Ryan home alive after both his brothers had been killed in action. That simple imperative applied a huge moral weight to Ryan's young shoulders, and it obviously haunted him even to the very last scene where Ryan, now an old man, pauses and kneels over the Lt's grave and asks his wife if, indeed, he had earned it by being "a good man."

Honor is a word most have heard, many think they understand, but only a relatively small number actually and fully live it. We see all the time how shallowly honor is treated in the culture. People get "honored" with cheap awards for merely entertaining non-discerning people, or achieving some fleeting 15 minutes of fame for a nebulous talent opportunity, or getting elected to a political office by voters willing to believe anything

Honor isn't about pompous heroism and personal glory-seeking. Honor is about respecting something bigger than yourself; something truly worthy of that honor and effort. It's about sacrificing something you love (perhaps even your own life) for someone else you may not like or even know. It's about respecting your commitments and doing what is morally right even if it's inconvenient and not something you want to do; even when it costs you. It's about doing something great, and not drawing attention to yourself.  Truly, the greatest heroes are those who risk all, and either remain in the background or give the credit to someone else.

Know anyone like that?  I'll nominate Glenn Beck, perhaps the most unlikely candidate in the public view these days.  Yes, he's famous, but he's the first to belittle himself and give the credit to others. Even though he is pilloried daily by virtually all the media outlets and even by certain otherwise-rational conservatives, Glenn plods ahead with his message of impending menace, our absolute need for God, and the redemptive power of faith, hope and charity.  His clarion call is based on the premise that Son-light is the best disinfectant for the soul.  He's not just preaching to the choir, he's shouting it from the rooftops, on the No.3 radio show, on the No.2 cable show, in a series of No. 1 best-selling books, in a magazine, and on stage shows.  He's a tireless proponent for the only "hope and change" that actually works: hope in God's grace and promise of redemption, and the life-changing, world-changing force of the gospel message.

His latest effort is happening this weekend, with his Restoring Honor event on the National Mall in Washington DC. In front of the Lincoln Memorial he is hosting an event (only his closest team members have just recently been told what's to transpire) that is planned to reintroduce America's nearly-forgotten core values, and to reintroduce us to Him who has made all things possible. I'll have to admit he's clever. He's using an event designed as a fund-raiser for the Special Operations Warrior Fund as a medium to get his message of redemption out. Oh, how sneaky.

Even as he is accused of doing it all for profit, he is spending hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of his own money to finance the ancillary costs such as hotel rooms for his invited guests and other costs that keep popping up. Aside from the fact that the Obama malAdministration has delegated at least four high-level advisors to work actively against Beck, Glenn can't even get permission to have a military color guard present at the event. But despite lies about him, insults at him, boycotts against him, and physical threats against him, his family and his staff, he (and they) continue fighting the good fight. He's setting the example, and the bar is high.

But to return to my original point, I think we're in a unique time. After generations of struggle, then generations of increasing leisure and luxury, we've now arrived at the knife's edge of a time when everything - and I mean literally, everything - we recognize as part of life in America is now on the brink of extinction.  For perhaps the first time in our history, our own government has leagued with our traditional enemies: socialist progressives, communists, radical Muslims, foreign governments, criminals and opportunists. Generations of Americans have traditionally stood in the gap, willing to take just so much guff and upstartness, and then reigning back the power to themselves - more or less (less and less, actually). But as each generation has been deliberately taught less about our actual history - in context - and our traditions are mocked, belittled and legally frustrated, and our faith is continually attacked in the name of "fairness," how many of us still stand, willing and capable of overcoming the enemy within? How many have the stamina and thick skin to withstand the withering barrage of vitriol, the insults and outright lies thrown against us and those who still love this country?

I think Glenn Beck is being used by God to show us what is required of us if we want to remain (or return to) a free people. He's setting the example for all to see. It's just a matter of how many will actually open their eyes to see.  Many heroes, quiet and otherwise, have passed by before us. Now, it is our turn to stand in the gap. If America falls to this fallen ideology of hate, greed, avarice, pettiness, and envy, there will be no other country to come to our rescue. Worse still, we will destroy the hope of those in other lands who have always looked to America as the beacon of that hope.  The world is watching; some with glee over our impending doom, others with anguish that, with the tempering force of America gone, any possibility of rescue for them will disappear as well.

This is our time, and we were born in it for a reason. This is our land because of God's Providence. We are His stewards, and we have been failing in that mission.  We have an obligation, a duty, to recapture our future and our children's future, but we cannot accomplish anything righteous without God; and if we are on His side we can accomplish anything.  We each have our own talents and opportunities to help in some way.  If we combine those talents with God's will, we can save this country, and that will restore hope to the world. But we must decide to act, and to act properly. If I may recite another famous movie line, "What are you prepared to do?"

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