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Get Ready for the Rhetoric

December 21, 2010

Below is a copy of my article for the January issue of Connections. Feels important to share on a wider forum.

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
–Philippians 4:13

Do not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested God at Massah.
–Deuteronomy 6:16

As I write this we are on the eve of Christmas and the turning of the year. I am aware that the holiday we call Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is right around the corner, a day that we will spend (hopefully) in reflection about our recent past and the possibilities for the future. That’s the beauty of the life of Dr. King: he acknowledge the past, he called us on the carpet for what we had done and what we should have done, and then he urged us into a future that looked brighter with every moment. I have him to thank, in part, that my children look at children who’s skin is rich brown, smooth mocha, or deep tones of gold and all they see are children. In them, King’s dream is alive.

No surprise to me that this holiday has been heavily politicized over the years. The Left claim King as a natural heir to their vision of progressive justice, while the Right lift him up as a paragon of piety. The truth is always somewhere in between. More than anything, he was a man of courage and vision. This holiday is good to have. He is one of the founding fathers of the new nation we have become.

But another event looms. This year will mark the 10th anniversary of the attacks of September 11th.

Brace yourselves. You’re going to hear a storm of rhetoric from our leaders over the next year about how much safer we are as a result of our wars and how right we were to seek vengeance. You’re going to hear a lot about what a great country this is (and it is, but rarely for the reason politicians and pundits claim). You’re going to be challenged by the things you hear. Beware most acutely of those who come “In the Lord’s name” with ideas about what these observances mean. One of the saddest days I can imagine was the day someone first uttered the phrase “for God and country.” Because what that usually means is that whatever our country does is God-blessed.

As a red-blooded patriot, I am here to tell you: everything this country does is NOT God-blessed. We kill our prophets. We drench the sands with blood in the name of various agendas. We let our own go hungry and say it’s their fault they were born into bad families. We test God on a regular basis.

Pray for a year of reflection. Pray for new vision. Pray that we might do more through Christ who strengthens us to build bridges and to obliterate our artificial differences. I believe we could be a great again; but it takes a lot more than rhetoric.

In Christ,


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