Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Nehemiah: Competing Visions for America

We Must Strive for Civil Debate, but Not Compromise

A sign on L. E. Woods heavy equipment dealership in Fishersville, Virginia says it clearly: Pray for recovery.

"There are now two Americas. Not a rich one and a poor one; economic status plays little role in this division. There is a red one and a blue one." --Dennis Prager

Politicians of all persuasions express a desire to bring Americans together bound by a common vision for the common good. Dennis Prager Points Out the Fallicy of this Reasoning [click to read] in Jewish World Review. Really, it's time to admit that there are two different ideologies out there and they are in fierce competition for the heart and soul of the Nation. Without this basic understanding of the conflict it is impossible to understand why it must be debated. Indeed the political manifestation of this conflict is merely the tip of a cultural rift caused by very different world views.

Our founders looked to the order of Judeo-Christian principles as they framed a government based on a balance of tensions that would reign in human tendencies in order to create an orderly society. Individual liberties and individual responsibilities played a large part and government was purposely limited to avoid tyranny. Certain Truths were held to be self-evident. Man was seen as a special creation who bore the mark of his Creator, yet was fallen in nature--often acting along the lines of these baser inclinations. Thus government sought at once to reign the base and give liberty and expression to the higher aspirations of mankind.The secular humanism that has come to replace a sense of Divine order has given rise to a new paradigm where government, individual liberties and individual responsibilities are re-prioritized. Thus we no longer see the Divine stamp, Imagio Deo, on humanity. On one hand we have created arguments that if man is all there is [no G-d], then man's self-actualization is the main thing. A sense of greater purpose such as that that drove the American Revolution is impossible but we can grab for the highest experiences to justify ourselves. On the other hand, if man is the end of things, then what's so special. The extinction of some rare snail can be elevated above the plight of starving children in Africa. Indeed some radical environmental groups are making that exact argument.

The American left is actually a coalition of many of these often contradictory conclusions and yet they are strongly united in the desire to cast off the "old" constricting beliefs of our forefathers. That is why you will see those who promote the value of free speech in most areas suddenly veer into an irrational supression of religious speech in the public square. The state is now asked to take an even greater role in promoting the well-being of its citizens. The answer must for them be secular, not spiritual. If there is no higher authority it is left to us to pragmatically define and enforce 'virtue.' How else can you explain the fact that after Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac failed from reasons stemming from corruption in government oversight, the answer can only be more government oversight

The Left and Right See 'Freedoms' Differently

The ACLU was founded ninety years ago by Roger Baldwin. He was a socialist thinker who said things like: "America must follow the example of Stalin's Soviet Union where greater freedoms exist than anywhere else in the world". Wow, I never would have known from the history I read! Knowing America would never follow the path to 'social u[dys]topia because of her Judeo-Christian foundations, Baldwin set out to diminish the influence of Christianity in America.

For 80 years the ACLU has twisted the Constitution to exclude Christianity from the public square and the public discourse. That sense of mission is what drives the endless stream of lawsuits against prayer and Christian expression. That is why your kid's 'religious' message is excluded from the poster contest. That's why the school 'Winter Holiday' assembly is devoid of sacred traditional music. Thankfully there is the Alliance Defense Fund [click to read] which was founded to counter this destructive movement.

The Left and Right See Different Americas Altogether

First you have President Obama saying: "You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. … And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

Or consider this quote from Senator Mark Warner: "One of the things you are going to see is a coalition that is just about completely taken over the Republican Party in this state and if they have their way it’s going to take over state government. It is made up of the Christian Coalition, but not just them. It is made up of the right-to-lifers, but not just them. It’s made up of the NRA, but not just them. It is made up of the home-schoolers, but not just them. It’s made up of a whole coalition of people that have all sorts of differing views that I think most of us in this room would find threatening to what it means to be an American."

What does Senator Warner mean: "threatening to what it means to be an American?" Dennis Prager [click to read] writes in his columns that there are two visions for America in competition. One is the vision passed down to us by our WWII parents, the other: a diminished America and an increased role of government, (in a secularized society), we might take a lesson from Nehemiah, chapter 4:

“But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews. And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned?

Now Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall. Hear, O our God; for we are despised: and turn their reproach upon their own head, and give them for a prey in the land of captivity: And cover not their iniquity, and let not their sin be blotted out from before thee: for they have provoked thee to anger before the builders.

So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work. But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth, And conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it.

Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them. And Judah said, The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall. And our adversaries said, They shall not know, neither see, till we come in the midst among them, and slay them, and cause the work to cease. And it came to pass, that when the Jews which dwelt by them came, they said unto us ten times, From all places whence ye shall return unto us they will be upon you. Therefore set I in the lower places behind the wall, and on the higher places, I even set the people after their families with their swords, their spears, and their bows. And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses.

And it came to pass, when our enemies heard that it was known unto us, and God had brought their counsel to nought, that we returned all of us to the wall, every one unto his work.”

Indeed, those of us who are involving ourselves in this great work must not be distracted. The rebuilding needs to begin with prayer and revival. Our greatest woes are not economic. Yet that does not free us from the task of rebuilding our section.

That should not preclude civil debate, but there are times when, like Nehemiah, we must say to those who oppose us: “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?” — Nehemiah 6:3.

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