“Recognition of the Supreme Being is the first, the most basic expression of Americanism. Without God, there could be no American form of government, nor American way of life.” Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1955
America has changed dramatically since President Eisenhower penned those words. I was four years old in 1955, and so my memories of the fifties and early sixties consist of endless summers, sandlot baseball and riding my bike to the neighborhood drugstore to buy baseball cards and fountain cherry-cokes. It was in those halcyon days that I first heard the siren song of an “itsy-bitsy teeny-weenie yellow polka dot bikini,” and my transition to adulthood began.
I don’t think America has evolved for the better, as some progressives say. Our technology is better. The internet is a wondrous tool for the inquisitive. Our science, when not corrupted by politically motivated grants, allows us to see farther and understand more about the universe. However, human beings have not fundamentally changed in perhaps tens of thousands of years. And if unbridled we are too often inhuman.
I once read that the first prayer uttered by one of our ancestors upon exiting his cave and gazing upward at the stars, was an “Ahhh,” of wonder. Why have so many of us lost this wonder? Why has our horizon shrunk instead of expanding? When I was a boy my whole world was my neighborhood. As I grew older my horizon expanded to encompass my town, then my country and finally the world. Now, we are able to see into the depths of atoms and outwards to the edge of the universe. Unfortunately, some no longer see the Creator of it all. What a blighted horizon to only see as far as reality TV.
I am a monotheist. I believe in an intelligent and purposeful Creator, and His fundamental principles necessary for a successful life. Eisenhower understood this perspective as did Albert Einstein. Why do so many of our citizens put their trust in frail men or the institutions of mankind, such as government? An ancient Greek philosopher named Protagoras once said, “Man is the measure of all things.” What a pitiable world view, conditioned by his unwillingness to see beyond his senses or to bend his pride before God. I believe this learned man had actually devolved from his proverbial ancestral caveman.
Recently, I read that the new Oxford dictionary for children has removed the word sin from this dictionary. Modern man struggles with the notion of sin and many object to the Garden of Eden story/allegory of sin. Theologically, I too have trouble seeing the sinful or “fallen” nature of my twelve week old granddaughter, Josie. Perhaps we need to come to an age of “understanding” before we can choose God’s way or our way. My wife Becky better describes Adam’s “original sin” as his “original separation” from God. Perhaps this is operative in each of us as we consider whether we are the measure of all things or whether we side with the maker of all things. Hubris is, after all, a powerful tonic.
We again find ourselves in the political season of sound bites, gotchas and verbal jousting. I’m already sick of it and lament the waste of money on the meaningless rhetoric of politicians. It would be a lot simpler to just put Hillary Clinton in a boxing ring with Carly Fiorina and let the best woman win. It certainly would be entertaining, but someone would whine that the sixty year old Fiorina might have an age advantage over poor Hillary, who’s sixty-seven. Victims abound in our society.
I’ve written previously about hate speech and illiberalism. Look up the definitions if you need to; it will exercise your mind and expand your horizon. The latest news cycle kerfuffle is whether the opposition of some Christians to gay marriage constitutes hate speech. In other words, someone’s First Amendment rights may be intolerable to others and must be silenced. Illiberalism is again on display as we await the Supreme Court’s decision on the redefinition of marriage. I find it a sign of the times that we trust nine old men and women to tell us what is right. You do realize that only 2-3% of Americans are gay and less than 1% of Americans are Muslim. Yet both of these minorities rule the day in our politics. What will happen if gay marriage becomes the law of our land as it did recently in Ireland? Won’t Muslims be even more offended by same sex marriage than by drawing pictures of Mohammed?
We use words to communicate, though I also read body language. I understand when I’ve displeased my wife – even if I may not immediately know what I’ve done. Symbols are also important. Case in point is the recent dust-up when a company placed an upside down American flag on their tee-shirts. I don’t know whether the company was trying to make a statement or just sell their wares. Through watching the Netflix series House of Cards I learned that an American flag displayed upside down is a sign of distress. It seems to me that the company was stating the obvious, but that was intolerable to some and the company bowed to pressure and removed the “offensive” shirts from the market.
I believe in the Constitution and the First Amendment which guarantees freedom of speech and religion. I challenge you to read the First Amendment today and consider the words “establishment” and “free exercise.” The Constitution guarantees that a state religion will not be established and guarantees the freedom to exercise religion, even if it is the Christian religion.
As a conservative I believe that every citizen should have equal opportunity under the law. This defines a republic. Absolute equality is different and a utopian vision. Actually, equality of all men exists only in the eyes of God. But what if man says No! God, and replaces Him with the idols of money, sex, self, or government? It’s been done over and over throughout history, and always with the same result.
Our coinage says, “In God We Trust.” I hope that is still true and America will survive this dark time to experience a rebirth of God-given “unalienable rights.” We shall see.