Guest Column by Jana Rea
When I was a kid, if I said something about God, people would ask me if I wanted to be a missionary. A neighbor friend once told me I should be a nun. That unsolicited advise puzzled me then, but now I understand it: Relegate the ‘religious’ to a profession so they stay put in a tidy place where ‘normal’ people don’t have to bother with the “Thees, Thy’s and Therefore’s” of dealing with a Presumed Presence from Whom we would rather keep a comfortable distance unless we need something. Let the religious do their bit while the rest of us live in the real world. The Real World. And what, pray tell, is that exactly?
I didn’t know it then but I had been subtly introduced to dualism—the assumed disparity between the seen and the unseen, between faith and reason–a kind of mental construct that assigns categories to our efforts to grasp Reality. Life assumptions—like dualism can go undetected until a conflict, or irony opens them for full view.
Recently I read an article about a movement in Australia to call the world to pray for America. The press release from the National Day of Prayer, Australia read:
“We in Australia believe it is our turn to bless the nation of America and pray for healing for the USA through prayer and fasting according to II Chronicles 7:14. We in Australia are grateful for the protection that America gave Australia and the nations of the free world during World War II.”
About the same time, a friend loaned us a copy of a self-published compilation of Kingdom Stories; The Life and Labors of Rev. G.V. Albertson (Copyright 1935 by Ruth Hill, Boston Ma). A cowboy turn preacher is a fascinating coming-of-age account that gives color and context to the territory days in ‘Bleeding Kansas’ and early settlements in Oklahoma. It is a personal narrative that reveals the hardness of life that forged the characters of our mid western fore bearers. From one chapter, “ Ill shoot the Preacher”, the author writes,
Many of this generation, hearing the gospel from fine cushioned pews, and enjoying most conventional up-to-date services, could scarcely be made to comprehend the hard beginnings of many of our churches a generation ago and particularly of some of the 2200 that have been founded by Sunday School Missionaries on the frontier . . . Good people who had taken homes there had to be most watchful for property and life; . . . all manner of crimes were being enacted. With those who stood for law and order, the Sunday School Missionary under took to build up a church. (p. 68)
While I work with our son on the renovation of a tiny house in East Lawrence, my husband oversees the building of a school in Africa as a volunteer. Continents apart, our very real worlds could not be more different. I order tile from a warehouse; a contractor measures for kitchen cabinets with special compartments for spices, trash and recycle. Meanwhile Ed admires African workers who pat down the hand-mixed pavers into the earth for the classroom floor; a wall shelf is a luxury and an unexpected convenience. The slow and steady work of missionaries is opening new opportunities and casting doubt on the efficacy of witch doctors for relief from sickness or demons. Demons–now there is a worldview indicator word!
Whether on another continent or during an earlier era, what determines this fundamental difference, besides geography and genetics? In these three cases a Judeo/Christian worldview has taken root or is taking effect; the result permeates every aspect of society—family, economy, and the judicial system. Justice in the Wild West was settled in the streets until law and order was established by a Biblical moral code. African villages under the tribal influence of ancestral loyalties and Islamic customs in some places are yielding to the good news of the God of the Bible. Industry replaces dependency so the disinherited wives and children have a livelihood; education is made affordable and opens doors to new futures for the young. America’s foundation was firmly Judeo/Christian. The unprecedented prosperity that resulted propelled prosperity else where, like Australia.
Ironically, it is not the foreign fields at risk now—it is the homeland of America. Our dualism has finally dealt us a dilemma. We have politely excised our religion out of our public square and left chards where once there was a vibrant fountain. Thankfully the mission fields in Africa and Australia and church plants of yesterday are now returning the favor by praying for America. So what does that say of our maturity, our supposed progress? It sounds more like a civilization in its dotage than its vigor. There is something very full circle or ironic about the pairing of these accounts– this frontier account of fledgling churches that became the root system of communities for generations while the fruit of their labor spread into foreign fields now offering solace to our morally bereft nation.
You have to wonder how did we get here. Critical thinking and self-examination are casualties of a culture that prefers delusions for now then simply pass the nonsense on to the next generation as they observe it practiced by us. And practice it we have. And do. Our dualism is so perfected we stay on cue, going from church to club to work to party to home and hearth and never realize how compartmentalized we have become. Split.
What is it if not schizophrenic to assert “In God We Trust” but refuse to acknowledge Him publicly or privately as the Giver of all of our Nation’s bounty? Or refuse to recognize that the Founders were devoutly determined to invoke God’s favor and did everything necessary to set their lives in agreement with His revealed Word. Divorcing sacred from secular by insisting that politics and religion cannot co-exist does not alter reality. It does however reveal the modern fault line in the American mind. However, I do believe that this split in consciousness is amendable. Where there is a will to examine one’s belief systems and make changes where necessary.
Dietrich Bonheoffer wrote, “All things appear as in a distorted mirror, if they are not seen and recognized in God.”
In Jesus Christ the reality of God has entered into the reality of this world. The place where the questions about the reality of God and about the reality of the world are answered at the same time is characterized solely by the name: Jesus Christ. God and the world are enclosed in this name . . . we cannot speak rightly of either God or the world without speaking of Jesus Christ. All concepts of reality that ignore Jesus Christ are abstractions. As long as Christ and the world are conceived as two realms bumping against and repelling each other re, we are left with only the following options. Giving up on reality as a whole, either we place ourselves in one of the two realms, wanting Christ without the world or the world without Christ—and both cases we deceive ourselves . . . There are not two realities, but only one reality, and that is God’s reality revealed in Christ in the reality of the world. Partaking in Christ, we stand at the same time in the reality of God and in the reality of the world the reality of Christ embraces the reality of the world in itself. The world has no reality of its own independent of Gods’ revelation in Christ . . . [T]he theme of two realms, which has dominated the history of the church again and again, is foreign to the New Testament. (Bonhoeffer, Eric Metaxas, pg469)
Biblical support is easy to find. Colossians 1:15-20.
What governs moral law whether in remote villages, the Old West or ‘progressive’ American cities? Whether codified or not, what places a schematic in place that explains the cause and effect of human behavior within the known universe? The worldview of the inhabitants. But dualism renders it blurry.
It is time as a nation to realize that the foundation of our county and the subsequent buildings upon it are grossly incongruent. Never before has it been as obvious. There is nothing faulty with the foundation. It is brilliant. But over time we have allowed slip shod construction and derelict leaders to occupy prominence, preeminence over our Constitution and our conscience until our national contract is in shreds.
Wherever there is a virtue, there is a counterfeit.
Socialism pretends to correct American individualism with collectivism, which of course has been tried and failed and yet under the current administration has been resurrected with new meanings to our lexicon of trusted words like ‘Hope’ and Transformation, all of which peddle the deranged ideology of Saul Alinsky, exalted to czar status empowering governmental mandates from every agency; all substitutes for what God had in mind:
“Love God with all your heart and strength and mind and your neighbor as yourself.” It has been called the Golden Rule but it is much more than that because it is predicated on self-love. That only happens by first acknowledging God the Creator, Sustainer and Giver of life thus giving Him the proper honor. Then in gratitude we live as stewards of a world we did not make and do not own. Agenda 21 is the pretender of this virtue as it doesn’t recognize the proper created order and seeks to demonize ‘Man’ as the persecutor of the Earth and all the species in it. For sustainability, only an “all- wise world order” would be able to control the evil capitalists who seek profit at the expense of undeveloped counties. The problem is— who gets to make the rules in the New World Order? I hope no one I see on the world stage. No person, because human nature is not trustworthy. Government was instituted to keep human nature in check. The bigger government gets, the more humans can mess it up. It becomes a god and functions like a tyrant. God, not government rights all relationships. Self-governance precedes generosity and ethics.
It has always been about worldview, which asks the big philosophical questions of the individual and society: What is the nature of Reality? (Metaphysics), How can we know it? (Epistemology) How then shall we live? (Ethics) You would think in a university town the residents would have the tools for critical thinking but when slow cooked in the toad water of liberalism, it has fallen prey to a ploy of social justice and redistribution. Of course justice matters. But defining justice is a prerequisite to a workable solution. Muslims and Christians are worldviews apart on definitions of that word. Let’s not pretend.
In an America that is being ‘fundamentally transformed, reduced to the diminished and awkward role of a “Post-America World” player, I have dusted off my textbooks on Western Civilization which is clearly out of vogue as the current President was photographed carrying a book with that title to and from Air Force One—his free ride. Recently published textbooks enhance the view of Islam and minimize Christianity as a persecutor of all things Islamic; our universities are substituting Western Civilization with Middle Eastern Studies. To appeal the Middle Eastern dollars of course and sell our soil and soul! There is nothing more important now than a coherent worldview and to be able to articulate it. Right now we are not a melting pot, we are a cacophony of chaos due to implode.
The Judeo/Christian worldview was fundamental to the shaping of our government. Man, left to himself will corrupt, pervert and mask his intention to do so as long as possible to hold power until tyranny is inevitable. Education cannot redeem– government doesn’t succor the soul. It is not the socialist worldview nor is it the Islamist worldview that founded this country—it was the Biblical worldview.
Not long ago I was asked, “Has the Douglas County Republican Party become too religious? ”
I love the question. A perfectly legitimate one and deserves a well-reasoned answer. But before that, I need to ask questions.
What is meant by the word “religious”? The term usually has connotations of the moralistic. So if by the question they intend to ask, is it proper for a political party to assert that we live in a moral universe? I reply, Yes. And is that assertion necessary to the scope of the Republican Platform? Again I say, Yes.
If by ‘religious’ they are asking, are we promoting one religion over others, I would ask which religion is foundational to our Republic? Is it Hindu, Islam, Rastafarian Atheism, Secularism? None of the above. Only the Judeo/Christian Bible is quoted more than any other source in our founding documents. Judaism gave us the Law; Christianity gives us the only One who was able to keep it, revealing the true nature of God and paid the penalty we deserve. The Founders celebrated this. Allusions and overt references in their writings are unmistakable to the literate. Therefore when George Washington pens words like:
“… Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties move men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation deserts the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. What ever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”
(George Washington excerpted from Farewell Address 1796)
I would ask, are we then being too religious to recall, to recite and to seek to reinstitute them? I think not. In fact I would go so far as to say, we utterly fail without them. John Adams says it better than I:
“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
(John Adams, in a letter to the officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts, on October 11, 1798)
The question itself is very revealing about the American mind—it is incredibly dualistic. When we assert a belief but subvert it in word or in practice that mind is divided and integrity is at risk. If faith does not permeate all of life it is infantile at best. The unexamined mind leads to unexamined groupthink and so goes society. The only remedy is the entrance of an objective Truth and the hard work of self-examination for a unity of mind and spirit. But that of course begs the question of a spiritual dimension to our existence.
So I would ask, if the questioner is a Republican by affiliation? If so, how do they ignore the fundamental premises of the Republican Platform? If the questioner is of the Democrat party, then I understand the disassociation from God. It is systemic. Sporting a collage of contradictory worldviews is not open-minded liberalism –it is maniacal schizophrenia. We are way past resuming the integrity of our thought, word and deed as a Nation. We must exhume rather than resume.
The confusion I have felt for the better part of 8 years is how to invest my life energy, how to live faithfully when every system in our society is teetering toward collapse. I have chosen to stand squarely on the Republican platform admitting no contradiction to my worldview. I have chosen to stand in a political field erstwhile it questions the viability and relevance of faith; I have chosen Christianity while that faith field in practice often dismisses the immediate or ultimate benefit of the political endeavor. I must somehow find those contradictions illogical as did Dietrich Bonheoffer, whose integrity inspires me in these days.
In the meantime, the Judeo Christian worldview is on the public scaffold. Adherents may follow. However, the God of all Time and all nations will not be mocked and laughs at the derision of Man. Psalms 2. He would shepherd the fatherless and the widow at the very end of all time, and draw nearest to the broken-hearted. Psalms 145. Eventually we will no longer see darkly through the dust of dilemmas but clearly when we see Him face to face. II Corinthians 13:12, Psalms 17:15.
Until then, Reality begs for participants.