Jan 30, 2012

On Remembering What Got Us Here


Years ago, an alert reader clipped and brought me an article by Clint Murchison, a contributing columnist to The Dallas Morning News. Murchison’s article was entitled “Only Religion Can Form a Basis for Morality.” What ethicists would say to his assertion is a matter of conjecture, but on a common sense level his article gives all of us something to ponder. Murchison’s most telling quotation is

“We need for the large culture—families, workplaces, and organizations of all sorts—to affirm again, as of old, the urgency of religious faith over against scornful unbelief and secular indifference.”

This responsibility gives the church the large task of once again trying to help people come to a saving knowledge of God. This mandate includes all of us who want to make a difference in our world.

My late friend, Gary Carroll, also sent me a pocket copy of the United States’ Constitution, The Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. Needless to say, a quick reading of these foundational documents also suggest that God-fearing Americans have a lot to live up to in order to be of the same mind as the founding fathers of our great nation.

About a decade ago, the news outlets told us that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that the phrase we use in our pledge of allegiance, “one nation under God” is unconstitutional. Those familiar with the “disestablishment clause” in the United States Constitution will certainly understand the ruling that court made, although they may disagree with it. My favorite defense of “the way things were” is the interesting statement that “under God” is not really a religious avowal, just like Christmas trees and menorahs are not essentially religious, as some of the courts have asserted. Oh, boy! Clearly this is a discussion that will continue for a long time.

However, the practical outcome produced amusing circumstances like the one I experienced one morning. Drinking coffee at a local restaurant, I overheard a group of older men speaking about the court decision as a symptom of exactly what was wrong with America today. The words “socialism,” and “Communist” were thrown around with righteous disgust. One man said, “Once they take God away from us, then what will be next?”

The waiter, with clear mischief in her tone, said simply, “Sam, when was the last time you were in church for something other than a wedding or a funeral? It seems to me, it is people like you who have left God out in the cold. Now this court decision seems to have built a little fire under you!”

Quickly Sam replied, “I’ve got to get going.”

Perhaps this court decision can make us look more deeply into both our belief and the faith practices our belief generates.

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