"He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth Him hath mercy on the poor." Proverbs 14:31, KJV
"Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction. Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy." Proverbs 31:8-9, KJV
I have come to an inescapable conclusion: the United States of America has gone around the bend. Not “take a Valium® agitated,” or “take a Prozac® depressed,” but “load the syringe with Thorazine®, call the attendants, and get the strait-jacket” insane. Some of this insanity can be laid at the feet of dogmatic, fundamentalist Christians, but they are not solely responsible for our nation's descent into madness, and we collectively bear at least an equivalent degree of blame.
I will begin with the belief held by many evangelical, fundamentalist Christians in this country that George W. Bush was chosen by Almighty God to be President of the United States. Folks, if you believe this, I suggest you look up the word “idolatry” in the dictionary: “Blind or excessive devotion to something” is the applicable definition. The idea of “divine right,” of Providence choosing who leads a nation, died with Louis XVI on the Paris guillotine and the murder of Czar Nicholas II and his family at Ekaterinaberg. You are scaring me (and a whole lot of other people) when you profess this belief. Visions of George Bush and the United States becoming a gigantic version of Jim Jones and Jonestown (not to mention Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany) run screaming through my nightmares. The recent erection of billboards bearing George Bush’s face and the words “Our Leader”—so reminiscent of the cults of personality that revolved around Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, and Mao—has done nothing to reassure me on this score.
I do not make this statement because I am some godless heathen: I profess my faith in Christ with every bit as much conviction as any of you. However, I recognize that as a human being I am prone to error, to injecting my own prejudices and faults into my interpretation of Christ's teachings, asking Him for guidance and then ignoring it or overlooking it out of my personal human weakness. Because of this, I do not attempt to force anyone into my set of beliefs, because I might—in all humility—be wrong. I have no desire to be responsible for anyone's possible damnation but my own.
To be honest, I believe the predominant agencies responsible for the choice of George W. Bush for President in 2000 and 2004 were the corporate elites: the one percent of our population who hold two-fifths of our nation's wealth. President Bush (who is one of these elites) and his Administration serve these Mammonites as devotedly as the Seraphim are said to serve God.
Connected to this idolatrous view of President Bush as chosen by God, is the blasphemy expressed by the Christian Reconstructionist Movement that they should establish Christ's Kingdom upon the Earth in preparation for His Return. The arrogant pride inherent in this belief both surprises and exasperates me.
How is this blasphemy you ask? Let us start with the dictionary definition of the term: blas·phe·my (blàs¹fe-mê) noun plural blas·phe·mies 1. a. A contemptuous or profane act, utterance, or writing concerning God or a sacred entity. b. The act of claiming for oneself the attributes and rights of God.
Note the second definition: "The act of claiming for oneself the attributes and rights of God." I know of no place in the New Testament where it says that Jesus will take over an established kingdom on His return. In fact, The Book of Revelation states that Jesus will establish his Kingdom after His Second Coming. To attempt to establish His Kingdom before His Return certainly constitutes claiming His Rights for ourselves. I would, in fact, state that such an action sounds far more like the actions of the Antichrist and his coterie, establishing his dominion in pale imitation of Christ's Kingdom.
I remember reading an article in The New Catholic Times (May 18, 2003) of Pope John Paul II's fear that George Bush is the Antichrist. I do not necessarily believe this accusation—either that John Paul II believes President Bush is the Antichrist or that George Bush is the Antichrist. I put this idea forth only as a possibility for the reader to consider, not as a statement of fact.
The second symptom of our madness is our treatment of the environment. We are using the planet Earth like a Kleenex, befouling its air, land and water as if there is no tomorrow. This abuse of nature is universal here in the United States, from over- packaging by the manufacturers, to the cavalier way we use products and dispose of them, with no thought to the world we are leaving our descendants.
In fact, some of the evangelical Christians, including former Interior Secretary James Watt, believe that it is acceptable to exhaust our resources and trash the planet, because the "End Times" are at hand, and Jesus will cleanse and restore the Earth's bounty when He returns.
I have questions for those of you who foster this belief. What if you are wrong? What if your interpretation of scripture is flawed? Ask yourselves, "What if it is not the End Times?" Various sects, cults and individuals have said that the Apocalypse is imminent over the last two thousand years, and all of them have been proven wrong. If it is not the End Times, you are leaving God's blessed creation stripped of its resources and besmeared with pollution, a filthy shadow of itself for future generations.
The conditions under which God has given us this planet must be honored (secularists please substitute "Nature" or "future generations" for the various terms for the Deity). I think that we were given this world in trust by the Creator, to be used gently, and given back to Him with as little wear and tear as possible. What is being done by soulless corporations to this planet to provide us with our comfortable standard of living, is a violation of that trust. I believe this is comparable to borrowing your parents' car, then returning it with a dented fender, empty gas tank, and its interior covered with trash. Your parents will forgive you, even if you destroy the car, but they will be very disappointed because you will have broken their trust. How much worse if the disappointed Parent is our Heavenly Father?
The third symptom of our madness is the odious dominion which both wealth and materialism exercise over the imaginations of most Americans, religious or secular. Alexis de Tocqueville made two statements about American materialism, the first in a letter in 1831, "As one digs deeper into the national character of the Americans, one sees that they have sought the value of everything in this world only in the answer to this single question: how much money will it bring in?" The second is in his magnum opus Democracy in America, "In no other country in the world is the love of property keener or more alert than in the United States, and nowhere else does the majority display less inclination toward doctrines which in any way threaten the way property is owned."
Later in Democracy in America, Tocqueville expressed his fear that this trait represents a profound danger to the American political system (echoing almost identical concerns expressed by Jefferson and Madison), "What is the most important for democracy is not that great fortunes should not exist, but that great fortunes should not remain in the same hands. In that way there are rich men, but they do not form a class."