I started my morning with my devotional, but that is not where I want to start this post. Rather, let’s start with the next thing I read – Victor Davis Hanson:
Why do once-successful societies ossify and decline?
One recurring theme seems consistent in Athenian literature on the eve of the city’s takeover by Macedon: social squabbling over slicing up a shrinking pie. Athenian speeches from that era make frequent reference to lawsuits over property and inheritance, evading taxes and fudging eligibility for the dole. After the end of the Roman Republic, reactionary Latin literature — from the likes of Juvenal, Petronius, Suetonius and Tacitus — pointed to “bread and circuses,” as well as excessive wealth, corruption and top-heavy government.
By any historical marker, the future of Americans has never been brighter. The United States has it all: undreamed new finds of natural gas and oil, the world’s pre-eminent food production, continual technological wizardry, strong demographic growth, a superb military and constitutional stability.
Yet we don’t talk confidently about capitalizing and expanding on our natural and inherited wealth. Instead, Americans bicker over entitlement spoils as the nation continues to pile up trillion-dollar-plus deficits. Enforced equality rather than liberty is the new national creed. The medicine of cutting back on government goodies seems far worse than the disease of borrowing trillions from the unborn to pay for them.
So true and not the most pleasant way to start the day. So Hanson sees the nation making a choice – MAKING A CHOICE! – to decline. Why would we make such a choice?
That question brings me to my next reading – this one from “C.S. Lewis”” Facebook page. I have been a “friend” to this page for some time – apparently the foundation that cares for Lewis’ writings runs it and mostly they just put up quotes. This is the one that caught my eye:
“Really great moral teachers never do introduce new moralities: it is quacks and cranks who do that…. The real job of every moral teacher is to keep on bringing us back, time after time, to the old simple principles which we are all so anxious not to see; like bringing a horse back and back to the fence it has refused to jump or bringing a child back and back to the bit in its lesson that it wants to shirk.”
~ Mere Christianity
If you think about it that speaks volumes about media and nation and church. Which brings me to my devotional:
The first few times I read Jesus’ Parable of the Three Servants, I missed the point entirely. “So the third servant buried his silver in the ground for safekeeping. What’s so terrible about that?” I reasoned. I concluded that he was unfairly punished simply for proceeding more cautiously than the other two servants, who had invested their money to earn the master even more
The key, of course, is to recognize your gifts and use them for the good of others. Don’t play it safe, Jesus tells us in this parable. Don’t hide your gifts; don’t bury them, like the fearful third servant did, where they can’t impact anyone else. And don’t squander them either, but instead, invest them in growing the kingdom of God.
And now we know the answer tot he question posed by Hanson. Why are we choosing to decline? Because we are hiding our gifts, and in an effort to seem “relevant,” churches experiment with the new rather that teach the old over and over and over again.
That brought me back to last Wednesday’s post in which we discussed how the political opposition is committed to transforming every single aspect of our society, from the most sacred to the most profane. I have not written for this blog since then, because of the implications of that observation. The implication is that we are not as committed to preserving our society as they are to transforming it. I have been trying desperately to think of ways to restore our commitment.
But the more I think about it, the more I think there is no trick or method or single means to restore that commitment. The only way to restore a commitment is to commit. And such commitment must be on all levels of our lives. We cannot just throw some money at it and let someone else carry the ball. We cannot be publicly committed and privately ambivalent. We cannot profess our faith, but be less diligent in living our faith.
We hold a royal flush. But we are allowing ourselves to be bluffed – which should be impossible because nothing beats a royal flush. Which means we don’t really believe we hold a royal flush. That’s our problem. We are just as anxious “not to see the old simple principles” as our opposition. Oh sure, we pay those principles lip service, but we do not really believe them at the deepest levels – we are not committed to them. Certainly we are not as committed to them as others are to the newer, errant principles.
We’re quitting, not losing.