Friday, October 14, 2005

Maranatha

“While waiting go see the doctor brought Anne Lindbergh’s book “The Wave of the Future” and read it sitting in the truck. It is called a “confession of faith,” but I couldn’t make out what it is she believes in and did not think it a clear book or a good one. So read it all through again, and I think she wants a good world, as I do, but that she has retreated into the pure realm of thought, leaving the rest of us to rassle with the bear. Mrs. Lindbergh feels that the war is so large and so dreadful that a man must at all costs keep his perspective and look at it in a broader way; but I think it is even more dreadful than that, and that we ought to fight and win it. And she says that the things that are going on in the world today are so tremendous and significant that we should concentrate on taking the beam out of our own eye and never mind the mote in our neighbor’s; but I do not like that advice and do not intend to take it, for in this instance the spectacle of my neighbor’s mote is of such character that it has moved me to tears and the tears are dissolving my beam at a fair rate – which is as good a way to get rid of it as any.”

- E.B. White – Commenting on Anne Lindbergh’s defense of Fascism (December 1940)

The melancholy of this past Wednesday has lifted somewhat today, thanks to some wise advice from a friend:

“Yet I think we are always aware of these things, even though they may surface only during our darker moods. In the end, our only hope is He who is the Hope of the world.”

The brooding was also mitigated, I think, by the more mundane needs of the day. There was breakfast to make, a lawn to mow, some spackling to spread on the back porch windows, cats to feed, errands to run. While there are demons lurking on the horizon and “armies on the march and evil reports,” they seem more than a half a world away as I bag leaves for composting or fix some food for Maizey, our calico. “Nothing,” I assure myself, is going to descend on us today.”

But the mood hasn’t entirely lifted. There are still remnants of the black bile lingering. Wednesday night I was reminded by a man of the cloth that Jesus was not, in all likelihood, going to be coming back any time soon. He said what he said four years or so, and he was apparently right. There was no Parousia at the turn of the century and there hasn’t been one this year either. I think the revelation, if I can call it that, was meant to comfort, to force his listeners to plant their feet on the ground of today. It may have helped others, but, unfortunately, it didn’t reassure me. Not even his re-assurance that Jesus actually would indeed come back some day helped. I was looking for some immediate consolation in the face cascading evil and the notion that the Lord Himself would eventually return seemed far too distant. As I ground my teeth, hashing his words over and over again in my mind, I muttered a desperate prayer under my breath. “The whole damned thing is a mess down here, Lord, and I think this would be as good a time as any for some extreme intervention. Maranatha!”

My lack of faith must seem alarming to those who grasp on the times is better than mine. I know, or I ought to know, that everything is going to turn out right in the end. But it’s not the end that troubles me; it’s today, tomorrow, and the day after that. I’m sure that even it that I can be faulted for peering too far ahead or thinking too much. I plead guilty to both charges.

With that said, I think I’ll pursue my melancholy a bit more.

Last night I began reading Tony Blankley’s “The West’s Last Chance.” It’s pretty chilling stuff. At about nine-thirty, just before I turned the lamp above my side of the bed, I read this:

“Likewise, Scheuer’s book took President Bush to task for mismanaging the War on Terror, but also focused on the magnitude of the terrorist threat. He wrote, “Americans, particularly the elites, refuse to grasp…that their country is engaged in war to the death with an enemy who has warned us of his every move and intention. Whatever comes next, whatever disaster befalls us, our children, and our country, we were warned and chose not to fight to our utmost.”

“He went on to explain that the terrorist threat is so great that unless we try to satisfy bin Laden and his organization by acceding to all their demands, we will be forced to fight with all our military strength.”

I went to sleep, praying prayers that must have seemed schizophrenic to heaven. I prayed a prayer of thanks for all I’d been given in life – my life, my family, my health, my freedom. And I also prayed a short prayer of hope – hope that the vision of the apocalypse some are seeing on the horizon is nothing more than a nightmare that we’ll collectively wake from soon.

Then, this morning, I re-read the chilling mantra from the terrorist manual:

“To those champions who avowed the truth day and night
And wrote with their blood and sufferings these phrases.”

“The confrontation that we are calling for with the apostate regimes does not know Socratic debates…, Platonic ideals…, nor Aristotelian diplomacy. But it knows the dialogue of bullets, the ideals of assassination, bombing, and destruction, and the diplomacy of the cannon and the machine gun.”

“Islamic governments have never and will never be established through peaceful solutions and cooperative councils. They are established as they (always) have been:
by pen and gun
by word and bullet
by tongue and teeth”

“Pledge, O Sister
To the sister believer whose clothes the criminals have stripped off.
To the sister whose hair the oppressors have shaved.
To the sister believer whose body has been abused by the human dogs.”

“Pledge, O Sister
Covenant, O Sister…to make their women widows and their children orphans.
Covenant, O Sister…to make them desire death and hate appointments and prestige.
Covenant, O Sister…to slaughter them like lambs and let the Nile, al-Asi, and Euphrates flow with their blood.
Covenant, O Sister…to be a pick of destruction for every godless and apostate regime.
Covenant, O Sister…to retaliate for you against every dog who touches you even with a bad word.”

The words are chilling, yet have a strange poetic lilt to them. They’re eerily reminiscent of the “Allah-u-Akbar’s” that rose melodically as terrorists slit Nicholas Berg’s throat a little over a year ago.

You’d think we, the “apostates and dogs” would have gotten the point by now, but we haven’t:

“If you can – and this may be harder – try to remember those moments in the days and weeks after September 11 when you didn’t think as a Republican or Democrat, as a liberal or conservative, as a devout Christian or big-city agnostic, when you didn’t think for or against George Bush. Remember when Jay Lenno and David Letterman were afraid to make a joke about anything, when there were no civilian airplanes flying in America.”

“At those moments would you have been angry if the FBI had announced that they were going to check public library records to see who had been checking out books on bomb-making and airplane boarding methods? Or, instead, would you have been beside yourself with anger if you heard on television that the FBI was not going to run down every possible lead to catch the terrorists before they blew up the White House, or your child’s school?”

“The big question is whether you were irrational then, to want the government to do what it had to do in order to protect your family and your country from death and destruction- back when you were really afraid of the danger terrorists posed. Or are you irrational now, to be satisfied with the government doing less than it could to stop terrorism? Are you right to no longer be afraid of terrorism?”

Last week, George Bush, the man more and more Americans are learning to hate, spoke with what I believe was a prophet’s mantle:

“The terrorists regard Iraq as the central front in their war against humanity, and we must recognize Iraq as the central front in our war on terror.”

“Third, the militants believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses, enabling them to overthrow all moderate governments in the region and establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia.”

“With greater economic and military and political power, the terrorists would be able to advance their stated agenda: to develop weapons of mass destruction, to destroy Israel, to intimidate Europe, to assault the American people and to blackmail our government into isolation.”

“Some might be tempted to dismiss these goals as fanatical or extreme. Well, they are fanatical and extreme, and they should not be dismissed.”

Of all the melancholy thoughts that grip me right now there is one that overwhelms me more than any other – the thought that while the storm clouds gather all around us, haters of George Bush seem willing, even delighted, to kiss Osama bin Laden’s derriere to the detriment of civilization itself. The murderers, it seems, have powerful allies wherever their tentacles reach. There’s a virtually silent Muslim community. There are political opportunists. There are those who should be our allies. And, there are those who call themselves our countrymen.

Well, tragically, they may have their wish granted. As I’ve said before, the wheel’s still in spin. Surrounded on all sides by enemies and “allies” alike, who have an insatiable appetite for hate, western civilization could fall. Dreams of caliphates could be fulfilled. Eurabia may be less than a generation or two away. And God knows what terror might follow from there.

Am I looking too far ahead, seeing the evil of the present and extending it into the future? Perhaps, but I have good reason. I have children and grand-children. I have friends and comrades. I have the happiness of a life shared in love. I care not only about what happens to me, but also to those with whom I still share life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Am I, then, just a man without hope, a melancholy old fool? No! I know that beyond the reality bathed in newsprint there is hope. In fact, I’m certain that hope, while clouded in the stark reality of the times, is the only sane approach left. As with Joseph of old, God has a way of turning things meant for evil to good.

Even Screwtape, the arch-enemy of all that is good, told Wormwood as much:

“In peace we can make many of them ignore good and evil entirely; in danger, the issue is forced upon them to which even we cannot blind them. There is here a cruel dilemma before us. If we promoted justice and charity among men, we should be playing directly into the Enemy’s hands; but if we guide them in the opposite behaviour, this sooner or later produces (for He permits it to produce) a war or a revolution, and the indisguisable issue of cowardice or courage awakes thousands of men from moral stupor.”
And so I pray, sowing in hope. I pray thankfully for the gifts today has brought my way. I pray hopefully that justice and goodness will prevail in these uncertain times. I pray that my children and grand-children will still have reason to hope when I’ve passed from death to everlasting life. And I hope above all that soon, very soon, history will be rolled up and the Last Word spoken.


Maranatha!

3 comments:

dog1net said...

Phil:
Your essays as of late are brilliant in their analytical perspective, but what I appreciate most is how you search for context to help frame an understanding of the events that we have experienced lately, especially in regard to the war on terror. What I felt, though, in particular with this writing, was a sense of urgency. It struck a cord with me. Like you, I have started to feel a strange, almost ominous sense of peril to our way of life. The tsunami, Irag, Katrina, the recent earthquake, the incredible rain and flooding we have here in New England and a possible bird flu pandemic, one can't help wandering if maybe we are on the cusp of something truly extraordinary.
Scot

Douglas said...

We experienced unusual rain storms in Minnesota over Labor Day weekend, but it just seemed selfish to make a big deal about it when there were so many other things happening. There are so many things that are beyond me (the border, the budget, the sleeper cells in our country, democracy in Iraq), I join with you in saying, Come quickly Lord Jesus!

Gone Away said...

I have pondered how to comment on this one for days. Time is up and I still can't think of anything wise or wonderful to say. We see the storm clouds approaching while there is yet sunlight upon our backs. What can I say beyond "Yes, I see it too..."?