Monday, July 31, 2017

Lemuel and Rosa and Duke’s Mayonnaise – Part 2

Upon entering Food Lion, Lemuel glanced up at the product descriptions at the end of the aisles and saw the aisle that had mayonnaise. Walking down the aisle he saw the mayonnaise section with two national brands that bombard the consumer with advertising and alongside them Duke’s – which is the only national brand made without sugar (ain’t that sweet!).

Duke’s, as any history major knows, was formulated, produced, and first sold by Eugenia Thomas Duke in Greenville, S.C. in the early 20th century. She started in the sandwich business and as part of her business she made her own mayonnaise. As the sandwich endeavor rapidly grew it became apparent that its success was largely due to the tasty mayonnaise, and around 1923 Eugenia started a separate enterprise focused on the production and selling of mayonnaise. Demand became too much to keep up with and in 1929 she sold her business to the C.F. Sauer Company (which is celebrating its 130th year anniversary in 2017). Later she moved to California to be with her daughter and opened a sandwich business there.

Now we need to note a few salient historical and cultural points. Firstly, you may wonder why, even if her daughter lived in California, Eugenia would leave South Carolina and move there – South Carolina was not the dust bowl. Historians are still arguing over why she moved out yonder leaving the land of low-country cuisine with its shrimp and grits and its gators, after all, California ain’t got no gators – and there ain’t nothing quite like taking a stroll at night wondering whether your next step might lead to the amputation of your toes…or worse.

We also need to note that there were two Dukes whose products have been widely disseminated across our land, the Mayonnaise Dukes and the Tobacco Dukes. Now these next questions may appear on the final exam so please take notice, “Which product tastes better on a sandwich, mayonnaise or tobacco? Which of these two products is likely to take your taste away so that can’t fully taste the sandwich? Which of these two products is more likely to kill you?”

I think Duke University got the nickname the Blue Devils from students turning blue as they were choking on Mr. Duke’s cigarettes. Which would you rather do, smoke and turn blue or eat delicious mayonnaise and smile and sing and skip and dance and…oh yes…breathe? (This may also be a test question). Ever make a paste out of tobacco and spread it on a sandwich? Think about it.

Another historical point is that C.F. Sauer, the company that purchased Duke’s Mayonnaise, was founded and is still based in Richmond, VA. So while Duke’s may have started in South Carolina, and while it may have continued to be produced in South Carolina, it is owned by a Virginia company. I think Virginians can have some satisfaction in this, even be it small, because South Carolina is the group that got us into that nasty war a few years back – frankly I think South Carolina ought to pay us reparations. Anyway, Duke’s belongs to us’uns and not you’uns, even though we choose to employ you’uns to make mayonnaise for us’uns.

Over the years Duke’s Mayonnaise has spread across the country. One of my brothers lives in Fall Creek, WI and there is a Walmart in Chippewa Falls that sells Duke’s. This is bittersweet news to me because I’d like to be able to tell him that he can’t get it where he lives. On the other hand, folks across the country could use a little culture.

To be continued…

Friday, July 28, 2017

Lemuel and Rosa and Duke’s Mayonnaise

Lemuel told me that he stopped at Food Lion yesterday to pick up some mayonnaise. Earlier in the week a friend had given him manna from his garden, you may know manna as tomatoes. If you don’t associate home-grown tomatoes as manna, then with all due respect (and pity) you ain’t from around here.

In my own life I recall that when Vickie and I lived in MA and friends from around here were coming to visit, that when they asked if they could bring us anything we didn’t have to think twice, “Hanover tomatoes”. If you don’t know what Hanover tomatoes are then with all due respect (and pity) you ain’t from around here.

When I meet someone from around here who doesn’t like tomatoes I give them my sympathies and ask them why they don’t move – what’s the point of living here and not loving tomatoes. Then once I establish that they aren’t moving I ask them if I can have their share of tomatoes.

Lemuel and his missus were going to have BLTs last night and needed mayonnaise. If you are from around here you immediately recognize that this couple committed the eighth deadly sin, if you ain’t from around here you don’t know no better – to be out of mayonnaise during tomato season is not one of those tweeny-weeny sins, it is a deadly sin. I’ve known unfortunate things to happen in families that have run out of mayonnaise, I’ve known life-long friends to come to blows over the last spoonful in a jar, I’ve known couples in counseling because one or the other failed to notify the other when the last dollop was gone so that it could be replenished. The smart family has extra mayonnaise, the intelligent family estimates their anticipated mayonnaise consumption at the start of ‘mater season and stocks a supply – you don’t fly across the Pacific without plenty of fuel, and no thoughtful family is going to risk entering the tomato season without ensuring a supply of mayonnaise. (I hope Lemuel and his missus don’t read this!).

I’ve been told that some jurisdictions have arrested grocery store owners who have jacked up the price of mayonnaise during hurricane season when folks think they might have to hunker down. I think that is wrong, I don’t think they should be arrested, just deported. I understand that one citizenship ceremony on July 4 includes the requirement that the new citizens partake of either a BLT or a straight tomato and mayonnaise sandwich. If you don’t understand all of this…you ain’t from around here.

Now don’t get me wrong, if you ain’t from around here but move here there is hope; just as in the ancient world not everyone was a Greek, but everyone could learn to speak Greek and thereby become cultured, so the door of Southern hospitality is open to refugees from other regions who have not been initiated into the delight and comfort of home-grown tomatoes, especially Hanover tomatoes. We all need help from time-to-time and most folks are open to helping those unfortunates who have never tasted tomato manna – most are open I say, not all. I admit that I struggle with sharing tomatoes, which is pretty sad considering that others share tomatoes with me – but I digress, this is about Lemuel and Rosa and Duke’s…not about me.

I see that I’ve written all that I can right now, so we’ll pick this up in the next post. By the way, don’t leave home today without checking on your stock of mayo.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

We All Matter

“The priest looked puzzled also, as if at his own thoughts; he sat with knotted brow and then said abruptly: ‘You see, it’s so easy to be misunderstood. All men matter. You matter. I matter. It’s the hardest thing in theology to believe.” 
G.K. ChestertonThe Complete Father Brown

Tuesday night we went to the baseball game. Wednesday afternoon we were back for another baseball game. Crowds are interesting to me. So many people, dressed so many ways, doing so many things. As I write this it is early in the morning, soon I’ll leave home and go out into more crowds, more people. Some will be nice, some indifferent, some perhaps inconsiderate. Some drivers may be rude and dangerous – it seems to be getting worse. 

This afternoon I have an important meeting, there will be people there I have never met; it may be tense, I hope not. I wonder how it will go.

Will I remember that everyone who I meet today matters? Will I remember that they all matter to God and that they should matter to me?

When I am in crowds I often think, “Jesus died for that person, and that person, and that person. Lord, draw them to you.” I think, “There is no one here for whom Jesus did not die. There is no one here whom Jesus does not love.”

It’s one thing to think high and lofty theological or philosophical thoughts, but they don’t mean anything if we can’t grapple with the fact that everyone matters. If we can’t love our neighbor then what’s the point? If we can’t learn to love the unlovable and touch the untouchable then why bother? When an animal is hurting it can be dangerous, it can bite, it can tear – but we hopefully do what we can to help and heal. If that’s true with us and animals – why not more so with each other?

We all matter. The question is whether I will live like they do today, will I pay attention to others and do what I can to help them?

How am I going to live today?

What about you?

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Clocking In At 4:00 PM – More Thoughts

This parable (Matthew 20:1-16) gives me hope. I’m not sure when I really started to work in the vineyard. There are days when I’m not even sure that I’ve started. I know there have been days when I thought I was working but was doing more harm than good – I’ve had a lot of those days. So when I read this parable I think, “Well, it’s never too late to get it right. Even if you start late there is hope.” Now I realize this wasn’t the point of the parable. It is a warning to us who are self-righteous and think we know who is more valuable or worthy; it is a picture of the grace of God, as Luther wrote concerning this parable, “…God does not want to deal with us according to our work, according to our deserving, but according to grace.”

The idea of grace makes me hopeful as well – for I can’t work enough for God, I can’t earn God’s grace, or His mercy, or His favor. To the religious leaders of Jesus’ day it was a warning that just maybe they would be last so they’d better watch out. Since then, in every generation, religious leaders ought to pay attention to this parable – just because we have divinity degrees doesn’t mean a thing when it comes time for the Owner of the vineyard to settle up with the laborers. Frankly, divinity degrees can get in the way of good honest hard work in the vineyard – we can think we are something we are not.

I think maybe I’ve knocked a good deal of fruit off the vine with my stupidity. I’ve also passed by some ripe fruit because I didn’t recognize it. And then there have been times when it has been too blasted hot to work and I’ve made excuses and snuck out early – not finishing the job. Then I’ve picked fruit before it was ripe; then there is the fruit that I’ve allowed to rot. Oh yes, then I’ve pulled weeds when I should have left them alone because in pulling the weeds I inadvertently pulled and damaged fruit.

So this idea of God’s grace is a good thing for me to ponder and hope for; it does give me hope, even joy. I need not trust myself or my ability – I can trust the Owner of the vineyard – He has shown who He is in and through Jesus Christ. I know whatever He gives me will be more kindness than I deserve…much much more.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Clocking In At 4:00 PM When The Shift Ends At 5:00 PM

In Matthew 20:1 – 16 Jesus tells a parable about the owner of a vineyard and his day laborers. Early in the morning he hired a group of people to work in the vineyard and he agreed to pay them $50.00; two or three hours later he saw some folks looking for work and he hired them too, promising to pay them “whatever is right”; then three hours later he did the same thing, and three hours after that he did the same thing. Finally, two hours after that, with only one hour of the workday left, he saw more folks standing around and he hired them too.

When the workday was over and it was time to pay the workers, the owner had the workers line up beginning with the ones who started last – and he paid the last group $50.00, and the second to the last group $50.00, and the third from the last group $50.00 – and so on until he came to the group that had started first thing in the morning and who he had agreed to pay $50.00. When he paid the first group what they had agreed on, which was $50.00, they had a duck fit complaining that they deserved more than the group that had only worked one hour. The owner said, “I haven’t done you any wrong, I’ve paid you what we agreed to. Isn’t it lawful for me to do what I wish with my own money?”

This parable can be viewed from the perspective of the owner, or of the workers who started first, or of the workers who started last. I see some overlay here with the elder brother in the Prodigal Son (Luke 15) and the workers who worked all day – resentful when someone shows liberality to others who did not earn it. There is a lot of that in our society, and I suppose in many of our churches. “If you didn’t earn it then you don’t deserve it and if you don’t deserve it then I don’t want you to have it.” It is as if we created ourselves and our abilities and our resources and can attribute our success to ourselves and ourselves alone – we forget that during the first few years of our lives that we could do nothing for ourselves. We forget that we may have talents or abilities or influences in our lives, or opportunities, that others do not have.

Why this anger when some people display liberality toward others? For the Christian, our Father is beyond liberality, giving until it hurts – see Christ on the Cross. If we are to be as our Father in heaven it would do us well to learn His liberality. He sends His sun and His refreshing rain on all – the good and evil, the thankful and unthankful. If we are to live as his children, it would also be well if we learn to rejoice when those who only worked one hour are given the same wages as ourselves – why we might even suggest that they be given more.

Who can I be generous to today? Is there someone who needs a kind word, an act of service, money to help them through a tough time?

What about you?

Friday, July 21, 2017

Which Light?

“When the light in most people’s faces comes from the glow of the laptop, the smartphone, or the television screen, we are living in a Dark Age…They are missing that fundamental light meant to shine forth in a human person through social interaction…love can only come from that. Without real contact with other human persons, there is no love. We’ve never seen a Dark Age like this one.” Father Martin, Benedictine Monk. Quoted by Ron Dreher in, The Benedict Option.

Do we reflect the light of relationship or the blue light of technology? If we convince ourselves that we are machines, which we seem to be doing, we will choke all hope of love from our lives. What is wrong with one machine constantly interfacing with another machine? Nothing. What is wrong with humanity convincing itself that it is a machine and living in 24/7 interaction with machines? Everything.

If we are machines then when we do have interaction with other human machines we come to primarily view others as machines, as things, to be used and consumed and then discarded. Our worth is purely functional and when we can no longer function then we are taken to the landfill – after all, it is just business. We don’t want others to interfere with the functionality of our lives, and we are brainwashed to the point where we don’t want to interfere in the functionality of the lives of others. When we have nothing practical to give then it is time to give up on life. Euthanasia becomes the practical thing to do, we save on space, we save on money, we save others time – isn’t that what we do with machines? Why we are even biodegradable!

When we are reduced to masses of biochemical matter reflecting the blue light of technology we not only shut ourselves off from each other, we deny our Creator and functionally shut ourselves off from Him and His Divine light in Jesus Christ.

Satan need not worry too much about convincing us that there is no God, if he can convince us that we are machines. The irony is that machines do not create themselves. What fools we are not to recognize that and to attack those who do.

Father Martin’s observation reminds us that we all have something to give others – love, care, and the gift of relationship. Let’s do what we can, let’s focus on what we can do and not on what we can’t do; let’s focus on the lives we can touch.

The other day I was crossing a parking lot and spoke to a passing man, it was a comment about how cold it was getting (the temperature was around 98 degrees), what had been a vacant look smiled and replied to me. That man has been in my mind the past few days. I speak to passing people often, which is amazing because I’m an introvert of introverts; but more and more I see it as giving a drink of cool water to parched lips, more and more I see it as an imperative.

We have been taught that to look at the sun directly will blind us. We have not been taught that blue light will also blind us to who we are, to who others are – virtual reality is not reality.

We are dying from the artificial blue light of technology, we need to give each other the light of relationship, and we all need the light of Jesus Christ. We need to help one another find our way out of this enveloping darkness. Grab someone’s hand today and try to find the way out…maybe if enough of us hold hands we can find our way back to who we are…children of God. The hands of Jesus are always outstretched, if He has hold of your hand, then take someone else’s hand and gently guide it into the hand of Jesus…He can hold us all.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

When Socks Don’t Hold Up

Alas, I threw them away. I couldn’t get another day out of them. I should have thrown the other pair away too, but I wore them. Socks that creep down one’s legs are socks that should be thrown away.

We are better at evaluating socks than thinking. It doesn’t matter whether our thinking fails us day after day, we keep putting the system of thought back on. We pull it up, it falls; we pull it up again, it falls. We deny the socks are falling. We are a people walking around with falling socks, with socks creeping down into our shoes. Some go sockless and think they’ve avoided the problem, but their thinking and belief systems fail too, they are just in denial. Better not to look at our feet, better not to look at another’s feet; than to admit that socks are falling. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Face of Earth Entomb

“Any yet dark night strangles the travelling lamp. Is’t night’s predominance, or the day’s shame, that darkness does the face of earth entomb, when living light should kiss it?” Macbeth, Act II, Scene 4. Spoken by Ross.

What to do when darkness envelopes the land, when the day is night and the night is blacker than black? What to do when the land is kissed not by light but by darkness? When the sun rises the night reaches forth its tentacles to strangle it, lest it should reveal deeds of darkness, the works of the abyss. A curtain of blindness, we dance and play in the dark and think it is light – it is so long since we’ve seen the sun that we have forgotten what the light of light looks like, our eyes have adjusted to dimness first, then blackness. So accustomed are we to darkness that we no longer need light to see.

“Then Jesus spoke to them again saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Bridal Shop

I see where a major chain of bridal stores has closed, sending soon-to-be brides into panic. While I don’t know the details, I imagine that some brides-to-be had chosen their gowns; others had paid for them; others had been fitted for them; others had the date set when they were going to pick them up. Panic has been introduced into the hoped-for perfect wedding. Perhaps also financial hardship if the gowns had been paid for. The unexpected has happened – what was a sure thing is no longer a sure thing. A trusted company has closed – the brides relied on a firm that was financially rotten – they did not know.

What about us?

Jesus tells a parable about a king who held a wedding reception for his son, strangely none of those originally invited came. Then the king sent his servants out into the highways to bring whoever they could find – all types of people came, it was a crowd of contradictions. According to the custom each attendee was given a special wedding garment to wear while participating in the reception. Strangely one of the attendees declined the garment – he was, to put it mildly, ejected from the reception (Matthew 22:1-14).

Jesus tells another parable about a group of gals who went out to meet the bridegroom at night; five of them thought ahead and took extra batteries for their flashlights, five didn’t take extra batteries. When the hours past and the batteries began to weaken the smart five changed their batteries, but the dumb ones left to go to the 7-Eleven to buy more batteries. While the dumb ones were gone the bridegroom came and the smart ones escorted him to the wedding reception. When the dumb ones finally got their batteries changed they found their way to the grand reception but it was too late, in spite of their protestations they were shut out. (Matthew 25:1 – 13).

Revelation 19:7 – 10 tells us about a wedding feast to surpass all the grand wedding feasts that man has ever staged; and the bridal gown is going to be more dazzling and pure than we can imagine (Revelation Chapters 21-22). We need not worry about whether the One who supplies this gown is going out of business…

but we might think about whether we are going to be at the wedding.

Monday, July 17, 2017

A Sinkhole

Video of homes being swallowed by a sinkhole has been on the news the past two days. One moment a house looks normal, stable; the next moment there is movement, and as the foundation is sucked into the ground the walls collapse and the roof goes with it. Within minutes clothing, photos, toys, furniture – the things of living and of family are gone – into the earth. Hopefully there are no people or pets descending into the abyss. Sometimes there are.

Everything looked normal when the sun rose over those houses – but everything was not normal – looks were deceiving.

When chaos is the “new norm”; when violence and promiscuity and darkness cover a land -what is normal is not normal; when a people reject the image of God to the point of defacing it in ever-increasing ways; when children are robbed not just of childhood but of humanity; when men and women are reduced to commodities, when they are human resources, not really any different that coal or solar or gas or other types of energy; when churches blend in with the “age” so as to endorse rather than challenge; when the poor and helpless are exploited at one time and ignored at another time; when we are drunk with pleasure and entertainment; when our minds have atrophied to the point where it is easier to carry a bucket of water five miles than carry a conversation five minutes…

May it not be that we have been swallowed by a sinkhole but that, in our stupor, we don’t know it?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Baseball and Life

The Major League baseball season consists of 162 games per team, far more than the NBA (82), NHL (82), or NFL (16). This means, among other things, that baseball players deal with failure far more frequently than players in these other sports. In fact, when you look at it one way, position players in baseball fail more than they succeed; consider that a .300 hitter in baseball is well above average, and yet, to hit .300 means that you are only getting a hit 3 out of every ten 10 at bats.

Baseball does not have a “failure” statistic, as in a ballplayer having a .700 average for failure (the opposite part of the .300 batting average calculation). Image what it would do to a batter’s mind if he looked at a failure statistic – it could easily suck all of the hope out of him for a better game or a better season. A .250 hitter can visualize becoming a .260 hitter, then a .270 hitter, then a .280 hitter – there can be hope. But a .750 failure hitter, what is he going to visualize…becoming a .725 failure hitter, a .700 failure hitter – thinking about failure, visualizing failure, isn’t much to look forward to, it isn’t likely to inspire hope in a player. Having a goal of “failing less” isn’t a thinking that is likely to produce more hits in a game or season, it isn’t a trajectory likely to produce a good big league career.

A benefit about a long season is that there is always tomorrow; major league players have to learn to shake off a bad game and focus on the next game. While they need to learn from their mistakes and poor at-bats, they can’t dwell on the past or the past will paralyze them.

Sometimes our days get off to great starts, and then something happens and things spin out of control and then we wonder what happened to the great day we had going. (This has probably never happened to you). It’s like a baseball player having a couple of good at-bats early in the game and then he makes an error in the 9th inning that causes his team to lose. The ballplayer can’t blame his error on anyone else, and we can’t blame a bad day on other people because how we respond to other people and events is really up to us (yes, there can be unforeseen tragedy that invades our lives, I’m not talking about those terrible times).

One thing is sure, dwelling on yesterday’s poor game will not help me play a better game today, let me learn what I can and move on – and not worry about avoiding failure but focus on making contact with the ball, for I know that the more contact I have that the more hits I’ll have.

Perfectly pitched games in baseball are rare; in over 140 years and 210,000 games of major league baseball there have only been 23, and no pitcher has thrown more than one. Also, those who have pitched a perfect game did not do it by themselves, they all needed their teammates.

Maybe this is one reason why baseball is the game I love, failure is woven into it – but you really don’t look it long and hard because you know you’ve got another at-bat coming up.

Well, I had a bad 9th inning yesterday, I’ve got to get out on the field now and play today’s game.

Monday, July 10, 2017


Don’t let me die alone
In the hallway of a nursing home
Invisible to those who pass
Which drop of drool will be my last?

A number on a Medicaid payment
Moth-eaten raiment
Ill-fitting at best
The stench of human filth at worst

Storage units for things
Warehouses for human beings
How much for this abandoned storage unit?
How much for this abandoned man or woman?

Saturday, July 8, 2017

What shall I see today?

What shall I see today?
What beauty will I behold?
A bluebird in flight?
A butterfly alighting?

What elegance will I see today?
What elegance will I behold?
A spider’s web?
A lady slipper?

What grandeur will I ponder today
Outside my own four walls?
The rising sun?
The spreading oak?

Who will I thank for all this today?
Whose glory and design shall I behold?
And how shall I care for what He has given?
What do I see? What do I really see?

Psalm 19

Friday, July 7, 2017

Michelangelo’s David

I have read that a number of sculptors rejected the block of marble that Michelangelo selected for his masterpiece David – they saw too many flaws, it was too risky. When Michelangelo looked at the marble he saw David – he saw what others did not see.

Once the sculpting began, all that was not David was chipped away.

How do we see each other?

How does God see us in Christ?

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Old Crow

Old Crow you took my daddy
Old Crow you ruined his life
Old Crow you made him crazy
Old Crow he beat his wife

When I was but a young one
I was afraid when he came home
Was he drunk or was he sober?
When he opened up the door

If my momma looked at him funny
Her eye would blackened be
He would yell and he would curse her
And then he might turn on me

I'd pretend to be sleeping
My eyes closed tight as they could be
My head buried in the sofa
Oh please stop, please let her be

Old Crow you finally did it
You drove us from our childhood home
We left in fear as he chased us
Down the street where I once played

But Old Crow you were defeated
In the end it was you who lost
For my daddy came to Jesus
He saw God's love upon the Cross

My daddy died not long thereafter 
It was a stroke that took him home
Carried by God's Dove up into heaven
Where at last he will have rest

So my friend if you have troubles
If Old Crow is in your life
God’s redemptive love can heal you
Bring you from darkness into light

The Dove can take your pain and suffering
He can take your deepest fears
He can fill you with His Presence
And give you purpose, joy, and life.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Roscoe Rocky

Roscoe Rocky has been enjoying himself at our bird feeders - or at least he was. I've started taking them in at night and putting them out in the morning. At first I only took the feeders out in the yard inside, but then the little rascal went after our hummingbird feeders up on the deck - notice that he took the top off of the one below.

I make sure I lock the padlock on the storage room that the feeders go into beneath our house, because Roscoe Rocky and his family can probably remove the lock from the door if it isn't locked. Actually, I'm surprised they don't have a lock-pick set or a hack saw.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017


There have been two great Enlightenments.
The one of Genesis 3:7, “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked…” led to spiritual death and alienation from God. We “saw” and we died.

The Enlightenment, or Age of Reason, surrounding and encompassing the 18th century, led to the deification of man, humanism, self-worship, and the darkness of the abyss into which we are descending.

Do we see irony?

The eyes of Adam and Eve were opened and they were blinded to God and the eternals.

The 18th-century Enlightenment has led to spiritual, moral, and ethical darkness.

Monday, July 3, 2017


G.K. Chesterton wrote, “Only those will permit their patriotism to falsify history whose patriotism depends on history.”

He also wrote, “Love is not blind; that is the last thing that it is. Love is bound; and the more it is bound the less it is blind.”

Those who say they love their country but cannot see the sins of their country do not love their country – for true love, as GKC writes, is not blind. Yet, it can be a dangerous thing to call a duck a duck, a sin a sin, to say that 2 + 2 = 4 when society says that it equals 5.

Self-righteousness in a person usually hurts only the person and those surrounding him; self-righteousness in a nation hardens the soul of that nation and sears its collective conscience, blinding it to justice, equity, mercy, and righteousness. If there is any doubt that our collective conscience is seared we have only to look at what happens to those who live according to their individual conscience when they refuse to acquiesce in the redefinition of humanity, of the image of God – coercion such as would have been unimaginable two generations ago, except to the likes of George Orwell or C.S. Lewis.

When the church marries the state, when it marries patriotism, the church abdicates its prophetic voice and its intercessory ministry. When the church confers sainthood on the state the church joins itself to an idol. The true church can only be married to Jesus Christ; the Kingdom of God is not of this world. To be effective in the world the church must not be of the world.

Where, among professing Christians, is it the most dangerous to love your country enough to see its sins? It is among those Christians who profess a high view of Scripture. How can this be? Where, among professing Christians, is a fellow Christian more likely to endure backlash if he or she calls upon the church to repent on behalf of the nation? Why it is among those Christians who profess a high view of Scripture. Where, among professing Christians, might a visitor be excused for thinking that on a patriotic weekend those gathered on a Sunday morning in a church building worship two gods instead of exclusively the True and Living God? Why, among those who profess a high view of Scripture.

Robert Tracy McKenzie, professor and chair of the Department of History at Wheaton College, wrote in a Chestertonian turn of thought, “Only those will permit their Christian faith to falsify American history whose Christian faith depends on American history.” I will add “and whose Christian faith depends on a particular view of current events.”