Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Open Mandible, Insert Metatarsals

We humans are interesting critters. It is said that we are rational creatures. (I’d better move along, ‘cause I feel an inspired spawning of jokes and anecdotes acomin’ on. And the first million of those are just on me.) Our thinking and planning rely quite heavily on probabilities and odds. This appears reasonable since few of us will claim prescience.

The reality of our condition, however, is that odds and probabilities are just guesses. Actually, there are only two accurate odds or probabilities, 100% and 0%. Although our limited knowledge, understanding, and wisdom cause us to propose shades of gray, the verity is of black or white. Yes, Virginia, there is an Absolute.

The foundations of this country were laid by a culture that acquiesced to the Absolute. It was also understood that no man or group could act as or stand in place of that Absolute. As a colony, this land served under a king. That monarch and his bureaucracy assumed authority as an absolute. This usurpation of Another’s power ultimately lead to a war of revolution. The colonist’s thoughts were stated in ‘The Declaration of Independence’. “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.”

In effect, the Colonists’ Revolt was the antithesis of Israel’s demand to the prophet Samuel thousands of years before.

“So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, "You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have."
But when they said, "Give us a king to lead us," this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. And the LORD told him: "Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do."” (1 Samuel 8: 4-9, NIV)

The forthcoming warning about the desire and acceptance of an earthly absolute undergirds the reasoning of the colonists to reject such an absolute.

“Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, "This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the LORD will not answer you in that day.” But the people refused to listen to Samuel. "No!" they said. "We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles."” (1 Samuel 8: 10-20, NIV)

Now that’s taxation with willful forfeiture of representation.

The American revolutionaries cast off faith in a human absolute to turn and trust in the higher Absolute. The ensuing prosperity and growth parallels Israel’s growth and prosperity when they properly acknowledged the Absolute above themselves.

It is of some interest to note that it is not the type of government that is responsible for cultural decline. Death and decline follow the hearts of the people. When Israel asked for a king, their hearts were rejecting God in favor of a king. But when Israel’s, and their king’s, heart turned in repentance toward God, they prospered as a nation. America’s founders had this same heart and for this reason chose to reject a mortal king. These men understood that although the type of government chosen wasn’t the ultimate issue, but that great power given to imperfect humans opened the door to abuses through a multitude of temptations.

Nevertheless, the progress and success of a constitutional republic also depends upon the heart of its people. As the people, in accordance with incomplete knowledge, understanding, and wisdom, begin to exalt the gray of mankind over the black and white of the Absolute, things begin to drastically change.

Modernism arose with a decision that the grays could be eliminated and absolutes could be could be discovered by human rationality, logic, and effort in a closed universe. In this, not only did technology flourish, but also the grays in ethics and morality since the universe is as dumb as any box of rocks in discerning them.

Post-modernism and relativity rejected modernism’s supposed ability to eradicate the gray. By some means this religion expects man and society to successfully evolve through an amorphous mix of science, intuition, and emotion. Post-modernism attempts to eradicate the Absolute, forcing the black and white to be dissolved into the totally gray universe.

As the heart of the people chooses to place its faith in its own feelings, guesses, calculated odds, and mathematical probabilities, even a constitutional republic tends toward an absolute monarchy (or oligarchy) in that the vacuum created by rejection of the Absolute creates that ‘giant sucking sound’ as the inrushing struggles for raw power ensue.

America is undoubtedly the greatest nation on earth, maybe even of all time. As is every day, today is the day that our hearts must choose or reject the Absolute as king. To reject is to be like King Nebuchadnezzar of millennia past.

“All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, "Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?"” (Daniel 4: 28-30, NIV)

“Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like cattle. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.” (Daniel 4: 33, NIV) (I aver that this pasture was also well manured, so Neb’s diet consisted of grass and....)

Then Nebuchadnezzar changed his choice of King.

“At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.

His dominion is an eternal dominion;
his kingdom endures from generation to generation.

All the peoples of the earth
are regarded as nothing.
He does as he pleases
with the powers of heaven
and the peoples of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand
or say to him: "What have you done?"

At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” (Daniel 4: 34-37, NIV)

Our science has shown success since God created an orderly universe. Our advancements in medicine, communication, agriculture, transportation, and civil engineering have been truly remarkable. But science is neither the Absolute nor has it improved the fallen human nature.

Post-modernism has shown us that human logic and science haven’t been able to answer any of man’s most important questions such as the meaning of life. But post-modernism has succeeded in little but deconstructionism in religion, culture, tradition, knowledge, and history. It has, however, tended to produce a world full of competing worldviews by petty little gods creating their own truths and universes.

Yes, California, there is an Absolute– One more sure than gravity and more inevitable than death or taxes. So ya makes yer bets and takes yer chances, presumed odds and probabilities notwithstanding.

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