Reversing the Fall of the Empire

Posted on November 5, 2016

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Here’s a snippet of truth I’d like us all to consider. Our American nation is going south similarly to what brought down the Roman Empire in the ancient world. It is reversible, but to do so we have to exercise both wisdom and discipline. There are a lot of signposts to read. Today let’s just consider one. If you want more, take a look at our presidential candidates.

Too often and far too freely, our modern culture invokes the First Amendment to the Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The freedom of speech clause has been widely interpreted to cover just about any idiotic expression of thought or call to action known to man. Common sense, dignity, and a subscription to underlying principles — both secular and religious — that characterize a decent world are singularly lacking in the media blitz we are under.

The Jeffersonian notion that a rigid separation of church and state was implied by “Congress shall make no law…prohibiting the free exercise thereof [of religion]” has been used to emasculate pastors, priests and preachers from speaking the whole truth from their pulpits, lest they lose their tax exemptions and liberty to worship, and speak, and preach Christian doctrine and principles as they see fit.

The right of “the people peaceably to assemble” to petition has been made a mockery by the riots and

mayhem in the streets today. You might as well be talking of two different worlds.

I know there have been more than 200 years of interpreting the Constitution to respond to issues in the light of changing popular standards. But the principles haven’t changed.

Today we are barraged with new interpretations that undermine the intention of those who wrote those amendments more than two centuries ago.

The modernists and new interpreters claim that we need to move forward and adjust to new times and new moralities. We need to get out of our ruts and seek the newer and higher truths, such as some lives matter more than others, that family values are hopelessly old fashioned, and that all lifestyles must be embraced as valid expressions of a complicated humanity.

But if we do that we also step into an abyss called hubris by the ancient Greeks: the concept that the knowledge and wisdom of the world arises within the human heart and intellect.

Let me gently suggest that you put aside human hubris and take a look at Scripture. Don’t dwell on the political pundits or even the rulings from the Supreme Court, but rather focus on the words of God. They are the real, and never changing, source of morality and truth, of ethics and law.

Study and embrace how love and the gift of grace changed the world forever, 2,000 years ago, even long before our beloved Constitution was penned.

If you do that, you will find deeper meaning in the liberties and freedoms and rights described for us in those first 10 amendments, even with the full understanding that some of them were born in the deeply secular context of the 18th century.

Listen closely to the voices of James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams for example. You will not hear everyone is free to do what they damn well please, under pretty much any circumstance — the many voices of today.

The Founding Fathers created a well thought-out structure for men to govern themselves by balancing all their differences in a new and brilliant political organization — our government — where compromise, not railing or ranting at those who are different from you, is a ruling principle.

You will read that the wisdom and truth of God prevailed among all the writers of the Constitution. Even the aging Benjamin Franklin, labeled a Deist and very superficial believer, prayed fervently over the convention creating the Constitution. I cannot improve on Franklin:

“I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth — that God Governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?”

Published as “Reversing the Fall of the Empire” in The Tuscaloosa News, Sunday October 9, 2016.