Thursday, December 30, 2010

Onward Christian Soldiers

Onward then, ye people, join our happy throng
blend with ours your voices in the triumph song.

In this time between Christmas and the New Year it is appropriate to reflect on our blessings. We who live in “this greatest nation on God’s green earth” have a lot to be thankful for. Although there are many who have had to struggle during the economic downturn, we all of us enjoy the most freedom and economic opportunity ever experienced in the history of mankind. Yet we read that many well off people are unsatisfied and unfulfilled. Depression is a growing malady. Perhaps the remedy is to “choose life.”

At our church (Neighborhood Church in PVE) my friend, the Rev. George Baum, conducts a monthly Happiness Hour (or two or three). At these gatherings we try to follow the admonition of Dennis Prager that “Happiness is a Serious Problem.” We owe it to others – our family and friends foremost -- to be happy, or at least to pretend to be happy. Of course this instruction did not originate with Dennis. Indeed the Church fathers preached the same message. “The Apostle Paul
— who spent an inordinate amount of time in cold, dark Roman prisons — instructed his followers to give thanks in all things. Paul's advice is consistent with research showing that the single biggest ‘happiness variable’ we can control is our attitude.” (Oliver Thomas, “In New Year's trying times, choose life,” USA Today, 12/26/10). My aunt Judy was wrong: We were not “put on the earth to suffer.”

That said gratitude and happiness are not cause for Pollyanna. Indeed, there are troubling signs of moral decay in culture and society. Much of the trouble can be traced to a loss of faith associated with growing secularization. In the twentieth century secularism was enforced by totalitarian regimes. Totalitarianism cannot tolerate God since the state must be the source of all human rights. The extreme consequence was the mass murder of over one hundred million in Europe, China and the Soviet Union.

But secularism does not need to be enforced. In advanced democratic countries God can be chased from the public square in the service of toleration and “the separation of church and state.” Europe provides a sad example of the loss of faith. In his books, “The Abolition of Britain” and “The Rage Against God,” Peter Hitchens, brother of the flagrant atheist Christopher Hitchens (“God is Not Great”) chronicles the parallel decline of religion and culture in the formerly great -- Great Britain.

We Christian Soldiers must be diligent. Faith is like a muscle that needs to be exercised to remain strong. In America the protestant mainline churches became flabby and lost millions of members. But the void of belief had to be filled. Some turned to environmentalism, others to post-modern religious movements such as Emerging Christianity that welcome flabby Christians. But that story is for another time.

When I was a blogger a few friends found my musings to be of interest. Now I would like to resume the practice with a weekly post on the subject of culture and its most significant artifact -- religion. You may well wonder why I care enough to expend the effort of writing a regular blog on religion. It's simple: If we do not speak up the other side will win. I refer again to St. Paul: “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel” (1 Cor 9:16).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I looked for a number of months for YOUR GREAT BLOG. Starting w son’s restaurant in SF. You were absent in writing for a long time.

I know that I & a few others in Hart’s class really loved all YOUR Insight & discussions in class. too damn liberals in it who took a lot of time espousing their views.….. I dropped his class tho he is a really sincere person.

Keep your blog up please.

Happy New Year !!!


Marie Alessandra

2:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, we must rejoice always. For most of us this should be easy because we have been blessed immensely. We have wonderful families, good friends, nice homes and plenty of resources to live on. But most of all we have our God and our places of refuge with our Christian brothers and sisters.

We should not be discouraged by the continual secularization of our country. It is our job, as Christian soldiers, to be the examples to all of how to live a Christ-centered life. The best discipleship is by our own personal examples. We must regularly read , reinforce, and live our beliefs. As you said "continue to exercise our Christian muscles".

Have a wonderful New Year, Hope to see you guys soon!
John and Rosie

2:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen. Where will kids get the moral training to overcome the urge to follow the popular, morally lax, but ever-so-much-fun crowd at school. Only parents who are in close touch in a loving relationship with their kids can influence and back up the yet unformed sternness it takes to fully integrate honesty and morality into the character. It is here that a moral society is built, or lost.
don mcrell

2:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Billy,

Absolutely add me to your list of blogger friends for future writings.

Glad you are promoting religion for the good side.

Texas Judy

3:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

AWESOME, Bill! Happy NEW YEAR to you and Linda!!!

love in Jesus,
Karen, Wick and Molly

3:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, Bill.
I bought a copy of "Rules for Radicals" to see what the progressives are up to-- interesting readings. Infiltrate the institutions like Churches, for example. Cloth revolution in the garb of charities. Whew!


3:01 PM  
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