A short note to start off. I was going through some older blogs and found this one that never really made it from the computer to the page. I wrote it in January of 2020. After reading it I was struck by the fact that if anything…very little had changed. Last week “The Pew” dealt with a problem that has been around for a while…so I thought I just might linger outside the pew a little longer. I could have renamed it An “Old Man’s Lament” but passed it by. Next week we will get back in the “Pew” and back to God’s word. Thanks for reading and I hope I do not offend anyone.

 Off The Soap Box…and Dancing With The Devil 

The past year has been filled with hate, distrust, lies and the prejudice of power. I see a system that has put an asterisk besides those phrases “nation under God and Liberty and Justice for all.” Justice has become subservient to power. God has become an afterthought and the definition of liberty is defined by social and cultural pressure. It would not surprise me if Webster decided to re-write that one. We are a nation divided, we are involved in a civil war but without the armies. As noted earlier we have set aside the principles of justice for the acquisition of power and reason and fact has fallen to social and cultural pressures. We find “lady wisdom” in status and celebrity, ignoring the process of reason, thought, knowledge and experience and leave “truth” to baseless accusations and selfish agendas. Our nation is a mess. I will leave it up to you how big a mess but I think we can all agree it is a mess. I assign this mess to changing values and a culture of not us but me. A need for safe places, political correctness and a state of “it’s my right” kind of mentality has taken the place of just good ole courtesy and respect for others along with the disturbing trend of a loss of value for life itself. I would look to this business of political correctness and an old buzz words of years past like inclusiveness, to provide some sense of direction to this mess. Let’s start with being politically correct… “conforming to a belief that language and practices which could offend political sensibilities (as in matters of sex or race) should be eliminated” ( Merriam Webster’s  definition…) One more definition before we move on. This one is from Wikipedia: “Political correctness is a term used to describe language, policies, or measures that are intended to avoid offense or disadvantage to members of particular groups in society.” Such effort is worthy of consideration but like many good intentions there are always those who seek to take advantage of a good thing. Political correctness has now become a selective thing driven by the pressures of society and cultural influences. One other motivator of our behavior towards others is the practice of inclusiveness.

The old way of social inclusion is defined as such: “Social inclusion is the process of improving the terms on which individuals and groups take part in society—improving the ability, opportunity, and dignity of those disadvantaged on the basis of their identity.” We have now moved on to a higher standard, a culturally inclusive-environment, that brings with it a new set of standards to be considered which is now recognized as Cultural Inclusiveness. Cultural inclusiveness addresses and supports the needs of people from diverse cultures, and values their unique contribution. It involves ongoing awareness raising, where negotiations and compromise may be necessary …. So begins the Dance. When we move from ‘inclusiveness‘ too ‘inclusivity  The simplest difference is ‘inclusivity‘ it is the noun and ‘inclusiveness‘ is the adjective. The word is about not being exclusive but open to all.  (2015 teaching.unsw.edu.au)

This embracing of inclusivity changes the playing field and demands  that we embrace all things and in the politics and culture of the day, we of the faith are at a disadvantage. There is one fact that adds to my understanding of the mess we find ourselves in at this time. For decades now there has been a continual effort of removing God from our schools and I go much further in suggesting that removal extends as well to our culture and society in general. This effort has contributed to a disconnect between people in general and the value of life. Another way to look at this is a desensitizing of us as a people to the finality of death. The so called realism of today’s movies, the injection of realism into video games, the increase in on screen violence and language now found to be acceptable in motion pictures, plays along with the suggestive lyrics in some forms of music today. It is a cliche but proven fact that time changes all things but the word of God never changes. Our God is the same today and yesterday and will be for all the days to come. Time, cultures and societal changes have brought one change that is crucial to this mess we find ourselves in today. Look at these figures from a Gallup poll and article of April 18, 2019, written by Jeffrey M. Jones.

  • Half of Americans are church members, down from 70% in 1999
  • Most of the decline attributable to increase in percentage with no religion
  • Membership has fallen nine points among those who are religious

The trend of those who respond they have no religious preference or affiliation has doubled, from 8% to 19%. It should also be noted that even those who profess a particular religious affiliation do not belong to a church or other place of worship.  (Gallup)

There are lots of numbers to play with here but one fact lurking behind the numbers is that people in general have little or no confidence in institutions. My personal thoughts here would be people see no progress being made by their government in dealing with all the problems of these changing times. The hypocrisy of leadership in all areas of their life and the fact that justice in this world is closely aligned with a power which is fueled by those with a personal agenda, does not instill much confidence in the need for reasonable dialogue among the people. These are rather simplistic reasons by an ordinary layman. Being among the 89% of traditionalists born 1945 or earlier I have seen the church struggle for years to fight against declining membership, the inclusion of other cultures and the pressures of the demands of changing societal and moral standards. The point to be made is  ‘American relations and orientation to religion is changing and they don’t find membership in church or other faith institutions a necessary part of their religious experience.’ (Gallup, 2019)

I wrote some time back of seeing a sign on a church board that read “Tried Religion …. Try Jesus”. That sign has always stuck with me and even today it offers a message we need to hear. For four decades the Church has quietly been destroying itself from within struggling to find within scripture justification for the acceptance of a shift in social morals that do not correspond with biblical teachings. I cannot justify the space needed to present my position here but maybe instead of each side building a case for their position, maybe we ought to be building up Jesus Christ. Instead we as a nation and also the church, we both are Dancing With The Devil. The Lord’s Day Will come and the dance will end…. Who will you be going home with?

15 January, 2020