Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Culture Rot

While pondering the topic of “Culture Rot” from Stanley Crouch’s “All American Skin Game”; I remembered a song of the fifties sung by Faron Young which contained the lyrics: “I want to live fast, love hard, die young, and leave a beautiful memory.” That romanticized notion was perpetuated by the James Dean generation, and today has taken a much darker turn.

Today’s edition of the notion is encapsulated in the “Gansta Rap” which glorifies the most anti-social behavior imaginable. Women are represented as mere objects to be used in unspeakable ways and discarded as easily as empty toothpaste tubes. The value of human life is continually disparaged by these molders of culture for large segments of society. Accumulating those objects which reflect prestige within that subculture is promoted with a seeming lack of concern for the means used to accomplish the task.

The most common expressions of this lack of societal restraint are: drug abuse, prostitution, murder, and robbery. Sociologists, psychologists, and talk radio hosts inundate the air waves with discussions of the phenomenon, all the while studiously avoiding the specific cause. Their humanistic philosophies lend themselves toward training more role models to demonstrate positive social traits hoping they will provide the wayward youth with a sense of “hope” which leads to purpose in life.

Positive role models are indeed important for every segment of life. However, should the focus continue be on the accumulation of “things” for one’s sense of self-worth and accomplishment; such role models face a very unenviable task. Hard work, delayed gratification, and self-denial do not lend themselves to a favorable comparison with the “easy money” obtained through the depraved counter culture activities mentioned above.

The answer, I believe, lies in the restoration fidelity to Biblical Principles by those who profess a belief in the God of The Bible. Today’s society is not unlike the first century Christian era. Although Rome had conquered Greece and her generals militarily, Greece had conquered the world culturally. Immorality and public decadence were commonplace in that Hellenized world. Yet, the followers of God, by personal faith in Jesus of Nazareth, so completely overwhelmed the culture that by 1776, the United States of America was founded based upon Biblical Principles.

Genuine followers of Christ have never been in the majority, but their influence was felt far beyond their numbers because they possessed something which could not be duplicated by education, religion, heritage, or economics. They were indued with power from on high. They acted as if they were on a divine mission to accomplish a directly appointed task. They did not conform to contemporary societal mores, rather they were transformers of the corrupt societies in which they found themselves.

How then, have we fallen to the point where prominent authors, and radio talk show hosts are speaking of an endemic “
Culture Rot”? The answer, I believe, is that those who call themselves followers of God, by faith in Jesus Christ, no longer truly believe the principles of The Bible. We no longer are willing to stand alone against the tide of corruption. We desire to be well spoken of by those in the world, and we believe they will not speak well of us if we stand tall for what we believe. In actuality, I believe the opposite is true. I believe the world is looking for those whose beliefs cannot be compromised by the “lust of the eye”, the “lust of the flesh”, and the “pride of life.

How long must the nation endure this “
Culture Rot” while we who claim to know God personally sit by with a wringing of the hands decrying the situation, all the while contributing to it? How Long? How Long?? One man has said that sin which once slinked down the back alley, now parades down Main Street, and barely raises an eyebrow.

I often wonder if one can genuine believe the principles of Scripture without acting on them. The answer to broken homes is to make Christ the center of those homes. The answer to a lazy workforce is to make Christ central in one’s work. The answer to careless living is to make Christ the focus of one’s daily living. When that happens, and people focus on Christ and His principles, the selfish motivations of contemporary living will be transformed into a selflessness which will transform “
Culture Rot” into “Cultural Revival”.

© 2006 Mike Rasberry

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A few interesting photos from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

This house; along U.S. Highway 11 in the southern edge of Slidell, Louisiana near Lake Ponchatrain; graphically demonstrates the vagaries of Hurricane Katrina's destructive force. The photo was taken less than one week after Katrina wreaked her havoc on the area. Every other home in the area was destroyed or heavily damaged.

The steeple for Lakeshore Baptist Church was located several hundred feet back in the woods. The blue tarp served as a roof for the church for several weeks. On weekdays it became a relief center, and on Sunday a church building. Today a Quonset Hut, office suite, and bunkhouses along with a kitchen occupy the area as volunteers live there in order to rebuild the village of Lakeshore, Mississippi.

The remains of once majestic homes facing the Gulf of Mexico in Waveland, Mississippi. The ruins of these homes were washed several hundred yards inland.

The Immanuel Baptist Church Children's Building. Volunteers cleaned everything up. Insurance is allowing the three buildings which were destroyed to be combined for the construction of a multi-purpose building.

Gas lines stretched for more than a mile everytime a station would have the magic combination of gasoline and electricity.

Part of the tree damage to our house. We had water throughout and we lost three rooms and a bathroom with tree damage. We hope to be back in the house before the end of 2006.

© 2006 Mike Rasberry

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Government Education and The Pledge of Allegiance 11/11/2006

The students at Orange Coast Community College recently voted to drop the Pledge of Allegiance http://www.cnn.com/2006/EDUCATION/11/10/no.pledge.ap/index.html. One student argued that the pledge: (1) inspires nationalism. (2) violates the separation of Church and State. (3) is irrelevant to the business of student government.

A spokesperson for the district said the decision is up to the students, because they run their own show.

The event and the response to it demonstrate why so-called higher education is in large part to blame for the continuing failure of government elementary and secondary schools throughout the land.

First let me say that students are generally supported by tax dollars, and therefore should be subject to the taxpaying public, not the whims of immature student leaders. Students should learn responsibility and decision making, but it should be under the guidance of those tutors entrusted with the task. In other words, the taxpaying public should be able to set the parameter under which they are taught.

When I hear students bemoan the fact that “The Pledge” inspires nationalism, I groan in my spirit. We are Americans and we should be proud of that fact. I’ve traveled widely in the world, and other countries are much more nationalistic than America. We have been blessed to live in a land flowing with rich natural resources. Ours is a land which has stood for over two centuries as a beacon to the world that men can live free in a society where they can develop their talents to the degree they are willing to discipline and apply themselves. Ours is a land where one can travel the length and breath without having to stop regularly along the way to justify his movement. Ours is a land where a young man from a poor East Central Mississippi Community can travel the world and speak with leaders of states and countries as an equal. Ours is a land where one can choose the career he or she wishes to pursue. Ours is a land where a dramatic change of government can be accomplished without the firing of a single shot.

Yes, a thousand times yes, “The Pledge” inspires nationalism. I am now in the sixth decade of my life, yet I still have chill bumps when the National Anthem is played, or when someone sings “God Bless America”. We should teach nationalism. We should teach our children that being an American is a blessing that men and women the world over would die to have.

The second premise the young student argued was that “The Pledge” violates the separation of Church and State. Those who hold such views either ignorantly, or deliberately, ignore the fact that America was established on New Testament Christian principles. Godless, humanistic philosophers have somehow stolen away the Biblical heritage of our great country and relegated the dramatic intervention of Almighty God in the establishment of America to “good fortune”, “luck”, and “brilliant strategy”. No clause ever intended that America be a country separate from God. Founding father after founding father promoted the notion that we are a nation set aside by and under God. “The Pledge” is simply a latter day reflection of that which is posited in the daily record of the accounts of early legislative activity.

Yes, we are “under God”. Only the supreme egotist could imagine that we have risen to dominate the world as no nation in history because of our wisdom, goodness, and inherent strength. Our language has become the business language of the world. Our currency is accepted and coveted in the most remote regions. Our citizens are welcomed with open arms in the homes of citizens around the globe. Is because we of ourselves are so great? No. A thousand times No. For some reason Almighty God has chosen to raise us up at this time for His own unfathomable purposes. However, we need take care lest we like the Biblical Nebuchadnezzar be cast out into the wasteland as wild beasts.

The third premise espoused by the young student leader was that “The Pledge” is irrelevant to the business of governing. This premise also demonstrates the total lack of education of our young. Without a standard to guide us in the deliberations of life, we are will be blown thither and yon by whatever wind of public opinion is most pressing at the moment. For the business man it is a clearly defined business plan, the faithful and energetic execution of which he depends upon for his success. For the non-profit leader it is a succinct purpose statement so designed as to keep him focused on the ultimate goal. For those in government education, one purpose is the recognition that they have a fiduciary duty to promote allegiance to the government which represents the citizens who have made possible such education.

These students, should they be allowed to maintain their disastrous course, will set precedent the end of which is to lower the bar of responsibility throughout the government educational system even more than is already apparent. Somewhere, somehow, someone must step forward and exercise responsibility and authority to say enough is enough.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Right Thinking About Immigration

One unique thing about America is that God continues to send the world to us. Since our beginning, we have welcomed those from other countries who sought a new start, a new beginning, real hope. The words inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty there in New York Harbor reflect that philosophy. It reads: “ Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame with conquering limbs astride from land to land, here at our sea while sunset gates shall stand a mighty woman with a torch whose flame is the imprisoned lightning and her name is Mother of exiles. From her beaconed hand glows worldwide welcome, her mild eyes command the air bridged harbor that twin cities frame. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shores. Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

Throughout the years we have welcomed to our shores those very people, and they have melted into a single entity called Americans. They learned the language, the customs, and the values of this land of opportunity. They built entire communities and contributed to the greatness of contemporary society.

Today a new breed has arrived on our shores. They don’t seem to want to become Americans, and seem intent on dividing the culture by refusing to learn the language and expecting society to accommodate them. They often seem more dedicated to perpetuating the cultural norms which have kept their countrymen in poverty for generations, than in becoming integrated into the real fabric of our country. This is not the true meaning of Lady Liberty’s inscription.

Official government policy appears designed to facilitate such attitudes. Bi-and in some cases tri-lingual government offices encourage these aliens to continue speaking their native tongue with little pressure to learn English. Teachers are recruited with the intent of making life easier for the children rather than for the purpose of teaching children to learn English.

Please do not misunderstand. Cross-cultural interaction is a sociological necessity if we are to maintain access to America by immigration. However, Cross-cultural does not mean facilitating those who refuse to do what is necessary to obtain a working knowledge of the language. America is an English speaking representative democracy. Cross-cultural means that we reach across cultural, social, linguistic, and ethnic barriers to assist immigrants as they become immersed in the American way of Life.

America is richer, more colorful, and more flavorful because the influx immigrants touch us and affect us. We need them, but we also need them to become Americans. We need them to learn about the heroes who lived sacrificial lives in order to make our present lifestyles possible. They need to learn the values which moved men to subjugate their thirst for power for the general good. They need to learn of the blood which was spilled through succeeding generations to bring about the current freedom. They need to learn about our holidays and the men and women who are represented in them.

This is not the time to return to the isolationism promoted by many prominent personages. Ours is a blessed country and should we close our borders, we might lose the moral high ground which has characterized our land. But we must emphatically declare that the privilege of living in America carries with it the responsibility to become Americanized.