How many godly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in’t.
These words come from “The Tempest” (actually spoken by Miranda, but not OUR Miranda!) by William Shakespeare and are also the foundational plot line for Aldous Huxley’s “A Brave New World.”
But “beauteous” is not largely the adjective that would best describe our current times. Though beauty can always be found in the natural world around us or in the eyes of friends and loved ones, the news it seems lately, is filled with ugly strife. Both far off and at home, we are living an odd parallel of the twisted dystopian society that Huxley created in 1931 and set in the mid 2500 AD. Huxley, a social satirist, was inspired by H.G. Wells and two of his utopian works, “A Modern Utopia” and “The Sleeper Awakes.” The latter portrays London on the cusp of martial law and civil war. Governmental tyranny has dehumanized society which has slumped into base behavior and hopeless squalor. Huxley referred to his brave new world as a negative-utopian novel. No offence to Mr. Huxley, but I think the term “negative utopian” is a bit of an oxymoron. Maybe not. It is a liberal belief, it seems, that blindly clings to illogical paradox.
If you have not read it, you might simply want to stay abreast of current events, the read is not far off our current sociological set of “norms.” Individual responsibility, thoughts and actions are discouraged. Historical literature is banned as subversive, children are taught by the state through hypnosis, reproduction is mechanized but sexual expression through perversion and orgies, drug use and movies with added tactile experience are heralded as the new strength and freedom of the ages. Hedonism is the rule of the day. Chastity, monogamy, and fidelity are ridiculed as obsolete or religiously oppressive. (I’m talking about the book synopsis, just in case you might have confused it with 2015).
One of the most devastating effects of this brave new world, in the same way that Orwell wrote in “1984” is the judicious, incipient, slow twist and careful revision of history. “Thought police” and “Think crimes” rule an increasingly socialistic society where you are taught what the answer is, not what to think about it. Questioning is forbidden, disagreement is dangerous. Remembering will get you quietly and permanently removed.
In 1947, Dylan Thomas wrote “Do not go gentle into that good night.” Largely considered to be a poem in reference to his father’s pending death, the refrain, “Rage, rage against the dying of the light,” has become a much quoted rally cry in the fight against the encroaching passiveness and languor we find ourselves battling as of late.
Our history is the shaping feature of our future. It provides us with a view of the consequences for our actions, not in theory but in historical fact. It provides both a warning and a hope. It is our heritage for good and for bad. It both molds us and allows us the ability to break that mold to throw off the chains of tyranny and with the full knowledge of history, provides us a beacon to guide our way.
As certain factions in our government seek to rewrite history for their own political power point, control and manipulation; it becomes increasingly important to stand up and become the torch bearers. We uphold the banner, we remember and we will not forget nor will we silently sit passive.
Recently we have been told that our founding fathers were not the Christian examples that history set forth. We are told that they were self-aggrandizing deists who saw a creator that designed the boat but pushed it out to sea, to float and function on its own. Sink or sail. Disconnected and disinterested. I see a Creator deeply and intimately involved in the minutia of our everyday lives, both historically and currently. A Creator who sees when each sparrow falls, notices each tear shed in private, and numbers the hairs on our heads. He will not sleep, he is not out of touch or behind the times. Technology does not confuse him, terrorism does not alarm him. He is I Am, and He is our history, our present and our future.
We are then reminded of our founding fathers imperfections; argumentative, uneducated, given to drunkenness, struggling with debt, depression and debauchery… time and technology change, the fallen nature of mankind does not. This country was not built on perfection, but on perseverance and courage in the face of fear and struggle. It was built on a firm foundation of faith. Not on perfection or ability or strength did Peter walk on water, he did so solely and only on faith, with his eyes firmly fixed on the purveyor and author of that faith. We know what happened when that vision strayed from the mark.
I live in the midwest. I know what it means to be cold. It is numbing. That is the problem. The stinging pain and burn of severe cold reminds us of our small human frail frame. It keeps us humble in the face of a force greater than ourselves. The pain of cold is both alarming and invigorating. It is motivating. But after too much extreme cold has been repeatedly ignored and overlooked, there creeps a subtle numbing. The cold becomes less (so it seems but rarely is) it lulls us into a sense of complacent despondency. It is not then the cold that steals life, it is the choice to accept abject apathy. Become a helpless victim. Refuse to accept the warmth and safety just a step away. This is the numbness that seeps through the message of those who tell us that our “misguided notions” about history are romanticized and overdrawn. That honor and integrity and character are mere fictionalized projections, a figment of our desire for historical heroes, not factual representations. That the fulfillment of all we can be, is to get, not give. That servanthood and sacrifice are synonymous with weakness and should be eradicated at all costs. We are bombarded with the lauding of self-adulation, self-actualization, self-promotion, self-esteem, self-presentation. But history, the repeated battle cry of our heritage, tolls a different bell. Self-sacrifice.
In a time of gluttonous ungrateful demands for more and more, we have lost the concept that gifts cost the giver. Illusory superiority, a new term that liberal progressive ideologists have coined in the desperate hope that the term “self entitlement” will die away and slip into obscurity. It will not. We will not be fooled by semantics. We will remember. Because history teaches us where that slippery road leads.
May we always remember the truth of our history. That as strangers in a strange land, we gave thanks. We were thankful, not only for the bounty of the harvest, but for the simple warmth of hearth and home. The comfort of friends and family. The great gift of shared community. Not proper high-society community with bone china dinner settings, polished silver cutlery and neatly dressed, finely attended homes. We were thankful for savages, who bestowed upon strangers a grace uncommon. We were a people marked by a thankful spirit for the little we had, because we understood the magnitude of those little things. Stripped bare of the frills of easy living, we valued family, friends, food and home.
2015, the season of getting is underway. I hope that we can pause for a moment to give instead of get. I am not referring to the giving of tangible things. I am talking about the extending of grace, the giving of thanks. I pray that I will be remembered more for what I gave, little though that may be. Lord, make me like that poor widow, who though only giving two small mites, gave out of a poor purse, but a rich heart. I pray that our house will always be a home, warmed and lighted with laughter and simple grace, better by far than any amount of finery. That we will always value simple things. That we will hold hands when we pray, and hold tightly to each other when we greet and again when we must part. I pray that I will be thankful for the life given me, the struggles from which I have been allowed to learn and grow, the path in front of me, wherever it may lead and most importantly, the friends and family who stand ever with me on that path.
I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. Ephesians 1:16.
May that be the touchstone of this season. “Thanks for you” not things for me.
Thank you, to all who read this post. For your presence in our lives, for your encouragement and prayers and your light in an often dark place. Grace and peace to you.