Harry Emerson Fosdick's hymn, third verse:
Cure Thy children’s warring madness,
Bend our pride to Thy control.
Shame our wanton selfish gladness,
Rich in things and poor in soul.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
Lest we miss Thy kingdom’s goal,
Lest we miss Thy kingdom’s goal.
"Thy children's warring madness" - I'm listening right now to CNN (my, how low they sunk) and a Wolf Blitzer (blitzed?) forum on Iran, Syria, North Korea, Israel (the maddest of them all) - it's as if we're hellbent on war.
We sniff a little gunpowder, or an isotope, and we go mad.
Are we so insecure? So little in our own minds that we can only react like a schoolyard bully to every threat, real or imagined? And how large are these threats? And who's the enemy?
Feinstein thought Israel's bombing of the alleged nuclear facility was right - because Israel can't tolerate "a hostile neighbor" on its border.
A hostile neighbor - wonder how Syria feels because good ol' Israel has the bomb, and we know it, and we're glad to make Israel our little pawn in the Middle East - to make Israel the hostile neighbor to everyone, slowly stripping Israel of its humanity, turning it into a first-class oppressor-nation of the Palestinians - not to mention Palestinian Christians of various sorts - and a technologically advanced terrorist nation able to mount a bombing attack, not with strap-on vests, but high-tech jets and smart bombs - yup, this makes it a military adventure, not a terrorist attack.
In the recently available photo scrapbook from Dachau, Allied air-raids are described as "terrorist" attacks. Interesting how perspective makes all the difference. We all spin our own perspective to match our own ideological bias, and, of course, we're always the good guys. America has this insane desire to be innocent all the time, and what crimes we commit against our own history and the peoples of the world to sustain this false god, this terrible illusion.
But to return to Fosdick's hymn.
It's an appeal to God to "cure" us. And I echo that prayer, but I wonder if God doesn't say: "Cure yourselves. You can do it, you have what it takes, so don't dump this in my lap."
And more to the point: I wonder if God is letting us chart our own course toward war. "If this is what you want, far be it from me to stand in your way. War you want? War you shall have."
Fosdick is right: we are rich in things, although recent economic patterns are threatening that, too.
And profoundly poor in soul.
Where's the church in all of this?
I'm the church.
I'm a pastor.
I don't even know where to begin.
We're enthralled with ourselves ... we're stuck in a time warp ... we're so into Jesus, we're oblivious to the world, or we're so sophisticated, we deal with the world only through university-sponsored workshops that result in placards and pronouncements, and then we smoke a joint or have a drink and forget about it.
Anyway, I think we're in a pickle ... and God is going to let us pickle ourselves ... until we're so tired of it, so desperate for another way, we'll reach within and discover our own peace, and reach upward and discover God's peace, and reach out to others and give them peace.
But until then, our warring madness is leading us down a dark and dangerous path, from which there is no return except a radical decision to pursue peace rather than wage war.
Ah, nothing like the smell of napalm in the morning.