God has been good to men. He gave His Only Son their souls to save, And then he made a second gift, Which from their dreary lives should lift The tyrant's yoke and set them free From all who'd throttle liberty. He gave America to men — Fashioned this land we love, and then Deep in her forest sowed the seed Which was to serve man's earthly need.
In the first verse of his patriotic poem, America, British born poet, Edgar Albert Guest offers a spiritual offering to his adopted land. With reverent irreverence, he elevates the titular democracy to the left hand of God’s throne. As the poem progresses, it extols a vision of the freedom loving America transporting the Divine gift of liberty to every corner of the globe. Through the agency of this divinely established representative, the eschatological Triumvirate will succeed in bringing “peace on earth and good will to all humanity....”
In a very potent way, Guest aligns the American ethos with the Messianic Kingdom. The same emancipative Spirit of the Godhead that bodily dwelt in Jesus of Nazareth is transferred to this mystical nation providentially chosen to bear the Divine mantle. Written about the time when America was compelled to enter the First World War, the poem spread hope to the battered European allies–“We’re coming to save you.” America will save them from their oppressive undemocratic monarchical systems and institute the superior model of American democracy that guarantees freedom of worship and justice for all.
Like Edgar Albert Guest, I am a British born immigrant who has spent almost sixty percent of my life in this great nation. I have definitely found it to be a land of opportunity, and have achieved things here that were only “pipe dreams” for me in my delinquent years on the streets of London. It would be the epitome of ingratitude to not express my gratitude for a system that serves as a buoy for those seeking a (second) chance. Nonetheless, while I am grateful for what I have been able to accomplish on these shores, I refuse to sit in circle with those who have inhaled the smoke of the dream pipe and are unable to discern between myth and reality.
In spite of the words proclaimed by Lady Liberty from her muted megaphone as she offers her enticing invitation from Ellis Island, the freedom offered to the “tired, poor and huddled masses” has still not been defined. Or to put it another way, this freedom is continuously redefined by the men and women who sit in the various branches of government. A president can authorize agencies to eavesdrop on the conversations of private citizens without their knowledge. A congress can declare war without holding a national referendum. A court can empower health professionals and women to practice infanticide without any fear of repercussion.
Many who have experienced America, know that the definition of American freedom is governed by the spirit that dominates this nation. It’s a blinding spirit that beguiled men into thinking they were sincere when in the midst of oppressive slavery they declared “all men are created equal”; and penned odes to the “land of the free” and the “sweet land of liberty.” It’s the spirit that John exposes in Revelation 13 – the one that has the appearance of a lamb, but speaks like the Dragon.
For those who enjoy being serenaded by patriotic platitudes, recent events provide opportunities to assess the messianic claims of Ronald Reagan’s “Shining City on a Hill.” Take for instance the controversy surrounding the erection of a memorial mosque in the vicinity of the former World Trade Center. A people that was truly committed to religious freedom would welcome the gesture and embrace the opportunity to demonstrate the “real” America to religious extremists. Instead, a vocal majority are incensed by the proposal and are exploring every legal avenue in their effort to ensure that the memory of the victims is not profaned by this perturbing peace offering and strange symbol of American tolerance.
The two thirds of New Yorkers opposed to the mosque embody the xenophobic spirit that has shaped this nation for the past four centuries. Many have recognized that the celebrated “melting pot” is really a “molding pot.” There is an American ethos that transcends religious allegiance and ethnic origin. It permeates every area of life as all events commence with the same Star Spangled invocation; and our syncretized worship services are complemented by the presence of the sacred flag positioned in a place of prominence on the platform. A true American will always put country first.
The myth of America’s moral mandate has also been challenged by the recent decision of a federal district judge to overturn the will of the people embodied in the previous passage of California’s Proposition 8, which banned homosexual marriage. This activist ruling has set the stage for the issue to be heard by the Supreme Court. I suspect that it’s only a matter of time before homosexual marriage becomes the law of the land. I have no doubt that when this happens, many will celebrate it as a civil rights victory. However, I will accept it as further confirmation that the spirit inhabiting America is not the same Spirit who permeates the Messianic Kingdom.
When I think of the strategies being utilized by the spirit that controls our nation, I yearn for the day when the kingdoms of this world become the Kingdom of our LORD and His Messiah. This is a kingdom where freedom is not subject to vacuous post-modern interpretation or wrapped in the foul garb of hedonism. The freedom that governs this Kingdom can only be found in Christ. It’s freedom from sin in all of its manifestations – capitalist greed, xenophobic prejudice, unbridled lust, patriotic pride, and any other vice that is abhorrent to a God who is the only one who can grant liberty and justice for all. Maranatha! Even so, come Lord Jesus....Keith Augustus Burton writes from Harvest, Alabama. For the past five years, he has been taking the good news about The Final Revolution to audiences around the globe (http://www.finalrevolution.org).
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/2574