After 9/11, President Bush proclaimed, They hate our freedom. That claim never held true. What Eugene Peterson said is more accurate and insightful: They don’t hate our freedom; they hate what we’ve done with it. That’s very different.
To celebrate the 237th anniversary of the founding of our nation, one of the more newsworthy (apparently) activities yesterday was a contest won by a fellow who ate 69 hot dogs. We’ve turned gluttony into a game! We’ve long since turned trivia into a whole slew of games. We fill our airwaves with multiple clones of any idea that sells, such as old fashioned talent shows embellished with lots of fancy lighting and loud noise or old fashioned cop shows dressed up with magical “crime labs.” We let our entertainment move closer and closer to outright porn.
We’ve become, in many ways, plain old spoiled brats. The wealth that developed so quickly after the Second World War has rotted our character. We were for awhile the greatest nation on earth but have squandered that honor, preferring short term gain to long term good.
In the midst of it all, some good things are happening. We’ve moved closer to respecting the civil rights of Blacks and of women. We’ve made great progress in some areas on cleaning up the environment and reducing the harm we’re doing to our planet. In the process of such changes, however, we’ve also come to tie our political processes into knots and cannot find ways to elect leaders who know anything about governing. Greed rules our governmental and economic leaders more than ever.
Gluttony. Greed. Now, where’s that list of the Seven Deadly Sins? I think we’ve mastered them all!
69 hot dogs? That doesn’t speak well for a culture, does it?
In stark, contrasting simplicity, Jesus taught us to love God with all our being and to love our neighbor as we do ourselves. It’s time we let him call us back to our center, our focus, our home base.