Fr. Dale Matson
“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” (Proverbs 29:18, KJV)
While no one would argue that the United States has more bombs, bullets and boots, the question is, “Why does the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) continue to gain territory and to recruit young people to their cause from the western world?”
The Jihadists see themselves in a struggle against evil and we are the face of their evil. We are attempting to win on the battlefield but we are losing the battle for hearts and minds.
Former Senator Birch Bayh referred to the Jihadist ideology as “empty” on Fox New Sunday (October 26th) If only. If only he was correct. We may kill their soldiers but their ideology, while evil, is robust, certain and virulent. The western world in general and the U.S. lack the courage of their convictions because they lack convictions. We have no vision and are lacking in moral authority. Do we honestly think that we could reinstate the draft to compel young men once again to fight this war?
This is because we have cast off the “Faith Of Our Fathers.” Faith of our fathers! Faith and prayer shall win all nations unto thee; and through the faith that comes from God; mankind shall then indeed be free. (Verse 2)
I am not saying that the U.S. is no longer a compassionate nation. We are the first to offer help to a nation in need. However compassion without truth can be misguided and counterproductive. We are the soup kitchen to the world. We have lost an important thread running through the fabric of our nation and this has led to spiritual poverty, moral uncertainty and the pursuit of self-interest. It is an ugly form of self-determination and individualism. President Obama proudly announced in Turkey (among other venues) that the U.S. was no longer a Christian nation [only]. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIVd7YT0oWA
I was born and grew up in the U.S. Since graduating from high school, I have witnessed a sea of change regarding the former synergistic interplay of faith and nation. Every school assembly I attended began with the Lord’s Prayer. Every school day began with the pledge of allegiance to the flag. “Under God” was included when I was in the fourth grade. My senior civics classroom had the Ten Commandments on the wall. I was a member of the choir that sang the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” for my graduation in 1962. Here is one stanza in particular.
In the beauty of the lilies
Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in his bosom
that transfigures you and me,
As He died to make men holy
let us live to make men free,
His truth is marching on.
How many people recognize the final verse of our national anthem? :
Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
The U.S. also had an ideology that was robust, certain and contagious. We had both a faith in our God and our country overseen by God. As I look at our Hymnal, much is devoted to this relationship including, “Christian Vocation” and “Pilgrimage and Christian life”, “Christian Responsibility” and a section on “National Songs”.
The fabric of our nation is unraveling because the spiritual thread is being removed. As Christians, we must not allow this to happen to our Country. People around the globe need to see us as the beacon of light in a stormy world. That is our most powerful weapon against the ideology of ISIS.
“For the nation or kingdom that will not serve You will perish; it will be utterly ruined.” (Isaiah 60:12, NIV).
From the watchtower, Dale+