I wonder why there are people who believe that Barack Obama is a) Muslim, b) a terrorist, and c) not an American citizen when none of these allegations have any basis in fact. They apparently need to believe these things whether they are true or not. They obviously hate Obama and need to find justification for that hatred. If they can believe that he’s a Muslim terrorist then they are justified in hating him because after all, everybody hates terrorists.
It’s hard to live in a society where truth doesn’t matter but that’s the reality of the world we live in. The prophets in the Hebrew scriptures (Amos Hosea, Isaiah and Jeremiah) were always unpopular because they confronted people with painful reality. The popular prophets were the false prophets because they told folks what they wanted to hear instead of what they needed to hear.
The same is true today. Joel Osteen preaches to a stadium full of people who love to hear that Jesus came to help us all become rich. Joel is preaching the opposite of what Jesus taught and doing it in Jesus’s name. Jesus is the one who told us not to lay up treasures on earth. He said that we cannot serve God and money. We have to make a choice. Jesus said “Woe unto you who are rich, for you have had your reward.”
Jeremiah discovered that being a true prophet is not fun and games. At times he wished desperately that he might be relieved of the duty to speak God’s truth. Who wants to be an outcast?
We live in a society where truth doesn’t matter. If a prophet announced to the people that this country is in the process of committing corporate suicide, that prophet would be booed off the stage.
Yet here we are in a country where the national debt is skyrocketing rapidly upwards at the same time that good paying jobs are disappearing in droves. Our corporations are moving their factories to the third world. Why should a corporation pay an American worker a living wage when they can get slave labor in third world countries to work for a couple of dollars a day?
So the legacy that we are passing on to our children and grandchildren is a nation with an overwhelming debt and fewer and fewer good paying jobs. We are giving them a nation that is morally, spiritually and economically bankrupt.
There was a time in the days of my youth when parents sacrificed for the sake of their children. They would make all manner of sacrifices to see that their children got a college education so that they would have a bright future in this promised land.
Now we have become a nation where we adults are willing to sacrifice the future of our children in order to feed our own greed.
We mustn’t tell our people about this. They want to believe that everything is just fine thank you and that we are free to go right on living self centered, self serving and self indulgent lives with no anxieties about the future.
Perhaps, after the empire collapses there will be folks who are ready to hear the word that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Proverbs 1:7)
Ed White, former general presbyter of the National-Capital Presbytery is senior consultant for the Alban Institute.