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Nation and Society

 

Apathy

It is truly a time of apathy.  Did you hear about the recent election in Columbus, Ohio?

The election was a lead pipe cinch.  George Carr and Theresa Kinsell were unopposed in running for the county Democratic committee.  Each of them needed only one vote, but not even the candidates voted so they both lost. -- Associated Press  5-11-90

 

Sin – Politics Corruption

The recent savings and loan scandal could cost the taxpayers $200-300 billion.  But don't worry, the entire amount will be covered by F.D.I.C. (Foolish, Dumb, Innocent, Citizens). ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching

 

Cycle of Poverty

John Perkins, black evangelist and social worker in Jackson, Mississippi, related a story concerning a black woman who was trapped in poverty. She had ten or twelve kids packed into a four-room house.

All her cupboard held was cornbread. When Perkins encouraged the small Oak Ridge Church outside of Mendenhall, Mississippi, to help this neighbor out, they began to send food. But it didn’t produce much change. The church asked itself, “How could Christ’s love deal with these needs?”

The answer began to surface when Perkins observed that in the summer, while it was hot and humid, the woman and her children tore wood off the outside of the house to use in their cooking fire. You could look right through the whole house. It seemed stupid to tear up the house when winter was just a few months away, so many of the people in the community quit trying to be charitable. They began to blame the woman for her own problems. To a certain extent, she was to blame, but Perkins recognized that she was trapped in the cycle of poverty.

The root problem was that for this woman and many folks like her, poverty had moved beyond her physical condition to claim her whole mind. To the poor, poverty leads to thinking just for the moment. It leads to an inability to think about the future because of the total demand to think about survival in the present. It is a culture, a whole way of life. Money can’t help until there is reason to have hope for the future. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching

 

National Righteousness

The instructive motto of the State of Hawaii is a result of the influence of the Protestant missionaries who first came to Hawaii in 1820. It expresses a great truth in the Hawaiian language: Ua mau ke ia o ka aina I ka pono, which means, “The life of the land is preserved in righteousness.”

Righteousness is what preserves a nation, not a Declaration of Independence or a Constitution, and not even Congress or its laws. What sustains and perpetuates a national identity is the righteousness of its people-the reflection of their recognizing their need for God, worked out in their relationships with one another. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching

 

Social Action

Many non-evangelicals have criticized evangelical Christians for not “caring,” that is, for what they perceive to be too-little social involvement. In 1979 the Gallup Poll organization surveyed a cross section of Americans. The facts speak for themselves.

The question was “Do you as an individual happen to be involved in any charity or social service activities, such as helping the poor, the sick, or the elderly?”

        The affirmative response by religion was proportioned as follows:

        Non-Church Members 19%

        Church members 30%

        Catholics 26%

        Protestants 27%

        Non-Evangelicals 26%

        Evangelicals 42%

── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching

 

Social Action

William Booth could not sleep one evening, so he went for a walk in the night. He walked down to the poor side of London and there, in the cover of darkness, saw the impoverished and beaten half-lives that existed in that setting. The rain was beating down on some of London’s derelicts who were sleeping near the curbsides. When Booth returned home, lie told his wife, “I’ve been to hell.” Out of that nightmarish experience came the dream of the Salvation Army.

Had Booth not left the security of his own home, he might never have become aware of the needs of the homeless masses. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching

 

Social Action

The following parody was written by two Englishmen after converting to Christianity from Communism.

        The Socialist’s 23rd  Psalm

        The Government is my shepherd,

        Therefore, I need not work.

        It allows me to lie down on a good job;

        It leads me beside still factories.

        It destroy my initiative;

        It leads me in the path of a parasite for politics’ sake.

        Yea, though I walk through the valley of laziness and deficit spending,

        I fear no evil; for Government is with me.

        It preparest an economic utopia for me;

        By appropriating the earnings of my own grandchildren.

        It fills my head with false security;

        My inefficiency runneth over.

        Surely the Government should care for me all the days of my life;

        And I shall live forever in a fool’s paradise.

── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching

 

Warfare

Wilfred Owen, a poet of the World War I period, described in the lines below his attitude after seeing a friend gag in a green field of gas fumes during an enemy gas attack. Owen himself was killed in action a week before the armistice but left a legacy of poems that decried the futility and horror of war.

        “…If in some smothered dreams, you too could pace

        Behind the wagon that we flung him in,

        And watch the white eyes writhing in his face.

        His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;

        If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood

        Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,

        Bitter as the cud

        Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues—

        My friend, you would not tell with such high zest,

        To children ardent for some desperate glory,

        The old lie: Dulce et decorum est

        Pro patria mori (Sweet and fitting it is to die for one’s country”— Horace

 

Country

Carl Schurz, a nineteenth-century political reformer, put the statement: “My country, right or wrong” into proper perspective: “Our country, right or wrong. When right, to be kept right; when wrong, to be put right.” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching

 

Poverty

Poverty in America

A free lesson on how to escape poverty.  Economist Charles Murray, author of the book Losing Ground, offers a formula on how to escape poverty in America.  Here's his prescription:  "The requirements for a male, black or white, are to go to a free public school and to complete high school, get into the labor market and get a job, any job, and stick with the labor market.  Do this and it is almost impossible to stay poor because among adult American males of all races with just a high school education, 91% now have family incomes greater than twice the poverty level." ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching

 

Taxes

Steve Fronk spotted a great bumper sticker shortly before April 15th.  It read: "Thank God we don't get all the government we pay for!" ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching

 

Ten Commandments

"We stake the future of this country on our ability to govern ourselves under the principles of the Ten Commandments." – J ames Madison, 4th President of the United States

 

Greatness

Rudyard Kipling wrote in Recessional about the British Empire:

        Far flung, our navies melt away,

        On dune and headland sinks the fire.

        Lo, all our pomp of yesterday

        Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!

So, too, will America’s greatness fade, as will Russia’s, and as will that of all the nations of this world. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching

 

Tradition

Traditions are often an attempt to either protect us from something that can harm us or keep us in the place where we are most likely to do well. Not all traditions are so characterized, and some are nothing more than outmoded responses to situations that no longer exist. Nevertheless, this old saying remains true: “Never tear down a fence until you find out why it was built.” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching

 

Tradition

”The seven last words” of a dying church are: “We never did it that way before!” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching

 

Tradition

Nothing is more deadly in a church than an attitude that might be expressed as, “Come weal or woe; our status is quo.” ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching

 

PATRIOTISM

We should behave toward our country as women behave toward the men they love.  A loving wife will do anything for her husband except stop criticizing and trying to improve him.  We should cast the same affectionate but sharp glance at our country.

J. B. Priestley.


Patriotism is not a short and frenzied burst of emotion but the long and steady dedication of a lifetime. 

Thomas Jefferson.

 

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

The Pledge of Allegiance is not a verse composed by the Founding Fathers of our republic. It was written especially for children in the summer is 1892 to commemorate that year's celebration of Columbus Day in public schools through out the country.

The pledge first appeared in print on September 8, 1892, in The Youth's Companion, an educational publication. In its original form, it read: "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which is stands -- one nation indivisible-- with liberty and justice for all."

Its author was Francis Bellamy, an assistant editor of The Youth's Companion, who intended it for a one-time recitation.  But its immediate popularity transformed it first into an annual Columbus Day tradition and then into a daily classroom ritual. It became one of the earliest verses memorized by students. Since its debut, Bellamy's pledge has undergone two major alterations. In 1923, the National Flag Conference of the American Legion replaced the somewhat ambiguously personal "my Flag" wording with the more explicitly patriotic "the Flag of the United States of America." And in 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill that added the words "Under God."

Charles Panati, Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things (Harper Collins), in Reader's Digest.

 

POLITICIAN

A fellow heard about an operation which would enable him to get a new brain. He went to the hospital where the surgery had been perfected and asked the doctors what was in stock. "Well," they said, "here is an excellent engineer's brain--a finely honed, precise bit of gray matter. It will cost you $500 an ounce."

"What else?" the man wanted to know. 

"This," they told him, "Is a lawyer's brain--a collection of shrewd, tricky little gray cells. It is $1000 an ounce." 

"Is that all you have?" 

"No," they said. "Here is a doctor's brain, packed full of anatomical knowledge. It is $5000 an ounce."

 "I don't know," the fellow said. "Don't you have anything else?" 

The doctors looked at each other then motioned for the man to step over to a covered container. "This," they said in hushed tones, "is a legislator's brain. It costs $250,000 an ounce." 

"Wow!" exclaimed the fellow. "Why so expensive?" 

"In the first place," the doctors told him, "it is hardly used. In the second place, do you realize how many legislators you need to get an ounce of brains?"

Quoted by James Dent in Charleston, West Virginia, Gazette.

POLITICS

An elderly gentleman was sitting on a park bench, basking in the sun, when another elderly fellow sat down. They looked at each other for a moment but did not speak. Both men sat there, staring straight ahead.

After a while, one of them heaved a big, heartfelt sigh.

The other jumped up immediately and said, "If you're going to talk politics, I'm leaving."

 

Bits & Pieces, June 24, 1993, p. 7.

 


The Best of Will Rogers

Will Rogers was many things -- cowboy, part Cherokee Indian, entertainer and tart observer of the American scene. From December 1922 until his death in August 1935, he wrote a column about anything that caught his interest. Although the following comments on government, politics and the state of the nation were made half a century or so ago, they are as timely as today's newspaper. Some things never change.

I love a dog. He does nothing for political reasons.

Congress is so strange. A man gets up to speak and says nothing, nobody listens and then everybody disagrees.

Never blame a legislative body for not doing something. When they do nothing, they don't hurt anybody. When they do something is when they become dangerous.

I really can't see any advantage of having one of your party in as President. I would rather be able to criticize a man than have to apologize for him.

It's no disgrace not to be able to run a country nowadays, but it is a disgrace to keep on trying when you know you can't.

It looks to me like any man that wants to be President in times like these lacks something.

They've already started arguing over who will be the speaker at next year's conventions. What they better worry about is who is going to listen.

There should be a moratorium called on candidates' speeches. From now on, they are just talking themselves out of votes.

A President-elect's popularity is the shortest lived of any public man's. It only lasts till he picks his Cabinet. 

The promising season ends on Election Day. That same night, the alibi season begins and lasts for the next four years.

Our government is the only people that just love to spend money without being compelled to, at all. But the government is the only people that don't have to worry where it is coming from.

Last year we said: "Things can't go on like this!" And they didn't -- they got worse.

In Washington, yesterday, everybody I tried to talk to was a Presidential candidate. Both Houses spent all week arguing politics. Did you ever figure it out? They are the only people that are paid to do one job and do every other one there is but that.

Lord, the money we do spend on government, and it's not a bit better than the government that we got for one-third the money 20 years ago.

This inflation was brought on by the actions of many peoples of the whole world, and its weight will be lifted by the actions of many peoples of the whole world, and not by a Republican or a Democrat.

With old inflation riding the headlines, I have read till I am bleary-eyed. We are living in an age of explanations, but no two things that have been done to us have been explained twice the same way, by even the same man.

When it comes to a showdown, Washington must never forget who rules -- the people.

The Best of Will Rogers 1979 by Bryan B. Sterling, Crown Publishing, Inc., NY, NY.

 


Definitions of Political Systems

Communism: You have two cows. The government takes both of them and gives you part of the milk.

Socialism: You have two cows. The government takes one and gives it to your neighbor.

Fascism: You have two cows. The government takes both cows and sells you the milk.

Nazism: You have two cows. The government takes both cows, then shoots you.

Bureaucracy: You have two cows. The government takes both of them, shoots one, milks the other, then pours the milk down the drain.

Capitalism: You have two cows. You sell one of them and buy a bull.

In a democracy, everyone has two cows, then a vote is taken, and whatever the majority decides to do, you do, and that's no bull!

Pulpit Helps, August, 1992, p. 8.

 


The penalty that good men pay for not being interested in politics is to be governed by men worse than themselves. 

Plato.

 

VOTING

In 1883 in Allentown, New Jersey, a wooden Indian -- the kind that was seen in front of cigar stores -- was placed on the ballot for Justice of the Peace. The candidate was registered under the fictitious name of Abner Robbins. When the ballots were counted, Abner won over incumbent Sam Davis by 7 votes. A similar thing happened in 1938. The name Boston Curtis appeared on the ballot for Republican Committeeman from Wilton, Washington. Actually, Boston Curtis was a mule. The town's mayor sponsored the animal to demonstrate that people know very little about the candidates. He proved his point. The mule won! 

Our Daily Bread, November 3, 1992.

 

GOVERNMENT

No illustrations yet.


Commentary

The Function of Human Government

The general function of human government, as instituted by God, may be said to be threefold: to protect, punish, and promote.

a. The Function of Protection: The moment Adam sinned it was obvious that civilizations would need some form of restraint and rule to protect citizens from themselves. An example of this function is seen in Acts 21:27-37 where Roman soldiers step in and save Paul from being murdered by his own enraged countrymen in Jerusalem.

b. The Function of Punishment: Both Paul and Peter bring this out. Paul writes that duly appointed human officials are to be regarded as God's servants to "bear the sword," that is, to impose punishment upon criminals (vv. 3,4). Peter tells us that governors are "sent by him for the punishment of evildoers" (1 Pet 2:13, 14).

c. The Function of Promotion: Human government is to promote the general welfare of the community where its laws are in effect. Paul commands us to pray for human leaders "that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty" (1 Tim 2:1,2). New King James Version Notes, Thomas Nelson, p. 1152

1 Peter 2:13, Our Responsibility to Human Government

It is impossible for a believer to be a good Christian and a bad citizen at the same time. As children of God our responsibility to human government is threefold:

a. We are to recognize and accept that the powers that be are ordained by God. "Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God." (Rom 13:1) This truth applies even to atheistic human governments unless, of course, the law is anti- scriptural. In that situation the believer must obey God rather than man (Acts 4:18-20). In fact, when Paul wrote those words in Romans 13:1, the evil emperor Nero was on the throne. See also Titus 3:1.

b. We are to pay our taxes to human government (Matt 17:24-7; 22:21, Rom 13:7).

c. We are to pray for the leaders in human government. "Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior" (1 Tim 2:1-3). New King James Version Notes, Thomas Nelson, p. 1270

We are to take responsibility for the right ordering of civil society without falling prey to the idea that it is within our power to build the Kingdom of God on earth.

Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium, 1994.


Humor

From the Desk of:

Don Genereaux

Honorable Secretary of Agriculture

Washington, D.C.

Dear Sir,

My friend, Dan Hansen, over at Honey Creek, Iowa, received a check for $1,000.00 from the government for not raising hogs. So I want to go into the "NOT RAISING HOGS" business next year.

What I want to know is, in your opinion, what is the best kind of farm not to raise hogs on? And what is the best breed of hogs not to raise? I want to be sure that I approach this endeavor in keeping with all government policies.

As I see it, the hardest part of the "NOT RAISING HOGS' program is keeping an accurate inventory of how many hogs I haven't raised.

My friend Hansen is very joyful about the future of the business. He has been raising hogs for twenty years or so, and the best he has ever made on them was $422.90 in 1968, until this year when he got your check for the $1000.00 for not raising 50 hogs.

If I get $1000.00 for not raising 50 hogs, then would I get $2000.00 for not raising 100 hogs? I plan to operate on a small scale at first, holding myself to about 4,000 hogs not raised the first year, which would bring in about $80,000.00; then I can afford an airplane.

Now another thing - these hogs I will not raise will not eat 100,000 bushels of corn. I understand that the government also pays people not to raise corn and wheat. Would I qualify for payments for not raising these crops not to feed my hogs I will not be raising?

I want to get started as soon as possible as this seems to be a good time of the year for the "NOT RAISING HOGS" and "NOT PLANTING CROPS" business.

Also I am giving serious consideration to the "NOT MILKING COWS" business and any information you would have on the endeavor would be greatly appreciated.

In view of the fact that I will be totally unemployed, I will be filing for unemployment and food stamps, and was wondering how long that process takes.

Be assured, Mr. Secretary, you will have my vote in the upcoming election.

Patriotically yours,

Don Genereaux

P.S. Would you please notify me when you plan to give out the free cheese again?

Unknown.

 

SOCIETY

An atheistic materialistic society's epitaph, in the words of T.S. Eliot, may read,

Here were a decent godless people: Their only monument the asphalt road And a thousand lost golf balls.


Commentary

Today, the exalted status of economics in our public debate is being challenged in some rather intriguing places. For example, Wall Street Journal editor Robert Bartley recently observed, "If America is to decline, it will not be because of military overstretch. Nor the trade balance, Japanese management secrets or even the federal deficit. If a decline is underway, it's a moral one."

Former Education Secretary William Bennett sees evidence of such decline in research identifying the most serious problems in public school classrooms. In 1940, running in the halls, chewing gum, and talking in class headed the list of teacher's disciplinary concerns; today, robbery, rape, alcohol, drugs, teen pregnancy, and suicide are most often mentioned. Bennett argues, "If we turn the economy around, have full employment, live in cities of alabaster and gold, and this is what our children are doing to each other, then we still will have failed them."

Bennett believes one way to improve our national debate is to counterbalance, the Commerce Department's index of leading economic indicators with a collection of some 19 "leading cultural indicators" including the divorce rate, the illegitimacy rate, the violent crime rate, the teen suicide rate, and even hours devoted to television viewing. While these cultural variables are only crude indicators of our nation's social health, they do provide a more complete, and more accurate, empirical assessment of the condition of American society than is available from economic variables alone. Using economic variables -- even under-utilized variables like business productivity and hourly compensation rates -- it is difficult to explain public opinion polls showing that a majority of Americans believe the quality of life in America has declined over the last three decades. To understand such perceptions, one has to consider that since 1960, violent crime has risen 560 percent, illegitimate births have increased 400 percent, teen suicides have risen 200 percent, divorce rates have quadrupled, average SAT scores have dropped 80 points, and the proportion of children living in fatherless families has increased three-fold.

In essence, then, Bennett's leading cultural indicators are to our national debate what statistics like saves, fielding percentage, and earned run average are to baseball: reminders that economic production (or run production) isn't everything. Indeed, a society which manages to make great gains economically, but fails to progress in the cultural areas outlined by Bennett is likely to be no more successful in the long run than the 1931 New York Yankees. That ballclub, which featured sluggers like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, scored more runs (1,067) than any other team in major league history. But New York still finished 13 and one-half games behind the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1931 American League pennant race, in large part because the Yankees' lousy pitching more than offset run-scoring prowess.

Family Policy, June, 1993, pp. 5-6.