The Apostolate of the Laity

Waxing philosophical in communion with one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

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Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

I am just a sinner who holds fast to the notion that every human being on the planet is the result of a thought of God.

Friday, June 29, 2007

iPod or iGod?

No doubt that one of the most successful products to ever hit the economy has been Apple's iPod. More than one hundred million of the units in their various configurations have been sold world-wide, and that number continues to grow nearly exponentially. The product encapsulates so many of its target audience's needs. It is compact; not overly expensive though not cheap; and it has the gee-whiz factor of being able to hold so much music, video, and data in the palm of one's hand.

One other feature of Apple's cash cow that has made it successful perhaps lies in the fact that the iPod represents a microcosm of the culture. For this little, slim, plastic rectangle empowers one to choose, on demand, with great precision what one really wants. It feeds upon society's insatiable hunger for personal choice. This appetite for freedom from anything the least bit undesirable has enslaved America to the same parasitic philosophy of secular humanism that has infected Western Europe.

Satan ever repeats the most miserable words ever uttered by any being. He repeats over and over, "I am my own. I am my own."
- Victorian writer George McDonald

The Devil subtly whispers this mantra into the hearts of man. When in history has mankind so distorted the meaning of freedom? The word now has become a social entitlement to give license to do anything one desires. In such an environment community loses its priority in daily life. In many ways, community evaporates and what fills the void are multiple, individualistic, egocentric lives who shroud themselves in solitude. Side by side they are laws unto themselves. The iPod becomes the "Do no disturb" sign as they make their own way.

The irony is that man truly longs for communion. God seems to have built into humanity's very nature a yearning to be part of something greater than oneself, and it gets manifested in the most interesting ways. The Portland Trail Blazers, the city's NBA franchise, lucked out and got this year's number one pick in the draft. A seven-foot-tall center from Ohio State named Greg Oden was selected. To see the city of Portland's citizens response, one might have thought the Messiah had returned. People poured into the Rose Garden arena where the team plays to watch the draft on giant-screen TVs. When the NBA Commissioner announced that the Trail Blazers had selected Oden, fans stormed the basketball court as if they had won the championship game. The next day, a hero's welcome greeted this young man who will soon join the ranks of multi-millionaire sports superstars.

No doubt that Mr. Oden possesses supreme basketball skills, but what were the fans really doing? They have faith and hope that Oden has the power to carry the team to glory. The fans united in common cause to express that hope and that faith. For a few moments they were part of something bigger than themselves, but like all false religions, the sense of realness soon faded back to reality, and the fans returned to their solitary lives to wait and see if a winning season might unite them again. Greg Oden has no power other than the ability to perhaps make thousands of fans feel like they are part of something special. But that something is really just a marketing ploy to sell more tickets and merchandise.

As America drifts further and further away from Christian thought and as Independence Day approaches, the hard question has to be asked,

"What exactly is this freedom we celebrate?"

The nation's founding fathers knew that a better way could be found apart from the oppression of British rule. They knew that the ability to praise God in the church of one's choice was an inalienable right; however, no indication from their writings or the American tradition indicates that the freedom they sought extended to creating a state governed not by laws, but by relativism.

A reading of the Declaration of Independence reveals that God is mentioned twice, once in the first sentence and then again as He is referred to as Divine Providence in the last. In between are definitive statements of how the British monarchy has distorted its execution of the law, but nowhere do the founding fathers express a desire to be free of that law. They simply want a just application of it for themselves. There was no call for the protection of individualism or secularism. It was a cry for the protection of community under the mantle of God.

That cry is barely audible in today's American culture. Around the world, young men and women fight and die for an ideal of what America used to be and what America could still be versus what she really is, today. Consumerism trumps patriotism. Egocentrism overwhelms theology. And the American dawns his iPod in forced retreat into a world of music or talk that forms a protective pod from the reality that the stranger standing next to him is not his brother.

Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right. For it is God's will that by doing right you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. Live as free men, yet without using your freedom as a pretext for evil; but live as servants of God.
1 Peter 2:13-16

America has forgotten that living as a free people means living as a servant to God. She has indeed chosen by her own free will to serve herself which has become the pretext for the evil that plagues the culture. This Fourth of July, let freedom, a true freedom ring across the land and let every American bow to their Creator; ask for His forgiveness; rejoice in Our Savior; and embark upon a rekindling of the American spirit based upon the principals and ideals our forefathers intended.

A littles less pod...a lot more God. That defines the path to America's salvation. May she find the wisdom and courage to take it.


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