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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Just Another Day In The Country That Always Parties

Just like NYC is the 'city that never sleeps,' America is the country that always parties. And so like every good American, I watched the big game. Only for me, I watched the game because I was with old friends. So the carrot for me was seeing old friends. Since neither myself nor my one friend had no emotional investment in either team, we commented on the quick demise of the Broncos. After Seattle took a 5-0 lead, I was rooting for Denver to score 2 consecutive safeties so that the halftime score could be 5-4. Then people listen to the scores on the news might be confused as to whether they were following a Mariners-Rockies game or the Seahawks-Broncos contest.

Another minor point to this game was the fact that while the cameras were rolling during game time, the weather, unlike this current winter weather, behaved itself. Come the next day, several inches of snow to shovel and there was a return to colder temperatures. Perhaps if we made the NFL championship based on the best of 7 games, all played at East Rutherford, we could see a premature end of winter.

But there is a more important point to be made for the nation that always parties. The purpose of parties for the people who always party is to, in one way or another, escape reality. Our propensity to party could result a desire to deny or hide from the reality around us. We party because we want to assert another reality than what's there. But one of the Scripture verses the wife and I were going over with the high school kids at our church was Isaiah 22:12-14. Here, Isaiah chided the Hebrews for partying instead of  reflecting and repenting. He goes on to tell the Hebrews that God will not forgive them for this. We could say that Isaiah threw a flag on the Hebrews for 'illegal substitution.'

Whether you want to read from the Conservative or Leftist list of commandments, there are plenty of sins to be sorry for. Whether we wish to recognize how our sexual promiscuity has put ourselves and others at risk or how our love of money and lavish lifestyles have not only exploited the earth, they have relied on the exploitation of people as well; there are more than enough sins committed to cause everybody to take a moment of silence to be sorrowful. But such an action would be to admit that we have a problem, either individually or nationally, And our egos are not up to that task. Thus, what is left is to pronounce judgment. 

Of course, pronouncing judgment is often job monopolized by Fundamentalists. And yet, Bertrand Russell, Albert Einstein, and Martin Luther King Jr. prophesied to us what would happen if we continued to rely on violence and war. And others have told us what will happen if we continue to act as if the environment cannot be harmed regardless of our way of life and waste of resources--for example, look up articles by former NASA scientist, James Hansen. And, of course, History is replete of examples of what happens when social and economic injustice are consistently ignored.

But such topics are downers. And we would rather be more optimistic and that is the purpose of our never ending partying.  For while we party, it is easier to deny the existence of the icebergs that so threaten to sink our invincible ship. 

It's not that there is never a time to party; but we seem to throw them for the wrong reasons. We rarely throw parties when people do something significant to help those in need. And we seem to never hear about those who make some significant medical or technological breakthrough and they do so sacrificially for others. Rather, we celebrate the trivial because we wish to imitate or even hang with those with wealth and power.

So while there is time to change, there is hope. But that hope is growing smaller and smaller because we seem to be more interested in party-hopping than in growing up and facing our responsibilities. We should not be fooled here, one of these days, the music will die. And it is at that time we will hit ourselves on the head and say, 'I could have loved my neighbor as myself.'

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