Wisdom Calls: What Goes Up Must
By Bob Slosser
I want to say a few words to those politicians who gather
in nominating conventions from time to time, as the Democrats are
gathered in Los Angeles this week. The words apply to the Republicans,
too, of course, and it's not too late for the Grand Old Party to
listen, including Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney.
I'm reflecting on pride, which eats so deeply into our national
and world fabrics right now. I've watched a good chunk of this
century as a newsman but only recently as a navel-gazing thumb-sucking
sacred cow, as the ol' newspaper community used to refer to columnists,
now disguised as commentary writers. And I've never seen our planet,
especially the American continent, in such urgent need of reform
in pride and arrogance.
It's just as bad, if not worse, with the younger folks, who on
one hand offer so much hope in their business and technological
acumen and on the other, offer the screamin' meemies with their
disregard for civility, courtesy, law and valuable tradition.
Not all tradition is founded on truth, of course, but a lot is
and we need to take a hard look at it before we throw it all out.
I've been looking at the biblical prophets on the subject of
pride and I've come across again the words of Isaiah and Ezekiel
about how a beautiful, high-powered being, presumably an angel,
God's delight, became Satan the adversary. Sadly, the whole creation
was infected by his pride and love of self more than God. Some
scriptural lines refer to Satan as the prince of this world (John
12:31, NIV), the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit
who is now at work in those who are disobedient (Ephesians 2:2)
and the rulers of this dark world (Ephesians 6:12). We've been
infected by his pride, selfish ambition and lawlessness.
Isaiah, in one of those passages of Scripture that has a sort
of skipping effect down through history, presents a type of Satan
when he writes of a taunt from Sheol. It describes Babylon (a
type of Lucifer) as having said in your heart, I will ascend to
heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will
sit enthroned on the mount of assembly -- I will make myself like
the most high (Isaiah 14:12-14). He is to be cast into the depths
of the pit.
Ezekiel speaks of the King of Tyre, another type of Satan, when
the prophet quotes God: You were the model of perfection, full
of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden
of God (where Satan was disguised as the serpent). You were blameless
in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was
found in you. Your heart became proud on account of your beauty,
and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw
you to the earth (Ezekiel 28:12-17). Pride and self-love are running
wild on the earth.
Today has been referred to as the Me Generation. Early in the
century lived a young writer who wrote the definitive novel of
the Lost Generation, which sounded a lot like us. It was F. Scott
Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise, an immediate and spectacular
success. It still is. On the last page, Fitzgerald, himself a
wasted young man who died early, wrote:
Here was a new generation, shouting the old cries, learning
the old creeds, through a a revery of long days and nights;
destined finally to go out into that dirty gray turmoil to follow
love and pride; a new generation dedicated more than the last
to the fear of poverty and the worship of success, grown up
to find all Gods dead, all wars fought, all faiths in man shaken
There was no God in his heart, he knew; his ideas were still
in riot; there was ever the pain of memory; the regret for his
lost youth -- yet the waters of disillusion had left a deposit
on his soul, responsibility and a love of life, the faint stirring
of old ambitions and unrealized dreams. And he could not tell
why the struggle was worth while, why he had determined to use
to the utmost himself and his heritage from the personalities
he had passed.
He stretched out his arms to the crystalline, radiant sky.
I know myself, he cried, but that is all.
Satan has stacked the deck against all of us, and only Jesus
Christ can set us free from it. But he can do it, rather quickly.
I'm concerned especially at this time of year with politicians,
entertainers, authors, scholars, folks like that. They are especially
vulnerable, and, unhappily, they have a huge effect on millions
and billions of people.
George Bush Sr. had an understanding and a bit of protection
in his professional life. George W. should, too, but he and Cheney
are in heady territory, and they must guard against pride, selfishness,
self-gratification, and temptation to pull a few shortcuts on
God and his unchanging principles.
Vice President Gore worries me. His wife, Tipper, is far more
knowledgeable about the matters I've talked about. But Al, a good
Tennessean (that isn't an oxymoron, is it?) hasn't taken time
to get caught up fully. He loves that limelight. Mr. Lieberman
sort of pleased me with his morality and courage with Clinton
awhile back. But there are some guys out there in Los Angeles
that you need to keep an eye on. They think politics is all about
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