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Monday, June 30, 2014

Entry 19: The Unravelers II

June 30, 2014

Dear Friends

Re:  Entry 19

For ages and ages, men have predicted the end of time, if there is such a thing as time.  Some take comfort in the prediction, as it has the potential of wiping their slates clean (even though it wipes them with it).  When we talk of "the apocalypse" (small a), it is usually one of the pop culture fads that show us the end of time in some horrific, blood-spattered, violence-induced, yet curiously fascinating, way.  Have you envisioned such for yourself? Most people in their vision survive and are left on the other side as one of the hardy souls, rebuilding mankind in the dream of a democratic freedom-loving, windmill-powered, grain-eating, little-kids-running-around-in-joy, eco-utopia.   Generally, in the fall of man, or government, or country, or an ideal, it is rarely thus.  Rarely noble, rarely uplifting, even less rarely interesting.  It just unravels.  Slowly, imperceptibly at first, like one thread in the hem of a sleeve, then the sleeve, then the shirt.

Have you noticed it is happening across generations?  Maybe not to everyone, but to many.  Take any family and trace their generations, and it is indeed surprising to find how many have slipped below the level of the prior generation, either economically or morally or both.  I know a family, many exist, where the grandparents sacrificed, raised their children, the children grew up self-possessed and self-sure but lacking the drive of their parents to succeed for the sake of the next generation.  So that by the time the third generation arrived on the scene, they were living in what was left of grandma's dream--maybe even living in her house--with an air of past superiority and yet utterly lacking in the ethic that gave them the chance both they and their parents squandered.  Who was at fault?  They rewrite the book of Judges word by word, page by page, never seeing.  Go and see them for yourselves.  They clot the aisles of a Wal-Mart on a Saturday night, all across the land.

Some of this is inevitable, at least on some scale, this stumbling, then reversing, of upward mobility.  And I am not even addressing the economic slavery our government is creating by impoverishing its poorest and most vulnerable with the soft tyranny of its handouts.  I am talking about the generational change we have all been witnessing--the self-sacrifice of the desire to lift up the next generation at even the cost of suppressing oneself has been lost in America today.  It built America, it brought millions of people here looking for an opportunity to lift up their children, but it is surely gone. And gone in a million little ways.  Gone in the ways we age now (as if everyone over 50 is so self-possessed with finding themselves in some investment retirement utopia surrounded by the tanned buff vitamin-swilling 60-is-the-new-20 types you see in Viagra commercials).  What ever happened to grandpa?  He bought you a penknife when you were six, and took you fishing, and talked about the war and horses and how they put up hay and barn dances and simple things.  That is gone, gone.  Today, gramps is likely to be cruising around in a sporty convertible, already on his third wife, self-centered, self-possessed and self destructing.  I never remember my grandparents buying new furniture.  Somewhere in that memory is one of the million reasons for the loss of America.

No magic answer lies beyond the next curve in the road.  More than likely, the low, gnawing mediocrity we have have allowed our government to become will consume itself.  You can hear it in the answers of our leaders, who in every word talk about "working to protect American families" or "trying to save the middle class values" (neither of which they, respectively, possess nor want their children to espouse).  This smug, self-serving government has become our burden.  Too bureaucratic to be effective, too godless to be faithful, too big to be safe, ready to crush its own people rather than protect and serve them.  People of the government, by the government, for the government.

But lo, the Lord is the Lord of the Harvest.  And I am proud of the workers who have gone when I did not or would not or could not go.  The time is coming when we all must decide if service to the Lord means service.  And I thank my sons (my real ones) who have gone to fulfill the Great Commission, may the Lord go with you.  The time of the church is not waning for it is more necessary now in the face of what is coming.  Now is the time to rise to the occasion.

I remain,

Fessler