Aug 28, 2011 1
As we write this, Hurricane Irene is bearing down on Washington, New York, and the Northeast. Some related news items have prompted thoughts, as did last week’s earthquake felt across the same territory, Irene’s path. No doubt we will all be reflecting on the events of 10 years ago whose flash points were in the same areas: airports in Maine and Boston, from which flew planes that crashed in New York City, Pennsylvania, and Washington DC.
A well-meaning post has been making internet rounds of late. It recounts how the Washington Monument sustained damage from the earthquake; how the aluminum capstone has a Latin phrase praising God; and how an exhibition a few years ago censored and obscured that fact. This much is true.
The post also claims that the Monument, by law, must be the tallest structure in the nation’s capital, which is not true. And that it is at the center of a perfect cross of malls and streets planned by the capital’s architect Pierre L’Enfant. It is not. And the post quotes a prayer by George Washington that proves he was a Christian. The prayer, however, is altered.
There is a lesson that is a good life lesson, whether it about history quizzes or the Gospel of Jesus Christ: you cannot improve on the truth. Exaggeration leads to suspicion. I hold nothing against well-meaning viral messages, but let us read them with discernment.
The U S Capitol, although shorter than the Washington Monument, stands higher because it is on a rise. The National Cathedral and the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception are also higher. The District’s regulation is that a building may be no higher than the width, plus 20 feet, of an adjoining street. L’Enfant designed the Mall years before the memorials to Washington and Lincoln; and the obelisk is off “center” anyway because of weak ground under the original site.
And I will skip Washington’s doctored prayer and present his original – which is a powerful enough statement of faith: I now make it my earnest prayer, that God would have you, and the State over which you preside, in his holy protection, that he would incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government, to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow Citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the Field, and finally, that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all, to do Justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility and pacific temper of mind, which were the Characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy Nation.
Changes in the viral message have him addressing “Almighty God” and closing with “Through Jesus Christ Our Lord.” Those elements need not be snuck in to convince anyone that Washington believed in God and honored Christ.
I am not nit-picking. For believers and patriots to stretch the truth, to “gild the lily,” can obscure more important things we should very well notice… and be upset about. For instance, what the internet message also stated was that there is a capstone on the tip of the Washington Monument, and it contains an inscription in Latin, Laus Deo (Praise God), and that a few years ago an exhibition at the base of the Monument committed two offenses. A display case held a replica, but one side of the glass display case was tight against a wall, making it impossible for visitors to read one of the four inscriptions. Yes: the Laus Deo. The others commemorated the designer, the dedication ceremony, and the US president at the time, Chester Alan Arthur. Coincidence? Well, the captions in the display case likewise censored the Latin phrase and its meaning – no mention at all.
These things originally occurred in 2007, during George Bush’s term. Offenses to the Gospel and America’s Christian heritage continue today, of course – sadly, too many to mention. It is the world-system, not individuals alone, we need to discern. What I mean to say is that our government seems to think that “freedom of religion” really means “freedom from religion.” If you watch the musical video following, you can see what Founding Fathers and Christian patriots through Lincoln’s time thought on the subject.
But I want to highlight a larger offense, a larger issue; and it ties the three “natural disasters” together in another way. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has banned any religious aspects, spiritual observances, and all prayers from the city’s 9-11 events in a couple weeks. He violates the Constitution, of course, in proscribing freedoms of religion and assembly. In my opinion, on the anniversary of the attacks, he declares victory – he himself becomes the victor – in the war on America’s spiritual heritage, our biblical foundations, and our religious traditions. “The American way of life.” If he is not booed off the speaker’s stand I should wonder about Christian patriots’ ability any more to be outraged.
However, this is not Bloomberg (I should say the world-system that is engulfing us) at the worst. As Hurricane Irene aimed for New York City, the mayor issued a statement listing what measures the city would take… and that he expected “religious organizations” to do their duty also.
This becomes the week when “H” no longer stands for Hurricane, but hypocrisy. And the dictionary should change the term “Fair-Weather Friend” to either “Foul-Weather Friend” or “Fair-Weather Enemy.”
“Acts of God,” so-called, we can handle. May God save us from acts of men in these end times. Laus Deo!
Click: Faith of Our Fathers