Wise Men?

A nation of well-informed men who have been taught to know and prize the rights which God has given them cannot be enslaved. It is in the region of ignorance that tyranny begins.

Benjamin Franklin

By Dr. Jim Ferguson

January 6th is Epiphany in the ecclesiastical calendar but has other definitions including a sudden insight or realization – in other words, an “Aha!” moment. And it’s also the title of the first novel in my science fiction trilogy.

The traditional biblical Christmas story is a composite vision of the birth of Jesus and a glimpse of his infancy. We often romantically merge the gospel accounts of Matthew and Luke into a blended vision, notably in Nativity Pageants and a creche or nativity scene.

In 1223, after a visit to the Holy Land, Saint Francis of Assisi created the first manger scene to hopefully inspire worship of the newborn King. I could not find details of that first creche, but it surely included the baby Jesus, Mother Mary and Joseph. Since ninety percent of humans process information preferentially by sight, it is understandable that imagery is used to tell the “old, old stories.” Religious icons have been used for millennia as a visual aid and are integral to some denominations.

Nativity scenes can be simple or quite elaborate with Lukan shepherds and Matthew’s Wise Men, complemented by a supporting cast of animals, angels or even a natal star.

I’ve never seen a creche with “The Little Drummer Boy,” though I love this carol, especially when it’s done a cappella. Music resonates with humans and is another medium that can augment the religious experience. Additionally, lyrics can convey a theological message.

I love the terra-cotta nativity scene on our mantle, but it is a bit unusual. My wife Becky is a wonderful manager of our home, in part because she is frugal. Years ago, she found our beautiful creche at a post-season sale of Christmas decorations and snapped it up. The following year when we unwrapped the pieces, we found out why the creche was such a deal: there was no Joseph. Consequently, we have been forced to use one of the Wise Men as a stand-in for Joseph.

Was Joseph’s absence an error or a theological statement? I suspect the former because scripture it’s not designed to analyze genetics, but demonstrates that Joseph was every bit Jesus’ earthly father.

I was sorry to see our creche go back into the box and closet on January 6th, but perhaps this is a metaphor for my feelings at the moment. I am saddened because of the tragic events of January 6th and because I now realize there are few wise men left in government. Actually, I believe there are wise men among the 74 million legal supporters of President Trump. We saw a quarter million or more gather in Washington and march to the Capitol on January 6th. Unfortunately, as Alexander Hamilton often lamented, there are also knaves and fools, and a tiny fraction of the crowd crossed the line and illegally entered the Capitol.

So, what happened at the end of 2020 and on this Epiphany? As an internist, I often know what happened to a patient. I frequently understand how something happened. But the real question is why a disease occurred, why a situation developed, or why a country was lost.

As a student of history, I’ve studied the Peloponnesian War and the fall of Athens. I’ve read the Biblical accounts of the Kingdom of Israel’s apostasy and destruction. I’ve studied Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.” Our founders read and studied history to avoid the mistakes of past empires and used the lessons of history “to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”

Apparently, we are embarked on a path to abrogate all those lofty ideals noted in the Constitution’s preamble. How we got to this place is complex, but I see a pattern in history now being played out in America. Athens entered into a preemptive and disastrous foreign war. The Kingdoms of Israel became secular, forgetting about God. Rome became morally decadent and renounced its Republican responsibilities in government. Caesar promised the Romans “bread and circus.” Our government promises us food stamps and the internet. And like the Romans, the price is enslavement.

I’m not smart enough to figure it all out, but I believe historians will someday mark that our precipitous fall began when China opened Pandora’s Box, allowing their Wuhan virus to escape and sweep the world. The pandemic death and chaos produced such fear that the government shutdown our society and caused the destruction of our economy and culture. The same fear produced a pathway for election fraud which was used to sweep away Trump and Americanism, threats to the ruling class.

If you believe the election results, We the People voted against tax and regulation cuts, a pre-Covid record economy, rebuilding the military in a hostile world, border control and the wall, Veteran Administration reforms and accountability, pro-life advocacy and President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed success of therapies and vaccines against the virus.

Without firing a shot, China defeated “the last best hope of earth” (Abraham Lincoln), aided and abetted by a perverse media, deep state masters and the Democrats. Perhaps Ole Joe is right, and America has entered its “darkest days.”

God help us, and that’s the answer to why we are in this mess. We have become a secular nation like Europe and no longer even admit there is an absolute standard of virtue or right. The ancients believed a civilization could be constructed on the cardinal virtues of courage, commonsense, justice and moderation. Theologians would later speak of a higher order of functioning known as the theological virtues of faith, hope and love. We have renounced all the virtues.

I no longer believe we have wise men as leaders. An example is the “woke” congressman who recently deemed “amen” sexist and added “awomen” in closing his Congressional prayer. Apparently, this former Methodist minister and others are not very wise. Amen derives from Hebrew and means “may it be so.”

I make no excuses for the several hundred who stormed the Capitol, nor do I make allowances for the violence of antifa and BLM.

But what would you expect when people renounce God or, in an epiphanal moment, realize their “unalienable rights derived from God” are denied by their government?

 

 

 

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