No joy in Mudville, eh?
We've just been told that we're not going to be forced to buy something that we don't want, but we will be taxed for not buying it; that our President is, however, not raising taxes because he wouldn't do us that way; that everything is now free; and that the clothespins we wore on our noses while voting for the last several republican presidents so that they would appoint judges who wouldn't stab us in the back . . . well, they worked a little too well. And now everything just stinks.
I will admit it, it was hard saying the Litany for Liberty today. Before the Supreme Court ruling came out, it was a really stirring prayer, very sort of spiritually muscular. But tonight, after we heard the Supreme Court's ruling, some of the oomph had gone out of those words.
Of course we still have plenty to pray for, even though the healthcare bill has passed. The lawsuits against the contraception mandate continue apace.
And it's not as if I thought that the bill would automatically get shot down just because lots of people were praying for it to get shot down. God could have caused the Potomac to rise up out of its banks and wash the whole damn city out to sea before the bill was ruled constitutional But He probably wouldn't. I know that God hears us, but I know that we can't push him around.
And yes, I understand that as soon as Obama is gone (assuming he doesn't name himself Perpetual Emperor of America before November), the law can be changed or repealed. And yes, I understand that apparently Justice Roberts was actually very craftily doing this all on purpose because apparently if he squeezes really hard on one end of the Bill of Rights, the Commerce Clause will pop out the other end, all shiny and new again.
But NONE OF THIS MAKES ME FEEL BETTER. I don't think Independence Day is going to be any fun at all this year. Criminey, can't we just win one for a change?
Fine. I suppose it's a good reminder that even if everything the founding fathers envisioned were followed through to the last tiny little detail, we still wouldn't be happy -- we wouldn't all be noble -- we wouldn't all be free. Because even a shining city on a hill is just a city, and no paradise. Not yet.
Even if the bill were shot down, if Obama withdrew his contraception mandate with grovelling apologies, and Kathleen Sebelius took up the habit of calling Archbishop Dolan every night, just to make sure everything was okay . . . we still wouldn't be free.
The Litany for Liberty starts out,
Christ the Lord has called us out of darkness into His wonderful light.
Let us turn to Him in humble but fervent petition,
seeking the grace to root out from our hearts all trace of darkness,
all that holds us back from walking in the full freedom of the children of God.
This is not a prayer asking God to smite the people who want to oppress us. It's not even a prayer asking for the strength so that we can smite the people who oppress us. It asks for strength . . . to look into our own hearts first. Why does that require strength? If you're asking that question, then you haven't tried it lately.
We'll keep saying this prayer until Independence Day. And we'll remind ourselves that when the first rebellious colonists decided to shake off the fetters of British rule, they realized pretty quickly that it wasn't just a matter of getting loose: they knew they'd have to replace British rule with something else, something better. It's not enough to say no to the darkness -- you have to actively look for a source of light.
The same is true when we beg God, over and over, to "free our hearts." It's freedom from, but also freedom to. The first set of petitions begs God to free our hearts, and the second set asks for His grace as it lays out what we hope to do with that freedom.
This is our personal mandate no matter what news comes down from Washington. Americans are no different from anyone else before God: we all have darkness in our hearts, we all have bound ourselves up with chains. What kind of freedom do you most need right now? It doesn't have to be something big. Maybe the freedom from gluttony, and the grace to turn down a second helping of cheesecake? Or freedom from lust, and the grace to click away from that website right away, when you realize you shouldn't be seeing what you're seeing. Or the freedom from anger, and the grace to pass something that upsets you over to Christ, and let Him deal with it. Or so on.
Yeah, maybe I can get into Independence Day this year after all. As long as I remember that it's always personal, it's always about the heart. And that it's independence to, not just independence from.