I grew up in a gentler time where the elements had more force but less surprise. Although the setting was Illinois, it wasn't much different than Mississippi in terms of summer heat and humidity, and our version of Boo Radley was an old guy named "Frank" who had a sledding hill in place of a cool tree.
We could go on all day about our respective characters and their motivations, but I have to admit, even having moved north, one of the most disconcerting works of nature, one that is so seemingly harmless, is the very same as that which I watched as a child, certain I would be sick in any moment.
We used to sit at our big living-room window and watch what Mom called "heat -lightening" shuttering in the sky across the river and beyond. Even miles and miles away, it lit up the shapes in the clouds and highlighted the barn over the river yonder, with its silver roof and weathered gray boards holding it up. I can still hear the haunting screams of the tanker trucks rumbling along the highway that ran by the barn, echoing over the stillness of the river to yawn in our still and silent back yard, embracing us with both comfort and warning.
Mom tried to decrease my fear of the storm by showing me her enjoyment of the far-away lightning, a freak of nature and science, natures fireworks appearing without thunder, without rain, without wind. She described it as the sparks we saw when pulling fresh laundry out of the dryer; lightning produced by heat and friction, God having a good time with static electricity.
I think at one point she described it as Angels doing laundry.
Her timing was bad, though; my brother had taken it upon himself to ensure that any static electricity whatsoever made its way to me at his hands, whether through a snap of a hot towel or feet rubbed on the carpet. As such, for me, such "lightning" was never harmless, but another set of creative torture devised to terrify me anew.
Perhaps my childhood instincts were correct.
In our culture, we have been lulled into the non-scientific belief that "heat lightning" is harmless. Those faint flashes from far away do seem to be nothing, but sometimes they get a bit close, don't they?
The fact is this: there's no such thing as lightning without a storm. Where we see the flashes of light, someone is suffering the onslaught of thunder, rain, maybe hail and wind. We may not be the ones touched by that particular storm, but we cannot sit back and pollyanna happily about its harmlessness. Not while people are being swept away a county or so away from us.
In recent years, the flashes of lightening have become more and more brilliant, nearly blinding us, and we seem to have turned down the volume to the thunder that accompanies it. That's not to say it isn't there, but rather, that we have chosen to be dulled to the sound, that we have given into happy childhood myths designed to comfort fearful children...not rational adults.
There are many myths floating around our world today most directly with regard to people of Faith: some say that Religion is meant to be seen on one's own time but not heard otherwise. Others say that any revelation of belief in God is merely a revelation of weakness in an individual who refuses to use his or her intellect. Yet the most common bit of cultural heat lightning is this: that we as Christians have no right to "impose" our beliefs upon someone else or society at whole.
Raise your hand if you've heard this modern adage. Raise your OTHER hand if you've stated YOURSELF the following: "I believe X, but even though I am Catholic I have no right to impose my beliefs about X upon others."
Keep 'em up were we can see 'em!. You're busted and about to be convicted of being both illogical and anti-Christian, no matter what you profess to be. Way to be a sellout!
What is so sociologically and culturally fascinating, and horrific, in our society is this: that the majority (Christians) refuses to carry this out. We have the right and OBLIGATION according to our own fundamental beliefs to impose what we know to be True upon the society in which we live, in order to influence it for the better and more importantly, to save souls.
Yet, the mantra of our age is to stand cowed to the moral minority repeating roboticly, "I really believe in marriage between one man and one woman, and I am personally opposed to abortion, and I know we should keep Sundays holy and not use it for profane things like shopping and unnecessary labor...but I can't impose my beliefs upon others...."
To this I answer:
Why the hell NOT? As long as we refuse to impose the Truth upon our society, we become the whipped dogs of the minority imposing THEIR beliefs upon US...and we don't even have the gumption to bare our teeth!
The fact is this: the stuff we thought was harmless "heat lightning" and lulled us into complacency has become an imminent EF-5, destroying the moral culture of our country with the same efficiency as the real one that laid waste to Joplin, MO only a month ago.
My friends, it is our moral OBLIGATION to impose our beliefs and values upon our culture, politically, personally, through policy, through law, through debate, through education, through any moral means.
Ironically, although we made the promise we will do this at our very Baptism, and sealed to do so at our Confirmation, do you know the ONLY group that refuses to "impose" in our modern world is also the ONLY group losing numbers to religious oblivion is....Christians.
No wonder "gay marriage" (what a misnomer) is on the plate before us; if we had imposed our beliefs with the same conviction the homosexual activists had imposed their beliefs upon us, we wouldn't be in this mess.
Food for thought...
Oh, and by the way...stop chewing your cud and start IMPOSING before it gets any worse!
It's not just heat lightning, folks. Just because it's not striking YOU doesn't mean thousands haven't already been lost to the whims of static electricity from the sky and all the destruction that accompanies it.