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Friday, June 17, 2011

Heat Lightning

I didn't grow up with luxuries like air conditioning, and certainly not anything like central air. Summers for us were hot, humid and still, and when the wind blew, like the old adage didn't blow anyone any good. A rising wind in summer was just training for storms, and the heavy pit in my stomach always grew heavier when darkness fell and with it, the wind, for I knew what was coming.

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.

No Such Thing as Harmless Lightning

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!

Our OBLIGATION as Christians by our Baptism and the promises that accompany it is that we WILL "impose" our beliefs and values upon the society in which we live. This is a matter of fairness and objectivity, for each and every religion and group does the same. 

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.


Unknown said...

Did not know that. Always can teach an old dog new tricks, & trivia, I guess.

Very well written, as usual, Adoro.

3puddytats said...

Well written.... a US government contractor/worker I must be very careful about bringing religion in the workplace. It is an EEO environment. Those of us in various faiths and personal convictions and of no faith must work together in harmony to accomplish our work goals. In addition living in Utah presents its own challenges with Catholic being at most 6-8 percent of the population, and the predominant religion being LDS (Mormon). They are just as firm in their convictions as us Catholics are in ours, so much os that the State Legislature there is very little "separation of church (LDS) and State." Case in point are liquor laws, although recently they are relaxing a bit. Liquor is ok for Catholics, but against LDS beliefs. And many state and local laws reflect that. Children can be released from public and charter school class to attend LDS religious classes but it is almost impossible for children of other faiths to be released for similiar religious classes. And it goes on.

For me the best I can do is to actively live my faith as a good example to others. Keep it majorly toned down at work, but have my faith reflect my job performance and work ethic. Cannot have my cubicle look like a Marian shrine :) Have a fish sticker on my car. And in Utah expect to be persecuted for it.


Adoro said...

3puddytats ~ Actually it's a badly written post but I'm leaving it up anyway.

I'm not talking about religion. I'm talking about the beliefs and values of the Christian religions being marginalized under the guise of "I can't impose".

As far as LDS goes...we have some things in common: such as our belief of life as Sacred, and we have that in common with Islam as well.

The religions in this country, as a foundational belief, understand that life is from God...yet we are so secularized that we've allowed abortion to be legalized because we "can't impose our values".

The same thing is now happening with "gay marriage". And other things.

Now...why keep your religious beliefs hidden? When I was in the secular world, I certainly didn't. I REFUSED to, because the secular sphere has no right to infringe upon my beliefs. And it wasn't a problem.

It is a MYTH that we can't make our beliefs known. And so many have been bullied into believing that it MUST be this way.

That's BS.

We have a right to our beliefs, and we have a right to wear them on our sleeves and proclaim them where it's necessary to speak of our values and morality.

And you know what? Not a single one of my customers in the secular sphere was "offended" by my crucifix, rosary ring, etc.

I'm not talking about setting out to be Jesus freaks, but rather, just proclaiming our values from our Christian beliefs and refusing to be cowed by the mediocrity and "lay-lowness" by our very misguided and failing culture.

Adoro said...

OH and don't have to proclaim your values by preceeding it with "I'm Catholic" or "I'm LDS" or "I'm Baptist". Simply PROCLAIM your values and refuse to stand down when someone accuses you of being Christian!

Hell..the atheists and exo-religionists don't trump Life and don't get to have the last word. They made up their own values on a sliding scale that they change according to the winds.

Christians..we don't. We just have to be willing to speak up and that alone will change the world.