By James Hogan
-Gains & Gleanings-
In the Bible, the people of Israel cry out to God for a human king. God tells them no, that they already have a king in Him, and they don’t need a human king.
The people, looking at the nations surrounding them, continue to ask for a human king. God warns them they won’t like the results, but grants their request, naming a great warrior, Saul, to be their king.
Predictably, it doesn’t work out well for the people. King Saul, a fine military leader, is mercurial and sometimes despotic as king, suffering fits of murderous paranoia, disobeying God’s directives and using his throne to lord over the people.
What the Israelites were doing, of course, was praying to God for something they wanted, but which God knew to be terrible for them. Like any parent sometimes does, God relented so His people could learn the error of their thinking and so they might learn to better trust God.
I’ve heard folks complain my whole life about America, and the good Lord knows I’ve done my share of assessing and griping about how things are here.
I’ve questioned social systems and trends, I’ve railed against how our state funds schools, and when and why our country sends young folks off to die in wars.
I’ve wished for a multi-party election system instead of our existing two-party structure, and I’ve been perturbed at the predictable failings of many seemingly well-intentioned “safety net” programs over the years and their crippling results.
I, however, haven’t wished for America and the American idea to be tossed on the trash heap of history.
Ironically, my friend Phil does ministry in Seattle. He has wished and prayed for exactly that for years. Phil believes that our system sustains too many injustices and enables too much morally repugnant decline to spiral out of control while thinking that a new system might either correct these things or cause the masses to suffer their consequences to the point that they clamor to see them made right.
He belongs to a group of active ministers which includes some folks who’ve become good friends for him in Oregon, particularly around Salem and Portland.
We spoke last week, and I anticipated him being thrilled because in Seattle, Portland, and, at a smaller level, Salem, Phil is seeing his prayer answered. The American ideal is being challenged and torn asunder. The mayors of Seattle and Portland have sided against the federal government’s attempts to restore order where folks have been murdered and injured and property destroyed by vandalism, looting and fire by folks repeatedly said to be “peacefully protesting.”
Phil, however, doesn’t sound pleased.
“These folks want the police disbanded,” he said on the phone. “It would be mob rule if they had their way. Hell, it was mob rule in several blocks of Seattle for weeks.”
He doesn’t like that the protestors are enchanted by Marxist ideology and believe it would be better than capitalism.
“Don’t they know Marxism resulted in 100 million deaths last century? What are our schools teaching these kids?” Phil asked.
I have some of the same concerns, but I was wondering mostly what God was teaching Phil about his hope and prayers for a collapse.
Like the Israelites of old, I think my friend is finding out that one should be careful what they’re asking for.
Rev. James Hogan is a native of Stowe Township and serves as pastor of Faithbridge Community Church in McKees Rocks.