About eighteen years ago at the winter Olympics, the entire country awakened to patriotism with the glorious victory of the amateur American hockey team over the professional Russian team. The entire nation cheered while the captain of the team wrapped himself in the American flag and skated around the rink in a victory lap, heralding America's restoration.
The Patriotism of Flag-Flying
Some of our readers are too young to remember the days of my youth. During World War II, almost everyone flew a flag on his front porch. Some families displayed gold stars for the sons given freely in death to protect our country.
After World War II, while I was attending the University of Pittsburgh, liberals openly mocked the flag and Christianity. For example, my history professor at Pitt boasted that he had fought on the side of the Communists in the Spanish Civil War. He was the first professor I ever knew who gave every student an "A" or a "B," but no grades lower. He opposed all standards. Other professors advocated free love, promoted evolution, and taught Marxist economics and class warfare.
Flying the flag became less and less common until the John Birch Society began to stimulate opposition to Marxism. One of their publications, None Dare Call It Treason, inspired my mother to erect a 25 foot flagpole on the front lawn of her rural home and fly the American flag. Smiling, I remarked that if she did so, people would think her home a post office. To her amazement, the flag was not flying longer than a few hours before we heard a knock at the door, and a fellow asked to buy some stamps. He looked at her like she was a little batty when she said she was flying the flag just because she loved her country. He crawled back into his pickup truck, shaking his head, and drove off.
Those who have eyes that see and ears that hear (Mt. 13:16) can sense the movement of the Holy Ghost. In the winter Olympics of February, 1980 our nation gave new birth to patriotism, shouting "USA, USA" with the same enthusiasm as a woman is told to "push, push" to bring a new baby into the world. The liberal intellectuals paid no particular attention, but the common folk who react to the signals such as the winter Olympics voted Ronald Reagan into the White House the following November. These voters followed a tide of passion that was not guided by intellectuals. Intellectuals, I suspect, are like the rooster perched on top of the dungpile taking credit for the sunrise. I heard a campaign advisor once in a burst of modesty say, "Campaign advisers are like fleas riding a saw log downstream taking credit for every bend in the river."
People First Have a Vision
The Lord moves his people first, I believe, by supernatural means, and not by the media or intellectuals. For example, it is very common for the most sensitive among us to have born-again experiences or supernatural communication with God. We often ponder these in our heart as did the Virgin Mary (Lk. 2:19), but these visions affect us more than we can know. Later, we say to ourselves or to others as did Mary, "Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it" (Jn. 2:5). A vision from God leads the believer to see and know the will of God, provided the experience leads the Christian to obey the Scripture. Such vision is often denied to the intellectual but freely given to the poor who are "rich in faith" (Jas. 2:5). Father Andrew Greeley, a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Chicago, in his autobiography, Confessions of a Parish Priest, cites some research done under strict scientific methods. He discovers "[t]he highest correlation ever recorded with that scale [a mental health test for sanity]" (359). Who were these mental health giants? People who experience religious ecstasy experiences, ESP and clairvoyant-type experiences scored nine times more sane than those with no visions. I roared out loud with laughter when I read this, because it is common even in the church to regard those who claim religious experience as "kooks" or worse. It seems the very opposite is the case.
Not Only Saner, But Happier as Well
Dr. Greeley also observed the following, "We were told to distinguish between several different religious styles — optimism, pessimism, resignation, and hope. Those who were committed to the last worldview—those who saw both good and evil in the world and good marginally stronger than evil — were the most likely to be politically and socially enlightened and to have the happiest family relationships. Moreover, the roots of their hope could be found in patterns of early family relationships when they were children" (357). This research should give hope to all parents and teachers that faith taught to the very young is not in vain. The Lord's word does not return void, but accomplishes all that he wishes (Is. 55:11).
A Hint of the Spirit's Movement
Such visions precede events such as the Olympics and America's patriotic rebirth. In the years after the Olympics, every Christian school that I administered held a patriotic program that was really a rally. We had the children sing patriotic songs; and at the grand finale, all the children would take from behind their backs a little flag and wave it to the tear-stained delight of the parents. We learned as Christian school proprietors that our parents had no common Christian heritage; therefore, they had a stronger commitment to patriotism than to religion. This unity of patriotism has ended, however, with the collapse of communism and the rise of the morally corrupt Clinton administration. Patriotic rallies now do not move parents to tears. They just stare quietly . . . the spirit is gone.
I have noticed something new, however, rising in its place. I witnessed it at a recent Christmas program. In the weeks of practice before the Christmas program, many of the parents would show up at our office asking for the lyrics to the Christmas carols. We have learned to print up extra copies of the lyrics for this reason. When we pass them on to the parents, they clutch the lyric sheets to their breasts and self-consciously say, "We were not allowed to sing Christmas songs at our school. This is the first time that I can learn the words. I like to sing them with my children." This is a new phenomenon and a hint of where the Holy Spirit may be leading our nation. I suspect that after the nation is thoroughly disgusted with the moral filth of the White House, a spark such as the winter Olympics of 1980 will unite the country around its Christian heritage.
Graham's Day Is Past
Dr. Billy Graham, with a doting old man's laugh, gave the President dispensation with these words: "Ha, ha, the President is such a young, vigorous, strong, attractive man. The ladies sort of go crazy over him. I forgive him." Billy is the high priest of easy-believism and lawless fundamentalism. His day is past and a new day will arise soon.
How will the Holy Spirit ignite the bonfire of Christianity in the bosom of our nation? I don't know, but I can guess that it will be as unexpected as a group of amateurs defeating the world's strongest professional hockey team. The triumph of spirit over impossible odd s— the battle is not to the swift or the strong, at least not always. The Lord leads by means difficult for humanists to accept. When it happens, historians will cite the O. J. Simpson trial, the riots in Los Angeles over the Rodney King affair, and the adulteries of the President of the United States as key events that distressed the great Christian population and caused the backlash. It will seem inevitable and predictable as these humanist historians look back, but to those Christians within the reconstructionist camp, there is nothing mechanical or inevitable about such things. They are personal. They are the handiwork of a personal God — our God, the God of new beginnings, the Lord Jesus Christ. At Grace Community Schools, we are praying that America will return to its glorious Christian heritage. We are doing more than prayer. We are converting one little child after another. He who has nothing left to learn watches the sparrow, and he watches over our work. Every parent and teacher should patiently work and pray that we will not be discouraged by the foul spirit of our times. Better days are coming!
- Ellsworth McIntyre