What I Believe In…
There was a book on the shelves at Grandma and Grandpa’s farm that held a fascination for me. It sounded rather biblical—East of Eden. I soon learned that it was not a book to be read by a fourteen year old. Grandma was horrified to find me reading it and promptly placed it back in its appropriate space on the shelf. Over the years I wondered about that book, but there were so many more books to read that I didn’t pursue it until recently.
Finally having read the book, I can truly say that it is one of the best novels I have ever read (second only to Ayn Rynd’s Atlas Shrugged)—so good that my copy is now filled with highlighted thought-provoking paragraphs to re-read and ponder. However, I must point out that Grandma was probably right. I giggled to myself when I remembered reading Camille during my Alexandre Dumas period and reading Camille was a concubine—looking up that word only lead to other inquiries: prostitute, whore, and something about sex. I was totally confused, but thought it must be very romantic but sad to be a concubine. So I would have found myself just as ignorant had I read the forbidden book from the bookshelf back then. I suppose that many of you are shaking your heads in amazement that a fourteen year old was so lacking in sex education, but those were the good old days when children were allowed to be children.
John Steinbeck wrote East of Eden in 1952. The story “follows the intertwined destinies of two families—the Trasks, and the Hamilton’s—whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel.” It was biblical after all!
Chapter 13 begins, “Sometimes a kind of Glory lights up the mind of a man.” To Steinbeck “Glory is the mother of creativeness, and it sets each man separate from all other men.” In the second paragraph, he writes that the danger of mass production is bound to get into our thinking and eliminate all other thinking. “Our species is the only creative species, and it has only one creative instrument, the individual mind and spirit of a man. Nothing was ever created by two men. There are no good collaborations, whether in music, in art, in poetry, in mathematics, in philosophy. Once the miracle of creation has taken place, the group can build and extend it, but the group never invents anything. The preciousness lies in the lonely mind of a man… In our time mass or collective production has entered our economics, our politics and even our religion, so that some nations have substituted the idea COLLECTIVE for the idea GOD. This in my time is the danger. There is great tension in the world, tension toward a breaking point, and men are unhappy and confused.”
Steinbeck challenged himself, “At the time it seems natural and good to me to ask myself these Questions:
What Do I Believe In?
What Must I Fight For?
And What Must I Fight Against?”
He believes the “free exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world,”…. and he will fight for that freedom and against any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. Click here to read full text of Chapter 13 beginning
NOW I CHALLENGE MYSELF WITH THE SAME QUESTIONS!
I DARE YOU, THE READER, TO DO THE SAME—IT’S HARDER THAN YOU MIGHT THINK. I’VE BEEN GRAPPLING WITH THE QUESTIONS FOR QUITE AWHILE.
WHAT DO I BELIEVE IN?
FREEDOM! A GOD GIVEN FREEDOM! I believe that I was created in the image (the soul) of God. He gave me freedom (free will) rooted in reason, to act deliberately and responsibly, and a moral conscience present in my heart (or if you will—that little angel sitting on my shoulder reminding me with a few tsk, tsks) that leads me to moral discernments in everything I think and do. To this end God has given me guidelines: The 10 Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and “Love your neighbour as yourself” [Luke 10:27], etc.
This kind of freedom is a FREEDOM FOR not a FREEDOM FROM. I have the freedom to seriously seek what is right and good (the will of God and not my own will) or I can choose to ignore all the guidelines. It is up to me!
AMERICAN FREEDOM! The basic freedoms of American citizens’ are spelled out clearly in our Constitution’s first Ten Amendments (The Bill of Rights). These freedoms do not mean the absence of authority or the right to do whatever one pleases—far from it! We need laws in a civilized society, BUT I reject our narcissistic government’s interference in my daily and rather innocuous life.
- Can I buy a car without government imposed mandates?
- Can I buy a medical insurance policy without a power grab by the federal government to control my health-care choices? (Am already finding it impossible to see my doctor of 30 years in less than six weeks.)
- Can I start a new business without being strangled by hordes of regulations or mandates?
- Can my grandchildren say a prayer in school or recite the pledge of allegiance without offending someone by the use of the GOD word?
- Can I display The Ten Commandments or a Christmas Crèche in a public space?
- Can I speak or write without fear of being accused of microaggressions that offend the Little Cup Cakes on campuses?
- Can I set out my trash without fearing a fine for not recycling properly?
- Can I buy a light bulb that provides enough illumination for any simple household task?
- Can I take a shower without a restricted water flow?
- Can I grieve any horrid, injurious attack without an immediate cry to enact wide sweeping gun bans and regulations?
- Can I live and speak in accordance with my religious tenets considering the rising disregard for religious liberty?
- And the list goes on and on!!!
These may be small potatoes to liberals, but conservatives fear these regulations and mandates as that proverbial slippery slope toward less AMERICAN FREEDOM. Count me among the latter!
WHAT MUST I FIGHT AGAINST?
AMERICAN APATHY! This means one thing: I am called and implored, to get uncomfortable every day in the preservation of our freedom. It must be fought for if I have any hope that freedom will remain for future generations. I must fight against anyone or any group that infringes on my freedom to my religious beliefs and moral convictions. I don’t ask activist groups to believe as I do, but my freedom should not be denied when it is inconvenient to their agenda.
- The owners of a mom and pop bakery in Oregon learned there is a significant price to pay for following their religious beliefs. Aaron and Melissa Klein, the owners of Sweet Cakes By Melissa, were ordered to pay $135,000 in damages to a lesbian couple after they refused to bake them a wedding cake in 2013. Subsequently they have gone out of business. Remember too, the New Mexico photographer who got sued after declining to photograph a lesbian couple’s wedding, citing religious objections to same-sex marriage because she regards marriage as a religious sacrament. We all should have the freedom to live life in accordance with our beliefs. LGBTs should be free to live as they choose, but I should have the same right!
- New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently banned all non-essential state travel to Mississippi, in response to the Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signing a law to protect sincerely held religious beliefs and moral convictions of individuals, organizations and private associations from discriminatory action by state. The stated intention of the law is to protect those who believe that marriage should be between one man and one woman, and that male and female genders are unchangeable. Activist groups (Lamdda Legal Defense Fund, the ACLU of North Carolina, and other LGBT advocates) filed a lawsuit against the North Carolina Governor and other state officials after they passed the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act limiting public bathroom access to a person’s natural gender rather than their perceived “gender identity.” Subsequently PayPal says they’re boycotting doing business in North Carolina even though the company does business in 25 countries where homosexual behavior is illegal, including 5 countries where the penalty is death. This is a vitally important issue confronting Americans today, launched by small and aggressive groups of activists. Privacy and safety concerns are being trampled in order to give a very small minority with very loud voices unreasonable and unearned accommodation.
- No court has ever ruled that the Constitution demands school officials to censor Christmas carols, eliminate all references to Christmas, or silence those who celebrate Christmas. Yet Every Christmas liberal activists and ACLU fanatics wage the “war on Christmas.” Certain activists would have us saying Happy Holiday to each other while we open presents under our Holiday Tree. When my town or yours try to ban Christmas displays, it can be treated as a legal matter and probably won in court, but as long as I allow myself to be conned into believing that God’s Word does not apply to public life — that it’s something I must leave behind in my home and in my church—I will have shirked my duty and won nothing, but allowed freedom to be unjustly taken away.
There are so many events in every life—every day—that shape our beliefs, but seldom do we sit down to reflect upon those beliefs.
We all believe in America and apple pie, but what is so important that we are compelled to fight for and fight against?