Sunday, May 25, 2014

Alfred’s Memorial Day

            The air in Alfred’s study was blue with the fragrant smoke of Captain Black from his English Estate Ashton Old Church Bent Billiard. Mother came in fanning the air with her copy of Southern Living magazine.

            “What is going on, Alfred,” said Mother? “I thought you had given up smoking for Lent.”

            “You are right, Mother. I did,” growled Alfred, “but Lent is over.”

            “Surely that’s not all,” said Mother. “What else is going on?”

            “Well Mother,” said Alfred, “Memorial Day is this Monday, and I was thinking of my uncle Ainsley Montrose. You never knew him, and I barely did. It was late in 1941 and the newly constructed Rainbow Bridge at Niagara Falls had just been completed. Uncle Ainsley flew his Mustang fighter plane under the Rainbow Bridge and a family legend was born. Unfortunately Ainsley didn’t make it through the war and he was lost somewhere over Germany. A lot of good men have died defending our country.”

            “Has there ever been a time when there wasn’t a war going on somewhere,” asked Mother?

            “Not really,” answered Alfred, “and most of the time in the last few centuries it seems like we have been involved in whatever scrap is going on anywhere in the world. That’s really nothing new. Jesus said, ‘You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet’ [Matthew 24:6]. There is such a thing as right and wrong. The trick is, not to be on the side of what is evil in the world. It’s not as simple as just defending one’s country; it’s more complicated. What we need to defend is the cause of truth and justice. It’s not just who oppresses us, but who oppresses our neighbor; especially when he can’t defend himself.”

            “A lot of people really don’t think that Christians should be involved in conflict in other parts of the world,” said Mother, “but it seems to me that if we don’t fight terrorists overseas we will end up fighting them here anyway.”

            “You are quite correct Mother,” said Alfred. “The poet John Donne said,

No man is an island, Entire of itself, Every man is a piece of the continent, A part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less. As well as if a promontory were. As well as if a manor of thy friend's Or of thine own were: Any man's death diminishes me, Because I am involved in mankind, And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.

“For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer” [Romans 13:3-4].  

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