Uncle Sam and The Pretender

I wanted to write a light-hearted post about what Uncle Sam would be like if he were a Christian; kind of a fun look at what the mythological phrase, “Christian Nation” would really look at, but it broke my heart and my time budget. It can’t be done in a blog and so, there’s another book idea that I probably won’t follow-up on, or a long-term topic for another year.  My friend Bill Lancaster, got me to thinking about revival in his comment to my last post and it’s been on my mind ever since. I was thinking about America and the whole Christian Nation thing, I had just read my friends comment and I was listening to music setting up for a 4th of July party at my house-cleaning the grill etc.

I was just thinking about the need for a third Great Awakening, a massive nationwide revival and how much work the church had to do within itself to prepare for such a revival when Jackson Browne started singing in my ear, “The Pretender.”

I’m going to rent myself a house
In the shade of the freeway
I’m going to pack my lunch in the morning
And go to work each day
And when the evening rolls around
I’ll go on home and lay my body down
And when the morning light comes streaming in
I’ll get up and do it again
Amen
Say it again
Amen

I want to know what became of the changes
We waited for love to bring
Were they only the fitful dreams
Of some greater awakening
I’ve been aware of the time going by
They say in the end it’s the wink of an eye
And when the morning light comes streaming in
You’ll get up and do it again
Amen

Caught between the longing for love
And the struggle for the legal tender
Where the sirens sing and the church bells ring
And the junk man pounds his fender
Where the veterans dream of the fight
Fast asleep at the traffic light
And the children solemnly wait
For the ice cream vendor
Out into the cool of the evening
Strolls the pretender
He knows that all his hopes and dreams
Begin and end there

Ah the laughter of the lovers
As they run through the night
Leaving nothing for the others
But to choose off and fight
And tear at the world with all their might
While the ships bearing their dreams
Sail out of sight

I’m going to find myself a girl
Who can show me what laughter means
And we’ll fill in the missing colors
In each other’s paint-by-number dreams
And then we’ll put out dark glasses on
And we’ll make love until our strength is gone
And when the morning light comes streaming in
We’ll get up and do it again
Get it up again

I’m going to be a happy idiot
And struggle for the legal tender
Where the ads take aim and lay their claim
To the heart and the soul of the spender
And believe in whatever may lie
In those things that money can buy
Thought true love could have been a contender
Are you there?
Say a prayer for the pretender
Who started out so young and strong
Only to surrender

And here, said the Spirit in my head, here is the church that is supposed to bring revival to this nation. ” I want to know what became of the changes we waited for love to bring.” The Bride of Christ has become The Pretender. Cry for her my brothers and sisters as she lies there entangled with todays newest lover. She has lost her way.

She was supposed to be the hope of the world, young and strong. She was supposed to be the academy of love where her children would light the way to a better way of life, a gospel way of life, but she’s caught now, between the longing for the love she is supposed to incarnate and the quest for the legal tender.  She cannot say to America, “Here is Love!” because she has surrendered her love for cheap security and the American dream as opposed to the Dreams of God. She cannot call America back from idolatry because she has bought in to that idolatry.

“Here are your Gods, who have brought you out of bondage!”

Here are your gods!

There will be no revival. There will be no fresh start for we are The Pretender, not The Bride. We are lost in the endless cycle of American survival. We have traded the Joy of salvation for the yoke of slavery and the glorious gospel for the legal code.

Break your bonds, people of God. Return to your churches and light the fires of love. Bring your peacemaking war against the sleepy darkness of Sundays forgotten celebration. And pray, pray, pray that we can be, again, the people we are called to be; no more theological excuses to let us off the hook; no more putting up with the ridiculous antics of the Christians who bring down the cause of Christ; no more replacement of our true calling with political mewling and whining; no more compromise with our own sins; no more judgment for the sins of others. Break your bonds and light up the sky.  Uncle Sam is waiting. No more pretenders.

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2 thoughts on “Uncle Sam and The Pretender

  1. It has come up in conversation that the Christians overseas pray for those of us in the U.S. because we don’t really know daily hardships to the degree that others abroad do. But, scrambling for stuff pervades our daily lives and stunts our growth as a society. This is our mindset! It is little wonder that it runs through the church! I believe breaking this requires a lot of prayer and the deprogramming of our kids and ourselves. Very hard work and counterculture!

  2. Okay. So I’ve been thinking about this one for awhile. You know that I have always struggled with trying to learn to respect/see the need for/not want to hate the traditional church. I have deep, abiding issues with the church culture, church language, church politics and the way the traditional church seems to teach their membership to walk around with the intent to hurt, scar and chase away anyone who won’t be assimilated.

    I don’t think the current incarnation of the church, because of its culture, is capable of that kind of revival or great awakening.

    Not until they get over the idea that what you wear, what you look like or how you talk matters. And those are all just symptoms of greater cultural ills.

    Fashion is now one of the most powerful and influential industries on the planet – they decide how people should look, what they should wear, when they should wear it and why. And may all the power in the ‘verse help you if you’re not able to be fashionable! Then you’re a lesser person – a second-class citizen in a society of people who are defined by their ability to follow and conform to the trend.

    The traditional church (and if I piss off any of your traditional church friends – then I challenge them to prove me wrong) is exactly the same – only worse, because unlike the cancerous social tumor that is fashion, the social leprosy of the traditional church wants to make people into carbon copies of their perfect ideal.

    Sorta like the Borg or any other kind of zombie.

    If the church taught us to take pride in who we are – who God made us and allowed us to be – and showed us what we can become through Christ as opposed to without Him, I think more people would want to listen and be part of that revival.

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