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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

America's Petard

The expression, "hoist with his own petard," refers to someone undone by an engine of his own making. Shakespeare was the first to use the phrase; today it has become fairly common. A petard was a kind of lance or ram, often with explosives on the end, meant to blow a hole in a wall so that attackers could get through to their objective. To be hoist with one's own petard is, we may imagine, not quite what the devisers had in mind.

America appears to be hoisting herself on her own petard these days. Having, by a gradual process, forsaken duty to God and commitment to virtue, America, sometime during the last century, made the pursuit of wealth her means of breaking through to the good life. The goal of life became economic opportunity unto the maximum enjoyment of wealth and things. The schools were bent to this end. Easy credit greased the skids for many to a personalized version of the good life. Questionable practices in the banking and finance industries made more wealth available to the few, at the same time offering the promises of more of the good life to the many. Politicians made "the economy, stupid" the deciding factor in every matter.

The good life, Americans became convinced, lay just beyond barriers of ignorance and opportunity; getting and spending would be the battering ram to get through those obstacles to the good life that lay beyond.

But now America's petard appears to be exploding in her face: the deepest recession in a generation; national debt spiraling out of control (have you begun paying down the $41,000 of that debt which is yours?); corrupt commerce in pornography available at the click of a mouse; oil flooding the Gulf, children, educated to perform as widgets in an economy, whose morality is determined by mere self-interest; mindless, frivolous advertizing the new literature of the age; borders overrun with like-minded wealth-seekers; corruption, for the sake of wealth and "the good life", rife at virtually every level of our society.

It will not be much of a "sport" - as Hamlet saw it - when America's petard, on which we are hoisting ourselves, finally explodes. There is a way that seems right to men; but the ends thereof are the ways of death (Prov. 14.12). Only foolish men could have put us into this desperate position; only God can bring us safely down from it.

If we are not praying daily for God to revive His Church and awaken this nation, we are consigning our nation and its future to certain self-destruction. The Lord is bringing the counsel of this nation to nothing, frustrating every economic and political plan to keep us on track for the good life; but His counsel and Law stand forever (Ps. 33.10, 11). Happy and blessed is the nation whose God is not measured in terms of GDP, but in terms of repentance and seeking the Lord (Ps. 33.12).

T. M. Moore
T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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