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Worry about the important stuff

Rich Mayfield

Despite the warnings of our powers that claim to be, four out of five members of the Mayfield clan climbed aboard aircraft this week heading off in a variety of directions. The fifth, by far the bravest of the bunch, ventured forth on the L.A. freeways to pick two of us up at the airport. For those of us who see flying as a terrifying means of getting from one place to another, these warnings from the government about potential terrorist activity are really infuriating. We are scared enough just getting on the airplane. Why make it worse with added worries about horrifying activities that we can do even less about?

But the terrorists have nothing on the flight crew for cultivating fear among we frequent frightened flyers. I will never understand how anyone with even the barest smidgen of sensitivity could turn to a paralyzed-by-panic person like me and dare to ask that I close my window shade, so others can watch the movie. Have they really no idea of the near deadly dread generated among we claustrophobics just by getting into a machine that weighs millions of tons and still promises to be lighter than air? I adamantly refuse to remove my tiny touch with the world outside even when it serves only to remind me how far I will fall when the inevitable in-flight disaster occurs.

And speaking of disasters, why oh why does the pilot always promise a smooth flight while we’re buckling ourselves in only to renege seconds after take-off? I especially detest those too frequent times when the pilot bursts into my mellow music station and demands that everybody, including the crew, take their seats NOW! If you happen to fly a United 757 with two armrests bent up at 90 degree angles know that they were unintentionally modified during, “A brief encounter with turbulence.” I suppose childbirth could be described as “brief” by someone not having the baby but for those of us who get nauseated getting up too fast from our recliners “brief turbulence” is always an oxymoron.

Thank God we all got where we wanted to get.

And speaking of God, (How’s that for a segue?) how ’bout the brouhaha over the ouster of “under God” from our Pledge of Allegiance? I suspect this somewhat silly ruling will soon be overruled, but in the meantime, it can invite us to muse upon the matter of God’s relationship with America.

Personally, I don’t have too much of a problem using the now problematic phrase, but I suspect my understanding of what it means may be a problem for others.

After all, when your understanding is that every nation is “under God” it sort of takes the trouble out of the term.

I have a hunch, however, that most of us think of God blessing America in a manner different than, say, how She treats Afghanistan. I marvel at the proliferation of bumper stickers that either demand or declare, I’m not exactly sure which, that “God Bless America.” Although not claiming to be a biblical expert, I suspect I have a better than average acquaintance with the Bible and so I am puzzled over this particular proclamation. From my understanding of the Good Book, being blessed by God isn’t always on a par with pummeling your opponents. It was Jesus, you may remember, who said, “Blessed are the meek, the poor, the (gulp) peacemakers.” Try as I might, I can’t find one incident in which Jesus seems to advocate annihilating our enemies. Indeed, if the Bible can be believed, he says something quite the opposite.

Perhaps our bumper-stickered statements are less command and more a plea for a solution now that we’re beginning to realize the old ways of warfare aren’t working. If God couldn’t stop the World Trade Center from falling, maybe we should be thinking about some back-up plan.

For those folk who actually read the Bible, there are suggestions to be found within. Unfortunately for some, these strategies are not particularly conducive to being reduced to a three-word slogan to slap on the rear of our Buicks. Admittedly, the Bible can be used to justify all kinds of kind and unkind behavior, but I believe the honest seeker will find within its pages an invitation to a way of life quite different than what seems to be intended with our semi-pious sloganeering.

Humbly, I suggest we not upset ourselves too much over this recent ruling. The phrase has probably been mostly misunderstood since it arrived in 1954 anyhow.

Besides, there are so many other issues worth worrying about.

My flight home, for instance.

Rich Mayfield is pastor of the Lord of the Mountains Lutheran Church and a regular columnist for the Summit Daily News.


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