Mar 21, 2008

The Damnations of Jeremiah

Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?
Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow,

Which was brought upon me,
which the Lord inflicted
on the day of his fierce anger.

For these things I weep;
my eyes flow with tears;
for a comforter is far from me,
one to revive my courage.

Remember my affliction and my bitterness,
the wormwood and the gall!

But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;

They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul,
‘therefore I will hope in him.’

The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul that seeks him.

It is good that we should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.

For the Lord will not reject for ever;
though he causes grief, he will have compassion,

According to the abundance of his steadfast love;
for he does not willingly afflict or grieve anyone.

Lamentations 1.12, 16a,b; 3.19, 21-26, 31-33

The above is a Song of Lamentations from the English Book of Common Worship, and is extracted from the Old Testament book "The Lamentations of Jeremiah".

A different Jeremiah has been in the news lately, a fiery black preacher in Chicago. Videos have been floating about the internet of Jeremiah Wright calling out God's judgment to damn America, not to bless us. In response to the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, he described those attacks as God's judgment upon America for being imperialistic (something Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson did as well, but for our being libertine). The very different sins of America that both Jeremiah Wright and Pat Robertson listed are indeed sins that I have considered as I look at my country. We should indeed fear God's judgment.

Following 9-11, everyone started putting up signs, banners, and bumper stickers that read, "God Bless America", even though we are materially the most "blessed" nation the world has ever seen. My wife suggested that we shouldn't be saying, "God Bless America" at that time, but "Bless God America" instead. I agreed with her, and produced thousands of bumper stickers to that effect.

And that is where Jeremiah Wright (and perhaps his disciple, Barack Obama) are mistaken. The true prophet's call should not be "God damn America", calling on God's wrath, but "Bless God, America", calling our nation to repentance in seeking God's mercy, as the Biblical prophet Jeremiah did so long ago for Israel's sake.

Bless God, America.

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