For Sunday of the July 4th weekend

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July 6, 2014 – “Happy 4th of July Weekend!” As I’m writing this, I’m riding a train north from New York City to Montreal. That means I had to find my passport, and in the process I found out that passport makes for some interesting reading. Especially on this holiday weekend. Like page 1, where the “Secretary of State of the United States of America” personally requests, of “all whom it may concern,” to permit this named citizen – me – “to pass without delay or hindrance and in case of need to give all lawful aid and protection.” Pretty impressive.

That’s followed by the Preamble to the United States Constitution, which also makes for some pretty impressive reading.  That’s followed by pages of Important Information, then pages where you get your visa(s) stamped. Each two-page set is topped with a pithy quotation, about America and the promise of freedom it entails. For example, pages 8-9 are topped by a saying from George Washington, “Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair.

Unfortunately – and as we’ve seen way too often lately – the stupid and dishonest can also “repair to the standard” of freedom that America promises.  But that seems part and parcel of what “freedom” is all about. Or as John Steinbeck said:

…this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world.  And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected.  And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual.  This is what I am and what I am about.

See Quote by John Steinbeck. (Of course he always was an ornery cuss.) Then there’s a quote on pages 16-17, attributed to Teddy Roosevelt:  “This is a new nation, based on a mighty continent, of endless possibilities.” Get that?  “Endless possibilities.”

But to get to that land of endless possibilities, our ancestors – the people with gumption and nerve – had to leave behind the old and corrupt ways of where they came from. (Another way of saying “conservative types,” but that’s a subject for later posts.) And finally there’s the last quote on page 28, from the late astronaut Ellison Onizuka:

Every generation has the obligation to free men’s minds for a look at new worlds . . . to look out from a higher plateau than the last generation.

(Ellipses in the passport.) But that’s just another way of saying, “Sing to the Lord a new song.” Also a way of saying you can’t “live up to, fulfill or implement” either promise – either of the American Dream with its “endless possibilities” or Promises of Jesus – if you interpret the Bible or the Constitution in a closed, narrow, or “strict” way.

The point is that our duty as Americans – and especially Christian Americans – is to help and not hinder the endless possibilities of the American Dream or the promise of Jesus that we should live a life of abundance, in His name. (Some things to remember this July 4th weekend.)

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 Ellison Shoji Onizuka, American astronaut – and philosopher…

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Onizuka (1946-1986) was an American astronaut “from Kealakekua, Hawaii, who successfully flew into space with the Space Shuttle Discovery on STS-51-C. He died in the destruction of the Space Shuttle Challenger, on which he was serving as Mission Specialist for mission STS-51-L. He was the first Asian-American to reach space.”  See Ellison Onizuka – Wikipedia. The image above is courtesy of that article. As to singing a new song to the Lord, see for example Isaiah 42:10 and Psalms 96:1, 98:1, and 144:9.

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