Depending on your Point of View…

Christina:

On this Memorial Day, 2013, I had occasion to re-read this post from May, 2009. Though a bit wordy and with a few mistakes, I decided to reblog it today.

May the mighty God continue to bless the United States of America, always imparting His mind and wisdom to our leaders.

Originally posted on Jesus, the Revolution & You:

In my reading and studies of our nation’s beginnings, I am frequently struck by an angle or viewpoint that may not be the one usually pursued.

It is said that there are two sides to every story, right? (Personally, I maintain there are at least three…!) Have you ever considered viewing the American rebellion years leading to the events of 1776 from the perspective of the English monarchy? Not, of course, that England was in the right – it just makes for, may I say, an interesting approach. From our viewpoint, perhaps ‘absurd’ would be a better word, in light of where America stands today… I just find it intriguing how a situation, or an individual, can be perceived so very differently by those involved, or by on-lookers, based on…based on what? Needs? Desires? Duty? How we can be so absolutely certain of a thing, but time may soon…

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the Arab Spring, ancient Egypt, & Jesus Christ

 

“And the spirit of Egypt shall fail…”   (Isaiah 18: 3)

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”   (2 Cor.3: 17)

Rising for freedom in Tripoli

As one Arabian country after another began resisting the established rule of tyrants & dictators, and revolution broke out in almost a domino effect, how could we not see the deep & impassioned cry for liberty therein?  Though many have suggested Muslim Brotherhood manipulation – and very possibly there was/is – still, weren’t the consequent eruptions of rebellion, though violent, the result of a desire for the long-withheld  freedom God intended man to have?  Whether these people knew the God in which I believe or not, they knew what they were missing as far as their personal liberty was concerned.  Man was created to grow & function within certain environments, be they emotional, spiritual, environmental or social, and when key elements are missing in any of these environments, one way or another we feel that pain.

Fights erupt, battles are fought, wars are waged for different reasons.  Opposing sides clash in a contest of wills & goals.  It seems to me, though, that all conflicts are fueled to some degree by the universal desire for freedom.  Freedom to live as one chooses, where one chooses – in fact, freedom to choose! – freedom to pursue happiness…now where have we heard that before?  Oh, right, the Declaration of…what?  Independence.

One more time…Independence.

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Enter an adversary.  Or, the Adversary…who will obstruct your plans, your rights.  In whatever way will work for him/her/them, an adversary is out to get you, or what belongs to you, be it possessions, property, relationships, well-being or your life.  Your enemy does not want to let you just live your life, free & unhindered.  Through varied means, your enemy needs to try to control at least part of it.

I submit that the motivation provoking such actions is, essentially, jealousy.  Coveting what one does not have, perhaps thinks they can’t get, and hating the one who can. Needing not to feel that loss or void, they contrive, manipulate & deceive to acquire the elusive prize…from you or someone else.  Or, to put it another way, “Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain…”  (James 4:2)

I find it interesting that this section of Scripture houses words such as lust, kill, enmity, and envy, but immediately following these verses we see the appearance of the grace of God.  Hmmm…if we are humble enough to receive His grace, perhaps we will find a way out of the whole lust/murder cycle.

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Isaiah records much concerning Egypt of Old Testament times.  I am not a student of Old Testament history, and so, not knowledgeable of exactly what it all means.  For purposes of this article, let’s just say that ancient Egypt was a powerful, wealthy country, no stranger to wars & battles, and essentially Godless. Big on idols. Probably not a champion of human rights.  And I’m pretty sure slavery didn’t cause  Pharaoh and his crowd to lose any sleep at night.  We would not call the Egypt of that day ‘the good guy’.

Chapter 19 of Isaiah begins with these words “The burden of Egypt.”  I always get this onerous sense of dread whenever the word ‘burden’ shows up in prophetic Scriptures….usually not a harbinger of good things to come! (at least for one of the parties involved!)  So it is here – “…the LORD shall…come into Egypt; and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it.”  Note that this reaction is just to His presence – He hasn’t even taken any actions yet.  He just arrived on the scene.  Afterwards of course, chaos ensues.  But my point is that there comes a moment when He arrives. And things begin changing.

Which is what I suspect is the real force behind the Arab Spring.

In this world, in a material/technical or motivational sense, nothing exists apart from some form of impurity or pollution.  That is simply the nature of earthly reality.  But possible Islamic maneuverings aside, before or during, previously or at present (and I really have trouble believing that these maneuverings aren’t an element here, one way or another),  I believe at root, the spirit of liberty that is found in the LORD, and which I believe is the same Spirit that powered the American Revolutionary War, is at work again today, in 2011, in these burdened lands of & around once-ancient Egypt.

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“…God uses the sword for surgery, not anarchy.”  (Eerdman’s Handbook to the Bible, pg.384)

I like the sound of that!  This statement is made as part of a commentary on Chapter 19 of Isaiah, and points us forward in time and history.  Though it has surely seemed impossible in the past, and hard to believe even now, God has plans for ‘Egypt’ that may surprise you.  I know they’ve floored me…let’s move ahead to the end of this chapter.

“In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land: Whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.”  (v. 24,25)

With God, nothing shall be impossible.

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…from Maajid Nawaz to Mel Gibson, The Patriot

(Taking a break from Islamic extremism… )

I am probably one of the very few people alive who has never owned a VCR or DVD player. Until now…

…so it was no small event I when settled down in front of my computer screen & clicked on the ‘Start Movie’ label. And the movie I started was (drum roll, please!)….The Patriot.  It seemed most fitting that my first ever home movie-viewing should be commemorated with a film about the Revolutionary War, one of my strongest interests.

Mel Gibson played the leading role of Benjamin Martin, a farmer and widowed father of seven, living in South Carolina in 1776, shortly before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Until the war literally came to his doorstep, Martin resisted joining in the fight. He was, after all, a father of seven.

But all that changed when a British colonel cruelly, needlessly shot Martin’s fifteen year old son, then burned his house & barn, and mercilessly executed wounded patriots being cared for there. Around this point in the movie, I had to start looking away, again & again. Almost in an instant, Benjamin Martin changed. The solid homesteader, father and provider for his family reverted to the ruthless guerrilla soldier of his French & Indian War days. A fierce freedom fighter was born. His baptism was not of fire (though fire played a tragic part), but of savage, violent bloodshed.

This onslaught of graphic combat scenes was a shock to my senses. (At first, I thought it was just me being wimpy, or girly…delicate sensibilities and all that! But Philip French, writing for Guardian.co.uk, describes those same scenes as stirring and extremely violent…’) By movie’s end, I had braced myself against them enough times that I felt almost numb. Within that numbness, though, were several other reactions that I could not quite identify. I knew that I needed some time, a little distance from the event, to let those reactions evolve into more definite concepts. (So I gave myself all of 2 or 3 days, and am watching the film again! About one-third of the way through, as I write this.)

Eager to know if the character of Benjamin Martin was fictional, or if he had actually lived and fought in those revolutionary times, I did some Internet searches, though. To my delight, I learned that ‘Benjamin Martin’ was a composite of five actual Revolutionary War freedom fighters (according to this movie review by Jon Roland.) Except for one dissenting voice -The character is clearly based on Colonel John Singleton Mosby, the Confederate guerrilla commander from Virginia in the Civil War who was dubbed the Grey Ghost…” - the consensus of reviewers seems to be that his character was based, primarily, on the ‘Swamp Fox’ of the South Carolina wetlands, Francis Marion.  An anonymous source from Sony Pictures admits that the film was originally conceived as a factual biography of Marion, but research into Marion’s history & character turned up some unsavory behaviors.  It seems he possibly raped female slaves, and killed Indians for the fun of it.  Rewrites were done.

(Marion, due to his irregular methods of warfare, is considered one of the fathers of modern guerrilla warfare. He is also credited in the lineage of the United States Army Rangers.)   (Wikipedia)

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Just as Martin was made a colonel in the opening war scenes of the film, in real life, in September 1776 the Continental Congress commissioned Marion as a lieutenant colonel.  As the fictitious Benjamin Martin’s background included brutal & unconventional  guerrilla tactics in the French & Indian War, Francis Marion in reality fought against (and in the process, actually learned some of those brutal practices & techniques from) the Cherokee in that same war.  Both men led, and fought with, militia more so than regular army, and their fighting styles & exploits reflected this.
Watching this movie gave  me a whole new appreciation for what ‘militia’ meant back then.  I must’ve used this term a number of times in some of my older posts, but I now see that I had no idea what the militia forces of Revolutionary times were all about.  May I say, Wow…much respect.   In the above-referenced review by Jon Roland, he cites how Gibson, as Benjamin Martin, and all those involved in the production, should be commended for “giving us a deeper appreciation of the concept of the militia, and how all of us have a militia duty to defend one another.  It has done a a great deal to revive the militia spirit to defend our Constitution, for which so many noble patriots died.”  
Although TIME magazine listed “The Patriot” as number one of its “Top 10 historically misleading films”, and certain events/situations depicted in it raised a ruckus, with critics crying racism & unfair stereotyping (among other accusations) – I think the heart issues in it far outweigh any inaccuracies or possibly misconstrued actions.  Heart & substance always trump, in my book…the difficulty of conflicting loyalties, making hard, life-shattering decisions, withstanding enemies/opponents of all sorts! (be it the Empire or your own neighbors/family)…violating or forfeiting one’s own convictions or deeper knowledge of what is honorable, for a cause…tragic, horrific loss on so many levels…sweet comradeship…painful separation…the exultant glory, finally, of victory!  “The Patriot”  took me places that I think Americans need to be taken, because we were not there back then…but ‘back then’ made ‘now’ possible. We need, and need to know, our heritage, from whence we came. Maybe knowing the names & detailed specifics aren’t necessarily important, in every case, but an awareness of the call that was answered, and the price that was paid for that, should be a part of what each of us is, today. We who become true Americans are NOT separate from those many & courageous Patriots.
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Depending on your Point of View…

In my reading and studies of our nation’s beginnings, I am frequently struck by an angle or viewpoint that may not be the one usually pursued.

It is said that there are two sides to every story, right? (Personally, I maintain there are at least three…!) Have you ever considered viewing the American rebellion years leading to the events of 1776 from the perspective of the English monarchy? Not, of course, that England was in the right – it just makes for, may I say, an interesting approach. From our viewpoint, perhaps ‘absurd’ would be a better word, in light of where America stands today… I just find it intriguing how a situation, or an individual, can be perceived so very differently by those involved, or by on-lookers, based on…based on what? Needs? Desires? Duty? How we can be so absolutely certain of a thing, but time may soon tell us that we were mistaken…

Of course, we want to be sure, we want to be certain…it can be uncomfortable and unsettling, if not down-right hard, to be unsure of what one believes, or what one should do. Decisions eventually must be made, action must be taken at some point. One cannot waffle forever. So how do we know? Often, we don’t. Then it becomes, whether minute or major, a risk. Risk can be scary. To move forward, risking, invites bolstering one’s self with the certainty of the belief motivating the risk. So we’re back at Square One! Do we refuse doubt? That can be foolhardy…but if we don’t…can we move forward?

At that point, I might dig into my mental pocket and pull out Scriptures, a favorite being “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5, KJV) This can be difficult to do, though! And when the building still falls down around you, then what? That’s where the business of your own “understanding” needs to be re-evaluated. Your and my idea of loss, defeat or even disaster, and our reactions to these things, are probably not the way God is looking at it. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.” (Isaiah 55:8, KJV)

George III, King of England during those early Revolutionary years, believed God was on his side. He believed this with all his heart. Consequently, it only made sense that England should and would triumph. How wrong was that assumption!

Conversely, Americans came to see George III’s rule as being any number of cruel, unjust and tyrannical elements, deliberately being applied to deprive them of the freedoms and the life which they wanted. There could be no justification for being bowed down by them, enslaved to them…yet the King could see no justification for the colonies not being subjected to him and his rule. On July 5, 1775, one year plus one day before the signing of our Declaration of Independence, King George III made his own declaration, in a letter to his Prime Minister, that “no consideration” would cause him to “depart from the present path which I think myself in duty-bound to follow.” ( John Fortescue, ed., Correspondence of King George III ) He would “trust to Providence” as he followed this course, “compelling obedience” from the colonists.

(David McCullough, 1776)

The English monarch did not want to war against his own subjects. Addressing Parliament at the Palace of Westminster, in October of 1775, the King explained that he had hoped to prevent the bloodshed and calamity “inseparable from a state of war”, and expressed his desire for the people in America to recognize that being a member of British society, being his subject, was to be the “freest member of any civil society in the known world.” ( William Cobbett, The Parliamentary History of England from the Earliest Period to the Year 1803) Ah, but we have come to know better…

In his speech that day, the English monarch used phraseology that put me in mind of words from our first President, George Washington, the leader of truly the freest civil society in the known world. Speaking of the “fatal effects” (to his realm) of American success in achieving independence, King George presented a picture of the British nation as one abundantly blessed by God, favored, vigorous in growth and prosperity, of which the colonies were a part as well as a result. Washington, in unused Inaugural notes, (cited in my sidebar) spoke of Divine favor and abundant blessing and resources burgeoning upon our continent, bestowed for the emerging young nation of America to do that very thing, emerge! The similarity in the sound of the words is, however, disrupted by a singular difference: George III was more than loathe to relinquish the colonies, whereas Washington saw the “salutary consequence of which shall flow to another Hemisphere & extend through the interminable series of ages…{he anticipated} the blessed effects which our Revolution will occasion in the rest of the world…”

I have done more reading than most about George Washington, and from that, I know that he trusted to Providence. King George, as referenced above, trusted to Providence as well. Both men were key leaders, one way or another, who believed absolutely in their cause, even more so as that cause reached crisis level. Yet only one led to the victory desired, the triumph most precious of freedom won. As my regular readers know, and my blog title explains, I see the hand of God in America’s beginnings. Obviously I would believe that it was His will that brought to pass this victory, though not easily, nor without great suffering and bloodshed. Yes, I do believe that American victory was Divinely intended in this Revolutionary War. But I see another principle here, resident within that intention. Though “… sincerely believ{ing} he was defending Britain’s constitution against usurpers…” (Conservapedia) , George III, the King was fighting as well to HOLD ON to property and wealth. He fought for the tangibles. George Washington, the General fought for so much more than that – though tangibles were definitely a part of the Revolutionary cause, that army fought for the intangible. They fought for liberty. Their fight was for the unseen, and “…the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18)


Eternity marched with Washington’s troops.

Surrender of the Hessians to General Washington




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Someone Else’s Misfortune…

Before we travel much further into the Revolutionary War, I think it might be a good idea to turn back and visit our first President’s youth. There we find his half-brother Lawrence.

Lawrence was fourteen years older than George, the firstborn son of George’s father Augustine and his first wife Jane. (Comment: Interestingly enough, George Washington’s lineage was almost removed from American shores through his own grandparents. His widowed grandmother remarried and moved to England. After her death, the second husband tried to claim her inheritance for himself, planning to remain in England with her three sons. His grandfather’s brother, [also named Lawrence, by the way], intervened. The three boys were returned to Virginia, our future first President’s father among them, and voila! history’s course was restored. Close call. Again, I say, hand of God?)

Anyway, back to Lawrence…

In 1740, When George was about eight years old, Lawrence embarked on a journey into the military life, as captain of an American regiment attached to the British army. From him George received his first exposure to the idea of serving one’s country as a leader in the army. So we see the seeds being planted…

During his military career, Lawrence came to highly admire one of his commanders, and when he returned home, he named the family homestead (which he inherited) after this revered man – Admiral Edward Vernon. Hence, Mount Vernon. Which is today a national landmark, known to all as the beloved home of the Father of our Country. We see the threads being intertwined, the fabric being woven…

George Washington was only eleven years old when his father died, and his half-brother Lawrence took on the role of George’s protector and role model. Years later, Lawrence developed tuberculosis, and in his search for a cure, he traveled to Barbados, taking George with him. While there, George himself became ill. He contracted smallpox. Though surely not pleasant, George’s bout with the disease made him immune to it. So we see, then, that his brother’s sad misfortune (the illness soon proved fatal) provided George with life-long protection against what would become the #1 killer of the Revolutionary War.

Hmmm…definitely something to think about.