A True Southern Rebellion
It has been a wee bit of time since I updated my blog. I have reasons. I have excuses. None of them are very good, mind you, but the lack of angry emails, heated texts, and the like indicate that perhaps my pontification has not necessarily been missed. For those hoping I was gone for good, I hate to disappoint you. I'm kind of like those devious soap opera characters who supposedly die in a fire, but reemerge only to perish in a parachuting accident, yet somehow are saved by tumbling into a soft manure pile and lose their memory and meet someone and fall in love and get married only to find out their new spouse is actually their half-sibling...
Sorry, I digress.
I have done a really good job lately of remaining disengaged from any substantial debate regarding one of the two biggest social news stories of the past month or so: the condemnation and banning of the Confederate battle flag. (The other, of course, is the Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage, but that's a topic for another day.) I mean, most of you know me, and I am sure you have been wondering what catalyst was going to set me off to go ape crazy on the flag fight.
Well, I might take advantage of the date, July 11, which happens to be my birthday. And if you can't speak your mind on your birthday, when can you? But no, that's like those people who stay mad at their company management because they feel like they deserve promotion simply based on years of service. Nah, not gonna do that.
So why am I feeling this sudden motivation? I'll tell you why. It's because yesterday, the day before my birthday, I saw magic happen. I witnessed divine power, Christ's power, at work in what otherwise was a regular old hot summer day in Lake Charles. I experienced the ordinary explode into the extraordinary.
And in the midst of it all, the unimportance of the debate on what that flag represents became quite evident.
In case you are totally oblivious, following the surprisingly effective vilification of the traditional symbol of all things Dixie, the old Southern Cross flag of the army of the C.S.A.—a direct result, mind you, of the actions of a disturbed idiot's brutal attack on a prayer group at a predominately black church—the natural progression of the "victors" in said fight has been to immediately attack other historic images even remotely associated with the former Confederacy. One such symbol is a stone memorial on the grounds of the courthouse in Lake Charles, a tribute to "The South's Defenders" as it is stated on the statue. Just the mention of the "South" seems to prompt fits of rage in the self-labeled progressive defenders of human rights and liberties. And if even one is offended, that memorial has to go! Don't for a minute argue heritage! Heritage is an excuse, a rationalization. (By the way, I might suggest that a perusal of the web page at this location could be quite enlightening.)
Yet in the halls just beyond the ground on which that stone statue rests, the inner workings of the American judicial system continue to churn. I walked past that memorial yesterday as I, along with about 50 friends, made my way to the family court to watch the culmination of nearly a year-long process in which two kids in the foster care system realized their dream of being adopted. Now understand that I have experienced some really moving events in my life—weddings, revivals, concerts, and even funerals—so what I say here I don't say casually. In that courtroom, I saw the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my life. Seriously.
A young couple, already with a house full of love in the form of five children, sat alongside two kids considered, at least for the moment, wards of the state. Their adoption lawyer examined the pair, a rather mundanely scripted question and answer for both husband and wife mainly inquiring as to if each really understood just what they were taking on with their adoption petition. After examination, the counsel for the petitioning parents waived any closing statement and yielded to the judge for a ruling.
And that's when the magic began.
The judge preempted his ruling by requesting a little liberty in his own courtroom to provide a brief statement. (I reckon he didn't have to do that, since it was his courtroom in the first place. But he did.) Then he turned and stared down the soon-to-be parents of seven, and his eyes misted up. And while clearly choking up, he told them of the woes he witnessed daily in his court and how so many children long for the day that the two additions seated next to them were actually realizing. He said he thanked the Lord Jesus—yes, he said that—for noble people to stand up the way they were. Then he said that there was only one label he thought fitting for parents so engaged: heroes.
Needless to say, the crowd of family and friends within which I sat wept joyously at his statement. But he wasn't done. After ruling in favor of the petition and thereby increasing the household size of the petitioning parents to nine individuals—yes, that is a softball team size—the judge informed the room that the father had requested an opportunity to pray over the proceedings. My friend, now Daddy for the seventh time, offered a lovely prayer, appealing to the Father for guidance and a sure and steady hand in raising all of his children. At his "amen", the judge stood and took the baton, praying heartily for blessing on the expanded family and the extended network of friends and relatives for support in the endeavor.
As the magnitude of the moment settled over me, I realized that I was witnessing all of this in an American courtroom. A judge, counter to the conventional correctness dictated by the contemporary politics, stood and cried out to Jesus while standing in his robe at his bench. We all became ignorant of the tide of public opinion as we raised our hands and bowed our heads. The "separation of church and state" was a punch line right then and there. We were having a worship service with a court reporter and bailiff in attendance!
As I slowly made my way back down to the car with my wife and kids, I glanced over the lawn at that hotly debated memorial, and I chuckled. I don't know what fate it, or for that matter the Confederate battle flag, will ultimately meet in Lake Charles or Louisiana or the Carolinas, but in that moment, the irony was thick enough to cut with a knife.
You see, in that courtroom just a few yards away from an inanimate symbol that talking heads and progressives and racists and pacifists will debate as hateful or shameful or historical or meaningless, two little black children hugged and kissed Mommy and Daddy, two of the whitest folks you might ever meet, for the first time. A crowd of white people, black people, Latinos, and more dabbed their eyes and joined hands to celebrate the moment.
And no one cared one bit about anything other than love. Love that saw absolutely no color. Love that rose above debates over the petty. Love that didn't see a line along race. Love that only a Savior might proclaim.
People like to banter about, "What would Jesus do?"
Yesterday, I saw that question answered.