Gregory Lane Lanier was driving around Sebring, Florida, with his dog beside him. The dog accidentally kicked his shotgun, which Lanier thought was unloaded. It wasn’t, and shot him in the leg. Police did not arrest the dog. Believe it or not, this was not the first time such a thing has happened. Last year, a professional hunter in France was in the field when one of his dogs jumped on him, hitting the trigger of his gun. The hunter’s hand was shot and had to be amputated.
The fact that we live in a fallen world is demonstrated daily by the news. For instance, one of the largest churches in America is facing foreclosure, as Family Christian Center in Munster, Indiana deals with ongoing financial shortfalls and irregularities. The founders of Angel Food Ministries, formerly a $140-million distributor of food through church networks, have pled guilty to federal charges of fraud and money laundering.
While looming budget cuts dominate the news, we now know that the economy grew only 0.1 percent in the last quarter, not nearly enough growth to shrink unemployment. A jeans maker in Italy has trademarked “Jesus” in the U.S. and is suing companies that use it on t-shirts and other clothing. And scientists are watching an asteroid called Apophis, which is 1,000 feet across and will come dangerously close to Earth in 2029 and again in 2036. If it were to strike our planet, it would have the force of approximately 20,000 Hiroshima bombs. Now aren’t you glad you opened today’s Cultural Commentary?
It’s an interesting time for the Catholic church to find itself “sede vacante,” that period when the papacy is vacant. The Swiss Guards protecting the entrance of the papal villa left their posts last Thursday at 8 PM when Benedict’s resignation became effective. The fact that 1.3 billion Catholics (nearly 20 percent of the global population) are presently without a leader on the papal throne in these chaotic days is indeed significant.
Here’s the good news: God is still on his throne. Nothing you’ve read this morning surprised him. He doesn’t need to consult blogs and Twitter feeds to know what’s going on in his universe. He already knows if Apophis is a threat to our planet and who the next pope will be. And he stands ready to redeem everything that happens in our lives.
But we must choose to put him on our throne today. Ralph Waldo Emerson spoke for our culture when he claimed, “Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.” Isaiah spoke for our faith when he said to the Lord, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you” (Isaiah 26:3). Here’s good advice: If you want to get along with God, stay off his throne.