Time for the next installment. Here's a link to #3 which has the links for the others as well.
A Man on a Mission
"So, you say that I can't vote, I'm told, if we go New America?" Pastor Mendel's wife, Sally smiled as she poured Jack a cup of coffee in their living room.
Pastor Jack Carson thanked her for the coffee and returned her smile in that wide, toothy way he had learned when he wanted to be particularly unctuous. He knew a potential harridan when he saw one.
"That would be entirely up to your husband, but I'm sure you have every reason to trust his judgment and consideration of you as head of the family," he replied making reference to the epistles of Paul which famously describe the duties of husband and wife in marriage.
"I'm sure," she smiled, but it didn't reach her eyes. She knew she was being played with by the use of Scripture "which even the devil can quote to his purpose."
You can get a bit cynical after a lifetime of people quoting the Bible to get what they want or deny someone else their desire. A pastor's wife is subjected to many lifetimes of verse quoting, silly minded, or agenda driven folks, and God help her if she loses faith while remaining a dutiful spouse. What consolation has she then if the salt should lose its savor?
Her husband, Pastor Henry, a sixty year-old man, kindly appearing and relaxed, pretended a mere wisp of a smile at their exchange. He knew his wife was intractable; in many respects, insufferable; believing herself to be long suffering when she was simply willful and indifferent to God and grace. Sally had a good life, a decent life, but was ungrateful, and did not appreciate him as a man.
He thought of all the couples he'd counseled over the years and how often everything turned on the woman in the marriage. Some men were awful, of course, bullies and, yes, I'll use the word -- bastards; but far more often it was the dissatisfactions of the wife that created so much unhappiness.
He often thought of Milton's line about Adam and Eve in Paradise Lost, "he, for God; she, for God in him." All the feminist scholars screamed how vilely sexist and patriarchal that was of the poet, but any Christian marriage counselor understood it perfectly. Departure from that model could only create misery between the sexes.
And he laughed inwardly to think of Dickens' Micawber, "Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery."
Annual compliance to God, result happiness. Annual rebellion against God, result misery.
It is the human folly that nearly all -- man, woman, or child -- do not want to be subordinate or dependent; which only seems natural, but keeps reliance on mercy and prayer far from the human soul.
That was why he favored the society and Constitution of the New American States. It best grasped man's basic sinful nature, and woman's essential weakness. The former Founding Fathers had been wildly optimistic despite their own wisdom, knowledge, and righteous fear of mortal encroachments that might subvert their project and noble experiment. The Founding Fathers had left so many doors open to diluting, dismissing, perverting, and distorting what they'd written and clearly explained.
Pastor Mendel, as president of the Yakima Council of Christian Ministers, had introduced the younger Jack Carson that afternoon to an assembly of those ministers at their meetinghouse.
"Reverends, pastors, fellows in Christ, you probably know why I'm here, but let me lay it out for you," Pastor Jack Carson, a minister of Holy Spirit Sanctuary of Kalispell, Montana began his appeal.
Jack represented New America, and hoped to persuade his fellow clergymen of the benefits of joining that regional power of the once United States. He briefly filled them in on the genesis of the Region, it's Christian underpinnings mixed with hatred of government into creating constitutions that expressly defined liberty and unalienable rights along with forbidding income taxes, sales taxes, and most of all, property taxes. "If a man can't keep his most essential need, his living place, from being stolen from him by taxation, how can he prevent anything else being stolen from him by crafty politicians and majority rule? But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken it."
He told them how personal responsibility had been thrust back upon every citizen, the voting franchise limited, and the concern for the less fortunate put back into the private hands of those who cared most and were accountable to volunteers and contributors.
Painting the rosiest picture of New America, when he was done with his presentation, questions arose to challenge it.
"What about racism? And intolerance? I hear stories that you don't welcome all Christians or people if they're black or Hispanic or even Jewish. What about that?"
Rather than launch into a long, tedious defense of the culture of New America, he readily admitted guilt before his accuser.
"That's right. I don't deny that we discriminate, and even our constitution respects freedom of association so strongly that anyone or any private business is free to discriminate against anyone however they please. As far as race and religion goes, if you decide to become a Buddhist or Hindu, you won't find any intolerance, per se, but if you want to adhere to a satanic anti-religion like Islam, yes, you'll have a problem. You'll be asked to leave. As for Jews, they are the ones who prefer not to join us for the most part."
"What about race?"
"Nobody objects to the Japanese not welcoming people outside their race or culture as citizens and immigrants."
"But this is America. It's different."
"That was America, and all those differences were a large part of what destroyed it. Identity politics ruined the idea of the melting pot for good. Even for Christians. I love all my brothers and sisters in Christ. In Christ Jesus there is no Jew or gentile, male or female, slave or free. But the sad truth is that black Christians and white ones go to different churches; same for Orientals and Hispanics. Why? We're all saved; washed in the blood of the Lamb, children of the Living God, and kindly disposed to each other when we meet and share our faith . . . but when we leave the church or retreat or fellowship meeting, we find ourselves bound to those closest to us in color, culture, and likeness. That's human nature, and we should overcome it, but as ministers, we know that most of us, most people don't. We have to accept reality if we want our people, our children to thrive. And they are thriving in New America. While there is absolutely nothing, I repeat, absolutely nothing to prevent other people, blacks, Hispanics or Orientals from creating their own thriving communities or States."
Pastor Carson was one slick missionary, Henry Mendel understood. Of course, the few minority ministers at the meeting were nonplused, a few other liberal ones were discouraged, but most of the white ones like himself were . . . persuaded is not the right word. They were choosing to be on the side of what was working and appeared best for their future and that of their congregations.
While Jack sipped his coffee after Mrs. Mendel had left them, Henry asked, "What now?"
"Well, we establish an office, bring in a few more people, engage as many of the governing and business class along with the ministers and their churches, and promote good works, spend money where it will be useful, and prepare the ground for what's to come."
"What's to come? Exactly," Henry probed.
"What do you see?"
"You keep moving west little by little. Spokane was very close to Idaho, easily influenced along with all the small towns in the east. Olympia no longer collects any taxes from there."
"Right. There was a great advantage there: all those huge National Forests to be divvied up among the people who welcomed the new order of things. Here in Yakima and south in Kennewick, there aren't public lands so close and nearby. Incentives will have to be different."
That sounded ominous to Henry, and he shook his head in dismay. Is this what we're coming to? Is this what I'm coming to, he wondered.
"It isn't Christian, is it?" Jack solicited in sympathy toward Henry.
Henry sadly shook his head.
"Can I make the case for the greater good?" he asked in his most sincere manner; sincere because he meant it.
He continued. "For about a hundred years from 1800 to 1900, this country was as close to Godly as I suppose any nation can get. People knew their Scripture and children were raised on its values whether they practiced them or not. Hypocrisy was the respect that vice paid to virtue."
"The industrial revolution and the rise of science, which was a direct result of Christendom, came into play, and more people were able to enjoy more goods than ever before not only in the West but around the world. And yes, many, many people suffered in the mills, factories, foundries, mines, and so on but there was progress and even the most exploited eventually gained benefits from their labor. If not for themselves, then for their children."
"Yes, I understand all that," Henry replied. "Civilization, our form of it, was no crueler than others, maybe less, only God can do the measuring, and it created far more happiness for people here and elsewhere; but that's all history to me. What you're asking me, and others, is to take part in crafting new history where we are complicit with doing or supporting very hard, very bad things; things that shock the conscience. All for the greater good, which I agree with in the abstract, but pains the soul in reality."
"That's true," Jack conceded as he had to questions raised at the meeting about racism and intolerance. He knew not to argue against other people's truths. He'd learned to simply point the way to folks. This way or that? This way leads to more good. That way leads to disorder, misery, poverty, and slavery. Paint a picture using the reality of life all around the people, then paint the picture of all the good an imperfect and frequently harsh New America had created. Here is your social and economic salvation. Yea or nay?
Henry was squeamish. A common problem among kindly Americans, but once they'd committed, it all worked out, Jack also knew. It's a new kind of Manifest Destiny: making the best out of a bad situation, and what remained of America was a very bad situation.
Furthermore, in a short while people wouldn't be paying sales taxes, income taxes, or property taxes, and life would be looking up; not to mention that the only people paying for schools would be the student's parents or voluntary supporters since all education would be private. Mandatory that parents provide it, but private.
"I know which way I have to go," Henry admitted, "but I feel compromised."
"Yes, because you care more about all the other people who never cared about you, never considered how their actions harmed so many others, not fat cats, not the rich, just regular folks like you and your congregation. Fighting back seems extreme, somehow, but it's not. We're just a group of people who want to live, be left alone, and look after each other without a gun to our heads or a world of Godless, conscienceless people claiming they're only doing their jobs in making life hell on earth. We can't make this world heaven on earth, we know that, but we don't have to let the worst prevail either."
"I know you're right. I suppose, even for someone at my age, that I'll just have to learn how to 'gird my loins' and accept the battle as it is," Henry concluded.
Jack nodded and knew that Yakima had been won without a shot being fired.