“Connecting the Dots”

Is There A Message in the Rubble

of Our Memories?

By Charles Crismier III

Is there a destiny-defining message buried in the rubble of our memories of September 11, 2001? Was the terrorizing trauma sufficient to unlock the door to the American soul? Why has the year last past revealed shocking decadence lurking in our national heart?

“Connecting the dots” has been an oft-repeated phrase since our darkest day. Yet our very nature resists connecting the dots because we fear the picture that may emerge and its implication for our own personal and national life. Having solely pursued evil terrorists, have we not selectively avoided confronting the deadly evil assaulting our souls from within?

Between the bookends of our moment of terror yesterday and our moment of truth today, lie the pages of our life as a people. The picture is not pretty. The headlines reveal, as renowned pollsters George Gallup and George Barna have for a decade declared, a profound “moral and spiritual disconnect” between the way we see ourselves and the way we truly live.

“Morality, ethics and dishonesty” were named by the Gallup Poll in 2001 as the “top problem facing the nation…” not terrorism. Virtues have given way to values as every one does that which is right in his own eyes. One-third of our children are born out of wedlock as are 80% of those in the major cities of our land. Less than half of us believe it is immoral to live together outside of marriage, confirming why cohabitation precedes 37% of all marriages in the United States. Divorce destroys the building block of the society, terrorizing one million more children every year with fear of fatherlessness and seething anger. Embarrassingly, the divorce rate in the Bible Belt now exceeds the nation as a whole by 50% and is higher among born-again Christians than the general population. Sodomy and abortion have become normative to American life.

We are “REAPING THE WHIRLWIND” declared a massive WORLD headline. Indeed, the moral and spiritual verities that have guided us for four centuries have been abandoned in favor of vices wrapped in robes of righteousness. It is becoming apparent why America’s news magazines, as secular prophets, warned us a decade ago that the American Dream was unraveling, becoming a national nightmare.

Now 91% of us lie regularly. As WORLD so aptly stated, “The wave of corporate fraud did not emerge in a vacuum. It’s in part a consequence of a society that refuses to recognize absolute standards of right and wrong.” First it was Enron. These were the True Believers in the free market economy, religiously zealous in leading the faithful in worshiping the Market. As NEWSWEEK put it, “Enron wasn’t just a business, it was a lifestyle.” Global Crossing, Arthur Anderson, Merrill Lynch, Adelphia, Rite Aid and even Xerox all displayed the new moral mantra, “the end justifies the means.” Then came “WORLD CON” which TIME declared, “the biggest bookkeeping deception in history.”

Not to be outdone, American churches began revealing themselves as “whited sepulchers”… “full of dead men’s bones,” delivering messages without morals. In a single week, amid massive sexual scandal, three leading news magazines screamed in cover headlines, “CAN THE CHURCH SAVE IT’S SOUL?,” “CAN THE CHURCH SAVE ITSELF?,” and “PROTESTANT CLERGY and SEXUAL ABUSE.”

As truth is trampled in our streets and all but disappears from our pulpits, USA TODAY made clear that “TRUST” is rapidly slipping away for all of our institutions. So profound and seemingly intractable is the utter fracture of both truth and community in the church that CHRISTIANITY TODAY declared on its front cover August 5, 2002, that “Evangelicalism’s most quoted pollster is more fed up with the church than ever.” If that is mortal man’s viewpoint, what might be the thoughts of the God “who hath made and preserved us a nation?” Do we even care to know?

All of this and more has defiled our destiny and seared our collective conscience since 9-11 captured our attention. How have we responded? An initial surge of the unfaithful back to church caused leaders to hastily decree a spiritual awakening was sweeping the land. Yet Gallup and other polls declared by year end, “We don’t find any indication of significant change in religious behavior.” TIME put it succinctly, after Americans “got religion” during the Gulf War: Americans are”looking for a custom-made God, one made in their own image.”

How did pastors, parachurch leaders and politicians respond? They consoled us in our pain but refused to confront us in our sins. Certainly we should have been comforted, but should we not soon have been convicted and challenged to change?

It was called “The Day That Changed America,” but did we change? Did you change? Truly we have given up freedom in fear, but how about our faith? Has our horror jolted us back to holy living? A Trade Tower businessman narrowly escaped with his life, declaring, “It was like I was looking into God’s eyes, and he was looking into my soul.” What do the eyes of a holy and just God see when looking into your soul and the soul of our nation? An honest answer will reveal the buried message which, if embraced, will transform the horror of the past into a holy hope for the future.

Charles Crismier, author of a new book, Renewing the Soul of America (Elijah Books), is President of Save America Ministries and host of Viewpoint. His website is www.saveus.org.

©Charles Crismier III, 2002