“We are … easily distracted from our assignment of preparing for the coming of the Lord. [W]e commit vast resources to the fabrication of gods of stone and steel…. When threatened, we become anti-enemy instead of pro-kingdom of God; we train a man in the art of war and call him a patriot … in the manner of Satan’s counterfeit of true patriotism….” (President Spencer W. Kimball, The False Gods We Worship.)
Business took me to DC recently. Before my early afternoon flight home, I took the Metro to the Mall and went for a run through the monuments. I was particularly interested in seeing the Jefferson Memorial as I had never before visited it.
I first came upon the Washington monument. Wow. Big! As I stared up at the monolithic chiseled mass, I imagined what Washington himself would think of such a monument. I’m not quite sure, but, I’d wager to say, he’d wonder what it cost. Remember, this man refused to be a king, as did Mosiah’s sons, and decided on the title of “Mr.” for President.
I then ran to the Lincoln Memorial. There were two DC policemen there, keeping watch. The words directly above his statue say: “IN THIS TEMPLE AS IN THE HEARTS OF THE PEOPLE FOR WHOM HE SAVED THE UNION THE MEMORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN IS ENSHRINED FOREVER.” Interesting implication; that he is a savior and deserves to be worshipped in his “temple.” With such pretension, I came away slightly troubled.
I made my way around to the Jefferson Memorial. As I approached, I recalled an advertisement I had seen earlier inside a Metro train for a new Smithsonian exhibit, titled “Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello: Paradox of Liberty.” It displayed a painting of Jefferson, quite content, as well as some of sad slaves. Interesting. As I made my way inside to his statue, I again noticed two DC policemen. I also saw signs which read: “Please respect the Memorial and help preserve the atmosphere of calm, tranquility and reverence. Consequently, no demonstrations allowed.” This reminded me of the online videos of recent arrests right inside. As I read the quotes on the walls, a father was there with his son, and pointed up at the inside of the stone dome. “Right there; you see it?” He saw my puzzled glance in the same direction, and told me “cameras.” “Cameras!?” I asked. “What do you think those are for?” He chuckled, “What do you think?” They made their way off as I continued reading. As I finished, I finally noticed the very large engraved letters circling the inside of the dome. I slowly walked around the statue to read each word: “I HAVE SWORN UPON THE ALTAR OF GOD, ETERNAL HOSTILITY AGAINST EVERY FORM OF TYRANNY OVER THE MIND OF MAN.” Jefferson – what a great man of Liberty!
I couldn’t contain myself – I laughed out loud – what a thrilling quote! It connects his religious faith to his commitment to Liberty. And he gets to the point – the mind is the ultimate target of tyranny. Think of who persecuted and killed William Tyndale; think of North Korea’s prohibition on Western media or radios; think of schools that indoctrinate obedient masses. All malfeasors in those cases feed their victims the line that they are the most advanced, wealthy, and free people on the Earth. Come to think of it, we’re told that very same thing. And it may be mostly true, for now. With all the rhetoric about Liberty nowadays, we cannot allow tyrants to let that term be redefined, so as to convince us we have it when we don’t – the ultimate dirty trick.
Before I left, I glanced to make sure the cops weren’t in the line of sight; then I did a little two-second dance just for kicks, then ran off to make my way back toward the Metro.
As I passed the Smithsonian, I recalled a sight two days earlier, when, after getting lost on foot near dusk, the DC Temple emerged from behind the trees. That vista doused my soul with electrifying cool water that refreshed, energized, and thrilled. I could not stop grinning ear to ear as I approached and entered.
Men may have their gods of stone. But let us always be able to say “but as for me and my house …” (Joshua 24:15)