Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Flag and the Statue

Old-world and modern-day symbolism draws attention.

What gives significance to a piece of art or an artifact of history? What makes it awe-inspiring? Or frightening? If I hang a small gold cross around my neck, it symbolizes something. To me and a great number of others, it means everything. Life, hope, redemption. It’s a symbol of Christ. But others wear it and it means nothing. It’s a piece of jewelry. Whether worn as a statement of faith or a token of nothing at all, the facts of the cross originally meant it to be a symbol of death. Of execution. Something to be feared. It’s the history of the church that altered the meaning and made it something of great value. Something wonderful.
I’ve taken note of two symbols in the news lately. One is a flag. The other is a statue. Both caused me to do a little research. To sit down for some history lessons.

First, the flag. I’m Florida born and raised. A southerner. But I have no particular fondness for the Confederate flag. In my neck of the south the flag means, and this is an assumption on my part, that the pickup it adorns belongs to a redneck. He’s probably got a shotgun. Okay, I know not everyone displaying the flag fits that narrow demographic. Some are just proud to be southern. Some have a family connection to a Confederate soldier. Some don’t want to forget history. And isn’t that important? If we forget where we came from, aren’t we more likely to repeat our mistakes?

I’m not a Confederate history buff. I didn’t know there was a difference between the Confederate National flag and the Confederate battle flag. Or how many variations came and went during the Civil War. Or that the Stars and Bars was the first national flag, but the Southern Cross was the battle flag. The third and final national flag was called the Blood-Stained Banner. It represented war. It did not represent victory. But now, it’s just history.

And now the one flag that made it into the modern world holds different meanings for various people. I respect that it has unpleasant connotations for some. To a young man who chose a violent end, it meant something evil. But a flag is not evil. It is part of a history stained with blood. Like the floors of a church in South Carolina. Have we forgotten people were murdered? Not because a messed up kid had a flag. Not even because he had a gun. He was disturbed and he killed people and that’s a tragedy not to be forgotten. And yet now, it’s all about the flag.

I can go on my way unoffended by a flag on a pickup, and I can sympathize with those who want the flag removed. But I have no such understanding for the second symbol. The statue. I hope I never see it. It’s a hideous thing being revealed on July 25th by Detroit’s Satanic Temple. Not everyone’s invited to the unveiling. The secret location of the event will be announced
only to ticket holders. The statue is being commonly referred to as Satan himself, though it’s actually Baphomet. Close enough. The goat-headed idol has been showing up since the Knights Templar. The Freemasons held it in regard. More recently, it stands as a symbol of various occult practices, black magic, and Satanism. The name Baphomet is reportedly linked to Mohammed. But the variations in depiction and history cut a wide path. Two things struck me as I read about the winged beast. One, Baphomet is traditionally both male and female. And two, this new rendition is flanked by children.

It’s no surprise the chosen pagan idol of the modern-day satanic church would be both male and female. Whether you take it as a sign of bravery as some have proclaimed it, or a perversion of God’s plan for the human race, it works for the Satanist. But why the children? Why depict those who are so filled with potential? So vulnerable and impressionable? But of course, that’s exactly why.

The purported plan is not to leave the statue at the temple, but to eventually move it to the Capitol building in Oklahoma. The long-running battle over a monument of the Ten Commandments there has given cause to erect another monument alongside it. But is there a hidden strategy in that plan? If the battle to remove a statue of Baphomet came down to a loss for Satan’s team, it would be no loss at all. The Ten Commandments would have to go as well. That would only be fair.

I’ll keep an open mind about the flag—on both sides of the issue. But I won’t forget how this battle started—some of my people were killed at a church service. Yes, my people. Christians. As for the statue—I’ve heard enough. And as for me, I hold no symbol too closely. If the cross is removed forcibly from my neck, my church, and my country, I will remember it still. I am a perpetual student of the cross, but an inch of gold around my neck is so not important. The only lasting symbol is the seal of the Spirit of God by whom I am redeemed. It can’t be broken, outlawed, or lost. Not ever.
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:28-29


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