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Myths and Superman - Musing for 9/9/2021

One of the great myths in American Society is that of the rugged individual. I have discovered the term rugged individualism was actually coined by Herbert Hoover as a political slogan and was never really researched or vetted as a fact.

In fact, if you study the history of the United States from Jamestown forward, you discover that it was the community and people working in tandem that allowed America to grow and thrive. What is fascinating to discover is that our achievements have always occurred because groups of people came together to make it happen. Certainly, there are those who are more noted in history for their work or leadership, but George Washington would be forgotten if it were not for the countless and now forgotten soldiers who lived through Valley Forge.

And while McArthur, Eisenhower, Nimitz, Doolittle, and Patton are remembered for their leadership in World War II, it was folks like the everyday grunt soldiers and medics and clerical staffs and those who became known as Rosie the Riveters and even church groups who sewed and rolled bandages after worship services which were shipped abroad to support the war effort, who made those Generals’ plans actually succeed and together led the Allies to overcome the Nazis and Fascism.

Yet the myth of individualism exists and has been made popular in our culture. Sadly, we continue to see it in the pandemic where individuals declare they have no responsibility to worry about and certainly not care for the community at large. Instead of seeking ways to promote the common good, signs saying “Let the weak die” have been pictured at events across the nation.

Such self-centeredness has even found its way into the church, even though the entire Biblical narrative declares we are to rely on and seek our help from God, and that as Christians we are to live together in a community that strives for shalom.

The 121st Psalm declares:

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

In the 12th chapter of the book of Romans, Paul implores us to work TOGETHER with one another saying:

“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.”

And later in the 15th Chapter he declares:

“May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.”

There’s a story from the life of the championship boxer, Muhammad Ali. Ali was not noted for admitting any need for help, acknowledging his reliance on others, and certainly not showing any humility, to say the least.

It seems that one day, Ali had boarded a commercial airliner. He resisted the instructions of the flight attendant, who repeatedly told him to buckle his seatbelt.

Ali looked back at her in defiance. “Superman don’t need no seat belt,” he proclaimed, for all the first–class cabin to hear.

The flight attendant, without missing a beat, replied, “Superman don’t need no airplane, either. Buckle up.”

Knowing he’d been bested, Ali swallowed his pride and buckled up.

Friends, the truth is none of us are superman or superwoman. We need to lean on God and one another. When we fail to do that, our lives get off track and we lose our way. It is only through our relationship with God and God’s people we are able to live the life to which we are each called so that with one voice, we may give praise and glory to God.

Alleluia Amen.

Clay Gunter


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