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Big Rock Candy Mountain
Recently I was listening to the soundtrack of O, Brother, Where art Thou? and heard a very interesting song. The song is entitled The Big Rock Candy Mountain. Basically, it is a hobo ballad about a hobo paradise originally recorded in the 1930's.
It mentions a lake of whisky, streams of alcohol, cigarette trees, jails of tin, policemen with wooden legs, and various other questionable attributes of paradise. It really shocked me to find out that it was written in the '30s.
Even though I reject the typical conservative idea that things have been getting worse since the founding fathers, I am still surprised to find a song like this. About the only vice it doesn't mention is illicit sex. And, supposedly the original version was about luring boys to become hobos only to be abused. It reminds me of Pinocchio, another surprisingly dark piece.
I think we are deceived about the decay of the world because we forget two things. We forget that sin entered the world in Adam and that it has been bad for a very, very long time. This basic sinfulness is always present in every culture no matter how nice it appears on the outside. Secondly, we get wrapped up in our own time and place and forget that God is doing something much bigger than our country and our lifetime.
These confusions are further complicated by the prevalence dispensational premillenialism which teaches that the world will get worse and worse until Armageddon. I believe that it is a misunderstanding of scripture and has been detrimental to the spiritual life of the church. Its rise at the same time as the fundamentalist-modernist controversy served to turn the church inward. This exacerbated the average church-gowers myopic vision of the world.
Only in the past couple of decades is the church emerging. Even still, there are decades of ingrowth to overcome and a lot of bad attitudes toward the church from without. It would do us good to concentrate on the ingrowth first. Unfortunately, many of those that are ingrown are leaders. Only God's spirit to turning the church back to the Gospel and away from its various forms of legalism will save true Christianity in America.
Psuedo-christian legalism is as bad if not worse than pagan hedonism. At a worldly level pseudo-christian religion, it is better, but spiritually, it is worse. It is the religion of the Pharisees, which Christ rejected 2 millennia ago.