Meditations on the Salute of the Snob



A few days ago, I was at the ‘Wings over Houston’ air show where diverse range of aero planes from the ones used in WWII to F16s performed breathtaking acrobatics ranging from spectacular reenactments of some classic WWII battles to a lady doing some really scary wing walking.
By far, the best performance of the day, to me, was that of a F15 which was piloted by two US air-force pilots. Its diamond shape, sharp nose, flame tail and the roar of the revving engines captivated the audience in a trance. The aesthetically shaped shining mass of grey metal roaring its way 3 miles into the atmosphere and then traversing the space over the airfields at reckless speeds and daunting maneuvers with class of its own, was a beauty to behold. As I was mesmerized by this spectacle, the word that kept non-volitionally popping into my mind was, ‘elegance’. I kept whispering to myself ‘elegance’… ‘elegance’… ‘pure elegance’…
The audience was caught up on a ‘state of transcendence’ during the 10 minutes of mind boggling air acrobatics and the sheer aesthetic beauty of the F15. Among the audience, I saw two guys a little farther with the tough-guy-demeanor… bushy moustache, a goatee that emphasized the constant smirk, arms crossed across the chest, denim and boots. They appeared to represent the kind, whose face is permanently set into a sneer, expressing a cynicism at everything around them. But as the F15, snooped down over the crowd to bid its final ‘adieu’, the tough guys did something unexpected, they looked at each other and seemed to say ‘let do it’ and then when the F15 passed over us, close above our heads, the couplet did a salute!!!
It was glorious to watch the massive machine doing some super natural feats fly so close to our heads. In fact, the salute was the ‘ordinate’ response to such an experience. They weren’t just saluting the F15, because the glory did not belong just to the piece of metal called the F15 or the pilots, the glory of the experience belonged to the invisible ‘spirit’ of human creativity which envisioned and built such a machine that would with elegance, defy ubiquitous laws of nature, which has bound mankind for many millennia. I couldn’t say which of the two spectacles intrigued me more, the elegant F15 and its spectacular feats or the tough guys’ salute at the experience of glory.
As I was thinking about this, my mind digressed into thinking about another class of intellectual ‘tough guys’ who are the true cynics. They call themselves skeptics and wear an expression of a perpetual sneer. I think that the likes of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hutchins fall under this category. I suspect that they would give a free-pass to or even be appreciative of these tough guys who salute the ‘invisible’ human-spirit that created such a marvel, after all the salute is a sign of gratitude to the sublime human spirit. On the other hand, if these intellectual skeptics were to see a man that were to go down on his knees marveling at the ‘invisible’ Spirit of God whose creativity is seen in the starry hosts of the heavens and the universe within the atoms, these intellectuals ‘materialists’ would pounce on them calling them disillusioned mentally retarded religious bigots.
My point is that the materialists who claim that sane men cannot worship something they cannot ‘see’, constantly keep worshiping things that aren’t ‘materially’ seeable. They worship the ‘laws of logic and reason’, which they use in their arguments against God though none on earth can ‘see’ the laws of logic. The laws of logic is an ‘immaterial reality’ as is the ideal of the human spirit or for that matter, the Spirit of God.
Yesterday, in President Obama’s speech in the State Dinner in the honor of the Indian Prime Minister, he said, “there are two things that are most beautiful in life, the starry hosts above and the sense of duty within the human heart”. I have seen a part of the starry hosts. I have never ‘seen’ the sense of duty. I may have seen the manifestations of the ‘sense of duty’, but that is not ‘seeing’ the sense of duty itself, after all most people may do things because of the sense of fear rather than duty. Nevertheless, none can ‘see’ it precisely is because it is a ‘sense’. If it can been ‘materially seen’ in a test tube, it can no longer be called a ‘sense of duty’, neither would it likely be ‘called’ beautiful.
The cynics of the kind we are talking about do not discount the universal sense of duty in the heart of man, even though they cannot ‘see’ it, but they discount the sense of God within the heart of man. In suspect that, empirically speaking, the ‘sense of God’ in the hearts of men would be more prevalent among men than the ‘sense of duty’ in the heart of man.
I find it surprising that the cynics wouldn’t discount one ‘sense’ but would disparage the other. This is outright hypocrisy. We may wonder what motivates these intellectual heavy weights to be hypocritical, after all if there is a crime there has to be a motive. What would that motive be? I suspect that the reason why they do not discount the validity of the ‘sense of duty’ is because they don’t see the sense of duty as directly implying the presence of a superior personality outside or above them. But the sense of God, if it is acknowledged as genuine, would imply an acknowledgement of a superior personality above.
I am remained of the progenitor of these Anti-Christian cynics, Aldous Huxley, who perhaps was a better cynic than the contemporary ones, as he directed some of his cynicism at himself as well. He said, “I do not believe in a God, not because there isn’t enough evidence for a God, but because I do not want a God to be there… (because that would imply that there truly is a standard morality and I need to adhere to it)”.
The class of cynics who do not want a superior authority to be there, rile against those who believe in a superior authority, just because they want to live lives their own way, without any encumbrances from any superior being. Their tirade against God has nothing to do with God being invisible, even if God were visible, they would explain Him off with a new scientific theory, no matter how untenable it sounds. Their need to rile against God and all those who are on His side has everything to do with the spirit of rebellion in every man that does not like to be truly grateful and consequently humble towards anyone else other than self. What starts as gratitude would impel a person to be humble and would help the person to salute or go down on his knees at the experience of glory.
The lesson to Christians in this is that if the Christians were to be yield to the downward tug of the ‘fallen’ human nature to not be grateful to anyone else other than self, then they too would end up in the class of the cynics who sneer at everything good around them. So in this Thanks giving season, as we move towards Christmas, let us take time to be grateful to the invisible yet pervasive God who is ‘there’.

Author: Emmanuel R Paulpeter

I am a writer, spiritual director, life coach and a Church Planter who love all things pop culture, theology and spirituality.

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