If I cut a beautiful flower off its plant and bring it indoors, I seem to have done a clever thing. No longer need I step outside to enjoy the bright colors and intoxicating fragrance – it’s right there on my desk.
However, the next day I notice the flower is less colorful and its perfume a little fainter. Later the flower fades and shrivels. Its sisters out in the garden are still magnificent. This is the sad secret of the severed flower.
The fragrant flower of civilization is frighteningly fragile. While connected to its Judeo-Christian roots, all is well. About fifty years ago there began a process of severing America from its roots. The process of secularizing our culture continues today.
At first it seemed clever. No longer were we confined by the rules and restraints of religion. No longer did we have to think of cosmic right and wrong.
But gradually we began to shrivel and gradually we began to fade. Sadly, life in America has become more expensive, vulgar and alienated. Yet one great distinction stands between a flower and our culture: we can be reattached to our religious roots.
Those religious roots nurture three areas:
First, marriage. Would marriage have evolved naturally? Would a man or a woman have thought of it first? Men are happy to date for years. Seldom does the man say, “Darling, we ought to be thinking about our future?”
Maybe a woman first said to a man, “I have this great idea – why don’t we create something called marriage?” He replied, “What’s marriage?” She said, “It’s easy. You stop looking at other women and when I have a baby, you take care of us – hey, come back I’m not finished talking.”
Clearly marriage has its roots in God’s Biblical blueprint. Without the first chapters of Genesis, few would be getting or staying married. As faith has diminished in America, so has the strength and stability of marriage.
Money is the second area in which our religious roots sustain us. Without the lens of faith, we would view money as only physical. A physical object, say a book, can only be in one place at a time. But spiritual things like, say, a tune can be on a thousand lips at once.
If I hear you whistling a song and I start whistling it too, I am taking nothing from you. But if I take your book you no longer have it. Well, if money is physical, then the only way to get it is by taking it. For every dollar that I have, someone somewhere has one less. But if money is spiritual, like a tune, it is brought into existence afresh without taking anything from anyone else. Truly, we don’t take money, we make money. Your dollars symbolize how you serve other people.
Manners is the third area in which the Bible anchors us to our roots. The basics of what we consider good manners spring from the first chapter of Genesis. Behaving like an animal erodes the separateness that God gave us from the animal kingdom. We refrain from making noises, scratching ourselves in public or eating like animals to emphasize our humanness.
Our lives are immeasurably improved by living in a society where marriage is the crucible of the next generation, where money exists and wealth created, and where human interaction is lubricated by manners and civility. Severed from our Judeo-Christian Biblical roots we risk losing all that and everything that flows from it.
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12 thoughts on “A Severed Flower”
Many years ago I was a young science teacher at a junior high school. I remember well a young girl and her older brother who were my students. The younger sister had epilepsy that frequently left her having a seizure on the floor of the classroom with students gasping as she went through the seizure. Her father warned the school to not call 911, since he could not afford the cost of the ambulance that would get her for unnecessary medical help, since she would eventually get over the short seizure. The girl’s mother had died recently and the family was in a horrible state financially and emotionally. The girl came to me sobbing one day since another teacher had told her class that when you are dead you are dead and that’s it. I knew this man was an evolutionist and preached that in his classroom. Her life was miserable with fears of another seizure and no hope for the future. The young girl would come to her other teachers to seek the Truth and not just some teacher’s belief filled with no hope!
Years ago no teacher could make a statement in the classroom that there is no afterlife and that evolution is true. I told the girl that I did believe in an after life and tried to comfort her as she cried about his remarks. As my teaching years progressed, there were many students, who came to me emotionally upset over a teacher’s statement that there is no afterlife and evolution is true. That statement gave no hope to kids who were taught to believe it by a secular teacher. I have often thought that since we have moved away from the Biblical truths that it leaves our young people with no hope for the future! Few students today know anything about the Biblical truths of the Bible that give hope to people and a framework for living!
From Madrid Spain,thank you very much for your wisdom Rabbi!
Good to hear from you, Juan,
I hope you listen to the podcast also: https://rabbidaniellapin.libsyn.com/
My favourite Rabbi Daniel Lapin,much love from Kenya East Africa.May hashem always grant you wisdom to oved his children.
Thank you Peter–
What a nice note. Much appreciated
Thank you for this Thought Tool. It’s just what I needed to hear. I have been in a state of despair over the downhill slide our world is in. The Lord has been showing me how intolerant of others I have become. It’s kind of like how a police officer becomes desensitized after dealing with thugs for years. I used to say often “What is wrong with people?” I wish to drop that attitude as I understand more and more how things got to be the way they are. I cannot expect people to behave in a manner like, civil way when they have been indoctrinated to believe that being individualistic, all inclusive and a life being of no value is the way to go.
My daughter also believes that the constitution should be revised as it is outdated. She’s 19 and in college at a secular school. Thankfully, she is interested in the sciences. We do a lot of talking about “how the world really works”, so I have hope.
I wish to be the beautiful fragrant flower we all long for in this troubled world. Thank you for helping me to do that!
Sorry for the long post.
I have also been watching my attitude in how I think of others. I recently stopped using social media, and then my husband purposely smashed his iPhone. I decided to follow his example, and although I did not smash mine, lol, I did rid my life of my iPhone. We both now have flip phones. We are shocked at the attitudes we find that we have about others, now that those phones are gone, and we are confronted with the people we became through the use of those phones. We both grew up being taught to give others the benefit of the doubt, but we find that something about social media and iPhones made us extremely critical of others. We have spent the last few months nurturing real life relationships, face to face. It is much harder to tell someone off face to face, and much easier to extend kindness with in person friends. We are so happy without those phones and social media accounts! Our lives are so much more peaceful, our children are happier, and we now have a strong collection of real life friends again. God is so merciful to us, to give us second chances, isn’t He?
Thanks for sharing your voyage, Chana. What strength of character you and your husband are showing!
I agree with Mary and have 3 sons, 26-21 all seem to be level headed some more conservative than others and I pray that they will stand with our roots and that is a large prayer since I did not give them the foundations of a biblical base as young children. I was raised with the values from our Judaeo Christian beliefs but did not even know it until I started going to bible studies and learning the bible in my early 40’s. I would then bring bible studies into the home and my husband and I took them to church on occasion but it was not a weekly habit. If Mary’s children made it through college there is great hope that they will turn back to their roots. I have been focusing on the 5 F’s and use that to talk with my youngest as well, I do wish I had these concepts when they were young but all we have is today and tomorrow when it comes. I have turned to In God We Trust, that gets me through my days on many fronts.
I loved reading the Severed Flower. I have become devastated by the mess in America. I am amazed by the anti-semitism, evil hatred, country divisiveness, mob violence. I fear for the lives of my grandchildren. My children have bought into leftist ideology, though both were conservatives in college and graduate school. Now they believe it’s okay to change the Constitution.
Mary, let’s pray your children return to their roots. It is a very scary time.
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