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Shining Shuttle to the Stars or Long Black Train to Hell  by Rev Michael Bresciani, Oct 2006

linerIt has been calculated that after the 1969 Tet Offensive in Vietnam that the North Vietnamese army was largely made ineffective. With that in mind it could also be said that America has lost no major war in its entire history. Is that what makes America a “super power?"


The power to wage and win wars may be to the minds of some what makes a nation a super power but after a closer examination of history it can be seen that military victories don’t go very far to keep a nation at the peak of power. History says it is a nation’s moral fortitude alone that keeps it at the top. Obviously there are those who don’t believe this and there is even more who think it is pure folly just to entertain such an archaic thought.


Throughout history the strongest nations were often brought down by a mere device. To wit, ancient Babylon seemed impregnable with its massive walls that could hold six chariots side by side on the tops of the wall. By a simple device, the diverting of the waters of the Euphrates River the Persians were able to wade in under the walls of the city and bring the inhabitants to their knees.


The Persians prided themselves in their power to swarm over a city with an overwhelming army and flatten all resistance. If a city of one hundred thousand people was faced with an army of millions often they gave up without a fight. Again a simple device called the Greek Phalanx pulled the plug for Persia. A simple formation of tiered spearmen effectively ripped up the blitzkrieg like armies of Persia.


Superior strategies and the brilliant tactics of Alexander the Great laid waste to the Persians and for a time it would seem that no one could topple the mighty Greek empire. Enter Rome with an army of superbly trained men. A single Roman soldier was trained to hold off up to twelve men at a time. The idea of training men for warfare reached its peak at that time in history and remains to this day. Rome eventually fell from its perch but not because its famed armies lost their punch. It fell because it could not withstand its own success.


With material goods in abundance and freedom to do anything that entered the imagination, the Romans gave themselves to the hot pursuit of pleasures and indulgence. Rome’s reputation for licentiousness became a stink throughout the world. Within Rome the shredding moral fabric traversed the entire social spectra affecting Roman citizens from the lowest to the highest. Near the end of the empire the best seats of the Roman senate could be had for a pittance and the emperor’s throne had earned a reputation for shame that has far out lasted the fame of any particular emperor.


Germany underestimated the British, Bonaparte had his Waterloo and the list is almost endless. To make the list comprehensive would take volumes but the lesson is singular and takes only a sentence. “The power of a nation is not its armies.”


In the modern era it would seem that a burgeoning economy or great technological advances are commonly accepted as evidence of a nations “superpower” status. But since stock markets crash over night and space shuttles are brought down by a few missing tiles it is presumptuous to put all our trust in these things. The unseen substance of moral power still holds center stage in any assessment of a nation’s strength. It can’t be readily seen or handled much like air but everyone knows what happens when air begins to rise to the level of a category five hurricane or a tornado.


For America it is obviously a combination of all these elements that gave us the idea that we are a “superpower.”  With the abuse of our hard won freedoms on the rise and the flaunting of all that is raunchy by our film industry and media it seems we are on country singer Josh Turner’s Long Black Train rather than NASA’s gleaming shuttle to the stars.


There's a long black train
Coming down the line
Feeding off the souls that are lost and crying
Rails of sin only evil remain
Watch out brother for that long black train

Look to the heavens
You can look to the skies
You can find redemption, staring back into your eyes
There is protection and there is peace in the same
burn in your ticket for that
long black train

Cause there's victory in the lord I say
Victory in the Lord
Cling to the Father and his holy name
and don't go riding on that long black train

There's a engine there on that long black train
making you wonder if your ride is worth the pain
he's just a waitin' on your heart to say
let me ride on that long black train

But you know there's victory in the lord I say
victory in the lord
Cling to the father and his holy name
and don't go riding on that long black train

Well I can hear the whistle from a mile away
it sounds so good
but I must stay away
that train is a beauty making everybody stare
but its only destination is the middle of nowhere

But you know there's victory in the lord I say
victory in the Lord
Cling to the Father and his holy name
and don't go ridin' on that long black train

I said cling to the father and his holy name

and don't go ridin' on that black train
yes watch out brother for that long black train
the devils a ridin' that long black train


Have Americans lost sight of where the battle is, is the real army “We the People”, wandering around in a fog unable to even see where the enemy is? It is looking that way more and more as we head down history row.


Even with an all volunteer army whose morale is very high there are those who are in a rush to bring the men back from Iraq and Afghanistan before our objectives have been realized. Perhaps Americans have gotten the battlegrounds a bit mixed up and instead of thinking the defeat of terrorism is important they now believe in the media’s constant call to fight another war. Americans are called upon daily through millions of advertisements to fight the good fight against dirt, stains and germs.  


We plan for our happy retirements and talk of future personal security by building strong financial portfolios while we indulge in every whim and fancy without regard to rising world threats from terrorists, fanatical regimes and nuclear powered dictators with little or no conscience. The liberal factions of our society seem to see only an actual physical invasion of our shores as a real threat. They seem to have taken the events of 9/11 seriously but not for very long. Did someone announce a truce between us and the terrorists? The proponents of liberalism it would seem have heard a different trumpet blowing and raced off to the wrong war.


Preachers and prophets are accorded equal status with used car salesmen and anyone who thinks times were better before is taken for a sentimental nostalgia buff. Being cool is nothing but another word for aloof. America is aloof if it thinks that moral power is only a nostalgic allusion to our past or a pious preacher’s platitude that has no more practical value than the long forgotten debut of the hula hoop. In fact, our moral strength is all we’ve got!


Faith in God, love for our country and its founding principles and the love of our neighbor are not nostalgic niceties to look back on. They are the only hope of a reasonably good future we have, and that’s a big Cajun guarantee.


The Bible is very clear on the subject and we will call upon a passage of Holy Writ here to finalize the matter. The verses are taken from the prophet Jeremiah, chapter 17 verses 5 through 8.


5 Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.


6 For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.


7 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.


8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

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