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Tim Myers: City Council and the wrath of God

Myers' Musings

Posted: April 25, 2009 8:38 p.m.
Updated: April 26, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 

 You shall not make for yourself an idol. ... You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me.
Exodus 2:4-5

Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.
Isaiah 1:13

I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
—  Jeremiah 31:33

During my short single days in Omaha, Neb., before I met and married my Nebraska bride, I shared a house with Dave Foote, the local morning news anchor for the ABC affiliate. Like Los Angeles’ ABC affiliate, it was also Channel 7.

Dave left the house at 3:30 a.m. to prepare for his 6:30 a.m. newscast, and he asked for only one thing: That I watch the first five minutes of the program and call immediately if he had some strange physical appearance issue, like his hair standing straight up or something hanging from his nose.

In these days before DVRs I watched the last few minutes of the program preceding the newscast, a half-hour paid program from the Jimmy Swaggart ministries.

Every morning, I found it strangely comforting that the Rev. Swaggart would close out the broadcast with an offer of a dove medallion for any “love offering” of $50 or more.

One day I arose expecting to see the quintessential dove and the $50 ask. Imagine my shock when I saw an infomercial for the Thigh Master.

When I saw Dave that evening and asked for an explanation, he said the new station manager refused to renew the Swaggart contract.

I immediately imagined a wild-eyed ACLU leftist taking over our Midwestern station. Imagine my further shock when Dave informed me the new station manager actually held a deeply devout Christian faith and believed the constant shilling for money violated several of the Gospels.

I endured a similar visceral reaction when Councilman Bob Kellar articulated a wish to hold a plebiscite on the issue of including the words “In God We Trust” on the city of Santa Clarita logo, inspired by the recent inclusion of same on the city seal or logo or something of Victorville.

Other council members thought the idea laudatory, with Mayor Frank Ferry allegedly stating the city was “pretty Christian.”

I must say the idea terrifies me due to all my Christian beliefs, and I fear the council may unleash the set of dominoes that eventually brings the wrath of God upon the city.

My feelings center around my sincere fear this constitutes a “vain oblation” to God cited by the prophet Isaiah in damning the kingdoms of Judea and Israel.

The ruling-class Jews during those days studiously observed the outward prescriptions of the law, bringing the prescribed sacrifices and sitting in “solemn assembly” during the appropriate festival days.

Isaiah called them out for failing to recognize the plight of the poor and the lower class and effectively selling God’s justice to the highest bidder — or the most powerful.

Many know the words of Isaiah inscribed on the Los Angeles County Superior Courthouse: “Do justice to the orphan and plead for the widow.” The ruling Jews of Isaiah’s day did neither.

God told Isaiah about a new type of covenant cited above, where the people would no longer need the reminders of the festivals or the other vain oblations, but instead God would write his will directly upon their minds and hearts and they would foist his will without reminder.

Why do I fear this vain oblation in the case of the city? Replace orphan and widow with “homeless” in the verse from Isaiah above and one quickly gets the idea.

God wrote upon my mind and heart the need for a permanent homeless shelter in Santa Clarita. Nothing more specifically shows the will of God than a community caring for the most reviled members of society.

The concern? I also believe that a plebiscite banning a homeless shelter from Santa Clarita forever would also pass by about the same margin as the proposed plebiscite on including “In God We Trust” in the city logo, especially if they appeared on the same ballot.

Now that would be vain oblation.

Tim Myers is a Valencia resident. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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