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February 27, 2004
Each Friday's eMo is a meditation on lectionary texts for the upcomingSunday's worship. As with all the eMos, preachers and teachers are welcome to borrow, with the usual attribution. No further permission is necessary.


The temptation to ease. The temptation to power. The two combine to produce the third: the temptation to power's reckless use. I am magic. I can have anything I want and do anything I want, and I won't ever have to pay.

A further temptation has crept toward us as the centuries have passed, and it has entered our tents: I not only can have these things. I should. They are mine by right.

The brief earthly ministry of Jesus might be seen as an extended response to these temptations, In the months that follow, He faces and rejects each of them many times. He lives a life not dedicated to its own ease. He flees repeated efforts to install him as an earthly king. And he does more than strike his foot against a stone before He is finished.

Not an angel came to prevent His crucifixion. He does not appear to have expected one. We, on the other hand, can't bring ourselves to believe that an angel won't come and rescue us.

-I figure there'll be a cure for AIDS soon anyway, so I'm not really worried.

-I figure they'll come out with something that prevents obesity altogether, so I'm not really worried.

-I figure the market will take care of whatever we don't have in Social Security, so I'm not really worried.

-I figure the earth knows how to take care of itself, and I'm only one little person anyway, so what I drive isn't going to make that much difference, so I'm not really worried.

Economists speculated this week about what will really be the effect of American jobs so easily and so rapidly relocating overseas. Of the immensity of population in Asia, as compared with North America. The money is going to go where the people are, some say. Technical jobs, not just manufacturing. This could spell the rapid end of our hegemony, some said. A change will come very quickly, and it will leave us no longer on top.

Impossible, said others. We must be on top. It is wrong for us not to be on top. Not just bad for us, but wrong. Besides, it can't happen.

The brightest minds find ways to see that those things from which they benefit are both right and good. They are sincere in this. They truly believe that our permanent destiny to lead, earned in the past, must continue, whether or not we earn it in the future. They are paid for believing this, and it has become part of them. Suspect your own opinion if anybody gives you money for holding it. You may still be correct, but you are not completely free.

Meanwhile, almost all of us have barely noticed the change: we still think this is about America versus other parts of the world. Not so. It's about certain Americans. And certain others. Certain to remain standing and to remain rich, no matter where the jobs go or who runs the country under which the oil flows. The second temptation is not really about nations any more. It's about companies that transcend them. And the angels that will catch us, regardless of how high a pinnacle we throw ourselves from?

Oh, we don't throw ourselves. We have people for that.
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