Quill pig is another name for a porcupine. Porcupines are unattractive and unpopular, but, as animals go, and unlike eagles, elephants, and donkeys, they are reasonably harmless good neighbors that mind their own business. Here's where we can talk about being good neighbors and why it's eternally important.
Monday, September 8, 2014
Be True to Your … Whaat?
When some big braggart tried to put me down And say his school was
the best, I said, “Hey, wait a minute. What’s the matter,
buddy, ain’t you heard of my school? It’s number one in the
state.” So be true to your school, Just like you would to
your girl. – Beach Boys, “Be True to Your School”
of the first things I noticed when we got to Papua New Guinea in 1982
was how patriotic the people in Port Moresby were, at least if
measured by the number of flags and the T-shrts and bumper stickers
and signs for the government-run radio network. As an American I
thought all this affection for the circuses run by and for the
benefit of the ruling class of a banana republic most people had
never heard of was kinda cute.
remembered at the time the pep rallies held before important athletic
events by the “public” schools I had attended. As I heard the
exhortations to “show some school spirit,” I knew I wasn’t
seeing much (at least when the team going out to fight, fight, fight
for us was probably going to lose). I also wasn’t sure what it was
or why it was important. What made Annandale High better than
Jefferson High or JEB Stuart High?
I had chosen to go to Annandale, sort of. The house that we were
looking to move into was in the district, and I thought Atoms was a
neat mascot, but even as a high school junior I knew that wasn’t a
good reason to choose one school over another. But I was into
(non-mainstream) sports more than academics, we trusted the system,
the house was a good fit, and the school wasn’t too far away, so on
the first Tuesday of 1969, I became as much an Annandale Atom as I
could without taking the field or even really caring if the teams
that first Friday I went to the football game alone. I didn’t see
anyone I recognized from my classes, nor did I recognize any names on
the roster. But I cheered for the Atoms, who had been Virginia state
AAAA champions the year before. Nineteen sixty-nine, however, was a
“rebuilding year” and they lost that night and most nights both
years I was there. Why did I cheer for them? Because I now lived in
did urban Papua New Guineans wave the flag? Because they were born in
the neighborhood. Why did I see Panamanian flags on almost every car
in Panama when I was there? Because the folks were born in Panama.
Why do Finns fly their flag? Why do Italians fly their flag (even
when they’re in the US and have never been to Italy)? It’s
because in some sense they were born there. They were placed there by
circumstances beyond their control.
do Americans fly Old Glory?
you had asked that question two hundred years ago, I think the answer
(from white people, anyway) would have been, “Where this flag
flies, no one can claim special privileges. We’re all equal, and
people are free to take care of themselves, to succeed or fail on
their own merits.” (Abolitionists would have added, “Someday the
same will be said for all people here.” Others might have
added “peaceful commerce with all, entangling alliances with
none.”) Christians would have attributed this justice and the
liberty it made possible to the influence of the church on everyday
the church then had as high adultery, divorce, and bastardy rates as
the society as a whole – as it does today – but those rates were
low. And though not everyone who went to church was trully living for
God, talk of “Christian America” was not too far off.
today? What does it stand for today?
sentence runs through your mind when you see the flag flying? “The
land of the free and the home of the brave”? How free do people who
elect a Barack Obama want to be? Or do they want a system of
privileges for themselves and their friends? How do the anti-imports
and anti-immigration and anti-gun and anti-drug crowds define “free”?
How brave are people who sit in air-conditioned rooms in Arizona and
Pennsylvania and drop bombs on women and children across the ocean?
time you’re in a group, ask people what they think when they see or
fly the flag. Or try to read the minds of the other people in the
next crowd you find yourself in. Is what they think what you think?
Is what they think what God thinks, or what God wants them to think?
submit that Americans fly Old Glory today for the same reason I
rooted for the Atoms: it’s “the best” because it’s where they
are. I submit that there’s no true virtue attached to this flag as
opposed to, say, that of Finland. And given that thousands of people
who could live anywhere they chose within the borders of the US are
choosing to live outside, it would seem that a lot of people who have
looked into the matter consider rooting for Uncle Sam like rooting
for the Atoms in a “rebuilding year.”
It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home
and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He
went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached
the land God promised him, he lived there by faith – for he was
like a foreigner, living in a tent. And so did Isaac and Jacob, to
whom God gave the same promise. Abraham did this because he was
confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a
city designed and built by God. (Hebrews 11:8-10)
Abraham, we are blessed – so far – to live in a country where we
can go about our everyday business with relatively minor
difficulties. We don’t have the kings of the east abducting our
relatives (Gen 14) or an Abimelek commandeering our wells (Gen 21).
(Or maybe we do.) But we dare not forget that this is not our home.
We cannot look at the injustices in our society and say, “Ah, but
it’s good enough for government work.”
need to judge it by the standard of that “city designed and built
by God,” even if doing so in as godly a way as we can manage –
and we need to humbly ask God to make our way of communicating that
judgment ever more godly – makes us unpopular with those who know
of no better home.