Friday, June 16, 2017

The West Wing And Me

I've mentioned before I could probably get by without my television set. Outside of the NBA Finals/other major sporting event or the occasional Judge Judy, it just never is turned on. Without cable or a satellite dish, I've simply found few good offerings on the networks I can pick up. I liked Friday Night Lights but shows about teenagers always run their course. One show I did like more than a decade ago was The West Wing on NBC. It told the story of a fictional administration in the White House. The actors were first rate but what I especially appreciate now is that the two political parties treated each other with at least a modicum of respect and civility, something sorely lacking in Washington today. In one of the 2001 episodes, entitled Let Bartlet Be Bartlet, the inner staff during a crisis took an oath of allegiance, saying, "I serve at the pleasure of the President." That was curious to me, because even as a social science major in college, I never recall hearing that phrase. Turns out it is a very old statement of loyalty. In a May 2007 New York Times Magazine article, William Safire described it as follows:
The origin is the Latin durante bene placito regis (as Jimmy Durante used to say, “Everybody wants ta get inna de act”), which translates as “during the pleasure of the king.” This did not mean “while the king was having fun”; it meant that nobody could hold an official position against his will.
Safire went on to say the concept has been in place for centuries and a point of contention in American policies, even contributing the the impeachment of Andrew Johnson in the 1860s. But many folks believe its use as a phrase in that West Wing episode brought the term, if not exactly the sentiment, back into public consciousness. 

Our minister, David Yasko, is fond of quoting, as he calls him, that great theologian, Bob Dylan, particularly in regards to the title of one of his later hits: (You) Gotta Serve Somebody. That's absolutely a Bible concept: from Joshua telling the people of Israel to choose who they would serve (his family had already decided) to Jesus, in both Matthew 6 and Luke 16, teaching we can't serve, A. two masters and B. God and money. In Luke 17, Jesus illustrates with the example of servants being unworthy, only doing what they were told. BUT, they were obedient and we can't be obedient to two kings or saviors or ways of life concurrently. Many in the world deny they have allegiance to anyone but by denying Jesus, they do. They simply don't realize what team they have chosen. There will be efforts to try to get us to switch sides and sometimes the allure is strong. Wish I could say I have never flirted with the devil but we all know that would be a lie. We can't walk with one foot in the darkness and one in the light, with one on the narrow way and one on the road leading to destruction. We either serve at the pleasure of God.... or we don't. There is no third option.

Applicable quote of the day:
Man was created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord and in this way to save his soul. The other things on Earth were created for man's use, to help him reach the end for which he was created. 
Saint Ignatius

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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