Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Mother Country Syndrome

Most Americans love Britain. She is, after all, our mother country, and how can you not love your mother? That’s why America ground to a halt when we heard the news about Lady Di, and why we were glued to our satellites when Kate Middleton married Prince What’s-His-Name. I believe the technical term for this is Mother-Country Syndrome (MCS). As unpopular as it may be to say it, perhaps our love for Britain causes us to overlook some important things.

Here in rural Maryland, for example, lots of people have been diagnosed with Lyme disease, which we are told comes from ticks. I’m not so sure. I’ve noticed that some of those who contract it are indoor types who work in offices and live in homes that are generally tick-free. Besides, it’s called Lyme disease, not Tick disease. Surely I’m not the only one to notice that lyme is obviously a British spelling of lime. We don’t need Miss Marple or Inspector Lewis to deduce that America’s outbreak of Lyme disease can be traced to infected British fruit. Was it just coincidental that America’s first reported incidents were in New England?

No doubt Anglophiles in Washington have ordered the CDC to perpetuate the tick narrative, as ticks have no lobbyists or embassies there, while Britain is a close ally, and America’s close ally cupboard is rather bare. But how many people must be sickened by bad British lymes before the truth is exposed? How many yanks are in London pubs this very hour, blissfully ignorant of the fact that the lyme in their pint may result in a debilitating illness? (All right, maybe there are no lymes in pints. Maybe they throw them in yesterday’s Times when they wrap up the fish and chips. I’m an idea guy; not a facts guy. If you’re a facts guy, you can investigate for yourself.)

Before you dismiss this theory, answer me this: Wasn’t it the Brits who gave us Mad Cow Disease? How many American cows, once perfectly normal, have lost all ability to reason simply because we thought British cows could do no wrong? I don’t mean to imply that all American cows that contracted Mad Cow Disease went stark raving mad. Some just went raving mad, with no signs of starkness. Nonetheless, how many years of therapy have those cows endured, and how many remain institutionalized today?

Sure, those therapeutic hospitals sound pleasant enough, Bovine Meadows, Hoof Haven, Elsie’s Elysium, but have you ever walked their halls, and heard the mindless babble (what the staff would call the cattle prattle) coming from the rooms (more like stalls, if truth were told). Have you ever had to look through protective glass into the tortured, pleading eyes of a cow, a cow that was once as sane as you or I, a cow whose slow descent into madness has isolated her from everything and everyone she once held dear? I haven’t either. But I imagine it would be traumatic. And the point let me remind you, is that Mad Cow Disease has been traced to Britain. Presumably, American cows, touring the Lake District, contracted it on tour buses while chewing the cud with their British counterparts; or maybe it was carried in by British cows vacationing in Miami. But however it crossed the pond, the lesson is, Britain is a hotbed for pestilence. In my (admittedly) non-professional opinion, there is insufficient sunlight to kill germs there 
If you need more evidence that love of all things British is affecting our judgment, just type the word supercalifragilisticexpialidocious on your laptop. MS Spell check thinks it’s perfectly acceptable. The next thing you know, Wikipedia is going to tell me that London Chimney Sweeps really do get together to dance on rooftops, British children do join animated fox hunts by jumping into sidewalk chalk drawings, and English nannies sometimes do fly over St. Paul’s via umbrella.

There remains at least one bastion that has not yet fallen to the Anglophiles---The American Red Cross. During the grueling interview process to determine whether one shall be granted the honor of having a certified phlebotomist extract one’s blood, the Red Cross makes it clear that if you’ve been in Britain for any significant time in recent years, you may return home with your blood gauge on full. As one mustachioed, sombrero wearing Red Cross tech put it,

“If you’ve lived in Eengland, we don’t need your steenking blood.”

At this point, the Red Cross wants blood from only red-blooded Americans who have not been corrupted by living in proximity to blue-blooded Britons. But how long before even the Red Cross buckles under the pressure of Mother-Country Syndrome? The queen’s Diamond Jubilee no doubt softened them up. The London Olympics may just push them over the edge.

Whether you agree that our love for our mother-country may be inordinate, or think it’s perfectly ordinate (which makes no sense, and suggests you may have a touch of Mad Cow Disease), you may be curious as to how I intend to turn this line of thought into some biblical truth. Here is how I propose to do it:

All this talk of excessive love for our mother country reminds me that Jesus warned his followers not to love father or mother more than him. Yes, it’s a stretch, but no one’s forcing you to read this (I looked into it; apparently it would be illegal, and cost-prohibitive).

Jesus said: “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me…” [Matthew 10:37]

Of course we are called by God to love and honor our parents, but we are not to put them above Christ. In other words, if they command us to do something God forbids, or they forbid us to do something God commands, we must obey God rather than our parents.

As a practical example, imagine you are brought by God’s Spirit to repentance and faith in Christ while you are still living at home, subject to your parents’ authority. You realize, as you read God’s Word, that believers are called to gather with other believers for worship, in a place where God’s Word is faithfully proclaimed, and where Christ is worshiped as Lord of all. But your family attends a church where God’s Word is neglected or denied---a church that doesn’t proclaim salvation by grace through faith in Christ’s finished work, but rather, salvation by baptism, or salvation by some other means. Or suppose it’s a church that supports things that are clearly contrary to Scripture, things such as “the right of a woman to choose” (to kill her baby) or “marriage equality,” by which is meant, placing the approval of the state on what God describes as

“…vile passions…men leaving the natural use of the woman, [burning] in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful,” and “women [exchanging] the natural use for what is against nature...” [Romans 1:26-27]

What should a young person do in such a situation? He should explain to his parents that he is called by God to where Christ is honored, and His Word is proclaimed and obeyed. He cannot support with his presence, with his giving and with his service a church that dishonors Christ.  He must “…worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness…” (Psalm 96:9) and he must “…have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness…” [Ephesians 5:11]

He might show them 2 Corinthians 6, where the Lord is quite clear on the matter of fellowship with unbelief:

“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?”  [2 Corinthians 6:14]

Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” [2 Corinthians 6:18]

His parents may disapprove of his decision, but he would rather experience their disapproval than his Lord’s disapproval, because he does not love his parents more than Christ.

On the other hand, if at the dinner table he is encouraged by his parents to squeeze a British lyme over his cod, or eat a slice of Mad Cow Cheese, the best course of action is to hop into the nearest chalk drawing. He needn’t worry about missing a meal. As I recall, there’s a lovely outdoor restaurant on the other side with the cutest penguin waiters.


  1. Over fifteen years ago, my wife Darla and I spent several weeks in England celebrating our 25th anniversary and visiting our daughter Grace, who was studying at Keeble College,Oxford (rooftop dance, I think). Because of Mad Cow Disease, it was a bit risky for the girls, but I was in no danger, as by then my descent into madness was complete. We had a close call with Lyme Disease. Once, at an outdoor restaurant, a penguin with a wooden leg named Smith tried to put a lyme in my tea, but I told him he could go fly a kite. I left him tuppence as a tip, which I hope he invested, and didn't waste on feeding the birds at St. Paul's.

  2. I wonder how these ideas pop into your head. Thanks for sharing your creative genius with us. I always enjoy reading your Wry Bread stories.