In 1951, Dylan Thomas penned a rather depressing poem called “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” capturing the empathy he felt for his dying father on his death bed. The poem addresses different types of individuals and essentially mourns the spent time while challenging them to fight for just a little more. It is postmodernism at its best. We live, we die, and that’s all folks. I hate postmodernism.
While this poem is more about death, I believe it can be used in another way. One line haunts me and has since I read this poem in my college sophomore poetry class: “Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” If Thomas truly believed nothing exists after this life, then I hope he raged. However, as a follower of Christ, I see this dying of the light in a different way. I see it in the squelching of anything and anyone bearing the name of Christ in our culture. And to that, I say rage against the dying of the light. For right now, Christianity is truly on its death bed in America.
Before you think I’m doom and gloom, simply turn on the news and listen for a few minutes. You’ll hear attacks against the conservative agenda (clearly not always Christian but often times encouraging moral issues which Christians believe to be imperative), attacks against religious groups or leaders, attacks against children saying “God bless you” to a sneeze.
It’s time to wake up, followers of Christ. We aren’t being hauled in front of a firing squad. But the attack is present and deceptively subtle. The battle is taking place in classrooms, courtrooms, office buildings, and churches. It’s intellectual and social and political. It is “tolerant” with the taint of hypocrisy. And it has us believing that it is acceptable and just the way things are.
This past Friday, I had dinner and movie night with my parents because it’s what the cool kids do these days. Seriously, it really is. After many excuses, I finally broke down and watched God’s Not Dead. I’ve put it off for months, not because I thought it is terrible. In fact, I’d heard great things. But because it hit close to home. Because I understood in many ways what it felt like to be challenged by a professor in a classroom and even have my decision to maintain Christian content affect my academic career. Or at least that’s how I saw it at the time.
Every semester of college, I had a professor challenge my faith. Sometimes it amused them and provided intellectual stimulation for them and my fellow honors college classmates. Sometimes it angered them. Sometimes they gave me opportunities to see if I would really act on what I believed. Sometimes they taunted. Sometimes they challenged. And sometimes they admired my fight and spirit. It was my mission field. And I was waging an intellectual war for faith against brilliant minds and impressionable young adults. Before you think this was some hoity-toity private school on one of the coasts let me just point out that this happened in the heart of the Bible belt in west Texas from multiple teachers in different departments over the course of three years.
“Only real risk reveals the quality of one’s belief.”
Persecution of Christians is happening in increasing doses. Instead of ignoring or accepting it, let’s acknowledge and fight it. The worst kinds of wars are those that begin in the mind and slowly work their way into the hearts of people. Actions follow and the consequences are disastrous. Let’s teach our kids that the Lord holds their future, not a professor in a classroom. I once allowed a piece of paper from a board saying I had been rejected from grad school to crush me. I wilted as a professor on that board shared that they didn’t want to teach me the content I wanted to write. Since when did education become about dictating content instead of teaching a skill?
Our children need to know they have a voice, even in their innocence. They need to see and hear bravery from their parents. They need to know that the God they are sharing is bigger than the ridicule of their teacher and the weird looks from their peers. They need to know that the only threat is a lack of God not the admission of Him. We need to stand by them and teach them what it looks like to fight for something of eternal value. And before you are argue that we don’t need to defend God, I would argue that this war isn’t to defend a God who is almighty and powerful and sovereign; it’s a battle to fight for His acknowledgement so the broken can still hear His name spoken freely and respond.
Clearly, God’s Not Dead fired me up. It showed me how widespread this is version of “tolerance” is becoming. And it terrifies me. But not enough to stay silent. I’ve tasted what it looks like to be the only believer in a room full of those who don’t believe in a God of hope or love. I don’t fear it, but I prefer not to do it alone. And as I see this deadly fog creeping over our culture, the kind that seeks to smother those who bear the name of Christ, I call Christians to stand tall.
Do not go gentle into that good night. RAGE, RAGE AGAINST THE DYING OF THE LIGHT.