As a kid, I loved fireworks and my sons loved fireworks. It's a boy thing. It made for good father-son outings. Girls love the beautiful aerial displays, but we guys love detonating everything and making things go boom. Firecrackers added a lot to my make-believe world of warfare. I would become engrossed in planting my "bombs" in anthills and annihilating the enemy towns, and putting my "mines" under toy cars and see how high they would get tossed. And a firecracker in a pipe made a mean cannon.
I thought I was a deprived kid because my dad didn't believe in spending much money on fireworks. There were no fireworks displays within driving distance. But I had an uncle who was a big kid at heart who would buy a jumbo box of all kinds of fireworks. He and a lot more of our extended family would come stay with us once a year for a small family reunion. But this reunion was not at Independence Day--it was at Christmas.
So a big part of our Christmas celebration was blowing up lots of fireworks! Rather than "silent night", it sounded like an air raid. Rather than "peace on earth," it sounded like World War III. Somewhat amazingly, no neighbors complained.
When I got to be a little older, I felt a little guilty about our irreverent noise-making at Christmas time. However, at about age 22 I learned the Jesus wasn't born in December, that Jesus would not want us to worship Him that way, and that Christmas was just a pagan holiday. Then I felt relieved that we had not desecrated anything that God considered sacred.
At the same time, I was becoming more patriotic and was appreciating more and more the meaning of Independence Day. Sadly, I realized hardly anyone called it Independence Day. People would just say "the fourth of July" or "July 4th" or just "the fourth." That trend has gone hand-in-hand with the trend of people forgetting American history and appreciating less and less the rare and awesome gift of personal and national liberty. Today, "the fourth" largely represents a welcomed long weekend, family get-togethers, water sports, cookouts, store sales and FIREWORKS. (July 4th is a benchmark for some farmers. They used to say "the corn is as high as an elephant's eye by the fourth of July.")
Not much focus on our precious freedom and liberty. Not much focus on how we are losing those liberties. Not much focus on what we can do to try to preserve those liberties. Not many people spending a little time re-reading our Declaration of Independence, the preamble to our U.S. Constitituion and the Bill of Rights.
Unfortunatey, the same seems to be true about the greatest document ever written - the Bible. Most of America's founding fathers were Bible-readers and were largely inspired by the principles explained in the Bible as they wrote the Constitution and worked to establish a society based on those principles. That's the Book we need to be reading above all others. "You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).
The July-August 2011 issue of The Good News magazine is devoted to articles about the founding of the United States and the biblical principles that guided the founders including their love of liberty. Many related articles make this issue unusually enlightening and inspiring. Enjoy!