The popular legend of Nero, the decadent emperor of Rome, fiddling while the imperial city burned in July, 64 AD is just that—a legend. First, the fiddle didn’t exist until the 11th century AD. Secondly, Nero was 35 miles away at his villa in Antium when the fire broke out. He did rush back to the city to begin relief efforts, but some of the citizenry accused him of igniting the conflagration. (For more details www.history.com/news/ask-history/did-nero-really-fiddle-while-rome-burned.) Nevertheless today’s vernacular still speaks of “fiddling while Rome burns”—i.e., acting as if nothing were out of the ordinary while the world around you falls apart.
I don’t suppose anybody could accuse us of fiddling while our own nation burns, could they? But then again, consider this potpourri of stories just this week:
• Kaiser Family Foundation/CNN poll results on Tuesday announce “84% of white working class say government does not represent their views” (https://mobile.twitter.com/cnnbrk/status/778392163856056320).
• In the September 2016 issue of Imprimis Frank Buckley (law professor George Mason University) contends America is now, in contradistinction to its past, “the story of class struggles”—dominated by “a New Class of lawyers, academics, trust-fund babies, and media types—a group that wields undue influence in both political parties and dominates our culture. . . . America has become an aristocracy” (p 4-5, Vol 45, Num 9).
• Unarmed, 40 year old black man, Terrance Crutcher, with his hands up was shot last week and killed by Tulsa, Oklahoma police, when his car broke down in the middle of the street—one more blue on black video gone viral this summer [after writing this blog Charlotte erupted in violence overnight over a fatal police shooting on Tuesday].
• Some NFL players, as a protest to mounting racial tensions and inequities in this nation, are now kneeling or remaining seated during the playing of the national anthem.
• A naturalized American Muslim from Afghanistan is apprehended and charged this week with planting and exploding a series of bombs in the greater New York region over the weekend.
• Two candidates share disapproval ratings near record highs for a presidential election—but where else can the nation turn?—evidence enough that the day after the election this nation will be critically divided—racially, economically, socially, politically, religiously, morally, et al.
“Fiddling while Rome burns”—acting as if nothing were out of the ordinary, while the world around us falls apart. Would that be true of you, of me, too?
In 3 weeks Hope Trending: A Crash Course on How to Live without Fear will go live to the nation and world on October 14 at 8 PM ET. For 9 evenings (livestreamed at www.hopetrending.org and simulcast live on HOPE-TV) a relationally appealing picture of a loving God will be presented to a nation whose hope and help lie far from the corridors of aristocracy, politics and division. Don’t the citizens and neighbors we do know, the friends and colleagues we do have, the people down the hall or down the street—don’t they deserve to know Him, too?
For over a year now we’ve been talking and praying about a new, innovative way to connect Christ with people we know. Now that Hope Trending is 3 weeks away—wouldn’t this be the right time to extend His invitation? So, forget the fiddle—let’s grab our faith—and make an invitation that could change a life forever. Our own.