“And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.”
The empires of the future are empires of the mind.”
Winston Churchill said this in a commencement speech at Harvard on Sept. 9, 1943, in reference to the days of empires past. He reminded his audience that day that if we, the English-Speaking Peoples, would stand together, nothing was impossible, that our future would be ours to win or give away.
It seems we’ve arrived at another of those watershed moments in our history … the future being ours to win or give away … but ... at a time when we’ve never been more internally divided. Our vision of the future, in order to defend our identity, must be founded upon our own special and unique past, as memory is identity. We must inject ourselves with a massive infusion of memory, and then, our vision to continue in the way the Founders envisioned must be acted upon with great enthusiasm and made real ... injected into the veins which lead to the future of America.
The first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, John Winthrop, who, as a passenger on the Arbella, one of 11 ships carrying over a thousand Puritans to Massachusetts from England in 1630, summed up their collective purpose quite clearly: “We shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us.” In his “Farewell Address to American People” on Jan. 12, 1989, President Ronald Reagan echoed the words of Gov. Winthrop as he reflected upon his own vision for America:
“I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind, it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace — a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors, and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.”
Reagan’s shared vision with the first governor of Massachusetts is there for our taking, and we must now make it our own. Both Winthrop and Reagan were passing on a vision that was given to us by God in the transmission of the vision to John on the island of Patmos, his place of exile as decreed by the Roman Emperor Titus Flavius Domitianus in 95 CE:
“Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’” [Revelation 21:1-4]
With all the chaos and mayhem swirling around us, if we were to refuse to allow that to dominate our thoughts and instead, turn to meditate on that vision of “a New Heaven and a New Earth” as a means of inspiring hope … if the empires of the future are indeed the empires of the mind, then, who knows, instead of our way of life being, at best, compromised, or, at worst, destroyed, we may end up transforming ourselves into a temporal version of that “shining city on a hill” that Winthrop and Reagan envisioned and spoke of and that God promises to bring to us ultimately, in the end. Why not?
I’m going to meditate on that Scripture and envision that city every morning. Who’s with me?
Hennessy, of Geneva, has studied the Bible under both Jewish and Christian teachers and received training as a Holocaust educator by staff from the Int’l School of Holocaust Studies in Jerusalem, Israel, the Anti-Defamation League and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. He is author of the book, “Remembrance & Repentance: The Call to Remember and Memorialize the Holocaust.” Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.