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There Are Too Many Saviors on My Cross

There Are Too Many Saviors on My Cross

This article’s title derives from a poem published 50 years ago by actor and film star Richard Harris. Written in free verse, and recorded and released as a record in the days when vinyl was king, Harris’s poem was a cry for peace in Northern Ireland, a land plagued by political and religious violence between Catholics and Protestants.

The cross Harris refers to is the cross of Christ. The saviors are the Irish Protestants and Catholics murdering and robbing one another using Christ’s cross not for love or peace but for their own nefarious ends.

“Who put you there?” Christ asks of them in the poem. “Who told you that that was your place?”

Indeed, many earthly “saviors” have seemingly good intentions and concerns that sheath a dagger. And these saviors aren’t just limited to the warring Irish Protestants and Catholics. Seemingly benign examples abound: The mother who smothers her grown son with advice; the father whose lavish praise of his beloved daughter nourishes an overblown ego; and the husband whose well-meaning nitpicking is destroying his wife. Motivated by what they regard as love, these sorts of saviors diminish people in the name of love.

Worst of all these saviors, however, and one that weighs heavily on the lives of every American, is government.

Believing they know what’s best for “the people,” politicians and a host of bureaucrats essentially regard themselves as our saviors and seek to lift a cross from our shoulders. The alphabet soup of federal agencies, for instance, exists almost exclusively to rescue Americans not so much from foreign or domestic enemies as from themselves. Education, health, environment, art, business—you name it, and you’ll likely find a federal or state agency managing your affairs “for your own good.”

When government isn’t pretending to be an omniscient deity—as it did during the pandemic—it often acts as parent or nanny, always ready to impart counsel and wisdom which, if ignored, will get you a timeout in the corner or a trip to the backyard to cut a switch. These saviors don’t preach love but obedience.

Even worse, large numbers of Americans worship at the altar of politics and government. Look up “Is climate change a religion?” and you’ll find many commentators saying, “Absolutely.” Other worshippers of government seek relief from the tens of thousands of dollars they borrowed to attend college. Some who elect not to work reach to the almighty government for money and benefits. Those wishing to alter cultural norms push the government and the courts to become their instruments of change rather than convincing their fellow citizens of the justice of their cause.

In his poem, Harris has Christ ask:

“Who gave you the right to increase your fold while

decreasing the pastures of My flock?

Who gave you the right? Who gave it to you, who?”

Regarding the elevated status of our politicians and administrators, the answer is simple: We did. We traded liberty for security. Over the past century, or longer, we’ve given greater and greater powers to government, abetted its vast expansion, and have as a consequence slowly transformed our servants into our masters.

I am writing these words the day before the midterm elections. Many people are hoping and praying these elections will bring a turnabout in the direction our country is headed. I am one of these but with this caveat: If we place too much hope and too many expectations in politics and politicians, we are sure to be disappointed and will once again be deceived.

As much as possible, then, let’s keep these supposed earthly saviors in perspective. All too often they are burdens, not blessings.

Image credit: Flickr-It’s No Game, CC BY 2.0


Jeff Minick
Jeff Minick

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  • Avatar
    November 19, 2022, 2:48 am

    Only Jesus saves!

    • Avatar
      Annie Duke@Dan
      November 23, 2022, 12:06 am

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  • Avatar
    November 19, 2022, 3:13 am

    Thank you for the reminder. We all must be reminded from time to time because the habit is still too close in our behavior. Remind not in repetition but with loving caution and admitting at the same time, those that remember,.. be reminded too.

  • Avatar
    Margaret Owen Thorpe
    November 19, 2022, 5:19 am

    I’m old enough to remember Richard Harris reciting/singing his own poem. I knew how true it was then – and how even more true it is today. Jeff, you’ve never written truer words than "The alphabet soup of federal agencies, for instance, exists almost exclusively to rescue Americans not so much from foreign or domestic enemies as from themselves."

    Just this morning, I received a solicitation from a bowl of alphabet soup to spend $30,000,000+ on "education and outreach activities to improve waste prevention, reuse, and recycling". This money is only available to state and local GOVERNMENT ENTITIES! It has never occurred to the alphabet crowd that "education and outreach" means "brainwashing propaganda" to the recipients – and we did not offer up our tax dollars to be brainwashed, however good the cause may be.

    Maybe the real reason we citizens don’t cheerfully run around recycling all day along is that the governments have managed to make the processes to do so a big, fat pain in the patootie. When both the city and the county governments each send me a 24-page booklet explaining how, what, where, and when to recycle what, just, maybe, they might think, "Gee anything that takes 24 pages to explain isn’t being done right" and reconsider their processes. We’re not as ignorant, alphabet folks, as you think we are; we don’t need education. We need you to stop assuming that we are just sitting around waiting for you to tell us what and how to do whatever it is you want us to do. Jeff, please keep trying to pound some sense into such folks!

    • Avatar
      Tionico@Margaret Owen Thorpe
      November 21, 2022, 7:50 am

      Recycling is one of the biggest boondoggles ever. VERY little isactually processed and reused in any measure. Even the
      transfer stations" that have different tips for various classes of waste shove it all together and it goes off to the same pit in the ground in some remote undeveloped area so sit and fester for decades or centurues. The labour involved in separating the various classes is many multiples of the increased value of the different classes of rubbish.
      Most of the true recycing comes from the homeless who do not value their time or skill, expending large amounts of the time factor roaming about scavenging anything the metal or oth3r salvage yards will pay for,alongwith mountains of beverage cntainers for whick a deposit has been paid. In gathering and turning in these containers they receive not the value of the material but the price of the deposit paid by someone else and forfeited when the can was dumped.

  • Avatar
    Fran K. Ingram
    November 19, 2022, 6:12 pm

    I have a difficult time someone comparing ordinary people doing their humanitarian duties to "saviors" on a cross. Let’s keep the cross analogy just for Jesus and those who actually die for Christ. My late husband accepted his pancreatic death sentence by saying, "Christ gave me my cross, and I will bear it with dignity." He never complained during his entire last months of extreme pain. He gave hope to many afraid of death, that there is another world more lasting than this one.

    • Avatar
      robert true myers@Fran K. Ingram
      November 22, 2022, 2:50 pm

      When we surrender our thirst for hard work and setting goals to better our lot. .we give up our independence and become. Dependent on the scattered directions of the government. Human nature will have us regress to the mean..not climb towards the mountain of excellence

  • Avatar
    November 21, 2022, 7:35 am

    Being a long time student of the mid to end of the 18th century I have come across some VEY telling accounts particularly of some of the military actions of that day. I have studied the events of 19th April 1775 in depth. One of the most telling accounts ctually comes some forty years on. An historian who lived through that time decided to collect accounts of as many survivors of that skirmish

    He located one man in particular, can’t recall his name but it does not matter. He had stood with Captain John Parker as one of the seventy or so Colonial militiamen whoich had turned out tostand against the Redcoats.
    Our historian had identified and located this man and in the process of the interview with him, forty years after the event, he put the question: WHY were ou men out that mrning? Was it because of the tea tax? "No, we never drank that stuff, so we didn’t care about tje tax". Was it the Stamp Act? "Naw, I never saw one, I don’t think they sold very many of them." Well what WAS it had you men out that morning standing against the British Army? "Well, it was this: they had a mind that they would tell us how to live, and we had a mind that they would not".

    Not much has changed since 1775, has it?


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