Carnival Cruise Line is the latest company to fall for Cuba cool. Launching it’s Fathom brand, parent company Carnival Corporation decided to “cruise to Cuba,” except Cuba doesn’t allow Cuban-born Americans to go there. Naturally, Carnival complied with the Cuban dictator’s demands.*
Fashion giant Chanel will be waiting for the “hate boat” to dock in what they called the “Rome of the Caribbean” for its “cultural richness” and newfound “openness.” They are all following President Obama’s lead in making Cuba great again.
Cuba’s leader is nothing but a murderous, brutal dictator who crushes all opposition, keeps its people in abject poverty and profound isolation, and opposes the basic freedoms America guarantees to all citizens. Yet somehow it’s cool.
Like Marlon Brando’s Sky Masterson wooing Jean Simmons’ Sister Sarah Brown by the old well, America has lost its moral moorings and sung “If I were a Bell.”
There’s a larger and deeper hole in the fabric of America’s greatness and righteousness in this story. Righteousness? Oh, yes. America is righteous, and if we weren’t, the free world would not be free. Let me mine the source of our righteousness for a moment and share a little-known Bible verse tucked away in the historical book of 2 Kings.
King Ahaz went to meet Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria in Damascus. The altar in Damascus made a great impression on him. He sent back to Uriah the priest a drawing and set of blueprints of the altar. Uriah the priest built the altar to the specifications that King Ahaz had sent from Damascus. By the time the king returned from Damascus, Uriah had completed the altar. (2 Kings 16:10-11, The Message)
The Assyrians were bloodthirsty butchers and conquerers. Ahaz was king of Judah. He was a secular king, who participated in the trappings of religion, but never found much meaning in them. Visiting the Assyrian king, Ahaz fell in love with the cool stuff he saw in Damascus and ordered it built for him.
Ahaz was “captured by cool” and unmoored from the God of his forefathers. He kept the old altar in the Temple for himself, but ordered the new one used by the priests. He wanted to impress Tiglath-Pileser and not offend the pagan conquerer. The Bible says “Finally, he removed any distinctive features from within The Temple that were offensive to the king of Assyria.” (2 Kings 16:18, The Message).
America has removed our moral moorings. A few years ago, William and Mary College’s president had to be reminded by his alumni to put the CROSS back in the chapel which was removed so as not to offend anyone. A federal judge ordered the tiny cross in the Los Angeles County seal removed. Bands are cancelling performances in North Carolina in droves over a law to protect women from men using their bathrooms.
And Godless, Communist dictatorships that stand for oppression and the crushing boot of the all-powerful State are now cool cruise ship destinations.
As for the Assyrians, they conquered the Kingdom of Israel and utterly destroyed it, scattering the “lost tribes” to the wind. They populated the land still known in Israel as Samaria with other conquered peoples. Today we know that land as the West Bank. Israel has never lost this thorn in its side. God’s judgments in the Bible are there to remind us that our decisions have consequences.
America has abandoned righteousness for the Zeitgeist–the spirit of the age–and whatever is cool now rules our land. Can judgment be far away if we don’t heed the warnings?
*Carnival relented to pressure to stand up to Cuban laws preventing Cuban Americans from entering by sea. The Daily Signal reported that they wrote in a press release, “While optimistic that Cuba will treat travelers with Fathom the same as air charters today, should that decision by Cuba be delayed past May 1, Carnival Corporation will delay the start of its voyages to Cuba accordingly.”