On Saturday, I found myself traveling to Dixon, Illinois for a showing of The Wednesday Morning Breakfast Club. I’d known about the showing for quite a while but didn’t think I would be able to make it. At the last minute, it turned out I could go after all. Dixon, for those who may not know, is the hometown of President Reagan, among other things. Those other things include a beautiful historic theater, which is where The Wednesday Morning Breakfast Club and The War Within played. The Petry family organized the whole event, fed us dinner and lunch the next day and gave us the pleasure of their company. Although the showing wasn’t as well-attended as the Petrys had anticipated, we still had about 75 people there or so I was told. During the showing, I heard little kids laughing quite a lot which is always a good sign.
One of the things that really stuck out to me about Dixon was totally unrelated to the movies, though. Before the showing, Justin and I had a chance to tour Ronald Reagan’s boyhood home. I enjoyed that so much. It’s interesting to me that there are only a few presidents in America’s history that are spoken well of by people of completely different political persuasions. Of the handful that come to my mind immediately are George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. Personally, my favorite is Ronald Reagan. He wore authority well, but he was kind. His eyes radiated with kindness.
His house was relatively small and very simple, even for a house built in the eighteen hundreds. Downstairs was a kitchen, a sitting room and a parlor of sorts. Upstairs were three bedrooms and a bathroom. Ronald shared a simple bedroom with his brother who liked to snitch Ronald’s pennies. He was compelled to hide three of them under a tile in the hearth downstairs!
The elderly lady that guided the tour told us that the Bible sitting on the chest of drawers in Mr. and Mrs. Reagan’s room was the same Bible Ronald held at his inaugural addresses. On the wall beside the room was a little plaque that said the Bible was left open at 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” I stood there and stared at that for quite a while, thinking within myself, “I wish we would all just do that.”
Thinking back on all the violence I’ve read about in the news at home and abroad, as well as the news of rapidly spreading disease, I’ve been doing a lot of praying. Praying that God would help us, protect us. But I always preface the prayer with the words, “I know we don’t deserve this, Lord, but could you please help us, anyway?” We don’t deserve protection because we, as a nation, have sinned. By law, we have protected murder through the abortion industry. By law, we have protected those who abuse and take advantage of God’s gift of sexuality through the pornography industry. We call good evil and evil good and then wonder why people run into their former places of work and attack helpless women with knives.
So, when I pray for my country, I pray that God would help me to turn from my own sin, and I pray that more and more people in America will have the courage to turn from theirs. Healing can only begin with repentance. So much evil would dry up at the root if there were simply no market for it. It would seem that Ronald Reagan understood that.
After we came back downstairs the elderly tour guide showed us around the kitchen and shared interesting trivia and pointed out objects of interest. She concluded her remarks by pointing out the magazine she was reading. “I’m reading about Marco Polo! They think he might have been to America.” We all sort of blinked, smiled and chuckled. Justin and I left her sitting at the kitchen table engrossed in her article and went off to buy some Jelly Bellies. In honor of the president, of course.
Photo credits to Justin Barber for all but theater picture at the top.