Sep 17

The Lord said to Joshua, ‘See, I have handed Jericho over to you, along with its king and soldiers. 3You shall march around the city, all the warriors circling the city once. Thus you shall do for six days, 4with seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, the priests blowing the trumpets. 5When they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, as soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and all the people shall charge straight ahead.’

Joshua 6:2-5, NRSV

Here’s a story that simply needs to be retold, a modern day story of Jericho, and I believe a foreshadowing of this coming November 2nd.

As a subscriber to the Cato Institute’s monthly “Cato Audio” program, I recently listened to David Boaz, Cato’s Executive Vice President, recount a gripping sequence of events that ultimately led to the collapse of the Berlin Wall.  When an entire generation of younger voters, including perhaps many who enthusiastically supported the election of Barack Obama, has little or no recollection of the Soviet Union and its attending Communism, it is a story worth knowing, and spreading. Andrew Curry has excellent account here, but a much less-detailed summary from several sources follows:

Leipzig Nikolaikirche

Leipzig Nikolaikirche - St. Nicholas Church

Founded around 1165 and home of Johann Sebastian Bach from 1723-1750, the Leipzig Nikolaikirche (St. Nicholas Church) in East Germany became the site of regular “prayers for peace” meetings every Monday night, starting in 1982, led by “two young pastors”, Christian Führer and Christoph Wonneberger.

The American deployment of nuclear Pershing II missiles on American military bases in West Germany in 1983 was matched by Soviet deployment of SS-13 nuclear missiles in East Germany.   The nuclear missiles brought protests from Germans on both sides.  A pastor named Rainer Eppelmann wrote his “Berlin Appeal”, a call for disarmament, and that brought heightened scrutiny of anyone involved in the peace movement.   St. Nicholas Church became somewhat of a refuge, having according to Führer, “a monopoly on freedom, physically and spiritually.”

Although the secret State Security Police of GDR (or “Stasi”) sometimes made arrests or “temporary detentions” of attendees, some the Stasi attended the meetings themselves and were thus exposed to the very prayers and word of God that were banned in so many parts of the Soviet empire.

Risks notwithstanding, word spread of the meetings and attendance grew.

1985 brought Mikhail Gorbachev to the head of the Soviet state and began his programs of reforms through the Soviet bloc.  A key event occurred in late Spring, 1989.  According to Curry:

The last straw came on May 7, 1989, when regular elections for local party officials across East Germany were exposed as fraudulent by a loose network of volunteers who observed the vote count at local “precincts”, a right enshrined in the East German constitution but never before exercised in an organized way, and then gathered in churches to compare results. The discrepancies were reported in samizdat pamphlets and passed to Western reporters.  “We could prove the people who were ruling our country were criminal,” Eppelmann says now, his voice still rising with outrage and amazement.  “They weren’t satisfied with 70 or 80 percent [of the vote]. They needed almost 100. It was sick – sick, and criminal.”

Within a month of that, the tragic attacks on the Chinese pro-democracy protesters in Beijing’s Tienanmen Square were witnessed by the world, and East Germans, remembering their own history, grew fearful that they could ultimately see a similar fate.   Yet simultaneously, it became apparent that Moscow’s era of tight control over East Germany was coming to an end, and with that, East Germans began to flee via Hungary into Austria, and ultimately to West Germany, thus getting around the Berlin Wall.

Embarrassing to the East Berlin government, and socially dislocating to thousands who might suddenly miss a family member or service provider, the people were increasingly forced to make a choice:  do we abandon a sinking ship, or stay and save what we have?    Overwhelmingly people chose the latter, and with that, relations between the people and their leaders deteriorated rapidly.   Again from Curry’s account, “In the first week of October, nearly 3,500 East Germans were arrested as the police tried to jail anyone they thought capable of organizing protests.”

By Monday night, October 9th, with Führer and Wonneberger having been briefly arrested, it was feared that a Chinese-style solution was a distinct possibility.   The Stasi had made preparations to handle about 20,000 protesters.   Instead, nearly 70,000 people, fully one sixth of Leipzig, participated in a march on the road ringing the city, holding candles and chanting “Keine Gewalt” (no violence) and “Wir sind das Volk” (we are the people).   And the Stasi backed down — it was the turning point in the entire sequence of events:

“We all carried lighted candles,” said Birgit Scheffle. The candles had a pacifying impact on the soldiers, she said.

“When you walk with a lighted candle you must use both hands. One hand holds the candle, the other keeps the flame from going out. So, you cannot throw a stone at soldiers, and soldiers can see that you cannot throw a stone.

“That day marked the beginning of the end of East Germany.”

Germany, Leipzig’s Revolution of Candles and Prayers

Sledgehammers at the Berlin Wall

Reagan's request fulfilled

Participation in the Monday night prayer demonstrations and marches roughly doubled in size in each of the next three weeks, with people coming from all over East Germany, until November 4th, when more than 500,000 marched.   Five days later, on November 9th, “confused, overwhelmed guards stood back and let people through” the Berlin Wall, with the iconic sledgehammer scenes coming shortly thereafter.     One of the most visible wounds of Communism would begin to heal.

*  *  *

Boaz’s speech was made at a Cato “Policy Day” in May.   Had it instead been after Glenn Beck’s recent August 28th “Restoring Honor” event at the Lincoln Memorial, an event having more in common with a multi-hour sermon than a political demonstration, it’s hard to imagine that he would not have noted the symbolic, if not literal, parallels.

Glenn Beck's Restoring Honor Event, August 28, 2010

Glenn Beck's Restoring Honor Event, August 28, 2010

Like in Leipzig on October 9th, the crowd size wound up being dramatically bigger than nearly anyone projected, and certainly every liberal media producer wrestled with just how to describe the crowd for the record.  Over 130,000 people (including this author) watched the event via Facebook. And yet the event was entirely peaceful, (Beck’s bullet-proof vest thankfully being proven unnecessary) with potential instigators and trouble-makers being policed by the attendees and organizers themselves.

And like in East Germany, the people have decided to decisively take a stand, this time against the turn of legislative events of the last eighteen months.   For as Obama’s agenda is building walls in front of our economy’s ability to heal itself, an outpouring of formerly politically inactive people are uniting around a message of “Enough!” and are ready to tear them down, via prayer and the voting both.  Indeed, the message isn’t only intended for Democrats, with both liberal donkeys and old-school “establishment” elephants suddenly contemplating the number of required moving boxes.   Just ask Mike Castle.

But also as in East Germany, the entrenched forces of power are readying for the fight, even exploring using the power of the state to prevent people from taking defensive measures against a valuation collapse of their fiat currency.  Last but not least, the quiet threats (or promises, depending on the audience) of last-hurrah “lame duck session” legislation loom large.

Just as the East Germans saw the distinct possibility of a Tienanmen-Square style crackdown, it’s quite clear that a groundswell of previously disengaged voters is rising up to avoid a Greece-style collapse of a U.S. government spinning out of control.    As Joshua led his forces for seven trips around Jericho, and as East Germans reached a crescendo over a seven week period 21 years ago, the next seven weeks in the U.S. might well have an equally dramatic conclusion.

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