AN ONLINE NEWS SERVICE indicated that 218,000 people packed Jones Beach to capacity to witness the 2012 Bethpage Air Show featuring the Navy fighter planes called the Blue Angels. A basic model Blue Angel costs 21 million dollars. Enhanced with weapons equipment, the cost bumps to 56 million. It annually costs 40 million dollars to maintain the squadron of six planes. The fuel bill for one show costs 21 million or 112 million for the show season. It costs 86 million dollars in fuel to train a squadron.
The machine is dubbed the best fighter plane in the world. Americans love to talk that way, "We have the best health care in the world, " "We have the best education in the world." "We have the best military in the world." "We have the best cars in the world." "We have the best system of government in the world." That's empire talk and Jesus knew all about empire. Jesus only talks about the Kingdom of God (the rule of God) and the need to establish, promote and extend it.
When I read about the Blue Angels I thought that's not cool ~ an angel is a messenger from heaven. Angels come to tell us about the things of God. Angels are the entourage of Jesus at his Conception and Birth, in his desert-fasting, in the Garden of Gethsemane, on Easter morning at the empty tomb, as he ascended into heaven. A Blue Angel screams a terrifying and deafening scream. Blue Angels are killing machines doubling as acrobatic entertainment.
Some of us will remember that during the Soviet years, huge parades formed in Moscow on May 1 as a display for the world of Soviet military might. And as Americans we poked fun at it - making caricatures of the Soviet leaders in their medals and hats reviewing the parade of power from atop Lenin's tomb. But isn't the Bethpage Air show, with is flashy theatrics in the sky, an American version of the same thing? Oh, in this sad world of struggle what else could we do with all that tax money? Maybe eradicate childhood polio which is making a resurgence in vulnerable parts of the world. Let's use imagination to answer that question.
The online news article came with some video of Long Islanders declaring their wonder and awe at the Blue Angel show. Some of the interview-ees were young children. I thought of the shepherds of Christmas night looking up wide-eyed, at God's Christmas display in the sky, announcing the Birth of the Prince of Peace - Jesus of Bethlehem.
While shepherds watched their flocks by night,
all seated on the ground;
the angel of the Lord came down,
and glory shone around,
and glory shone around.