I wonder how the Ebola doctor feels now that his humanitarian trip has cost a Christian charity much more than any services he rendered.
What was the point?
Whatever good Dr. Kent Brantly did in Liberia has now been overwhelmed by the more than $2 million already paid by the Christian charities Samaritan's Purse and SIM USA just to fly him and his nurse home in separate Gulfstream jets, specially equipped with medical tents, and to care for them at one of America's premier hospitals. (This trip may be the first real-world demonstration of the economics of Obamacare.)
There's little danger of an Ebola plague breaking loose from the treatment of these two Americans at the Emory University Hospital. But why do we have to deal with this at all?
Why did Dr. Brantly have to go to Africa? The very first "risk factor" listed by the Mayo Clinic for Ebola -- an incurable disease with a 90 percent fatality rate -- is: "Travel to Africa."
Can't anyone serve Christ in America anymore?
No -- because we're doing just fine. America, the most powerful, influential nation on Earth, is merely in a pitched battle for its soul.
About 15,000 people are murdered in the U.S. every year. More than 38,000 die of drug overdoses, half of them from prescription drugs. More than 40 percent of babies are born out of wedlock. Despite the runaway success of "midnight basketball," a healthy chunk of those children go on to murder other children, rape grandmothers, bury little girls alive -- and then eat a sandwich. A power-mad president has thrown approximately 10 percent of all Americans off their health insurance -- the rest of you to come! All our elite cultural institutions laugh at virginity and celebrate promiscuity.
So no, there's nothing for a Christian to do here.
If Dr. Brantly had practiced at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles and turned one single Hollywood power-broker to Christ, he would have done more good for the entire world than anything he could accomplish in a century spent in Liberia. Ebola kills only the body; the virus of spiritual bankruptcy and moral decadence spread by so many Hollywood movies infects the world.
If he had provided health care for the uninsured editors, writers, videographers and pundits in Gotham and managed to open one set of eyes, he would have done more good than marinating himself in medieval diseases of the Third World.
Of course, if Brantly had evangelized in New York City or Los Angeles, The New York Times would get upset and accuse him of anti-Semitism, until he swore -- as the pope did -- that you don't have to be a Christian to go to heaven. Evangelize in Liberia, and the Times' Nicholas Kristof will be totally impressed.
Which explains why American Christians go on "mission trips" to disease-ridden cesspools. They're tired of fighting the culture war in the U.S., tired of being called homophobes, racists, sexists and bigots. So they slink off to Third World countries, away from American culture to do good works, forgetting that the first rule of life on a riverbank is that any good that one attempts downstream is quickly overtaken by what happens upstream.
America is the most consequential nation on Earth, and in desperate need of God at the moment. If America falls, it will be a thousand years of darkness for the entire planet.
Not only that, but it's our country. Your country is like your family. We're supposed to take care of our own first. The same Bible that commands us to "go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel" also says: "For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, 'You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.'"
Right there in Texas, near where Dr. Brantly left his wife and children to fly to Liberia and get Ebola, is one of the poorest counties in the nation, Zavala County -- where he wouldn't have risked making his wife a widow and his children fatherless.
But serving the needy in some deadbeat town in Texas wouldn't have been "heroic." We wouldn't hear all the superlatives about Dr. Brantly's "unusual drive to help the less fortunate" or his membership in the "Gold Humanism Honor Society." Leaving his family behind in Texas to help the poor 6,000 miles away -- that's the ticket.
Today's Christians are aces at sacrifice, amazing at serving others, but strangely timid for people who have been given eternal life. They need to buck up, serve their own country, and remind themselves every day of Christ's words: "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you."
There may be no reason for panic about the Ebola doctor, but there is reason for annoyance at Christian narcissism.