Monday, July 04, 2005

Our 229th Birthday - God Bless America

It is very difficult to adequately express in ASCII here in this e-cosmos the solemn thanks and love and honor which I feel - and which we should all feel - on this day when we recall the birth of our freedom in this country. But I went to Holy Mass this morning and remembered our country and my fellow citizens, for that is the superlative honor and love and thanks.

One of the reasons why it is hard to write about such things nowadays is that there those who wish to destroy words (for they hate the Word!) Just as cancer arises when spelling errors occur in critical phrases of DNA within a human cell, the same happens in human society... Look and see! Do we, does any American honestly say "We hold these truths to be self-evident"? (Do you even know what those truths are?) Could any of us subscribe to such a declaration now? Would our lawyers permit it? Would Congress allow it? Would the Supreme Court? But the truths, like our flag, are still there.

Well, thank God, a group of men did subscribe, exactly 229 years ago about 2PM today. (My mother told me this!) Those brave men put their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor on the line for this idea - for this faith. And they won! And it is still here - and despite its shortcomings, there is still hope.

And yes, Chesterton wrote about America, and yes, I will quote a relevant passage from a book every American ought to read... in just another minute, as I have one other thing to mention.

My cousin told me a story about my grandparents coming to America, and the thrill my grandmother had when she saw the Statue of Liberty for the first time. It is funny how the modern iconoclasts permit that idol, so fitting, so emblematic of America's genius... Thinking of this idol-that-is-not-an-idol reminds me of something GKC indicated (in The Everlasting Man) about how a real human society might erect statutes, permanently veiled, to "the man who first found fire", or the woman who invented cheese. But this statue is not veiled, her torch shines for the world - but we must supply her with fuel.

Now, Chesterton on America:

America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed. That creed is set forth with dogmatic and even theological lucidity in the Declaration of Independence; perhaps the only piece of practical politics that is also theoretical politics and also great literature. It enunciates that all men are equal in their claim to justice, that governments exist to give them that justice, and that their authority is for that reason just. It certainly does condemn anarchism, and it does also by inference condemn atheism, since it clearly names the Creator as the ultimate authority from whom these equal rights are derived. Nobody expects a modern political system to proceed logically in the application of such dogmas, and in the matter of God and government it is naturally God whose claim is taken more lightly. The point is that there is a creed, if not about divine, at least about human things.
Now a creed is at once the broadest and the narrowest thing in the world. In its nature it is as broad as its scheme for a brotherhood of all men. In its nature it is limited by its definition of the nature of all men. This was true of the Christian Church, which was truly said to exclude neither Jew nor Greek, but which did definitely substitute something else for Jewish religion or Greek philosophy. It was truly said to be a net drawing in of all kinds; but a net of a certain pattern, the pattern of Peter the Fisherman. ... Now in a much vaguer and more evolutionary fashion, there is something of the same idea at the back of the great American experiment; the experiment of a democracy of diverse races which has been compared to a melting-pot. But even that metaphor implies that the pot itself is of a certain shape and a certain substance; a pretty solid substance. The melting-pot must not melt. The original shape was traced on the lines of Jeffersonian democracy; and it will remain in that shape until it becomes shapeless. America invites all men to become citizens; but it implies the dogma that there is such a thing as citizenship. Only, so far as its primary ideal is concerned, its exclusiveness is religious because it is not racial.
[GKC, What I Saw In America CW21:41-42]

Credo. I believe.

God bless America!
Happy 229!
Keep the Fire burning!


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