WHAT IS AMERICA?: I’d like to run a series of posts on things that make Americans distinctive–features of American life that few other countries share. Not a cheerleading series, but an attempt to figure out what makes this country what it is. I’ll write up some stuff about immigration, and the pangs of exile, alienation, and guilt that an immigrant nation is heir to; American religion, religiosity, and fringe religion; and to what extent Americans are unusually philosophical and/or materialist. If people want to send me other ideas or posts, please do. I’ll publish anything I find particularly striking. This’ll be a recurring feature over the next few weeks.