Happy birthday to America

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One of the few things Americans can agree on these days–conservatives or liberals, Republicans or Democrats, Trump supporters or Trump resisters–is that our government is highly dysfunctional.  Whether you believe we need to drain the swamp or turn the rascals out, you may well be sick of Washington, D.C., and all that it has become.

But the government is not America.  As bad as things can get among our leaders, our country keeps plugging along.  A free society is not totally dependent on government.  Our customs, our history, our ideals, our land, and our people define our nation.

Yes, we need to fix our government and maybe that is starting to happen.  But we also need to make sure it doesn’t get too big and too effective, less it encroach upon its citizens’ independence.  So happy Independence Day!

Our government was born on June 21, 1788, when the Constitution was ratified.  But the United States of America began on July 4, 1776.  That’s a distinction worth keeping in mind.  So happy birthday, America!

“God bless America” vs. “God bless the whole world”

Kate Smith

Some people are saying we shouldn’t say or sing “God Bless America.” That is too exclusive.  Rather, we should say, “God Bless the Whole World.”

Matt Reynolds at Christianity Today explains why praying “God Bless America”–and the words are a prayer– is indeed appropriate.

Just as you pray for your grandmother, he says, and not all the grandmothers in the world, it’s right to pray for those who are near and dear to our hearts.  We can’t fully comprehend abstractions–like “humanity” or “the world”–so we pray for what is tangible, for actual communities that we are part of.

I would add the vocational point that this is why God tells us to love not the human race but to love our neighbor, that actual flesh and blood person whom our vocations bring into our lives.

Read the essay, excerpted and linked after the jump.  Then please join me in prayer:  “God bless America.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.”

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Celebrating our liberties, including those at risk

On this Independence Day, we celebrate our freedoms as Americans. It’s a good exercise to read The Declaration of Independence, and it’s also a good exercise to read the Bill of Rights, the first Ten Amendments to our Constitution, spelling out what those freedoms are.

Read the list of our civil liberties after the jump.  As you do, consider which of these are currently under attack–by our own government, by government-connected organizations such as public universities, and by other entities. [Read more…]

Celebrating America, in light of everything

People on the left often have problems being patriotic on the 4th of July, since they consider the nation whose birthday is celebrated to have been built on slavery, imperialism, and a predatory capitalism.  But now conservatives, usually the big flag wavers on Independence Day, might also feel disillusioned with the USA.

We live in a country that seems to stand for license without freedom.  We are ruled by trends instead of by law.  We are radical individualists and, at the same time, conformists.   We have a good constitution, but no one follows it much anymore, and our Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches all seem out of whack.  To be sure, America should not be confused with its government, but even worse than our government and the source of its errors is our culture.  Oblivious to our history and traditions, today’s culture seems shallow, materialistic, irrational, and immoral.  America may have been a good idea back in 1776, but the reality is not measuring up.  Or so we might think in 2015.

I think even those who think that way–or the way the Left thinks–should celebrate on July 4.  I’ll explain why after the jump. [Read more…]

America at 238–what’s to love?

The United States of America is 238 years old today.  And, arguably, feeling its age.  The country is polarized, but nearly every faction (though for different reasons) distrusts the government.  Nearly every faction also (for different reasons) criticizes the culture.  The patriotic legends of our history have been replaced with shame about slavery and how white people treated the Indians.  The rest of the world seems to have little respect for us anymore.  Our intellectual and artistic contributions are dragging.  The one bright spot is technology, but we use it mostly for trivial reasons, and it comes at the cost of hacking, identity theft, and privacy violations.  Most people would agree that America is very messed up right now.  America is in the doldrums.   And yet. . . .

Chesterton said something to the effect that we love our country in the same way that we love the members of our family.  In spite of their faults, which we know all too well.  In fact, a family member’s faults and problems properly bring out more love, since we want so badly to help.

So as a Fourth of July exercise, bring up things that you still love about this country.   I’m not looking here for “how great we are” statements.  Greatness is not necessarily a reason to love something.  What are some characteristic things about America that, despite everything, make you love your country?   I’ll go first, after the jump. [Read more…]

“Up to now, I’ve given nothing for what I have taken”

Peter Wehner shares a letter written by his wife’s uncle, Frank Keaton, shortly before landing on Omaha Beach.  It makes very good reading for Independence Day. [Read more…]