Independence Day

 

My very British wife is somewhat amused by Americans’ patriotism. “Why all this worship of a flag for goodness sake?” She’s not particularly impressed with George Bush, Amerian military adventures abroad, nor with certain characteristics of American culture: consumerism, obsession with image, right wing jingo-ism etc.

She jokes that the British celebrate Fourth of July too: “That’s when we were lucky enough to get rid of you lot.”

I point out that patriotism can be a bit silly in any country and that the sight of the drunken English bellowing out Land of Hope and Glory at the last night of the Proms isn’t much better than the sight of maudlin Americans weeping at the raising of the flag and the pledge of allegiance or singing the national anthem at a baseball game. I ask why the English love for the rotten old royal family should be any more absurd than American devotion to the flag. At least the flag doesn’t cost us several million a year to maintain.

On the plus side, patriotism, wherever it occurs, is a touching absurdity. There’s something sweet and noble about the love of one’s country. Better some sentimental patriotism than sour cynicism I reckon. Better to love your country than to hate all countries.

As this is an Anglo-American blog, what do people think? Are Americans more patriotic than the English? In the midst of the present Anglo American adventure in Iraq can either country stand very proud? If America can be criticized for overseas adventures, is England’s track record any more noble? If the English are less patriotic is that because they are ashamed of their country, and in its present state is that about right?

Go on. Tell me what you think. Love America and hate Britain? Love Britain and hate America? Love and hate ‘em both?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13669565372315999650 Jeffrey Smith

    Love both, of course. Mildly exasperated with Britain. Completely disgusted with America’s present course. America also has too much of a tendency to national self-worship.Your wife sound a sensible sort. Best to quit while you’re ahead.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17057703298244826196 Dominic Harte-McQuaker

    As an Irishman, America holds a place in my heart. I always feel a sense of pride when I hear an American with an Irish or Scottish surname & I admire the love they have for their country. I don’t always understand the flag thing though.I have alot of respect for England & can understand their national pride too. But to be quite honest, the Union Jack means nothing to me.Proud Irish-Scottish Catholic with secret America-loving tendencies here.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15185875893212146794 Ttony

    (Your Head of State costs nothing to maintain?)We’re different, but we’re like second cousins, as if my grandfather’s brother married a German and went off to live some place else.We don’t have to venerate our flag, because we have a monarch to embody what our nation is about.What we share is a set of core values which go much deeper than the politics of the day. Only this afternoon in a train, I was reading of Oliver Wendell Holmes Junior, whose work on the Common Law was accepted on both sides of the Atlantic.There’s lots wrong in both places, but there’s lots right too, and many of the things that are right are the things we have in common.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05227411938775535934 Jeffrey Smith

    “(Your Head of State costs nothing to maintain?)”The British win hands down on that one. The American presidency costs a fortune. The British monarchy pays for itself, in tourist revenue, with plenty to spare.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Yes, but what do you get for your money?At least the American head of state does something (even if he is a dolt) The British pay an awful lot for an old lady and her extended sponge family to toot around grinning and opening factories.Mind you, if I have to choose between ‘royal’ dynasties I would still choose the Windsors over the Bushes, and certainly the Windsors over the Clintons.

  • Anonymous

    Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you; Jesus Christ and the American G.I. One died for your soul, the other for your freedom.”

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05558623489507006790 onthesideoftheangels

    um..have to admit I have a deep loathing of American foreign and economic policies; and am strongly antagonistic to vast swathes of US catholicism – having been a DRE in the US it was wonderful to experience sincere courtesy and good will among american people; but I did find a significant amount of innocent naiivete and scary ignorance of the outside world among the many; and a nasty cynicism in the few – An american comic said that you could tell someone was american if they said about the rich ‘who the hell does he think he is just because he has money?’ and the poor ‘who the hell does he think he is when he hasn’t got two cents to his name?’ – I took this for light-hearted self-deprecation ; until I noticed it was my parish priest’s most often vocalised opinion!!!!I found the prejudice against the chinese and asians a bit disconcerting , the overt repetition of political soundbites from Fox news or some guy called Joe Scarborough? on MSN ? pretty frightening – as if there was no real depth in anyone’s political opinions.Basically I think the big problem with the majority of americans is that they are what my gran would say ‘all mouth and no trousers’ scratch the surface of the most confident, loud-mouthed, Bush-loving, xenophobic, NRA -loving, anti-welfare state, pro-small government member of Joe public and you’d soon discover that they say one thing and basically really believe something completely different – one of the world’s best kept secrets is that americans are basically nice people; definitely not the brightest or most well-informed, but there is a profound sense of decency win them – Why they rarely connect their inner selves with the outside world astounds me – maybe millions of people’s lives could have been significantly altered.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Ontheoutside of the angels. Whoa! It sounds like you have lived in the USA for a time, and I share some of your criticisms, but the idea that Americans are uniformly not the brightest or best informed is very unfair.Yes, a good number of Americans are stupid and ignorant, but that is the case in most countries. A good proportion of English people are ignorant and stupid too. What I found incredible amongst the educated English was their ability to distance themselves from the British lower classes. Those who were educated or priviledged somehow never seemed to see the huge level of ignorance, boorish behavior, stupidity and downright awfulness of the English lower classes.There was a blind spot there, almost as if they wanted to say, “Yes, but those young football hooligans, those drunken youths in Spanish resorts, those English kids sprawling drunk in our streets each weekend–they’re not really really English.Nope. Ignorance and stupidity you have with you always and everywhere. Sure we have dumb Americans, but don’t imagine that its any worse here than it is in England.The same applies to your other criticisms. No racism or bigotry in England? C’mon.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16113255393803157563 Peter

    I prefer, on a day like July 4th, to think of the best ideals the flag stands for. All men created equal… liberty and justice for all… persuit of happiness. Since 1776 we have fallen short of the ideals for which we strive. But then, mankind has been falling short for over 2007 years.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15424484673556236534 Margaret

    I am an American who is mostly of English/Welsh/Scottish/Irish descent. (Notice how I didn’t say British. I am not too keen on how the English treated the Welsh, Irish and Scots. But that is another topic.) I have respect for both England and America and their cultures (although American culture is disappearing into a sea of vice, rudeness and relativism – perhaps England’s is as well). I like and dislike many aspects of both countries.Both have had wonderful examples of holy people, brave leaders, astute statesmen, courageous soldiers, great achievement, fantastic discoveries and great generosity.Unfortunately, both have had examples of conniving scoundrels, selfishly ambitious leaders, profoundly idiotic ideas/programs, cowardly statesmen, disobedient soldiers, vicious cruelty, horrific inventions, unjust laws and consuming greed.Wherever there are people, there will be misery, sin, anger, vice, malice, selfishness, stupidity, crude behavior and laziness. But there will also be joy, love, generosity, kindness, goodness, intelligence, courage, honor, purity and holiness.It is a shame that we cannot get the latter without the former; but then we would not have true freedom. I love America. I love what she could be even more. I hope and pray that America will turn back to God and embrace her founding principles more tightly. We’ve gotten a bit off track here and a bit too squirrelly. It’s time to start a crusade here for decency, kindness, manners, thoughtfulness, respect, responsibility and service.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10144549611625131466 jsb2

    Having a Father and a step-Father hit the beaches on D-day and fight alongside the British till V-E day will forever be the reason I feel a kinship with our brothers across the pond. Although if you go back in history, the British are the main reasons for the anti-Catholicism of early America. The flag is the main symbol of our country and when it is displayed I think of the good and great events and ideals and none of the bad.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09356738924839809045 Andrew

    As an outsider, albeit one who comes from a country colonized by the British who left an impressive legacy of public works, a free and fair justice system, an efficient bureaucracy and a jolly good education system (but that was largely the work of Catholic missionaries), I will always have a soft spot for the British, and their Queen, who in her person, epitomizes and represents all the best that is Great Britain. My country has now gone down the drain and the minorities are now colonized by the local Muslim natives who would expel the bunch of us if they could and have left the justice system, the education system and the whole country in a big mess and have undone the British legacy. This makes me think that if you have to be colonized, then it’s better to be colonized by more civilized people, I say.Britain has suffered much recently. The flower of her youth often lie in a drunken stupor in the streets of London on the wee hours of the weekend morns or are rioting in foreign cities and stadiums. Hooligans they are now called. What a pity, what a great shame, to see how low the once mighty have fallen.But the Americans. What to think of the Americans? Firstly, they get way to little credit. Sending their forces, their young men and women to die for the freedom and life of another, sacrificing their today of our tomorrow, what a noble and brave thing to do. Aside from other motivations such as money and oil and whatnot, it seems that the white man’s burden is now being taken up by America after Britain dropped the ball.Secondly, the vast majority of them are, as Father has observed, are nice decent people. Slightly ignorant of the rest of the world like the Shirefolk, yes. But nice decent people and long may their tribe increase.Regardless of what Americans may think of their government’s foreign policy, and speaking from experience, I think it’s much better to live under the American ‘yoke’, if the American concept of the world order could be called that, than the alternative, which is Muslim/terrorist domination and all that it entails. No one else has the guts to do anything about it. No one else cares, in their own provincialism. Russia? China? Do they care what does on as long as the money continues to flow?I also think that the Americans and Bush personally, gets wrongly blamed for terrorist attacks in Iraq. I mean come on, what’s the man going to do? Pull out and give victory to the terrorists which is what they want anyway? Let them know that terror works? Give courage and hope to all the other terrorists when American courage fails and Democratic wussiness takes over and sells out the oppressed? I don’t know. Whatever I think of the current administration, I always think of the alternative, the mass murder of infants sponsored by Clinton (remember Cairo!), and I am comforted.Whatever the critics say, I think, then push comes to shove, that there will be few others whom they would want to stand with when the time comes to choose sides. So, God bless America and Great Britain and may they all convert to Roman (as opposed to American of British) Catholicism =)

  • God bless America!

    I love America!!!! I’m grateful to Britain for joining the war on terror! I want to vote for Dubyah again!!!!!!!!!May I ask about you being a married Catholic priest? How does that work?Thanks :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Sure. Check out my article published in Crisis magazine here; http://www.crisismagazine.com/june2007/longenecker.htm

  • Louise

    “Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you; Jesus Christ and the American G.I. One died for your soul, the other for your freedom.” AMEN.Our country has changed, no doubt about it. I am more ashamed of what it has become rather than proud of what it is, and, in earlier years, my eyes did tear up when the flag was raised. I don’t know whether it is a propos, but this is the only poem I still remember from grammar school, probably about the 4th grade, in the early 1940s:Breathes there a man with soul so deadWho never to himself hath said,”This is my own, my native land,” Whose heart hath ne’er within him burnedWhen wandering on a foreign strand?If such there breathe,Go, mark him well.For him no mistrel raptures swell,High though his title, Proud his fame,Boundless his wealth as wish could claim,Despite those titles, power, and pelf,The wretch, concentered all in self,Living shall forfeit fair renown,Dying shall go downUnwept, unhonored, and unsung.

  • Anonymous

    Don’t forget that there’s a heresy called Americanism.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13817511811745085749 White Stone Name Seeker

    Hope you had a good 4th.I have never been to the US (though my son is hoping to go in the New Year to work at EWTN) I think the social situation in the UK is pretty dire. It’s sad.It’s part of why I home ed.

  • mark

    Not very pleased to hear you refer to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth as that old lady of the rotten old royal family, Granted some (not all I might add) of her extended family can be an embarrassment at times but there never was a more outstanding admirable example of selfless public service than HM Queen. Your choice of words shows either a contempt of or ignorance of this fine woman’s qualities, both I might add beneath the dignity of the Priesthood. First she is apolitical, not seeking endorsement from left or right, she offers her unequalled advice impartially to any PM of the day based on the last 55 years of involvement of world affairs at the very top (11 prime ministers her first being Winston Churchill). By the Armed forces giving allegiance the HM it prevents military or civil dictatorship in the UK as we had with Cromwell and gives focus to the democratic process. Wherever she goes in the world she is universally welcomed, especially in the USA and always represent the best of Brutishness. To my knowledge has never puts a foot wrong; you should be so lucky to have such a head of state in the US. As for cost it is around 2-3p per subject per year, she is in short the best monarch the UK has ever had and, I believe will ever have and we are fortunate and grateful to have her. For my part I am Catholic, English and Royalist in that order and maintain St. Thomas’s maxim in this case The Queen’s Good Servant But God’s First:God Save the Queen

  • Anonymous

    Australia leaves both the USA and Great Britain for dead!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06692665750427668367 thomas

    Patriotism is just, in my opinion, a rightful appreciation for what one has received and so I appreciate American government, brief tho its been, and also the more extensive English culture which we inherit.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Mark, I was exaggerating to stir things up. I actually do respect the Queen. I think she’s pretty amazing. It’s the rest of her family I don’t have time for.

  • Anonymous

    No one can be a functioning Christian and not be monarchist in a meaningful way.Romulus

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00098504849466846551 Arkanabar T’verrick Ilarsadin

    Love them both, naturally, even while being unhappy with all of the US foreign deployments. The Anglosphere deserves much credit for great and unequalled goods imposed over the world, particularly the abolition of slavery.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06739569698760671303 Royce

    Fr. Longenecker,I won’t bother with a political analysis, but I will offer a personal experience that has helped me understand all that patriotism.I was really struck at this year’s Fourth of July parade in my hometown by several floats made in memory of fallen soldiers. Their mothers, grandmothers, fathers, grandfathers, etc. all wore t-shirts with their pictures and the message, “Our fallen hero.” I think that anyone with a family member fallen in combat has to ask, “What did my brother, son, etc. die for?” The answer is invariably the country, symbolized by the flag, and the quasi-worship offered to that flag is all they [especially if they're Protestant] can do to honor that family member or friend. At the very bottom, I think, the Nation becomes a replacement for how Catholics should feel about our Chruch. So the respect for the flag is much like our respect for any sacred vessel. Just as a ciborium holds what composes our Church (Jesus Christ) so too the flag holds (albeit in a manner spiritual instead of both physical and spiritual) that which composes the United States.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00997766157711823147 the owl of the remove

    Fr. Dwight – as an Englishman, living in America, but currently in England(!?) – love ‘em both – but as our phone lines were cut by vandals two days ago – and we have had no phone/email (I’m at my sister’s house) – I think Britain’s slow, steady decline into decrepitude continues! Service is certainly better in the USA – but I did have a horrible, weak, watery American beer in your honour yesterday!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Jay Anderson saysI’m not a huge fan of G. W. Bush, by any means, but that “dolt” is the only person keeping your tax dollars from being used for destructive embryonic stem-cell research. That “dolt” is the reason full-term babies can no longer have their entire bodies extracted while their heads are scissored, crushed, and sucked through a vaccuum. That “dolt” is the reason U.S. tax dollars cannot be utilized to export our abortion culture to 3rd-world countries. That “dolt” just cost himself what little political capital he had remaining by pushing for a law that would lead to the normalization of the status of millions of undocumented immigrants (the vast majority of whom happen to be Catholic).Believe me, there are plenty of issues that I have with Bush and his leadership on issues both foreign and domestic. But, honestly, I am dismayed at the lack of respect and acknowledgment the guy receives for the things he gets things right.Fortunately, Fr. Owen Kearns, the publisher of the National Catholic Register, recently took the opportunity to give some credit where it is due

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    anonymous said:A simple way to take the measure of a country is to look at how many people want in and how many people want to get out.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Points well made Jay. Thanks!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    DGUs said:Anyone interested in this question must read Chesterton’s essay “What Is America?”:http://www.cse.dmu.ac.uk/~mward/gkc/books/america.html

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00719610017317232480 Mary Martha

    As a patriotic American and a bit of an Anglophile I love them both for lots of reasons. However, I think I love the *idea* of Britain much more than I love the reality as I experience it when I visit. I have dealt with a bit to much violence in the UK (that I have never encountered in America)I do believe that many British people (or people anywhere really) has a sort of ‘cartoonish’ perspective on Americans. They seem to think that the Simpsons TV show is somehow representative or a life lived here. Hardly.At the same time… Americans have to realize that their imagined Britain of Mary Poppins movies is just that – imagined.British people don’t really understand our patriotism because it is of a different sort than they have. Ours is a nation based on an idea, and in order for it to work we all need to ‘buy into’ that idea. Britain can fall back on a history and tradition that we just don’t have.

  • Louise

    “They seem to think that the Simpsons TV show is somehow representative or a life lived here. Hardly.”If the British promise not to judge Americans by what we export on TV,we will promise not to judge the British by what we see on BBCA. I wonder if Mr. Foyle of “Foyle’s War” still exists anywhere in the UK. Tony Blair’s England, indeed.I used to listen to taped books on my commute. The British did them best, but it always made me laugh when a character who was American (man, woman, or child, southener, northener, New Yorker or Chicagoan), the dialogue was always read in a John Wayne accent. It was very amusing.

  • Anonymous

    I’m an American whose motto is, “my country, right or wrong”, but in a crisis, I’d want a Brit by my side before any, other than my own. Absolutely!

  • PraiseDivineMercy

    Here the US, most national holidays were originally days of prayer, so I went to mass. The priest who celebrate was Father Danh, a native of Vietnam of grew up without religious freedom.He spoke about the importance of enjoying the special freedoms we have here without becoming slaves to sin.I strongly suggest those of you across the pond read a small bit about the American Revolution and the writing of our Constitution.”We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”THAT is what we honor. Politics are a seperate thing entirely. Those of faith continually pray that the country will better realize the high ideals of which it was founded.The flag is the symbol of US freedom and independence. You need go no farther than the national anthem, of which I shall give the full version:O say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fightO’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in airGave proof through the night that our flag was still there;O say, does that star-spangled banner yet waveO’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?On the shore, dimly seen thro’ the mist of the deep,Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream’Tis the star-spangled banner. Oh! long may it waveO’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!And where is that band who so vauntingly sworeThat the havoc of war and the battle’s confusionA home and a country should leave us no more?Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.No refuge could save the hireling and slaveFrom the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave,And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth waveO’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall standBetween their loved homes and the war’s desolation,Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n-rescued landPraise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,And this be our motto: “In God is our Trust”And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall waveO’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15185875893212146794 Ttony

    What’s nice in all your comments is that we both rather like each other deep down. I told an American colleague yesterday that the Fourth of July was our Thanksgiving Day: we both laughed.

  • Matt Pelicano

    Father, I must respectfully voice my disagreement with what struck me as a posture of near disdain for the virtue of patriotism, as if it was merely a trite and quaint emotion. I might defend patriotism as the duty of each citizen of any country. However, I think it is more fitting to defend patriotism as the duty of each citizen of this great country simply by virtue of the indisputable preeminence of the USA. “Indisputable,” you ask with eyebrow raised? Allow me…Is the USA not the first nation in the history of mankind to come closest to true, democratic government of, for and by the people?Is the USA not the country which has repeatedly led the charge in rebuilding and investing heavily not only in those nations torn by world and regional wars but even in our own defeated enemies? Doesn’t sound like Imperialism to me, but I would have to defer to our British friends for clarification.Is the USA not the nation of Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, Lincoln, Reagan, etc? Is our President not more than a figurehead, more than an adornment, but rather an important and integral part of our government? Is the USA not the nation guided still by Judeo-Christian principles causing us to be labeled as puritanical by many of our fellow Christians across the pond? You asked, “In the midst of the present Anglo American adventure in Iraq can either country stand very proud?” I answer, yes. Are not the liberation of a country and the removal of a dictator worthy of pride? 60 years ago most Americans (and Britons) thought it worthy of pride and even the giving of their lives.You asked, ”If the English are less patriotic is that because they are ashamed of their country, and in its present state is that about right?” I answer, “If one is ashamed of his country does he not have an obligation to try to change his country?” Patriotism, in large part, is what John Paul the Great encouraged in his own countrymen. They were ashamed, they were afraid. But he stoked the fires of their patriotism and through it they cast off their shame and their fear. How I wish the 12 million illegal aliens in this country felt any depth of patriotism for their own country and moved to change it the way the Polish did 20 years ago. Or, how I wish they felt patriotism for this country and therefore a respect for it’s just laws and a willingness to become a part of this great nation. Why is veneration for the flag of this great nation – all it has stood for, stands for now and all of its potential future greatness – ridiculed as “flag worship?” As Catholics we kiss the ring of those who share in the Apostolic Succession, despite the worthiness or unworthiness of the wearer, because of what it symbolizes. Is this merely a “touching absurdity?” In contrast, are we so cynical and sophisticated when it comes to the symbol of our country? Have we perhaps been dulled by the world’s relativism to the point where we believe the rubbish piped into our senses by a media as incapable of patriotism as it is of reporting fact? There was a time when politics was left at the shores of our great nations and Great Britain and the USA rallied behind noble causes and the Office of President and that of Prime Minister were revered for what they symbolized and running beneath and around and through it all was patriotism – an idea, a conviction, much like faith.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Good observations. Perhaps I was too hard on the patriot. Proper love of one’s country is a good and noble thing. What I fear in patriotism is the wrong priority of loves. One can love one’s country ‘right or wrong’–which can’t be correct. Also, it’s possible to love one’s country uncritically, which is unbalanced. Finally, patriotism can sometimes contribute to unjust war, colonialism and military conquest which the patriot never sees, and this patriotism is used by the powers that be to motivate the masses to terrible crimes.Patriotism is a virtue, but I wouldn’t place it very high on the list.

  • Anonymous

    Don’t you people realise that your nation was founded on false principles?Oh, and another thing, there’s no such thing as a fundamental human right to participate democratically in the process of government. Power does not come from “the people”, but from God. That consideration alone is sufficent to consign the concept of modern democracy to the waste-paper basket of nonsensical ideologies.And as for the idea of people being equal (in anything else than their nature), well, much of what has been written in the comments above is proof positive of its ridiculousness.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Usually those who deny the basic equality of their fellow human beings are those who think they are better than everyone else.

  • Anonymous

    One can love one’s country ‘right or wrong’–which can’t be correct.????Love for one’s country doesn’t cease when the country is wrong any more than love for one’s child ceases when they are wrong! That’s precisely when love is best expressed by trying to correct the wrong!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    “My country right or wrong” is usually assumed to mean the person is uncritical of his country. It is this attitude that I am criticizing.

  • Anonymous

    If you’re really interested in this topic, go to Catholic & Enjoying It & read what Mark S posted on July 4. He said it much better than I could.

  • Louise

    “Patriotism not very high on the list of virtues” “founded on false principles”I read those two posts with such sadness, and I all but wept throughout First Friday Mass. The first, so dismissive, the second so hostile and angry, so lacking in gratitude. I’m not sure which distressed me more.The first called to mind a story of a time when God wanted to prove, once and for all, that He exists. One very dark night, he took all the stars in the sky and rearranged them to read “I AM”. All over the world people stood at their windows in awe and humbly acknowledged His Being. One little 10-year-old boy watched the display for awhile and said, “So what?” Suddenly all the stars flahsed as if in horror, and fell from the sky. So what? So dismissive–and there is no response. I wonder whether a person can visit Gettysburg or the Arlington cemetery or the Normandy cemetery, or even the little bronze plaque on the town common and say, “So what?” or at the least not ask themselves what these people believed in that led to such sacrifice. “So what?”I think of patritoism, the love of country, as an extension of one’s love for self, for his neighbor, and for God. As we see in Europe today, where there is no love of country, there is no love of self (hence the common deady ennui of Europeans who live only for their own momentary pleasure), no love for one’s neighbor–certainly not the United States in spite of Normandy and the Bulge, and certainly no love for God. What one doesn’t love, one will not defend (also evident in Europe today and quite possibly for the last 90 years). Lincoln’s question at Gettysburg was an open-ended challenge. It has not yet be determined: “testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure.” Can it?

  • Anonymous

    With the possible exception of Muslims, are there many people defying the immigration laws of Great Britain in order to get in?

  • Anonymous

    That’s right, Louise, FALSE PRINCIPLES, just as Elizabethan England was founded on false principles, as was revolutionary France, as were the original Thirteen Colonies…Your thinking, and I assume that you’re a catholic, frightens me. It illustrates that refusal to critically evaluate whether there is anything wrong with your country’s crusade in favour of imposing philosphical error – liberal democracy – by force of arms, so widespread among your compatriots. Do you not realise that the latest venture in Iraq is just another instance of the USA applying the false principles of the enlightenment upon which it was founded, upon the rest of the world by force of arms? The US is effectively providing satan’s footsoldiers! In principle, there’s not all that much difference between a GI in Iraq – no matter how much the said GIs might protest that they are “good christians” – and the armed members of the Paris mobs, or the republican armies that crushed catholic resistance in places like La Vendee, during the revolution. The only difference is that the GIs are fighting an equally diabolical opponent, Islam.Father, the (accidental) inequality of human beings is an unpleasant, for some, reality, but reality nevertheless which no masonic (or “enlightenment” propaganda – they are one and the same) can wipe out. It doesn’t imply a “smug” attitude. You’ll find that’s more often displayed by nouveau riche individuals, rather than members of the old catholic aristocratic classes of Europe (from which many of the British aristocracy are excluded, being of comparatively recent origin and having founded their fortunes on stolen church property).

  • Matt Pelicano

    I must disagree again and perhaps argue over choice of words. Patriotism, in its true form, does not contribute to unjust wars, etc. If patriotism is a virtue, as you conceded, then it is by definition “a good thing.” Nationalism, sectarianism, and all such perversions of patriotism contribute to a condition wherein the one afflicted fails to acknowledge the unfair and unjust bias with which he sees other countries, cultures, creeds, races… As I said in my original response, if one is ashamed of the evils in one’s country, real patriotism would cause him to fight to correct those evils, whereas nationalism would lead him to intentionally overlook them and thus lead to all the dangers you enumerated.As for “anonymous’” post stating, “Don’t you people realise that your nation was founded on false principles?” I disagree wholeheartedly. This nation was founded on the principle that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…” In other words, God gave man freedom, the freedom to self-determine, the freedom to do what we ought and even to choose our eternal as well as temporal destiny. In this way all men are created equal! Equal in the right to self-determine based upon our free will. Therefore, collectively we have a right to self-determine (or self-govern) as well. Of course all power comes from God. But He set us as self-determining stewards over all His creation. If we collectively submit this God-given power to a form of government closest to that form of self-government God Himself gave us, the result is far from being a “nonsensical” ideology. Finally, in a society in which solid virtue is all too scarce, I’ll hold the virtue of patriotism highly prized. I, myself, do not have the luxury of so rich a store of virtue as to be able to downplay possibly the only one I possess in abundance.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Chris, I like your distinction between patriotism and nationalism, but I fear too often in popular use proper patriotism is used by nationalists and is often indistinguished from nationalism. I am not opposed to the proper and rightful virtue of patriotism, but its abuses.I haven’t much to say to our other contributor who prefers to remain anonymous, except to remind him or her that the use of all capital letters in email and forum correspondence is equal to shouting at people.I hope that one day you may add to your passionately held beliefs the virtues of politeness, good manners and a sense of humor.

  • Anonymous

    Father,With truly unfeigned respect, IF I HAD WRITTEN AN ENTIRE SENTENCE OR MORE IN CAPITALS, THEN I’D BE SHOUTING.But since I only capitalised two words, it ought to be contextually clear that, far from shouting, I was supplying emphasis.Again, with respect, I’m beginning to wonder, if you rely upon such a response as you did, whether you don’t know that you do not have a strong argument.Even if I truly lacked the qualities you suggest I do – and I don’t – I do not form part of the misinformed cheersquad for the idea that it is supposedly virtuous to impose the notion that people have a right to believe what they want/that error “has rights”, on the rest of the world, whether by guns, conditions to economic aid to post-WWII Europe or otherwise. Oh, by the way, as an Australian, I found your remarks about HM insulting, although I note that you said that you intended it so as to stir things up. You could perhaps take my remarks in the same spirit.Matt, people regard your country as puritan because it WAS (emphasis only, not shouting), and still is, significantly puritan (where it’s not whacked-out liberal). Hardly “Judeo”-christian. The puritans were so christian that the English held a civil war to get rid of them.American catholics of Jansenistic tendency, however, might disagree on the ground that they feel a peculiar kinship with the puritans…Also, I just don’t see how you get your interpretation of the Declaration from the wording of that document. If you maintain that democracy was a God-given form of government (in the garden of Eden?), I’d have to disagree.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    In my experience, when a man says, “Now I’ll be totally honest with you…” he’s about to tell you a lie.Similarly, I’ve found when a person says, “with respect…” the comments that follow are rude. When a man says, “with unfeigned respect…” the attitude that follows is both disrespectrul and feigned.But thanks for commenting. Your tone and attitude speak more than your content.

  • Louise

    Dear Father,Don’t be too hard on Anon. Americans are a difficult people to figure out. Either you get it or you don’t.It would be good to hear, however, what Anon.’s alternative to liberal democracy (or, as practiced in the U.S., a republic) is. I think that Churchill said that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others, but then he wasn’t Catholic, was he.

  • Anonymous

    Father,You said,’Similarly, I’ve found when a person says, “with respect…” the comments that follow are rude. When a man says, “with unfeigned respect…” the attitude that follows is both disrespectrul and feigned.’Read any law report, and you’ll see that you’re wrong.

  • Anonymous

    Oh, and I note that you’re simply sidestepping my argument.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Dear Anon,I haven’t really figured out what your argument is. I know what you’re against. What are you for?It’s really rather easy to enjoy a bad tempered rant against something. Far harder to express with beauty, intelligence and wit the thing you favor.But go ahead, give it a try!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05713878947084713014 DGus

    Fr. D says, “It’s really rather easy to enjoy a bad tempered rant against something. Far harder to express with beauty, intelligence and wit the thing you favor.”Just so. Thus, it is easy to bash America (and evidently fun sport for many), but harder to promote seriously the virtues of any other country. I’m not saying it can’t be done; it’s just harder. For many countries (including the countries of many anti-American critics), it would be heroically difficult, or impossible.Looking at the facts on the ground, currently, today, America is by far the easiest country to argue for as a good country and a beneficent influence on the world. Sure its got big faults, just like your dad who’s a good and faithful provider but drinks too much, or your wonderful mom who holds a grudge. But there’s something very adolescent about the prevailing anti-Americanism.

  • matt pelicano

    Anonymous,Thank you for your response. I need to ask, however, how the USA can be both “still… significantly puritan” and as depraved as you seem to indicate? You need to choose one or the other. Perhaps I did not understand your position.You stated, “Also, I just don’t see how you get your interpretation of the Declaration from the wording of that document.” I have the benefit of over 200 years of Constitutional law and precedence to help guide my interpretation. Also, the Declaration and Constitution are fabulously easy to understand, one of the benefits of government by, of and for the people. :)Finally, you state, “If you maintain that democracy was a God-given form of government (in the garden of Eden?), I’d have to disagree.” I did not say democracy was a God-given form of government, I said that God gave man the power to self-determine and that collective self-determination, being closely related to individual self-determination, is most closely modelled by representative democracy.In order to clarify your position in my own mind, what form of government do you favor?Thanks for a rousing discussion.

  • Anonymous

    Matt, You’re wasting your time with these people. Only an American can understand what it means to be a citizen of the greatest country in the world! It sounds like arrogance but then, truth very often does!Guess Who!

  • Anonymous

    Matt,I advocate confessionally catholic governments. Catholicism should ideally be established by law as the state cult. The law of the land should be in harmony with canon law, and the law of nature.As you might suspect, I favour catholic monarchies, but any form of catholic government will do, at least in the first instance, even a so-called catholic “democracy”, which in reality, is no democracy at all, at least by today’s standards.Anon 5:03, you’re right. As a catholic, I can’t understand your country. Neither, it appears, can the church, given that she condemned the error of Americanism. So, I’m in good company.

  • Ted Pelicano

    To all of you, Americans or not, I say, “When you call, we’ll be there for you”. In the meantime, have a nice day.Ted Pelicano, American


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