The Glorious Fourth (Paraphrasing Lincoln in Divided Times)

The Glorious Fourth (Paraphrasing Lincoln in Divided Times) July 4, 2019

At this eighth Fourth of July since joining Patheos, there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement, somewhat in detail, of my ideas that I would pursue in relation to this Republic on this blog, seemed fitting and proper.

Now, at the expiration of eight years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of American life which absorbed my attention at the time, and engrossed the energies of the nation or at least of my little band of readers, little that is new could be presented. My perspective on the progress of our politics, upon which little eternal, but much that is temporal depends, is as well known to my readers as to myself; and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and illuminating to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction regarding the upcoming election is ventured.

On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago, all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending election and the spreading culture war. All dreaded it–all sought to win it. While this initial post was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving my soul before saving the Union, hoping to do both, insurgent social media trolls were in this city of man seeking to destroy it –seeking to dissolve the Union, and divide us, by sarcasm, fakery, and lies. Both parties deprecated this tone; but both of them would make war rather than let our polity survive; and those of us of less political power had to accept this culture war rather than let our values perish. And the culture war came.

One eighth of the whole population lived in the legacy of racism, distributed generally over the Union, but reeling from an evil historically localized in the Southern part of it. These citizens constituted a peculiar and powerful interest with claims to justice. All knew that this interest was, somehow, the original sin, part of the culture war, extended to our cruelty to unborn children and begun in our injustice to the First Nations.

To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend some favored aspect of this legacy of cruelty was the object for which the insurgents, right and left, would rend the Union, even by a culture war; while the bulk of the citizens claimed no greater rights than life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Neither party, liberal or conservative in the Christian majority of this nation, expected for such a culture war, the magnitude, or the duration, which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict, the moral and historical hypocrisy that could pay for slavery, Wounded Knee, and Planned Parenthood,  might be forgotten even before the conflict itself should cease: each side forgetting justice in the quest for victory.

Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding.

Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, by aborting a baby, or encouraging moral decadence; but let us judge not that we be not judged.

The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully.

The Almighty has his own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!”

If we shall suppose that racism and decadence are offences which, in the providence of God, must need come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both Republicans and Democrats, this terrible culture war, as the woe due to those by whom the offence came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a Living God always ascribe to Him?

Who will replace him?

Fondly do we hope–fervently do we pray–that this mighty scourge of a culture war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by slaves two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk and the one hundred and fifty years of Jim Crow answered, and until every drop of blood drawn in the abortuary or the Trail of Tears shall be paid by another drawn by civil unrest, as was said two thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether”

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for any harmed by injustice, and for the  family, and all our children–to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.

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