Chesterton on “The American Creed”

English: G. K. Chesterton, 1920s. Silver gelat...

English: G. K. Chesterton, 1920s. Silver gelatin print. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you read here much, you already know how much I like G. K. Chesterton. In 1922 he visited America and he was struck by the questions he was asked as he came through customs. In fact, he compared them to the Spanish Inquisition, and he made it into a compliment, because of all the countries of the world, only America is founded on a creed, and a written one at that.

In many ways it seems that we have lost that specialness, maybe I should say exceptionalism, lately, and if we do, I think we lose the essence of America. I say that because America, since the time of John Winthrop, has never been a strip of dirt, or a bunch of people; it has been an idea. Steven Hayward on the Powerline Blog spoke of this yesterday, and I think it to be very important, as well.

Here’s GKC’s comment:

It may have seemed something less than a compliment to compare the American Constitution to the Spanish Inquisition. But oddly enough, it does involve a truth, and still more oddly perhaps, it does involve a compliment. The American Constitution does resemble the Spanish Inquisition in this: that it is founded on a creed. America is the only nation in the world that is founded on 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.

Via Chesterton on “The American Creed” | Power Line.

A Defense Department of Lawyers

I’m chary of Bill O’Reilly’s proposal to outsource the war on terrorism to a newly formed mercenary army for many reasons. Far from the least is the idea of a semi controlled force wandering around the world, we already have too much of that sort of nonsense. For me, it’s also a bit too reminiscent of the Romans hiring barbarian hordes to fight Rome’s battles.

But you know, Jonah Goldberg makes some good points here. American defense policy has become bogged down in the glut of policy and lawyers in the defense establishment. I’m not sure that it is possible for a soldier who know how to fight a war to succeed in the hierarchy anymore, it’s far more concerned with credentials and degrees than it is with effectiveness.

And that I think may be what O’Reilly is seeing as well, I haven’t read into his plan, I’m instinctively against it but, we need to do something, maybe anything, different. Because when the United States, which is immensely more powerful now, than it was 70 years ago when we defeated Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan and then proceeded to face down the Soviet Union for 50 years, can’t defeat a bunch of lightly armed and indifferently organized terrorists, we have a structural problem.

In any case, here is Jonah Goldberg

Fox News host Bill O’Reilly wants a mercenary army to supply the ground forces in the latest installment of the War on Terror.

And it seems the smart set can’t stop laughing. The Washington Post’s media blogger, Erik Wemple, called it an “insane” idea and suggested that allowing O’Reilly to peddle the idea on CBS This Morning was an “insane departure from that show’s standard.” The whole spectacle, Wemple opined, proved that O’Reilly will “never be much of a thought leader in policy circles.”

It’s true that on the left and the right, O’Reilly’s idea is being scorned fairly mercilessly. That’s understandable on the left. Arguably the most hated host at the most hated news network (in large part because both are so successful), O’Reilly could come out in support of the law of gravity and the usual suspects would run the headline, “Fox Host Supports Law Requiring Babies and Puppies to Fall from Great Height When Dropped.”

Continue reading A Defense Department of Lawyers | National Review Online.

Feast Day of Our Lady of Walsingham

pic_old-mapSo, today is the Feast Day of Our Lady of Walsingham. Seems strange, even to me, that a hard-headed old Protestant like me would care. Like many of you, I was raised that the veneration of Saints and such tended very close to idolatry. And it can, Martin Luther, himself, warned of it but, he also venerated Mary, the Theotokos, all his life.

In truth, many of us venerate soldiers, sports heroes, even politicians, in much the same way. In essence it strikes me as little more than a desire to emulate an exemplary person. The Christian overlay provides an opportunity for us to ask them to intercede with God for us, is all.

But, being raised when and how I was, none of this penetrated my thick skull, and I know I was hardly alone. But if we are wise we learn, and we grow as we age. At least for me this is true.

I was introduced to Our Lady of Walsingham by my coauthor, Jess, not long after we met, she made the pilgrimage to Walsingham a few years ago, not long after we were brought together.

With my love of history, I was fascinated by the history, and have written some about it, as has Jess. But that is not the point, today, while she was there, she lit a candle, and prayed for me (yes, I know, not the kind of thing we Lutherans, or in truth most Anglicans) do. Thing is, I felt a peace go through me at almost the moment she lit it, and sundry other effects as well.

There may be other explanations, I suppose, but I haven’t stumbled across them, and it is from that moment that she became my dearest friend, a moment shared across the ocean and half a continent. There are more chapters to tell of this story, but not today, they will have to wait.

Today is the day that I will merely note and ask Our Lady of Walsingham to continue to watch over us, and those we love.

O Mary, recall the solemn moment when Jesus, your divine son, dying on the cross, confided us to your maternal care. You are our mother, we desire ever to remain your devout children. let us therefore feel the effects of your powerful intercession with Jesus Christ. make your name again glorious in the shrine once renowned throughout England by your visits, favours, and many miracles.

Pray, O holy mother of God, for the conversion of England, restoration of the sick, consolation for the afflicted, repentance of sinners, peace to the departed.

O blessed Mary, mother of God, our Lady of Walsingham, intercede for us.
Amen.

This Is The Worst Thing Ever. And Were All Going To Die.

Heh! Perhaps we need to take a deep breath once in a while. I’m as bad as any of us, for what its worth. We’ll (most of us anyway) likely live through it, we always have.

We have the worst president ever. The worst congress ever. The worst Supreme Court ever. Every event is the most crucial thing to ever happen. Nothing will ever be the same. Government has never been more corrupt. Americans have never been more divided. Women have never been treated worse. The poor have never struggled more. America has, almost certainly, never been in more peril than it is this very second.

“We’re in the most dangerous position we’ve ever been in as a nation,” claimed Senator Inhofe, the top ranking Republican member of the Senate Armed Services Committee not long ago. John McCain warns that the “Islamic State is the “biggest threat we’ve ever faced.” More dangerous than the strife experienced during the Civil War. More serious than facing fascism. Scarier than the atomic age. A greater existential threat than communism during the Cold War. That’s chilling, for sure.

So what happens if America fails to engage ISIS in the manner prescribed by these senators? Well, as Lindsey Graham recently noted, the “president needs to rise to the occasion before we all get killed here at home.”

All of us?

via This Is The Worst Thing Ever. And Were All Going To Die..

Keeping the Faith

I can’t speak for you but, this has been the longest summer I can remember. It has had many distractions in my life, and our lives as Christians and citizens of free countries and it seems like none of them were for the good, or at least they seemed to have little good at the time. My friends, and my God have pulled me through, sometimes nearly against my will. I’m not sure that the trials of ’14 are over, in fact, I’m quite sure they are not.

Still, as always, I find comfort in the music of my faith, in many ways, I think it one of the great contributions of Protestantism is in the awesome (in the real sense) hymns of faith that we have brought to our worship. These are some of my favorites, and I’m sharing them with you today mostly because maybe they will help you in your troubles as they do me in mine.

I was reminded today of a poem that Jess adores, and I’m going to use part of it but, I will let her introduce it. Jess’ words are all from Naught for your Comfort and are in italics

Chesterton’s Ballad of the White Horse deals with an episode in what must have seemed at the time the doomed attempts by King Alfred of Wessex to deal with the invading Norsemen. No one did historical-Romantic despair like GKC, and I adore the whole poem. It is far too long to quote in full, but the lines which came back to me as the result of reading the two posts were those Our Lady speaks to King Alfred at the lowest moment of his fortunes: Read more of this post

VIDEO: Dr. Alveda King On Building Community, ISIS And Bringing The Nation Back To God

NEO:

What used to be considered “Common Sense”.

I also note that Gandhi commented more than once, that his nonviolent tactics would only work in the British Empire, which by easy extension included the United States, but certainly would not include the Middle East (with the exception, as always, of Israel).

Originally posted on Rat Nation:

So much for the United States no longer being a Christian nation

“You cannot build a beloved community by putting young men in front of a camera and cutting their heads off.” – Dr. Alveda King, September 2, 2014

You know it’s bad when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s niece says it’s time to forget all the pussy-footing and go after the bloodthirsty wackadoodles in the Middle East.

Dr. Alveda King in many ways exemplifies her uncle’s message of peaceful non-violence, but even she knows when enough is enough.  Her threshold for whether or not to attack an enemy is rather high, and is a standard that all Christians should, and generally do, follow.  Her voice joins that of spiritual and religious leaders of a variety of stripes – some of whom live by the mantra of peace – who all say that the menace and threat of ISIS MUST…

View original 71 more words

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