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The Continuity Of History

I just came across this article (thanks to Brutally Honest) by David Gelernter describing the religious roots of Americanism.

The title of the article is quite misleading since it rarely deals with the 'enemies' of Americanism. It deals primarily with the religious roots of the American experience:
Anti-Americans are still fascinated and enraged by Americans’ bizarre tendency to believe in God. In the months before the Iraq war in spring 2003, a Norwegian demonstrator waved a placard reading, “Will Bush Go to Hell?” An expatriate American wrote recently (for the FrontPage website) of being instructed by Londoners that “the United States is one giant fundamentalist Christian nation peopled by raging Bible-thumpers on every street”; that America is “running wild with religious extremism that threatens the world far more than bin Laden.”

And we needn’t go to Norway or Britain to find angry denunciations of President Bush and the Americans who support him in religion-mocking terms. The President’s faith, said one prominent American politician in September 2004, is “the American version of the same fundamentalist impulse that we see in Saudi Arabia, in Kashmir, and in many religions around the world.”

The speaker was former Vice President Al Gore. His comments were offensive and false. Today’s radical Islam is a religion of death, a religion that rejoices in slaughter. The radical Christianity known as Puritanism insisted on choosing life. Americanism does, too.

Puritans took to heart these famous words from the Hebrew Bible: “I have set before you this day life and death, blessing and curse: therefore choose life and live, you and your children” (Deuteronomy 30:19). On board the Arabella, John Winthrop closed his famous meditation of 1630 by citing that verse from Deuteronomy, centering his words on the page for emphasis:

Therefore let us choose life

that wee, and our Seede,

may live; by obeying his

voice, and cleaveing to him,

for hee is our life, and

our prosperity.

No Saudi fanatic, no Kashmiri fanatic could have written those words. John Winthrop was a founder of this nation; we are his heirs; and we ought to thank God that we have inherited his humanitarian decency along with his radical, God-fearing Americanism.
I only want to comment on this theme because I just finished two books (Born Fighting and How The Scots Invented The Modern World) that touch greatly on the religious founding of America.

Both of these books describe the religious mission that the Scots took upon themselves during the 17th and 18th centuries. This mission naturally matured in America and led to the type of country that America became.

Anyways I just figured I'ld mention the article and the two books because I often find it amusing how far some people will go to deny the religious foundations of the United States. I'm not saying in any way that you must be religious to be American I just think that those who ignore the religious dimensions of American history or being willfully ignorant.

Also it article and two books help to remind us that events affect the world for centuries after they occur. Born Fighting details how the ancient Romans had to deal with the same kind of people that now fight America's wars. How The Scots... details how modern Scots created the ideas that shaped American religious, economic, and public life.

Anyways I may not have said anything useful here but at least you have an idea of what has been on my mind lately.

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