27 July 2016
Most peoples of the world have no difficulty in knowing who they are; what it means to be French, for instance, is simply to be French. For us Yanks, though, it's a problem. Had you asked a US citizen of the early Nineteenth Century what it meant to be "American," he, knowing that the founding of his country had taken place on a political rather than an ethnic basis, would have told you that it meant believing in “government by the people” and all that. By the onset of the 1900's, however, some other countries (including the one from which we forcibly separated ourselves for the sake of what's usually been termed political progress) had approached, matched, or exceeded our degree of political freedom. Further, the composition of the populace had changed, for the USA had received heavy migration from places other than the United Kingdom. Realizing that "American-ness" needed to be redefined, someone then conceived the symbol of the melting-pot, the idea being that peoples from all over the world were assimilated into a supposed new nationality. Today, we've repudiated our own melting-pot ideology and replaced it with profession of belief in its antithesis: "multicultural diversity." The beginnings of three centuries, therefore, and three totally different conceptions of what the United States of America is "about": this amply demonstrates that we have an ongoing identity crisis, which will not be resolved until we acknowledge that, because our culture derives primarily from Great Britain, our country is practically an unofficial member of the Commonwealth. (One might call the USA the nearly-identical twin sister of Canada; the one who ran away from home rather than wait to be given independence, for what it’s worth.)
19 July 2016
The next time that someone says something with which you disagree, don’t leap to the ideological attack, but instead ask the person to explain his viewpoint. Unless you possess infallibility of judgment, it might turn out that it’s he who is right and you are wrong; even if his words fail to persuade you, he’ll probably have legitimate reasons for thinking as he does, the revelation which ought to teach you to be more tolerant of opinions that differ from yours.
14 July 2016
People who write or speak nowadays of terror in the Near East are nearly always referring to the ISIS. Why has the world outside the Holy Land paid so little attention as it has to the latest intifada? Is a terrorist attack in Israel so common an occurrence that our media do not deem it especially newsworthy, or are we incapable of devoting attention to tragedies other than those that claim the greatest number of lives, or do we not care whether violence is done if it’s done against Israelis? (Perhaps all three of these possible explanations are factors.)
04 July 2016
Sermons delivered at this time of year in the USA often emphasize the value of religious liberty, which, however, is not always a good thing. The government ought indeed to protect our freedom to worship the one true god, Yahweh, but it also gives us license to worship Ras Tafari, the Manitou, Satan, &c. I know that this will seem a shocking instance of intolerance to the secular, and make most Christians uncomfortable, but the truth is that countries such as Inquisition-era Spain were much more truly Christian than ours, which permits its people to commit idolatry and, even worse, leads us to believe that we have an inalienable right to do so.