Is U.S. Patriotism Dead? [v89]

JULY 2006

IS U.S. PATRIOTISM DEAD?— “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the”… you can probably sing the first stanza by heart. But have you ever stopped to consider the ‘allusions’ throughout the “Battle Hymn of the Republic”?

William Steffe wrote the catchy tune and original lyrics back in 1856, and the song’s widespread popularity quickly led to alternate versions. But in 1861, after a visit to a Union Army camp, Julia Ward Howe wrote the poem, to meet a challenge by a friend, Rev. James Freeman Clarke. This song became perhaps the best-known Civil War song of the Union Army, and has come to be a well-loved American patriotic anthem.

As the long-awaited conflict between the South and the North began, fervent anti-slavery advocates, like Julia Ward Howe, felt that God’s ‘judgment’ was about to fall. Indeed, President Lincoln shared this sentiment, from the same Biblical sources used by all the Protestant opponents of slavery. Listen to his immortal words, now partly enshrined on the Lincoln Memorial. Lincoln spoke these words during his Second Inaugural Address in 1865, just days before his assassination:

“All knew that this [slavery] interest was, somehow, the cause of the war… Yet, if God will that it [Civil War] continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so shall it must be said, ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether’.”

As you can see, President Lincoln viewed the Civil War as a war of God’s ‘judgments’ delivered to a nation who had oppressively enslaved an entire people for almost 300 years! (Do you think there are issues today that could possibly be ‘grave’ enough to incur such ‘judgement’ for the U.S. in the future?)

So, in a few days, on July 4, in thousands of ‘hamlets’, loyal Americans will march in parades, as millions of their fellow citizens watch with pride. The passing of the ‘Stars and Stripes’ will cause many backbones to stiffen, bring smart salutes from the military, as well as the placing of hand over heart by those who pledge again their allegiance to “one nation under God.”

But many of our people will offer no salutes, feel no sense of pride, and pledge no allegiance to our flag. Some will not respond because of indifference or calloused hearts. Others will be working to tear the fabric of our national life to shreds; to worsen, not heal, our sickness; to destroy, not to build; to bring disunity, not unity, to the nation. For them, patriotism is dead; love of country is archaic. Far from echoing the words of Stephen Decatur, “Our country, right or wrong,” they will even refuse to say, “My country when it is right.”

Perhaps the time has come for us to read again the stirring words of the Declaration of Independence:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, 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, that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience bath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”

We would do well to ask: Has the time come for us to abolish what our forefathers created? Has their vision of liberty, justice, and happiness proved unattainable? Ought we now to burn the flag, send our congressmen home, and close the doors of the White House? (Well, maybe that’s a bit ‘extreme’).

Has patriotism ‘changed’ in the past few hundred years? Webster’s defines it as the “love of and devotion to one’s country; the willingness to sacrifice for it.” Today, for one, it’s surely not as ‘simple’ as it was in the Civil War times.

If you check out some of the best-known quotes about patriotism back when, it was said to be the very “core of our democracy.” Today, it seems to me to have been very much ‘watered down’ in its fervor—and even ‘poo-pooed’.

So, are we ready to say that the mythos, the heroes, and the folk tales that have bound us together as a people for almost 200 years no longer enthrall us? Are we willing to forget our common heritage, dilute our sense of fraternity and destiny, and dissolve the cohesiveness that made us one?

The American ‘dream’ that drew millions of immigrants, as a magnet attracts metal, has not been wholly fulfilled. We are faced with grave and challenging problems in our national life. We see many things we dislike, and can point to many injustices that have not yet yielded to truth and righteousness. But even as we acknowledge the defects we cannot forget the victories. The slaves have been freed; universal suffrage has become a reality; startling advances have been made to assure all our people of life and liberty; as well as the right to pursue happiness.

Unlike millions of people in Russia, Czechoslovakia, China, and Cuba, our people walk as free men across our broad prairies and along our city streets; unlike the avant-garde Communist writers who languish in concentration camps or lie in unmarked graves, our people are able to write freely and to dissent vigorously, while the whole weight of government, court, and police protects them in their rights and in their persons.

We the people are free to ‘worship’ freely the god of our choosing—though historically our Founding Fathers and the government they set into place strongly encouraged Americans to follow the Judeo-Christian God of the Bible. This is reflected in such documents as our Constitution, many of the proclamations the government made then, and in many songs like the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

Today, Americans tend to be very ‘future-minded’, and we rarely hear about the courageous acts of our Founding Fathers: their words; their selfless commitment to posterity; their reliance on the God of the Bible during the Revolutionary War and the Constitutional Conventions; and their purposeful infusion of a Biblically-guided moral ethic promoted among the citizenry.

We continue to be the longest on-going Constitutional Republic in the history of the world—and, in my opinion, blessings such as these are not by chance or accidental. They are blessings from God.

On July 2, 1776, Congress voted to approve a complete separation from Great Britain. Two days afterwards—on July 4th—the early draft of the Declaration of Independence was signed, albeit by only two individuals at that time: John Hancock, President of Congress, and Charles Thompson, Secretary of Congress. Four days later, on July 8, members of Congress took that document and read it aloud from the steps of Independence Hall, proclaiming it to the city of Philadelphia, after which the Liberty Bell was rung. The inscription around the top of that bell, Leviticus 25:10, was most appropriate for the occasion: “Proclaim liberty throughout the land and to all the inhabitants thereof.”

Today, the TV news stations show me the turmoil going on in other nations, their struggles and multiple revolutions, and yet to see the relative stability and blessings that we have here in America. It makes me ask how has this been achieved. What was THE BASIS of American Independence?

Founding Father and Second President of the United States, John Adams said, “The general principles on which the Fathers achieved independence were the general principles of CHRISTIANITY.” Perhaps the clearest identification of the spirit of the American Revolution was given by John Adams in a letter to Abigail the day after Congress approved the Declaration. He wrote her two letters on that day; the first was short and concise, jubilant that the Declaration had been approved. The second was much longer and more pensive, giving serious consideration to what had been done that day. Adams cautiously noted: “This day will be the most memorable epic in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival.”

Here’s an interesting question: Why was it that back in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s that the Fourth of July and Christmas were the two top holidays? Note Adams’ answer: “Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? That it forms a leading event in the progress of the Gospel dispensation? Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission upon earth? That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity?”

According to John Quincy Adams, Christmas and the Fourth of July were intrinsically connected. On the Fourth of July, the Founders simply took the precepts of Jesus Christ of which came into the world through His birth (celebrated during Christmas time) and incorporated those principles into civil government.

Have you ever considered what it meant for those 56 men—an eclectic group of ministers, businessmen, teachers, university professors, sailors, captains, and farmers—to sign the Declaration of Independence? This was a contract that began with the reasons for the separation from Great Britain and closed in the final paragraph stating, “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”

In addition to this, the 16 Congressional proclamations for prayer and fasting throughout the Revolution were not bland (i.e., the acknowledgment of Jesus Christ, the quoting of Romans 14:17, etc.); however, this is not unusual considering the prominent role that many ministers played in the Revolution.

The spiritual emphasis manifested so often by the Americans during the Revolution caused one Crown-appointed British governor to write to Great Britain complaining that: “If you ask an American who is his master, he’ll tell you he has none. And he has no governor but Jesus Christ.”

Letters like this, and sermons like those preached by the Reverend Peter Powers titled “Jesus Christ the King,” gave rise to a sentiment that has been described as a motto of the American Revolution. Most Americans are unaware that the Revolution might have had mottoes, but many wars do. The motto of the American Revolution directed against the tyrant King George III and the theologically discredited doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings (which asserted that when the king spoke, it was the voice of God speaking directly to the people) was simple and direct: “No King but King Jesus!” Another motto (first suggested by Benjamin Franklin and often repeated during the Revolution) was similar in tone: “Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God.”

We should not be surprised that the author of the Declaration of Independence thought that religious liberty was the first of freedoms, the foundation for all other liberties. That’s why the First Congress put religious liberty first among the freedoms listed in the First Amendment. Thomas Jefferson went even further. He said an attack on religious liberty was an attack on liberty itself. “And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure, when we have removed their only firm basis–a conviction in the minds of the people that their liberties are the gifts of God, that they are not to be violated but with His wrath?”

Many countries have beautiful vistas, grand architecture, and stunning achievements to celebrate. But we Americans have all that and more—we have liberty—the liberty the Founding Fathers worked so hard to define—and then protect! They believed that we are “all created equal.” And that our Creator is the One who endows us with our natural rights.

Today, that belief is challenged. In Europe, Canada, and here in America, a different view of human rights is being advanced. This view says that our rights are those–and only those–that we as a human community can agree upon. Again, Jefferson did not agree with our modern thought of “rights.” He said “The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time.” America’s Founders agreed with Jefferson on this—and when he wrote the Declaration of Independence, he was not speaking only as one brilliant young delegate from Virginia. That document, he said, “was to be an expression of the American mind.”

Let us rally behind our flag; let us ‘love’ our country with all its faults; let us work to improve it with all our strength; let us defend it with all our resources; let us hand it on to generations unborn better than it was when we received it; let us instill in our children the hope of our forefathers for the ultimate fulfillment of their dreams. But above all, let us tell them that the greatness of America lies not simply in the achievement of the ideal but in the unrelenting pursuit of God’s ‘will’ for us. Let us become PASSIONATELY PATRIOTIC again!

It was once said that, “The day that patriotism ceases, that day we will have ceased to be a people.” At this point, in my opinion, U.S. patriotism is not dead yet—but it surely needs a ‘shot in the arm’!

As I have briefly shown, we have gone ‘astray’ from our founding principles. My ‘prescription’ would be that we need to get back to them—and becoming a “patriot” would be a great start in the right direction!

Preserving American liberty depends first upon our understanding the foundations on which this great country was built and then preserving the principles on which it was founded. Let’s not let the purpose for which we were established be forgotten. The Founding Fathers have passed us a torch—let’s not let it go out!

In addition to the Biblical foundations put forth by our Founding Fathers, the ‘allusions’ I hinted at in the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” were also all taken directly from the Bible (In order, by verse: Ezekiel 28:22-23; Revelation 14:18-20; Isaiah 34:6-10 and 63:1-4; 1 Samuel 13:5-14; Daniel 5:5; Revelation 20:11; Revelation 12:10-12; Revelation 18:20).

In conclusion, one of the stanzas Howe penned in the hymn captures my point better than I can:

“He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat:
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.”

For those who are ‘adamant’ about the ‘separation of church and state’ (another misconception for another time), I hope I have prompted you to investigate our founding further. You may not agree with it now, but at least you’ll know the true history.

For me, even more than being patriotic, I think the only way we are going to ‘transfigure’ America, is to PUT GOD BACK IN ‘CHARGE’. What do you think?

[Excerpts from: Tim Ewing; David Barton; Tony Perkins]

May God Bless… Mark

[P.S.: If you would like to investigate further how to develop  a “relationship” with God, visit the following link:
http://www.4vis.com/sfm/sfm_pres/sp_q12_d1_1of10.html ].

LIFE’S DEEP THOUGHTS (v89) for JULY 2006
If you have a ‘neat’ story or some thoughts about an issue or current event that you would like me to try to respond to, I would be glad to give it a try…so, send them to me at: mbesh@comcast.net

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BATTLE HYMN OF THE REPUBLIC
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
_He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.

Chorus:
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps,
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps:
His day is marching on.

I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
“As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,
Since God is marching on.”

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat:
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me:
As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.
[Julia Ward Howe]
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AMERICA, THE BEAUTIFUL
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!

America! America!
God shed His grace on Thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!

America! America!
God shed His grace on Thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
[Katharine Lee Bates]

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GOD BLESS AMERICA
God bless America,
Land that I love.
Stand beside her,
And guide her,
Thru the night with a light from above.

From the mountains,
To the prairies,
To the oceans white with foam.
God bless America,
My home, sweet, home,

God bless America,
My home, sweet, home.
[Irving Berlin]
*****************************
MY COUNTRY TIS OF THEE
My country, ‘Tis of Thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of Thee I sing;

Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims’ pride:
From every mountainside,
Let freedom ring.

Our fathers’ God, to Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing;

Long may our land be bright
With freedom’s holy light;
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God, our King!
[Samuel F. Smith]
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DEEP THOUGHT
Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!  [Benjamin Franklin]

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I hope you enjoyed some of these insights. Share them with your friends and colleagues, so we can have a larger ‘pool’ to receive from—and more to share with! Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” especially if some of this wisdom is of your doing—I would like to give credit where credit is due!

“And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty” [2 Corinthians 3:17].

Mark
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Disclaimer: All the above jokes & inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright is used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.

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