Tag Archives: United States

American Exceptionalism QUESTION

As you may know, I get information from entities of many political stripes. I think it’s healthy to get multiple points of view. Every once in a while, I might even agree with an unlikely source. Don’t remember the particulars anymore, but Mike Huckabee said something in the populist/”COMPASSIONATE conservative” bent during the 2008 campaign that I didn’t dispute.

Anyway, I got this thing from Newt Gingrich, and it reads as follows:

The most important question in American politics today is whether America is an exceptional nation. This is the core question behind every debate we are having about how to solve our country’s most pressing challenges.
If America is a unique nation founded upon self-evident truths about the rights of man, then that belief imposes inherent limits on the size and scope of government.
If, however, America is a normal country, no different than our European cousins, then big government socialism that takes power from citizens and gives it to bureaucrats is acceptable.
We believe in American Exceptionalism – in creator endowed rights, limited government, and a responsible, self-sufficient American people. That’s why we have undertaken a major investment of time and effort in focusing every American on our history and our remarkable culture.

Continue reading American Exceptionalism QUESTION

States by TV Show

There was a piece was published on the Huffington Post identifying every state of the U.S. by one movie, which Andrew Shears ultimately responded to with a map of his own for TV series, shown above. I thought I’d comment on what I’D pick in the TV category, with the annoying, self-imposed added limitation that I had to have actually watched one full episode for the shows I selected.

Alabama – His and my pick: Any Day Now, a pretty obscure show (pictured).
Alaska – His and my pick: Northern Exposure, though he doesn’t even seem to consider Men In Trees.
Arizona – His and my pick: Alice.
Arkansas – His pick: 19 Kids and Counting (which I’ve managed never to have heard of). My pick: Evening Shade.
California – His pick: Baywatch, actually a reasonable choice. My just-to-be contrary pick: The Streets of San Francisco. (My wife suggested The Beverly Hillbillies.)
Colorado – His and my pick: Mork and Mindy, though I was tempted to pick Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.
Connecticut – His and my pick: Gilmore Girls, though I was tempted by Bewitched.
Delaware – Is there ANOTHER show besides The Pretender?
District of Columbia: He makes no pick. My choice: West Wing, over Murphy Brown.
Florida – His pick: The Golden Girls, a perfectly good choice. My pick: Miami Vice.
Georgia – His pick: Dukes of Hazzard. My choice Continue reading States by TV Show

With God On Our Side

I’ve been watching God in America on PBS recently. I will grant that the criticism that it does not touch on non-Christian faiths as much as it ought is valid, but I still think the series has validity, and I’ve already recommended it to my church’s adult education coordinator. Maybe the series SHOULD be called “Christanity in America.”

That caveat aside, it is an interesting take on the conflicting views of faith in the country, never moreso than in the period right before and during the Civil War, when slavery was attacked and defended using the very same Bible. On the show, one abolitionist minister cites Exodus 21:16, “Anyone who kidnaps another and either sells him or still has him when he is caught must be put to death.” Meanwhile, a pro-slavery preacher quotes Leviticus 25:45, 46 – “You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can will them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life.” This fight split the Methodist, baptist and Presbyterian denominations for decades.

Meanwhile, the slaves themselves are attracted to the liberation theology of Moses leading his people to freedom, epitomized by Exodus 3: 7-8: “The LORD said, ‘I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.”

Thing is that most of these people had a certainty that God supports their particular take on the word because they believe – at least the non-slaves – in the notion that the United States is uniquely blessed by God. Interesting, one person in this period was less certain about God’s will, and that was President Abraham Lincoln, a man with a good Old Testament name.

The parallels with modern-day America are clear. There are some who claim to have a direct line to the Almighty when it comes to what is required/desired/permitted/omitted. The rest of us, not so much, except that God couldn’t POSSIBLY have meant THAT, at least not any more.

Anyway, it reminded me of the Bob Dylan song With God On Our Side, performed here by Joan Baez.


Just in time for Flag Day.

I saw some poll (which, of course, I cannot locate currently) which asked people if they fly the American flag on certain occasions (Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, et al.). The results were 56-44 in the affirmative. What was surprising to me was that there was zero percent “don’t know/undecided” which always shows up in these things; maybe the pollsters attribute the non-responses to the yes/no responses.

I have no tradition of flying the flag. My parents didn’t when I was growing up, though I did note one at my mother’s house in recent years. Whereas my wife’s family put out their flag all the time.

I think part of my feeling about the flag derived from the Vietnam war era, where people who loved their country but opposed its war were told to “love it or leave it.” Well, I did/do love it, but never thought blind obedience to its activities was the right way to love. Would a parent show love for its child by agreeing to ice cream with every meal? But the “love or leave it” crowd seemed to, quite literally, be the flag wavers, seemingly leaving no room for dissent.

I was fascinated by a recent story in the local paper which seems to touch on my feelings:
Elks lodge says group can’t march as themselves in June 19 parade

Date: Saturday, June 5, 2010

SARATOGA SPRINGS — A local Elks lodge’s decision to ban Veterans For Peace from identifying themselves in the city’s annual Flag Day Parade has some Saratoga County vets asking to whom the American flag belongs.

The Saratoga-Wilton Elks Lodge 161 will not allow members of VFP’s Saratoga Springs-Adirondack Chapter 147 to carry the banners or wear shirts with the group’s name in the June 19 parade. Members of the veterans peace group who wish to march in the parade would have to do so under flags of other veterans organizations, like Veterans of Foreign Wars or the American Legion.

“If you want to protest the flag, you have 364 days a year to do it,” said Kenneth Tubbs, parade organizer and lecturing knight at the Elks lodge.

And I have to wonder, as the local paper’s editorial asks, how is supporting peace “protesting the flag”?

I was in a Bible study this past year, and someone of my “liberal” theological persuasion talked about how the liberal church should “reclaim the flag.” I think I’m wary of mixing church and state, not just in the American tradition of separating those, but from the whole historic sense of the church becoming co-opted by the state – “divine right of kings,” and the like.

The flag circa 1865-66, after Nevada, and before Nebraska became states.

All this said, I really like the United States flag. I like how it tells a story in its 13 stripes and 50 stars. I like how it got up to 15 stripes, and somebody said, “Nope, this isn’t going to work.” I like how the US Code has specific rules for how the stars would line up if we got more states. And I get testy when the flag is ill-used, especially by those who choose to honor it, yet fly some raggedy old thing, about which I’ve written before.

And I’m fascinated how the Daughter is excited about “America’s birthday” next month. She LOVES the flag, and I’ll do nothing to dissuade her.

All this to ask:
1. Do you own a flag of your country? (If you’re not from the US, please note.) I do own some small flags.
2. When, if ever, do you fly it? Here are the recommended days in the US. EASTER? I had no idea, and find that mildly disturbing.

S for Severed States

I saw this article recently in the Wall Street Journal about some people on Long Island wanting to secede from the rest of New York State for a bunch of reasons; it won’t happen, BTW, because the state legislature wouldn’t allow it. But it reminded me that the 50 states in the US were not always the size that they are currently.

Even before there was a United States, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New York all insisted that Vermont was a part their state. That’s why Vermont declared itself a kingdom in 1777, and Vermonters to this day refer to the state as the “Northeast Kingdom”, though it became the first state after the original 13.

In the early days of the Union: Continue reading S for Severed States