Sunday, July 3, 2011

Independence Day: Rediscovering our Greatness

Tomorrow, July 4, 2011, we celebrate the day when 56 intrepid men were willing to risk "their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor," to sign a Declaration of Independence to King George III, notifying him in no uncertain terms that they no longer considered themselves to be his subjects.  While each of these men himself was a profile in courage (they all had the hangman's noose for treason to look forward to if things didn't work out as they hoped), I have always been particularly impressed by the boldness of Charles Carroll, the only Catholic to sign the Declaration.  Carroll, representing Maryland, signed his name "Charles Carroll of Carrollton," just in case there was any doubt should the redcoats come looking to round them up.

To the point: today, at a time when a majority of Americans believe that America is "off track" (60% according to a May 2011 Politico Poll), it is worth investigating what it took to get here, and what it would take to turn us around.

In a previous post from September of last year, I busted the myth of separation of church and state, at least it has come to be understood today.

MYTH: Church (religion) and state must be kept completely separate. Anyone who holds to the traditional standard as a matter of religious conviction should not seek to impose the traditional standard on the rest of a society.
BUST: The Founding Fathers were not ignorant or simple men. They were geniuses, the most highly respected and innovative doctors, farmers, and lawyers of their time. They were steeped in philosophy, history, and natural law, and drew from this enormous perspective and wealth of knowledge in their drafting of the founding documents (Declaration of Independence and Constitution). Although they came from many different faith backgrounds, almost to a tee they acknowledged and revered the authority of the “Creator God” of the Judeo-Christian faith tradition and the fact that the entire system of Western legal and political thought rested firmly on the foundation of this faith tradition.

While I specifically addressed the peril of abandoning our traditional, Judeo-Christian moorings as relates to the issue of legalizing so-called "gay marriage," the idea also applies in the wider historical context of our nation's past and future.  No nation that has ever completely abandoned its moral footings--in our case, the Judeo-Christian moral structure--has ever survived more than a few generations.  Not one.  More from that post:
Alexis de Tocqueville, in his 1837 documentary book, “Democracy in America,” noted that the strength and “verve” that pulsed so strong in the young country’s veins was due to its strong moral identity, based primary on the tenets of Christianity and Christian morality. He recognized that the churches played a critical role in informing American’s consciences, but also made an ominous prediction that, when the fervor faded with time, the strong and thriving society would descend into a relativistic, anti-religious (especially anti-Catholic and anti-Christian) state the likes of which had recently given rise to the Jacobin regime and the French Revolution.
While the First Amendment (wisely) forbade the establishment of any particular religion as the “official” religion of the new Republic, it also respected the right of citizens to live (not just to worship but to live) their faith, which includes the right to speak, act and vote—to carry out all aspects of living—according to their faith-informed consciences.
If we push the “Creator God” and the unchanging Natural Law that he has stamped as his sort of “fingerprint” on creation to the wayside, the only alternative is a descent into a state of being where fallen, sinful humanity attempts to make up or change the rules for itself, as popular opinion dictates. Man begins—as he has so many times in the past—to try to arbitrarily engineer the political and legal systems to codify his own happiness as an end in itself, rather than as paths to a just society as the Creator has defined it. He begins to “grasp” at happiness and a twisted sense of justice, rather than accepting the standard that has been laid down since the beginning of time. Isn’t that precisely the sin that the serpent tempted Adam and Eve to in the garden, that they did not need God and could make up the rules for themselves?
The Founding Fathers were well aware of this tendency, of its historical consequences (descent into tyranny with relativism as the historical societal standard). It is, in large part, why they went through such painful deliberations to carefully craft an intricate system of checks and balances.

So what do we do to turn this "ship of state," whose birthday we so proudly celebrate, back onto a safe and true course?  It's simple, but much easier said than done.  We need to reconnect with our moorings.  That is, we must rediscover our relationship with our Creator, and properly orient ourselves as his children and subject to his laws, in particular the Natural Law.  We must rediscover the true meaning of liberty and rights in the Christian sense; the freedom and ability to do as we ought, unencumbered by the man-made (and often arbitrary) laws of a government that would raise itself above its God-given role to claim the all-knowing and all-powerful role of God himself.  Our only hope is to return to being a godly and god-fearing people.


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