The Fourth of July: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Genuine patriotism is not surprised or derailed by flaws, sins or wickedness in the object of our love. Sentimental patriotism, by contrast, treats love of country the same way a maudlin Hallmark card writer would treat, after three beers, love of mother. Mothers Day becomes a high, holy, and sacred thing — a sanctifying thing, rather than what it is, something needing to be sanctified, like everything else we do.

So real love understands grace, and the need for it. Real love understands gratitude, and the need for it. The need for grace does not eradicate the need for gratitude. The need for gratitude does not mean that grace has become unnecessary and superfluous. Leftists sneer at the need for gratitude, and the sentimental right sneers at the need for grace, revealing both sides to be idolatrous.

And so this brings us to the 4th of July, 2013 — the good, the bad, and the ugly. But lest we become hardened in cynicism, we will return to the top again. We will focus on the good, the bad, the ugly, and the good again.

Freedom to worship God. A long, legal tradition of liberty. Staggering affluence. Abundant food. Protection from the elements. Technology. Amazing cars and trucks. Electronic connectivity. A bed to sleep in. A lawn to mow. Meat on the grill. Fireworks for the grandkids.

Abortion mills. Stupid wars. Homosexual marriage. Statist idolatry. Oceanic debt. Pillaging tax collectors. Which slides nicely into . . .

Seedy politicians. Corrupt lobbyists. Idiotic reporters. Inane entertainments. A tattooed and lost generation. Dysfunctional schools. Local, sustainable farming that is both intentional and purposive. E-fads. A preening president, a lunatic legislature, and a jub jub judiciary.

A recoverable tradition. A constitutional foundation. A faithful remnant. An admirable contempt of the ruling elites. A glorious opportunity.

A chance to be faithful in our generation.

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36 comments on “The Fourth of July: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

  1. //”Abortion mills… Homosexual marriage…”//

    Apparently you think minding one’s own business is un-American.

    //”Statist idolatry . . .”//

    Why is statist idolatry a bad thing but your presuppositionalist idolatry is a good thing?

  2. [...] and Mablog: The Fourth of July: the Good the Bad and the Ugly by Doug [...]

  3. You sure you want to call our rulers “elites”? I think “bureaucrats” would do. Or “bureaucratists.” Or self-anointed messiahs. “Elite” sounds better than they deserve.

    Happy 4th.

  4. The “ugly” section, as well as the closing, reminds me of Shelley’s “England in 1819,” though your optimism is post-millennial rather than Romantic.

  5. Why is “Local, sustainable farming that is both intentional and purposive” an ugly thing?

  6. Clinton,

    Because it is a premier example of Christians tagging along behind the latest cool thing, while pretending they are engaged in cultural leadership. But it is slavish following, not leading.

  7. I’m perplexed by your reference to “genuine patriotism.” To what country, precisely, is it that you are patriotic?

  8. I am curious as to what makes the Court a jub hub judiciary? Why do we expect the Court to do anything but what they did? They aren’t interpreting scripture, but the Constitution and their prior precedent. Is your expectation that they would be interpreting the scriptures?

    And even more, why does it matter? Do we really think that a 5-4 decision by nine people in Washington changes people’s heart? Does the law change people?

  9. If only the word “stupid” actually covered what’s wrong with our wars.

    I’m still confused on the “local, sustainable farming” thing. Does it bother you that a Christian would care to know where their food is sourced without it being a moral issue? What are you actually calling ugly? Because in the Bible, farming (especially of the sustainable variety) is a pretty big beautiful deal. So you can’t be attacking the farming itself. Are you blowing your customary raspberries because Christians didn’t think of it? Are we slaves that seek out and purchase from a CSA because we don’t trust the FDA’s “science” on food? Or because we’d like our food to taste like it came from a garden? Or both?

    All the Christians I know who support local agriculture do so because we are not slaves to the State and its pals in Big Agribusiness. Because we do not trust the State’s alphabet soup scientists. Because we see that God laid out strong principles of farming that the previously mentioned institutions laugh at.

    It’s one of the ways we try to recover traditions, show contempt for our ruling elites, and forge communities, sustainable ones.

  10. Poor Doug. If only America were more similar to the halcyon days of the Antebellum South. In that glorious era, whites sang church hymns alongside the “Negro” slaves who were picking their cotton, women dressed modestly and kept their yaps shut while supposed witches, “queers” and other people he dislikes had more than their warts burned off in the town square for the entertainment of God’s “Elect”.

    Someone, please get this guy a time machine.

  11. Z4RQUON said: “Apparently you think minding one’s own business is un-American.”

    Dear sir: Perhaps instead of commenting, you should mind your own business.

    Cheers,
    Jon

  12. Thanks, Doug, for your response! I believe I understand your point, though I welcome further clarification if it is required.

    If a son were to kiss his father only because he admires a flatterer who does the same, it would be an ugly kiss.

  13. Bradshaw continues to blast away at the helpless strawmen of his own construction. How sporting of him, though it’s much less of a challenge than engaging with what Doug has actually said.

  14. I’m pretty sure that most of the major players in promoting ““Local, sustainable farming that is both intentional and purposive” from the beginning have been devout Christians looking to take care of themselves, their neighbors, and God’s creation. Lots of smaller Christian groups have been practicing it for centuries, and the current wave has been pushed by major Christian figures like Wendell Berry, who are certainly cultural “leaders”, not followers.

  15. I’d also like more explanation on the ‘local sustainable farming’. Are we referring to produce? Tree farming? There seems to be some background information that I’m missing. I’m not sure if this is a local issue (meaning Doug’s local area of Idaho…) or what,
    My in-laws have had a local sustainable farm for the last 30+ years. They are a God-fearing family who hire over 100 local high schoolers and college kids every year to start working at 6 a.m. (not 6.05 a.m… that’s too late… but 6:00 a.m.) to pick the corn, as well as green beans, strawberries, watermelon, muskmelon, and other produce. These are then sold by other high schoolers, and college kids in “little red barns” that are nearly famous in our tri-county area of Ohio Their business instills a hard, honest work ethic, and is founded in Christian principals that they teach through practice daily to their workers.

    All that to say is, that I assume that Doug is not referring to these types of farms, but some other modern, hippie farming communes or something… some more clarification on it would be nice…

  16. James Bradshaw:

    Can I get a time machine too? That sounds awesome!

  17. [...] The 4th of July: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly. [...]

  18. “modern, hippie farming communes”
    Tony, as far as the hippies, I think they got it from Helen and Scott Nearing. Helen’s religious affiliation, as far as I can tell from their Wikipedia page, would seem to be theosophist! However, I’m sure there are lots of local farmers who never even heard of the Nearings.

  19. That’s why I’d like clarification from Pastor Wilson. I’m not usually offended by his words, but his response to Clinton “Because it is a premier example of Christians tagging along behind the latest cool thing, while pretending they are engaged in cultural leadership. But it is slavish following, not leading.” doesn’t resemble what I know of as ‘local sustainable farming’. I would like a clear definition of what he means by the term… and the berate him accordingly!!

  20. Alternate universe travel would be far cooler than time travel, cuz we can keep our tech and we don’t have to concern ourselves with the grandfather paradox. Just a little fun, folks.

    On a serious note, it is the By What Standard argument that determines if you can mind your own business or not.

  21. Katecho writes: “Bradshaw continues to blast away at the helpless strawmen ”

    I’m not misrepresenting anything he’s said. I’m merely condensing a bit and removing the theological fluff he uses to get people to swallow his propaganda. So I’ll just quote him, instead.

    “.. slavery produced in the South a genuine affection between the races that we believe we can say has never existed in any nation before the War or since”

    “[T]he sexual act cannot be made into an egalitarian pleasuring party. A man penetrates, conquers, colonizes, plants. A woman receives, surrenders, accepts .. True authority and true submission are therefore an erotic necessity.”

    “Practicing homosexuals deserve to die … execution for homosexual behavior is not passé.”

    These are all his words, not mine.

  22. James,

    That “theological fluff” is called context.

    con·text
    noun \ˈkän-ˌtekst\
    Definition of CONTEXT
    1
    : the parts of a discourse that surround a word or passage and can throw light on its meaning

    To claim that we have to remove all the context and qualifiers of these particular scare quotes in order to properly understand them is to say, “Boy I really want to beat up Mike Tyson, but he hits back. Maybe if I stuff some old clothes with straw and stick a picture of Mike Tyson’s face on it, it will be a lot easier to win the fight.” Then when people criticize you, you can truly say, “It’s really Mike Tyson’s face there, not mine! See! I just removed all the pointless musculature and bones so we can see how he really fights without it!”

  23. Bradshaw leaves his strawmen long enough to cherry pick some juicy quotations from Wilson (void of any context), but then he completely misses any opportunity to interact with them. Let’s take this one:

    “.. slavery produced in the South a genuine affection between the races that we believe we can say has never existed in any nation before the War or since”

    Now some (like Jonathan and Bradshaw) will jump all over this to claim that Wilson is “insensitive”, or that he must want a return to southern slavery. Wilson has repudiated such an absurd notion in the same book that this quote comes from, but they feel it is okay to ignore that and play the crowd with a political correctness backlash tactic. They both wish to encourage offense from any quarter, as if it was a virtue. It’s pathetic.

    The detractors of Wilson’s observation don’t actually get around to addressing it. They simply assume that it must be false. Consider the song Carry Me Back to Old Virginny. Listen to the original words. It describes a low point in American history regarding the difficult transition of many freed blacks who actually loved their masters in spite of the sinful and unbiblical nature of their prior enslavement. The song speaks of genuine love and even a longing by certain slaves to be reunited with their master’s family in the afterlife. This song might have been nothing more than a painful reminder for both blacks and whites, yet it apparently described something so close to the heart of Virginians that a modified version was apparently the state song of Virginia until as recently as 1997. But freshly inflamed offenses and modern political correctness replaced it. What changed? History certainly didn’t change.

    No one is sugar coating anything, particularly not Wilson, but there is a certain element that wants to rewrite history in order to keep old offenses alive and well preserved. Instead of sugar coating, this element wants to do the opposite, and tarnish the past for the sake of the current narrative. A song like this one undermines their agenda because it speaks of a possible reconciliation between the races that would not have required rivers of blood. That is the point Wilson is making. There is no agenda to reinstitute chattel slavery, and all the bending and twisting by Bradshaw is only going to pull a muscle.

    If Wilson’s observation is so easy to refute, why isn’t it ever refuted? In spite of the circumstances, if there has been a nation or region in history where blacks and whites have lived so closely together, often with both families under the same roof, and had such widespread affection for each other that songs have been written about it, then tell us where and when. Let’s discuss it like reasoning adults. Perhaps other examples could be cited, but certainly the South is going to appear prominently.

    Since the wickedness of kidnapping and racial enslavement has already been called out by Wilson, what harm is done by acknowledging that race relations in the South were healthy enough to have been worthy of preservation, rather than destroyed through civil war and bloodshed? It seems that, even today, our modern overgrown federalism and statism still depends on a sharp justification for the civil war.

  24. “A song like this one undermines their agenda”
    Katecho, I love songs, too. There’s an even better one, ‘Massa’s in the Cold Ground.’ Do you know that one?

  25. “The song speaks of genuine love and even a longing by certain slaves to be reunited with their master’s family in the afterlife.”

    Katecho, that’s so, “Massa and Missis have long gone before me,
    Soon we will meet on that bright and golden shore,
    There we’ll be happy and free from all sorrow,
    There’s where we’ll meet and we’ll never part no more.” (James Bland).

    Do you understand these lyrics to suggest the narrator is numbered among the people of God? If so, then surely he is certainly no heathen, nor foreign to God’s commonwealth?

  26. Fredericka, I wasn’t aware of that one. Thank you for mentioning it. Although both songs capture a sentiment that was widespread, I like the example of Carry Me Back to Old Virginny because it was actually composed by a black man and came to represent the people of Virginia as their state song (until the PC police expelled it).

    Songs like these remind us of the power of friendship and forgiveness to overcome in real adversity. This is the sort of ground-level reconciliation and personal relationship that Paul preached as cultures move away from slavery.

    Paul was not ignorant of real hardship and oppression and imprisonment, but after finding Christ, he realized that carrying a grudge was not the answer. In fact it is just another type of self-imposed slavery.

    Enslavement of blacks in the South was inexcusable — a sin of kidnapping of those who owed no debt — but the best among them rose above their circumstances. They didn’t play victim. Our culture today wants to use the power of offense as a resource, to wield it as a weapon. Note carefully the language of folks like Jonathan and Bradshaw, who fan the flames of offense wherever it seems to suit their agenda. Black folks today are invited to be offended on behalf of their great great great grandparents, to see themselves as victims, and to hold onto their offenses and status as if they were a hard-fought birthright and an inheritance. Sins of the past are quite real, and I’m not claiming I would be the first to lay them down in their place, but I do know that we are to forgive others as Christ has forgiven us. Christ has made reconciliation possible. If we cherish our offenses, holding others on pins and needles for the slightest “insensitive” comment, then we will all remain in bondage to the past. Christ has died for our freedom from that sort of behavior. So we must act like free men.

  27. Excellent post Katecho.

  28. Hi Katecho, thank you for your response. But I was actually kind of hoping you would answer my question: “Do you understand these lyrics to suggest the narrator is numbered among the people of God? If so, then surely he is certainly no heathen, nor foreign to God’s commonwealth?”
    The reason I’m wondering is because if, ex concessio, the narrator and the slave master and mistress are all covenant people, then would not the verse apply, “If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing.” (Hebrew 21:2)? Before we can seek reconciliation, we must come to an agreement as to who is in the wrong. If the word of God makes it impossible for the owners to compel service of longer than six years, and the word of God cannot be broken, then may we agree this should have been done?

  29. Hi Katecho, thank you for your response. But I was actually kind of hoping you would answer my question: “Do you understand these lyrics to suggest the narrator is numbered among the people of God? If so, then surely he is certainly no heathen, nor foreign to God’s commonwealth?”
    The reason I’m wondering is because if, ex concessio, the narrator and the slave master and mistress are all covenant people, then would not the verse apply, “If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing.” (Exodus 21:2)? Before we can seek reconciliation, we must come to an agreement as to who is in the wrong. If the word of God makes it impossible for the owners to compel service of longer than six years, and the word of God cannot be broken, then may we agree this should have been done?

  30. The typical Wilsonian tactic, and those of his apologists, when faced with the (obvious) charges of racism, sexism, and homophobia is to plead that Wilson has decried these sins elsewhere and to insist that context matters (never mind the fact that no one has bothered to clarify Wilson’s claims in context). Well, a fly in the soup is still a fly, no matter how much Wilson pretends otherwise.

  31. Fredericka, if we apply Biblical standards to Southern slavery, it never should have begun in the first place, so I don’t think we need to search for an angle to apply special Jubilee laws. According to Scripture, kidnapping is one of the very serious offenses which comes with a death penalty. And the whole racist thing is contrary to our common parentage at Genesis. Slave holders in the South had no justification for propagating the institution, and this was becoming more apparent in the South with the rise of many anti-slavery movements. So there is no question of who was in the wrong.

    The harder question was how to bring that system to an end without bloodshed, revolution, or economic disaster for former slaves. The fact that there were good master-slave relationships and even friendships in many places did not justify continuing the practice, but it does suggest that a solution could have been found without a civil war. Apparently only about 1 in 4 families in the South actually had slaves, but God saw fit, in His Providence, to allow a judgment to fall on the South through the heavy handed tactics of a nation building abolitionist. I’m not convinced the aggression did much to end de facto economic slavery in this country, and race relations are still deeply wounded. The old offenses have been revived and nursed, primarily through suppression of information. But what we need is a real forgiveness for the past.

  32. James Bradshaw on Thursday, July 4, 2013 at 4:38 pm said:
    “…while supposed witches, “queers” and other people he dislikes had more than their warts burned off in the town square for the entertainment of God’s “Elect”.”

    Burning people as witches was a European thing. Here in America, we hanged people or crushed them with stones. If you are going to make outlandish accusations, at least get your facts straight.

  33. “Fredericka, if we apply Biblical standards to Southern slavery, it never should have begun in the first place”
    Hi Katecho. I agree wholeheartedly, and I’m delighted to learn we are on the same page vis-a-vis Southern slavery. I also agree that aggression and bloodshed are evils to be avoided. I was puzzled earlier about Douglas Wilson’s comments on ‘genuine patriotism,’ because he seemed to place himself within the charmed circle of genuine patriots; if he understood he was talking about Other People, he did not make this clear. May we agree, it causes pain to patriot hearts to watch as explosives are lobbed into the fortifications of the beloved country? If you understand that aggression and bloodshed are wrong, do you think the people who fired on Fort Sumter, leaving Old Glory a smoldering, disintegrating rag, should have refrained from so doing?

  34. Fredericka,

    Aggression and bloodshed against my neighbor are regrettable too, but if he insists on squatting in my backyard with a pile of guns it may have to come to that, mightn’t it?

    Cordially,
    Iohannes

  35. Hi Iohannes. I would think even children of this world could agree, it is best not to start wars you can’t win.

  36. Fredericka,

    How were we supposed to know until we gave it a shot? We were doing a pretty good job until we lost Jackson and Lee got turned back in Pennsylvania. If we’d flown the black flag like that brigand Sherman did in Georgia we just might’ve made it.

    Cordially,
    Iohannes

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