An American Drubbing

I have been addressing, from time to time, the tomfool notion of American exceptionalism.

The central point I have made thus far is that the genuine exceptionalism displayed by the Founders consisted of the fact that they knew that Americans were not exceptional, which was exceptional. They built a form of government that sought to take the venality of all our current and future statesman into account, which was a marvel of prescience.

Having said as much, repeatedly, I want to come at this beast from another angle. Before doing so, allow me to state some of my bona fides. I love apple pie, I own a Winchester 30-30, and I have warm spot in my heart for red-checked tablecloths. I am a loyal son of the Republic, and wish to demonstrate my good will in this matter by giving American exceptionalism a good, old-fashioned American drubbing.

I wish to do this by using metaphors from the shock and awe war locker, but of course, humility requires me to leave to the reader any determination of whether I have actually succeeded in doing so. Some readers, I know, think of my writing as more of a schlock and awwww kind of thing. And one sees their point, of course.

So when Herod shows up en fête, in that glittery robe, and the people all cry out that it was the voice of a god and not a man, there was — even then — a course of action he could have taken that would have headed off the hungry worms. That course of action would have been to give glory to God (Acts 12:23). We, being not very quick on the uptake, have not responded that way, but are doing our very best Herod imitation, standing there on the stage like a freshly minted nominee at the Republican National Convention, luxuriating in the transcendental permanence of the glory that is descending upon in the form of ten tons of confetti.

When I write against American exceptionalism, some ordinary patriots are sometimes unsettled. “Aren’t you grateful to be an American?”, they ask. Of course I am. Very grateful. But this generates what should be an a question. Grateful to whom? I am a Christian first, which means I am grateful to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. I am a Christian first, and since Jesus told His followers to disciple all the nations, presumably including the one we live in, this means that we must be grateful to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. And by we, I mean us. Americans. Our elected representatives. Our foundational documents. If we don’t want to perish in the way, we must kiss the Son.

“For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? (1 Cor. 4:7, NKJV).

This exceptionalism you speak of — should we be grateful for it? Grateful to whom? You think it is sufficient for everybody to gin up a few grateful-lite vibes on Turkey Day?

We are one of the most blessed nations ever to exist, and because of the blight of American secularism, we have created a vast sinkhole of ingratitude, hubris, and conceit, from Virginia to Oregon. And it will not fix it if we urge everybody to thank their private gods, however they conceive him/her/it to be. The reason that won’t do is that those gods are not the living God. They are all dead, every mother’s son of them. They did not give these blessings to us, laboring, as they do, under the burden of non-existence. Why do we want to fix this problem of our ingratitude to the living God by urging everyone to say something nice to their little bobble-head idols? This is not just perpetuating the problem, it is gilding our insouciance problem and leaving baskets of fruit in front of it.

The living God is jealous for His name, which is Yahweh.

In the name of God we will set up our banners (Ps. 20:5). Some trust in chariots, and some in horses. Some trust in destroyers, and some in submarines. Some trust in drone strikes, but we will remember the name of the Lord our God (Ps. 20:7). If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to one of those bobble-head things, won’t God see this? Won’t He deal with it (Ps. 44:20-21)? Oh, Lord God, deliver our people! Save our nation, and do it by means of Your name (Ps. 54:1). Purge our sins, especially the root sin of secularism, for Your name’s sake (Ps. 79:9). Do this, our God, for Your name’s sake (Ps. 109:21). But somehow it has come to be the received wisdom — even among Christians — to look for salvation without a Savior, for some mighty act deliverance from the heavens, signed “Anonymous.”

And we can stand around afterwards, sure glad that we were delivered, and doubly glad that we don’t have to thank anybody for it.

Look. The exceptional things we have (in truth) been given can be counted as blessings from the hand of the only true God, who requires us to name Him as the only source of any such blessings. The quite ordinary conceit we have displayed, sharing it with Ozymandias, is our refusal to do so. The longer we have gone on in this vein the more the sham has become apparent. Is America exceptional? Well, why don’t you ask one of the millions of Americans who were chopped up in little pieces in the womb because the ghouls on our highest Court found the right to such wickedness hiding under a penumbra? Is America exceptional? Well, the reply comes back from the dead child. “I really am not in a position to know . . .”

Those who refuse to honor God as God, and those who refuse to give Him thanks are turned over to their lusts, their foolish hearts being darkened (Rom. 1:21). In this process, spiraling downward, we have proven ourselves to be up to the challenge of being as ordinary as the dirt from which we were all made. Gratitude, rightly placed, is extraordinary. Ingratitude . . . well, that’s another matter.

So the faster the extraordinary blessings fade, the more some people want to fix it by defending that damned phrase. But without repentance, evidenced by the confession that Jesus is Yahweh, and our only possible hope, every use of that phrase is just thumping a hollow jug harder and harder. But hitting it won’t fill it.

Take a lesson from Emerson’s comment — “The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.”

Skip to 23 Comments
Letters
Submit A Letter to the Editor. Well-written, fair-minded letters may be interacted with in featured posts. Also, please mention the title of the post which you are addressing.

23
Leave a Reply

avatar
 
23 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
15 Comment authors
DanielBlowesJonathanJill SmithTim H.katecho Recent comment authors

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Steve Reed
Guest
Steve Reed

This is one of those sermons that needs to be shouted.

Eric the Red
Guest
Eric the Red

I’m not sure America has ever been exceptional in the sense that you’re using the word. At the time of the founding, in most states, abortion was legal until the time of quickening; anti-abortion statutes didn’t begin to be passed until the late 1800s. There was that miserable institution known as slavery, followed by a hundred years of Jim Crow. In most states the age of consent for sex was ten, and that didn’t start to change until the late 1800s. And all of that is even before we get to sweat shops and company towns and child labor and… Read more »

Eric the Red
Guest
Eric the Red

And if you are seriously arguing — as I hope you are not — that giving lip service to godliness is a sufficient substitute for actual godly living, I’m not sure even that was different 200 years ago.

Roy
Guest
Roy

ETR, While the list of sinful acts is no doubt accurate, I don’t know that our dismissal or perversions of God’s blessings means that the blessings didn’t or don’t exist. That may even be a part of the point.

Katecho
Member

Eric the Red wrote: “I’m not sure America has ever been exceptional in the sense that you’re using the word.” Doug drubs the tomfool notion of American exceptionalism. But Eric takes it as an opportunity to ponder whether America has ever been exceptional. Eric isn’t convinced. Perhaps it is a postmodern deconstructionist thing, but does Eric somehow think Doug is arguing for American exceptionalism? How can Eric have it so backwards? Doug wrote: The exceptional things we have (in truth) been given can be counted as blessings from the hand of the only true God, who requires us to name… Read more »

Eric the Red
Guest
Eric the Red

Katecho, if you weren’t so bound and determined to disagree with me, even if you have to misrepresent what I said in order to do it, maybe you would have noticed that I was mostly agreeing with Doug’s conclusion. He and I arrive at that conclusion by different routes, but for once we end up at the same place.

Seneca Griggs
Guest
Seneca Griggs

I have believed that “American exceptionalism” was simply the blessings of God on a nation who had a solid cadre of devout believers who have indeed honored Him as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It was never a “Moral Majority” but it does appear to be a dwindling minority. But there is still a core of God fearing men and women in these secular states who continue to pray that God might, for His Glory, bring a revival of the heart to hundreds of thousands of people. And I think God has continued to bless us to some… Read more »

BJ
Guest
BJ

Amen! Why is this insight not pouring out of the churches? Maybe too many of us are busy looking for the secret rapture escape hatch, hoping Jesus will fix it without us.

Andrew Lohr
Member

And another baby said, “It’s above my pay grade.”

Robert
Guest
Robert

The godlier parts of America historically are more lilely to be rural than urban. Most of the things that Eric laments were the products of the industrial revolution plus mass immigration of the extremely poor, different ethnicities fighting for their share of the pie, plus the fact that facotiry owners and mine owners didn’t think Remember the Sabbath and Keep it Holy applied to them. Except for rural poor Blacks, there was far less fighting in farm towns after the Civil war than in the mining towns and the cities with the Pinketons,, etc.

DanielBlowes
Guest
DanielBlowes

The narrative the enemy sold to Adam and Eve was that they are the victims of God’s pride and deceit, and whilst they were busy buying that, they became the victims of the enemy’s pride and deceit, or Eve did and Adam the victim of her folly.. But even that narrative is a sub-plot; the metanarrative is, as revealed at The Cross, that God is the victim of US, and as The Victim has the power, the right, to forgive us.. America, that great big blustering loudmouth nephew of Great Britain, finally got it’s victim narrative back on Sept 11… Read more »

David Smith
Guest
David Smith

At least for now, the term “American Exceptionalism’ is so soiled, by neoconnery and other America-as-messiah idolaters, that it should just be flushed. If we’d like to be truly exceptional, we’ll “. . . do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with [our] God.” And then we’ll tend to our business and not think about how exceptional we’re being!

Jill Smith
Member

As a Canadian who loves her native land and who has been a legal alien here for over 25 years, I am always amazed by the handwringing over American are viciously anti-American in a particularly sniffy way that blends moral superiority and envy. At a trivial level, I have never yet told an American that I grew up in Canada without being told how lucky I was to come from such a beautiful and wonderful country. Can you imagine how far an American would have to travel in Canada to find so gracious a response? And this comes from even… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

The first line should have said, handwringing over American exceptionalism. Many Europeans and unfortunately many Canadians are often viciously anti-American etc.

Joe Kmetz
Guest
Joe Kmetz

I beg your pardon if this comment turns out to be too banal, but what would we say to a country that seems to be quite atheistic/pagan, yet seems to be doing alright morality/economically/socially (Of course, all are presuppositions. Indulge my advocacy of diabolism for a moment)? Best example I could produce would be Sweden.

Robmac
Guest
Robmac

I really appreciate Jill Smith’s remarks, for understanding that America, though not without faults and it’s share of mistakes, does put a premium on trying to “do the right thing.” We do that collectively, and are tough on ourselves when we flunk. We have also gone to bat for those who need help at the expense of our wealth and lives. That takes moral courage. I think those who like to crack wise about American exceptionalism are mostly envious, and many would likely be the first to complain if this country finally did go home and not bother with anything… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

Using the Scandinavian countries, I would say a relatively homogeneous population, a shared commitment to common values of peace, order and good government, a psyche that is inclined to put the welfare of the group ahead of the individual, a universally high level of education, and the residue of a shared Lutheran past. Most of these are not virtues necessarily, but they tend to produce stable and productive societies. Canadian schoolchildren achieve in the top 5 worldwide on standardized tests for math and reading. Are the teachers better? The schools better funded? The children smarter? Of course not. But Canadian… Read more »

Katecho
Member

Eric the Red wrote: At the time of the founding, in most states, abortion was legal until the time of quickening; anti-abortion statutes didn’t begin to be passed until the late 1800s. This is a carefully worded distortion of history that deserves further exposure. Any righteous law will address the guilty, but at the same time guard the accused against false charges by requiring a proper standard of evidence. In the case of a charge of abortion, there must be evidence that there was a living child in the first place. Such evidence is easier to acquire today with pregnancy… Read more »

Katecho
Member

On the subject of American exceptionalism, we now have proof:
http://s2.postimg.org/dzoqirfnt/20130705_fatty.jpg

Tim H.
Guest
Tim H.

True, there was something like “exceptionalism” in the Puritan rhetoric of the city on the hill — but this must be tagged as one of the serious mistakes made by the Puritans and their secular successors. In modern times, however, the notion must be identified specifically with the neo-cons. And isn’t it funny that today it is always invoked — ALWAYS — with a view to the idea that Americans should go and kill other goyim to rescue/ for the sake of/at the behest of, jews. Look through the flattery to see the real agenda.

Jill Smith
Member

Tim, that really distresses me. Was that true in Serbia or Afghanistan? The neocons have thought we should go into North Korea as well; a few decades ago, some thought we should intervene in Rwanda. By what possible stretch of the imagination would those probably misguided ventures have involved killing goyim at the behest of Jews? I wondered if your perception carefully distinguishes between Israelis and Jews. I think criticism of Israel, and American support of Israel, is appropriate, justified, and necessary. Any foreign policy should be subject to scrutiny and debate. But when I see phrases like “the jews”… Read more »

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Robert, for your argument about the rural parts of early America demonstrating more “godliness” than the urban parts, I was under the impression that slavery was mostly a rural phenomenon. Post-slavery lynchings were quite often rural too, as was the enforcement of Jim Crow laws and segregation. Most of the killings and land-grabbing from Native Americans were undertaken by those “godly” rural folk. And I’ve never gotten the impression that the frontier towns, whether they were cattle-ranching focused or mining focused or whatever, were bastions of morality.

DanielBlowes
Guest
DanielBlowes

The victim always FEELS exceptional when they ‘take exception’ like the when the Protestants took exception to the Catholics or the Puritans to the Protestants etc..