The Patriot.02 – Love Of Country

huckleberry finn“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!”

I do not, nor will I ever, pledge my allegiance to my nation’s government, nor to any political leader or party. Such blind allegiances breed tyranny, and of that I want no part. To do so would be a blow to liberty in general, and to my personal liberty in particular.

I do however, love my country.

“What is meant by ‘my country?’” you ask. I prefer the definition tendered by the French Enlightenment-era  philosopher, Voltaire. He wrote, “Our country is that spot to which our heart is bound.” I will expand upon this statement below.

Meanwhile, American novelist, Russell Banks, a contributor to Ken Burns’ PBS film, Mark Twain, made these astute observations about Twain’s perhaps unintentional characterizing of America’s unique experience among the nations. Banks’ words held me captive as I listened to them.

“I think that Huckleberry Finn is our “Homeric” epic. It stands to our literature, I think, as The Iliad and The Odyssey stand to Greek and European literature in some sense. We are as a people, radically different, despite our common threads of history, from Europeans. And the elements that make us different, I think, are essentially two: race and space (emphasis mine). And Twain’s work, more than any other writer before him, and probably more than any other writer since, embrace those two facts, and makes possible an American literature, which otherwise, was not possible.”

I like how Banks’ two words—space and race—seem to sum up in some ways, the American experience. They do capture a significant essence of our country. But I wish to add two more words to Banks’ list. They are “place” and “grace.” My list thus looks like this:

  • Place
  • Grace
  • Space
  • Race

Each of these four words speak to me of a unique quality of the country we call America, my country, your country, the country that we love. Allow me to briefly elucidate.

Place: What is place? Is it merely a physical, geographic location, a point on a map? That definition alone surely sets America apart from other countries. Bounded east and west by two vast oceans, nestled squarely in the center—the most temperate zone—of the North American continent, and rich in a vast and pleasant variety of natural features, our “spot,” that place to which our heart is bound, more than serves us, it blesses us beyond measure. But let us think also of our country as a “place” in time—a unique moment in world history when Providence, it would seem, directed people and events into an extraordinary and wonderful crucible from which the best expression of political liberty ever known to man, emerged.

Grace: Grace, I believe, is the word most essential in understanding our love of country. For generations, and even to this present day, America has not been a place to escape from, but rather, a place where millions have escaped to. And why? It is because God’s grace has presided over this land. And here, grace has prevailed perhaps more so than any other place in time. I cannot explain it now, in this post, nor can I explain it well. But in future posts, particularly in my upcoming series AN AMERICAN JEREMIAD, I will attempt to provide some explanation. Without grace—God’s grace to be specific (and what other grace is there, really?)—our country would have never been. Today, as we seek to expunge him from our public square, from our public discourse, his grace dissipates ever so slowly. We watch in grief, helpless it would seem, to stay its seemingly inevitable vanishment.

Space: “Go West, young man, go West and grow up with the country.” So proclaimed Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune, a newspaper which he founded in 1841. Greeley’s admonition captures the “space” element of our countrymen’s westward press, a clear signifier of the American idea, even from our earliest colonial days. Space has been one of America’s greatest features, a component that I easily associate with the “grace” on this “place” we call home. Even today, in 21st century America, vast empty spaces characterize our country, large, empty masses of land, still uninhabited, or once inhabited and now uninhabited again. We love this land, this vast “space” of real estate that we call America, this home, this “spot” to which our hearts remain attached.

Race: From the outset, this “place,” this country of ours, has played host to many a clash and challenge borne by racial and ethnic tensions. From the Puritans’ difficulties with the Pequot, to the auction blocks of the slave traders, to the Freedom Riders of the 1960′s, to Hollywood’s portrayals of the Wild West, to our very-immediate struggles over illegal immigration, race has been an ever-present and ongoing factor in American life. Try as we might, we Americans cannot escape the test that racial and ethnic diversity provide. It is as if God, in his grace, placed us all together in this American cauldron, stirred us up, and gave us the opportunity to get along. This is America, this is our country, warts and all, and whether we admit it or not, the continued scuffles and skirmishes are very much a part of what makes us Americans. Race, like the other three elements of place, grace and space, are  what have historically separated and distinguished us from the rest of the world.

America! Don’t you love her?

Up Monday … The Authentic Patriot.

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5 Responses to “The Patriot.02 – Love Of Country”

  1. I can’t help but reflect that there is yet another “country”, a “place” whose call echoes in every Christian “patriots” heart. It’s that kingdom country that the Old Testament faithful could only hope for, realized in Christ. And we, of the New Covenant, though we have Christ, also hope for — a coming kingdom, a place where grace, space and race will finally harmonize in the presence of Him who sits upon the throne, and the Lamb slain before the foundations of the world, Jesus, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah! What a day that will be – a cosmic, eternal, celebratory 4th of July.

  2. Amen! As I grow older, and see that day growing closer for me personally, I find myself longing for that new “country,” that place where the fulness of Christ is manifested in everything and in everyone whose name is written in the Book Of Life. It is that place where sin is put away forever, where not only our spirits and souls, but our bodies are made new, and where death of any kind no longer has any part in our culture.

    But I also think about the idea that Christ may continue to tarry in his return (I expected him to show up about forty years ago!). What kind of “country” then will my children and my grandchildren have to live in while they, like us before them, await the New Jerusalem? And I ask myself the question … What, in my small piece of stewardship over God’s creation, can I do to ensure that they will have a safe, secure, and healthy place to live out their lives as they, like me, await Christ’s return?

  3. And you’ve nailed the key question, “what…can I do” — the one I’m personally struggling with.

    My closest circle of longtime friends, once arm-in-arm, have taken various sides of a square and seem to be facing off, so to speak, from politics to economics.

    I feel more sure of myself in the marketplace of ideas and ideals, but far less certain in the marketplace of public policy and politics.

  4. [Hi, Mark. Saw this little item on the web!]

    Islam will “purify” Jews and Christians !

    Islam, part of the Living River of History, can affect even the 2012 US election!
    The “headwaters” of this River was Adam, according to Judaism, Christianity, Islam etc .
    In the OT (Deut. 28), “tributaries” wanting to join the River will be blessed while “distributaries” who want to flow away from it will be cursed. Those wishing to totally separate from the fresh Living River will end up as polluted, dying “oxbow lakes.”
    In the OT we see Israelites repeatedly flowing away from God, then repenting and returning to Him; we also see heathen “oxbow lakes” creating their own “gods” and being allowed by God to plunder and kill the erring Israelites.
    Then, at the right time, the Living River took on new life with the arrival of the Promised One who offers “living water.”
    In the 7th century Islam, drawing from both OT and NT, chose to be a distributary away from this River. Many scholars have viewed it as the final Antichrist: note “scourge” (Isa. 28), “Assyrian” (Mic. 5), “Euphrates” (Rev. 9) etc.
    God will allow this “scourge” to temporarily persecute and even kill apostate Jews (JINOs) and Christians (CINOs). Jews, especially in “entertainment,” seem more expert in apostasy than Christians since Jews have been at it 2000 years longer than Christians have – but Christians apparently want to catch up to the Jews!
    It’s apparent that others will join Islam in its end-time inquisition; its great oil wealth can captivate many leaders and already we are seeing apostate American leaders being bribed into turning against true American patriots.
    Those who ignore (or try to dilute or destroy) the God-ordained Living River of History will be swept down it to an ocean made by their own never-ending tears of agony and despair!
    PS – American JINOs & CINOs can overcome the “scourge” discussed above. The secret is found by Googling “II Chronicles 7:14″ & “John 3:16″ !

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  1. The Patriot.06 – The Nationalist | The Famished Patriot - 18. Jan, 2012

    [...] of course—is to my country and what my country represents. I already wrote about love of country here, and here, and here, and will have more to say in the last three posts of This [...]

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