Sunday, January 08, 2012
In Name or In Spirit
The nation of soldiers, magistrates, and legislators, who composed the thirty-five tribes of the Roman people, was dissolved into the common mass of mankind and confounded with the millions of servile provincials, who had received the name without adopting the spirit of Romans. (italics by ed.)
Edward Gibbon,The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Volume One, New York, Random House, The Modern Library, pg. 168
What does it mean to be an American? The answers are many and varied, if you delve into any of the opinions at the link which is that question, and this subject has been on my mind since I read that Gibbon’s comment which opens this post on Friday.
A good number of individuals are embarrassed to say they are Americans, for one reason or another, and of those I’ve read who are embarrassed to say they are an American, most would fall into that category which Gibbon suggests to us as being an American in name only, entirely lacking in the spirit of individual rights and responsiblities. The American spirit.
Does being an American simply consist of being able to pass the American Citizenship Test? Which you can actually practice for at that link. Some individuals would say that this is all it takes, or even insist upon, but they would be wrong. It is not the passing of a test and the receipt of a piece of paper which makes individuals into Americans.
Being an American is something that is within you, in your psyche, as AM notes in his recent post The slow collapse into the soft dark ages…., and the not insurmountable problem is how can this spirit be inculcated into larger and larger numbers of individuals who may be American in name only, or are embarrassed to admit they are Americans.
Last August I commented on Rick Perry’s stating that he would consider being elected POTUS a blessing in a post titled Not Quite Rhetorical Modesty commenting as follows.
Only an individual desiring power would consider becoming president of the United States a blessing, and thus Perry’s statement is hardly rhetorical modesty.
Moses, Jonah, and even Christ himself would rather have not had to shoulder the tasks which God appointed to them, and I hardly think they considered their roles as leaders in their appointed tasks a blessing.
Donald Sensing has addressed the subject of God’s calls in a rather more reflective manner than I did, after reading a piece at Real Clear Religion titled A Divine Call Won’t Get You Votes. His post is titled God’s plan just fell apart, I guess and it’s worth reading, if only for point number 3.
3. God’s call almost never corresponds, even remotely, with what you want to do. Hence, any specific desire that exists, however slightly, in your heart that a subsequent divine call seems so wonderfully to endorse is almost absolutely not the voice of God but of the Deceiver. God’s will is rarely appealing, at first.