What is Fundamental Anyway?
I’m sorry. I just don’t get it.
To me, the fundamentals, the very foundation of the United States is equality, human rights, and community. Participating and compromising for the common good.
I got these ideas from Jefferson, Adams, Madison, and if they weren’t enough, also from Lincoln and both Roosevelts. And yes, Doctor King too.
But people who call themselves patriots, and nationalist and pro-America laud leaders who don’t believe in, let alone value, respect or protect any of those things.
And they let their anger, ignorance and disdain for the rest of us rage like a prairie fire.
But if I snap back, I have to consider relations and treat people better than that. If want to remind everyone of what our fundamentals are, I’m warned that I’ll offend someone, that they’ll think I’m too radical.
To me, the very heart, the basics, the absolute fundamental foundations of Jesus and the whole Bible, Old and New, is love.
Love the Lord your God with all your strength and all your heart and all you mind. AND love your neighbor as yourslef.
Love your neighbor? Who is your neighbor?
Love your enemies, pray for those that persecute you.
If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
Seems clear. Seems fundamental.
But if you say that, they look at you suspiciously.
Who are you listening to? What are you reading?
Um, Jesus, the Prophets, judges, and teachers of the Torah and Jesus, Paul, John, the Apostles and Epistle writers of the New Testament.
That’s heresy. That’s reduction-ism. That’s liberation theology. That’s too liberal. That’s watered down.
Here I was thinking it was distilled, concentrated, liquor, jet fuel.
Essence. Spirit. Anything BUT diluted.
Accepting anyone into fellowship who doesn’t submit to every jot and tittle of the law would be like condoning their every error.
Grace itself becomes a work, after having been reminded over and over that our own works are worth nothing.
Not just adherence to orthodoxy, but allegiance to homogeneity is the only safety.
I think to much. I feel too much. I talk too much.
My fundamentalism is the wrong kind of radical.
I’m stupid. I’m crazy. I’m a problem. I hate our heritage.
Don’t point out our ignorance, our apathy, our inconsistency, our mental illness, our stubbornness.
I get it.
Judge not, let ye be judged.
I must have logs in my eyes.
What I thought was fundamental, the fundamentalists find too progressive.
I thought evangelical meant having a personal relationship with God and wanting to share the good news of His love. Isn’t to evangelize, to share, to witness? But the more I speak or share, the more I’m isolated and marginalized. Muffled. Stimied.
What I thought was egalitarian and democratic and just is apparently “socialist” and “elitist” and “unamerican.”
Do I really not understand the fundamentals?
“Indeed I tremble for my country when reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever: that considering numbers, nature and natural means only, a revolution of the wheel of fortune, an exchange of situation, is among possible events: that it may become probable by supernatural interference!”
— Thomas Jefferson
” Jesus wept.”
Is America is Dead Yet?
Following the exodus of many Christian believers from the religious right “evangelical” church, I’ve heard a few leaders of the “deconstructionist movement” critique hyper patriotism and Christian nationalism as idolatry. I could’t agree more.
Jesus is Lord, not our country, not either party, not any candidate or President. Any time we begin to imagine that our politics and opinions are the only ones that can save us all- we’ve fallen on our knees before a false god.
But as a fan of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, Bill of Rights, Abe Lincoln and American history in general, I want to point out that many if not most practicioners of this blasphemous “civil religion,” aren’t even practicing this false religion correctly. They violate it’s commandments (14th Amendment) and ignore it’s creeds (just as MLK accused us of in his ‘I have a dream’ speech.
The three core tennants/doctrines of our secular (civil) religion were origionally equality, human rights and the social contract theory. The sacred virtues were unity, justice, domestic tranquility, common defense, general welfare and the securing the benefits of freedom for an optimistic future. The holy sacraments were voting, speech, assembly, and ingenuity.
I know, I too have to tear down my own asherath poles of progressivism even as I demand that conservatives grind their baal alters into dust. Egalatarianism, fraternity and liberty aren’t going to get anyone into Heaven or more Christ-like than capitalism, guns or military superiority. But I just can’t help thinking that if you’re gonna depend on horses and chariots instead of God’s Spirit, you should at least depend on the correct horses.
It sees to me if you’re going to elevate America or it’s flag to an object of worship, at least do America the favor of honoring the republic for which it stands, one nation (UNDER) God, indivisible with liberty & justice for ALL- rather than just Republicans standing (never kneeling) for the flag, with God being an afluent, White, male, always supporting one political party over another, polarized with “opportunity” if you work hard enough, and retributive justice if you can afford it.
So, for my deconstrutionist brothers & sisters, as well as for my athiest and agnostic brothers and sisters, I present a thought experiment. Friedrich Nietzsche’s much reviled and misunderstood 1882 story, “Parable of the Madman”- replacing the word “God” with “America.” A decidedly Trump-Era fable.
Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place, and cried incessantly: “I seek America! I seek America!” — As many of those who did not believe in democracy were standing around just then, he provoked much laughter. Has she got lost? asked one. Did she lose her way like a child? asked another. Or is she hiding? Is she afraid of us? Has she gone on a voyage? emigrated? — Thus they yelled and laughed.
The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes. “Whither is America?” he cried; “I will tell you. We have killed her– you and I. All of us are her murderers. But how did we do this? How could we drink up the land from sea to shining sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire frontier? Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning? Do we hear nothing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying America? Do we smell nothing as yet of the national decomposition? Nations, too, decompose. America is dead. America remains dead. And we have killed her.
“How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whoever is born after us — for the sake of this deed he will belong to a higher history than all history hitherto.”
here the madman fell silent and looked again at his listeners; and they, too, were silent and stared at him in astonishment. At last he threw his lantern on the ground, and it broke into pieces and went out. “I have come too early,” he said then; “my time is not yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering; it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time; the light of the stars requires time; deeds, though done, still require time to be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than most distant stars and broad stripes — and yet they have done it themselves.
It has been related further that on the same day the madman forced his way into several campaign rallies and there struck up his requiem aeternam demos. Led out and called to account, he is said always to have replied nothing but: “What after all are these party debates, primaries and caucuses now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of America?”
3 Core Principles found in the Declaration of Independence
Check out my episode “Episode 3” from MALADJUSTED on Anchor: https://anchor.fm/ted-mallory/episodes/Episode-3-e1n3qr
With Independence Day coming up next week, here are a few thoughts I like to think of as “THAT’S what America is all about, Charlie Brown!”
Memorial Day Sentimentalizing
Here are a collection of Instagram and Facebook posts from this weekend. They’re more sentimental than angry or political, but because they’re so personal and passionate, I decided to post them under the “rant” banner rather than “Civics 101.” This isn’t about teaching or encouraging thought or discussion, this is about sharing my personal feelings and beliefs. That said, I hope I didn’t just scare you off. Original posts are regular and new comments are blue and in italics.
Do leave your comments in below, but don’t be a jerk or a troll even if we disagree- especially if you’re a Russian bot.
This weekend remember, if we’re not dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, then we’ve let those who gave their last full measure of devotion so that any nation so dedicated might live, have died in vain. It’s not the flag, it’s the “liberty and justice for all” that needs our allegiance and respect. Otherwise we’re just going through the motions.
Must be because in Civics class I just taught about the Gettysburg Address and passage of the 13, 14 7 15th Amendments. maybe because I just take myself and history and holidays all WAY too seriously.
Sure, I honor those who served and those who gave their last full measure, but it’s not about flags or ceremonies or even about those who fought. It’s about the principles they were fighting & sacrificing for. When we forget that, that’s when we truly dishonor them. That’s when we allow them to die in vain. If we allow government of, by and for all people to perish, then all our pride and patriotism is nothing more than vanity. #Lincoln #GettysburgAddress #mashup #MemorialDay #equal #equality
Lots of WWII movies on this weekend. Know what I’ve noticed? NAZIs are evil and Americans oppose them. American’s don’t trust Russia. Ah, simpler times.
Most Summers you see ‘Midway’ on all weekend. This year I saw ‘Patton’ and ‘Battle of the Bulge.’ Both excellent films, although- with all due respect, George Patton was a narcissistic piece of work!
I suppose it’s because Memorial Day ceremonies are so similar to the military rites
of internment that I think about losing my dad more this weekend than on his birthday or on the anniversary of his passing, even though he was always humble & never made a big deal about his service.
Some of why I miss my Dad is that he’s the one who taught me about treating ALL people with dignity and respect, about equality. He’s the one who taught me to be respectful yet scrutinize those with power and authority. He taught me the value of military service, but also of civilian service, duty and responsibility. He helped instill in me a love for history and reading and learning. He’s the one who taught me to respect and honor women, African Americans, Mexican Americans, Native Americans, workers & unions, and immigrants too. And he’s the one who taught me how to see through political BS.
Dissent is not ridicule.
Scrutiny is not persecution.
We indeed allow them to have died in vain not so much by failing to recognize their sacrifice, but when we are not dedicated to and devoted to that same proposition that Lincoln and Jefferson both claimed that our nation is dedicated to- that all men are created equal.
Honor and duty certainly are noble, but how much more noble are liberty and justice- especially livery and justice for ALL?
Certainly we should honor all those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom, but venerating veterans shouldn’t become the idolatry of militarism.
Being proud of our patriotism will only be hollow if it is about mere nationalism rather than striving and working and continuing to sacrifice for the principles for which our flag stands, not just for the flag itself: Equality, rights, social contract, unity, justice, domestic tranquility, common defense, general welfare, perpetual democracy, freedom of religion, of speech, of media, of assembly, association, to protest, to criticize and scrutinize our government and to petition for redress of grievances.
If it’s not about these principles, for everyone- even those different than us, even those we disagree with, then what good people is it?
This, no doubt was partly in response to the Address at our town’s Memorial Day ceremonies put on my the American Legion. Their guest speaker was one of our State Assemblymen. I really prefer it when they invite veterans or officers on active duty rather than politicians.
did a good job for the most part. He spoke mostly about a speech Genera MacArthur made on honor, duty and country. It’s not so much that as a history student, I prefer Eisenhower and Truman to Mac- it’s probably that this legislator and I went rounds about confederate statues on facebook a few months ago and he called me “stupid” and “crazy.” Maybe it’s because he’s such a huge Trump supporter or that he’s screwed teachers and public worker unions.
Whatever the case, I know I’m a hypocrite for being so angry and judgmental about him- but if he genuinely thinks that Democrats, progressives or immigrants are actively trying to destroy America or our treasured way of life, he is very insecure and doesn’t trust democracy.
To say that people who criticize politicians or their policies are “ridiculing” patriotism is about like Evangelicals, who are in power and in the majority somehow imagine that they are being “persecuted” and denied religious freedom.
Anyway, it seems such a shame that we have the Gettysburg Address read every year, but no one seems to have a clue about what Lincoln was saying. At least if they do, they don’t agree with him. Perhaps those disagreements about confederate war memorials were still too fresh in my mind. How can you serve in the USMC for 20 years and want to honor men who, in direct violation of the Constitution, wanted to destroy this country? Especially so that they could owning human beings as property? If that makes ME a “radical” and a “liberal,” I can live with that.
Yeeeeah… I guess this post has now earned it’s “rant” label. I apologize for that. It’s hard for me to not be indignant when people are offended by Black football players reverently taking a knee to draw attention to racial injustice, but when ICE lost almost 1,500 children of immigrants, they coldly say “shouldn’t ta broke the law,” or when the Mueller investigation is bringing in dozens of indictments and it’s clear that Russia DID hack our election, they shrug it off with “all politicians do it on both sides…”
Okay- I know that last paragraph alone will incite TONS of angry comments- May I just say, I know that this politician loves our country, and I absolutely value and honor his decades of military service- my problem is that he does not acknowledge that people who disagree with him politically can ALSO love our country and want what’s best for it.
I know its Memorial Day, not Veterans Day or Armed Forces Day, but I can’t help thinking of, praying for, worrying about and thanking not just the members of our community who served but have since passed away, but peers who enlisted after 9/11.
Former students who served already and students who are about to begin their service.
Thank you for the sacrifices you & your families make.
Please remember as you work for “Uncle Sam,” that it’s not the branch you serve in or even our flag you serve under, but the ideals and principles our nation was founded on that you are working to uphold and protect. Equality, Liberty and Justice are not just words, or even ideas or abstract concepts, they are self-evident truths worth sacrificing for.
God bless you & keep you safe as you do your duty to keep us all safe.