Thursday, March 19, 2009
Myths are powerful things.
The problem is the Christian Nation idea is a myth. It was debunked by modern scholars and, since the 1970s, figures like Peter Marshall and David Barton are trying to “reconstruct” what has been “deconstructed.” But ultimately the “imagined community” of “Christian America” has very old roots. What might make for an interesting BOOK (certainly too much for a paper) is to trace the origins of the Christian America idea, show when and how it was deconstructed, examine the attempt to “reconstruct” the myth and compare the difference between what was “deconstructed” and what (David) Barton, et al are trying to “reconstruct.”
At various times in the nation's past, the people have re-imagined what the constitution of the founders meant, until, finally, "we the people" are no longer Virginians or Hoosiers, but Americans. The same document - with relatively few changes - came to mean different things at different times. The founders would think we are all nuts.
There is enough truth in the Christian nation construct to make it plausible. I, for one, believe it to be true, if not quite in the way that one might imagine. I am a cynic, OTOH; truth is irrelevant in politics. Deconstruction works just as well on "truth" as it does on "myth." Given a compliant media and control of the public schools, I could construct, or deconstruct, any "truth" I want, for a while anyway.
America is a Christian nation if its citizens are mostly Christian. If not, then not. The entire debate is more or less meaningless. The Kingdom of God is not of this world.
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