Readings for the 4th of July, as the United States of America celebrates its 230th birthday . . .
- “Because It’s Worth Reading” — David Michael Phelps reminds us to read the founding document of our nation.
- A magnificent reflection on the principles of the Declaration of Independence is offered by Fr. James V. Schall in Do We Deserve To Be Free? On The Fourth of July, 2006 (Ignatius Insight).
- “That Honorable Determination”, by Christopher Flannery [The Claremont Institute]:
American children are not born understanding the principles of their country, and most American college students—if reports can be believed—are still largely unfamiliar with them when they graduate. So it is a useful tradition, as the Fourth of July comes around each year, to reflect again—and again—on the American political principles famously proclaimed on the original Independence Day, which, as many college graduates know, happened sometime in the past, possibly during summertime. Lest we seem to rest all our political expectations on the capacity of the next generation for self-government, let us admit that the grownups, as well, can benefit from an annual refresher. . . .
- Citing some relevant texts from the Catechism, Joe at Deo Omnis Gloria reminds us of our obligations pertaining to Catholicism, Citizenship, & the Political Community.
- Drawing from Abraham Lincoln’s speech of July 10, 1858 (a rebuttal to his campaign rival Illinois Senator Stephen Douglas), and President Calvin Coolidge’s 1926 address on the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Indepence, Scott Johnson (Powerline) remarks on The eternal meaning of Independence Day.
- Fourth of July weekend: assimilation at the park – observations by “Neo-Neocon”:
. . . If I were to have taken a poll of that group on the grass and under the tall shade trees at the park the other day, I wonder what I would have found. How many of the adults were in basic acceptance that their children would become part of American culture? How many were hoping–and taking strong steps to ensure–that their children would resist? How many of the adults were determined to learn English? How many were legal, how many illegal; how many expected a temporary stay, how many a permanent one? How many were happy to be here, how many not?
I don’t know the answers. What I do know is that they looked happy–but of course, it was a lovely day, and a vacation time at that–and the children were all speaking unaccented English. And I know that the vista, to me at least, was a pleasant one, and part of what I consider to be the age-old American dream, on this Fourth of July weekend.
- Americans also have the freedom to dissent. Catholic Anarchist, finds himself
“wishing customers a good holiday, consciously not saying “Happy Fourth of July.” It occurred to me later that the word holiday is, of course, shorthand for “holy day,” and I had to amend my well-wishing to “Have a good evening.” Alas, it is difficult to notice sometimes that we Christians take part in the empire’s subversion of our own theological language.
- Greg Mockeridge talks about Our Founding Fathers, Reluctant Revolutionaries: “Because it is called the American “Revolution,” some seize upon this opportunity to characterize our Founding Fathers as though they are the patron saints of those who look for any excuse to just buck the establishment. Does this description fit our Founding Fathers?“
- Michelle Malkin kicks off her Independence Day 2006 News & Notes with Zel Miller’s Republican National Convention speech (“Never in the history of the world has any soldier sacrificed more for the freedom and liberty of total strangers than the American soldier. And, our soldiers don’t just give freedom abroad, they preserve it for us here at home. . . .”); and The Anchoress has rounded up more good reading (along with a tribute to Normal Rockwell) in Jonah to Hitchens to Betsy, a 4th Round-up from The Anchoress.
. . . and a few gems from the past:
- Father Tucker (Dappled Things) on What’s Right about America.
- I. Shawn McElhinney shares the other verses to “America, The Beautiful”, including the following:
O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!
A bit of history behind the tune and lyrics.
- Greg Mockeridge (Cooperatores Veritatis) takes a look at The Declaration of Independence from a Catholic Perspective
- On a similar note, see “The Religious Heritage of American Democracy” by Joseph S. Costanzo and The Faith at the Founding, by Michael Novak First Things 132 (April 2003): 27-32, on the religion of our founding fathers and its proper place in the “American experiment.”
- For further meditations on the nature of freedom see Enjoying and Making Use of a Responsible Freedom, by Cardinal Avery Dulles. Religion & Liberty Volume 11, Number 5, Sept/Oct 2001) and “The Moral Foundations of Freedom”, by George Weigel (Acton Lecture on Religion & Liberty. October 23, 2000); On the Nature (and Price) of Liberty, Against The Grain July 4th, 2004.
Watching the historic July 4th launch of Space Shuttle Discovery was probably the highlight of today. Fireworks pale in comparison to the thrill of watching (even if on TV) of a man-made contraption hurtling toward the starts at five times the speed of sound. Details on Discovery‘s crew and their mission here [.pdf format].
It seems fitting to close this post with the following words from Pope John Paul II to the American Ambassador to the Vatican in 1998 (courtesy of Phil Dillon):
“The Founding Fathers of the United States asserted their claim to freedom and independence on the basis of certain “self-evident” truths about the human person: truths which could be discerned in human nature, built into it by “nature’s God.” Thus they meant to bring into being, not just an independent territory, but a great experiment in what George Washington called “ordered liberty.”…
“The American democratic experiment has been successful in many ways; millions of people around the world look to the United States as a model in their search for freedom, dignity, and prosperity. But the continuing success of American democracy depends on the degree to which each new generation, native-born and immigrant, makes its own moral truths on which the Founding Fathers staked the future of your Republic.”
“I am happy to take note of your words confirming the importance that your government attaches, in its relations with countries around the world, to the promotion of human rights and particularly to the fundamental human right of religious freedom, which is the guarantee of every other human right. Respect for religious convictions played no small part in the birth and early development of the United States. Thus John Dickinson, chairman of the Committee for the Declaration of Independence, said in 1776: “Our liberties do not come from the charters; for these are only declarations of preexisting rights. They do not depend on parchment or seals; but come from the King of Kings and the Lord of all the earth.” Indeed it may be asked whether the American experiment would have been possible, or how well it will succeed in the future, without a deeply rooted vision of divine Providence over the individual and over the fate of nations.”
Happy 4th of July!