The TAC Editors
Ronald Reagan was able to win the Cold War without engaging the former Soviet Union in a terrible military conflict. Regan understood the nature of the battle. He called the former Soviet Union ‘the evil empire.” From his deep religious faith, Reagan well understood that the battle at hand was a battle between good and evil. He also understood that the Communism of the former Soviet Union, because of its erroneous principles, would eventually collapse.
Although Communism is still a serious problem in China, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela; a new, far more serious enemy is attempting to destroy our nation and our way of life. Radical Islam presents a greater threat than any other form of totalitarianism known to modern history.
Radical Islamic fundamentalism is much more dangerous than any form of Communism, precisely because Islam is a religion whereas communism, although it has religious overtones, is an ideology. There is a difference between the two systems.
Communists organize riots and protests. Communists engage in subversive activity. Communists enslave nations and deny people their most fundamental rights. Communism has armies and weapons of mass destruction. All of this is true of the radical Muslims, except for one very important difference: Communists do not blow themselves up; Islamic terrorists do.
Reagan was able to win the Cold War precisely because Communism is an ideology. But, how will we win the war on terror?
It’s understandable why folks would want to talk about American Exceptionalism in these days. We seem to be in a funk. I suspect similar to the Carter era, but I feel it maybe something worse. People know somethings are off track – our economy (i.e. high unemployment), our domestic policy (i.e. healthcare), our fiscal and monetary policy (i.e. debt & deficit), our foreign policy (i.e. Israel), etc.
Many folks are concerned about the world community loosing faith in the U.S. Dollar as the world reserve currency within the next decade or so therefore causing a flip to either the Chinese Renminbi (once it fully enters the international monetary community) or to a basket of world currencies. Many are rightly concerned that China and many Asian Pacific countries are beginning to eclipse the U.S., Europe and the West in general. One might have the perception that our (the U.S.) best days are behind us. Many believe that we have began a downward spiral that all worldly empires eventually face.
Maybe it’s time to look at this concept of “American Exceptionalism” from another perspective, through the eyes of current American minorities, i.e. African Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, etc. As Catholics we were once a minority as well. Our American history is a complex one, as all histories are. Let us dig a little deeper to see more of our reality so that we can know how to move forward in these days.
Watch Howard Zinn’s Lecture at MIT entitled The Myth of American Exceptionalism.
A People’s History Of The United States (free online edition) by Howard Zinn
During the last election cycle the Republicans practiced a form of secular worship (used very loosely here ~ really more a form of veneration) of Ronald Reagan, especially during the Republican debates. The favor of the lollipop this election cycle for the G.O.P. is “American Exceptionalism”. For anyone who watched numerous figures at the CPAC convention (as I did) knows this fact. Each Republican candidate will wave the American flag and try to be the most patriotic. Should we as Catholics endorse and support this? Is this not a form of secular paganism?
Books of interest:
A Nation Like No Other: Why American Exceptionalism Matters by Newt Gingrich
Captain America and the Crusade Against Evil: The Dilemma of Zealous Nationalism by Robert Jewett and John Shelton Lawrence
The Post-American World (Release 2.0) by Fareed Zakaria
Any book by Stanley Hauerwas whose life work has been exploring this topic and others closely related to it.
God, State, and the Political Meaning of the Church
The U.S. political landscape is changing once again… For anyone interested in the history of the Religious Right and how Social Conservatives have changed politics in the U.S., especially that of the G.O.P., I would refer you to the following articles and books. Where do or how do Catholics work into this equation?
The American Conservative
Bachmann Country – How evangelicals remade the Midwestern right
Dr. William T. Cavanaugh, Dr. D.G. Hart, and Frank Schaeffer have new books on this topic worth checking out.
Migrations of the Holy: God, State, and the Political Meaning of the Church by William T. Cavanaugh
Watch this entire 3-part interview of Sen. Webb. It’s a pretty remarkable interview very much worth viewing. He addresses many problems with our current foreign policy, military affairs, etc.
Politico – Webb: U.S. ‘blasé’ on use of force
To see the other two parts (of a 3-part) interview click here – Continue reading
What [Paul] Weyrich understood was that you can’t have it “both ways” when it comes to Romney’s faith. You can’t say that his religious beliefs don’t matter, but his “values” do. The Christian worldview teaches that there is a short tether binding beliefs to the values and behaviors that flow from them. If the beliefs are false, then the behavior will eventually—but inevitably—be warped. Mormonism is particularly troubling on this point because Mormons believe in the idea of “continuing revelation.” They may believe one thing today, and something else tomorrow. This is why Mormons have changed their views, for example, on marriage and race. Polygamy was once a key distinctive of the religion. Now, of course, it is not. Mormons once forbade blacks from leadership roles. Now they do not. What else will change?
Even if a Mormon social teaching happens to concur with orthodox Christianity at this point in time, it is unreliable and subject to alteration. It’s tempting to say that “continuing revelation” has defined Romney’s career, who has changed his positions on same-sex marriage and abortion and just about every major “culture war” issue… TO READ MORE CLICK HERE.
The Church teaches us that there is a hierarchy of truths. Errors regarding God will result in errors involving man. The author make the assertion that “Evangelical Christians should have no part of [the] effort” to elect Romney. Should the same be said for Catholics? Read the entire article above and judge it. Let me know what you think on this matter.
Webster Bull has written a very interesting article regarding a talk given by Mnsgr. Lorenzo Albacete at The American Bible Society.
One false response, Albacete insisted, is to reduce Christianity to an ethical system. Christianity as a form of moralism, he said, suggests that we are not broken sinners requiring salvation but just “decent folk who need instruction.” Christianity truly lived, he went on, begins with the experience of being saved, then seeking to live that experience in the surrounding culture. We usually reverse the equation, trying to heal the culture (ethically) in order to save it and ourselves. What saves us is not ethical conduct but the fact of Christ’s life… TO READ MORE CLICK HERE
HARPERS – Hot air gods By Curtis White
Pawlenty 2012 (main website)
USA TODAY – Real change is about telling hard truths
Tim Pawlenty’s moment
State Rep. Renee Schulte, Iowa House of Representatives (R):
From an Iowa perspective, Pawlenty is the early frontrunner. As the candidate who has put together a large, well-regarded staff and spent the most time working the grassroots here, Pawlenty has secured the pole position in the early, organizational phase of the campaign. Clearly, his campaign needs to win the Iowa Caucuses in order to become the alternative to Mitt Romney. The Iowa Straw Poll will be a crucial early test to determine the effectiveness of his organization and the strength of his appeal…
As Catholics, is it reasonable to support him?