When dpatrickcollins wrote Liberating Christian Thought, it seems he was just getting started. To read what he has written on The Christian Soul, Liberating Christian Thought, read that post and then click to the next. To understand the soul of a nation, don’t we need to understand the nature of our own souls first?
In my last post on the question at hand, DOES A NATION HAVE A SOUL? — PART 1, I presented an outline. The next topic?
How Do We Define The Soul Of A Nation?
Use Google, Bing, Yahoo, or whatever. Can you get a good answer to the question: how do we define the soul of a nation? Perhaps. Wikipedia and others reference French historian Ernest Renan (1823–1892) (See What is a Nation?). Here is their quote from Renan.
a soul, a spiritual principle. Two things, which are really one, constitute this soul and spiritual principle. One is in the past, the other, the present. One is the possession in common of a rich trove of memories; the other is actual consent, the desire to live together, the will to continue to value the undivided, shared heritage….To have had glorious moments in common in the past, a common will in the present, to have done great things together and to wish to do more, those are the essential conditions for a people. We love the nation in proportion to the sacrifices to which we consented, the harms that we suffered. (from here)
Consider some key words.
soul or spiritual principle: refers to deeply held beliefs, beliefs we associate with the reason for our being.
common: here common refers to the fact we share a common understanding of and beliefs about our history.
consent or desire: these words speak of unity, that the people of a nation both care about each other and their shared purpose,
love: each citizen knows the soul of his people, has a share in his people, and gives of him or herself to the welfare of his people,
What about our nation? Does our nation have a soul or spiritual principle we share in common? Do we all share the same desires for our nation? Have we given our consent to those who lead us? Do we each love our people?
What is the soul or spiritual principle that animates America? For the time being I doubt we have one. Use your favorite search engine, and you will probably turn up a PBS series. That seems prominent, but I gave up on PBS decades ago. So I have never seen the series, and I will not comment on the PBS series. Instead I will just point out the controversy over the election of President Donald Trump. That has spawned a “resist Trump movement” that now consumes the Democratic Party. Because Americans are not loyal to the same spiritual principle, the Democratic Party is not the Republican Party’s loyal opposition.
Are the Republican Party and the Democratic Party enemies? Not quite, but that is what they became during the American Civil War, and it could happen again.
What was the spiritual principle that Americans once shared in common? What unified us? What made us love us love our nation and care about each other? Here I suppose I am supposed to talk about our shared Christian heritage, and in a way that is part of it. However, although the spiritual principle that once bound us together was derived from Christianity, the laws we consent to and desire to uphold are not. Therefore, we express the spiritual principle of America in two forms, one overtly religious, the other legalistically.
In the Declaration of Independence, our nation’s founders stated America’s spiritual principle in as a spiritual principle. I believe this is the key passage.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
In The United States Constitution, because Americans believe in religious liberty, the founders stated the governing principles of our nation devoid of spiritual content. Consider The Preamble.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Without the Declaration of Independence, The United States Constitution is nothing more than a set of rules and instructions. Even The Preamble does not tell us what principles guided the Constitution’s framers. Without the The United States Constitution, we can only speculate upon what it means to implement the spiritual principles contained by the Declaration of Independence. Thus, the Constitution gives life to the Declaration, and the Declaration gives the Constitution purpose and meaning.
To Be Continued.