As part of this entry I've included a photograph of coconut palms decorated with lights for Christmas, a YouTube video of the Mac Wilberg arrangement of "Still, Still, Still, and a partial list of the things that have made the USA great. They are three seemingly unrelated things, though I would maintain that all things are included in a complete definition of God and the universe.
1. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the most important part of which is the First Amendment – “the right of the people to peaceably assemble.” (broken this year by mayors and police in cities across the country.)
a. The right of the people to bear arms.7. Public education available to all
b. The separation of church and state
c. Limitation of power of the various branches of government
d. States’ rights
e. A strong federal government
8. Creativity and constant innovation
9. Middle class
10. The Rich
11. The poor
12. Increasing suffrage for all people regardless of religion, sex, ethnicity, race, and sexuality
13. Waves of immigration and immigrants.
14. Capitalism – Super Corporations as well as old style mom and pop capitalism.
15. Socialism – including VA medical benefits and the big 3 (Medicaid, Medicare, and social security.*1
16. A limited definition of family
17. An increasingly inclusive definition of family
18. Abundant natural resources
19. Destructive use of natural resources.
20. Beauty beyond measure
21. A constructive mythology
22. A destructive mythology
Notice anything odd about this list, I ask rhetorically?
The list includes items that we would tag as diametrically opposed, items that belong on a list of extreme conservative values, and items that belong on a list of extreme liberal values, and items that would be found on both those lists. I refuse to believe that our democracy is no longer capable of reconciling and building on a value system that includes binary oppositions. Yes, Western cultures have a bad habit of thinking in oppositions. However, our nation has not been built on them. Instead our nation has been constructed during its 235-year history by fighting for (literally and figuratively) the reconciliation of seemingly diametrically opposed values.
Today, we are once again engaged in a battle that is based on separating these values into two opposing lists. One group would go beyond separation, and would redefine the values so as to exclude any hint of the other, and that must stop, or we are doomed to fight a second internecine civil war.
I will say no more, but include here, a reminder of our most noble and actual inclusive Christian behaviors based on one of our beloved patriotic songs, the first verse of “America the Beautiful,” by Katherine Lee Bates, and Samuel Ward.
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!*
P.S. Had to include this glass harp rendition of "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies."
*1 In current American Western ideology, socialism is almost always labeled as morally corrupt, while capitalism is labeled as constructive and good. Most historians insist that that is a correct historical analysis. I maintain that the use of social institutions by democracies like our own has proven that a blend of socialism and capitalism is the best system available to date.
• Just to make sure there is no confusion caused by my inclusion of the word “Christian” above. I am not a born again. The accent here is placed on the words “inclusive,” and “brotherhood,” as it is my belief that Jesus Christ was all about inclusion, and his choice of disciples both men and women proved the point.