Thoughts on America on the 4th of July

An article here reprises some of G.K. Chesterton’s thoughts on America.  Chesterton called America a “nation with the soul of a Church”.  It is, Chesterton remarked, the only nation “founded on a Creed” (“a creed, if not about divine, at least about human things.”).

An excerpt from the article:

“Now a creed is at once the broadest and the narrowest thing in the world,” Chesterton continues.  America’s creed is universal in its implications, recognizing knowable truths applicable to all men at all times. And in that sense, the country’s essence, he concludes, is “religious because it is not racial” in the way that “England is English as France is French or Ireland is Irish; the great mass of men taking certain national traditions for granted.”

At the same time, America’s creed is limiting because the creed itself defines what it is to be an American; it is the truths we hold. As Chesterton puts it, even when American pluralism is compared to a melting pot, “that metaphor implies that the pot itself is of a certain shape and a certain substance; a pretty solid substance. The melting-pot must not melt.” That solid substance – that creed – he writes, is “traced on the lines of Jeffersonian democracy.”

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About Kleiner

Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Utah State University. I teach across the curriculum, but am most interested in continental philosophy, ancient and medieval philosophy as well as Catholic thought, all of which might be summed up as an interest in the ressourcement tradition (returning in order to make progress). I also enjoy spending time thinking about liberal education and its ends.

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