Let the Fourth of July always be a reminder that here in this land, for the first time, it was decided that man is born with certain God-given rights; that government is only a convenience created and managed by the people, with no powers of its own except those voluntarily granted to it by the people. We sometimes forget that great truth, and we never should.
Margaret Thatcher said: “Europe was created by history. America was created by philosophy.” There was a United States of Europe once. It was called Christendom. Sometime after Thomas Aquinas finished his Summa Europe began to change from pursuing things eternal to pursuing things temporal: to the enjoyment of the material riches created by centuries of Christian order. In time that change reached the core of the European spirit. The German Reformation arrived and challenged the ancient vision of the Church, the nature of authority, the purpose of obedience.
The fruits of the Reformation were soon made evident in the French Revolution, the Weimar Republic, Marxism, Communism… Europe’s slow death by ideas progresses even to this day.
Just a few years before the French Revolutionaries killed the King of France, the American Revolution triumphed with some help from the French Catholic crown. Our revolution was a reluctant revolution against a Parliament that already had destroyed Ireland because of her obstinate catholicity. Ireland was a nation under God who refused to be a nation under a human king demanding godlike obedience.
It was very present in the mind of our Founding Fathers that we could go the way of Ireland if we did not arrest the growing signs of oppression coming from Parliament. And so, in a subtle way, the American Revolution was a statement in favor of the universal brotherhood of man, a catholic revolution of sorts. It remains a unique milepost in the history of mankind.
In our land we do not have a king who is head of a state church. God is in Heaven, we are under His rule, constitutionally so. That idea is at the core of the American Revolution.
Chesterton’s intuition saw in the American flag a symbol of hope lost even to the Britain that should have inherited the catholic sentiments of Edward the Confessor, and the Crusader King Richard, but instead succumbed to the folly of Henry VIII.
Now Europe is going way past that point trying to be a sort of Christendom without Christ and some of her sick ideas have crossed the sea thus infecting the American soil. Yet I think the destiny of America is to save Europe from herself. It has happened two times and this third time it may happen in a slightly different way (a less bloody way I hope.)
Only God knows how we are going to surmount the perils we face now. Europe may have been the Faith once but now the Faith lives here in this nation under God, this band of brothers who are not united by common ancestry or mere geography but by the conviction that God has endowed all men with certain inalienable rights life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. If the happiness that the American people pursue is spiritual happiness under God, then this happy realm will last for a long, long time.
Published 1 July 2011.