History Lessons: Faith of our Fathers
In the United States, on the seventh day of every week, the trading and working life of the nation seems suspended; all noises cease; a deep tranquility, say rather the solemn calm of meditation, succeeds the turmoil of the week, and the soul resumes possession and contemplation of itself. ~Alexis de Tocqueville
My favorite subject in school was history. I remember well my high school and college classes on Western Civilization and American History. I made good grades in those courses. My downfall was advanced math and hard science. Those subjects made my head hurt. But I got through them somehow and earned my college degree in 1986. Some people graduated Magna Cum Laude. I graduated Thank the Laude.
Speaking of history, recently I’ve been reading again in Democracy In America by Alexis de Tocqueville and published in 1840. Democracy in America is a two-volume set based on Tocqueville’s travels through the United States in 1831. The Frenchman was a political thinker, historian, and journalist. He was curious about this New World to which many Europeans were immigrating, and he set out to observe and experience American life.
I encourage everyone to read this work. It’s a very compelling account of life in America in that snapshot of time. There is much to learn about history from this outsider’s view because of his comparisons of America to Europe.
The popularity of Democracy In America was in large part because it was so comprehensive, and it was considered objective and fair by most historians and readers. There was no political or philosophical ax to grind. Tocqueville wrote about the great, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Although I have not finished both volumes in their entirety, I was struck by this particularly poignant passage, which opens chapter 15 in volume two:
In the United States, on the seventh day of every week, the trading and working life of the nation seems suspended; all noises cease; a deep tranquility, say rather the solemn calm of meditation, succeeds the turmoil of the week, and the soul resumes possession and contemplation of itself. Upon this day the marts of traffic are deserted; every member of the community, accompanied by his children, goes to church, where he listens to strange language which would seem unsuited to his ear. He is told of the countless evils caused by pride and covetousness; he is reminded of the necessity of checking his desires, of the finer pleasures which belong to virtue alone, and of the true happiness which attends it. On his return home, he does not turn to the ledgers of his calling, but he opens the book of Holy Scripture; there he meets with sublime or affecting descriptions of the greatness and goodness of the Creator, of the infinite magnificence of the handiwork of God, of the lofty destinies of man, of his duties, and of his immortal privileges. …
I have endeavored to point out in another part of this work the causes to which the maintenance of the political institutions of the Americans is attributable; and religion appeared to be one of the most prominent amongst them. I am now treating of the Americans in an individual capacity, and I again observe that religion is not less useful to each citizen than to the whole State. The Americans show, by their practice, that they feel the high necessity of imparting morality to democratic communities by means of religion. What they think of themselves in this respect is a truth of which every democratic nation ought to be thoroughly persuaded.
Wow! Think about Tocqueville’s observation and compare it to the mission of the modern day secularists who demand that we remove all vestiges of honor and acknowledgement of the God of our fathers. To Tocqueville, the emphasis on the Christian religion in America permeated the whole society, advanced individual and corporate morality, and provided the glue that held the country together.
American Family Association believes in these same values that made our country great in the first place. They may be considered old fashioned, but they served our country well for a long, long time. And we don’t apologize for wanting to see our country return to the faith of our fathers.
May the Lord God bring revival and restoration to our land!