People of Virtue

1776 + 1787 ÷ 2019= TBD

Chapter Four

People of Virtue

“Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.” Benjamin Franklin

“No longer virtuous, no longer free.” Benjamin Franklin

“The only foundation of a free Constitution is pure virtue.” John Adams

“Public virtue cannot exist without private and Virtue is the only foundation of Republics.” John Adams

“…free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people, but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue.” Virginia Declaration of Rights, 1776

“The public interest depends on private virtue.” James Q. Wilson  

Definitions:

Verities. Something real or True with a capital T. Verities are not dependent upon our believing them or using them. They are! We speak of “eternal verities” like what you sow, you reap, and God so loved, He gave.

Virtues. Bill Bennett says virtues are not a possession as a bead on a bracelet or marbles in a pouch, but a central element of a person’s nature. We are not born with virtues, they must be learned and become a predictable response. They are part of our moral education.

“…the training of heart and mind toward the good….Such training involves rules and precepts—the dos and don’ts of life with others—as well as explicit instruction, exhortation, and training. Moral education must provide training in good habits.” (William J. Bennett, Book of Virtues, ©1993, Simon & Schuster.)

Values. May or may not be real or true. They are totally subjective. Values do not indicate validity hence the proverb, “Even thieves have values.” Values are personal choices or preferences. They may also be a verity or virtue, but not necessarily.

Virtue has a much narrower usage today than described above. To the post-modern, virtue is linked to Victorian days or a prudish age or lifestyles. The phrase, “Defend her virtue” limits the concept and behavior to sexual morality of an earlier age—smiled at as if that naïve mindset existed prior to our sophisticated cosmopolitan worldliness.

It seems to me The Founders used both words—morality and virtue—to describe two separate, but intertwined personal characteristics. They understood virtue in context of their “engagement with the great conversation that runs down the centuries from the Bible and the classical writers of Greece and Rome.” (Guinness)  The Church adds Classic Virtues, Cardinal Virtues, Classical Virtues and Mortal Virtues.

“The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines virtue as “a habitual and firm disposition to do the good.” Traditionally, the seven Christian virtues or heavenly virtues combine the four classical cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, temperance and courage with the three theological virtues of faith, hope and charity. These were adopted by the Church Fathers as the seven virtues.”

Aristotle had a set of virtues as did some of the French thinkers. Ben Franklin, at age 20, set down thirteen “virtues” that he would use as templates to build his character and guide his life. When the Founding Fathers spoke of virtue all of these fit into the mix, but one personal characteristic rose as the word to describe them all: Self-management or self-governing. What made Thomas Jefferson think that the Colonials could fulfill the Constitution and govern without iron-fisted overlords, kings or masters? Answer: He had seen self-government in individuals who knew how to govern themselves, therefore were equipped to govern a nation.

Virtues were not about petticoats, chastity belts and Twelve-step meetings. The Colonies had jails, switches and prisons. Those who met in Philadelphia were conscious of and took seriously that humans were fallen—capable of sin toward God, humans and themselves. The early Americans believed in redemption in response to repentance and a changed life.

A heavy underlined theme in the Founder’s thinking was the inadequacy of laws. For whole people and nation, encoded virtues are the mental referees and drivers of behavior. Tocqueville called the soulful element of virtues, “habits of the heart.” (We will later talk about Os Guinness’ “Golden Triangle of Freedom.”) More laws, tighter laws, harder punishment do not empower. A changed heart and learned Kingdom humanity does motivate and empower. The need, therefore, for religion.

I suggest that Dr. Daniel Goleman captures for our era the heart habits in Emotional Intelligence. (Bantam, ©1995) Self-Awareness, Self-Control, Self-Motivation, Empathy, Self-Restraint, Self-Management among others. These are street-level virtues that I think translate the Founder’s idea of virtues. Empathy is huge in that list and cannot be diminished.

“We humans act politically, inspired not only by faith, virtue, courage, honor, excellence, justice, prudence, generosity and compassion, but also by self-interest, self-preservation, power, greed, vanity, revenge and convenience—and wise governance  must take both sides into account.” (Guinness A Free People’s Suicide, p102)

Virtues are fundamental traits of character. It seems to me the basic virtues assumed in that sweaty Philadelphia meeting room were and remain:

Integrity

Honesty

Compassion

Justice

Courage

Perseverance

Dependability

Equality–the way we see all people. This things are self-evident: created in God’s image.

In George Washington’s Farewell Address he said…

“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports.”

Nearly every morning when on the road, I go to a coffee shop or sit in our vehicle to read and take notes for a couple of hours. I “mutter” to God about the hard stuff and question Him. If I then travel while listening to talk radio, my stomach hurts and I get surly. Ben Franklin’s words envelop me throughout the reading, questioning and listening: “If You Can Keep It.” Despair takes over—“Not a snowball’s chance….” It feels like it is too late. We’ve already lost it.

The other morning, I was sitting in a parking lot when I read…

“The foundation of national morality must be laid in private families.” John Adams

It’s hard to describe what I experienced—as if my soul fell to the ground. More accurately, it was as if the core of the Republic—virtues—drained into the ground beneath my feet with the dread that that energy cannot be recovered. I discerned. I experienced a physical feeling of that energy flowing from the environment and atmosphere produced by what has been “laid in private families.” That energy inevitably flows either into oblivion or into the culture and individuals. And it is TBD. To be determined.

Goleman (Chapter 12 of Emotional Intelligence called The Crucible of Family) defines the emotions and elements of the teaching environment of families. Moral education is about the content.

The chaos, riots, violence, disregard for elementary sexual propriety and things like justice, respect, lawfulness are absent. All those things that keep a culture from turning to bat-shit crazy and demonstrations of insanity on the public stage have been set loose from hell. Fatherlessness and fractured families dominate Western culture. Absent from the scene is a time and place to teach. Virtues that build a United States of America and sustain it depend upon being taught and caught. They are the moorings and anchor.

Bill Bennett quotes a paragraph from Plato’s Republic:

“…Shall we just carelessly allow children to hear any casual tales which may be devised by casual persons, and to receive into their minds ideas for the most part the very opposite of those which we should wish them to have when they are grown up!

That may be the cause of my stomach’s and soul’s reaction to John Adam’s words. Given the morning news and the current habits of education and entertainment, I question whether Plato or Jefferson or Adams could change our nation’s downward spiral. Generations (it seems) have been neglected. They have no data base that lessons and reminders can refer to.

“It is not the enemy at door, it’s the termites in the floor.”

In my hopelessness, Malachi 4:5-6 speaks to me.

“I will send you the prophet Elijah…. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers….”

Let it be so! Lord, send a company of Elijah to be builders of data base.  The big question is where will these things be taught?  The listed virtues are biblical themes.  Let’s take a run at that next time. Thanks for your input.

©2019 D. Dean Benton     Wonderer, Writer

Do I Need to apologize? I’m white.

The link below was a “hot” Twitter post today among some of the Christian writers and others—some whom I read. I didn’t understand much of what he was saying and sensed I wouldn’t like the implications, nuance or code words. His punch line was an appeal for the white to respond so we could let go of our whiteness.  I’m not ready to confess that I am a participant in any mass killings or agree that The President is just a manifestation of “our” ugliness. I reject that we people of pallor living in this house believe we are superior in any way. The Bible, God, Declaration of Independence all declare: “…created equal.”

https://twitter.com/i/status/1158519016576737282

“This is us. Trump is the manifestation of the evil that is in all of us.”

The Left presidential seekers stirred me this morning. They know how to swear and curse:

“Jesus Christ! Trump is a racist!”

“Trump is a piece of shit.” Those for starters.

What makes those candidates think the standard they are setting on how to speak of and speak to and treat a President of the United States will not be applied to them if they are elected?

 

When Charlottesville was heating, I wondered what I would feel if a busload of folks from Calhoun, Georgia or someplace in Mississippi came to our town to tear down the statue of John Coarse and rip up the street named in his honor—which is three blocks from our house. There is even a school named after him—what if they came to burn it?

John Murray Corse was an American politician and soldier who served as a general in the Union Army in the American Civil War. He was a staff officer during the liberation of the Upper Mississippi, and then served in the front line at Corinth and Vicksburg, being promoted to brigadier general. He is chiefly remembered for his stubborn defense of the Allatoona Pass against superior numbers, despite being seriously wounded.

I was wondering about the Charlottesville people who were not anti-Union, or pro-Confederacy and were not siding with supremacists. They just didn’t want people from out-of-town coming into their property to tell them who could be their hero or what park they could gather in Sunday for a picnic.

I thought President Trump was right when he said there were some good/fine people on both sides. An article today justified my thinking process. Which both sides?

https://www.prageru.com/video/the-charlottesville-lie/

Trump never said that the neo-Nazis were “very nice people.” Perhaps you’ve noticed that once a story is told by the press, it is repeated as fact no matter how many times it is dis-proven.

Mr. O’Roark: If you will not speak my Lord Jesus Christ’s name in prayer in the public square, I’m going to insist you cease and desist using my Lord’s Name to curse the President of the United States on the WWW.

©2019 D. Dean Benton

Fourth of The July

I needed to be reminded.

When Niece Casee was a pre-schooler, she would ask, “What are we doing on the 4th of the July?” There was a “the” July that defines most others. 1776.

When we celebrate July 4th as Independence Day, the whole process seems to be lumped together. Independence was declared in 1776, the Constitution was not presented until 1787 and it was a year before it was ratified. It was a rocky path filled with great stories of bravery and what seem to be supernatural displays of wisdom.

Winning freedom, ordering freedom and administering freedom are distinct. The Declaration and Revolutionary War won freedom, but ordering how that freedom would be applied took several years—resistance and negotiation. I tend to lump it all together and celebrate the 4th.

The gathering of representatives for the Convention out of which would come the Constitution was not widely welcomed. James Madison is called the Father of the Constitution—he was 36 years old. He and Washington were provokers. Getting the Constitution written and presented to the states was difficult and is called “The Miracle of Philadelphia.” Washington called it a miracle as he described it to Lafayette and Madison called it a miracle when he wrote to Jefferson who was in Paris.

Catherine Drinker Bowen wrote the history of May to September 1787. It is published under the title, Miracle At Philadelphia. (Bantam Books ©1966.) My copy is yellowed. It was purchased in Hopkinsville, Ky.  in 1975.  The yellowing of the pages feels like a validation of the historicity.

Abraham Lincoln, in route to his own 1861 inauguration, would say to the New Jersey legislature:

“I am exceedingly anxious that this Union, the Constitution, and the liberties of the people shall be perpetuated in accordance with the original idea for which that struggle was made, and I shall be most happy indeed if I shall be an humble instrument in the hands of the Almighty, and of this, his almost chosen people, for perpetuating the object of that great struggle.”

The author’s preface includes a paragraph capturing the mood and focus of the elements and principles of the Constitution:

“The Federal Convention, viewed from the records, is startling fresh and ‘new.’ The spirit behind it was the spirit of compromise, seemingly no very noble flag to rally round. Compromise can be an ugly word, signifying a pact with the devil, a chipping off of the best to suit the worst. Yet in the Constitutional Convention the spirit of compromise reigned in grace and glory; as Washington presided, it sat on his shoulder as a dove. Men rise to speak and one sees them struggle with the bias of birthright, locality, statehood—South against North, East against West, merchant against planter. One sees them change their minds, fight against pride, and when the moment comes, admit their error. If the story is old, the feelings behind it are new as Monday morning.” (page x)

So we lump them all together—Declaration, Revolutionary War, The Constitution, Bill of Rights…Normandy and the multi-thousand markers that display the costs of freedom. We try to grasp what it means to be God’s “almost chosen people” and liberty—“ held out a great promise to all the people of the world (for) all time to come.”

Happy Fourth of the July–fresh and new

©2019 D. Dean Benton

Writer, Wonderer, Ponderer

The Search for the Real Self

Mark Galli, editor at Christianity Today tapped on my soul window with this article.

 

Looking for Real Authenticity

 
 
“This above all: to thine own self be true.” Thus says Polonius in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It has become our culture’s “life verse,” though we usually talk about it in terms of authenticity.

Authenticity is one of the most valued characteristics in our society. As children we are taught to just “be ourselves”, and as adults we can choose from a large number of self-help books that will tell us how important it is to get in touch with our “real self”. It’s taken as a given by everyone that authenticity is a real thing and that it is worth cultivating.

When comes to figuring out our “real self,” things get complicated, as research shows:

While people spend so much time searching for their real self, the stark reality is that all of the aspects of your mind are part of you. It’s virtually impossible to think of any intentional behavior that does not reflect some genuine part of your psychological make-up, whether it’s your dispositions, attitudes, values, or goals.

One of the saddest consequences of our culture’s search for the holy grail of the authentic self is how it destroys families, among other relationships. Note this piece on CNN, “I Was Married with 2 Kids when I realized I’m gay.”

This is one reason our culture is, as this article in City Journal puts it: “Alone: The decline of the family has unleashed an epidemic of loneliness.”

It is one of the great paradoxes of the Christian narrative that only the one who gives up the self will be able to find it (Mark 8:35).

Among my life verses is Mark 8:34-37.

“Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, you, the real you?” (Jesus)

I’m into self-help—my self needs all the help it can get! I think Jesus approves of self-understanding and improvement. Jesus is not into self-diminishment. He is the One who claims to give “abundant life.” The limit is when personal pursuit of “authentic” self is when it hurts, diminishes or affects others’ authenticity.

Self-authenticity (as defined by the world standards) does not or cannot be allowed to supersede prior covenants or promises. Authenticity means others, to whom we have made promises or have covenant relationships, are themselves expanded by our faithfulness.

A Texas friend told me his father abandoned the family to “find himself” and pursue his self-search. My friend was 12 when he was abandoned. I know the family’s pastor. My friend’s siblings, and the next two generations were deeply affected by that abandonment. The covenants we make with other people affect the “self” we seek.

Complex! That’s the right word. “Saving your true self,” is the path to genuine authenticity and it is the benefit of making the right choices. I’m denying many of my selves that do not biblically define me or benefit me.

©2019 D. Dean Benton,       Writer, Wonderer, Ponderer

A dull soul ache

I’ve been off the bubble for a few days—just a bit beside myself. It happens when something or someone stimulates me to look at myself or examine portions of culture or the world I don’t know much about; but know it needs help.

It usually is connected to one question: What can I do about it? It is usually connected to an answer: I don’t know—probably nothing.

At the suggestion of my granddaughter, I’ve been reading Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance. (© 2016, Harper) My Grande goes to University of Kentucky. The book’s setting is in Appalachian-Kentucky. I love Kentucky blue and have worked in some churches there, but J. D. Vance describes his experiences growing up in a culture I know little about.

A “common culture” is to say, “This is the way we do things around here.”

Within a mile of this computer desk there are adults and many children who do not say y’all or know the strange allure of Kentucky hills, but know they know the life:

It’s about a culture that increasingly encourages social decay instead counteracting it.

“Too many young men immune to hard work. Good jobs impossible to fill for any length of time. And a young man with every reason to work—a wife-to-be to support and a baby on the way—carelessly throwing aside a good job with excellent health insurance. More troublingly, when it is all over, he thought something had been done to him. There is a lack of agency here—a feeling that you have little control over your life and a willingness to blame everyone but yourself.”

“My primary aim is to tell a true story about what that problem feels like when you were born with it hanging around your neck.” (pages 7-8)

J. D. Vance made it out. He went to the University of Ohio and the law school at Yale. He is a lawyer today, married and living a long way from the Kentucky holler which he loves. The odds of that outcome, are huge!

Vance concludes his memoir with a story about fifteen-year-old Brian.

What happens to Brian?”

“I believe we hillbillies are the toughest…people on this earth. But are we tough enough to do what needs to be done to help a kid like Brian? Are we tough enough to build a church that forces kids like me to engage with the world rather than withdraw from it? Are we tough enough to look ourselves in the mirror and admit that our conduct harms our children?

Public policy can help, but there is no government that can fix these problems for us. These problems were not created by governments or corporations or anyone else. We created them, and only we can fix them.

“I don’t know what the answer is, precisely, but I know it starts when we stop blaming the POTUS or faceless companies and ask ourselves what we can do to make things better.”   (Pages 255-6)

That pushes me way off the bubble. I still don’t know what I can do to help kids in that culture whether they live in our town or in Kentucky.

We sponsor a teen in Ethiopia and an early teen in Honduras. When we met a family from Sudan, we were introduced to the phrase “Unaccompanied Minors.” They told us their stories and the phrase became more than unsettling. It was painful and about young men and women whose names we knew. (I tell some of their story in “Gone to Southwood.”)

I know God’s Kingdom—presence, power, provision, revelation, gifts, to name some manifestations, is not limited to “someone ought to do something.” I am nagged by the constant thought that maybe rather than trying to support a child in Honduras, we could look at the kid from Honduras sitting on our southern border as a hand-delivered gift. I’m sure adults like Mr. J.D. Vance could come up with some strategies.

Unaccompanied Minors come from assorted nations and American states—and cities.

©2019 D. Dean Benton         Writer, Wonderer, Frustrated Jesus Follower

Dean’s ebooks: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/880323

The Female Wins Again

Our west tree—provider of nice shade—suffered winter problems. Three or four major south limbs which make up about ¼ of the tree didn’t survive. It is owned by the city. The foresters came by. The whole tree has to come down. A capital judgement was not expected or desired. The foresters offered several replacement options. I had never hear of any. I’m familiar with birch, oak, maple. None were offered. I think we were offered discounted trees from Guatemala.

“Do you want a male tree or female?”

He seemed like a nice young man, but he sounded like he was luring me into a political fight. Humans, with graduate degrees, don’t think it is possible or respectable to distinguish sexes among humanoids. So I told him we would want one of the other options. Especially on the front parking.

“These trees grow fruit—you know, like walnut trees and acorns. Oranges.” So, I asked why I would want a female tree or a male tree.”

“The lady tree is beautiful. The male tree drops fruit that smells like strong dog poop.” Of course!

It’s difficult to keep a well-manicure lawn in this PC age; Me Too age; alphabet age. Anti-male era. I’m guessing these trees are hybrids bred in a secret basement room of the U.S. House of Representatives.

I don’t mind when my favorite females win, but illegal alien trees or men hating….” Hang onto your maples.

©2019 D. Dean Benton – Writer, Wonderer, tree-questioner.

The Next Generation

The Bible is concerned about the next generation.  The Founding Fathers were concerned about the next generation. The current youth upheaval about socialism, work, stress, depression is partly from the last two generations mishandling, neglecting or not knowing what to do about next generation.

Reminding you: I’ve been looking for specifics that refer to Ben Franklin’s statement—“If you can keep it.” What characteristics, behaviors, principles, laws, expectations defined the generation we call The Founders? The generation that wrote The Constitution, Bill of Rights, and other foundational documents.

If we are to maintain the USA as a Republic, (keep it) these are the defined pillars that must be in and guiding our culture. Transferring and teaching what an American is and how to grow into a whole adult is one of those absolute pillars—if we want to “keep it.” Keep it is about…

Building resilience in the next generation .

Dr. Tim Elmore is a youth specialist followed by several of my teacher friends and pastors. He did  Ted talk on Saturday. I read his blog and appreciate his books.

Not every resource helps every situation, but the more we have, the more apt something will ring a bell or match a need and produce a strategy. Carole said at the end of this event yesterday she wished we had heard this 50 years ago. I wished I heard the principles when I was a teen and had the ability and skills to understand and use them.

The link is to North Point Community Church-Atlanta where campus pastor, Clay Scroggins interviews Dr. Time Elmore.

http://northpoint.org/messages/fight-for-it/building-resilience-in-the-next-generation/

Thanks for giving this a view. I’m hoping you’ll pass it along.

Dean

Song to sing at Midnight

My wife wants our lawn to be home to yellow finches, hummingbirds and Orioles. This year we got Orioles. “Put the grape jelly out and they will come.” After years of disappointment, 6-10 arrived and stayed. The flashes of color are eye-grabbing. We have orchard orioles and Baltimore orioles.

When they first arrived, they were patient with each other at the food dishes—“no, you go first.” But now, they are playing a serious version of King of the Hill. We’ve learned they stay part of the summer and then mysteriously leave. That’s not so hard to figure out. The local neighborhood becomes violent and they want to change friends.

They chow down! I filled their jelly bowls 3 times yesterday—traipsed out in the rain. Manipulated by my wife and 4 birds tapping their wings on the window. They had licked all the grape juice off the bottom of the bowl. If they stay, we are going to buy jelly at the commercial restaurant supply store in gallon cans. But they will leave. One morning they will be gone. The grape jelly will no longer satisfy their food needs, nor their baby’s demand. They will find feeding fields where protein is available.

We will miss them. We are bringing the hummingbirds along who will be with us through the summer.

An expert says:

“Unlike the Northern Mockingbirds, Orioles do not sing at night.”

Is that sad? Occasionally, don’t you need to sing a song at night? Or have someone sing you a song in the dark?

Another bird person who is supposed to know says some birds begin to sing just before dawn to announce to their friends that they made it through the night.

One of my Nashville friends asked me, “Dean, are you still singing?” I’ve learned naked crows are preferred to an old guy singing. I wonder sometimes if we’re supposed to “get over” singing by a certain age.

Paul and Silas were not the only ones to need “A Song To Sing At Midnight”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wuPOPdT5ZUY

©2019  D. Dean Benton    Writer, Wonderer, Warbler

Land of Magnolias, Memories and Miracles

Highway 61 goes north-south through our town. If you get on 61 and head south it will take you all the way to New Orleans. Just north of New Orleans is St. Francisville “land of magnolias, Spanish moss, and architectural grandeur. Middle of plantation country…” according to writer Ron Dreher. St. Francisville, La. is where Ron Dreher grew up until he “escaped” to Dallas and many other cities including Philadelphia from which he moved to return to St. Francisville.

I listened to Eric Metaxes’ podcast—a recording of his New York based, “Socrates in the City” in which he interviewed his friend, Mr. Dreher. The subject Dreher’s book, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming. The story is about Dreher’s sister.

William Paul Young, author of The Shack, calls Dreher’s book, “Deeply touching.” That describes my reaction, if anything can. The book starts—“Here’s the thing I want you to know about my sister.”

“A long time ago—I must have been about seven years old, which would have made Ruthie five—I did something rotten to her. I teased her all the time, and she spend much of her childhood whaling the tar out of me for it. Whatever happened that time, though, must have been awful, because our father told me to lie down on my bed and wait for him. That could mean one thing: that he was going to deliver one of his rare, but highly effective spankings, with his belt.

“I cannot recall what my offense was, but I well remember walking down the hallway and climbing onto the bed, knowing full well that I deserved it. I always did. Nothing to be done but to stretch out, facedown, and take what I had coming.

“And then it happened. Ruthie ran into the bedroom just ahead of Paw and, sobbing, threw herself across me.

“Whip me!” she cried. “Daddy, whip me.”

“Paw gave no spankings that day. He turned and walked away. Ruthie left too. There I sat, on the bed, wondering what had just happened.

“Forty years later, I still do.”

The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Rod Dreher, (2013 Grand Central Publishing.) Page 1

That story leaves me undone! It reminds me of our friend Gordon Jensen’s song in which there is a line: “…let him go, take me instead.”

2019 D. Dean Benton         Writer & Wonderer

 

The Then That Needs to be Today’d

The American and French revolutions occurred in the approximate same era. The French revolution was a bloodbath that kept the guillotine working overtime. The American Revolution led to freedom and an idea that birthed a nation. Why the difference? What was the fork in the road?

Gouverneur Morris was the United States’ Ambassador to France following Jefferson. He said the French wanted a nation and constitution like America, but did not have a citizenry like Americans. What kind of people were the Americans? What made an American?

Words that shaped the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights are pertinent today. Exceptionalism is one. Equality is another. There are several others like, “Self-governing” No word or concept is more important than “self-governing.” I want to talk about those words in the days ahead. Ben Franklin is the source of the words, “If You Can Keep It.”

Not just words and ideas, but people. I thought I knew about George Whitefield, but I do not ever remember reading this: He came to America in 1730’s. He was 25. He became America and England’s first celebrity, a rock star. I wondered a few weeks ago why the negative interest in Whitefield with articles and books. It is now clear. Since the 1960s there has been an on-going destruction of heroes and venerated leaders. A person doesn’t have to be a raving paranoid to see this happening. Stephen Mansfield calls Whitefield—a friend and colleague of the Wesleys—The Forgotten Founding Father.”

“His preaching signaled the first rays of the dawning of a new order in the world.”

He preached 18,000 sermons in 33 years in addition to 12,000 talks and exhortations. He preached in all of the 13 Colonies. Eighty-percent of all residents of the colonies had heard him preach in person at least once. Without amplification, he preached to crowds of 20,000 to 30,000. Ben Franklin was a friend, and a newspaper man who printed the sermons on his newspaper’s front pages The University of Pennsylvania was founded by Whitefield and Franklin. They built an orphanage in Georgia and an academy in Pennsylvania for the education of Negroes.

“…George Whitefield, without whom the United States simply could not have come into being.”

He preached that “all are created equal.” His message was about the Kingdom of God and the necessity of being born again to enter. He preached to the miners as they walked home from the mines. The men were so moved by message of God’s love for them that tears cut white gutters through the black coal dust on their faces.

“It was the man preaching at the top of the courthouse steps who more than anyone would change that. It would take three decades of his tireless preaching….”

“To truly understand the story of how the United States came into existence, we must acquaint ourselves with the human weather pattern known as the Reverend George Whitefield.” (He was called a sanctified tornado.)

Upon the preaching of the Gospel and born again citizens whose behavior was modified and restructure, The Founding Fathers Declared Independence and wrote the Constitution which the Americans ratified.

I usually bristle a bit when someone says the answer to the craziness in present USA is revival or “Jesus”. After reading the history predating 1776 I’m changing my mind. There were no unifying persons, ideas, beliefs until Whitefield. All the ideas that built the American character came from the Gospel of Jesus through Whitefield. Faith in Jesus Christ was crucial as was religion as many sects and denominations agreed on certain critical principles that were bedrock for the experiment. Whitefield dug fallow ground in which the Great Awakening sprung forth.

Questions that have grown out of my study:

  1. What were Whitefield’s audiences looking for? Expecting from him?
  2. What made an American an American?
  3. What in his sermons were foundational to the new nation?
  4. Why is this important today?
  5. What response does God want from me?

I’m reading the history of Whitefield in American from:

   If You Can Keep It, Eric Metaxis, 2018 Viking

   The Forgotten Founding Father, 2001, Stephan Mansfield,

   The Printer and the Preacher, Jerry Peterson, 2015 Thomas Nelson

   A Free People’s Suicide, Os Guinness, 2012, InterVarsity Press

Guinness says freedom and liberty depends upon the “Golden Triangle of Freedom.” Religion depends on virtue to be valid and grow freedom. Freedom builds individual and community virtue which is inseparable from religion “of some sort” as Guinness says.

  1. Virtue (Character)
  2. Religion (Faith of some sort.) Not specific doctrines or beliefs. But the revealed principles built in Hebrew-Christian faith. Freedom
  3. Freedom

America is built upon people and communities functioning with those three expressions of infrastructure. That was true in the late 1700s and absolutely in 2019. Where will this be taught?

Church growth principles begin with—“This is who we are, what we believe, what we are working to accomplish. If you agree with our vision, please join us. If you do not, we’ll help you find a place where you will feel comfortable. The leaders must continue to declare the vision continually and protect the vision.

Immigration that benefits the immigrant and the USA is exactly the same. “This is who we are and our vision. You are welcome if can fit it and live toward our vision.”

My concern is that illegal immigrants know few, if any, of our vision or purpose. They come because it is a great route to “the dream.” And why not? I’m also concerned that some politicians, immigrants, news people and citizens not only do not agree with the Founding Documents and what it means to be an American, but seek to change our country “fundamentally” to quote a president and current members of Congress.

Where will our core values be taught?  Who will teach? How to handle the dissidents?

I plan to answer some of those questions and cast a vision.

©2019 D. Dean Benton