Monthly Archives: April 2019

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

56 million

A well-known singer was approached by a cult member and asked to contribute money to Jesus. The singer said, “I’ll probably see him before you do. I’ll just give it to him myself.”

There is a push, once again for reparations to be paid to those held in slavery in the United States of the 19th Century? I think of that singer every time I hear the pitch for reparations. How do we get the money and/or other reparations to those who directly suffered the bonds of slavery? I also got a phone call telling me the warranty on my car has expired–I am approaching the capacity to care.

There is no way to talk about this without the probability of being misunderstood or charged with racism or hard-hearted. The logistical impossibility makes me question reparations reaching the right people.

If we are “taking an offering” or writing a check from the U.S. Treasury, I think Native Americans should have the dibs. No matter what we decide to do American Indians need a more righteous covenant with the white man.

Slavery is not just a Civil War issue. According to the State Department between 48 million and 56 million people are in slavery at this moment. Eighty percent are female and half of that number are children. Shouldn’t they have our current attention?

Half of the women rescued from sex traffickers voluntarily return to that life because there is no place for them. No agency to help them get established, no one to care for them.

The sex-traffickers make $150 Billion per year from their slaves. That is more than the top five U. S. corporations make in a year.

There is a market or there would be no sex-worker/slaves. Any ideas how to break that syndicate? How does Jesus want to deal with 21st Century slavery?

©D. Dean Benton     Writer, Wonderer, Weeper

A Birthday Remembered

Today is our youngest granddaughter’s birthday. Second year of college. I vividly remember the birth day.

Picked up the new book, Where The Crawdad’s Sing by Delia Owens (2019 Putnam). Speaking of birthdays:

“Kya said to herself, ‘I reckon I’m seven.’ Pa never mentioned it; certainly there was no cake.

“Surely Ma would come back for her birthday so…she put on the calico dress and stared down the lane. Kya willed Ma to be walking toward the shack, still in her alligator shoes and long skirt. When no one came, she got the pot of grits and walked through the woods to the seashore. Hands to her mouth, she held her head back and called, ‘Kee-ow, lee-ow, kee ow.” Specks of silver appeared in the sky from up and down the beach, from over the surf.

“‘Here they come. I can’t count as high as that many gulls are,’ she said.

“Crying and screeching, the birds swirled and dived, hovered near her face, and landed as she tossed grits to them. Finally they quieted and stood about preening, and she sat on the sand, her legs folded to the side. One large gull settled onto the sand near Kya.

“‘It’s my birthday,’ she told the bird.’” (Page 21)

I’m known at Starbucks as “The guy who stares off into space.” Dear God! That last line! I sat there staring into the past and into today and thanked God for all the people that our grandes have to celebrate them and tell Rachel, Davis, Hannah, how glad they are that she, he, she were born.

©2019 D. Dean Benton      Writer, Wonderer, Gleeful grandfather.