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Confounding Cosmopolis

The Search For National Identity

I commend to you this essay by Dissident Mama.  As a Christian Nationalist, I want to comment on one part of the essay especially, that part dealing with the idea of the nation.

In the confounding cosmopolis that the U.S. has become, it seems that few people even know what a nation is, confusing it most often with the state.

So I was glad to read this: “Biblically, a nation isn’t a political entity, but rather one based upon people groups with a shared religion and history, time-honored norms, and familial ties.”

That last one is the kicker, of course: “familial ties.” Conservatives these days bend over backwards to avoid any ghost of a suggestion that a nation is defined by “familial ties,” with its implication of ethnicity, even though the Greek word for “nation” in the New Testament is “ethnos,” and even though John Jay, in Federalist # 2, wrote that Providence has blessed the American people with a common religion, a common language, and a common ancestry.

As Dissident Mama points out, the modern U.S. is “a nation-state forged in oneness, indivisibility, and equality by force of war.” Despite this, we are also, as she rightly notes, “still tribal by nature.”

Good, decent conservative people don't like to hear that. They’ve bought the patent nostrum (primarily hawked by the Shapiros and Pragers of the world) that teaches them tribalism is the WORST thing that can happen to America.

But of course, Biblical Israel was a commonwealth of tribes; and, as DM reminds us, “Before the ‘Civil War,’ the conglomerate of peoples which comprised America each had its own distinct regional culture. Different brands of Christianity. Different customs. Different roots. Most people considered their state or even their local community their ‘country.’”

But no longer: “Gone are the real ties that bind. Gone is the passing down of history and respect for forefathers. Gone are the bedrock institutions like the nuclear family and Christianity. Gone is any culture in the truest sense of the word.”

"Respect for forefathers" is key. What kind of nation hates and repudiates the ancestors who forged it? We may recognize the (actual, not trumped-up, SJW-defined) sins of our forebears, we may differ with some of their perspectives, but if we hate and reject them entirely? Perhaps we belong somewhere else.

As a result of all this cultural dislocation, a sense of what DM calls "Identity-less-ness" is growing. Who are we, really? To many, the answer is simple: we’re all just “Americans.” That may have been true, once. But today? What hath a traditional Southron in common with a skinny-jeaned hipster from Seattle, or a BLM activist from Baltimore?

“But,” I hear conservatives cry, “surely we are all just Americans? After all, Teddy Roosevelt said, ‘There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americanism.’”

But TR also said, in the same speech, that a man who “shows by his actions that he is primarily the citizen of a foreign land...has no place here; and the sooner he returns to the land to which he feels his real heart-allegiance, the better it will be for every good American.”

Sorry, Teddy, we Southerners tried that once. And you “good Americans” forced us back in.

So what do displaced "Americans" do? Who are we? Here's the beginning of an answer, from J. R. R. Tolkien: ““I love England (not Great Britain and certainly not the British Commonwealth (grr!) )." [1]

Might we not make the same distinction here? For clearly, America and the U.S. are not the same thing. A man might love America—its history, heritage, and heroes—but respond with “grr!” at the horrible empire that the United States has become.

If identification with that empire is a necessary aspect of being “American,” then many true-hearted Americans may well wish to opt out.

So who are we, then? For Christians, our most fundamental identity is in Christ. But we have families, kinfolk, as well. And it has been well said that the nation is simply the furthest extension of the family. If that is so, determining our nation should not be difficult. Colin Woodard suggests that America is made up of no less than eleven distinct nations:

broken image

Some may wish to take issue with certain of Woodard's geographic or ideological suggestions (e.g., is Florida really more Dixiean than North Carolina?). Still, I believe we would do well to look around us, consider our history, our people, our land, and our heritage, and prayerfully seek out our nations. I’ve found mine. Or rather, it found me--having nurtured me, and waited for me while I made my way out of the darkness. I am a son of the South. Dixie is my home, my culture, my people. My nation. I am still American in the broader sense; but it is only among my own local countrymen that I and my family have a future; only here that I can be part of a real-life community of people who can help each other weather the storms that will likely continue to rage for another generation or two.

Why is this important? In the 1960s, the institution of the family came under attack during a time of civilizational upheaval. This attack led to a renewed emphasis on family among traditionalists, a new “Focus on the Family,” if you will.

The nation, like the family and the church, is created and ordained by God. And the nation itself is under severe assault in our day. What we need, then, is a new “Focus on the Nation” to help Christians recapture a Biblical understanding of this important aspect of God’s plan for the world.

If the Great Commission is not merely “hand out gospel tracts to everyone” or “make sure everyone sees at least one televised evangelistic crusade,” but rather, “Disciple the Nations” (Matt. 28:19), then we’d better know what a nation is, and why it matters. Then we'd better start defending its right to exist.

It begins with you and me, seeking out our nation, learning about it, loving it, and praying for it.

There’s a lot more in Dissident Mama’s essay, and I encourage you to read all of it, along with her other posts as well. They are, in my experience so far, uniformly excellent.

[1] J. R. R. Tolkien, Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien (Letter 53 – December 1943).