Planning for Pilgrimmage, Remembering History

This is my first, long-distance pilgrimmage. I’m quite terribly excited. It’s not just a pilgrimmage to the Seat of the Presiding Bishop of the ECUSA, it’s also a pilgrimmage to the seat of US Government.

When your college degree can be summarized as “The United States of America’s International Relations during the Late 20th Century”, you become a little attached to Washington, DC. I even tried getting hotel reservations at the Watergate.

The ECUSA and the USA were born at the same time, which explains why their governing bodies and policies resemble each other.

Which kind of sucks because that means both systems were designed to consolidate power among a select group of people. For all that the United States promotes itself as a democracy, we are not. We are a republic, where everyone votes for a few people, who then go and make all the important decisions that the rest of us aren’t smart enough to make.

Read the US Constitution, the whole thing in its original format, and you’ll see the pattern written there as clear as day. The checks and balances are there, of course, to keep that small group of people who we put in charge from totally running roughshod over us, but it’s pretty clear that while we may assert we are all created equal, the Founding Fathers did their best to try and keep the wrong sort of people out of the decision-making process on all levels.

The Founding Fathers weren’t total jerks, though. They understood that things would change, that their document was just a set of hypothesies to frame the great American Experiment, and that change was neccessary. They put in ways that the Constitution itself could be modified as needed. Damnable difficult ways, which increased the likelyhood it wouldn’t be amended without serious discussion, thought, and demand by a popular majority. Which has lead over the last 200 years, to several important changes that have put more of the power into the hands of the populace, from simplifying the Electoral College (yes, it’s actually simpler now) to voter-initiated referrendums.

Despite the fact there are other democracies and republics in the world, some of them even based off of our own, the USA is an anomaly, an exception, a freak accident of politics. There is no other system in the world that matches ours. We have over 150 years of continuous governance with no coups, no competing governments, no mass invasions. Almost a century with no warfare on our soil. Almost a century of continuous, compulsory education for 12 years, which serves not only to create an informed populace, but to indoctrinate generations with the unique American paradox.

This is why people like Kim Jong Il and ++Peter Akinola will never understand the American mindset. Because America has refined individuality into an art form, and yet we can work together in groups without forcing one another to give up our individuality. In fact, we can bring in people from other groups, from societies and nations and churches that do not believe in individuality, that believe we should all work, act, talk, dress and behave the same, and include them without demanding they become wholly like us.

There are Americans who subscribe to this mindset, also. As a historian, I can tell you in honest, factual truth: there always has been. And always, always, always, the American Experiment has won out because there is room for every opinion, even the opinion that the American Experiment in individualism is wrong, bad, evil, and must be stopped.

This experiment in government has lasted 200 years, both in its secular version and its ecclesiastical version. It has grown and changed in 200 years. I believe that neither the USA nor the ECUSA will be ending any time soon, but I see a growth spurt and change in its future.

And that’s kind of exciting to this historian.

Lord God Almighty, you have made all the peoples of the
earth for your glory, to serve you in freedom and in peace:
Give to the people of our country a zeal for justice and the
strength of forbearance, that we may use our liberty in
accordance with your gracious will; through Jesus Christ our
Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one
God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Planning for Pilgrimmage, Remembering History

  1. Who’s Peter Akinola? Assuming some bishop making life hell for the rest of y’all…