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The Broken Covenant

This one’s already sparked my interest. I was trying to glance through it. Sometimes it’s easier for me to kind of glance through some things before I start just randomly talking. Hopefully it’s better for you guys, but here we are, The Broken Covenant, American Civil Religion in a Time of Trial. So we got America’s Myth of Origin, America as a Chosen People, Salvation and Success in America, Nativism and Cultural Pluralism in America, the American Taboo on Socialism, the Birth of New American myths.

Should be pretty interesting. I want to read America as a Chosen People. 36, let’s see what he’s talking about. America as a Chosen People. This is chapter two. Somebody’s had this book before, look at this. Let’s see what they’ve underlined. You see what I’m saying, right here. For what we need to consider the ambiguities of chosenness. No, I didn’t get anything out of it. Sorry. Maybe they thought that was important. I don’t know. I didn’t get anything out of it.

Okay. America has chosen people, like Canaan was not inhabited when God’s new Israel arrived on those on these shores, yet in the last chapter, we described America’s myth origin without ever mentioning the fact that American Indians were rich in origin myths, and that many Indian peoples had elaborate ritual cycles deriving from those origin myths, cycles such as are still being performed by the Navajo and the Pueblo Indians today.

The great dream in which the early settlers lived had entirely Middle Eastern and European roots and had nothing whatever to do with the Native American culture, except insofar as man’s mythic life everywhere shares certain general themes. For a long time, indeed for centuries, the new settlers failed to appreciate the fact that the people they found here lived in a different dream. Whoa. Okay. All right. Whether the Indian was seen as noble or as a horrid savage, he was treated as if he were a character in the Europeans dream, as if he had no dream of his own. Only recently has the vast, archaic symbolism of Indian mythology begun to be appreciated and lately even perceived as a source of spiritual life for all Americans. This is okay. Okay. I don’t know about you guys, it’s getting a little interesting.

This failure to see the Indians in their own terms was only the cultural side of denial of humanity that was also expressing economic and even biological terms. The Indians were deprived by the new settlers, not only of the inherent human right to have one’s culture understood and respected, but they were ruthlessly deprived of land and livelihood. And all often of life itself. This was the criminal crime on which American society is based. In the first decades of settlements, the primal crime was compounded with another enormity. Still other peoples living outside their own European dream, Africans with their own immense cosmological symbolism, were forced to become actors in a European dream under the most tragic circumstances possible. To the expropriation and extermination of the Indian was added to the forcible transportation of the African Negro out of his own land and enslavement in America.

Thus at the beginning of the American society was a double crime the incurable consequences of which still stalk the land. We must ask what in the dream of white America kept so many for so long, so many even at this day, from seeing any crime at all for what … Wait a minute. Let me read that little part one more time. We must ask what in the dream of white America kept so many for so long, so many, even at this day, from seeing any crime at all, for that we need to consider the ambiguities of chosenness.

Robert and Bella, who are you? 1920. Yeah, because when we read this, I have a feeling that it might get a little intense. 1927, he was born in 1927. This was first published in … Nobody Knows My Name by James … No, what is this? This is the second edition, so this was a copyright 1975 and ’92. Yeah, Published under University of Chicago Press in ’92. Yeah, this is going to be very interesting. I can already sense, I don’t know if you guys got that kind of that in there, but …

All right. We’ll go right here. It is in Lincoln’s second inaugural address that we find perhaps a greatest expression of the theme of covenant and judgment in the entire course of American history. It is his final statement on slavery as sin. If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through his appointed time, he now wills to remove, and that he gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to him?

Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray that this mighty scourge of war might speedily pass away. Yet if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled up by the bondsman’s 250 years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said 3000 years ago. So it still must be said. The judgment of the Lord are true and righteous together.

So yeah, this is going to get in there, right? And even more significant in Lincoln’s insistence in the Gettysburg Address that out of all the blood and the suffering, there must come a new birth of freedom. The Civil War, like the revolution, moved from liberation, in this case emancipation of slaves, to the institution of liberty in the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendment. The most important provisions are contained in the 14th amendment, where section one guaranteeing the natural rights of men equal protection of law and section five authorized Congress to enforce these acts, even though the radical meaning of these clauses were undermined for many decades by narrow court interpretations and regressive political situations.

Their meaning can be hardly exaggerated at a time, when America as a chosen people, like we got … That’s 37, this is basically a good 20 pages I’m going to read and break it down for you. But this is very interesting. Then the very next one, I was even more … I wanted to read it in, but I know if I started it, then I wouldn’t finish it. So we’re already at the 10-minute mark so I really have to shut this down, but this was … Yeah, I’m excited to read this. This is interesting. Very interesting.