Friday, July 04, 2008

My America

Several 4th of July greetings have come to my family today. I was deeply touched by a couple of e-greetings from women who live in other countries. On particular one, from The Ukraine, where life is often more difficult and not as prosperous, sent merely an American flag flying in the wind. As I watched this moving picture I began to understand what America represents to people who living in oppression or without religous freedom.

from Lovely Whatevers

Another woman sent me a greeting that explained what some of her countrymen believe: that if American ceases to hold on to the values of marriage, home, family, free enterprise, worshipping God in spirit and in truth, it will effect other countries, as well. In many of his speeches, Ronald Reagan referred to America as a "city set on a hill," alluding to the great responsibility given by Christ to his followers in Matthew 5.

Another greeting said, "If you go under, we go under, too." It made me understand more how other people look at us and hope that we are good and that we still believe in things like honor and duty. When the first settlers came to America, they wanted the freedom to spread the gospel and to have their own families and homes and land, without interference from any totalitarian government. America is not America because it is named America and is on a certain continent. Besides being a country that is defined by borders and language, it is also a belief. Without that belief, it ceases to be America.

If you could watch a film called "A Man Without A Country," you would understand more clearly the dearness of such a place that is "one nation, under God." In his youth, this man uttered a hasty oath against his country. "I hate America," he said. As punishment, the judge ordered him to a lifetime spent at sea, and to never touch the shores of America, again. The captain of each ship was ordered not to allow this man to speak about his homeland or to say the words "United States of America" ever again. They warned all passengers not to discuss America around this man, at mealtimes, or any time.
Written in 1866, its purpose was to show what it would be like if people were punished for criticising their country, and bring about an appreciation for our freedom. Effectively, the story showed the folly of rash statements, even when angry, and helped people understand what life would be like without the blessings of this land.

As time went on, he began to understand the gift of home, family and country, and he missed it very much. He regretted his hasty denouncement, and he devised clever ways of finding out about progress in America. Since he was allowed to know nothing about America, the library books and newspapers all had the parts about the United States cut out of them. He figured out when a new state had been added to the union, by the shape of the missing piece of a page. He traced around it and formed his own map of the United States in his cabin. By this method, he even figured out who was the president every four years.

Throughout the story, this man reveals how once his soul was lacking in understanding, and how that bitter experience made him appreciate the country that God gave him. His cruel words in the beginning of his life, were softened by these words at the end of his life:

Breathes there a man, with soul so dead:

Who never to himself, hath said:

"This is my own, my native land!"

To read the free e-book, "A Man Without A Country," Go Here
and open up one of the zip files.

This is what the 4th of July means to me. It is not all partying and drinking and firecrackers. It is a belief, and throughout every generation, that belief is kept alive. Being rich in love, and good works, makes us a city set on a hill.


Anonymous said...

Amen! I am so thankful to be an American. We're far from perfect but there is no other place on earth I'd rather live.

I hope your 4th was wonderful. (o:

Anonymous said...

I remember that we read this story in high school. It moved me even then, when I was without a doubt too young to understand the greatness of the country in which I'd been blessed to be born. After the main character declares his hatred of the United States, I seem to remember him saying, "I wish never to hear her name again!" It was a very wise judge, indeed, who chose to punish this man the way he did. I think of all the people I read about, see on television & so forth, who find no greater pleasure than to sully & disgrace the name of our wonderful country. America has done far more good than ill, but they go overseas, & can't wait to show how hip & "with it" they are, by letting everyone know they hate America, our president, our policies on EVERYthing. This kind of behavior always reminds me of a toddler or preschooler who is standing behind their mommy's skirt, & will peek out just long enough to stick out their tongue or make some other face at a stranger..."look how brave I am!".... but would never dream of standing on their own to do such a thing. If that tether to something better & more powerful than themselves were to be cut....

Anyway, sorry I rambled on a bit. I just appreciate this post so much.

most sincerely,

Anonymous said...

Brenda, what amazes me is the many people in Hollywood who got rich because they were here, and then they talk against the very country that gave them those blessings. It is like looking a gift horse in the mouth. It is like biting the hand that feeds you. It is like turning against a benevolent grandparent--taking his money but spitting in his face. Such people are hired to act and sing and dance and they use their fame to run down the very country that gave them opportunity.

Anonymous said...


I completely agree!

Wouldn't it be wonderful if all Christians would quit giving their money to Hollywood? If Hollywood didn't make money on their movies from the theater and DVD sales then perhaps they'd get the point and stop saying and doing such treasonous things. We give them a voice when we support their work.


Lydia said...

We don't have to by Hollywood movies. There are so many alternatives today. The movie above, "The Man Without A country" was a World Vision production. Also, movies like "Love Comes Softly," and "THe Magic of ORdinary Days, " and "Bella" are private productions. Hallmark has some good videos and there are a lot of other companies now that produce movies. Independent film festivals provide contests where ordinary people can submit their films, and a lot of good films have come from these places.

Lydia said...

Brenda, yes, he said the same thing in the film: "I wish I may never hear her name again!" Cliff Robertson, Beu Bridges, and Peter Strauss made the book come alive, in this film. We watch it every year at this time. We studied the story in the 50's.

Lydia said...

Regarding questions and challenges concerning this story, please rent the film on Netflix, purchase the DVD online, or click on the link to the free e-book that I posted in the article.

Anonymous said...

I know as a Christian nation we have freedom of speech but I think we should be careful not to let that speech turn the minds of people against the Lord or against their parents or against their country, especially a country that has given them a lot.

Mimi said...

I'm glad to have the link to this book online as I've often heard of it but have never read it. I shall read it.

This is off topic, but I was wondering if you would mind showing us more photos of your writing desk area and talks how you have organized it? I'm wanting to do my home office in white with just a few pink touches, and I'd love to see how you've done yours.

Sweet Necessi-Teas said...

What a beautiful tribute to our country. We are so blessed to have been born in this nation. God forbid that we should ever take our freedoms for granted! Thank you for the reminders.


Alexandra said...

Sniff, sniff, what a beautiful post. Thank you. :)