Curtis Dahlgren
The implications of monotheism: Does God bless ungrateful nations? (a 'best of')
By Curtis Dahlgren
November 27, 2008

"A society needs only one generation to abandon . . its culture, for that culture to become an alien, lifeless irrelevance . . [and] the cultural revolutionaries will drown out what Lincoln called 'the mystic chords of memory' with jarring cacophony."
— Lady Margaret Thatcher []

"THE DELIBERATIONS OF GREAT LEADERS AND GREAT BODIES ARE BUT OVERTURE," said President Ronald Reagan. "The truly majestic music, the music of freedom, of justice, and peace is the music made in forgetting self and seeking in silence the will of Him who made us."

"Despotism may govern without faith," said Alexis de Tocqueville, "but liberty cannot." The question-of-the-week is, "Can liberty govern without gratitude, or grammar?" Or humor?

Speaking of music and pop culture, there would be precious little humor on TV these days if it weren't for post-game interviews with our college-educated athletes. They sound something like this:

"Da coach he be a cool dude. He have a awesome game plan."

You may laugh now. Whom the gods wish to con, they first make illiterate. I can tolerate a little bad grammar (since I occasionally write some of it), but this is Thanksgiving week, so the subject is gratitude. Like, I wonder if these college-"educated" athletes could tell you whether the slaves were freed by a Democrat or Republican President? Or who the Pilgrims were and why they left Europe?

Or like, how many kids in college these days could tell you who Margaret Thatcher is (yes, she's still around, even though Abraham Lincoln is tossing and turning in his grave). But Honest Abe did leave behind a lot of words that live on, right on, like distant, mystic, memories.

"The Puritan heritage distilled through the 18th century patriots without, however, loss of its original religious strength explains many features in Lincoln's thought. . .


". . for the possibility of making a solemn vow and covenant with God and observing its historical results, for the importance of discerning the signs of the times . . . "

The foregoing paragraphs are from "The Religion of Abraham Lincoln" by William Wolf (1963). Our celebrated Social Engineers could do a lot worse than to read and contemplate this concept — the wisdom of the people — if it doesn't go right over their heads. I am taking the liberty of further quoting this book below, because the Establishment educrats don't seem to have a clue as to why 21st century America is so plagued with crime, drugs, and "division."

PAGE 104 [my emphasis throughout] -

"The prophetic note of a God of mercy Who punishes the sins of men in the judgments of history with a view to reformation would become a dominant theme in [Lincoln's] later religious utterances, especially in his presidential proclamations [such as his Thanksgiving proclamations].

"Here Lincoln saw much more clearly than most of the parsons of his day that there is an unbiblical preaching of pardon of sin that, by extricating the individual man from his historical and social setting, gives him illusions about punishment in this world and the next.

"Lincoln understood the gospel to mean the salvation of men in both a this-worldly and a next-worldly framework. Many ministers had reduced Christianity to a message of
escape for individuals in the NEXT world."


As I said last week, America's cultural decline was no evolutionary "accident." America didn't fall — we were pushed — by egg-headed social engineers!

Fashionable "liberalism" these days is bent on bringing homosexual intercourse out into the "daylight" (on the sidewalks of San Francisco) — while concurrently trying to legislate Christianity back into the closet. Incredibly, some of our churches are going along with all of this just like the government-approved "church" in the old Soviet Union!

At the same time, fairly sound biblical believers are being compared to the Taliban by the mainstream media and academia (even though we don't treat our women the way they are treated in Saudi Arabia, etc). As if this intimidation by the popular culture weren't enough, Senator Grassley of Iowa is conducting an investigation of churches that dare to teach the Lincoln view that the gospel is both next-worldly and this-worldly.

Also, "fundamentalists" are being told to either keep their mouths shut or ignore their principles if they go to the polls (the former is preferred in fact). William Wolf wrote:

"Lincoln's religion cannot be hermetically sealed off from his social, economic, and political attitudes. His political action, as revealed by his own words, was ultimately the social expression of an understanding of God and of man that demanded responsible activity. This is contrary to a widespread modern opinion that religion should be a separate interest OR EVEN A HOBBY IN LIFE and should not be ALLOWED to influence fields like politics.

No person as deeply immersed as Lincoln in the biblical faith could possibly take such a view. His criticism of the churches of his day was that they neglected this fundamental love of God and of neighbor by too much introverted attention upon correctness in theological opinion . . . "

IN ADDITION TO LINCOLN'S WRITTEN WORDS, Wolf mentions an anecdotal conversation that Lincoln had with a personal friend or two:

"Isaac Cogdal, who had known Lincoln from the time of the New Salem period, recalled a discussion on religion in Lincoln's office in 1859; Herndon was in the office at the time. Lincoln expressed himself in about these words:

"He did not nor could not believe in the endless punishment of any one of the human race. He understood punishment was parental in its object, aim, and design, and intended for the good of the offender; hence it must cease when justice is satisfied.

"He added this remark, that punishment being 'a provision of the gospel system,' he was not sure but the world would be better off if a little more punishment was preached by our ministers and NOT SO MUCH PARDON OF SIN. This last comment has all the earmarks of an authentic Lincoln utterance." [my caps]


For at least ten years, I have been 'advising' Republicans to read Lincoln's Cooper Institute Address (no doubt to no avail). The speech contains 15 pages of words (fine print), but in lieu of anyone taking the time to look it up for himself, here is the pithy part, the "essential substance" of a speech delivered during the "primary campaign" of 1860, in New York City.

Before a single Republican had ever been elected President, Lincoln prophetically outlined the Way to Victory. He made it clear that he was not going to straddle any fences or play the "moderate" card. As the Whigs had done before them, even some Republicans favored making concessions to and compromises with slavery and the slave owners who wanted to move or sell slaves to Kansas. Old Abe asked those Republicans a question about the slave owners:

"The question recurs, what will satisfy them? Simply this: We must not only let them alone, but we must, somehow, convince them that we do let them alone. This, we know by experience, is no easy task . . . [but what would] convince them? This, and this only: cease to call slavery
wrong, and join them in calling it right.

"And this must be done thoroughly — done in acts as well as in words. Silence will not be tolerated — we must place ourselves avowedly with them. Senator Douglas' new sedition law must be enacted and enforced, suppressing all declarations that slavery is wrong, whether made in politics, in presses, in pulpits, or in private. We must arrest their fugitive slaves with greedy pleasure . . .

"If slavery is right, all words, acts, laws, and constitutions against it are themselves wrong, and should be silenced and swept away; if it is wrong, they cannot justly insist upon its extension — its enlargement [to Kansas, etc.].

"All they ask we could readily grant, if we thought slavery right; all we ask they could as readily grant, if they thought it wrong. Their thinking it right, and our thinking it wrong, is the precise fact upon which depends the whole controversy . . .

"Wrong as we think slavery is, we can afford to let it alone where it is, because that much is due to the necessity arising from its actual presence in the nation; but can we, while our votes will prevent it, allow it to spread into the National Territories, and to overrun us here in these Free Stares? If our sense of duty forbids this, then let us stand by our duty, fearlessly and effectively.

"Let us be diverted by none of those sophistical contrivances wherewith we are so industriously plied and belabored — contrivances such as groping for some middle ground between the right and the wrong, vain as the search for a man who should be neither a living man nor a dead man — such as a policy of 'don't care' on a question about which all true men do care — such as Union appeals beseeching true Union men to yield to Disunionists, reversing the divine rule, and calling, not the sinners, but the righteous to repentance — such as invocations to Washington, imploring men to unsay what Washington said, and undo what Washington did. *

"Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menace of destruction to the Government nor of dungeons to ourselves.


Those capital letters were in the original draft of the speech, by the way, and his reference to President Washington was that Washington had outlawed the spread of slavery to the Federal Territories. The South's insistence upon the spread of slavery is what the "whole controversy" was about. Lincoln also referred to a statement by Thomas Jefferson:

"In the language of Mr. Jefferson, uttered many years ago, 'It is still in our power to direct the process of emancipation . . . peaceably, and in such slow degrees, as that the evil will wear off insensibly . . . If, on the contrary, it is left to force itself on, human nature must shudder at the prospect held up." In so many words, Jefferson predicted Civil War unless something was done about slavery. Half a century later, Lincoln was still having to deal with the issue, and his opponents were as uncompromising as ever.

In the 21st century, the comparable moral issues are abortion, Federalis aid to facilitate sex for 11-year-old girls, and illegal immigration. The Left is as uncompromising as ever. We can't see the bodies of the dead babies, but the people do see the illegal aliens everywhere, like the Federalis hauling slaves back to the South (hiring illegals is not a bit better than slavery)! And the people are getting sick and tired of the elite political class and their "contrivances such as groping for some middle ground between the right and the wrong."

Lincoln's words in caps -"LET US HAVE FAITH THAT RIGHT MAKES MIGHT, AND IN THAT FAITH LET US, TO THE END DARE TO DO OUR DUTY AS WE UNDERSTAND IT" — are as applicable to our times and our problems as they were to his.


These four things go inseparably together. As de Tocqueville put it, "Despotism may govern without faith, but liberty cannot." We the people are getting sick and very tired of the elite class impugning "the wisdom of the people" by trying to drive all symbols of religion underground — while bringing every conceivable VICE "out of the closets."

Jefferson said, "Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just." It so happens that he was referring to slavery when he said that, and we ought to tremble too, because our forms of slavery (and murder of unborn babies) is just as UNJUST.

The signs of the times and the real issues are crystal clear. The "answer" is FAITH, UNDERSTANDING, RIGHT, AND THE MIGHT THAT RIGHT MAKES.

Oh, and one other thing:


Praise The Lord because The Lord Provides.

At least most Americans
claim to believe in God, but a more interesting poll question would be:


© Curtis Dahlgren


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

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Curtis Dahlgren

Curtis Dahlgren is semi-retired in southern Wisconsin, and is the author of "Massey-Harris 101." His career has had some rough similarities to one of his favorite writers, Ferrar Fenton... (more)


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