We all know Bethel University historian Chris Gehrz as The Pietist Schoolman. He is one of the most insightful Christian historians blogging today.
When Chris left the United States in January to lead a history-related travel course in Europe the POTUS was Barack Obama. When he returned home yesterday Donald Trump was POTUS.
Here are some of his thoughts on the new resident of the White House:
In his inaugural address, Trump claimed that the solution to “American carnage” is to place “America First.” That phrase by itself is troubling to any historian of World War II, evoking as it does the misguided isolationist movement that tried to keep the world’s most powerful country from opposing the world’s most wicked leader. But I can at least understand that impulse; after all, the phrase originated with Americans who sought to keep their nation out of the futile world war that we’ve been studying this month.
But the new president went far beyond a rethinking of foreign affairs or trade policy:
“At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other.
When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice. The Bible tells us, ‘How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.”
At some level, these words do resonate with me. Much of his claim of “carnage” was overwrought or simply dishonest, but there is suffering and injustice in this land. So I do want to believe that “We are one nation — and their pain is our pain. Their dreams are our dreams; and their success will be our success.”
But precisely because of the divisive, corrosive nature of Trump’s campaign and what his election revealed about the even deeper fissures in American society, I have serious doubts that Americans remain “one nation,” bound together by shared pain, dreams, or success.
And if that nation can only be preserved by “total allegiance” to it, then better we follow the psalmist’s call to unity in other kinds of communities
Read the entire post here.