America is special. America has a mission. America is a beacon of liberty. America, God shed His grace on thee.
We call it American exceptionalism—the belief that, from among the countries of the world, the United States of America has been uniquely called by God to be X. In this equation, X equals whatever you think America stands for.
The Shining City on a Hill, the New Jerusalem, Manifest Destiny, the Sacred Union, the Great Society, the protector of God’s chosen people—X has many incarnations, some of them draped with Geneva gowns or encased in sidewinder missiles.
Harsh realities have pulled Christians back from the brink of this idolatry—half a million dead here, a generation lost to a sexual or unitarian revolution there—causing believers to remember that Stone that smashed the idol of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, or that line from Kipling about being one with Nineveh and Tyre. Maybe we’re not so special after all. Or just as special as, say, those Iraqi Christians recently liberated from their homes and churches.
Aaron D. Wolf takes on American Exceptionalism and one of its offspring--Mormonism--in "Mormon Apocalypse," found here. This is the first of a proposed 3-part series. So far, so good. It looks to be interesting.
If there is one thing I have learned from my various travels, it is this: we ain't so great. And it is this idea that is met with awkward silences and disbelieving looks in my back-home conversations.