Lin Weeks Wilder

Lin Weeks Wilder

atheism, conversion, Happiness, politics, thanksgiving, Virtues

A Declaration of Dependence

a declaration of dependence

A declaration of dependence

America’s declaration of independence is fundamentally a declaration of dependence on God wrote Archbishop Fulton Sheen over eighty years ago.  When we read the five-man committee’s words, we cannot help but be moved by their implicit reason and truth.

WHEN in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the
political bands which have connected them with
another, and to assume among the powers of the
earth, the separate and equal station to which
the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle
them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the
causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that
all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable
Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and
the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these
rights, Governments are instituted among Men,
deriving their just powers from the consent of
the governed,—That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is
the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it….The Declaration of Independence

And yet, we’ve thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of us–religious and nonreligious alike– insisting that rights are not God-giiven. But are promoting the perilous lie that the rights of Americans emanate from the Federal government, rather than from our Creator.

But reason’s a scarce commodity

of late, hasn’t it?

But wait, is reason’s absence in the “Intelligentsia” truly recent?

Archbishop Fulton Sheen published his brief and brilliant book, A Declaration of Dependence on July 5, 1941, as war thundered through the world.

He begins by explaining that “The spirit of revolution” has three chararteristics: irrationality, Violence and atheism.

To be rational means to think before acting. We do not just suddenly find ourselves standing in a telephone booth; a reason preceded and determined our presence there. As St. John expressed it, “In the beginning was the Word” — first the Word, the Idea, the Thought, Reason: then the action, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:1, 14). The irrational is just the contrary. It is the primacy of action over idea: first you act and then you think why you did it. As Goethe put it: “In the beginning was the Deed.”

Reason exists, according to this philosophy, merely to justify action or to rationalize an evil. Ideas have value only as fuel for dynamic action; the history of thought is only the history of aggressive action. Ideas are…, as one jurist in America believes, just “instruments of power”; that is, one uses an idea to further his power, and when it ceases to be useful he scraps it and substitutes another. Not justice but opportunism becomes the rule.

Irrationality developed quickly in the modern world after it lost faith in God. In 1870, the Council of the Vatican had to remind the rationalists that if they used their reason, they could know God. The attitude of the Church rightly was: reason must be either a product of Divine Reason or blind matter. If it is the former, it is an intellectualism that can be complemented by faith; if the latter, then its root is unreason and its deliverances are illusory.

Where do our rights come from?

Always we derive our rights from the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Whether it’s educators claiming their right to teach small children about gender identy, communists their right to destroy democracy, or protestors their right to burn cities, this “right” is based on the Declaration of Independence. As if authority, law and order are independent entities, grounded in nothing but our insatiable appetites.

But where do the rights come from asks Archbishop Sheen?

In these days when everyone talks of rights and few of duties, it is important for us Americans to recall that the Declaration of Independence is also a Declaration of Dependence. The Declaration of Independence asserts a double dependence: dependence on God and dependence on law as derived from God.

Where do we get our right of free speech? Where do we get freedom of conscience? Whence is derived the right to own property?

Do we get these rights and liberties from the State? If we did the state could take them away.

Do we get them from the federal government in Washington? If we did, the federal government could take them away.

Whence comes the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?

Read the Declaration of Independence and there find the answer: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Notice these words: The Creator has endowed men with rights and liberties; men got them from God! In other words, we are dependent on God, and that initial dependence is the foundation of our independence.

A few years ago,

Anthony Barr, former Attorney General, gave a riveting speech at the Notre Dame Law School. His talk was reasoned, cogent and informed by the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. His primary message? That our democracy could survive only if its citizens were people of faith, belief in virtue and God’s law. It’s a lengthy speech and I’ve embedded it here.

Below is an excerpt of his remarks: words that no reasoned person can refute:

The challenge we face is precisely what the Founding Fathers foresaw would be our supreme test as a free society.

They never thought the main danger to the republic came from external foes. The central question was whether, over the long haul, we could handle freedom. The question was whether the citizens in such a free society could maintain the moral discipline and virtue necessary for the survival of free institutions.

By and large, the Founding generation’s view of human nature was drawn from the classical Christian tradition.

These practical statesmen understood that individuals, while having the potential for great good, also had the capacity for great evil.

Men are subject to powerful passions and appetites, and, if unrestrained, are capable of ruthlessly riding roughshod over their neighbors and the community at large.

But the response of the irrational intelligentsia both in religious and secular circles was frenzied. Anthony Barr along, of course, with the former president were vilified. Hysterical comments like Barr being a threat to democracy.were written by the “pundits.”  In truth, the left went beserk.

The greatest evil.

At times, the ease with which we ennoble the foolish, unreasonable and the diabolical is suffocating. But Archbishop Sheen reminds us that the greatest evil has already happened. Nothing any human can conjure up can surpass what we did to Christ.

Nor has humanity ever witnessed greater mercy and love than those last words of Jesus. “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.

Though our days are wicked, they are incapable of ever committing a greater evil than nailing the Son of God to a Cross. And though our world should be converted and live in peace, it would never envisage a greater act of love than that done on Calvary, when Divine Justice forgave those who pinioned Him and then gave them as the nourishment of their lives the very Life they slew. …

The fires that burned on Calvary’s hill were really the fires of His wrath against evil; the flames enkindled by the fierceness of His love for men. God will not be dethroned; injustice and hate will not conquer, though it cost the life of His Divine Son. And in that memorable hour, when as He laid down His life and uttered the cry “It is finished,” something snapped in the universe…

For in that Cross, there is no sentimental affection; there is the sternness of a great love; the severity of a great tenderness; the revolution that is a restoration — the call to all men to “repent,” to follow a course of life, exactly the opposite of what they are doing now. Will enough of us get back to that Cross to save the world? Will enough of us be so dedicated to Truth as to begin to sacrifice where we once enjoyed, to pray where we once sinned, and to love those whom before we hated?

A Declaration of Dependence

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archbishop fultton sheen, declaration of independence, soul of a nation

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Lin Wilder

Lin Wilder has a doctorate in Public Health from the UT Houston with a background in cardiopulmonary physiology, medical ethics, and hospital administration. 

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