Pearce recently came to Grove City College in Western Pennsylvania, where he offered an intriguing European perspective on America (click here for video). Among the Europeans that Pearce was sure to include was Chestertonand what he said is fascinating. In my view, its as poignant as the richest lines on America from Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville.
Pearce notes that when it came to America, Britain, the West, and Christianity, Chesterton, as usual, was ahead of his time. Chesterton foresaw a faith in rapid decline in Western Europe, and felt it might be left to America to pick up the torch for Christendom. Hilaire Belloc, a friend of Chesterton, famously remarked that Europe is the faith and the faith is Europe. That was true then, but fading fast, as Chesterton sensed.
As a stunning symbol of Chestertons thinking, Pearce highlights what he dubs Chestertons salute to the American flag, a salute signifying Chestertons hope that America might become a beacon of Christianity worldwide. Lamenting that the English have often forgotten the cross on their flag, Chesterton hoped that the crossless flag of the United States may yet become a symbol of something; by whose stars we are illumined, and by whose stripes we are healed. (See: G. K. Chesterton, Collected Works, Vol. XXI, Ignatius Press, 1990, p. 591.)
Wow. Think about that line: by whose stars we are illumined, and by whose stripes we are healed. Have you ever thought about your flag that wayso Christ-like? G. K. Chesterton did. Its a stirring interpretation of America and its mission.
America and Europe have gone in opposite directions faith-wise. Despite Americas serious problemsthe Death Culture chief among themthe vast majority of Americans remain believers, and Christians, and we provide more missionaries than any countryincluding to Europe.
As we again mark the birth of Americas founding, may those stars still illumine, and may those stripes still heal.
For Catholic Exchange.com and Ave Maria Radio, Im Paul Kengor.