Thursday, December 23, 2004


Dad has given me a project for the next year or so. It is to compile things that a young man should know. It is one thing to read a book on the subject, when you write about it you really have to think over it. I don't need to make anything exhaustive, as all the other boys in the family will also work on it. Ultimately, all future V. boys could also work on it. This makes for a rather imposing task.

Internet versus Intranet

Ever since we got the network, we have been having problems getting online. But this very morning, I realized that the hub was assigning an IP address that differed from that provided by the ISP. So I turned off the DHCP server on the hub and all the problems went away.


Okay, I am officially hooked on a certain author's books. How do I know that? Because I have been reading him when I should be doing math. I have been hooked before on such books as LOTR or Redwall, but this is in a completely different class. Which author? Francis Schaeffer. Why? Because he exposes the real issues. Unfortunately, I have only done about 5 math problems this week because of that.

Saturday, December 11, 2004


Well, it is my birthday today. Nothing terribly interesting happened, I played Battlefield 1942 with Jonathan and studied for the final. As I didn't ask for anything I just got money with which I may buy a PDA. So, that was my day.


Well, it is my birthday today. Nothing terribly interesting happened, I played Battlefield 1942 with Jonathan and studied for the final. As I didn't ask for anything I just got money with which I may buy a PDA. So, that was my day.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Research Paper

Well, I have attempted to put my Research paper on here. I am not sure if it worked right because my nice filtered ISP believes that my blog is on a denied list. Oh well, it should work in a while.

An Introduction to American Culture

American culture is a very unique thing, and has been created by very unique ideas. Americans assume these ideas almost instinctively, but we should examine them and their origin so that we can understand America better. The ideas of Manifest Destiny and the American Dream took a complicated path to becoming virtually unquestioned in the American mind.

Manifest Destiny

Manifest Destiny is a ghostly idea that defies the researcher’s attempts at figuring it out. The task becomes even more difficult if he comes to the study with the assumption that America is inherently good, as the study will contradict him sometimes. Fortunately, some semblance of order can be presented here, with the topics of what Manifest Destiny is, it’s history, and it’s effects.
What is Manifest Destiny anyways? There is no one better to answer this question than John L. O’ Sullivan, who used the phrase first. In the United States Magazine and Democratic Review he claimed that it was, "our manifest destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions.” (Sullivan) In other words, America has a divine right to rule North America, or perhaps the world.
Although Sullivan was the first to use the phrase, the idea had been around for a long time.
The concept of manifest destiny is as old as the first New England settlements. Without using the words, John Winthrop articulated the concept in his famous sermon, the Arbella Covenant (1630), when he said: " ... for we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us;…" Winthrop exhorts his listeners to carry on God's mission and to set a shining example for the rest of the world. From this beginning, the concept has had religious, social, economic, and political consequences. (Reuben) Of course, the Pilgrims did not have the same view that would show up later. As time went on Manifest Destiny developed into what it is today. Before the War of 1812 the War Hawks contributed significantly to it. In fact, that war was a direct result of a certain idea. American’s were so proud that they assumed that Canadians wanted their country annexed. However, that assumption was wrong, and America was humiliated. The War Hawks believed that America was a great nation, with freedom to be given to every person on the planet. Additionally, God had given His blessing on the nation, so it could do anything it wanted to promote that freedom. As you can see, this idea became quite substantial.
The questions about what Manifest Destiny is and how it came about have been answered; the question that remains is on the affects of Manifest Destiny. Like many ideas, the one under question has managed to wriggle into many aspects of life. Every war after 1811 has been motivated to some extent by it. Manifest Destiny was the direct cause of the Trail of Tears, the forced relocation of the Republic of the Cherokee. There are innumerable other incidents resulting at least in part from it, from American tourists insulting Europeans, to the Iraq War. Just as all other ideas, Manifest Destiny has second and third order consequences.
Hopefully the idea of Manifest Destiny has been rendered understandable, through definition, historical analysis and investigation of the effects. Although Manifest Destiny has squashed Indians and created wars, its advantages may outweigh its disadvantages. However, no human can be completely sure of the verdict.

American Dream

The American Dream is a rather strange and unique idea. It flowed from many philosophical movements, but was also in existence before and with them. There are four main roots for the American Dream: itself, Manifest Destiny, Transcendentalism, and Utopianism.
The American Dream almost made itself. In the early 1700’s Britain had a policy known as Salutary Neglect. This policy essentially allowed the colonies to make their own laws and rule themselves. This allowed upward mobility for everyone. This was a dramatic turn from Europe, where the lower class was consciously hindered. As future immigrants saw this freedom, they probably exaggerated it in their minds and lived that freedom when they arrived. The idea of freedom is so important that it has waged several wars for it, and continues to do so to this day. Freedom must be in place before people can even attempt to live out the American Dream, and freedom is jealously guarded by America.
In addition to itself, Manifest Destiny contributed to the creation of the American Dream. Essentially, Manifest Destiny stated that America was great and appointed by God to govern vast lands. At least, that is what most of it’s proponents wanted people too think. It was actually an excuse for America to take territory. But this idea that America was great, so Americans were also great, got into the American mind. If the United States could do wonderful things, its people could also. So the American Dream was influenced by this notion of American greatness.
Not only did this strange dream build upon itself and take ideas from Manifest Destiny, Transcendentalism contributed a large piece also. One of the basic principles of Transcendentalism is that something can turn into something else. A bottle of pop can become a cannon. The orphan in New York can become an oil tycoon with an enormous fortune and 20 businesses. That is why America is so good at creating heroes like Superman and Spiderman; we simply know that someone can be transformed into someone else. Richard Scary videos teach kids that, “You can be anything you want to be.” Every little boy, or girl, can be the President. If you can change, then you can move up in the world. So Transcendentalism held that it is possible for everyone to be great, if they will work at it. Even with itself, Manifest Destiny, and Transcendentalism, the American Dream needed one more movement before it could be complete. This movement is Utopianism. The American Dream provided the work ethic, Manifest Destiny kept the West open to anyone who came and Transcendentalism allowed for the land’s perfection, so you could build Utopia. It was just a matter of settling down somewhere and working the land. A perfect society could be created. Yes, this is subduing the earth, but it did not realize an important truth. A perfect society cannot be created on earth because of sin. We should not be so busy creating our own heaven that we forget the real Heaven. Be as that may, Utopianism led America to apply its dream to real estate, so that

owning property is another goal of the citizen. With this final idea, the American Dream was complete.
The American Dream, with itself, Manifest Destiny, Transcendentalism and Utopianism, fueled generations of Americans to prosperity and America to global dominance. Americans must keep in mind the enormous responsibilities of wealth and worldwide power. If we do not America will become corrupt.
Cultural Flow

So how do ideas like Manifest Destiny become accepted in a culture? Ideas have consequences, and cultures are clearly based upon certain trains of thought; but how do those thoughts get into the culture’s mind? How can philosophers in their Ivory Towers create ideas that become automatically assumed by Joe Blow on the street corner? The road followed by ideas involves philosophers, authors, artists, musicians, scientists and architects before it is accepted by a culture.
The path traced by an idea begins with philosophy. The elitists who have little experience with the normal person’s life sit at their universities and ponder bizarre ideas. These ideas don’t have to make sense to anyone except the elite, and often don’t really make sense to them either. Washington Irving is a perfect example of this. He would write on the virtues of the West (a place that he had never been to) from his comfortable fireside. So culture-building ideas start with the philosophers.
After the philosophers have created an idea, authors write books about it. Books try to sell an idea to you. A good author can embody ideas in characters and scenery. If an author is embellishing an idea that says the world is dull, the author writes a story with a dull world. But during this time period writers like James Fennimore Cooper wanted to portray the West as a great place where great people did great things. He and his fellow novelists succeeded extremely well at doing just that.
The graphic artists get their turn with the idea after the philosophers and writers. It is probably easier to tell what the painters are saying than either of the others. In America’s case the painters under question would be those from the Hudson River School of art. These men drew realistic, but entirely romantic pictures. (Grant) Everything was bright and shiny with no dirt to be found. But most importantly, it was in the West, just over the horizon.
Up to now cultural ideas have survived from origination with the philosophers, getting fleshed out by the authors, being painted, and now getting sung. Musicians rarely sing the idea straight out, but the music definitely shows it.
After the thinkers, the writers, the painters, and the musicians work: the culture becomes permeated with the idea and technology reflects it. Of course, whether technology advances or retreats has to do with that idea. In third world countries hard work in the name of progress is not encouraged, and poverty continues. But in America, the ideas under question required American and personal greatness through hard work. This mindset catapulted America into the forefront of technology.
The inventions made in America were simply amazing and intrinsically fulfilled certain demands of Manifest Destiny or the American Dream. Such things as the Conestoga wagon allowed people to move into the coveted West. The telegraph provided for the linking of the many States. Advances in steam machinery allowed business owners to achieve their dreams. So amazing progress facilitated the realization of certain ideas in America.
Other aspects of science and technology, such as architecture and economics, reflect and assist the idea. Architectural forms like the skyscraper are distinctively American. Why would a big business want to spend the money to build up? It has the clout to displace other people so that it could build a warehouse-style office. No, they build up because the business wants to leave a mark on the world.
Finally, after the philosophers, authors, artists, musicians, scientists and architects have played with the idea, it becomes popularly accepted. It is extremely difficult for an undiscerning citizen to fight something that assaults him constantly wherever he turns. After many years that idea will have become so deeply ingrained in the culture that no one even thinks it exists. To look at the world an individual sees what the idea lets him perceive. In other words, the idea of some thinkers can become the worldview of a culture. This information can be both a warning and an advantage.
Now that the topics of Manifest Destiny, the American Dream and Cultural Flow have been made clear, several important lessons can be pointed out. The lessons are that ideas have consequences, Americans have great responsibilities and that people can change culture. These lessons may seem obvious, but they are very important
The first lesson is that ideas have consequences. The beliefs of a nation can make or break it. The beliefs of a certain person can make or break him. Ultimately, God’s ideas hold a lot of weight. If God hadn’t had the idea of creating the universe, people wouldn’t be around. When formulating a personal or cultural idea, it is best to check if it squares with God’s Word.
The second lesson is that American’s have an enormous responsibility not only to themselves, but also the world. Both individual prosperity and worldwide power are tremendous liabilities. When prosperity is seen as an ends in itself, instead of a means for building Christ’s kingdom, it can have disastrous results. The same goes for America’s worldwide clout. A power hungry president could wreak havoc on the world. However, a Christian that is trained in stewardship can do great things with his prosperity and his nation.
The third lesson is that people can completely change a culture’s course by changing the worldview of that culture. This can be a warning to Christians, or it can give us a decided advantage. It is a warning because America will crash and burn if we let pagan philosophers have the table. But if Christians will be good witnesses and place Godly ideas everywhere, America will become a truly great nation in God’s eyes.
To conclude, the study of Manifest Destiny, the American Dream and Cultural Flow teach us important truths. With an understanding of America’s basic ideas, we can minister to our neighbors and world better. So, what will you do now that you have a basic idea of American Culture?