Chestertonâ€™s Stars & Stripes
By: Dr. Paul Kengor
Among those doing excellent work on G. K. Chesterton is Joseph Pearce, the brilliant Brit who is a scholar at Ave Maria University in Naples, Florida. Pearce, like Dale Ahlquist, is unearthing all sorts of gems from Chestertonâ€™s writings.
Pearce recently came to Grove City College in Western Pennsylvania, where he offered an intriguing European perspective on American exceptionalism (click here for video). Among the Europeans that Pearce was sure to include was Chestertonâ€”and what he said is fascinating. In my view, itâ€™s as poignant as the richest lines on America from Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville.
Pearce notes how when it came to America, Britain, the West, and Christianity, Chesterton, as usual, was ahead of his time. He 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 not today.
As a stunning symbol of Chestertonâ€™s thinking, Pearce highlights what he dubs Chestertonâ€™s â€œsalute to the American flag,â€ a salute signifying Chestertonâ€™s hope that America might become a beacon of Christianity worldwide. Lamenting that â€œthe English have often forgotten the cross on their flag,â€ Chesterton hoped that â€œthe crossless flagâ€ of the United States â€œmay yet become a symbol of something; by whose stars we are illumined, and by whose stripes we are healed.â€ (G. K. Chesterton, Collected Works, Vol. XXI, Ignatius Press, 1990, p. 591.)
Wow. Think about that line: â€œby whose stars we are illumined, and by whose stripes we are healed.â€ Have you ever thought about your flag that wayâ€”so Christ-like? G. K. Chesterton did. Itâ€™s a stirring interpretation of America and its mission.
America and Europe have gone in opposite directions faith-wise. Despite our serious problemsâ€”the Death Culture chief among themâ€”the vast majority of Americans remain believers, and Christians, and we provide more missionaries than any country; including to Europe.
As we again mark the birth of Americaâ€™s founding, may those stars still illumine, and may those stripes still heal.
Dr.Â Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College and executive director of The Center for Vision & Values. His books include “The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism,” and the recently released “Dupes: How Americaâ€™s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.”
Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College and executive director of The Center for Vision & Values. His books include "The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism," and his latest release, "Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century."