Thursday, March 23, 2017

Thursday Thinking - America and Exodus

The biblical story of Exodus is a foundational myth throughout Israel's history and a central metaphor for Christians throughout the New Testament. In his recent piece for the New York Times, David Brooks explores the importance the Exodus myth has also had on the American sense of purpose and identity throughout American history.

Puritans leaving England for America, circa 1635.
The Unifying American Story
by David Brooks · New York Times 2017.03.21

One of the things we’ve lost in this country is our story. It is the narrative that unites us around a common multigenerational project, that gives an overarching sense of meaning and purpose to our history.
For most of the past 400 years, Americans did have an overarching story. It was the Exodus story. The Puritans came to this continent and felt they were escaping the bondage of their Egypt and building a new Jerusalem.

The Exodus story has six acts: first, a life of slavery and oppression, then the revolt against tyranny, then the difficult flight through the howling wilderness, then the infighting and misbehavior amid the stresses of that ordeal, then the handing down of a new covenant, a new law, and then finally the arrival into a new promised land and the project of building a new Jerusalem.

The Puritans could survive hardship because they knew what kind of cosmic drama they were involved in. Being a chosen people with a sacred mission didn’t make them arrogant, it gave their task dignity and consequence...


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