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Good Morning Nanty Glo!

Monday, January 24 2005

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

Some personal correlations

Part of my fascination with our current topic (the influence of the mindset of the American Revolutionary period and the overlapping Great Awakening in American religion) and the book it is based on*, is correlations that I see to what I've been learning about the history of that time to my own family and its own "mindsets." The roots of both my father's and my mother's families have been traced to just that period, the farthest-traced Kennedy (Isaac) in our line having been born, most likely in Pennsylvania but possibly in Ulster, Ireland, during the Revolutionary War. In the sense that we "know" Truman, Eisenhower...Clinton and Bush, he grew up knowing Washington, Jefferson, Adams and the other earliest presidents, and he lived even beyond Lincoln.

I've discovered Isaac Kennedy only since the past decade and have since visited his "homestead" in Juniata County. His family house was on a narrow (now) macadam road not within hollering distance to the nearest neighbors, and even today not convenient to any town or marketplace. If I imbued any "Kennedy mindset" in my formative years it was that "we Kennedys" were fiercely Protestants willing to fight for our religion but who didn't go to church or want to engage in what is now called Godtalk. (My brothers and I were in church most Sundays because our mother took us, but my dad and his father and the rest of his relatives seemed to fit the preceeding profile.)

On Mother's side, I'm told her mother was also a devout EUB-Methodist, but none of the men in that family seemed to be churchgoing either. Both of these "profiles" seem to fit the strongest general outline of the Great Awakening revival. Most of the converts were women and the popular philosophy (common-sense realism synthesized with orthodox Protestantism) was that one could be a good Christian even if you were a congregation of one, and at that one that never held "formal worship," probably not even private prayers. Of course if you were part of that generation you didn't have to read any books or even tracts to jump to the conclusion that this means "me and God" and perhaps "me and my Bible" are all I need to be fiercely Protestant. And if "me" doesn't know enough "theoretical information" about God to even discuss Him or "it" with the next generation, the odds are high that next generation may still check "Protestant" on the legal forms asking for a religion, but will be functionally agnostic.

I don't mean to judge anyone here, but it seemed to me when I was growing up in the woods of Blacklick Township and the streets and cafes of Nanty Glo that I encountered people fitting this profile everywhere. Most of our neighbors were Protestant; hardly any of our neighbors were church goers, ergo (I assumed and have no reason to believe that was a wrong assumption) most our our neighbors were functionally agnostics.

A recent eye-opening article appropos the preceding argued that despite the widespread myth that those early days of our Republic were something of a golden Christian age, in fact there has been no more churched generation in American history than the present one, or at least the one that is now over 50 years of age. A significant difference I see between the church dropouts of my grandparents' and their grandparents' generations is that at least those generations checked the box on their official records as "Christian," "Catholic," or "Protestant," whereas in our time those who don't join a church are more likely to check "none of the above," and rather than stand with their Christian relatives and neighbors, more likely stand against them.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy 

*Total Truth, Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity, Nancy Pearcey, Crossway Books, 2004, pages 311-312.

A complete index of Jon Kennedy's Jonals for 2001 - 2005

Classic Hollywood Squares, 4

If you remember The Original Hollywood Squares and its comics, this will bring a tear to your eyes. These great questions and answers are from the days when "Hollywood Squares" game show responses were spontaneous! Peter Marshall was the host asking the questions, of course.

Q. As you grow older, do you tend to gesture more or less with your hands while talking?

A. Rose Marie: You ask me one more growing old question Peter, and I'll give you a gesture you'll never forget.

Q. Paul, why do Hell's Angels wear leather?

A. Because chiffon wrinkles too easily. .

Thought for today

Love is an exploding cigar that we willingly smoke.

Lynda Barry  

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