My history professors at the University of California said the American character was shaped in large part by westward expansion into the frontier.
My history professors at the University of Sussex, England, said the American character developed from an incessant entrepreneurialism that began with the first settlements and continued to the present.
I got the impression the truth included both their positions.
One of the things about American history that I thought was not subject to debate concerns who won and who lost the Revolutionary War. The basic facts are that fighting broke out in 1775 and General Cornwallis surrendered to George Washington in 1781, with the formal peace treaty coming in 1783.
That sounds like a win for the new United States of America.
Not according to The English Club.
I ran across their website through a link to their article on the History of the English Language. I recommend it for a good overview of the development of English from its arrival with the Angles, Saxons and Jutes in the 5th century through Norman French influences and changes to the language as it spread around the world.
It’s a short article and very readable. It even comes with a handy chart with dates and developments. That’s where I discovered that America apparently did not beat the British in the War for Independence:
|1776||Thomas Jefferson writes the American Declaration of Independence|
|1782||Britain abandons its colonies in what is later to become the USA|
“Britain abandons its colonies” – I’ve never heard it put that way. I suppose losing battles and spending way too much money to carry out a war halfway around the globe might be considered abandonment. Perhaps it depends on who you ask.
Sometimes people just see things differently. That’s understandable; we all have our own experiences and can’t know everything that might influence another person’s way of looking at life.
Other times people make it up as they go along, much like when the kings of Israel and Judah were considering whether to wage war on the Arameans:
Dressed in their royal robes, the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah were sitting on their thrones at the threshing floor by the entrance of the gate of Samaria, with all the prophets prophesying before them. Now Zedekiah son of Kenaanah had made iron horns and he declared, “This is what the Lord says: ‘With these you will gore the Arameans until they are destroyed.’”
All the other prophets were prophesying the same thing. “Attack Ramoth Gilead and be victorious,” they said, “for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.”
The messenger who had gone to summon Micaiah said to him, “Look, the other prophets without exception are predicting success for the king. Let your word agree with theirs, and speak favorably.”
But Micaiah said, “As surely as the Lord lives, I can tell him only what the Lord tells me.” (1 Kings 22:10-14.)
As you might have expected, Micaiah’s prophecy did not agree with Zedekiah’s. He told the kings they would lose horribly, and they did. (1 Kings 22:15-38.)
False prophets do not escape God’s attention either. Here’s a conversation God had with Jeremiah concerning false prophets a couple centuries later:
But I said, “Alas, Sovereign Lord! The prophets keep telling them, ‘You will not see the sword or suffer famine. Indeed, I will give you lasting peace in this place.’”
Then the Lord said to me, “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds.” (Jeremiah 14:13-14.)
Everything’s going great, the false prophets told the Israelites. These prophets made the claim of absolute truth: I speak because God has spoken to me!
Taking it with a grain of salt
I try not to get worked up over people who falsely claim to be speaking for God, not because I don’t think its important but because the Bible says we shouldn’t get wigged out about it.
If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously, so do not be alarmed. (Deuteronomy 18:22.)
Do not be alarmed.
That’s not the same as saying “Don’t do anything about it.” It’s just that we shouldn’t let ourselves get so worked up over someone saying something false about God that we can’t deal with it constructively. Ultimately, God says he’s the one who takes care of false prophets anyway:
I am the Lord, … who foils the signs of false prophets. (Isaiah 44:24-25.)
I’m not alarmed. God’s got it covered.