Dorothy Day? Daniel Berrigan? Thomas Merton?
No, that is conservative writer Ross Douthat.
I just finished his book Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics. It is a refreshing take on modern America, one that utterly transcends the usual conservative analysis. After exploring the rise of popular selfism as a substitute for Christian orthodoxy, in the broad sense of a consensus among mainstream Protestantism, Catholicism and Orthodoxy -all in decline- he turns to America’s civic religion, which in many ways is a parallel institution to the Christian churches. I would like to quote a core paragraph in its entirety:
But if the lack of a blood-and-soil tradition has weakened the temptation toward imagining one’s own tribe as God’s real Chosen People, the obvious resemblance between America and the Christian Church -both pan-ethnic, universalizing bodies that promise to create a new man out of the old one, and redeem a fallen and corrupted world – has tempted many Americans to regard the United States as a whole as a New Israel, a holy nation, a people set apart. This inclination has been woven into every chapter of our national history, from the Puritan “errand in the wilderness” down to the presidential campaign of Barack Obama. The language of our politics casts the American story in explicitly religious terms: We’re a “promised land” and our government a “new order for the ages,” with a “manifest destiny” defined by “American exceptionalism.” This can easily shade from the generic providentialism of presidential speeches (“May God bless you, and may God continue to bless the United States of America…”) into something more powerful and comprehensive – a faith in “Americanism”, in our mission and destiny and God’s influence therein, that David Gelernter describes as “The Fourth Great Western Religion.”
That’s really what I have been trying to say. Ironic that it took someone who writes for The National Review to say it so well. If only more people across the spectrum grasped how destructive this nationalistic messianic heresy really is.