Monday, July 27, 2009

No Religious History of USA? It Permeates Our Culture!

Many voices today proclaim (incorrectly) that our country really has no strong religious roots. If you were to say we have Biblical roots or that we were founded largely by Christians, these voices would proclaim you to be a right-wing fundamentalist who is rewriting history.

This blog has countless examples of the strong religious foundations of the USA. From our earliest history to current times, the Bible and its teachings have had a strong influence on our country. Why else would the very first clauses of the very first amendment in our Bill of Rights guarantee religious freedom?

Consider some of our figures of speech, used by religious people and non-religious people alike. Many of our words would be considered blasphemous by devout Jews or Christians. The Bible does warn against using the Lord's name in vain (frivolously), yet we can't walk through the mall without hearing "Oh, God" countless times. How did these "religious" phrases come to be used to folks who are not Bible-thumping zealots? Could it possibly be because they permeate our culture, from literature to song to the spoken word (and sometimes even in pornography!).

Have you heard "God forbid" in common conversation? Have you heard someone who is upset use "G** Damn It" or "Go to H***" or "Jes** Chr***!!!"? (And come to think of it, how did Jesus get assigned the middle initial "H"?) Have you eaten at TGI Fridays (Thank God It's Friday)?

How about what you hear in music? The song God Bless America is well-known and has been often heard from 1918 to today. White Christmas is to this day the best-selling single recording of all time. And God Bless the USA is a more recent song that had surges in popularity during the first and second Gulf Wars. A very popular folk song in the late 20th century was Turn, Turn, Turn, sung by Limelighters, Pete Seeger, Judy Collins, The Byrds, etc. It lyric was based on Ecclesiastes 3:1.

As mentioned above, our language contains a great many examples of "cliches" that mostly would not exist but for the Bible. A website has compiled a nice, long list of those:

Visit that site to learn the Biblical references for the phrases below and many, many others. (How many of these have you heard in the last few years?)

A little bird told me.
Alpha and Omega
My brother's keepe
Blind leading the blind
By the skin of your teeth
Can a leopard change his spots?
Do as I say, not as I do.
Doubting Thomas
Drop in the bucket
Eat until it comes out your nose
Eat, drink, and be merry.
Eye for an eye
Feet of clay
For everything there is a season.
Forbidden fruit
Four corners of the earth
Go the extra mile
Good Samaritan
He who lives by the sword, shall die by the sword.
Heart of stone
It is better to give than receive.
Every jot or tittle (heard during recent Supreme Court confirmation hearings, for example)
Kiss of death
Lamb to the slaughter
Land o'Goshen!
Left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing
Like mother like daughter
Man can not live on bread alone
Many are called, but few are chosen
Money is the root of all evil.
No rest for the wicked (often heard as No rest for the weary)
O you of little faith
Out of the mouth of babes
Physician, heal thyself
Raising cain
Rise and shine
Salt of the earth
Sour grapes
Spare the rod, spoil the child
Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak
Stiff necked
There is nothing new under the sun
Thorn in the flesh
Throw the first stone
Truth will set you free
Turn the other cheek.
Woe is me
Wolf in sheep's clothing
Writing is on the wall.
Written in stone
You reap what you sow.

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