Monthly Archives: July 2017

American Seder, July 4th, 2017

The Feast of Freedom concludes our American Seder: it is the traditional American celebration, filled with food and fireworks and heritage to remember where we came from and why we left there.

  • We fly the 50-star flag, to remember our unity.
  • We drink coffee, to remember we are a new nation (and therefore need a new beverage).
  • We read the story of the Resurrection to remember our independence from sin and how it was won.
  • We read The Declaration of Independence, Draft and Adopted versions, to remember our birth
  • We watch The Patriot to remember the realities and hardships of war have a payoff.
  • We shoot off fireworks and the new classic American rifle, the AR-15, to celebrate the continuance of liberty.
  • We eat the feast of freedom: burgers, hot dogs, steaks, all manner of home-grown food and drinks, in family and community organized celebrations.
  • We drink whiskey with dinner, to remember we are a new nation.

Above all, throughout the celebration, remember you are Americans, and pass on what that means to the next generation.

American Seder, July 3rd, 2017

Independence is not an easy thing to grasp, for it involves removing the hand of a tyrant and replacing it with the hand of the just. It is a fair statement that history shows the latter is harder than the former, for even though removing a tyrant always requires force, installing the just requires a people righteous enough to not become tyrants themselves when given power over others.

Today we remember the difficulties of the fight

  • We drink neither tea nor coffee, to remember the privation brought on by war.
  • We drink no alcohol, to remember the privation brought on by war.
  • We fast from dinner, to remember the privation brought on by war.
  • Devotion: We read the story of Gideon to remember the value of a small force of guerillas fighting for God’s principles.
  • We read Common Sense, to remember the struggles in the Revolution.
  • We watch John Adams, to remember what can be done by a single man with devotion to the cause.
  • We shoot dry-fire practice, to remember their critical lack of ammunition in wartime.
  • We fly the Culpeper flag, to remember the struggle in the South.

American Seder, July 2nd, 2017

(Previously)

The key to the longevity of the Jewish Seder is the inclusion of the children. The youngest child present is required to ask a number of questions that allow the adults to pass the story of the Exodus on to the next generation. If you aren’t including the children in the celebration, you are missing the point. And yes, that includes letting them pull the triggers on the guns. Let them ask questions, and give answers freely – which means you have to know the story well enough to answer anything they might ask.

  • We drink tea with salt added, to remember the Boston Tea Party and the cost of not keeping a watchful eye on our freedoms.
  • We eat a meal of wild-foraged and home-grown foods, to remember the way the founders fed themselves when blockade cut off foreign trade.
  • We drink rum, to remember the Triangle Trade and its consequences.
  • We read the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel, to remember the power of standing up to a tyrant with God at your back.
  • We read the Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms (Jefferson and Dickinson, 1775) to remember why we fight and under what circumstances.
  • We watch Gettysburg to remember the consequences of compromise.
  • We shoot targets at no more than fifty yards, to remember the scale of the battlefields and what it meant to hold fire until you see the whites of their eyes.
  • We fly the Betsy Ross flag, to remember our birth as a nation.

More tomorrow.

American Seder, July 1st, 2017

You have to hand it to the Jews, because they do remembrance better than anyone. What other group on Earth has had a continual remembrance of an event for more than four thousand years? But you don’t do that without ritual. They commemorate their liberation from tyranny by the hand of God with tradition that varies little (if at all) from year to year, full of symbolism and memory and dignity and the solemnity of righteous law.

Compared to Israel, the United States is an infant with ADD. We remember nothing because we ritualize nothing. Ask any American what they celebrate and they’ll likely say “the Fourth of July”, not “Independence Day”. We have our fireworks, cookouts, and parades, but little else, and little remembrance to go with that fun.

That must change. We should follow the example of the Jews in this regard.

“The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.” – John Adams writing to his wife Abigail, from Philadelphia, July 3rd, 1776.

John had the date wrong, but you can hardly fault him for that. Congress had, after all, agreed to the Virginia Resolution on the second, but that’s a detail lost to most of us because we have chosen to forget it. We read the paper and it says “In Congress, July 4, 1776.” That’s it, and we take it at face value without knowing the rest of the story.

The Passover Seder and the Chanukah festival are my guides here. The idea is to design a multi-day ceremony with actions and feasts that are each symbolic of a different part of the story of the American Revolution. Therefore, on the First of July,

  • We drink tea in the morning to remember what life was like before the Revolution.
  • We eat fish & chips to remember the English heritage of this country.
  • We drink Madeira wine with the meal to remember the sloop Liberty and how it was a milepost on the way to rebellion against tyranny.
  • We read the story of the Exodus from Egypt to remember deliverance from tyrants by God’s miracles.
  • We read “Bloody Butchery by the British Troops” to remember Lexington and Concord.
  • We watch 1776 to remember the political difficulties that were overcome for the sake of unity.
  • We shoot a flintlock to remember how war was waged.
  • We fly the Bunker Hill Flag to remember the struggle in the north.

I can imagine some would object to the religious references, but to ignore those is to ignore perhaps the most critical aspect of the people who accomplished the Revolution, and to ignore John Adams’ advice to commemorate it with acts of devotion to God.

More tomorrow.