Dziennik Chicagoski -- January 03, 1928America and Her People in the Eyes of the Europeans Religious Point of View (Editorial)
The well-known French economist, Professor Siegfried, says if anyone actually wishes to understand the source of American influence he necessarily must revert to the English period of Puritanism during the 17th century, because the civilization of the United States is basically protestant. The Puritans consider their fellow-citizens bad Americans if they pay homage to the religion of other civilizations such as the Catholic religion. When this fact is ignored, then one looks upon America and the Americans with an improper point of view. Professor Siegfried is of the opinion that America is not only Protestant from a religious and social angle, but it is also Calvinistic in many respects.
In spite of the increased flow of German immigrants, Lutheranism did not gain the position expected. In temporal matters, the only law is force, and because of this, it cannot be literally adapted to the life of the New Testament.2
Good laws are founded by Lutheranism only in supernatural matters. This is true especially in a land where a King or a prince peacefully rules by obtaining the privilege from God. Lutheranism has as its object the perfection of the individual.
The Calvinists are of another opinion. They consider such doctrines as dangerous, and contend that the duty of individuals is not the perfection of themselves, but the cooperation with other individuals in the native country in conveying to the world the will of God. Hence flowed the Calvinistic tendency to purify the sins of all society, people, and the country at the same time.
Lutheranism permits separate service to God and separate service to the country. This is not true among the Puritans and Calvinists. They join these two conceptions into one because they believe the teaching of Christ ought to reveal itself in all walks of life. Here arises a typical example for the Anglo-Saxon feeling of social duties.
A Catholic cannot comprehend these conceptions. He cannot understand why a 3group and not a single person should be the fundamental unit of society. He cannot understand and will never grasp why the 'purification' of the society of all nations should begin with the groups and not the individuals. It is plainly evident that the group can only be good when all of its individual members are equally as good. This has been met with dislike from the very beginning in America by people who have always gone their own way, for they were not of the opinion that everything an individual person possesses should serve the groups. Relative to these conditions, Professor Siegfried attentively considers whether anything can be said about the unquestioned law of the freedom of the individual.
Puritanical democracy has, in reality, its own laws and obligations, which differ widely from those of Latin democracy, making it thoroughly individualistic. Second in importance is its aristocratic morals. The American Protestants consider themselves exclusive in the vocation of missionary work. Not only do they have missions in this country, but they spread their teachings the world over for the purpose of "elevating humanity." This religion has established its paradise mostly in England and America. It 4is here that they pursue their inspirational crusades against smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, and even feminism and pacifism found its origin within their ranks. The Americanization of immigrants in the United States has also been included in their drives. Every American Puritan, including the converts, feels some kind of inward, ungovernable necessity of learning the entire gospel. Then, too, they cannot put it into their heads to let the people think for themselves for a while. And if someone would suggest this they would feel offended for they would be of the conviction that the people would get lost without them, that they could not do anything for themselves. On this basis, they reveal their own alleged superior morals in the presence of others and act accordingly. They consider themselves the messengers of God, and secretly hope that others would recognize them, for which they promise to lift them to their moral level.
Consequently, circumstances among the American people altered a great deal relative to the belief that all people are equal. This is true in the 5politics of American immigration, especially when the question of race superiority arises. They will also try to prove that the understanding of equality among the people is applied to religious affairs, but a deeper discussion of this will reveal that the Protestant comprehension in this respect is greatly limited.
On these grounds, one is free to form the opinion that democratic Catholicism is, at least, better than the Protestant in the field of law for man. The Catholic Church teaches that Jesus Christ died on the cross to save the world, while the Calvinist has in mind only the chosen ones.
Luther has recommended to all his followers that they exert all their physical strength for the services of the country, but did not mention anything about the powers of the soul. This neglect was considered by him as necessary, for he did not desire his followers to enjoy worldly things with authority and clear conscience. Calvin, on the other hand, united his religion with every day duties of life, because he deemed that if one did his daily obligations better, earned more, and accumulated riches, he added to the glory of God.6
But the Catholic Church has never recognized riches as a symbol of piety. The Church firmly instructs that even the most penurious person can possess a noble soul and find himself closer to God than many a rich man.
The Puritans believe differently: They consider their wealth as an exceptional reward and honor bestowed upon them, and treat this accordingly, particularly considering themselves as a specially privileged group among the others. From this arises an uncommonly complicated apprehension in the mind of the Puritan, because he does not know where his duty ends in this respect; thus begins egoism. But he is well off this way, for even his neighbors judge him as he does himself. No wonder then that it is difficult to discern his true religious aspirations from his egotistical desire for enrichment. Plainly, the religion became materialized, although its followers endeavor in a long run to examine all problems not from a material standpoint, but spiritual as well. However, this is only a remnant of the past and a pleasant personal deceit.
To Europe, this unknown materialization of religious beliefs played a very 7important part in the accumulation of wealth in America, which convinces the people all the more in their convictions. Religious materialism greatly enveloped the influx of assimilation of the immigrants, as everyone will concede that no other American ideal applies so greatly to the immigrant. This country's wealth is, therefore, the greatest threatening danger to the nationalistic groups, who endeavor to preserve their particular language and culture. This has been true throughout the ages. If we are to look for an example among our own Polish group, then we must confirm this on the strength of evident examples: amidst the poor Polish group the Polish spirit is greater than among the rich; while one hears English spoken among the intelligent Poles, the native tongue is predominant among the lower classes. However, we are guarding ourselves against unraveling from this movement as if the Polish spirit would permit itself to be supported through Polish poverty. For the above example only confirms the characteristic fact in the actions of Americanization, which no one can overlook while examining Americanization among the Poles.
I B 4, I C, I J, III C
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