Cameron brings along Marshall Foster to help him interpret the monument's symbolism. Foster is a popular 'historian' in these circles. I've listened to him lecture on numerous occasions and find myself rarely agreeing with much of anything he says. Even when gets something correct, it is framed in a misleading or manipulative manner. History has a narrative to it, and it's amazing how it seems to perfectly match the Theonomic Reconstructionist and Christo-American cultural and political agenda.
Providence guides history, but history isn't complete and unless God has specifically laid out a historical narrative, which he hasn't for any nation in the New Testament but the Church...it is a dangerous thing to impose one upon the annals of history. History is messy and complicated and imposing these narratives (like God's hand was on America) on history is a dangerous business, can be self-deceptive, have a tendency to whitewash and mythologize, promote unbiblical pride and bigotry, and can blind people to the evils their nation commits. Assyria was used by God in Isaiah 10, but then Assyria was crushed and punished by God for her wickedness. America and the Americanists would do well to take heed. They think of themselves as a North American Israel...but how do they know they're not an Egypt?
Suffice it to say, even if I were a Dominionist I would feel very uncomfortable with how Foster speaks about and interprets history. He makes wild assumptions, forces narratives onto past historical events, gets many facts just plain wrong, and engages in an endless stream of non sequiturs.***
They go through the monument and explain all its meanings, what each statue represents, the surrounding words and objects they hold. It's all well and good except that the monument itself is an interpretation. Built by Freemasons in the late 19th century , the monument combines many subsequent ideologies and anachronistically attaches them to the Mayflower Pilgrims. Cameron seems to make the common mistake of confusing the Pilgrims with the Puritans.
The Puritans had no problem with a state or Established Church. They simply wanted it to reflect their theology rather than the 'middle of the road'/partially reformed position the Church of England had taken with the Elizabethan Settlement. This and other factors eventually led to the English Civil War in the 1640's, the beheading of Charles I, and the controversial Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell.
Many Puritans actually returned to Britain to engage in this war against the Stewarts...and in a subsequent chapter of the conflict participated in the mass slaughter of the Irish who like the American colonials a century or so later didn't appreciate tyranny and tried to shed the yoke of British rule.
Apparently if we're to try and read back 'freedom and democracy' into the Puritan narrative that didn't extend to any people beyond themselves. They did not believe in freedom or democracy when it came to the Irish, the Scots, Quakers, Baptists, or really anyone but themselves. It's quite a stretch to suggest they believed these to be some kind of universal values or truths they wished to uphold.
These same people came by the thousands to America in the 1630's and overwhelmed the Pilgrim settlers which arrived on the Mayflower in 1620. Theologically there were great similarities. Both groups were Calvinistic and held to many of the same ideas.****
But there was a key difference. The Pilgrims did not believe in a Church of England. They were Separatists. They did not define the Church as being coextensive with a society, culture, or nation. In fact the system which believed in this concept had persecuted them and driven them out of England. Once in America they faced difficulties and were not always consistent. Since they had unbelievers with them, their dream of purity in a new land was immediately unrealistic.
Christian isolationism is not only unbiblical, it is fictitious, Trappist monks being perhaps the only exception, but of course being Roman Catholic monks they're not actually Christian are they? I'm using Christian in the Biblical sense, not in the grander loosely defined extra-Biblical sense Dominionists like Cameron are forced to use in order to make their case.
Nevertheless, they wanted a place where they could go and worship God, order their affairs the way they wanted and to be left alone and free of persecution. The ideas of the City on the Hill, the Redeemer Nation came with the Sacralistic Puritans who were determined to make both England and the New Word extensions of God's Kingdom.
In American mythology, the Puritan ideals of the City on a Hill, as well as other concepts (many from the Enlightenment) regarding law and society were brought together and wrongly melded to the symbolism of the persecuted and adventurous Pilgrims. The monument in Plymouth is but one of many representing this powerful but frankly incorrect and romanticised view of American history.
The Pilgrims are a powerful symbol in American social iconography. Yet they represented the antithesis of what America came to represent and certainly does today....power. Power is about violence and force, bringing your will to bear on others. The state on a simple level is the entity that is viewed as the legitimate wielder of this violence. To retain legitimacy it must monopolize the legitimate use of violence. When someone contends this or tries to break the monopoly...you have rebellion, revolution, or civil war.
The American Colonial Rebellion of 1776 was an attempt to take away the power of the king of England and place it into the hands of colonists...colonists who had come from the Sacral context of the 'Christian' West but had also combined the values of Scripture with many worldly ideas concerning 'rights' the 'state', 'law' and 'society'.
Often these ideas are anachronistically read back into the past and the monument represents this, confusing later Americanisms with 17th Calvinistic Separatism. This comes in a host of forms, the most extreme and frankly ridiculous suggesting Old Testament Israel was also a representative republic...just like America!
Watchwords like freedom are often applied to the earlier generations, but often they did not mean the same thing by it. Historically Fischer's work 'Albion's Seed' demonstrates how the various segments of colonial society all had very different concepts of law and liberty. These terms didn't mean the same thing to each group. Puritans, Quakers, Ulster-Scots, and the folk of the Tidewater all had very different notions of freedom. Nor does the term mean the same today, where it is often interpreted as license. So historically to just take a word like 'freedom' and place it on the past is a path to certain error.
This happens all the more when these modern political and politicized words and definitions are then read back into Scripture.
A poignant example of this is when the terms liberty and freedom are read in the Bible. For Americans these words have strong connotations and we bring this baggage with us when we read the same words in the Scripture. Sadly, the United States is riddled with many such monuments which actually twist the words of Scripture. The Liberty Bell employs Leviticus 25 in this way by using liberty in a sense more familiar to John Locke than to Moses. Leviticus 25 was not applicable to 18th century Pennsylvania, nor 21st century America. The 'land' and the jubilee are pictures of Redemption and the work of Christ...it's blasphemous for a modern nation state to appropriate these concepts and degrade them by treating them as 'common' and ordinary and somehow applicable to their man-made constructs and experiments.
To use Scripture in this way as many plaques and politicians do is actually quite dangerous and misleading. It ought not to be celebrated. Christians bemoan its practice when someone like Bill Clinton does it, but they praised George Bush's attempts.
This is so important I wish to re-emphasize this....
Bible verses which are really referencing the history of salvation and thus Jesus Christ should not be applied to a society or nation. It should gravely concern Christians when this is done, because it is a wrong use and interpretation of Scripture, it confuses the meaning of the text, and I hope it is easily seen there is a real danger of idolatry hidden in this method. Redemptive/Salvation categories are now tied to a nationalist narrative. When this happens...watch out! A nation's sin and shame will suddenly become its glory and adoration.
Rather than Biblical Christianity which certainly would be Cameron's stated goal, we end up with a hybrid religion, one I often call Christo-Americanism. Like medieval Catholicism, or even modern Theological Liberalism, it looks Christian, uses the same lexicon, many of the same symbols but it is really an idol, a false religion with another gospel.
*** A non sequitur is a conclusion that 'does not follow'...that is the argument made does not lead to the conclusion put forward. This happens all the time in historical interpretation, theology and especially in modern debate on the news etc...
People make the case, develop the argument and then come up with a conclusion...but it doesn't add up. The argument either didn't lead to the conclusion, or their conclusion goes way beyond the facts they provided.
**** Full disclosure on my part. Lest anyone thinks I just engage in arbitrary American criticism. My own ancestors were both on the Mayflower and in Massachusetts Bay. Samuel Stone was one of my ancestors and I'm also a descendant of a survivor of the Deerfield Massacre and veterans of the Pequot War. I'm not boasting as it should be plain I take no pride in these events. All I'm saying is that my own family story is tied in with all of this.