American Moral Imagination in the Twenty-First Century

An excerpt from How to Preach a Dangerous Sermon by Rev. Dr. Frank. A Thomas

“Just as it difficult for an individual to have an honest and balanced view of themselves, given the complexity of motives, drives, rationalizations, self-interest, and morals in any decision, it is very difficult for most Americans to take a balanced view of America. Most tend to view America from the perspective of patriotism and laud the greatness of America, or, on the other hand, with a view to conquest and oppression, and therefore extol the violence and cruelty of America. When we look at the total picture of American character, America has both released more creative energy into the world that any modern nation in history, and yet, has also been imperialistic and violent on an unparalleled level. Often, America celebrates the industry, confidence, idealism, and hope of America, yet ignores the effects of imperialism, violence, discrimination, racism, slavery, misogyny, genocide, and the conquest of indigenous people. Americans have a very difficult time coming to terms with the twin dynamics of empire, often residing in the concept of American exceptionalism leading to American imperialism. Without a balanced view of American greatness and American violence, we can never accurately ascertain the true moral imagination of America.”

From the Introduction, pg. xxxiv