I’m going to have to be daring with this article, because it is about the ignorance of very large numbers of people on matters that threaten the very notion of democracy and freedom.
I’m not insinuating anything about Michael Frost, who seems to be a well educated person, but this suggestion is frightening if you read behind the words: – If I was a CA [Continuing Anglican], I’d always start my serious ecumenical discussions with the PNCC. That would seem to be the most natural area for better formal relations in USA. In short, does nowhere else exist? Is everything to be measured against American standards? Of course, there is the Nordic Catholic Church in Europe, and that possibility may be available for some.
Our conservative British newspaper The Daily Telegraph published an article Americans surveyed: misunderstood, misrepresented or ignorant? This article reveals the extent of ignorance about the world outside (and also within) the USA in large numbers of persons.
6% do not know the date of Independence Day.
0.01% correctly identified the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment of the US Constitution (freedom of religion, free speech, free press, association, and the ability to petition government). Only 25% can name more than one of these rights.
25% do not know that the earth orbits around the sun. 6% of young Americans failed to locate the USA on a map of the world. Only about 30% could identify the UK on a map. Three years into the Irak war, only 37% could find Irak on a map. Only the same percentage would find Saudi Arabia and as few as 25% could find Israel and Iran. 70% believed that Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the 9/11 attacks at one time. Only 58% of Americans knew anything about the Taliban, compared with 75% of British.
Americans who are not burdened with this degree of ignorance need to take an interest in other countries and those of us who live in them. I tend to agree with the opinion that Americans are not more pious than anyone else, but simply behind the times. Our European present is their future, and complacency will not avert the inevitable.
I am myself English living in Continental Europe. I have visited the USA four times. I am hardly the Modern Major General of Gilbert and Sullivan who knows everything vegetable, animal and mineral, but I am forced to believe that I belong to a very tiny elite with a reasonable knowledge of geography and world cultures. I am only a very average kind of person! All the same, I am interested in discovering other peoples and the way they live. Life is too short to travel everywhere and see them all for myself, but discovery is to me second only to breaths of air, food and drink.
I ask our educated American friends to make that much of an effort to encourage their country folk to take an interest in Christians in the UK, continental Europe, Africa, Asia, South America and everywhere else – and take them into account when offering reflections.