Kirk Cameron's 'Monumental' Task
There's a story about a small band of 19th-century pioneers crossing the Mojave Desert to earn their fortune in the promised land of California. Unprepared for the Mojave's harsh, arid climate and deceived by length of a desert mile, they died of acute dehydration. The tragedy of their story is not just that they died, but that their death was needless as well: just three feet below the surface of the Mojave's cracked and dry ground were springs of fresh water. The pioneers were, quite literally, standing on a reservoir yet dying of thirst.
In his heatedly contested debut documentary, Monumental, Kirk Cameron makes a similar claim about the situation facing 21st-century America. With a government debt nearing $16 trillion and a culture that values entertainment over education, innovation over tradition, and individual preferences over moral law and virtue, it's safe to say that we live in a theological and moral desert. In Monumental, Cameron, an outspoken evangelical Christian, argues that like that group of pioneers, Americans today are standing on a reservoir and dying of thirst.
And the springs of life for our cultural desert are the wisdom of our country's forefathers.
Cameron's documentary, which debuted in theaters two weeks ago, is his sincere quest to unpack how our forefathers, the Pilgrims, might help us get back on track. The Pilgrims were a tiny group of religious outcasts traveling to America in 1620 to escape religious persecution in England while still maintaining their cultural identity. Cameron traces the steps of the Pilgrims to discover the source of the principles that were used to establish the American government. "What principles did they use to ultimately wind up with a nation that has received more blessing, security, and prosperity than any nation in the history of the world?"
Cameron concludes that the strategy employed by the pilgrims—then followed by the Founding Fathers—is commemorated in the National Monument to Our Forefathers, a statue located in Plymouth, Massachusetts. On the main pedestal, a figure named "Faith" points towards heaven while clutching the Bible. Faith is buttressed by four figures that exemplify the four principles upon which the Pilgrims established their commonwealth: freedom, morality, law, and education.
According to Dr. Marshall Foster, president of the World History Institute, this "matrix of liberty" shows us how to regain liberty should we ever lose it. Foster states, "[It's] the only successful strategy of liberty that has been carried out in the history of mankind … this strategy is what built America."
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