This is a bit of a random post, though there must be some thread of connection between the different ideas.
The drawings are both from my reading of the current NYRB, which seems to be where I get a lot of my ideas at the moment. It has the good balance between academic and popular appeal for me. Often, I am stunned by how moved I am by the reviews and essays. And by how much sense they make.
The 'embodiment' at the top of that page is something I have found myself animatedly chattering about with increasing frequency. I think it started last year when David Dark quoted Dylan on Johnny Cash and the 10,000 years of history that fell from him. Johnny Cash came to embody something that ran through his story and the songs but also goes beyond both. This reminds me of John Coletrane who, after giving his all in a performance was overheard saying, 'Nunc Dimittis', as he was coming off the stage. I am not really up to expanding on my thoughts on the page at the moment but will happily bend the ear of anyone who cares to listen. Particularly on why the time is right for Jeff Bridges to play the John Wayne part in the Coen's 'True Grit'.
And I think this quote best sums up how I feel about the muddying of religion and nationalism. I found it at Inhabito Dei, here.
I believe God made the St. Lawrence River, and the Rio Grande River, and the China Sea and the English Channel, but I don’t believe God made America, or Canada, or Mexico, or England, or China. Man did that. . . . It is doubtful that there has ever been a nation established for bad reasons. Nations are always established to escape tyranny, to combat evil, to find freedom, to reach heaven. Man has always been able to desire to build a heaven. But it seems he has never been able to admit that he didn’t pull it off. So he keeps insisting that he did pull it off. And that is really what patriotism is all about. It is the insistence that what we have done is sacred. It is that transference of allegiance from what God did in creating the whole wide world to what we have done with (or to) a little sliver of it. Patriotism is immoral. Flying a national flag—any national flag—in a church house is a symbol of idolatry. Singing ‘God Bless America’ in a Christian service is blasphemy. Patriotism is immoral because it is a violation of the First Commandment.
Will D. Campbell, “I Love My Country: Christ Have Mercy,” Motive (December, 1969)