Throughout the year we have discussed the American Dream and what it means to be an American. We have discussed the American cultures movement from a culture focused on community to a culture focused on the individual. The readings in the Concert Band Program make a strong argument about this shift in focus. It brings Scripture into this discussion. The program’s readings argue that the shift of focus from the community to the individual is very bad. The readings’ arguments are based on Christian teachings.
The readings have many quotes from the books of Pat Apel, a Christian and American author. Apel talks about the American Dream. His definition is “the opportunity for each individual to make it on his own, to be free to do what he wants in life, to be happy, to achieve his goals, to go as far as he can on his own merit,” (Apel). Apel goes on to argue that this notion is destructive to American society. He says that people in American culture are focusing to much on themselves, when they need to look outside and focus on community. He says that American society will be gone if this is not fixed. Another author, David Platt, says that the Gospel is being Americanized, which is not a good thing. It is being used to serve American needs, when in fact it argues against major American ideals. The readings all argue against this notion of selfishness: focusing on the individual rather that the community.
In class we recognized this shift in our readings. Early on in the Colonies’ history American society was much more community-based than it is today. Based on the readings from the program, this is not a good thing. The Bible says that the church is a body of believers, not a bunch of individuals all with their own ideas and notions. According to the readings, American culture needs to become communal again if it is to survive.