Saturday, July 3, 2010
The 3rd of July
Tomorrow is the 4th of July, and I have to confess I am not that excited about it. At least not the way most of my neighbors seem to be: I will not be purchasing fireworks (they always sound like bullets flying or bombs going off to me - why is it we romanticize the "bombs bursting in air?"), nor will I be dressing in red, white and blue. I will not be upset when the American flag is no where near the sanctuary, and I will not question the preacher's patriotism when tomorrow's sermon is about Jesus and not about how great America is (of course I'm the preacher...). Why is it so hard for people who claim "Jesus is Lord" to remember that Jesus isn't an American, and that not all Americans are Christians? Sometimes I want to shout from the roof tops: "We are Christians who happen to live in the United States, not Americans who happen to be Christian!" Only one allegiance can be ultimate, and it makes me nervous whenever someone tries to combine them. After spending time in other countries, especially in Northern Ireland, and trying to understand their particular versions of patriotism and loyalty to land and flag, I find myself increasingly ambivalent about celebrating Independence Day in the U.S.. I'm all for being thankful for the freedoms I/we enjoy and for the beauty of the land on which I live. And I'm all for remembering the history of how we got to where we are today. But I want to remember ALL of the history - including the darker underbelly of how power has been used and abused to benefit the few and to the detriment of the many. There will be a traveling air show coming through Bozeman sometime in the near future - a bunch of WWII airplanes - and the commercials on TV wax eloquent about how great they are/were. As feats of modern engineering prowess I can go there, sure. But when the announcer sings the glories of the bombers, I want to ask, "Who did the bombs kill? What must that have been like for those who died? And for those who survived? Are we any better at solving conflict without bombs today?" I am not overly eloquent on the topic. I appreciate something Camus wrote or said, "I should like to be able to love my country and still love justice." Most days, I find that incredibly difficult to do. There's a post over on Journey with Jesus that resonates with me this week, called "Believers without Borders." Let me know what you think. God bless America. And God bless all nations and people. No exceptions.