I have long been leery of the cross-breeding between Christianity and U.S. patriotism. To me, it feels cultish.
I want my church to be the church.
And let the nation be the nation ... for better or worse. And from 2001 through 2008, I believe it was definitely for the worse as "Dubya" couldn't tell the difference between U.S. hegemony and the Kingdom of God. Further, Mark Harris recently drew our attention to The American Patriot's Bible, which -- frankly -- scares the bejesus outta me!
I do not want to see an American flag in my church. Let the chest-thumping patriots do their thing at the Capitol, not in my church. When I am in church, I am focused on the Kingdom of God ... not the kingdom of the U.S. or of Missouri.
In the Facebook discussion, there was some energetic discussion about why I do not want to hear any of the secular songs in church tomorrow. No Star-Spangled Banner or Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory war-song, thank you very much. No U.S. oligarchial My Country, 'Tis of Thee. Certainly no God Bless America, which presumes we have some inside track to the divine. None of what I called "patriotic claptrap."
I believe the U.S. inherited a most unfortunate patrimony from the Puritans, who believed we were somehow set apart and Chosen By God. God may have blessed us richly, but we are not God's Chosen People. And I reject those hymns and songs that suggest we are.
So ... the one and only "patriotic hymn" that I could abide hearing tomorrow is Finlandia. It's the national anthem of Finland ... but its words should speak to all of us who have pride in our nation and a due and reverent humility about our nation's place in the world. A couple of years ago, I visited another parish, and they sang this song on the Sunday nearest July 4. I sang this without reserve, and my soul soared.
Watch it here
or watch and listen at YouTube.
Here are the lyrics:
This is my song, Oh God of all the nations,
A song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is;
This is my hope, my dream, my shrine.
But other hearts in other lands are beating,
With hopes and dreams the same as mine.
My country's skies are bluer than the ocean,
And sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine.
But other lands have sunlight too and clover,
And skies are everywhere as blue as mine.
Oh hear my song, oh God of all the nations,
A song of peace for their land and mine.