Yesterday was Independence Day and I’m conflicted.
My conflict is this: Independence Day is marked by conspicuous demonstrations of reverence, allegiance and devotions to the United States of America. I’m not entirely comfortable with these demonstrations, particularly the Pledge of Allegiance, showing reverence to the flag, singing the National Anthem, etc. in light of the overtly political declaration that Jesus of Nazareth is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Placing my hand across my heart while the flag passes by and genuflecting before the Cross seem to me to be serving two masters. I don’t think I ever stopped to consider “patriotic” actions until I began attending a church that believes that we worship God with our entire body, mind and spirit. The dissonance of saying the Creed and saying the Pledge seems stark to me now.
I realize that this problem is nothing new. The Church has wrestled with it (at times, maybe not wrestled enough) since Constantine. Nevertheless, it seems to me that the myths of America and particularly America-as-a-Christian-Nation are dangerous idols, captivating the American Church. Indeed, watching the religious programming this morning, it was not readily apparent given the music, images, and sermons that a celebration of the Resurrection and the awesome power of God was unfolding.
Nevertheless, I’m finding it difficult and awkward to disentangle myself from these all-encompassing myths. (As I write this, an American flag flies from my front porch.) Still, I am profoundly thankful to live in a nation so rich and free. Alas, I wonder too, if our riches and liberty haven’t become idols.
Lord, have mercy.