Tuesday, June 24, 2008

To Love One's Country....

Let me say first that I am neither an Obamamaniac or a McCrazy. And while I still have a conscience, I may not vote it, and therefore my vote may very possibly be up for sale. Email me with offers. You can pay up via PayPal.

I have exerpted most of this, and you can read this entire post from John McCollum's blog: Ears To The Track.

The very thoughtful follow-up post to this article can be read here at Ears To The Track.

To Love One’s Country
(Also entitled “The Post That Erased Any Chance I Ever Had At Being Elected To Public Office.”)

...I’ve noted with interest and not a small amount of consternation this election cycle’s focus on “loving America,” and I’m interested in exploring what it means to love one’s country, and whether or not it’s important to do so.

Michelle Obama said something like, “For the first time in my adult life, I’m really proud of my country,” and the pundits and bloggers reacted as if she said, “For the first time in my adult life, I survived a 24 hour period without sacrificing a toddler on the altar of Baal.”*....

...First, I just want to say that I really do think that there is a double standard when it comes to evaluating what constitutes anti-American perceptions or actions. The far right in our country (and probably in every other country) has very effectively crafted the perception that support for nationalistic militarism and ethnocentric exceptionalism are the primary means for demonstrating one’s love for the Fatherland.

Thus, a (black) pastor who says “God is judging this country because of its economic and military injustices” is immediately and effectively labeled “an America-hater,” but a white pastor who says, “God is judging this country because of its sexual immorality” is regarded — at worst — as being moralistic and outdated. In both cases, the pastor “hates” the nation’s moral record. In only one case does the accusation that the man “hates America” stick. Likewise, people who oppose the country’s drift toward secularism at sexual tolerance may still be considered “good, patriotic Americans,” but those who oppose the nation’s march toward imperialism are somehow seen as exhibiting civic deficiencies.

My friends on the far right would probably acknowledge that this double standard exists, but they would probably see it less as a misjudgment and more as a confirmation that liberals do indeed hate America.

...Double-standard aside, I’m not really sure I see “loving my country” as being particularly high on my list of moral imperatives. Don’t get me wrong — I do love my country — I just don’t think that patriotism is necessarily one of the higher virtues, or that lack of willingness to go to great deals to demonstrate one’s patriotism is an indication of one’s suitability for good citizenship, or even good leadership.

I could make my argument from a secular standpoint, but I’m more interested in exploring the scriptural aspects, since “God and Country” are so often linked in this discourse, particularly among us evangelicals.

In the scriptures, I’m commanded to love a lot of things: my God, my neighbor, my wife, my enemy…I’m never commanded to love my country. In fact, if “loving my country” means that I demonstrate preference to someone based on their ethnicity, their nationality or, for instance, their loyalty to America’s foreign policies, I think I’ve pretty much undermined a very important aspect of Jesus’ mission on this earth — to make his temple a “house of prayer for all nations” and ours, to “make disciples of all nations.” And when I’m willing to value American lives over, say, Iranian lives or when I’m willing to promote America’s economic interests over the interests of the world’s poor simply because I’m American I may actually demonstrate my infidelity to the only Kingdom worthy of my allegiance.

I guess I’m grappling with what it means to “love my country.” I do recognize that being born American, much like being born white, has afforded me many opportunities that I didn’t earn, and that I don’t deserve. I am grateful to God for all of those opportunities. But I also am deeply conflicted about what those opportunities and privileges require of me, and what blind spots they provoke, and I think that promises of allegiance and demonstrations of fealty to any temporary, earthly kingdom creates an untenable level of moral debt to a creditor by whose terms I cannot abide....

Again, you can read this entire post on John McCollum's Blog: Ears To The Track.

1 comment:

John McCollum said...

Thanks for the repost. I've posted a followup at http://earstothetrack.wordpress.com/2008/06/25/the-country-i-love/