Friday, September 30, 2011

America the Religion

It has been asked before, “Has American Patriotism become a religion?” Initially such a question appears completely absurd, but if we take a moment to consider the possibility, we find the answer is not as clear as we may have originally assumed.

Taking the beliefs of a nation-state and making them religious is often labeled Nationalism. But what we want to know is if an average American patriot finds themselves practicing religious-like customs in regard to their country.

Every major religion has a sacred text. Does the U.S. have a sacred text? I think the answer to that would be yes. The Constitution declares certain irrevocable truths of speech and other rights. The Constitution governs the country’s administration, legislation, judicial, and individual lives.

All major religions have songs or hymns. ‘God Bless America,’ ‘This Land is your Land,’ ‘America the Beautiful,’ ‘Star Spangled Banner,’ and many others represent the religious songs of the American Cult.

Major religions have creeds and statements of faith. The United States has the Pledge of Allegiance, which affirms ones commitment to the religion.

Major religions have sacred symbols that are to be treated with honor. The U.S. has the flag which is treated with the utmost dignity and honor. The Bald Eagle is a powerful emblem of the U.S.’s strength.

Major religions have sacred days in which they celebrate. The U.S. celebrates its day of independence with care, former Presidents’ birthdays are remembered holidays, Flag Day, Memorial Day, and many others cover the calendar.

Major religions have special garb for sacred days. Red, White, and Blue, Bald Eagles, Flags, and Stars, are all worn on such special days.

Major religions have martyrs who die for the faith in hopes of spreading the power of its message. The U.S. has martyrs in hopes of spreading the influence of democracy.

I wonder what God thinks about all this. I wonder if he is concerned, angry, saddened, or indifferent to the relevance that is often given human drawn borders over the infinite borderless God? I wonder if I have taken the comparison too far. I also wonder if we as God’s people have taken our pride for country too far. I wonder if it is possible to be a citizen of two places. Can we be citizens of the Kingdom of God and citizens of the United States of America?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Leadership not Likership

When is the last time you have seen a national elected leader take the initiative by going out on a limb to do something vastly unpopular for the betterment of the people they serve? Do you remember the last time a democratically voted leader commit political suicide because they knew progress depended upon establishing a difficult choice? Our judicial, legislative, and administrative officials within the past decades have lacked one of the most critical elements of leadership, to make critical decisions in the face of opposition that benefits the people they represent.

Both leaders and those who elect them have a terrible misunderstanding of the leader’s role in our society. Most of us believe that a leader is chosen to represent our voices by doing whatever it is we tell them to do. Trying to serve hundreds, thousands, and even millions of constituent simultaneously is an utterly distractive leadership paradigm. A leader does not do whatever the people tell them to do, that limits the potential for any country, organization or church.

A good leader is expected to make the best decision for a people not matter the popular vote. A good presidential leader makes the decision to free slaves not because it is popular, but because it is best for all people. A good leader makes the decision to invest their time with the poor and hungry vagrants of society. A good leader lays down their life to make the right decisions not the popular ones. A good leader knows what’s best for the people they represent even when the people do not know what is best for themselves.

Part of this is listening to the people, but only part. We have made our leaders into nothing more than political jukeboxes, we put in a quarter and expect them to play the song we pick. The public changes their mind quicker than Lady Gaga changes bizarre outfits. Our leaders have destructively followed suite catering to the public’s every whim.

The leaders running for office only tell us what they think we want to hear. They no longer have hard fast issues that they will stick with; they are wishy-washy, flip-floppy parrots echoing what they hear. I want a leader who does not do what I ask, but does what is best. I want someone I disagree with doing what it takes to make a beneficial difference; I want someone who makes society mad, so that we can finally be made sane.

Of course we will not get this type of leader in our elections. These types of leaders are rarely elected because they are too controversial. MLK would never have been elected because he wasn’t afraid to tell people they were wrong. Jesus Christ would never have been elected because he wasn’t afraid to change the social, economic, and political world upside down by loving enemies.

Study your politics and follow the election closely, but don’t look for true leadership to come up from elected officials whose color schemes and hair styles are based of approval ratings. Look in the churches, look in the schools, and look for those who push to do what is right even in the face of public criticism, those are the leaders we need. We need those who look to please God and not the masses, those who look to follow the Spirit and not the trends, those who look to the Son and not approval ratings. We need men and women of God willing to be dirty, to be criticized, and to do what is right.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 are we any better?

There are no winners in war. Both sides kill and are killed, and those who kill the most and are killed the least are given plenipotentiary rights over the other. 9/11 events were tragic, and justice is a Godly issue, however, as a country it is completely naïve to think us innocent victims

For those unaware, the U.S. knew of Bin Laden long before the attacks. In fact, our country armed him and the Taliban to fight against our other enemies. Knowing his tactics, and that of his terrorist regime, we empowered him to utilize those tactics against a shared enemy. It is only when his tactics were used against us did we find any courage to call his acts evil.

If attacking civilians is considered terrorism, let the U.S. be the first to admit our sins. Hiroshima was not a military base attack; it was an entire island attack. We killed women and children who had no voice nor participation in Pearl Harbor, or any part of the war. We as a country are no more innocent than those who lost their lives at the hands of the Atomic.

We are guilty like the rest of the world, and our hands are just as bloody as the Taliban. We are foolish to think we can find salvation in a soldier carrying his rifle, when our Creator sent his Son carrying the cross. No amount of soldiers, drones, guns, bombs, or creative military tactic will save us. We are utterly lost to find hope in such means.

Jesus was not telling us a joke when he said “love your enemies” when he called us to put down the weapons of violence and to fight with weapons of the Spirit. Why are we so ready to cling to the bloodstained flag, and not cling to the bloodstained cross? We are not the cosmic judges who are called to rectify the world. We stand condemned with the rest of the world.

Our allegiance cannot be divided any longer. The Son of God tells us we cannot serve two masters. We must decide bravely and full heartedly how we respond to the events of 9/11. Do we respond with our country in violent retaliation and continued terror, or do we respond with the Lord and Savior, with sacrifice, love, reconciliation, non-violence?

Choose now oh people, who will you serve?