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Monday, July 1, 2013

Why I Will Not Be Celebrating July 4th

I am currently at camp again – this time with teenage boys.  I’m teaching them the basics of orienteering. But one of my other responsibilities, along with showing them how to use a map, a compass and a GPS unit, is to be the “officer of the day” – which includes calling the campers to attention for the raising and lowering of the flag  - on July the 4th.  But this I cannot do.

As much as I love fireworks and watermelon – I cannot and do not celebrate July the 4th.  And I cannot lead the boys, standing at attention with their hands over their hearts, in the pledge of allegiance.   I gave up patriotism several years ago. I do not salute the flag. I do not pledge allegiance to it. 

This is not because I hate America.  I do not burn the flag.  I do not wish “Death to America!”   But I cannot give my unwavering allegiance to this (or any) country.  I may live here, I may participate in our democratic process, I may work for the good of this country in what ways that I can, but I do not belong here.  This country is not my country.

God is not an American; The United States is not the Kingdom of Heaven.  It has seemed to me for some time that many American Christians have been confused on this point.  Perhaps it goes back to those Europeans who came here to establish on this continent a new Zion, eternal city on a hill.   Perhaps it is only our inflated ego and unwarranted sense of American exceptionalism. 

Whatever the cause, many Americans seem to believe that God has some sort of special favor for us because we’re Americans.  “Look how rich and powerful we are,” they tell me.  “This is evidence that God has blessed us.”   I try to remind them that Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome were rich and powerful in their day, too, but I am usually ignored.

The Kingdom of heaven, not the United States of America, is where my allegiance lies. 

We carry in our hearts the true country
And that cannot be stolen
-The Dead Heart - by Midnight Oil

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Muted Hosannas Muted Hosannas
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