Weak Flag, Weak God

It’s a casualty of my profession, perhaps, but I believe our actions reveal our theology. In other words, the things we do and sometimes the words we say reveal what we believe about the God in whom we claim to believe (or the god in whom we claim we don’t believe). When words and action are at odds, I trust our actions.

For example, Christian flavored Americans speak often of their love of God, and of how powerful our God is. Only a powerful God for a powerful nation such as ours, am I right? 

These same people often get themselves all in a twist, however, when someone says “happy holidays” instead of “merry Christmas”.  President Trump addressed the Value Voters Summit (a group categorized as a hate group. Read more here) by promising people will be free to say “Merry Christmas” again.

“You know, we’re getting near that beautiful Christmas season that people don’t talk about anymore. They don’t use the word ‘Christmas’ because it’s not politically correct. You go department stores, and they’ll say, ‘Happy New Year’ or they’ll say other things, and it’ll be red, they’ll have it painted, but they don’t say. Well, guess what?  We’re saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again,” Trump said.

Let’s all just pause for a moment and remember those good ol’ days when we started seeing Christmas displays at Costco in late August, and eggnog lattes in late September. Those were the days….

Remember when we were free to worship at the churches of our choice on Christmas Eve, and exchange billions of dollars of gifts with the people we love on Christmas morning?  Remember when public schools shut down for a 2 week break and Christmas Day was a federal holiday and mail wasn’t delivered? Those were the days….

What kind of God do we worship if he forces us to publicly observe a holiday? What kind of God demands public adoration? A really weak God, that’s who. 

The God I serve spun the whirling planets and set the stars in their courses. Do we, for a minute think the God that created the universe is threatened when your barista says “happy holidays? 

I’ve noticed the people who seem to be really really upset about the “merry Christmas” nonsense are often the same people upset when football players quietly and respectfully take a knee during the national anthem before football games.

Personally, I’m a big fan of the United States. I’m really grateful to have been born here and to be a part of the grand experiment our nation is. I consider myself patriotic, even. I learned to treat the flag with proper respect–to not leave it flying at night, to keep it from trailing on the ground, etc. (Thanks, Girl Scouts for teaching me flag etiquette!)

Deadspin-full-flag-sitting-guy_blur-1

His shirt should read “I stand for the national anthem and then disrespect the flag by using it as a blanket”. 

One of the strengths I see in our nation is our willingness to tolerate, and even protect, dissent and different opinions. One of the strengths I see in our nation is that our love of country has welled up from the ground in so many ways–in protest when we get things wrong, in celebration when we get things right–and it has never been mandated.

I’ve seen other countries mandate that citizens show up for parades to applaud their government or leader. Nobody is fooled by that sort of patriotism. When people will be shot or fired for not supporting the flag, it isn’t a true kind of support. It’s a show designed to project strength that only reveals weakness.

Likewise, when players are told they will be fired for their protests, or when people can’t bear to be in the presence of people who peacefully protest differently than they would–I’m looking at you, Mike Pence–it makes our great nation and our flag look weak.

 

Vice President Pence’s photo opp at a game where he knew players would be taking a knee cost the taxpayers a lot of money–over $200,000.

The strength of our nation isn’t in our uniform agreement. Our strength is in our ability to tolerate dissent and difference. Nobody is stopping anyone from putting their hand over their heart and loudly singing the national anthem at football games, which is as it should be. The free expression of love for our country is appropriate.

If the government or employers start forcing us to put our hands over our hearts during the anthem, pay attention. That would be a weak flag waving in the breeze.

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2 thoughts on “Weak Flag, Weak God

  1. Thanks again Marci for reminding us of who we truly are as a people. We will overcome the false idolatry of flag and patriotism. When our leaders gut. Medicare to fund a tax break for the wealthiest of our people, when we are constantly at war with someone in the name of democracy while advocating voting suppression laws at home; when we lead nationally under a flag of distress at home; when we can’t provide drinking water, food and shelter for those who have lost everything just because their skin is not white, we have truly lost our way.

    But this moment of insensitivity, Kind obedience to honor our colors while ignoring the fallen and their survivors will pass too. A great awakening is coming, I truly believe. Our true differences are minor when compared to those values, virtues and everyday needs we have in common as a people. We must not be complacent though and zone out just because our current leadership is misguided. Gods love will enable us to recover our true national identity and generosity of spirit and mind.

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