Tag Archives: Christian patriotism

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The Monumental Failure of Trumpism

Can we call the President’s behavior and accumulated tweets an “ism” at this point?  Unlike other isms, he lacks any philosophical core.  He is not so much an ideologue as he is a self-centered, unhinged manager who has been promoted to a position absolutely outside of his skill set or intellectual capacity. But this is really not my point.  Whatever we call this, Trumpism or Republican Governance, it is a monumental failure.

This all feels to me like times when I drove around in circles lost. This would have been prior to GPS guidance on my phone but I think you’ll agree, even when you use GPS to guide you somewhere, you still look for landmarks. So in Washington DC, as you can imagine, one of the easiest landmarks to spot is the Washington Monument.  You can pretty much get lost anywhere and from a considerable distance still spot the abolisk rising 555 feet into the air.  If you have a landmark like that, then you can eventually find your way home.

Outside the White House where Mr. Trump resides, stands that monument to our First President.  Not far away are other landmark monuments:  the Lincoln, the Capitol, the eternal flame on President Kennedy’s grave in Arlington.  I note this because on this July 4th,  it is quite apparent to most of us that the country is drifting further and further downstream, unmoored and rapidly removing itself from the founding ideas of our Republic.  We are nearly at a point where none of those monuments is visible to us and most disturbing of all, the current president seems oblivious to them and yet, they are just outside his residence.

On this Independence Day, find a landmark.  Read the Preamble to the Constitution. Read the Bill of Rights. Read Frederick Douglass’ speech, “What To The Slave Is The Fourth Of July?”  Or visit one of those monuments. Enter the Lincoln Memorial and read the words inscribed on the temple walls. Any of these and more can guide us back to the vision and dream of America—a vision and dream yet to be fully realized but one that calls to us to do so.

I’m  a Baptist clergyman.  I do not believe in the entanglements of Church and State. I prefer the State to remain out of religious matters and Presidents to stop talking about God and begin living up to their constitutional responsibilities.  As a citizen then, I am noting on July 4, 2017, that we are in danger as a Republic, as the President twitters away the very notion of E Pluribus Unum.   There is no excuse for us to be lost. There are simply too many monuments and monumental moments in our history for us to give up on the dream.  But we’re lost. Instead of driving around in circles, let’s just admit that.    May this Independence Day become a landmark for finding our way back to the cherished dreams of our founding documents.

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The Patriot Organ Grinder

On July 4, 2016, I will give thanks for being a citizen of the United States of America, my native land, my country.  For its freedoms and ideals so beautifully stated in its founding documents.

I will also pray for the entire world where other citizens rejoice in their citizenship, love their country and admire their ideals.

It is not easy to tack between the right wing and the left wing on Independence Day.  I marvel that the Left can celebrate and fly the flags of other nations, particularly of nations either harmed by the U.S. or opposed to the U.S. but cannot take pleasure in their own nation’s flag.  Everyone has a right to love their country.  I marvel no less at the Right that insists that the United States is exceptional, so different from other countries as to warrant our absolute obedience despite whatever wrongs it has carried out in our names.

As a Christian, my ultimate allegiance is to Christ and the Kingdom of God.  I love my nation but I do so out of a critical engagement with its ideals and its practices. Right now, the Patriot organ grinder is churning out his relentless jingles, ginning up the passions and anger and fears of fellow citizens.  Christian Evangelicals have been captured by the Patriot organ grinder’s tune.  Below is an excerpt from Mark Twain’s autobiography when he reminisces about the nomination for President in the Republican Party of 1876, candidate from Maine, James Blaine.  Twain refused to support him though he was loosely affiliated with Lincoln’s Party.  His colleagues criticized him for not supporting the nominee.  Twain’s words are as prudent for our consideration today as they were then:

…I said: “But we don’t have to vote for him.” Robinson said “Do you mean to say that you are not going to vote for him?” “Yes,” I said, “that is what I mean to say. I am not going to vote for him.” The others began to find their voices. They sang the same note. They said that when a party’s representatives choose a man, that ends it. If they choose unwisely it is a misfortune, but no loyal member of the party has any right to withhold his vote. He has a plain duty before him and he can’t shirk it. He must vote for that nominee. I said that no party held the privilege of dictating to me how I should vote. That if party loyalty was a form of patriotism, I was no patriot, and that I didn’t think I was much of a patriot anyway, for oftener than otherwise what the general body of Americans regarded as the patriotic course was not in accordance with my views; that if there was any valuable difference between being an American and a monarchist it lay in the theory that the American could decide for himself what is patriotic and what isn’t; whereas the king could dictate the monarchist’s patriotism for him—a decision which was final and must be accepted by the victim; that in my belief I was the only person in the sixty millions—with Congress and the Administration back of the sixty millions—who was privileged to construct my patriotism for me.*

Happy Independence Day.  Tell the Organ grinder to go home. We are better than the tunes he plays.  ~ See you Sunday

*[Twain, Mark; Smith, Harriet E.; Griffin, Benjamin; Fischer, Victor; Frank, Michael B. (2010-11-15). Autobiography of Mark Twain: The Complete and Authoritative Edition, Volume 1 (pp. 316-317). University of California Press. Kindle Edition.]