In the section entitled ‘Politics Schmolitics’ in Chapter 7 of The Irresistible Revolution, the author breaks down the meaning of the word ‘politics’ as pertaining to being a society of people. With the separation of church and state being implemented to protect the government from infringing upon the religious rights of its inhabitants, the argument has been posed that religious people should keep their idealistic notions out of the trenches of civic responsibilities and in their prayer closets and churches where they assumedly belong. Many have come to argue the point that America was founded upon biblical principles, and just as many argue that several of our forefathers were Unitarians and the like with no strong conviction toward upholding the dogma of the Judeo-Christian heritage.
However, our money does say ‘In God We Trust’ and however it came to pass, our Pledge of Allegiance also mentions something about a grander deity being the basis of our trust. As evidenced by the bold might of the Religious Right, George Bush, and the rest of the voters and decision makers who have decided to outlaw gay marriage based on biblical principles, ban stem cell research in fear of usurping the power of God to save lives, and upholding several laws which legislate morality, it is highly evident that religion does play a part in the building of the society in which we live.
However, I would not quite go as far as to say that America is a Christian nation. We do hold as one of our self-descriptive mottos the idea that we are a melting pot, one of the virtues that brings America some of its greatest beauty through its myriad of cultures and colors. And considering our status as one of the greatest world superpowers, an argument proclaiming us as disciples of a humble carpenter born in a stable would be a hard case to prove.
He also discusses the translation for the biblical word ‘faith’ as pistis which used to describe loyalty to Caesar. It would seem that we in the United States , with all of our ‘God Bless America – and screw anybody who opposes it’ boisterousness, have found a new faith in an earthly kingdom, well departed from the kingdom of which Jesus preached. Surely, as Jesus stated that it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, we must consider that the path our country is taking as the richest, as well as one of the most violent, civilized nations may not be in synch with our highest virtues.
In the grip of mourning after 9/11/01 , and the loss of 3,000 American lives, our country was the focal point of prayers from around the world. In the wake of this tragedy, we set out for revenge against any face who might glare at our nation with anger. Upon losing the trail of Osama bin Ladin, whom our President swore to bring to justice, we unleashed our wrath on the next enemy in line. Having now toppled the kingdom of Saddam with the military fury in which we trained him, and having met the death toll of 9/11 with 3,000 military deaths in Iraq, I believe it is time that those in our country who claim allegiance to faith in Jesus of Nazareth take a long look at the values to which we truly hold dear.
I’ve heard it rationalized time and again that the war in Iraq was slated for the emancipation of the Iraqi civilians in order to build a democratic society. I’ve heard arguments based upon human logic of the positive outcomes of wars waged in the past and how they have trounced evil doers such as the Nazis and the Communists. And I cannot argue the logic of what has happened, for their logic is based on fear of what could have happened and a rationalized peace over the outcome. But I also believe that All good things happen for those who love God. Though God may have delivered us from that hand of evil in times past, and though, for whatever reason, He still exhibits that grace to us now, it is our responsibility, for those of us who claim faith in that power greater than ourselves, to stand in that grace as His representatives.
I’ve also heard it argued as recently as last night over dinner with my girlfriend that if I don’t like the way America operates, I should just get out. However, my geographical location is currently in America . My nationality is currently American. As a matter of fact, I was born here in America . And if I may be so bold, I would go on to say that God put me here for a reason. I am a citizen of America , but I give my allegiance to a God of radical grace who holds forgiveness and peace as achievable goals and the standards by which we should strive to live. And if I have been blessed enough to be have been born into a nation that proclaims to be based upon people with a voice, then I will use that voice as a proclamation that there is a better course of action than by the way of the gun.
A large contingent of the outspoken religious majority in America today cry out for family values while holding patriotism as one of their highest virtues. And though it would not be my first thought to include war and violence among those values, it would seem that this contingent does back it, and throughout history wars have been waged in the name of Hatfields, McCoys, and other clans, communities, cultures, and countries. Yet the man who claimed to be the Son of God, who first called me to discipleship through stories written by his earliest disciples, stated that to be his disciple, I must turn from my family, disregard my personal biological history, and pledge myself to a life of grace, faith, and hope.
In my new family, which strives to align itself with the highest virtues of peace and love, regardless of creed, location, and skin tone, I find myself in the company of those who realize that the kingdom of America is only as strong as the words that define it. Yet the heart of it, which beats with freedom, justice, and nobility, surpasses what any government or military might can offer or claim to allow. For my true allegiance is to the God who gave the freedom to even speak those words and the grace to live them out. And should my government fail to recognize that the true fight we wage is spiritual against the powers and principalities of this world, perhaps I should consider a new address.
But regardless of where my body is, my spirit is free. And though I am thankful to the men and women who gave their lives in hope of my retaining my freedom, it was not their blood that earned it. By the grace of God go I.