Reflecting on the first 35: Patriotism & Politics

Election day is tomorrow. I, for one, tire quickly of all the TV and internet ads that come with this time. However, the voting process in our country is relatively new in the history of the world and I have to say that I’m proud to be an American for that and many other reasons.
-I’m proud to be an American because when tragedy strikes around the world, we are often the first to respond and usually with the most resources.
-I’m proud to be an American because our history began with a fairness within it’s democracy that the monarchies of the era did not give.
-I’m proud to be an American because the founders of this country had an idea of what personal freedom should look like and did what they had to, and what they could, to see such an idea come to fruition.-I’m not proud to be an American when I hear of millions of hungry children here in the US and around the world, and aside from a scant few foundations that can afford to buy TV time, most of our commercials are sweeping footage of cheap, greasy food that make us even fatter.
-I’m not proud to be an American when we use up 21 billion barrels of oil a day while 70 billion barrels of oil get spilt up between 212 other countries.
-I’m not proud to be an American when we pay actors, musicians, and athletes, astronomical amounts of money and attention and many teachers, police officers and emergency response professionals are living paycheck to paycheck.

These are just a few of things that make up my incredible life here in the United States. There’s a definite tension of my likes and dislikes, but at least I get to be a part of it and, if I stop complaining long enough about the things I don’t like, I can make a small difference through my choices and actions and for that I am absolutely proud to be an American.

One thing that I, and I think many of us, was raised to be proud of America for, is the idea that America is a Christian nation blessed by God. Here’s the thing. I don’t believe this is true. I think that several of the men that founded this nation were professing Christians and knew the Bible. I’m all about that. Their main focus was to live in a place where they could be the kind of Christians that they wanted to be, set in motion the kind of economy that they envisioned, and set it up so that many generations of their families could enjoy the same things. Awesome! Thanks guys! So here we are, over 200 years later and Christianity, or some version of it, is still the predominant religion and we’re the wealthiest nation on the planet (so far). Some would say that God has been blessing this nation, and that if we continue to take God out of this and out of that, then we will no longer be blessed. I wholeheartedly disagree. Because I believe we’ve been GRACED with God, not blessed by Him. Let me explain.

As far as the wealth of our country, God didn’t bless that. 150 years of slavery, and wildfire capitalism blessed that. God doesn’t give one small care about our money until, on a personal level, we’re deciding whether to hoard it or share it. The fact that God has continued to grace this country with His presence through revivals, anointed churches and leaders and inspired worship and teaching movements has NOTHING to do with whether or not we’re a rich or a poor country, NOTHING to do the colors of our flag, and NOTHING to do with the name of premise of our country. It’s HIS choice to continue gracing us with His presence.

BUT, back to that whole money issue. Isn’t economics and money SO much of politics? And are politics (in any nation) not just about the most broken system on the planet? Here’s why. When you give humans power of over other humans our true depraved nature will be quickly and certainly displayed. Now, I realize that there are a few politicians out there that genuinely want the best for others, and have a strong faith in God, and we need more of them, but it’s an uphill battle. And it’s also a material and secondary battle, the first one being, the battle for things eternal.

But I digress. It’s just so odd to me, that with all the different policies and nuances and how they fit into different people’s lives, we have all of TWO choices of political parties. That seems ridiculous doesn’t it? And now, as Christians, we’re supposed to believe that one is more Godly than the other and vote entirely on that? I’ve watched a bit of this show on PBS called God in America. And what’s been happening for decades is that the right-wing Christians have been partnering up with various candidates in an effort to use their clout to push a moral agenda. But as it turns out, the results of the candidate’s stay in position only points to the fact that politicians, (for the most part) used the right-wing Christians as a mere voting block to be won.

In summary, we are living in a broken world with broken politics and broken voters. As a Christian, I believe that there is no room for us, as a spiritual movement, to anoint or endorse a political party or candidate. I do think we should get involved, however. Do your research and search your heart when you vote. Don’t demonize the people you don’t vote for. And don’t think that God endorses either the Republicans or Democrats, because it’s simply not in His interest to choose sides in our politics. We Americans are the ones negotiating with one another. The question is: How are doing that? Are we being loving, fair, and educated? Or are we just parroting what we read in an email, saw on our favorite news channel, or following a pastor that thinks the church must supply the “answers”?

Be your own American and let others be theirs. Pray for our Country, because God cares about each and every soul. Get up and do your part out of love. THIS is what America is all about. And THIS is why I’m proud to be a both a Christian AND an American; for they are not the same in earthly or eternal importance.