I”m wearing this outrageous shirt today. white and tight, it’s got blueberry blue sleeves boasting a host of white stars and the word AMERICA rippling across the front in red with stars and stripes to accent. It’s about as patriotic as it gets. And never before have I felt uncomfortable wearing it… I got it for $5.00 way down in Florida when I was 16 years old, barely surviving Boot Camp for Teen Missions Int’l. Those weeks were horrible and our only respite was the 4th of July: some rest, watermelon had never tasted so good, being patriotic was an escape from the insane obstacle course we had to run in the morning and the mosquitoes that haunted my tent. The 4th, celebrating freedom… The shirt, a tradition ever since.
Only as of late, have I been bothered by “patriotism”. I am all for America, loving its land, its people, its cultures, its structure. Mostly appreciating our government, though not always agreeing with it, still supporting a country founded on biblical principles. But the problem I have begun to see is a Christianity that is wrapped up in “Americanism.” A Christianity that is defined by conquest, by Bush, by military honor, by red, white, and blue. A culture of spirituality that links hand-in-hand with our country/politics and hasn’t maintained a biblical perspective, which might create some healthy distance. We have glossed over some hard truths in the Word, because they don’t mesh very well with the country we love.
Songs like “this land is your land, this land is my land” we’ve not opened our hearts and land to others very freely. ie. “lets build a wall between Mexico and the states.” In as much as we try to boost struggling economies and third world countries, we manipulate in such a way that we still reap the profit. ie. Jamaican local farmers and dairy producers going under with US substities. Need I mention war? We are an oppressor of the poor, we are still enmeshed in a web of racism and render injustice in our courts, in the prisons, in our cities, in our neighborhoods.
The Fallout of marrying Christianity and “Patriotism” is harmful, and I presume, I’m only starting to see the affects. I pray that my eyes will be more opened and my heart more moved. To love the land of the free, and to fight for a spirituality that pushes it to realize that motto to its fullest. So, I wear my outrageous starry AMERICA shirt, knowing I love and appreciate this place of my roots, but acknowledging the havoc we’ve caused and grieving its condition just the same. And my proclamation changes from God bless America, to may Americans, especially Christian ones, bless God.