Children in traditional Hasidic Jewish attire run joyfully on the playground. Some of their playmates speak Spanish, others are Anglos with bobbing blond hair. Multiple languages float through the August air under the music. A Mexican band sings and strums its guitars as the sequins on the band member’s sombreros glitter in the sun. I sit with hundreds of people at picnic tables, munching food made by our neighbors: tacos, shish kabobs, falafel, pelmeni, borscht, pierogies, Maid-Rites, venison and pie. There is a sacredness to the event, a holiness to this community. This, I think, is what the reign of God might look like.
But this is not heaven. It is…
[This is the beginning of an article I wrote for America. Continue reading here.]
I am unpatriotic. I don’t like flag day or other patriotic celebrations. I feel like I am repeating myself a little, because I have written about this before (see my comments in this post, especially), but I dislike patriotism. I really, really do. I dislike patriotism so much that it sometimes makes me sick to my stomach. Seriously!
What’s with my dislike of the flag? I think that it was the peace educator Coleman McCarthy who originally woke me up to how the flag doesn’t fit with the Gospel when I heard him speak about peace while I was on a college service trip to Washington DC.
I remember that Coleman McCarthy boldly acknowledged that no young person should have to choose between the flag and the cross, as they are opposites. In our culture, though, it seems we glorify both, equally. We even put the flag right next to the cross by the altar in the front of churches!
The flag has become a symbol of freedom caused by violence. On the other hand, the cross is a symbol of freedom of caused by nonviolence.
I am a disciple of Jesus. I am a woman of the Gospel. Sure, I am an American, and I appreciate the freedoms of our democracy. I am grateful that I have the freedom to publicize these non-patriotic views, for example! The reality, though, is that my freedom comes from God. Although I may have more courage to be expressive of my views in this nation, I suspect I would still be vocal about God and the Gospel no matter where I am, and no matter what trouble it might get me in. But, I am much more loyal to my faith than my country. I believe that God will love me no matter where I am, no matter what.
I have major concerns about how many Americans turn to the flag and nationalism as a source for comfort and strength in times of turmoil.
I would rather everyone would turn exclusively to the cross, the True source of freedom. Or, even better, Jesus, Love Incarnate.
p.s. I know this is radical and challenging stuff. I’ve learned that a trouble about having a message is that people may become uncomfortable and offended, because values are tied to emotions. Know that I still love you, even if we disagree. Peace!!