Memorial Day 2018: Of God and Country

Memorial Day 2018

Both sides of my family settled on the North American continent having emigrated from Europe in the very early part of the 17thcentury. They and their descendants lived in what is now Maryland and Virginia for some 275 years before the Revolutionary War. Many were patriots. Direct ancestors fought under General Washington and to rid the nation of slavery. I’m an (inactive) member of the Sons of the American Revolution. I possess letters my great uncles wrote home from the Western Front in “The War to End all Wars.” My father dropped out of graduate school, attended OTS at the Naval Academy and was commissioned in the Navy a year before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He was on active duty in combat zones for the next four years in all three theaters – Mediterranean, Atlantic and Pacific.

I have deep respect for the men and women who with bravery and selflessness sacrificed themselves for the sake of a higher cause.

I honor and wish to emulate the discipline of military personnel.

I have often felt choked up when the Star Spangled Banner is sung, the flag lowered at sunset to the boom of a cannon, the ranks marched.

I was a Boy Scout.

I love America.

I love the natural landscape – the Rocky Mountains, the Grand Canyon, the redwood forests, the high Sierras, the blue Pacific, the wild Atlantic, the salt marshes, migratory birds and rugged streams.

I love the variant cultures of our cities, the dignity of our institutions of higher learning, the concert halls, and the museums filled with artistic treasure.

I love the ideals – freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, equality, justice.

I love the New Colossus that stands at Ellis Island proclaiming:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
MOTHER OF EXILES. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

None of that, however, can erase the fact that I have benefitted from the twin original sins of my nation:

  1. The land was stolen from Native peoples.
  2. The engine that drove the economy was chattel slavery.

None of that can erase the reality that national sins continue:

  1. Racism
  2. Hatred and rejection of the immigrant
  3. Gun violence
  4. The nationalistic “America First” heresy
  5. Our collective failure to provide adequate housing, sustenance and healthcare for all.
  6. Materialism. Consumerism. Narcissism.
  7. The destruction of the environment, God’s garden.
  8. The idolatry that is Civil Religion, the blending of empire worship, partisan politics, and an escapist, elitist, paternalistic, militaristic theology.

Like Daniel on his rooftop, I lament; I repent.

I love America.

I love God more.

I am an alien in America.

I am a citizen of the Kingdom of God.

I will not pledge allegiance to any flag, nor stand with hand over heart for any anthem.

I will kill for no one because Jesus said to love all.

I will reject no one because Jesus said to accept all.

I will condemn no one because Jesus said to forgive all.

My allegiance is the King Jesus and to Him alone.

About Dr. Larry Taylor

Radical Anabaptist, Jesus Freak, Red Letter Christian, sailor, thinker, spiritual director, life coach, pastor, teacher, chaplain, counselor, writer, husband, father, grandfather, dog-sitter

Posted on May 26, 2018, in Bible, bodily resurrection, Christianity, Prayer, Spirituality and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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