Mixed Blessing: A Biblical Inquiry into a Patriotic Cant

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Date: 
Saturday, 1 December 2001

The Other Side. 1 p.

This week a Baptist friend from North Carolina wrote me asking for some biblical background to the phrase “God Bless America.” He was commendably trying to discern the spirits of the times, a difficult task in days of warmaking.

I got to work right away because of all the annoying mantras circulating currently in the public discourse, I find this phrase to be the most odious—patriotic litmus test or not. There is something shrilly insistent about this bare imperative, much more presumptuously directive than the traditionally religious optative mood (i.e. “May we receive your blessing!”). I simply do not believe that the God of the Bible blesses on demand—and is certainly not at the beck and call of the rich and powerful. On the other hand, I do think the God who “hears the cry of the poor” is inclined to listen to the petitions of a contrite heart and broken spirit.

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by Ched Myers

All articles on this site were written by Ched Myers unless otherwise specified.