Monday, March 24, 2008

god damn america

call me unpatriotic. call me unamerican.

when i heard the brief snippets of jeremiah wright (obama's pastor) say those words i found myself shouting an amen to myself and wondering how anyone could disagree. in a country where we love to proclaim that the united states is a christian nation or a nation of faith, we have all too often placed our nationalism and false patriotism over the divine. flag waving is more important than christian living. bombing is privileged over humanitarianism. we support our troops by patriotically sending them into harm's way. it is not our savior, but our nation that our media, history books, and patriots uphold as the sinless one.

why do we so easily assume that we deserve god's blessings instead of god's damnation? the book of mormon prophet, lehi, prophesied this about the land our nation rests on:

Wherefore, this land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring. And if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity; if so, it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for their sakes, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever. . . . [B]ehold, when the time cometh that they shall dwindle in unbelief, after they have received so great blessings from the hand of the Lord—having a knowledge of the creation of the earth, and all men, knowing the great and marvelous works of the Lord from the creation of the world; having power given them to do all things by faith; having all the commandments from the beginning, and having been brought by his infinite goodness into this precious land of promise—behold, I say, if the day shall come that they will reject the Holy One of Israel, the true Messiah, their Redeemer and their God, behold, the judgments of him that is just shall rest upon them.
according to jesus, the greatest of commandments are to love god and love our neighbors. he teaches us to love our enemies. by placing our patriotism and desire for empire over and above these these teachings, have we not rejected the true christ and begun worshiping a false christ of nationalism? we don't live by the edict to love our neighbors. instead, we bomb, enslave, oppress, ignore, impoverish, hate, kill, torture, and commodify our neighbors. rather than loving our enemies, we invade and terrorize them. the most condemned of sins in the book of mormon is the gap between the rich and the poor, yet america the so-called beautiful exceeds all other nations in widening this gap. why should our country which has been so blessed in the past expect more in light of our departure from him?

over the weekend, our american media has headlined the unfortunate surpassing of 4,000 american troop deaths in our invasion and occupation of iraq. but still our media largely fails to recognize the estimated 80,000 to 200,000 deaths of innocent civilians who have died as a result of our immoral war. our american media fails to acknowledged the 300,000+ iraqi soldiers who died defending their 'God, religion, and freedom, and peace, wives, and children' from our invading nation. are america's fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, husbands, wives, and siblings more important in the eyes of god than those of other nations. our true god and scriptures say no, but our false god of nationalism cries yes.

along with wright and lehi i ask how we can assume god's blessings while we continue in our nation's sins, iniquities, and inequalities? do we have the audacity to assume that we are so enveloped in god's favor that we are no longer subjected to god's judgment? do we think our past token (and occasionally altruistic) moral actions have purchased indulgences for our past, present, and future national sins? or have we truly lifted our flag as a false christ and false cross with the power to forgive us of our sins? is this not what happens when we hoist the red, white, and blue in the lands we have invaded, bombed, and abused? - "but look! we gave the iraqis democracy!" - and yet, when this divine democracy does not favor us (see iran in 1961), we destroy and sacrifice it to our idolic banner.

in abraham lincoln's second inaugural address, after the bloodiest time in american history, he pondered:
The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."
like lehi, lincoln believed that god's will can both bless and damn those in this land. for him, perhaps our sin of slavery brought upon the wrath that bled our nation during the civil war. are our nations sins of poverty-induced slavery, racism, empire, war, hate, inequality, oppression, and death any less offensive in the eyes of god?

as wright asked, how dare we sing god bless america when we have done so much to deserve his damnation?

and yet, as wright also sermoned, governments can change. people can change. we are not damned to continue in our ways.

we can rise above our sins and accept christ's teachings that we have been rejecting. our ability to love both our neighbors and our enemies, is not just within our reach, but is already within us.

lincoln concluded his address with this plea:
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on . . . to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
wright ended his sermon with a similar plea:

“Tell your neighbor he’s (going to) help us one last time. Turn back and say forgive him for the God Damn, that’s in the Bible though. Blessings and curses is in the Bible. It’s in the Bible.

“Where government fail, God never fails. When God says it, it’s done. God never fails. When God wills it, you better get out the way, cause God never fails. When God fixes it, oh believe me it’s fixed. God never fails. Somebody right now, you think you can’t make it, but I want you to know that you are more than a conqueror through Christ. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.”

as a country and nation that has been so blessed in times past - as a land that has been so privileged - as a people who have been given so much. - ought we to do a lot better?


  1. "do we have the audacity to assume that we are so enveloped in god's favor that we are no longer subjected to god's judgment?"

    I would ask the same thing of the Jihadists.

  2. The Silent Observer3/25/2008 5:46 PM

    Disgraceful. Both you and Wright. Shame on him for his ignorant hate-mongering and political hackery and shame on you for buying into it. Maybe someday you should spend some time outside the USA and see just how bad we have it here.

  3. I have no problem with what Rev. Wright has to say. That's because I too believe that the government created AIDS just to kill off black people.

  4. (Katy) I found your logical analysis to be unilateral, or perhaps it wasn't meant to be logical; but rather an emotionally charged and somewhat self-righteous response to a media frenzy that is only barely worth responding to. Who knows what this preacher has been teaching for 20 years except his congregation that has been sitting in his church - certainly the media soundbites do not represent the sum total of his theology or cultural standpoint. "God Bless America, Land that I love, stand beside me, and GUIDE me..." Are we not asking God to help us? Who better to ask for help? I'm reading an interesting book about how Jesus became an American icon. It talks about how Thomas Jefferson took a razor to the New Testament and cut out the supernatural parts and only left the words of Jesus. You sound a bit like you've taken a razor to certain complexities of war and peace and human nature and politics and media sensationalism and cultural diversities and left those things that you think are of religious/moral value. My opinion: Pastor Wright said some interesting things, but what he did say could have been said in a much better way - a way that did not alienate a large group of fellow Christians. Warnings are extremely important. Sometimes we are too proud to listen to them. I like to think that I am fairly responsive to prophetic warnings, but his preaching did not touch my heart. We're all different in some ways, and very alike in more ways. Hopefully, we can find common ground and work together to be more tolerant and understanding. A tough task... carry on

  5. I have to agree with "the silent observer" on this one. No government made by man is ever going to be perfect. Can we do better? Of course we can. But at the same time we must balance that with keeping the majority of the citizen of this nation safe from those who want everyone of us dead. If you can find a better place to live please let me know.

  6. Ohhhhhhhh. Im sure those who believe AIDS was created by the US Government to kill off Blacks have some documented proof to back it up. If they have some proof well then let's see it.

  7. this country is in a downfall spiral into somesort of depression but ironiclly it is better livin in this hit place than in another country. i say fuck everything become detached become isolated fuck this we need this depression so let them do wat they do when we hit rock bttom we will be the ones to rise.

  8. I don't remember who said it, but it was a white professor of religion or white pastor who is friends with Jeremiah Wright, basically the somewhat ironic connection between Jeremiah Wright and his biblical namesake. Both men criticized their nation and it's view that because it was chosen by God, it is inherently righteous. Both men were critical of injustices and unrighteousness taken by their nations. Both men predicted there would be negative consequences to their nations' actions. And both men, in large part, said "I told you so."

    And while Jeremiah Wright hasn't been thrown into a pit and left to die, he has been given the media equivalent.

  9. Although this is a good, long, but good post, I do not love your title.

  10. So with Sen. Obama's speech today do you still think "when i heard the brief snippets of jeremiah wright (obama's pastor) say those words i found myself shouting an amen to myself and wondering how anyone could disagree." or do you side with Sen. Obama and find "the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr.’s remarks 'appalling'"?

  11. I love the leap there from conquering this land and stealing it from the natives to the bombing of Grenada. There were never two more disparate events, but who cares right? Whatever you need to do to make your point and get a crowd of mindless churchgoers to cheer for you.

    America has no more than its fair share of mistakes when compared to any other nation. No nation can deserve a damning by God, assuming there is one to serve it.

  12. AMEN to you loyd. The only thing that a patriotic American can no longer stand is someone who is actually angry at inustice. It's so...primitive.

    Thank you for speaking through the madness.


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