Mourn on the Fourth of July:
Inside the Christian anti-patriot movement
By David R. Wheeler, special to CNN
(CNN) - Like many congregations, The Mennonite Worker Community of Minneapolis held a worship service and picnic this Fourth of July - but instead
of extolling the virtues of America, they called attention to its faults.
The annual service is “a sort of anti-patriotic holiday,” says Mark Van Steenwyk, whose community focuses on simplicity, prayer and peacemaking.
Singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” is out. Reflecting on the contradictions between the gospel and the American Dream are in.
“We thank you, O God, for the good things we enjoy in our lives," reads a prayer the Mennonite community recites each year, "but lament that our
abundance has brought destitution to sisters and brothers throughout the Earth.”
On the Fourth of July this past weekend, my neighborhood had probably 20 times as many fireworks displays as it has in the entire 14 years I have
lived here. This is a modest, middle/working-class neighborhood, integrated with people of all races (except Native Americans) about 10 miles from
the Urban Core. We don't have buckets of money here - it is a friendly community, quiet, peaceful, and lately recovering from a local "inertia". It
has enjoyed some recent developments that have improved tourism, a new shopping district including a Nascar track, a brand-new soccer Stadium for the
city's new world-class soccer team "LiveStrong", and several world headquarters of major firms like Cerner (not "Cern") so employment and prosperity
Five years ago, there was ONE neighbor who had collected some "show worthy" fireworks - much of the neighborhood watched and cheered. Three years
ago, nothing at all. This past Thursday I would estimate the "value" of the amount of fireworks WELL into the thousands of dollars. It was very
impressive. My husband had bought a few bottle rockets which emitted a few colored lights when they popped. They were not noisy (for the sake of me
and our dogs).....
but the neighbors!!?? Holy COW!! HUGE aerials with as much oomph and pizazz as a small-town public display would offer!!!
As I sat watching and listening, it really did seem like I was in a war-zone (or, according to my veteran husband, about 10 miles away from an actual
war-zone based on decibel level). I was reminded of the "Star Spangled Banner", and this, naturally, made me think about what is going on in Syria
and the troubled Middle-East right now.
I don't think "war" or "military coups" are anything to be celebrated, really. Violence is BAD, and destruction of people and places and whole
countries is equally BAD. As a woman, I am a pacifist at heart. As a parent, daughter, sister, wife, friend - I want my loved ones to be safe, fed,
secure, and healthy. I want that for ALL COMMON PEOPLE in the world as well. It is NOT impossible - it's just being ignored.
Nowadays there are Zionist Christian Evangelicals screeching for WAR - HOPING for the Apocalypse and destruction of OTHER PEOPLE and their countries.
This is APPALLING.
So, the above article was moving to me. Mennonites, Amish, and Anabaptist groups are having "memorial services" that instead of celebrating the
American Independence Revolution, are reminding people that we should be working for WORLD PEACE, not hoarding the world's resources or using military
might all over the globe.
I agree with that.
Yes, America declared its independence from the Crown in 1776. 200 years later, I graduated from High School - the bicentennial year. We are a baby
nation - only a handful of nations are "younger", and we are certainly
the youngster of the "world powers". Do we really know what we're doing?
Do we know what our LEADERS are doing?? We're starting to.
I can't fathom how this does not make EVERY AMERICAN uncomfortable. Honestly.
Peace can be attained diplomatically and with NON-violence and communication. Cooperation, mutual respect, and living with people of other cultures,
races, religions, etc. CAN BE DONE. But, it isn't.
The blog linked above states this quite well:
Anti-patriots like Van Steenwyk say their movement, which has grown more vocal in recent years, is simply an honest way to read – and live out
– Jesus' teachings on nonviolence. But it's hard to look at groups like The Mennonite Community and not see an implicit criticism of God-and-country
cheerleading by mainstream Christians and ripples of centuries-old church-state tensions.
Some anti-patriots come from pacifist Anabaptist traditions, such as the Mennonite Church. Others come from evangelical backgrounds but have rejected
their counterparts' often unreserved patriotism and embraced liberal-leaning communities like Red Letter Christians and JesusRadicals.com.
They may differ on theological details, but they hold at least one belief in common: You cannot serve both God and country.
I'd like to hear ATS's thoughts about this movement. Dirty hippies? Pacifist traitors? Conscientious objecters who should be thrown out of the
country? I don't think so. I think we need more people like that, ESPECIALLY in government. War should ALWAYS be the ABSOLUTE LAST RESORT - and
only if Space Aliens actually show up to kill us all.
“Everyone knows that other folks think like them, but it isn’t like there are a lot of
congregations that self-identify as being nonpatriotic.”
That’s especially true for evangelicals, who lead the country in patriotic fervor.
Which leads me to link the second blog from CNN here:
Not all religious convictions are written in
(CNN) – There’s a misconception among many faithful folks that religious convictions, by their very nature, are set in stone.
People who change their minds are called flip-floppers or backsliders, accused of capitulating to culture and “conforming to the world.”
...A person of conviction is not one who is unyielding to change, but one whose beliefs evolve based on new information, new movements of the Spirit,
new biblical insights and, yes, new friends.
...I’ve changed my mind about a lot of things—the age of the Earth, the reality of climate change, the value of women in church leadership, the
equal failings of both the Republican and Democratic platforms to embody the teachings of Jesus.
Like a lot of evangelicals, I grew up in a religious environment that vilified LGBT people.
I remember attending a Christian conference in which liberals were derisively referred to as FOGS (friends-of-gays). I laughed along with the speaker,
albeit nervously, dismissing the voice in my head reminding me that Jesus was ridiculed for his choice of friends, too.
I think it behooves EVERY AMERICAN to review their beliefs, their "religious practices" and their behavior. And get with the times. Are you REALLY
doing God's will if you are hoping for war? If you are not part of the solution to world poverty and slavery and oppression, then you are part
the problem. Think hard. Think about how you want your life, your kids' lives, your parents in their elder years to be treated. Then start working
toward EVERYONE being treated that way.
It's simple. It's The Golden Rule.
edit on 8-7-2013 by wildtimes because: (no reason given)
edit on 8-7-2013 by wildtimes because: (no reason given)