The Sin of American Nationalism

This reflection is now available in Daniel P. Horan, OFM’s book Franciscan Spirituality for the 21st Century: Selected Reflections from the Dating God Blog and Other Essays, Volume One (Koinonia Press, 2013).

7 Responses to “The Sin of American Nationalism”

  1. george bouchey Says:

    , Your commentary is provoking. I much prefer the sin of USA Nationalism to the sin that is the RCC, and offer you and it the same option I offered the last priest who recommended Confession to me.

    You First.

    Clean up the RCC, and then we can talk about the Sin of Nationalism.

  2. Thanks for this…you’ve no idea how much it means to hear this viewpoint, when the resounding voice I’m hearing in the Church in my area is of the nationalist one.

  3. Matthew Says:

    Brother Dan, you know me well enough to know that I could not remain silient with post. I respectfully and humbly submit the following in regards to several points in which you ellicit.

    “One has only to think about standing silently, hand over one’s heart during the secular liturgy of a sporting event to conjure parallel images of rising to greet the processional cross as a presider reverences the Eucharistic Table. To what do we worship? To what do we bow down in homage?”

    Good point; however, how many people actually reverence themselves, especially the post Vatican II generation, when the priest/celebrant enters, or even the cross, etc. This too is the challenge of progression. As the “tradition” goes by the way side, so does respect and reverence. “Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength. Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you today. Drill them into your children. Speak of them at home and abroad, whether you are busy or at rest. Bind them at your wrist as a sign and let them be as a pendant on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates. (Deut. 6: 5-9) In today’s modernity and the fruit of “individualism” and the libertine use of liberty, there isn’t enough of the “drill them into your children”, and in fact there are laws now infringing upon those rights as well. Children are forced educational agenda, which in many ways goes against the belief systems of their parents, all in the “name” of “enlightenment” and “progress”.

    The way many people talk about the United States bespeaks their true commitment of faith. I often hear people professing their Credo: “I would die for this country!” And, of course, the ones who usually die are the young and the poor, the minorities and the uneducated.”

    You will forgive me, but this is clearly not a true statement. I am not a minority, nor am I “uneducated”. And, if one actually takes a serious look at the cross-section of the military, we have represented in the modern time (since after the racial and gender issues) possibly one of the best cross-sections of society. I would submit that the anti-military rhetoric continues the propaganda from Vietnam era, when there was a great deal of racial inequality (which was also the case in society), was perpetrated. The military is not an independent organization, but a reflection of the society that it protects. Additionally, having served in recent years, I have had the priviledge to know some of the most talented, bright and educated young people from all walks of life. I can personally attest that volunteering for service was the best opportunity for me to better myself and to further my education. Lastly, to put this even further in context, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends,” (Jn 15:13). For many of us who have served and continue to serve, this has always been the core of belief and purpose. People also forget the vast amount of humanitarian relief operations that our military does around the globe. So, before anyone, including you my dear brother in Christ exercising their right as an “American” to bash the miltary machine”, I would also suggest one reflects on some of the good.

    As for the Lower Manhattan “cultural” center, given the tenor of the article, one might assume therefore that the intolerance of “them” moving the “cultural center” to another venue, with less significance to those victims of 9/11, is not EQUALLY reprehensive? If these “peaceful centrist” were as they say they are, then perhaps they would have been more sensitive and compassionate to the feelings of neighbors around them. Instead, they decided to invoke a reaction, perhaps exactly has they calculated, to stir up emotions, both good and bad, all to pit one against the other. So, is this really a “peaceful” manner in which to operate?

    “What I mean, of course, is that in those areas of public discourse, political debate and popular parlance that meander into the realm of the religious or theologically relevant – here I mean stark pro-life issues like anti-capital punishment, the prohibition of torture, the end of warfare, the support of the poor and marginalized, healthcare for all, the defense of civil rights for all citizens regardless of race, gender, country of origin or sexual orientation – is precisely when one’s Christian faith should come to the fore.”

    I will agree, and I too have been moved to reflect, (perhaps by our discourses), on the “other” pro-life issues; however, I feel not even mentioning abortion as a prolife issue pits one against the other and detracts from the social justice issues writ large. And, IHMO by referring to “sexual orientation”, (assuming this to be in reference to the recent ruling in NY), goes against the teaching of the Holy Mother Church. While I understand the some “Christian” denominations have “decided” to allow secularism to create even more of a schism by “recognizing” same-sex unions, and I do not believe there should be a law forbidding, we the Church should also still set the example: not succumbing to the “popular” rhetoric of the day. After all, much like Adam and Eve and the fall, it is still a “choice”, and not a something wholly created by nature, and therefore not in keeping with the Divine plan. There should be open discussion and compassionate ministry for those who suffer from same-sex attraction. Besides, civil unions are recognized by many states and protected: what seems to be the issue is over semantics – the word “marriage” which for all history has meant a sacramental union between a man and a woman. It is just yet again another attempt for the progressives to infringe their beliefs upon the Church. I would submit that in many ways, there is already equality, yet the “other” side wants more and will not stop until they have destroyed ALL that is sacred. Therefore, I believe the argument as stated in the article to be hypocritical and certainly not centrist as presented.

    “And yet they stand with the hands over their hearts, professing the faith of the community in “One Nation Under God,” while the good news is withheld from the poor, the captives remain detained, the blind still cannot see and the next generation fights a war for the rich over an ecologically destructive natural resource.”

    What I also find interesting is how, “progressives” seem to exercise their right to chastise and criticize this nation, which for all the ills one may see today, have actually enabled those poor and under-developed peoples of the world to make a better quality and way of life. Granted, not in some truly altruistic manner; as there is a form of quid pro quo benefit, however, helping those in need around the world, providing both security, and industry.

    “As the fireworks light the sky and the parades fill our streets, may we find some time to recall who we really are and to whom our allegiance is really pledged! We are first and foremost citizens of Creation and the Human Family and our allegiance is to the God of Jesus Christ who has established a covenant with us that demands more than what we are usually willing to offer.”

    Fully agree. Let us be also grateful to God for many blessings He has bestowed upon us, and that we let His guidance direct us to be true instruments of His will to bring His peace to all.

    • george bouchey Says:

      . After all, much like Adam and Eve and the fall, it is still a “choice”, and not a something wholly created by nature, and therefore not in keeping with the Divine plan. There should be open discussion and compassionate ministry for those who suffer from same-sex attraction.

      This is a faith statement. Medical science does not find it credible. The APA removed homosexuality from it list of sickness years ago. you may believe this, but there are no scientific facts to support the belief.

  4. angelus gambatese Says:

    As usual, Dan, your reflection is on target. Patriotism is our religion and America the Messiah that will save the world from its sins (acting as if the words of the Declaration of Independence were meant to be lived). Avanti!

  5. melanie statom Says:

    Re: Matthew’s comments: “People also forget the vast amount of humanitarian relief operations that our military does around the globe. So, before anyone, including you my dear brother in Christ exercising their right as an “American” to bash the miltary machine”, I would also suggest one reflects on some of the good.”

    Here is the moral double bind, conundrum I struggle with brother Matthew:

    Gil Bailie writes in Violence Unveiled, ” At the heart of the cultural world in which we live, and into whose orbit the whole world is being gradually drawn, is a surreal confusion. The impossible Mother Teresa-John Wayne antinomy( Times correspondent( Lance) Morrow discerned in Americ’a humanitarian 1992 Somali operation is simply a contemporary manifestation of the tension that for centuries has hounded those cultures under biblical influence”.

    The gospel revelation gradually destroys the ability to sacralize and valorize violence of any kind, even for Americans in pursuit of the good.

  6. Abortion is conspicuously missing from your list of “pro-life” issues. Was that on purpose?

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