Whether Samuel Johnson was correct or not in observing “patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel,” in times of crisis it is the first refuge of many, including those who are not scoundrels. In the days following September 11, 2001, “God bless America” was the slogan displayed on the billboards of burger joints and on the bumpers of vehicles across the nation. While those displaying the slogan clearly wanted us to know of their patriotism, were they also trying to say something about “God,” or does that particular name appear “in vain,” as the Decalogue calls it? Alongside Jesus’ teachings on the plain (Lk. 6:17–38), any possible theological content to the slogan is incomprehensible. It is the peacemakers and those who refrain from violent retaliation who are blessed, not we who spend more on the military than the next top twenty nations combined. It is the poor, the hungry, and the persecuted that are blessed. To pray that we might be those people who receive God’s blessing is either a masochistic prayer or an indication that we are praying to another god entirely—perhaps the god of nation, power and wealth.
KeywordsGrand Rapid Modern Myth Threatened Minority Apocalyptic Vision English Revolution
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