For some people, patriotism is the lump in their throat when the National Anthem is sung at sporting events. For others, it is an uncritical nationalism that supports the government’s policies no matter what. This outlook was expressed by the bumper stickers of the Vietnam era: “My country, right or wrong,” and “My country, love it or leave it.” Contrast this with the less certain sounding bumper stickers that adorn cars, trucks and SUVs in the era of the war in Iraq: “Support our troops,” and “Bring our troops home.” As an ordained United Methodist minister and professor of preaching, I am convinced that an important function of preaching in the United States today is to offer a definition of patriotism for Christians that goes beyond throat lumps and bumper stickers. This essay explores the deeper definition of patriotism for Christians called for by these contentious times and how Christian preaching can do its part to convey it.
KeywordsChurch Member Christian Faith Catholic Social Teaching Social Vision Civil Religion
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