Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Pious Patriot

There is an anecdote floating around in regards to George Washington. Well, okay, there are many such anecdotes, but there is one in particular that concerns me today. Washington, so the story goes, was not a big fan of church. He had the habit of getting up and leaving the church before the sacraments were given. Eventually the priest approached him and pointed out that a man of his stature was setting a bad example that might change the behavior of others. Washington agreed with the assessment and simply stopped attending church. Now, I know better than to take any George Washington anecdote at face value. I highly doubt there was a cherry tree or a coin thrown across the Delaware, after all. It is, however, a good jumping-off point. And it's also worth noting that the anecdote in question is a bit less popular than the cherry tree one... "God is an an essence we know nothing of. Until this awful blasphemy is gotten rid of, there will never be any liberal science in the world." --John Adams Now that is a comment you can sink your teeth in to. Imagine if a President said that today. Think about the Clintons. They attended church regularly during Bill's administration, yet were demonized by the religious right. In Philip Yancey's What's So Amazing About Grace? he even recounted a story about getting invited to the White House after writing an article about how Clinton wasn't actually the antichrist. The reasoning behind the invite, apparently, was that someone looked at the article and said, "Well, this says he's not the antichrist, so that's a start." When did we get to this point? As best I can tell, it's because we've begun to put false piety and false patriotism at the top of a pedestel and called them a good thing. See, a thought occurred to me this morning. Today is the sixth anniversary of September 11th. I've been keeping my eye on the run-up to the day. I've heard all the calls to fly flags and remember and do something worthwhile with the day. This morning I asked myself if I was offering proper remembrances for September 11th. I wondered if I was being appropriately reverent or if I was being somehow blasphemous by not finding some meaning to 9/11 and, in some small way, fighting against what it has become. Then I realized I've had that thought before. My entire life I've dealt with it on Christmas and Easter. I've dealt with it on retreats and missions trips. I've dealt with it on Sunday mornings. That, however, is a story for another day. Either way,I've spent a lot of time worrying about whether or not I'm being appropriately pious. By now I'm pretty good at it. I, for one, am tired of asking those questions. Oh, and for anyone who's stuck around to this point, I've got just one question? Why aren't you over at Slacktivist reading this? I'm not nearly as good at satire as Fred is...

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