Friday, July 4, 2008

In whose name...

So there’s a collect for the American Independence Day… who knew? It must not be part of the official Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England, I wouldn’t think. I read it in a church newsletter today, and it sounded weird to me while I am in the U.K. (interesting anecdote: I have spent six of the past ten July 4ths overseas).
Lord God Almighty, in whose Name the founders of this country won liberty for themselves and for us, and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn: Grant that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain our liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The actual request seems about right. We have liberties; grant us grace to use them in righteousness and peace. The intro feels a little awkward to me, and I’m trying to figure out if it is because of the earlier interesting anecdote that allows me to see what we look like from the outside, or if I have been brainwashed by my liberal education, or what.

But this is my listening blog, not my ranting blog. What do my readers think? Does God get an American title? Does the country, certainly founded in a spirit of the enlightenment, also get to claim God’s name? Maybe… it just sounds weird to me while I’m overseas.


Chestertonian Rambler said...

I dunno.

The problem (for me) is that the American revolution was a coalition effort, and America has basically been a nation where the Christian and secular ideals live side-by-side in tension.

I kinda have a sneaky suspicion that God is the God of George Washington but not Ben Franklin. Not that my half-baked opinion has any impact, but it just reinforces in my mind that America has always had both sides of the coin.

At the same time, I do believe that the ideological freedom of America is a gift to be used "in righteousness and peace."

Benjamin said...

Hi Emily,

This made me feel funny too.

I've been thinking about this and it made me wonder what "In his name" really means. I guess one could look up some Biblical examples to fine tune this...

Two extremes might be
1. I'm doing this on God's authority.
2. I'm doing this FOR God and claiming that God thinks MY way - its what he would do.

The first option is, I suppose, how we HOPE to behave. But too often we put our best opinions in God's mouth... without suitable humility?

Anyway, a third option might be that the writers of this collect hoped to have suitable humility about the source of power and strength that allowed one side to win, without claiming that God was on the American side in a way that made him be against the Brits. But even if this is not true, this may just indicate that Americans aren't that different from patriots in other countries.