Nationalism Remixed

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Nationalism Remixed

Back in Colossians Remixed Sylvia Keesmaat and I called (in the tradition of Wendell Berry) for an ethics of secession. There are all kinds of ways in which we need to secede from the empire, and refraining from nationalist celebrations would be one of them. You see, not only does nationalism have no biblical merit, any doctrine of ‘exceptionalism’ – whether American, Canadian, Israeli or any other sort – is a decidedly demonic doctrine that will always bear the bad fruit of violence.

Read the rest here.

Given that Canada and the USA are celebrating their respective birthday’s this week, this is a timely post. I’ve often struggled with this notion. On one hand I want to believe it with my whole heart and have refrained from celebrating Canada Day or other national holidays (thanks for the day off with my wife though). On the other hand, I don’t see Christians running to renounce their earthly citizenship. And why should we? The Apostle Paul clearly made use of his Roman citizenship [Acts 22].

So, the real question is this: how do we balance the need to recognize our newfound reality as citizens of the Kingdom of God first and perhaps alone, while still holding an earthly citizenship and apparently not being called to give it up. Do we engage in politics and if so how? If I am a citizen of another country, to what extent do I have the right to critique another country’s policies? How much do I work to change them? Should I? Lots to ponder this week.

2 thoughts on “Nationalism Remixed

  1. Love that book, Colossians Remixed…certainly full of thoughtful stuff.

    When it comes to living in the USA as a citizen of the Kingdom of God, I think a good example would be Daniel and the other Jews in exile…Babylon was not their “home” but it was where they were living…and, they were given a sort of freedom to remain Jewish while in exile… Just as Paul had freedom as a Roman citizen…

    So, I think we can be thankful for living where we live and even give some respect to that nation…but we should then think about how we can redeem that freedom…make it cruciform… take the power that comes from living in this country (even though we may disagree with how that power was “won”) and use it sacrificially for the good of others and for God’s Kingdom..

  2. Colossians Remixed is fantastic! I read it during a particularly busy semester, though, so I should probably go back through it.

    Like you seem to be doing, Andrew, weeks like this (high holy days in our respective nations’ liturgies) always put me in a very brooding mood. Yesterday was particularly intense. Here are a few things that connect with what you’ve expresses here…

    This piece from Hauerwas: http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2013/07/02/3794561.htm – Which has this wonderful closing thought that I deeply resonate with

    I love America and I love being an American. The energy of Americans – their ability to hew out lives often in unforgiving land, their natural generosity – I cherish. But I am a Christian. I cannot avoid the reality that American Christianity has been less than it should have been just to the extent that the church has failed to make clear that America’s god is not the God we worship as Christians.

    If I am right that we are now facing the end of Protestantism, hopefully that will leave the church in America in a position with nothing to lose. When you have nothing to lose, all you have left is the truth. God may yet make the church faithful – even in America.

    Then I read an incredible blog post by a former career military man-turned-Christian pacifist, Stan Goff, and wrote this brief reflection after meditating on the post for most of the day: http://restorativetheology.blogspot.com/2013/07/technology-and-impossibility-of-just-war.html

    Here is the thought that still seems appropriate after sleeping on it: “Jesus witnessed one of his disciples cutting off the ear of a man attempting to seize him, and Jesus chided the disciple: ‘all who draw the sword will die by the sword.’ Perhaps this statement can be seen in a sense that the author above points out, i.e. not an actual dying by the sword (though there certainly is that), but rather a moral death by the sword. Or put another way: As Christians do we want to be sword-shaped people, or cross-shaped people?”

    The wells of political theology that I continue to draw from have solidified my sense that the nation-state (and the nationalism it asks of us) is a dangerous thing, in that it is deeply tempting for us to make an idol of it. That’s certainly what it seems to demand of itself. – Being Christian and being the Church in such a situation is a mighty challenge, indeed…

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