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.
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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.