Trump, Steinbeck and Jesus Christ

by Ross Decker Sr

“Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” John Steinbeck

I had a life changing encounter with Jesus Christ in April of 1976. It was the traditional way, the pastor said that anyone who wanted to give their lives over to Christ should raise their hands. I did. Liz did. So we, pretty much simultaneously and altogether independently, raised our hands. That, as I believe it should, forever changed the way we looked at everything.

Liz asked me repeatedly if I fully understood what I’d done. I assured her that I did. That Tuesday night (pastors are off on Monday) the Pastor used the “pop in” to shore up our decision. And he immediately brought up tithing. If Liz had any doubts about my willingness to follow fully, my agreement to tithe must have put an end to them right there!

Sometime very shortly following that night, I began to see a push to have Christians involved in politics. Christians were taking back the culture! From my limited view, the vehicle they were using to reclaim that culture was the Republican Party. And, over the years, that Republican Party gradually hijacked Evangelical Christianity. Evangelicals fell in line with Republican “doctrine” even when it contradicted Christian teaching.

It seems only fair, though scarily so, that the Republican Party should be hijacked today by a rich white man with an aggressive position. Donald Trump entered the race for the party’s presidential nomination with inflammatory words directed against minorities, the poor, and immigrants. He has virtually no political experience, he has been associated with the Democratic party as well as flirting with a third party candidacy. But, he has surged to the top of the polls by loudly saying what Republican Christians quietly believe. He seems to embody the values they treasure.

What do the Republican Christians treasure? Well, poor Republicans seem to love any law that can make rich Republicans richer. They love anything that will help rich Republican businessmen hold onto their wealth. They love a small government that stays out of their business, but not their Liberal neighbors’ business. They love when law enforcement goes after a few kids wearing their pants too low or selling loosies on the corner but they don’t want the government regulating their boss’s salary. They love to tell dissenters to go find a better country, a revival of the sixties’ “America, love it or leave it,” but the ones who resent the government the most wave the biggest flags.

Trump infuriated Latinos (and all thinking people) by describing Mexicans who come to the United States illegally as “killers” and “rapists” in his June campaign announcement speech. He added some days later, “What can be simpler or more accurately stated? The Mexican Government is forcing their most unwanted people into the United States. They are, in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists…. ‘. He promised to both build a wall and to have Mexico pay for it.

On deporting the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants, Trump boasted “Politicians aren’t going to find them because they have no clue. We will find them, we will get them out, It’s feasible if you know how to manage. Politicians don’t know how to manage.” It’s a problem for America, he said, because “We have a lot of bad dudes, as I said. We have a lot of really bad people here, I want to get the bad ones out…And by the way, they’re never coming back.”

Christians! We can’t be like this. We can’t confine our Christian lives to the inside of church walls each Sunday, living by a different world view once we are back in the secular world. There is no secular world for the Christian. My pastor, speaking about tithing, once said that “god’s math is different than ours. Ninety per cent goes farther than One hundred percent when the first tenth goes to God.” His reasoning was that when we “obey God in the tithe” it works out better for us in the end.

Well that’s not how it works. We don’t obey God so that we get more in the end. We obey God because we are supposed to.We aren’t checking out His program and following it if it makes sense. We follow it because we’re supposed to. We follow it whether it works or not. It certainly hasn’t worked for those who have been imprisoned, tortured and beheaded for the Gospel.They didn’t do it to see their bank account swell. They followed God because they were supposed to.

That’s what we are supposed to do regarding our neighbors to the south. Sure, we set up an immigration policy but that policy must be kind, fair and realistic. We are to follow the words of Jesus when he says to love your neighbor as yourself. He seems to think it’s a pretty important ‘suggestion.” In tandem with loving God with all your heart, loving your neighbor as yourself sums up the law of the prophets.

The remarks Trump made about Megyn Kelly after the debate are beyond the pale. His defense  of his remarks was even worse. For a man whose fans claim “he tells it like it is,” he seemed to be unwilling to do just that.  In true politician fashion he sidestepped what he really meant and accused those who were offended of perverse thinking. His Christian supporters claim he was “baited.” Perhaps he was, but so what? “He hit me first” has never been, nor should it ever be, an acceptable excuse for paid behavior. And Christians should never rejoice in someone who attacks the human dignity of another. God made us in His image and when we revile another, we revile Him.

And why do Republican Christians have such a love affair with successful businessmen?

James admonishes us, “But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court?  Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?” (James 2:6,7), 

“I’m not using the lobbyists” boasts Trump, “I’m not using donors. I don’t care. I’m really rich.”

Aunt Thelma, Martin Luther, and Daily Mass

by Ross Decker Sr

I’m a simple guy. Not complex.  I’m easily trained. The same situation produces the same thoughts and memories in me. When my little Sophie was a bit more than a year old, I thought it would be funny to torture her mom. Each time I went through a doorway I would smack the doorframe and say “sorry, Sophie.” Now I often remember the time she beat me to it, slapping the frame and saying “sorry, Papa.” Everytime I brush my teeth I smile as I think of Lily, who brushes her teeth by holding the brush steady and moving her head from side to side.

Maxwell Maltz wrote a book in the late 60’s about how we can change our own perceptions about ourselves.  It was “Psycho-Cybernetics”. It was based on the assumption that are memories of events shape our present day responses to similar situations. One of the striking claims Maltz made in his book was that, if we came to a fork in the road, barring any memory we had of the last time we were there, we would always make the same decision about veering left or right. If we went right last time, we’re heading right again today. So, when I see something that strikes me, I think of the same thing I thought of last time. Sort of a mental Groundhog Day.It helped me a lot. And it helped the Atlanta Braves a little. The 1969 Braves read the book as a team and won the division championship. Then they got swept by the Mets in the playoffs.

I try to go to daily Mass. My schedule allows it and I enjoy it.  I’ve never once joined the communion line at Mass without thinking of my Aunt Thelma. She was the first in my family to convert from protestant to Catholic. She’d been raised in a protestant family. Her dad was a Lutheran minister. Her parents taught the faith. Still, as an adult she made the conversion. She did it for the most classic of reasons. She’d fallen in love with a Catholic. She and my future uncle were to be married. So she converted to Catholicism and promised to raise her children as Catholics. She kept that promise and, as often happens, she became a more devout follower than my uncle Joe was.

The thing I remember about her when I’m on the communion line is her contemplative silence after receiving the Eucharist. It was impressive devotion. I could see that it was real. The first time I saw that was when I’d slept over my cousins’ house on a Saturday night and went to Mass with them in the morning. When my aunt came back to the pew I asked her a question. My cousin Joey interceded. “You can’t talk to her after she’s received the host, ” he said. “She won’t speak.” This was great. I thought it would last all day. But, of course, it didn’t. By the time everyone was filing out of the door, she was greeting all her friends enthusiastically all the way to the parking lot. Her silence may have ended, but even a cynical guy like me could see that the devotion which inspired it had not.

Martin Luther is thought to have said “We need to hear the gospel everyday because we forget it every day.” Now there aren’t many Luther quotes I can get behind, but that one is one I agree with. For me, it’s the same problem I have with a diet. I may make an honest promise to myself to eat better in the morning but I’m likely to be snacking on peanut butter and jelly by the evening. Sometime during the day I forget how fat I am and I drop the diet. It’s the same story with those decisions I make at Mass. I hear the homily and I want to be kinder. I want to be nicer to people. That’s why I try to go to Mass every day. I need to hear the gospel every day. Because I, along with Luther, forget it every day.

And what do I hear at Mass/? Well, there’s a reading from the Old Testament. A responsorial psalm, and a reading from the New Testament. Generally, the readings are pretty clearly linked. Then the priest sums up the day’s readings with a homily that identifies what Jesus did and said. He usually says that we should go and do likewise.

We also hear a lot of things when we pray corporately. We always pray for the Church. We pray for those who are victims of violence. We always pray for an end to abortion and that God will be the helper of the helpless. And we are often reminded that God will use us to answer our prayers. We always pray for the poor in a practical way. “You pray for the poor,” says Pope Francis. “And then you feed them. That’s how prayer works.”

So, that’s the things I need to hear each day. Because, if I don’t I very well forget. I was fortunate to see my Aunt Thelma live out a devout Catholic life, She wasn’t perfect. We all knew that. You could surely get on her bad side. And that was never a place that was fun to be. But, more likely, she was the voice of reason around the table when we were visiting. She was the one who could see that someone did wrong but was still deserving of love.

Now, I’m not kicking myself for my failure to measure up. I’ve been on that “good Christian” treadmill many times before. It took a lot of work but I always wound up in the same place. So, I’m not getting back on. Not ever. Still, I do think it helps me to go to Mass as many days as I can. It makes me want to be a better person.  So, maybe one day I can start going a little easy on the peanut butter and jelly. And, maybe someday I will actually become that better person.  Maybe I will be a kinder guy. And maybe it will last even after I drive away in the car.

Amy Is The 100th Sheep

by Ross Decker Sr

Today is the anniversary of Amy’s death. It wasn’t suicide. But it was her life that caused her death. I’ve written about her before on this blog  because her life haunts me in a way. I didn’t know her, of course, but her tragic life and death clings tom e. she pops into my thoughts pretty often and I can’t help but wish that there was a second chance for her. I want there to be a rewrite that gives us a happy ending. I want her to get straightened out, be happy, win Grammys and entertain the world. Her voice was a singular gift to us all.

This world is intrigued by the “what ifs.” It’s a classic plot point to see one event or one inner demon as defining a life. If only she had fallen in love with a different guy. What if she hadn’t met Blake? Would things be different for her? I wonder. I wonder if the creativity that produced her talent also produced the drive to pursue what would kill her. no matter, it was something she could not control. She could not will it away. That lifestyle, fueled by self-doubt, was the light that drew Amy to the flame.

But, what does it mean for those who knew her? What should they have done to help her? What could they have done? The only answer I can come up with is “everything.”  They should have tried everything.

It is so sad that those who profited from Amy’s talent could not find the time to help her with her demons. She was a profitable throwaway for them. I realize she was resistent to help, she was drawn to that which would kill her. That doesn’t make her less valuable. She is the 100th sheep friends should leave the 99 for.

WHY I WANT THE NEXT PRESIDENT TO BE A WHITE MAN

by Ross Decker Sr

Some time ago, during President Obama’s first term, my brother-in-law wrote a blog post that I vehemently disagreed with. He claimed that white Christians across the nation were angry with Obama’s policies because of one reason. He was a black man. And the thing that riled these Christians the most in my brother-in-law’s eyes was that “there was a black man in the White house.” Now, my brother-in-law, being an enthusiastic man, didn’t say “black man.” He used the “N  word” just like he was Obama podcasting from a garage. He did not use the euphemism. He claimed that white, evangelical protestants were using that word too, in their own homes, in their small groups and in their prayer groups.

I was sure he was wrong. And I told him so. After all, he didn’t know any Christians except for me and my family. And we never used the word. I have never heard any of my friends use that word in a small group or prayer meeting. So, he was wrong. Or so i thought….

At the time he wrote that piece I was only on theTwitter. I hadn’t gotten to The Facebook yet. And Twitter was fairly recent. People were fascinated then just by their ability to send out random thoughts, stream of consciousness style. John Mayer used his Twitter account to hawk Sodastream. Demi Moore used hers to promote Kindle. And Ashton Kutcher used his to shill for everything. But back then, no one was using Twitter for politics or social issues. Then, I made the jump to Facebook.

Facebook seemed to me to be the home ground for causes. People were posting memes about everything they loved. And everything they hated. And one thing they hated a lot was the black man in the White House. My Facebook timeline was flooded with anti-Obama posts. There were posts about blacks getting a free ride from “Obamaphones.” There were memes where Obama and, much worse, his family were photoshopped to have chimpanzee mouths, Obama eating a banana, the president dressed as a witch doctor to show what Obama Care was like. I saw a bumper sticker that read, “Don’t Renig in 2012.”

My Twitter feed has a lot of variety. My Facebook feed is full of Christians. Full of Christian bigots. They all, of course, said that none of it was racist. They were angry and and they were insulted that I thought they were. And, of course, the debate has to end there. When someone says they aren’t racist there is nothing else to be done. There were a few, actually two, who argued on. One said that her experience as an emergency room nurse gave her the opportunity to see blacks as they really were. They came to the ER in taxis, wearing expensive sneakers and the carrying the latest IPhone. They were getting over on society. Another told similar conclusive stories about being behind “Welfare Queens at the supermarket and checking the carts for cigarettes and beer. And Pop Tarts. It really bothered this woman that someone would use their welfare benefits on something as unhealthy as Pop Tarts.

Lately the big thing is the demand to drug test welfare recipients. Cancel their benefits if they fail.  And cut off benefits to anyone exercising their right to peacefully protest, exercising their right to free speech by burning a flag. And their kids? Well, they haven’t thought it out that far.

I went to a week long seminar with my church awhile back. A bunch of us guys were walking from the seminar site to our bed and breakfast. We were all complaining about how grouchy the B&B owner was. All the guys, including me, had an example. But, my friend, Bill Modrich spoke up. “Guys,” he said,”we’ve spent this whole week learning how to solve conflict based on Biblical principles. Now, none of us can deal with this without talking behind this lady’s back?” I pretty much laughed out loud just before I realized that Bill was serious. And it really hit home with me that, despite what I claimed about my religion, I really had a disconnect between the theory and the practice. Bill’s said that if we really believed what we said we did, our actions would be so much different. I’ve gotten much better at narrowing that gap but I still need to work on it daily.

Sometimes I think that many Christians, finding God, find a God whose political and social views are pretty much in line with theirs. To me, that seems a pretty good indicator that what you’ve found isn’t God at all. Or at the very least, not the one who can deliver the life altering changes the Gospel promises. Sometimes it seems that, instead of becoming a new creature in Christ, we have just invited Christ on to our side to ride shotgun through our daily living. It isn’t at all like Abraham Lincoln saw it. When he was asked if he thought God was on the side of the northern army he answered that it was his fervent hope that the north was on God’s side.

So, Christians, we can’t act like this. We didn’t sign up to be mean and nasty. We didn’t sign up to degrade our fellow humans. We signed up to follow a Lord who loves everyone. We signed up to serve a God who created man in his image and gave each one human dignity. That’s one of the basic teachings of Christianity. Humans, all humans, are created in the image of God and have a right to be treated with dignity. More directly, when we try to strip another of their God-given dignity, we actually strip ourselves. Who can read a blatantly racist post without seeing how hateful and needy the poster is. The post reveals to all that he has voluntarily thrown off the mantle of dignity that God wants to cloak him with. He means to degrade the target but he degrades himself.

Think of all the hate there is in Red China
Then take a look around to Selma, Alabama
You may leave here for four days in space
But when you return it’s the same old place
The pounding of the drums, the pride and disgrace
You can bury your dead but don’t leave a trace
Hate your next door neighbor but don’t forget to say grace

Barry McGuire wrote those lyrics from “Eve of Destruction” fifty years ago. I don’t think all that much has changed. I know I am speaking from my own limited perspective but I think most of us, in America at least, are racists, We learned recently that even Atticus Finch is a racist! We see color. We have deep seated fears and mistrust about other people which are based on their color or nationalities. There isn’t much we can do about that. It’s what we think. The real problem is when we act on it, When we use our fears to hurt others, That’s where we can be blamed,

So, Christian racists, I want our next President to be a white man. I want him to be a white man  so I can go back to my naivete. I want a white president so I can believe my words when I tell my brother-in-law he’s screwy. I want to be able to go back to a time when I was blissfully ignorant of what the guy a few pew rows back thinks about his fellow man. I want to go back and play pretend. So the only way I see to solve this, short of picking up our crosses and following Christ, is to go  back to electing white guys.

Lino Rulli, Eating Fish, And Being kind

by Ross Decker Sr

“When they did not find them, they began dragging Jason and some brethren before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have upset the world have come here also;” Acts 17:6

I listen to The Catholic Guy on Sirius Radio often. Near the end of this past Lenten season, the host, Lino Rulli, came up with an innovative idea that would make the Lenten experience more powerful in the lives of Catholics as well as making the Catholic witness more relevant to non-Catholics. Lino wondered why, instead of the ancient discipline of not eating meat on Fridays, wouldn’t it make sense for Catholics to perform a Friday corporal work of mercy. Let me tell you, that idea woke me up. Lino’s point was both amazingly simple and eloquently profound. If we were to make a statement with our Lenten penance, let’s not do some disciplinary trick. Let’s do a discipline that could turn the world upside down.

Before I went through the RCIA program and entered the Catholic Church I’d never heard of the Spiritual and Corporeal works of mercy. I’d been a member of an inter-denominational church for twenty two years where I never heard the works of mercy mentioned. That’s actually pretty odd because the Works of Mercy lend themselves quite well to a list. And we were a church of lists. We knew the five steps to a life God blesses, the ten steps to powerful prayer. We knew the six steps to financial freedom. Mostly, in that particular church, we knew the seven steps to resolving youthful conflicts. So many sermons were wrapped around the Bill Gothard acronym, DAROS-FS. Perhaps those letters don’t mean anything to you. If so, be grateful.

From there, I moved to an Evangelical Free Church. The corporeal works of mercy were not mentioned there by the pastor either. But, for that pastor, Glenn Blossom, the corporeal works of mercy were a daily way of life.

What would happen if the Church adopted Lino’s proposal? There are seven Fridays during lent and there are seven corporeal acts of mercy. The more I think about it, the more I think that the Church is missing out on a great opportunity to rock the world.

Imagine if a majority of Catholics fed the hungry on the first Friday of Lent. The church would have a foyer overflowing with canned goods and non-perishable food to share with those who needed it. The food could then be donated to a ministry that feeds the poor. Or, it could be as simple as each parish opening a food pantry for just that week. People would be lined up outside churches and the weekend papers would be full of  stories about Catholics doing good. It’s our heritage, isn’t it? We believe in and act in accordance with a belief in the Preferential Option for the Poor. And, I don’t think anyone would be surprised to see that caring for the marginalized on one day is the strongest impetus for doing it again.

The second Friday would be the day we gave drink to the thirsty. My friend Hugh Hollowell works with the poor every day and suggests that we could buy a sleeve of bottled water and keep it in a cooler in our car. Or we could pick up an extra bottle of water on our way in to work so we’d be ready to share with someone who needs it. We may also share the spiritual water of our Lord Jesus Christ. As Jesus says in John 4:14, “but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up unto eternal life.”

What would be the impact on the watching world if on the third Friday of Lent we were to run a clothing drive and bring clothing down to homeless shelters or Crisis Pregnancy centers? We could overflow the clothing bins that are in every strip mall parking lot. We could literally clothe the naked.

The fourth week is a bit tricky. It is the week where we would shelter the homeless. This might take a bit of ingenuity to accomplish. In simpler times it was not that unusual to take strangers into your homes for at least a short time. The Shunammite woman of  the Old Testament built a special room onto her house for Elisha. I know that some people still do a version of that but I don’t imagine it’s practical for most of us today. Large cities have homeless shelters. There may be an option to volunteer there. I’m certain that mopping a floor or two or just sitting with someone whose life has been shattered could do a great deal of good.

Most parishes regularly list the sick of the parish in the bulletin. We’re a family. Families visit each other in times of sickness. We all do that, don’t we?  Well, I don’t. But we could. Sure, it should be something we always do, but it would be a great start if, on the fifth week of Lent we could stop be to visit our sick church family members. I’m sure a covered dish and a half hour visit could brighten someone’s day.

Have you ever done prison visits? That is something I’ve had the opportunity to do. My wife is blessed with a great voice as well as a tender spirit that moves people when she sings. I’ve visited prisons with her where she would sing and someone would share a devotional thought. As Catholics we are to visit those who are incarcerated. The sixth week of Lent could be the time to do that. You could brighten the day of someone who goes long stretches of time without a visit. Your smile would go a long way.

Truthfully, I don’t know how you’d complete the last work. It’s the burying of the dead. I guess you’d need some special cooperation on the part of the person you’d be helping!

I think we could truly make a great impression on people were we to perform regular acts of kindness. It was Tertullian who noted that the early Christians would “support and bury poor people, supply the wants of boys and girls destitute of means and parents… and of old persons confined now to the house; But it is mainly the deeds of a love so noble that lead many to put a brand upon us. See, they say, how they love one another.”

If only today, we could give our world a reason to say, “See how they love one another.”

Tea and Cake, Steve Coogan, and Leaving Mass Early

by Ross Decker Sr

I was certain that Independence Day would pass without me writing a piece about it. I would ignore my Facebook timeline where post after post would proclaim pride in being a citizen of a nation that was “still the best country on earth.”

I was going to ignore it until I sat in Mass today and it dawned on me that we would close Mass with a patriotic hymn. Somewhere along the line I began to think that Politics and patriotism were not things that should be in a church. Christianity, even Protestant Christianity, is Catholic. It’s universal. It can’t be different in Zimbabwe than it is in Iowa. Yet we were about to sing a hymn that would sing the praises of a country where we can’t pray in schools, we can’t worship in public buildings, we can abort out children right up until the moment before birth (and we can murder them after birth if the abortion attempt failed). We were going to sing the praises of a nation where the government has tried, and continues to try through court action, to force people of faith to pay for abortifacients. So, I did what I never do, I left early. And, I thought of the movie “Philomena.”

I often use quotes from a favorite movie as a springboard for my point when I write my blog. One movie I enjoy immensely is “Philomena.” I can’t look away when it is on. It addresses a dark era for the Catholic Church. I feel that it does so fairly, though. It concerns itself with a women who had a baby out of wedlock in the Ireland of the middle 20th century. She was sent to live and work at the Catholic laundries of the day. Her son was taken from her and adopted by an American couple. Philomena spent fifty years trying to find her son.She would go visit the nuns and try to find out if there was any new information that could help her find her son. The sisters in the orphanage’s administration sat with her politely, plying her with tea and cake, but told her that they were unable to help her. The movie’s defining moment is when we learn that her son was buried at the orphanage and the nuns knew all that time.

In the climactic scene, when Steve Coogan and Judith Densch arrive at the orphanage to confront the nun who orchestrated it all, Miss Densch’s character, Philomena, speaks to Coogan’s Martin Sixsmith. “You’re not going to make a scene in there are you?” Martin replies, ” I’m just going to ask a few questions.” Then, feeling internal anger rising, he adds,  “And I don’t want any tea. And I don’t want any cake.”

Sometimes it seems to me that our government is offering Christians tea and cake. Once a year, in May,Christian leaders are invited to the White House on the National Day of Prayer. And, on our nation’s birthday, it isn’t unusual to hear political speeches linking America to her Judeo-Christian roots. But for the rest of the year we are expected to practice our religions within the walls of our churches. Or worse, we are legislated against for living out our beliefs in public.

I once went to an Interdenominational Church that preached a gospel that entwined the Gospel and the constitution. For Independence Day they put together a song and dance show where they sang patriotic songs and performed small drama skits about America. They called it, appropriately, “Celebrate! America. Regrettably, one segment was a medley of Armed Forces songs. They asked that all audience members who had served stand when the song for their branch of service was sung “so, that we may salute you.” Now, these men all deserve are thanks. They have all earned our honor and respect. But, the way that it was done, in a sanctuary of a church, alarmingly looked as though they were being told that their military service punched their ticket to heaven.

I know of another Evangelical church that kept an American flag on their platform, to the right of the pulpit. I felt it fair to wonder if that congregation was truly “looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God”. That was answered for me when the flag went missing one day. It was off the platform and was no where to be found. The congregation was in a dither. They hadn’t been this alive in some time! One group started a rumor that the new pastor had removed the flag. After all, the church secretary knew for a fact that he subscribed to the New York Times.

I’m okay with this country. Let me not be ambiguous about that. For the most part, I have the freedom to do what I want. I own my house, I have a business that I run with my son, my family lives nearby. So, I’m happy here. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t see some of the things we get wrong.

Yes, I’m uncomfortable with politics or patriotism in my church. Because I am looking for that city, the one whose builder and maker is God. I’ll live here until I find it, but I won’t be taking any tea. And I won’t be taking any cake.

“I believe God made the St. Lawrence River, and the Rio Grande River, and the China Sea and the English Channel, but I don’t believe God made America, or Canada, or Mexico, or England, or China. Man did that. . . . It is doubtful that there has ever been a nation established for bad reasons. Nations are always established to escape tyranny, to combat evil, to find freedom, to reach heaven. Man has always been able to desire to build a heaven. But it seems he has never been able to admit that he didn’t pull it off. So he keeps insisting that he did pull it off. And that is really what patriotism is all about. It is the insistence that what we have done is sacred. It is that transference of allegiance from what God did in creating the whole wide world to what we have done with (or to) a little sliver of it. Patriotism is immoral. Flying a national flag—any national flag—in a church house is a symbol of idolatry. Singing ‘God Bless America’ in a Christian service is blasphemy. Patriotism is immoral because it is a violation of the First Commandment.” – Will D. Campbell