Monday, April 23, 2007
God Bless America
I have to admit, were I to get any of these kinds of bumper stickers, it would probably be the one that says America Bless God, but I still don't understand why there is so much antagonism toward a sentiment seeking God's blessing on our nation. To me, it seems a bit like more knee-jerk anti-Americanism. Please don't tell me you are a patriot when you resent the idea that some people would seek God's blessing on America.
I ask for God's blessing on my family, but that does not mean that I wish for Him to curse all other, or any other, families. It doesn't follow that if one is blessed another must be cursed. Just as I can be proud of my nationality and still value other nations.
The only people who seem not to get this are those who are moved to buy the God Bless Everyone type bumper stickers.
Instead, it's usually said in a tone and manner that marks it as a statement. It is usually a statement more of pride than humility. It's as if the speaker wanted to say "America is so great, we've been blessed by God" but knows they can't say that, and so goes for "God Bless America" instead. Rather than a request, it comes out sounding as if the speaker is claiming God is already on America's side.
You may use it in the first sense, but I've heard it far more often in the second sense.
I'm wondering if this is a perception thing. For instance, although I do see myself as asking for God's blessing for my family, I rarely phrase it as you did. Most commonly, it is Lord, bless Rich at work or Bless the kids as they work at school. This does sound much like a command, rather than a request.
One of the reasons for making it a statement rather than a formal request is that it is sort of a short hand for it, another reason is that Christianity, pretty universally, teaches believers to approach God boldly with requests and with the expectation of a favorable answer, so long as it is within His will.
As for deserving God's blessing, I'm not sure I've run into anyone who really thinks that way. Christian teaching is also pretty universal that there isn't one person who is deserving of God's blessing on his or her own merit, and that would follow for nations. Also, the further into conservative Christianity one gets, I think the more likely one is to hear how America has lost or is losing its blessing from God, because of her faithlessness. That is what I more commonly hear, anyway.
I'm talking about the way our president says it at the end of a speech. If I were in person, I could demonstrate the difference, but I'll bet you don't use the president's tone when saying "Bless Rich at work," and it's different also from when someone says "God bless you" in response to a kind act.
The reason I'm uncomfortable with "God Bless America" as commonly used is probably related to the reason you'd choose a bumper sticker that said "America Bless God."