"The Preachers chiefly shall take heed that they teach nothing in their preaching, which they would have the people religiously to observe and believe, but that which is agreeable to the Doctrine of the Old Testament and the New, and that which the Catholick Fathers and Ancient Bishops have gathered out of that Doctrine." A proposed canon of Elizabeth I, 1571

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Location: Bedford, Texas, United States

I am a presbyter in the diocese of Fort Worth, Texas (Anglican Church in North America). I serve as Chaplain at St. Vincent's School and as a canon of St. Vincent's Cathedral Church in Bedford, Texas. In addition to my parish duties and teaching Religion classes in the school I am also the Middle School Social Studies teacher.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Just because ...


Blogger Julian said...

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11:00 PM  
Blogger Julian said...

The lyrics tread a fine line... it's much less theologically dangerous than "Jerusalem," and I applaud the statement that one's country is ultimately an "earthly" thing and the implication of (greater?) allegiance to the heavenly city - a rare thing to find in a patriotic hymn.

But there are still some questions worth asking about these lines (and I would apply this same skepticism towards all patriotic hymns). Do you believe that a person should love their country above *all* other earthly things? How is "country" defined? (If one means a "people," does one love that people above others? If one means "state," what if that state is an oppressive tyranny? etc.) Is there ever a time when one is called to "sacrifice" one's country? And while the lyrics themselves do not necessarily promote mindless sacrifice, what is the impact of the military context of the talk of sacrifice? How does one love one's country when the state one supports does not succeed? What is one's responsibility to the world and to mankind in general?

You know me well enough to know that I actually have some extremely strong national allegiances. But I think my support for my countries ultimately comes from a conviction that those particular states have something valuable to offer to a lot of my fellow human beings, and hopefully are not horribly exploiting the rest in order to benefit members of the nation. Ideally, their existence should benefit all people.

Finally, since I've had to read so much Augustine lately - in an ultimate sense, only God is to be loved. You enjoy God; you use everything else as a means to that end, except that when it comes to people, that "use" means something like "loving" them for God's sake. The lyrics do not make this connection in which loving God is the basis for loving country. Do you? How?

Personally, much as you know I care about my countries and want to contribute to their continued existence, I think I'll stick to singing "let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also" ...

11:03 PM  
Anonymous REC CHIP said...

I love this song. Of course I love "Jerusalem" even more!!!

9:42 PM  

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