Here we go again. I am so tired of this nonsense.
July 3 was a Sunday. That's no news to anyone who has a calendar handy. So, I was at my church. We have a Sunday School hour at 9, followed by a worship service at 10. Pretty standard arrangement. I teach a Sunday School class during the first hour, and my wife does a "children's church" during the second, when there are enough children on hand to warrant it. (My church is quite small.)
I don't know why I always let myself be surprised by these things, but for some reason, I just didn't make the calendar connection -- until I got a look at the bulletin, that is. The pledge of allegiance to the U.S. flag. The pale imitation "pledge of allegiance" to the "Christian flag." (I will confess my ignorance of the provenance of this latter flag, but I'll bet my house payment that it's quite recent, on the time scale of, say, the history of the Christian church.) The singing of the national anthem. "God Bless America." And, of course, the "Battle Hymn of the Republic."
Having seen this, I did not enter the "worship" service. I just wasn't up to the pure, concentrated idolatry of it all. If my wife hadn't had children's church customers, we'd have simply gone home. As it was, I went and assisted her for the hour.
"Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's," said Jesus, as reported in Matthew chapter 22. The reader is encouraged to read that chapter as a whole, for the instructive context of these words. Yes, we live in this fallen world, subject to the temporal power of its fallen rulers. Yes, we have to pay taxes. Yes, we have to get a permit from the county every time our flatulence comes out sideways. Yes, Caesar is running things around here. But why, oh why, would we want to assemble ourselves on the Lord's day and then voluntarily sing the songs of Caesar, and pledge him our fealty? How will we claim to be doing any better than the 1st century Jewish authorities did, who proclaimed, "We have no king but Caesar?"
I don't want to go out there and resume my search for a church. For one thing, where I'm at now, we don't do the Sunday morning rock 'n' roll (a rant for another time). And for another thing, I believe the red-white-and-blue idolatry is quite universal in the American evangelical church. I've simply got to remember that you skip the Sunday before July 4. And, to be safe, the same goes for Memorial Day, and the so-called "Veterans' Day," too.
You know, it would be one thing if this wretched business were compulsory. On one level, it would be understandable if the secret police were watching, ready to put the pastor on report if the patriotic niceties were slighted. But this is voluntary. We do this to ourselves, over and over again.
God help us, I say without a trace of irony. God wake us up. That would be a help.