Just ain’t the same
“Watching church on a livestream is like watching a fireplace on TV: you can see everything with no warmth.” – Charlie Kirk
Patriotism vs. nationalism: a useful distinction?
In their column, “Should Christians be nationalists?” John Stonestreet and Timothy Padgett noted that the term “Christian nationalism” is being used by different people in very different ways. Some see it as “conflating the cross of Christ with the stars and stripes” while others equate it to white racism “dressed up in religious garb.”
Still others, Reformed folk among them, are using the term to stake a claim for Christianity in the civic public square – they’d say they are simply denying that Christianity is something people should practice only in private, and that so long as we have nations,, we should seek for them to be Christian ones.
When a term is being used to describe ideologies that range from the outrageous to the orthodox, that’s more than a little confusing. So might it be useful to find an alternative? Sometimes we do have to fight for a term, like “marriage” and “woman,” because they have God-given definitions. Attempts to redefine here are rebellion against God, and the reality He has crafted. But not every word has to be a battleground; it’s okay to never take back “gay.”
Of course, we shouldn’t be naive about the fact that whatever terms we use, they’ll be attacked too. We might not think of the dictionary as a key front in the culture wars, but the Devil is all about twisting definitions whether it’s love, tolerance, family, and more. Thus, that a word is being twisted, isn’t a reason to give up on it.
But does the term “nationalism” have the same sort of importance? And might its historical associations with the Nazis (national socialists that they were) be reason enough to let this one go? I’m going to pitch patriotism and Christian patriotism as alternatives. They can and will be twisted too, but there is at least a little history that has already made a distinction between patriotism, and the nasty sort of nationalism.
- “’My country, right or wrong,’ is a thing that no patriot would think of saying. It is like saying, ‘My mother, drunk or sober.’” – G.K. Chesterton, in The Defendant
- “Patriotism means unqualified and unwavering love for the nation, which implies not uncritical eagerness to serve, not support for unjust claims, but frank assessment of its vices and sins, and penitence for them.” – attributed to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
- “Patriotism isn’t the same as nationalism. The former is a healthy love and respect for your country, but the latter is blind, total, and unrestricted support for any and all legislation, policies, or activities of a nation. Nationalism is the extreme, whereas patriotism is the goal, because good patriots know when to challenge their political leaders, laws, and policies when they become unjust or immoral.” – Fr. John Triglio Jr. and Fr. Kenneth Brighenti
So, is it wrong to use the term “Christian nationalism”? No, but I am questioning whether it is smart. And the suggestion I’m making is that at this time and in this place, patriotism might be the less confusing term.
Dad joke refresher
There’s a lot of pressure being a dad, first and foremost the expectation that we’ll always have a joke at the ready. So dads, here’s a helping hand, with some jokes worthy of you.
- Did you realize that incorrectly when spelled correctly is still spelled incorrectly?
- What has four letters, sometimes has nine, never has five, but always has six.
- Did you know that adding “ic” turns metal into its adjective metallic, but it doesn’t work for iron? Isn’t that ironic?
- If April showers bring may flowers, do you know what May flowers bring? Pilgrims!
- Did you hear I got a job offer to teach an English class in prison? Now I just have to consider the prose and cons.
- Did you ever read that, back in his day, the ladies thought that Samuel Morse was a dashing young man?
- My son asked me for a book mark. I told him, “Surely. Here’s The Hobbit, and my name’s Brian.” He replied, “Thanks dad, but don’t call me Shirley.” I’m so proud.
SOURCE: Hat tip to Al Siebring who was a source for some, and an inspiration for all, of these!
A story you may have heard
Garrison Keillor once told a story of a Saudi prince who badly needed a transfusion, but was of such a rare blood type that he was having trouble finding a match anywhere in the world. His doctors finally found a willing Dutch-Canadian who would do. (Keillor says it was a Scotsman, but I have a reliable source who says otherwise.) Grateful for this lifesaving gift, the Saudi prince bought the Dutchman a house on a hill overlooking the Fraser Valley and gave him a million dollars.
But it wasn’t long before the prince needed another pint. This time he gave the man a bottle of Advocaat and a thank-you card. Because now he had Dutch blood in him.
SOURCE: Adapted from Garrison Keillor, as told on “A Prairie Home Companion.” And with a hat tip to Sharon Bratcher
Pro-life memes traveling the ‘Net
Even since the overturn, earlier this year, of the 1973 Roe vs. Wade US Supreme Court decision that had legalized abortion in that country, pro-lifers have gotten a lot louder. And it is wonderful! Here are a few of the highlights
- We are unashamed of our narrow-minded opposition to killing human beings
- Killing a person on the basis of their size, level of development, environment, or degree of dependency is as arbitrary and immoral as killing a person on the basis of their skin color. Our society hasn’t progressed. We’ve just shifted our violence to a more vulnerable victim.
- “Abortion is not health care because pregnancy is not a disease.” – Dr. Haywood Robinson, former abortionist
- “If abortion is healthcare, slavery is job creation.” – Darrell B. Harrison
- Death is not a solution to foster care. Death is not a solution to abuse. Death is not a solution to rape. Death is not a solution to being unloved. Death is not a solution to suffering. Killing a child in the womb because they have the potential to suffer is not compassion
A deeper pro-life proof
“Abortion is a Christological heresy too. It would posit that Christ, in the womb, was at some point fully God but not fully human…”
– “G.K. Chesterposting” on Twitter
When the Church marries the science of the day
“Moderns have been taught to regard the Galileo battle as a battle between faith and science. And science won out, three cheers, yay! Because the bigoted theologians were sticking to their guns and they wouldn’t listen to Galileo who was the purveyor of new knowledge, new wisdom.
“But it was actually a clash between the old science and the new science. So the problem that the Church faced was that the people who were resistant to Galileo were churchmen who married their theology to Aristotle. They had married the teaching of the Bible to the best science of the day when they were going through seminary. And then Galileo came along disruptively. The lesson urged upon us is, always believe science over faith. But the lesson ought to be actually, don’t let your faith get co-opted by the current science because he who marries the science of the day is going to be a widow tomorrow.” – Douglas Wilson Dec. 1, on The Renaissance of Men podcast
A business tip for parents
In his business The Advantage, Patrick Lencioni has some advice that I thought my kids should hear. I read them a bit on what Lencioni called the fundamental attribution error (FAE). This is “the tendency of human beings to attribute the negative…behavior of their colleagues to their intentions and personalities while attributing their own negative…behaviors to environmental factors.”
That way that translates from the business world to the home front wasn’t immediately obvious to my littles, so I explained that if one little bumps another, an FAE might lead the bumped to accuse the bumper of doing that “on purpose!” even as the bumper might point to how narrow the hallway was, or how much mom was asking them to carry, to show how “it totally wasn’t my fault.” It is the victim accusing the bumper of malice aforethought, and the bumper pointing this way and that to everything except their own carelessness. We went on to have a fun little chat about how God wants us to “attribute to others as you would like others to attribute to you” (Matt. 7:12).
“You just have to believe man! You just have to trust it will all turn out right.” That’s a common sentiment found in many a movie, and not just the Christian sort, but even the Hollywood variety. In fact, it might be more prevalent there, found in everything from Polar Express to the trailer of the newest Indiana Jones film. It’s there Indy explains:
“I’ve come to believe that it’s not so much what you believe as how hard you believe it.”
But as John Tweedy noted in a Facebook post, “The idea is always presented as wisdom, but it is really very, very stupid.” That Indy is expressing this sentiment is particularly ironic, he notes, because Indy
“…has spent a whole franchise shooting, stabbing, crushing, and burning people because those people intensely believed wrong things. I’m pretty sure those Nazis believe in Arian supremacy. I’m pretty sure those cultists believed in Kali Ma. I’m pretty sure those Soviets believed in Communism. And they were all bad guys, not because they didn’t believe hard enough, but because they believed wrong…. Intensity does not redeem error. It makes error more damaging.”
SOURCE: With a hat tip to Cap Stewart