Why I am not Patriotic


I don’t know if it was being born outside the United States though I am not a citizen of Papua New Guinea (they don’t allow it.)  Or being raised a global citizen by parents that knew what that meant and lived it but I have been privileged to be friends with people from all over the world.  I don’t know if it is because my closest friends are non-white or are “mutts” like me which were raised as 3rd culture kids.  I don’t know if it is because my family moved eight or nine times, before I finished high school.  I don’t really know why, but I am not that proud of and I don’t get gushy about, being an “American”  and most of the times in my life that I’ve been identified as American, it’s been embarrassing.

In that context, I just have to comment on how inspired I am by our President-elect, Obama — by his life, his choices, his rise to leadership, responsibility and authority, his civic care & commitment, his educational achievements, and his healthy family.

In one of his speeches recently, he said:

” In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let’s resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long ….

To those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support you. And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright: Tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope ….

This is our moment. This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.”

And so, I’m feeling a little proud to have a decent, intelligent President-elect that inspires and challenges me.  And I suppose I’m caught up in that sense of hopefulness.  That is why I highlight this YouTube song here on my blog.  Because although I am not yet that proud to be an American, this song gives me hope!  Even if it is a country song.  Even if it uses that old language of the Christian faith: born again.  It has nothing to do with that.

And believe it or not, I have signed the pledge on the Born Again website.  I commit to sort out how I can do something to make my country, my community in Madison, a better place for the less fortunate, the widow, the orphan, the incarderated, the poor.  This will take fortitude, commitment, deep thought and prayer.

If it is true I am my country’s keeper then we must commit ourselves to being active, involved and thoughtful citizens—a Born Again American? It sounds like an unlikely use of words, but I like it.

Will you share your voice.  Declare your commitment.  Perhaps sign the Pledge. Make your own video or add to the lyrics of the song and share it with the world!

And let me know what you decided to do!  And I will do likewise.

I Laughed at Religulous


Recently I sat with friends laughing together at an interview with Bill Maher about his new movie “Religulous.” He is intelligent and quick-witted. He has obviously thought a lot about why faith is so ridiculous to him. Yes, I laughed and I enjoyed laughing, because he is funny and mocking, and that is a form of humor I like and I ‘get’.

But in the end, as I sat with my discomfort settling around me, I recognized that he is mocking us, thoughtful & thinking people of faith, as if we are ridiculous and he did it by finding the most absurd folks possible and listening to them ramble. Yes, I get it Bill – religulous …. You found what you were looking for, ridiculous religious people.

Perhaps he was only having a good time poking fun — it certainly makes for a funny movie — but I am left with people of faith struggling tortuously for a comeback, when they don’t even know that they are being mocked. It’s a journalistic style, but it’s deceptive and mean spirited.

It was all in fun, the movie, and yet it is a sad commentary on religion today and on those who purport to be people of faith. And especially, I think of Christians, because I am one, who apparently are not living a life of integrity, power or higher thinking.

Maher likes to say that Americans are stupid, and as a rule I tend to agree with him. We are like dumb sheep, or how else would be put up with a multi-trillion dollar debt to be passed on to our children, as a result of an unjust war, ridiculous fiscal planning, and unwarranted governmental power? Like the civil rights protest of the 60’s; we ought to be taking a stand on things that matter to us – whatever it might be. But we don’t, simply accepting that this is it. Duh. It is stupid.

Hello out there? Are there any serious and thoughtful, articulate and/or intelligent people of faith? Please stand up!? Or perhaps Maher just didn’t look for them. I know many, many of them. Shame on you Bill Maher.

It comes down to the fact that faith is just that, a stretch, a reach for something that can not be proved. CS Lewis said: “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one … Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless–it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”

Harsh commentary on keeping yourself from loving others. Ultimately loving or believing in God takes strength and for me it is daily work! But in the end, it is a choice I have made, for today, tomorrow, hopefully for my lifetime. I just hope if Bill Maher stuck his camera in my face  I’d be ready to argue against the stupidity and ridiculousness and error of my ideas, I would be able to say:

“I’m not perfect. My faith, often feeble, and slightly awry from anything mainstream, is something that I work out daily with a lot of ‘fear and trembling.’ I have many ‘what ifs.’ My faith is personal and if others’ can’t actually see how it makes me a slightly more involved citizen, kinder & more loving, willing to admit I’m not even close to perfect, to admit I have many doubts but of this I am certain that believing gives my life hope and without it I’d be crushed by this life;  I am willing to change. If my faith doesn’t make be more thoughtful & responsive to others’ opinions and needs, then shame on me.”


These are my opinions and do not reflect the thoughts of any religious organization.