Friday, June 1, 2007

fight over the flag

Okay – I was not going to write about this – but then Grace said something about it yesterday during our evaluation/reflection time and now I think I do want to write about it. Yesterday when she asked why I had not written about it - I said it was because I thought it bothered her more than it bothered me since she was the person in the hot seat – but now I think it is actually bothering me enough to at least need to process it.

It is a flag thing. Should the flag be in a church? By flag I mean THE FLAG – of the United States of America, Old Glory. If you do not vote the right way – you are a socialist. If you separate church and state, you are a socialist (that is bad, btw). If you are the pastor and you separate church and state…I cannot repeat what you are called. For this part of the state (I mean John Edwards’ big new house is in this county)…it is divisive as you have lots of political and theological diversity. How do you navigate these waters without offending the very people you are trying to teach and help form? How are we to be in community as the Body of Christ without hurting people who have given their bodies (or the bodies of fathers and husbands) in order for us to have the freedom to worship as the Body of Christ? Where is God in this conversation? And what to do when this conversation reveals who you really think God is and what you really think Church should be. Are we the rotary club or a church? What is the difference? Or rather …how do we teach the difference without dishonoring veterans and their sacrifice? Any thoughts on this?

6 comments:

Sam Keyes, M.Div. '09 said...

We have one here. I'm not the pastor, and I don't think it's a battle worth fighting right now. I do, I admit, dread the next couple of weeks. I do not like patriotic frenzy in church. I have experienced it as a foreigner and as such know that it is one of the most destructive things that you can do to the gospel. But if it's just the flag? I don't know.

I read this blog post the other day. I don't remember how I found it, but it had some interesting things to say for why it's not a big deal, but how it might be.

Leah Skaggs, M.Div. '09 said...

But it is such a slippery slope ---when is it "just the flag" and when does it become something else entirely? And who is in control of when that happens? It seems like a dangerous concession to me.

Sam Keyes, M.Div. '09 said...

It came up again. Apparently the boy scout troop (sponsored by the church) wants to put a flagpole somewhere in the church cemetery. Hmm. That seems a little different from having one in the sanctuary, but just as fraught with difficulty. (What is our main identity in death? That we are Americans? I think not...)

Again, I see no reason to fight this issue this summer. I may be able to ask a well-placed question, but until people here know me, it would probably do more harm than good.

Jeff Tallent said...

jeff tallent m.div '06
well, that is a big question and i have faced in each church i have pastored. three to date, i always let them know my feelings this is the church of God (in the Methodist form), not the United States church of God--but nationalism is not unique to the USA, I am in Estonia as we speak and celebrating 100 years fo the Methodist church in this country and the parade we had the other day the Estonian flag was flying along side the Christian flag. In the church yesterday the Estonian flag was in the chancel area, ohhhhhh, alongside the Christian flag--I had not witnessed that before here unitl yesterday--your feelings must be expressed and then the people will ask why and you can teach at that moment, it doesn't mean they will adhere it only means that theology is dialogued--if you are at Cedar Grove tell Grace hi, was in Worship '05 with Belton Joyner--Read Hauerwas' book on rescuing the Bible from the flag--

Leah Skaggs, M.Div. '09 said...

will do jeff - thanks

Anonymous said...

As an alum and elder in the UMC... as much as I would love to see all flags removed from the house of God... fight the battle to win people for Jesus Christ before changing the mindset of a proud generation. If their eyes are focused on Jesus, the flag can eventually disappear. Move the flag first... and many will focus on what is missing and never turn their eyes upon the Jesus who stands in front of their face.