Thoughts on the Inauguration

american flagsLong, long ago I loved American politics.  I loved the process.  I found the people interesting and sometimes invigorating.  I suppose it goes along with being a history nerd.  Politics and history are so closely intertwined–especially in America.

In the last 10 years or so I’ve lost most of that political love.  I still love history–especially American colonial stuff, but contemporary politics?  Not so much.  I’m sure part of the change results from not teaching US History and government any more.  Another part may be contributed to age and experience.  I’ve seen politics–especially outside the USA–cause more harm than good.  Within the USA, I’ve just seen a lot of divisiveness, lack of civility, and waste.

Even with my rather recent dislike of American politics, I was still drawn to watch President Obama’s second inauguration.  It sets the tone.  It reveals part of the heart of the nation.  It’s history after all.  I am thankful ABC News streamed it so I could watch and listen to it in my office as I tried to make sense of my desk and answer a few emails during the music.

I think Lamar Alexander’s opening remarks were good ones.  He quoted Alex Haley, the author of Roots, saying, “Find the good and praise it.”  How wise!  I thought as a Republican, this was a good thought to instill in the minds of my fellow Americans as we begin the President’s second term.  Whatever your politics, whatever your beliefs about the President, this is good advice.  I would add to Haley’s words, though.  “Find the good and praise it . . . and pray for the rest of it.”

There’s too much criticism and hate spewed towards the President, towards the Congress, towards the Supreme Court.  They are not infallible.  They are not God.  They are the government.  As Christ followers we have an obligation to pray for them.  When I read the vitriol directed towards them from those who claim to follow Jesus, I often wonder how much prayer surrounded those criticisms.  I know I’m guilty of not praying enough; this isn’t me merely pointing a finger.

Dave Pollock, TCK guru extraordinaire, used to urge TCKs towards patriotism.  I know most TCKs bristle when they hear that.  For many patriotism and nationalism have become interchangeable terms.

Nationalism says, “My country is right no matter what.”  This is the kind of thinking that leads us to might makes right.  It’s easy thinking when “your” country is a super power.

We’ve all seen the downside of nationalism.  Carried to an extreme it leads us to try to squash everyone who dares disagree with what the nationalistic nation says and does.  It’s not a pretty sight, nor is it a comfortable experience.

Patriotism, on the other hand, doesn’t do this.  Patriotism says, “I want my country to be right and to do right.  I know it fails, but that’s what I want.”  Patriotism owns up to mistakes.  Patriotism celebrates good when it finds it.  Patriotism is good.

This morning I was convicted that I need to be more vocal to others about what my nation does well.  I also need to be more vocal to God about how my nation needs to improve.

What are your thoughts on the inauguration?

“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to many people.”

Proverbs 14:34

 

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10 Responses to “Thoughts on the Inauguration”

  1. TirzahJanuary 21, 2013 at 7:45 pm #

    Well said. I watched. I was not impressed with any of it. I liked the three female Obama’s choices in clothes (particularly coats). I wish I could have been more excited. I’m quite dissenchanted with American politics but I still love this country. I will pray for our president and leaders. I pray God raises up someone to truly lead this country and not divide it further.

  2. Jennifer DouganJanuary 21, 2013 at 8:10 pm #

    Hi Sheryl,

    I’m happy just to stop by to greet you. 🙂

    Jennifer Dougan
    http://www.jenniferdougan.com

  3. Laura JosephJanuary 21, 2013 at 8:11 pm #

    One of my primary thoughts in recent years when I watch a presidential inauguration is how amazing it is that there is still a peaceful transfer of power. People may be disappointed in the choice, but no one wants to see a descent into anarchy, and there is still some pride in the process working without violence, from the voting to the installation. That is good and it is different from many places in the world.

  4. SteveJanuary 22, 2013 at 1:21 am #

    I completely agree with you when you say:

    “I want my country to be right and to do right. I know it fails, but that’s what I want.” Patriotism owns up to mistakes. Patriotism celebrates good when it finds it. Patriotism is good.

    As a Christian I like it. Too often I think that Christians have a responsibility to the Kingdom of Heaven first and everything else second. Too often we get to bogged down in thinking that God is on our political parties side instead of wondering if our political party is on Gods side. (Hint: I don’t believe that they are).

    It’s not enough to to say that our Party is more on God’s side then the other side so we choose them. Jesus was disruptive. Jesus was radical. Jesus broke the rules and didn’t play politics. Jesus did what was right and said what was right, which means that it wasn’t usually popular or very strategic in a global political way.

    Yes pray for our leaders but follow Jesus first.

  5. LisaJanuary 22, 2013 at 8:22 am #

    Well-said, Sheryl, very well-said.

  6. SherylJanuary 22, 2013 at 7:13 pm #

    I love the comment love, everyone! Thanks for making my day!

    Tirzah–I thought there were some interesting things that happened/were said. I wrote down some phrases that struck a chord or smacked my forehead. I did love the Obama ladies’ coats! Very nice. I liked Mrs. Obama’s dress at the luncheon, too.

    Hi, Jennifer!!!

    Laura–absolutely! I love our peaceful transfer of power. I’ve experienced the not so peaceful transfer of power, and this is so much better! I think it’s quite patriotic to like that about our nation.

    Steve – It drives me insane when people claim God’s favor on their party over another. I’m convinced both support things that please him as well as things that grieve him. But really? In the end, I don’t think he really cares that much about political parties. He cares deeply for the people in them. There’s a huge difference. Following Jesus comes first, and part of following well is praying for our leaders (I Timothy 2).

    Thanks, Lisa!

  7. EstherJanuary 23, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

    Such a great post. Beautifully written, so much food for thought.

  8. SherylJanuary 23, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

    Merci, Esther! That means a lot coming from an outsider/insider.

  9. CherylJanuary 24, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

    Lots of wisdom here, Soul. So glad you posted this, so grateful for your ear that is tuned to the Spirit’s still small voice.
    I love you.
    Soul

  10. SherylJanuary 25, 2013 at 10:58 am #

    Merci bien, Soul. That means a lot coming from you. Je t’aime.

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