Monday, August 17, 2015

a shift in my way of thinking - love of country vs. love of God

In the process of cleaning up this place (and getting rid of the family of raccoons in the back), I reread many of my older posts. While they were all from the heart and I believed everything that I wrote or reposted from elsewhere; I have noticed that my position on several things has shifted over the past year or so, and especially in the last few months.

For example, stick a fork in it. While the ideas posited in this post are still valid and I still feel generally the same way, I no longer lament it as I once did. I don't lay in bed at night wondering how to fix it or how we can get the country back to the way it once was (or as our memories fondly remember it, whatever "once"was).
For better or (more likely) worse, the world we live in has changed quite a bit recently. I can't fix it. We can't fix it. Things are happening exactly as they are supposed to and it IS hard to kick against the pricks.

A couple of months ago, this idea was crystallized in my mind and it has been hard for me to accept - that I no longer think of myself as an American. I'm not saying that I am going to renounce my citizenship and move to some other country, but I will no longer be as concerned with matters that have no immediate bearing on the well-being of my family. Gay marriage, foreign policy, Donald Trump? Not my concern. As a Christian, I'm to be in the world but not of the world - a stranger in a strange land whose citizenship is in heaven.

This has been difficult for me to come to terms with as I'm just a good ol' country boy who has been raised to say the pledge of allegiance, to love my country, and to believe that anything less in unpatriotic at best and detestable at worst. But as I look at it on a deeper level: how can I can I pledge allegiance to a flag of a country that has very few, if any, of the same values that I have? How can I love a country that has no love for God?

The more I think about it, the more simple the answer becomes: I can't. God must come first. Period.

This past week I heard a term for the first time while listening to talk radio, the Benedict Option. It was coined by Rod Dreher and is (I'm no student of Catholic history, so I apologize if I get this wrong) based on St. Benedict and his founding of monasteries as a way to escape the evils of the world. Mr. Dreher writes on the Benedict Option from a Catholic point of view, but I think it should apply to all Christians.  He is not advocating a removal of Christians from the world in monasteries or separate villages/towns, but rather a separation from the secular world. Here are a few articles from Mr. Dreher and others:

I think the best option for me and my family is not withdrawal into some tiny, secluded community apart from the rest of the world; but rather a detachment from the secular world. This fits with being " not of the world" (John 17:14,16). We are to be separate from the rest of the world and setting our minds "on the things above, not on the things that are on earth." (Col. 3:2). I'm not sure how this will work, but it will be a struggle. 

I think we have made a step in this direction, albeit inadvertently, by not having a TV for almost a year. We moved into a small house temporarily that didn't have any sort of television service in October of last year. We have yet to hook up any service in our new home since we moved in 2 months ago. The TV is still here, but only used for watching movies. It was initially a financial decision not to get some sort of service, but I think we may keep it as it is as a Benedict baby step.
Do I miss it? Only during football season... 

There will undoubtedly be more on this topic in the future.

God Bless and keep your powder dry.


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