Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Cheap Grace, Cheap Patriotism, and Prayers for Peace

Today at my school, we are encouraged to wear red, white, and blue to celebrate Veteran's Day (our school is closed tomorrow, in honor of the holiday).  I wish we were doing something a bit more solid, like collecting money for the groups that do so much to help both service members and veterans.  I wish we could make care kits.  I'd like to write some letters.
I think of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his abhorrence of cheap grace, the concept found in The Cost of Discipleship:  “Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession...Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”

Would this idea apply to cheap patriotism?  Let me ponder:

Cheap patriotism is the patriotism we bestow on ourselves.  Cheap patriotism is the wearing of red, white, and blue, without wanting our taxes to increase to support the military.  Cheap patriotism is the making of care packages while we lay off medical doctors in VA facilities, thank you notes without a jobs placement program to help veterans when their service is done, military advisors in war zones without a thought for how events might escalate, a commitment to our troops in foreign places without a commitment to protecting foreign civilians.

I've considered not wearing red, white, and blue, in protest of the cheap patriotism that it inspires.  But in the end, I'll wear my red skirt and blue top.  I will not be that preachy scold who lectures people.

I could be the person who feels irritable when I see the sea of red, white, and blue clothes.  But let me use that visual reminder as a bell to toll me back to my more mindful self.  I will remember to pray for peace in our time.

And I will pray in more depth.  Here's a prayer that I wrote for Veteran's Day several years ago:

God of Peace, on this Veteran's Day, we beseech you to renew in us the determination to be peacemakers. On this day, we pray for all who are damaged by wars big and small. We offer a prayer of thanks for our veterans, and we offer a prayer of vision that military people across the world will find themselves with no warmaking jobs to do. We offer our hopeful prayers that you would plant in our leaders the seeds that will sprout into saplings of peace.

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