A UU Looks at the Fourth of July

From this morning’s President’s welcome:

Rev. Diana told us that Easter is the most difficult day for a UU minister. If that’s true – and I have no doubt it is – then I think perhaps the Fourth of July is the most difficult day for a UU lay person. We grow up bathed in patriotism: we’re taught to salute the flag and say the pledge of allegiance, to sing The Star Spangled Banner and God Bless America, to wave flags and shoot fireworks on the Fourth of July.

But then we get a little older and we learn that our country hasn’t always lived up to its promise. We learn about slavery and the Trail of Tears, we see leaders quick to use military force and to deny full equality to all for political gain. We see those who wrap their theology in the flag and who baptize nationalism and call it God’s will and we wonder if we really want to be a part of it all.

But as Unitarian Universalists, we are a people of reason. And reason tells us that while no human institution is perfect, as countries go, this one is pretty good. We appreciate the freedom to practice our religion according to the dictates of our own consciences. We appreciate the security purchased with the blood of our military men and women. We appreciate the great opportunities this country offers, and while they are not as wide as they should be, they are wider than any other nation on Earth.

Where our country is wrong, let us speak out in the prophetic tradition which is part of our religious heritage. But where it is right, let us speak out in the patriotic tradition which is part of our national heritage. Today, let’s celebrate what’s right about America. Today, let’s wave some flags and shoot some fireworks.

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About John Beckett

I’m a Druid in the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. I’m an ordained priest in the Universal Gnostic Fellowship. I’m the Coordinating Officer of the Denton, Texas Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans. This year I’m also serving as a member of the Board of Trustees of CUUPS National. I’m a member of the Denton Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

I write as a spiritual practice. It helps me organize my thoughts and work through ideas and concepts. It helps me evaluate my beliefs and practices against my core values and against what I know (or at least, what I think I know) to be true. It helps me interpret my experiences (religious and otherwise) in ways that are both meaningful and honest.


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