Since 9/11, this sentimental bit of civil religion has become a national anthem of its own and almost every politician loves to end their speeches with this benediction.
But it has always struck me as an odd thing to do, to ask God to bless America.
Do we really want that blessing?
I mean, have you ever read what Jesus says it means to be blessed?
Maybe this Fourth of July weekend, before we sing “God Bless America,” we should first revisit the beatitudes.
We might just change our minds about whether we as a nation even want God’s blessing.
Blessed are the poor, Jesus says, not the prosperous.
Blessed are the mourning, not the triumphant.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth, not the imperialist mentality who boast that America is greatest and others should obey its will.
Blessed are the merciful, not the vengeful, not those who refuse food to the hungry or refuge for the immigrant.
Blessed are the pure in heart, not those full of greed, self-interest and manifest destiny.
Blessed are the peacemakers, not the warmongers, the war machine, the might-making-right.
To be a nation blessed by God would be quite a sight to behold indeed.
Somehow, I don’t think this is the kind of blessing politicians and the patriotic are talking about.
In fact, I imagine they’d say asking for this kind of blessing would be downright unpatriotic.
But truly when we say “God Bless America,” this is what we pray for.
My guess is most of us are thankful God’s never exactly answered that prayer.
We don’t want God to bless our nation.
We don’t want God to bless America.
(Photo credit: Frankileon on Flickr)