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Saturday, August 14, 2004

Now, I'm perfectly aware that in the big scheme of the world's affairs this whole episode doesn't really matter that much, but I've been unable so far to get my teeth out of it, now that they've sunk in. A fairly new blogger cuts the bishy some slack (btw, what a cool title for a conservative blog, Salisbury Pages):

Bishop Lowe is right to remind patriotic, right of centre, Christians (of whom I'm unashamedly one) that they aren't called to put country before God, although in fairness he should also have pointed out that they are called to give the state the things due to it, which certainly include a high degree of personal loyalty. I'm not convinced that I Vow to Thee my Country does call us to put country before God, just before "all earthly things", but he's probably right to remind us of the dangers of unquestioning nationalism. He's just wrong to condemn nationalism unquestioningly.

I disagree with that point, because that is exactly why I think Bishop Lowe's comment is so wrong. I vow to Thee my Country not unabashedly patriotic and miles away from any sort of jingoism, in fact it simply restates in a moving manner the old dictum about rendering unto Caesar what is his due. This is the point: it asks that you put all earthly desires and wants behind that of the nation. Lowe's objection is therefore baseless. My soul and my conscience is not an "earthly thing". If the State's actions contradict these, as a Christian, I have the duty to say no. But when it is only about earthly things, my job, my car, my profit margins, a life of luxury or anything of the sort, my being a Christian is reconciled with being a member of a nation. (I'll leave aside that I also have a duty towards fellow humans who are not a member of my nation, because, contrary to popular opinion, these differing loyalties mostly don't conflict with each other anyway.) As I pointed out clearly yesterday, the C of E is a State Church, and it is entirely consistent that it has hymns and other elements of worship that reflect this fact. After all, this is a free country, if you find such closeness of Church and State spooky, you can easily hop out and go somewhere else, such as an Episcopal church (well I think it's funny. . . ). Why the Bishop of Hulme isn't able or willing to recognize something so obvious to an unskilled layman like me is a bit of different story though, but more on that another day.

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