Tuesday, June 24, 2008

With God on Our Side

A recent comment on a blog site made me think about both the concept of God being on "our" side, and the theological repercussions and political repercussions of this notion. It also made me think of the Bob Dylan song by the same title:

With God on Our Side

Oh my name it is nothin'
My age it means less
The country I come from
Is called the Midwest
I's taught and brought up there
The laws to abide
And that land that I live in
Has God on its side.

Oh the history books tell it
They tell it so well
The cavalries charged
The Indians fell
The cavalries charged
The Indians died
Oh the country was young
With God on its side.

Oh the Spanish-American
War had its day
And the Civil War too
Was soon laid away
And the names of the heroes
I's made to memorize
With guns in their hands
And God on their side.

Oh the First World War, boys
It closed out its fate
The reason for fighting
I never got straight
But I learned to accept it
Accept it with pride
For you don't count the dead
When God's on your side.

When the Second World War
Came to an end
We forgave the Germans
And we were friends
Though they murdered six million
In the ovens they fried
The Germans now too
Have God on their side.

I've learned to hate Russians
All through my whole life
If another war starts
It's them we must fight
To hate them and fear them
To run and to hide
And accept it all bravely
With God on my side.

But now we got weapons
Of the chemical dust
If fire them we're forced to
Then fire them we must
One push of the button
And a shot the world wide
And you never ask questions
When God's on your side.

In a many dark hour
I've been thinkin' about this
That Jesus Christ
Was betrayed by a kiss
But I can't think for you
You'll have to decide
Whether Judas Iscariot
Had God on his side.

So now as I'm leavin'
I'm weary as Hell
The confusion I'm feelin'
Ain't no tongue can tell
The words fill my head
And fall to the floor
If God's on our side
He'll stop the next war.

Well, if the last two lines are true, God isn't on "our" side as much as this might perturb and dismay the likes of Dick Cheney and others who somehow have the audacity to commit an entire nation to their religious vision.

Don't get me wrong, Cheney has the perfect right to believe in ANY version of God he choses. He does not have the right, however, to impose that religious interdiction upon a nation.

I am a devout Episcopalian. I am liberal in the sense that I don't expect you to agree with my view of God, the Trinity, the Bible or the implications of Christian history.

My liberalism is freeing... after all, it is your soul, not mine, at stake. I think no less of you for what you believe knowing that your beliefs today, if you are truly praying and in search of truth, will change daily. And if they don't, then you just aren't listening?

I don't like all Christian theology, nor do I like all Episcopalian or Anglican theology. I am not required to LIKE it. I am, I believe, required to tolerate it and hold those that are vehemently different than me in prayer. Why? Because that is what we Episcopalians/Anglicans do. We debate, yell, pray, stomp off, pray some more and kneel beside those different from us at the alter to accept God into ourselves. Accepting God means accepting all.

And I do.

Mostly, I have to pray for myself... for forgiveness in being judgmental (simple human!) and for peace among all people.

So, do I have God on my side? Yep. Absolutely.

Do you? Yep, absolutely.

Are we at peace, no, absolutely. But we are absolutely called to work on it.