View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

I pledge allegiance to prayer

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton has ruled that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools is unconstitutional.

Specifically, he ruled that the reference to the nation being “under God” violates schoolchildren’s right to be “free from a coercive requirement to affirm God.”

The suit had been brought by atheist Michael Newdow.

The ruling applies only to three specific school districts in California, but higher courts could extend it to a number of states, or, if the U.S. Supreme Court upholds the decision, to the entire nation.

Now some religious types might be jumping up and down.

Me? Well, I have my own take.

I stopped reciting the pledge with hand on heart back in 1972 when I was in high school.

That was during the era of the Vietnam War. And Nixon.

I felt that I would be lying if I said our nation was “under God” given some of our nation’s actions at that time, and throughout its history.

Our nation’s behavior at times in the three decades since has done little to change my mind.

Plus, I had no desire to pledge allegiance to a “flag.”

I could pledge allegiance to the ideals on which our nation was founded.

But a piece of cloth?

Yes, I know that cloth is a symbol of our nation.

Yes, I know that we are no better or no worse than some other nations.

Yes, I know all nations have problems, and have been guilty of offences.

If I had a choice of where to live, in fact, the U.S. would still be near the top of my list.

But my faith comes first.

I am a Christian who happens to live in the U.S. If forced to chose, my faith would win.

Thus I have no problem taking a pledge to live “under God.”

It’s the nationalism part of the Pledge that’s a problem for me.

I do support my nation when it is acting justly and generously.

I readily praise my nation is those instances.

Nor do I want to disparage those who are sincerely patriotic. (Though, when it comes to some “patriotic” types, I agree with Samuel Johnson that, “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”)

So I don’t go around trying to mock others or to draw attention to my position.

When the Pledge is recited, I stand out of respect for the nation’s ideals and in particular for those who have sacrificed for those ideals.

Out of politeness, in some circumstances I will even mouth the words.

But I don’t say it as a “pledge.”

Maybe if they change the words to something like, “I pledge allegiance to the ideals of liberty and justice on which this nation was founded, and to those who have tried to live out those ideals and to extend them to others, acting under the guidance of God, but always with respect for others’ beliefs and rights,” well, then I might just say the Pledge.

Until then, I will politely stand, and, as I often do, say a prayer instead.

Maybe I’ll say one for Michael Newdow.

2 Comments:

Blogger LAmom said...

Very well said, Lee. I'm linking to you.

7:47 PM  
Anonymous self hypnosis said...

Many people try to achieve goals. Most fail. Some strive, work hard and plan for all the details yet they achieve little or nothing at all. Others strive, work hard, plan and achieve huge success. Yet there are a few individuals who do little else than take small steps and seem to achieve a great deal with what seems like effortlessness. What is the difference between these people and which one would you like to be?
Most members of the human race fall into two categories - those who live in the past and those who live in the future. Most live in the past. Many of these are the people who achieve very little in their lives and are so fearful of the future that they dare not strike out to get anything. They are the under-achievers who hang onto bad episodes in their lives and either relive them time and again or look at new situations as similar potentialities. They say things like "all men are deceivers" or "all women are interested in is money" or "I can't do it. I tried before and it didn't work so why bother!". Due to bad experiences in the past they believe that all future events will turn out the same way if they dare to go after what they want.
The other type of person lives in the future. This type tends to create more of the things they want in life. They have a vision of where they want to go and exactly how they are going to get there. They work diligently at making concrete plans and they pursue those plans with a persistent ferocious appetite for success. These people are the high achievers - The Richard Branson and Bill Gates of the world. These people have much to teach us about setting and achieving goals.
However, there is a third type of person who almost goes unnoticed. They are the person who takes life in its stride and yet achieve most of what they want. I am sure you know of such a person in your life that just seems to saunter through life and yet they always come out on top. Or a person who you hear of that has decided to open a shop. You meet them a few months later and they have three shops all doing well! So what makes these people so successful and if they aren't living in the past and aren't living in the future where are they living?
I suppose you guessed it! Whether they are consciously aware of it or not they are living in the present. It is in the 'living' present that we have our greatest power. Everything happens in the present. You live your entire life there - even if your mind does not!

By becoming more aware of the present and by 'accepting' it as it is we are much more in control of our emotions and focus. When we live in the past we are fearful of making bad choices and/or getting hurt. We do not wish to recreate the past again! When we live in the future we can also be fearful of what might happen. But even if your future vision is full of power and worthy of working towards many people can, and often do, get stuck there. By constantly reaching for bigger and better goals they fail to enjoy what they have in the moment.
If you wish to start living a life that is almost effortless begin first by living in the present. Accept your situation the way it is and then you can enjoy what you have. Your focus changes from a memory of what was or a vision of what might be to a realization of what is. You become much more empowered to then see the beauty of life and also look at where you wish to make changes. But to make changes you must first accept the situation as it is. Trying to escape from your present only increases your focus on your problems by creating resistance to what is. Accept your life as it is now. Make no judgement, just accept it and then you will be free of doubt, worry, pain and fear. For you only experience these things when you live outside the 'moment'. subliminal

3:15 PM  

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