I don’t know about you, but I don’t think Veterans Day (or Memorial Day or Valentine’s Day or Presidents’ Day or M.L. King Day or another other secular holiday) should play a substantive role in a church assembly.

An elder, believe it or not, began yesterday evening’s small church gathering by asking if anyone knew the “Marines’ Hymn.”  Thinking incorrectly (and hopefully!), my head immediately went in the direction of the Navy Hymn, “Eternal Father,” which is a profound prayer-song with powerful music.  No, instead, he really meant the “Marines’ Hymn,” which is no hymn in any sense, and which has nothing to do with God or what Christians should expect to think about when meeting together.

Now, I’ve sung “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” and probably “God Bless America” in Christian gatherings before.  Those songs and “America, the Beautiful” are okay once in a great while, I suppose.  But I was completely horrified when this group was actually led in a stanza of the Marines’ song:

From the Halls of Montezuma,
To the shores of Tripoli;
We fight our country’s battles
In the air, on land, and sea;
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean;
We are proud to claim the title
Of United States Marine.

I ask you (and please don’t answer)¹:  why on earth should any group of gathered Christians spend any time with those words?  Even if you find being a Marine to be harmonious with being a Christian, perhaps you can see the inherent conflict between the value system implied by this song and the values generally championed in Christian assemblies.  Anyway, I was aghast and excused myself for a few minutes.

I returned to the likes of “There’s a Rainbow in the Cloud” and “Home of the Soul” and “Each Day I’ll Do a Golden Deed,” which weren’t much better for my inner self, but that’s a story for another time.

¹ Really, don’t answer … if you agree, well, there’s no need for either of us to spend any more heart-time on this.  If you disagree, please keep it to yourself this time.  I don’t have the forbearance I would need in order to read and respond.

One thought on “Horrified

  1. Brian Casey 02/09/2014 / 1:48 pm

    This comment was shared anonymously; pasted in here with slight modifications.

    We just completed a fairly extensive discussion about this very topic today, as we had a bit too much militarism at the ______ (reputable, sizable) Church yesterday morning—followed by a 5-minute “devo” (When did “devo” or “devotional” become a synonym for “relatively short religious speech”?) this a.m. at our weekly men’s breakfast, which was nothing more than a military appraisal leading up to some specifics about George Bush I’s bravado in flying through a dangerous Japanese-infested ocean area and then writing his thoughts about it later. No “spiritual” or even “religious” application attempt whatsoever.

    Oh, well. Actually I suppose the main thing we did Sun. a.m. was have all veterans stand and be clapped for. I’ve thought about writing a letter to the elders asking them to carefully evaluate the purpose of anything (Mother’s Day included, as applepieish as that one is) that tends to take our minds away from the worship of the Lord. Added to our most questionable practice here is the fact that in the audience are citizens of numerous other countries. Are our Chinese brethren and sistren present in our assembly supposed to take this practice and translate it into glamorizing Mao Tse-tung for his disastrous policies and yet his part in founding the Chinese Communist Party. In your case, what about any Latinos present in your assemblies?

    While I recognize that many congregations (perhaps most) have begun celebrating veterans and use the assembly to kind of “surround” their celebration, I would add a dissenting voice in an elders’ meeting (or elsewhere) if I were an elder again, as I did at ________. Now, if something occurred in an assembly that was a one-time, almost accidental or spur-of-the-moment obtrusion, I probably would just let it go. . . .


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