A National “Conversation”
The NFL “anthem protests” over the weekend, indicate a few things, and gives us plenty of food for thought. Our President so deftly defused the fire by pouring gasoline on it. What was once a solitary player, Kaepernick, protesting police brutality became a league-wide protest and a national conversation.
We’ve been having a lot of “conversations” recently, and none of them seem to go beyond tribal mudsligning and many of them descend into riots. The President’s statements about firing the players who silently protest during the national anthem may seem to have been just gasoline on the fire, and if he had left well enough alone it might not have blown up to the proportions it did.
However, as I’ve reflected on what Trump did, I’m inclined to think that once again he (perhaps) had a strategic goal in mind. He certainly encouraged the nationalism that got him elected, but one other thing it produced (and again, I’m not sure if this was intentional by Trump or not) a muddying of the messaging for those protesting.
Muddying the Message
While Kaepernick originally was intending to make this about police brutality against blacks, it has snowballed into a fruit salad of widely varying “protests.” Sure, race is one of the more prominent things being protested, but now we have whole teams in the locker room to show “solidarity,” we have other teams locking arms to display “unity,” some guys sitting on the bench, others kneeling, other guys standing solo in counter-protest to show “support to the troops.” But effectively, now no one really knows what the messaging IS for these protests.
Trump made the protests about Trump.Trump’s statement didn’t draw attention to the issues we ought to be debating and addressing; instead he made the protests about Trump. That’s why I’m inclined to think he did this strategically. He hijacked the protests, and made himself be a part of the conversation. Say what you will about him, but one thing we have seen him do repeatedly is use the momentum of some current event, and leverage it for his own branding, mission, goal. Thus, the NFL, with the highest amount of viewership of any televised programming, is now forced to discuss and take a position on Trump. Regardless of what Trump’s intent is in inserting himself into this issue, he has ensured that we are talking about him, and I think I can safely say, that’s the way he likes it.
False Religions Have the Tastiest Potlucks
Conservatives, and especially Christian conservatives, must be wary of the fact that the false religion of nationalism has some really appealing bait. It offers a sense of stability, respectability, and virtuousness. However, Conservatives’ outrage over “disrespecting” the flag shows that we have come to hold it sacred. We have not honored God as holy, as our worship and lifestyles show, so we have come to pay homage and reverence to the symbols of national religion. When nothing is holy, then everything is holy. We are currently seeing a frenzy over which god we will serve. Equality is the idol of the protestors, nationalism is the idol of conservatives, and the list could go on.
We opine about how this dishonors the “men who gave their lives.” Yet we forget that the flag has also flown over our Supreme Court’s rulings to “ok” the slaughter of babies, and referring to two dudes in bed together as marriage. The flag has flown over Congress’ repeated capitulation on overspending and increasing our debt to $20 trillion. It has flown over a White House that repeatedly lies through its teeth about sexual scandals, spying scandals, spending scandals, and every other stripe of scandal. It flew over slave fields. It flew over abortion clinics. It flew over soil that was not ours, claiming to make it ours by force.
All this to remind us that our flag has flown over foul deeds and fair ones.All this to remind us that our flag has flown over foul deeds and fair ones. Virtuous ones and wicked ones. The problem is that we think that because we have historically valued the virtues of holding life and liberty as sacred, there is no problem with the fact that we lack national repentance. Conservative Americans have come to believe that our national righteousness covers all our fiendish deeds. In fact, they damn us all the more. We claim to stand for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, while we tolerate the slaughter of babies, the desecration of marriage, the ever-increasing tax behemoth, nation-building, police state, and many other unrepented sins.
One Note, Once More
If you’ve followed my blog at all, you likely know what note I’ll strike once more. Repentance. It is vastly different from protest. It is vastly different from national pride. It is vastly different from equality marches or white nationalist marches. It cuts us all down to size, and ought to bring us all to our knees.
The flag of our nation represents us as a nation. It is not holy, it is not sacred. It is an ensign that designates the nation. If we want it to stand for something glorious, and we should, we must repent of having put nation ahead of Jesus, national pride ahead of biblical humility, civic duty ahead of Christian charity, feelings ahead of faith, experience ahead of exegesis, the constitution ahead of Scripture, the head of state ahead of the Head of the Church.
We must repent. Repent of injustices overlooked. Repent of communities decimated by tax-incentives for fatherless homes. Repent of abortion mills. Repent of police-brutality. Repent of anarchy and socialism. Repent of hypocrisy. Repent of valuing entertainment more than fellowship. Repent of being more concerned with being comfortable than being charitable. Repent of putting the city hall in the center of town instead of the church. Repent of putting football as more important than Lord’s Day worship. Repent of putting on the appearance of Christianity without rending of our hearts in repentance.