A blog by the magazine's editors and contributors
Anna Nussbaum July 2, 2007 - 10:06pm
Independence Day is only two days away. Do you think patriotic songs or hymns, such as America the Beautiful, should be sung at Mass? It seems wrong to me, but I'd love to hear what you think.
Allow me to stray from the topic very briefly. I promise there is a connection.Several times this year at my church, one of the petitions has been, "For the safety of our troops abroad who are fighting and dying to protect our freedoms, Lord, hear our prayer!"While I have no problem praying for the safe return of our troops, I object to the idea that they are fighting to protect my freedoms! The attitude that everything MY country does is right, good, and virtuous is certainly an idolatrous one.That's the reason singing patriotic songs at Mass makes me queasy. Are we asking God to enlighten and guide the country that we love? Or are we uncritically praising everything about the "good ol' USA"?Seems to me that the motivation for singing the songs , even more than the actual words, might be the crucial factor.
Bob Schwartz:I refrained from addressing this to BS ....I participate in Mass to worship my God Incarnate. Period. If I want to worship the US I can do it elsewhere, like the Super Bowl, American Idol, the Wall Street Journal or the Republican party.
Jimmy Mac:I stand corrected. I had not realized that singing ATB amounts to worshipping the U.S. And it's all right to refer to me as BS; I don't mind, and I'm sure Grant Gallicho doesn't mind either. (That's a subtle inside joke, Jimmy.)
On the perhaps dubious assumption that these conversations never die, I'd like to assert the nihil obstat privilege on America the Beautiful. My goal was to assert that it was free of doctrinal error (i.e., imperialism and idolatry) not that it rose above insipid, a judgement that considering the rhymes may not be unfair.On the other hand, and perhaps I'm influenced by my grandmother here, I do like the fact that it is very visual and descriptive, as opposed to the typical patriotic song that has a lot of abstracts like liberty and freedom.
Tweets by @commonwealmag