God Bless America?

In early fall of 2008 I was listening to the radio on the morning that Lehman Brothers failed and there was great concern that this was the beginning of the end of our financial system. It was all a bit scary and I began to pray, “Lord, please protect us.”

The response? “Why should I? I have blessed America beyond anything the world has ever known before. Should I step in now to protect her snowmobiles and McMansions and Supergulp sodas and plastic surgery and $200 Nikes? I have children who will never own a pair of shoes all over the world. Families who will never live in a space larger than your closet. But I need to protect America? From what?”

What can you say to something like that? So I thought for a minute and said, “change. Change is hard. Many people’s lives are going to be changing and people will be losing what they thought was secure. Please help people handle the change. Have mercy on them.”

I’m thinking about this exchange today on the 4th of July when the words “God bless America” are filling the air and our facebook feeds. The thing is that God has blessed America. We are the richest, most powerful country the world has ever known. We have been blessed with a land of beauty and bounty, with toilets and running water in every home, technology that would have seemed like magic not so long ago.

If I may have the temerity to actually say this – especially on the 4th of July – perhaps we should stop to consider whether we can handle any more blessings. Isn’t a country which can obsess over Snookie and WWF and the latest Apple gadget already choking on its blessing? Our food, our entertainment, our health, our wealth – it is all present in such abundance that the costs of obesity, technology, old age health care, income inequality and such are threatening to devour those same blessings. Perhaps the time has come to stop saying, “God bless America” and start saying, “God, let America be a blessing.” Surely we don’t think that God gives us blessings simply so we can spend nearly $2 billion a year on hair removal?

So, today I will pray, “Thank you for blessing America. God bless Chad. God bless Mexico. God bless the Sudan. God bless Indonesia. God bless Russia. God bless Guatemala. God bless . . . “

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