Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Fireworks and Frozen Yogurt

Today was Canada Day which, while not as big a deal to most Canadians as the Fourth of July is to Americans, is nevertheless a national holiday that involves a parade (in my home village, this happens only twice a year, the other time being Christmas). I celebrated by watching Corner Gas, eating frozen yogurt, and taking an accidental 5-hour nap. If I finish planning tomorrow's VBS lesson in time, I may watch the fireworks from my balcony.

This year's Canada Day festivities have triggered two trains of thought for me. The first is that I am very thankful to live in a democratic country, where I have the freedom to believe what I want and share my beliefs with others. I even have the freedom to vote now that I turned 18, although I'm thankful I don't have to exercise that freedom this summer (minority governments = way too many elections). But that being said, as I've been following the news lately, I've been increasingly grieved to see how some people in our country (including Christians, maybe especially Christians) elevate this day's status to that of a quasi-religious holiday. We feel that because Canada was founded on "Christian" principles (such as, for instance, bloody feuding between anglophone Protestants and francophone Catholics, or banishing multitudes of Native American children to residential schools where, along with learning about the love of Jesus, they had to deal with physical, emotional, and sexual abuse). Undoubtedly, there were some strong (although imperfect, like all of us) Christians in our country's history, but I never know whether to be sad or amused when I see other Canadian Christians treating the smallest slight against our country, whether real or imagined, as a slight against God. We had a principal in an elementary school about two hours from where I live make the controversial decision to play the national anthem only during school assemblies, rather than every morning after some parents objected to their children singing it for religious reasons. You would think he had gone on television and burned our flag or something. People around the country responded in outrage, with the general consensus being that this man was now single-handedly responsible for the shed blood of every Canadian soldier who died in battle. The political party with which he was affiliated was immediately branded as being anti-anthem and anti-Canada. Finally, he had to quit his jobs because of death threats. Death threats, for no other reason than choosing to play the national anthem with less frequency. It would be ludicrous if it wasn't so sad.

I have nothing against people who love their country. I love mine, too. I take pride in being a Canuck, and even in the quirks that are so often associated with the title. I may not live in an igloo (although I wouldn't mind trying the ice hotel in Quebec City someday) but I really do end many of my sentences with eh. I use the metric system and I think Corner Gas is comedy at its best. I do, however, have a problem with people who equate love of their country with hatred of its perceived enemies. Canada is not the new Israel. It is not God's new chosen nation. We do not have the right to His unequivocal protection against any enemies that may arise. To borrow from Elisabeth Elliot, "being a Canadian does not make me a better Christian. Rather, being a Christian makes me a better Canadian."

So happy Canada Day to all two of my Canadian readers and happy early Independence Day to any Americans reading this. I hope you have a great day, and that you are thankful for the many blessings that come with living in a democratic country with a better than average human rights record. Just remember these wise words from Pablo Casals: "Love for one's country is all well and good, but why should love stop at the border?"


Joanna said...

We get the Christian country stuff here in Australia too. It really frustrates me. We started as a prison colony and have a history of terrible abuse of our native peoples. Not exactly Christian principles in action there!

Bruce IV said...

Amen - Canada is a great country, but its not the only great country - the "why should love stop at the border" quote I found particularly succinct.

Matt @ The Church of No People said...

Happy Canada Day. I think the US is very much the same - founded on some Christian principles, but stewarded by many imperfect people. So the Christian stuff got mixed up with the bad stuff. It's hard to know whether it's a Christian nation sometimes. But there are still lots of people who equate patriotism with reverence to God.