If you’ve watched a sporting event in America anytime in, oh, say the last ten years you know that product advertisements are all over the place. “This kick is brought to you by New Balance”, “That replay is brought to you by ACUVUE Lenses”, etc. (Even my online baseball updates are now endorsed by possibly the most boring brand in history – GrapeNuts.)
In light of the name brands that get their ad space in every-which-way, it’s not surprising to hear the end of the political speeches these days. They might as well just say “This speech was brought to you by God”.
Obama said it, Palin said it, and I presume McCain, Biden, Huckabee, Clinton and Clinton all said it too. They get towards the end of the speech, the volume rises, the intensity kicks in, the crowd is on their every word and you can’t forget to give the exclamation mark – “God Bless America!”
And it gets us every time.
That warm fuzzy feeling that says yes, we are all Americans, we all love God, God loves us and our party is going to win! In the word(s?) of Howard Dean in 2004 - Yeah!!
Nothing says patriotism like “God bless America”. It was on the billboards on September 12, it’s sung every 7th inning, and it’s possibly the most important thing politicians can say.
But what are they saying?
Are they saying that God should bless America? We must be the most morally superior nation in the world. Americans must have a collective faith that other countries can only dream of. God will suddenly realize that America is the one special place in the world deserving his overflowing blessing.
Are they saying that God will bless America if they are elected President? McCain’s war experience, Obama’s universal health care, Biden’s foreign policy and Palin’s lipstick will be that secret key into God’s special outpouring on America.
Or is it just a catchphrase, a piece of ear candy, the traditional thing to say. It’s at times like these when I can appreciate the Jewish awe of his name when they won’t pronounce it or at times even write G—‘s name.
And are we quite possibly even going so far as to take his name for granted, to say his name in vain?
When you think about the fact that a candidate’s faith wasn’t even mentioned, that they don’t evoke images of God’s power, that they don’t praise God for his provision or that they don’t humbly ask for God’s blessing on their country you get the impression that the speech is not really about God. In fact, the speech is not even really about the country. It’s about the candidate. When looked at that way, God’s name is no more than a pretty little bow tying up a speech full of other words people want and expect to hear.
The fact is that God has blessed America. But at the same time, are these the kind of speeches, politicians, parties or even countries God cares to endorse?