What is your only comfort?

Urban God-talk for the church-o-phobic.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

47% American - what's with the missing 53%

Stacey posted about her experience taking the "How American Are You" online quiz which made me wonder - "well, how American am I?" I thought I'd be at least 80% American, having been born here and lived almost my entire life here. Plus, I live in the all-American city of Brooklyn, where just about every American has a relative or an ancestor or at least a friend named Louie.

I could list my qualifications for being an American, which are many. But how about the fact that I have an American passport, pay U.S. taxes, and vote in every single election (even the odd year primaries). I majored in modern American history in college, and even met with a military recruiter after September 11th. Many of my overseas friends comment that I'm as American as they come - especially the poor people in the Netherlands who had to listen to me read the morning's Old Testament lesson in Dutch this past May. Ouch, my Dutch is bad. After four generations of being American, I missed the opportunity to learn how to speak Dutch well. So I can hardly qualify as a real Hollander.

But thanks to this survey, I now know that I am a mere 47% American. While part of me wants to shout that this online quiz is stupid, totally lopsided, and equates being American with being conservative, pro-military and deeply enamored with NASCAR, I remind myself that being American is secondary to being a child of God.

Some of the greatest American heroes are associated with liberal political thought and non-violence. John F. Kennedy, FDR and Martin Luther King easily come to mind. So do A. J. Muste and Dorothy Day. Let's not forget that Muste is a proud product of the Reformed tradition. And not everyone in America loves NASCAR - that's why baseball is still called "America's Game." Jackie Robinson most likely wouldn't have made the grade in the great American test, either.

Thankfully, there isn't an online quiz to tell you that you're only 47% a child of God - even though you can often feel that you hear that message from some Christians. The answer to the first question of the Heidelberg Catechism provides a lot of comfort for those of us who wonder where the other 53% of us lies. Actually, 100% of us belongs body and soul not to ourselves (or to our country) but rather to our faithful savior Jesus Christ. This would encompass both the 47% of me that qualifies as American and the missing 53% which is has yet to be found.

God loves each of us 100% - if we're American, Candian, French, Iraqi or North Korean. While NASCAR fans may not have too much in common with people who frequent Bach concerts, we all have one thing in common. We belong not to ourselves, but to Christ.

Perhaps if we would remember this more often, we might be less inclined to categorize people as "American" or "Anti-America." Perhaps we might be more willing to talk with one another and fight a little less ficiously. Perhaps then, we might be able to beat swords into plowshares.


At 9:05 AM, Blogger Apostle John said...

Gee, I'm only 67%. I think that's because I believe in the First Ammendment -- how unamerican of me :)


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