Brett McCracken has a fantastic little essay on patriotism over at the “Mere Orthodoxy” blog. In short, he extols patriotism and argues that it’s an error to confuse patriotism with nationalism. He writes:
Patriotism is a good thing. It’s the natural emotional connection we have with place. We’re wired to ache for this notion of “home.” It’s what the Israelites longed for in the Sinai. It’s what the Hobbits longed for (the Shire) during their Middle Earth adventures. It’s what constitutes part of C.S. Lewis’s Sehnsucht: a nostalgic longing for the “Green Hills” of his Belfast childhood, “the low line of the Castlereagh Hills which we saw from the nursery windows”…
And so this Independence Day, I’m not going to feel bad about my pride in America. I’m not going to shrink from patriotism, as if it’s anything other than a natural and good thing to feel. I will be careful not to confuse it with nationalism, however, and will not forget the fact that as Christians, “our first love must be the kingdom of God, over and above any love of country, no matter how pure and honorable that love might be.”
Ultimately my fondness for “home” and all of its nostalgic resonances–Gettysburg, Old Faithful, college football tailgating, Norman Rockwell, Kansas City barbecue, cherry cobbler–should point me heavenward, stirring my heart but not satisfying it, stoking the fires of Sehnsucht just as the Irish green hills did for Lewis.
This is a really fine article. Read the rest here, and happy July 4th!