God's Politics

God's Politics


Brian McLaren: Our Neighborhood Parade

posted by God's Politics

I live in a little town called “Scaggsville.” I know what you’re thinking. But really, it’s a great town, nestled in the Patuxent Valley—in the last sliver of green between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Md.
Our little neighborhood has put together its own July 4 parade for the last few years. So on the fourth at 11 a.m., my wife and I will walk down the street with folding chairs to the parade route. We’ll sit on the sidewalk under a shady oak as a few dozen kids come riding by on their bikes, decorated with streamers and such. We’ll cheer and clap and laugh with our neighbors, ooo-ing and aaah-ing as if it were the Rose Bowl Parade or Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade or something big and special. Because for us it is.
There will probably be a couple of fire trucks and a couple of pickups—one of which may, if we’re lucky, contain some kids putting their music lessons to good use playing patriotic songs. I think we had a unicyclist last year, and one year somebody rode a horse, which was really exciting to see. Lots of people will have flags and some will evoke Mardi Gras by throwing candy to us spectators—who number, by the way, slightly fewer than the marchers because it’s a small neighborhood and its so much fun to march.
There will probably be a few stray dogs barking and running rampant, plus other dogs on leashes. You really have your choice in this parade—you can be a spectator or join in at any time. The local sub shop (best in the world in my opinion) will give a prize to the house with the best decorated mailbox … or maybe it will be for the best parade-participant, or both, I can’t remember. It doesn’t matter really: the whole thing is a delight, the closest a lot of us will ever feel to a small town parade.
I think I’ll especially enjoy this year’s parade because like a lot of people, I’ve been pretty disappointed by what’s on the news lately. If you haven’t noticed, our government can’t seem to get much good done these days, whatever the party, whatever the binary leanings. The whole big top-down system feels like it’s reached that moment in the Wizard of Oz when little Toto misbehaves and inadvertently blows the wizard’s cover.
Our little neighborhood parade feels more like Dorothy and her ragtag companions, kind of clueless but completely sincere. Our parade represents bottom-up democracy … people coming together in a neighborhood to do something simply because it’s good for the kids and therefore good for us all. Shoot, I might even pump up the tires in my old bike, and if I wave a flag, it will be first and foremost to celebrate Scaggsville-style people-power. God bless America, and God bless all the neighborhoods that, like Scaggsville, know how to pull together for the common good—including the common good of good times.
Brian McLaren (brianmclaren.net) serves as board chair for Sojourners/Call to Renewal. His next book, Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope, will be released in October.



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neuro_nurse

posted July 4, 2007 at 11:59 am


“…our government can’t seem to get much good done these days…”
Let the finger-pointing begin!
Happy 4th.



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Wolverine

posted July 4, 2007 at 12:10 pm


Brian McLaren wrote:
Shoot, I might even pump up the tires in my old bike, and if I wave a flag, it will be first and foremost to celebrate Scaggsville-style people-power. God bless America, and God bless all the neighborhoods that, like Scaggsville, know how to pull together for the common good—including the common good of good times.
Flag waving? God Bless America?
Whoa buddy, where’s all this nationalism suddenly coming from?
Wolverine



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Alan Lunn

posted July 4, 2007 at 3:15 pm


Just a note of thanks to Brian for his encouraging website and wonderful books.
My life was a rocky, bumpy ride from atheist hippy to fringe holiness Pentecostalism to apostolic reformation Charismania to the dark night of the soul. A few years ago I emerged from that and found Brian. To some he is a threat; and when I talk like him I get the same kind of flak.
But I am much more at ease with the Gospel and my savior and his people, whom I appreciate even when they don’t appreciate me. And I am helping many more people to join the big story than I was in my other various Christian guises.
Love ya, man.



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Bill Samuel

posted July 4, 2007 at 7:49 pm


Brian is spearheading a group beginning a DeepShift effort to have people look deeply at what changes are needed, culminating with an Everything Must Change Tour in 2008. See the DeepShift Web site.
Maybe when this effort is over, Brian will have found, with many others, that it is time to give up flag waving for something deeper.
Actually, I think Brian gave a better commentary a couple of years ago.



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kevin s.

posted July 4, 2007 at 8:46 pm


Nice post. I like my church. I don’t think everything must change.
“Whoa buddy, where’s all this nationalism suddenly coming from?”
Matt Dillon pulled him from a burning vehicle.



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Wolverine

posted July 4, 2007 at 11:51 pm


Brian is spearheading a group beginning a DeepShift effort to have people look deeply at what changes are needed, culminating with an Everything Must Change Tour in 2008.
So I guess you could say that Brian is in Deep Shift?
(Okay, I’ll stop now.)
Wolverine



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Moderatelad

posted July 5, 2007 at 8:43 am


I like homegrown parades – they are the best.
Kids on bikes – horse(s) – contests supported by local businesses – too cool.
I noticed that lack of mentioning any ‘offical’ color guard starting the parade, any Vets from WWI, WWII etc walking with the rest of them. Maybe they were there and are just not mentioned in the article due to an ‘oversight’. (wink-wink)
Have a great day –
Rob



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Matt

posted July 5, 2007 at 9:06 am


God Bless America? Am I confused here?



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Anonymous

posted July 5, 2007 at 9:21 am


Flag waving? God Bless America?Whoa buddy, where’s all this nationalism suddenly coming from?
Wolverine
Thank you for proving the point that whatever Mr. McLaren writes, you’ll have something snide and snotty to say about it. You have met expectations.



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Jon Jernigan

posted July 5, 2007 at 11:31 am


We moved into our community almost 10 years ago. We were totally delighted to find out that there is an annual neighborhood 4th of July parade. We, our kids and pets have participated in the parade almost every year. For the first time we opted to be spectators. It was very moving. At that moment you forget about the wars, partisanship, crime and poverty. For that moment we are reminded that we are Americans, regardless of view points, regardless of ancestory and regardless of status. For that moment you are proud in spite of our mistakes and our human frailties. It’s a time to re-evaluate, re-group and try to improve.
Jon
Memphis, TN



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genie

posted July 5, 2007 at 11:31 am


Thanks, Brian. I, too, reveled in some patriotic thoughts, remembrances and activities, although not too much because I was traveling on the 4th. But I completely understand that for those of us who are so disappointed by the arrogance, the militance and retaliatory leadership of our government today (both parties at times!), I still give thanks for the freedoms we do have (wish they were available to more folks in our land), and enjoy celebrating all the good things that have come from our democracy. That doesn’t prevent me from holding in tension the prophetic witness that we need to voice as followers of Christ, that strives to push against the injustices we see all around us and a war that is only making us less loved around the world. I wish that some of the bloggers who constantly criticize you and Jim Wallis, could have opportunity to actually talk to folks who live in other countries, who want to like us, but who find it so difficult to love us because we are so self-serving and arrogant. Thanks for being a sane, gracious voice for so many of us!



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neuro_nurse

posted July 5, 2007 at 12:13 pm


Once again we are seeing confusion between patriotism and nationalism.
Patriotism allows people to criticize their government, nationalism does not.
Lately, when I see signs and bumper stickers that read “God bless America,” I think the b doesn’t belong there.
Seek peace and pursue it.



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suzanna

posted July 5, 2007 at 12:24 pm


I noticed people too yesterday. On the grassy lawn of the church where they offered a no-charge party for the neighborhood who sits on their lot to watch fireworks.
It’s good to be together. Even when there is so much to fix. Maybe that’s what Mr McClaren was enjoying.



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Eric

posted July 5, 2007 at 1:27 pm


Nice commentary! I love small town parades. It reminds me of my home town.
Happy 4th! Wave a flag: annoy Howard Zinn!



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carl copas

posted July 5, 2007 at 1:37 pm


Alan Lunn,
Brian helped turn my life around also. Truly a man of God.
And God bless that old lefty atheist Howard Zinn, a decorated pilot of World War II. Chickenhawks and armchair warriors, now line up to take potshots at him.



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Eric

posted July 5, 2007 at 3:23 pm


Carl – Are you calling me a chickenhawk and armchair warrior? Just checking…
And what’s wrong with taking potshots at someone who calls flying an American flag nationalistic? Being a veteran doesn’t give someone lifetime immunity from criticism.



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Sarasotakid

posted July 5, 2007 at 3:41 pm


Being a veteran doesn’t give someone lifetime immunity from criticism. Eric
We know that! Look at the Swiftboat campaign. Chickenhawks and armchair warriors of the world unite.



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neuro_nurse

posted July 5, 2007 at 5:37 pm


“what’s wrong with taking potshots at someone who calls flying an American flag nationalistic”
So far on this thread, the only occurrences of the words ‘flag’ and ‘nationalism’ in conjunction with each other were in Wolverine’s sarcastic post, references to his post, and your last post.
Patriots, who are free to criticize this country’s government and its policies, are also free to wave the U.S. flag if they wish.
Seek peace and pursue it.



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Sarasotakid

posted July 5, 2007 at 9:43 pm


Sara – Well, then if you agree with me tell that to Carl, he doesn’t seem to understand. Posted by: Eric
Ha-NOT!



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Mick Sheldon

posted July 5, 2007 at 10:49 pm


Once again we are seeing confusion between patriotism and nationalism.
Patriotism allows people to criticize their government, nationalism does not.
============================================
Well thats wrong on both accounts , or it should be wrong . A young man from my church is getting ready to come back from Iraq , his father told him he burned the Flag on the Fourth . Myself , this young man , and his Mother all oppose the war In Iraq . His Mother and the father are divorced , she goes to a Bible believing church , he believs in the Mud goddess or something .
Side point, sorry .
Burning the Flag showed a total disregard for the men and women serving , have served , will serve , and all the men and women treated wrongly or rightly by our government .
God Bless America. Nationalism and Patriotism should allow you to criticise or defend your government’s actions . Its how you do it I believe .



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neuro_nurse

posted July 6, 2007 at 9:19 pm


Patriotism: love for or devotion to one’s country.
Nationalism: loyalty and devotion to a nation; especially: a sense of national consciousness exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups.
Frankly, I never understood why I should pledge allegiance to a piece of cloth.
Seek peace and pursue it.



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Peter Nichols

posted July 6, 2007 at 9:20 pm


Howard Zinn is a living example of Jews as God’s chosen people. He is doing God’s work. Is he an atheist? He may be a Buddhist. His son-in-law has instituted a successful program at UMass Medical Center prescribing yoga and zazen meditation as an aid in pain management, and in treating emotional problems and addictions.
I have to wonder why it was necessary to take a gratuitous swipe at such a dedicated man of peace.Some of the regular contributors to this blog seem to be here only for disruptive and contrarian purposes.



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Amazon Creek

posted July 8, 2007 at 1:43 am


Loved the article! Totally understand. I tend to love “ragtag” stuff too – and yes, that’s probably why. Usually ragtag people say what they mean, and mean what they say. What you see – is what you get. Wonderfully so! No artificial dyes, no need for preservatives.
It’s the sophisticated personalities that daily lust after power and seek to impress all the sophisticated people in power that spoil things. They think it is better to reign in Hell, than to serve in heaven. And so they succeed in reigning…but lo and behold, they are in HELL. What good is that?
Someone once said, “Life is only a rat race, if you choose to race with rats.”
Hey, what could have been more ragtag than Jesus and his humble ragamuffin band of followers? Once again, they were what they were. No pretense.
And so we long for that.



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