This is How We Celebrate America

July 2, 2010

I feel like kind of a rube, because I didn’t even realize the Fourth of July fell on a Sunday this year until a few days ago.

I guess that maybe tells you how much patriotism I’m planning to incorporate into Sunday worship.  But July fourth is pretty big for a lot of churches.  That’s about as big as the planets aligning, except Christians don’t pay attention to planets because astrology is evil.

Anyway, whether it’s on a Sunday or not, the Fourth of July has a lot of really big traditions in and out of the church besides fireworks.  Here’s my top ways to celebrate America.

Eat a lot of food

Eating a giant meal to celebrate a holiday is as American as…well, eating a giant meal any other day of the year.  Chances are good that your church will throw a big potluck, and then you’ll go home and have a giant barbecue.  My favorite part of July fourth potlucks?  All the patriotic desserts that look like American flags.  Every time I see a church lady with a perfectly arranged flag cake, it brings a patriotic tear to my eye.  Right behind Easter peeps, I think American flag cakes with marshmallow stars is my fifth favorite way to consume marshmallows. (First through third place being: on a stick, “chubby bunny” games, and in fluff form straight out of the jar.)

Drink a lot of adult beverages

I worked as a grocery store cashier over a few Fourths, and let me tell you, Americans like to drink cheap, tasteless American “beer” to celebrate their freedom.  It’s not surprising, really.  Flag Day was two weeks ago, and the next excuse to party won’t be until Labor Day.  And this is the only holiday where blowing stuff up is expressly encouraged, which always goes great with booze.  I think we should institute a new July Fourth tradition.  For one day only, I think every seat belt, helmet, and not-standing-on-your-motorcycle-while-careening-down-the-highway law should just be suspended for a day.  There’s nothing like celebrating your freedom by using your freedom to try to hurt yourself, or at least killing a few brain cells you weren’t using.

Have “America Day” at church

God understands.  We give him like 51 Sundays a year already.  Well, maybe we shouldn’t count youth Sunday.  And then there’s the Sunday after Christmas that’s always kind of weird and no one’s there.  And Labor Day Sunday is kind of a wash.  Well okay, after you take away the Sundays we aren’t phoning it in, it’s like 28 Sundays.  Anyway, God understands it if we want to take a break from talking about his everlasting kingdom to celebrate the fact that we’ve somehow, in spite of ourselves, kept a democracy (sort of) going for two-hundred and fifty years.  Plus, we’ve given the world pizza, chimichangas, and Chinese food.  You’re welcome, Earth.  God’s impressed too.  And He really likes John Philip Sousa.

Sing that song about being proud to be an American

You know the song.  “I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free…”  I’m going to be bold and say I absolutely abhor that song.  It is a blight on this country, and I want to stick ice picks in my ears every time I hear the first note of it…But dang it, I will defend to the death your right to sing it, loudly, and off key, in your pick up truck, with your gun rack in the back window, and a mangy dog riding in back, with your shirt sleeves ripped off, and a faded American flag dew rag on your head.  Because that’s America, and these colors don’t run, so you can love it or leave it. 

Watch a movie with lots of ‘splosions

While you could watch a documentary to educate yourself on the history of Independence Day, most Americans are too tired from eating and blowing stuff up all day to be able to absorb a history lesson.  Actually, I think it must be a little un-American to actually be aware of American history.  I just heard the other day that 10% of Americans do not know that Hawaii is a state.  Wow.  And if you’re getting on Wikipedia to fact-check me on Hawaii, well I don’t know what to say except “congratulations.”

No, rather than learning about America, a better route when you’re too tired to blow up more stuff is to watch a movie with stuff being blown up.  July fourth almost always has a movie releasing that sure to sate your patriotic appetite with lots of carnage.  A few releases from previous July fourths include Die Hard 2, Terminator 2 or 3, Independence Day, Men in Black, Armageddon, War of the Worlds, and Transformers.  Man, Americans sure do like ‘splosions! 

Loud noises!

Come together as Americans

I know that we Christians have a lot of differences.  We like to squabble over petty matters with opinions we can’t back up.  We like to debate matters about God that we’ll never prove.  We like to draw lines in the sand with our brothers and sisters.  When we’re done arguing about theology, we’ll argue about politics.  When we’re done arguing about politics, we’ll argue about who’s to blame for the oil spill.  But you know what, it really inspires me that for just one day out of the year, we can put aside all of our differences as Christians, and come together in unity as Americans. 

How are you celebrating the Fourth this year? 

Oh, and if you want to see a church that’s really into the Fourth of July, check this out.  This is what church should be about all the time.

27 responses to This is How We Celebrate America

  1. Love #4! I liked that song back in elementary school when it first came out. But that was the best season for all of those huge choir-enhanced, over-the-top, look-at-me kind of songs. At this point, it’s almost a parody of itself. Except that it’s not.

    I think maybe I’ll sing the Kidney Now song. That will probably make me feel a bit better.

  2. I think I will be giving a history lesson at the picnic table. When one daughter asked if Iraq was near that Mall of America, I decided to take over for public schooling.

    It’s going to be hot and humid, so a chair in the shade and a cool drink, and something on the grill.

    I don’t really know what’s American anymore – I just know that it has changed so much in my lifetime, its a little disheartening.

    I think we’ll try to get to the fireworks somewhere and my wife and I will celebrate freedom, and our first kiss.

    • Good grief. Kids say the darndest things, huh? As someone who loves history, it baffles me how so many people (adults) can be content to know so little of it. I'm not saying you need to know a ton of history and current events. But enough that you should know if the government is repeating the mistakes of the past.

  3. There’s nothing like celebrating your freedom by using your freedom to try to hurt yourself, or at least killing a few brain cells you weren’t using.
    This post is absotively, posilutely fantastical. The above line may be my favorite!

  4. I’m selfishly hoping this rain will continue so my redneck neighbors don’t set their houses on fire with fireworks.

  5. You forgot Top Gun in #5 and baseball in #6. Commie.

    I’ll be camping so no fireworks, movies, or booze. And no overhyped Sunday service. Will be a nice change.

  6. I’m thinking the plan is go to church. Then hang out with the in laws and light some fire works, cook out. Nothing really remarkable. And you’re right, we’ll eat a lot but that’s no different from any other day. Except that we’ll be with family that really annoys us.

    nicodemusatnite.blogspot.com

  7. There was quite the uproar at my church when our pastor came 10 years ago and stopped the patriotic July 4 service, suggesting that we might possibly have crossed the line from showing gratitude to God to, I don’t know, idolatry or something.

    And he had never even seen the giant flag that we used to hide the cross with for that Sunday.

  8. Aaron Tippin is headlining the local park celebration, so I’m praying hard for Jesus to come back today or tomorrow!

    Yes…I had to look up how to spell his name. Apparently my ‘working man’s PhD’ didn’t have a module on phonics.

  9. Wow, I thought Colorado Springs was patriotic–but apparently we’re commies compared to Tennessee.

    We’re already received the email promising fireworks during the service on Sunday. I really don’t want to go, but my more spiritual husband insists it will be fine. Hopefully the focus will be on God and praying for our country, which it certainly needs.

    I’m definitely looking forward to watching fireworks over a mountain lake in a little town in the Rockies, with our two kids and their husbands.

  10. I’m not sure how I’m celebrating the 4th of July this year. Probably something tame. Although…I would sincerely like to personally blow something up, instead of watching other people blow stuff up for me. In fact, you inspired me to shamelessly plug my blog post about that: http://savedinbytes.blogspot.com/2010/07/whats-your-dream-4th-of-july.html

    Nothing says “American” like ignoring one’s safety and the safety of all those around him.

  11. Didn’t we just have America day like a month ago…I think it may have also been called Memorial Day Weekend.

  12. Um, this is going to sound snarky, & i don’t mean it to. “People take things so seriously.” Guess i fall into that category right now.

    More people (already) are killed over the 4th of July weekend than any other of the year. I know you said that in jest, but folks are already doing it.

    We are not a democracy & never have been. We are a democratic Republic, meaning the people have some say by voting, tho honestly, our votes don’t count for much.

    Have a great 4th. I’m just cranky today, i guess.

  13. I’m grateful (not just proud, so there Lee Greenwood) to be an American and I enjoy fireworks, the barbecues, etc. Yet, I belong to a Kingdom and I serve at the pleasure of the King…not the President of the United States. So I try to celebrate the 4th with a focus on His freedom…not just my independence.

  14. Of course, not being American, I had to google chimichangas — aren’t they Mexican, or is Mexico also a state now, along with Hawaii? Just as an aside, I’ll guarantee, chimichagas notwithstanding, that I know more about the States than most Americans know about Canada. Maybe I should blog, sometime, the questions “you guys” often ask us, ie: “Do you have igloos in Toronto?” “I guess you people don’t need fridges, then?” “Why do you Canadians always say, ‘eh’?” I’ll save the rest – might need them one day, eh?

    One thing I do envy you, is your patriotism, even if some of you may feel it’s waning somewhat. I can remember standing on a hill, down in Carlsbad, one July 4th, watching the fireworks, amazed at how everyone put their hands over their hearts and began to sing, “Oh, say can you see…” — and when the fireworks were on, it wasn’t just the smoke that brought tears to my eyes. I would LOVE to have been an American, at that moment.

  15. “No, rather than learning about America, a better route when you’re too tired to blow up more stuff is to watch a movie with stuff being blown up.” I’ll be the first to say that I don’t know everything about America’s history or our government. However, I am often flabbergasted by how little some fellow citizens know (or even care to know.)

  16. Your posts are often featured on Revelife (even though you aren’t a part of the community there). I usually like what you have to say. But this one, not so much. It’s irreverent, cynical, and makes fun of how Americans celebrate our nation. If Christians continue this cynical attitude into the next generation, I hate to see what life will be like in 20 years. We carry the banner of hope, something this country has bled for well over 200 years, and Christians need to have a little bit better attitude about it than this post portrays. People died for your right to make fun of America…and I’ll give you that. But bashing the way people celebrate? Not cool. Very disappointed.

  17. I often read your posts on Revelife and find them amusing. Unfortunately, not this one. I’m offended by your insults against fellow Christians’ styles of celebration. I’m also disturbed by the attitude you seem to be projecting that not caring about the country is somehow more Christian or more enlightened than being patriotic.

    America already has a lot of cynics. What we need is people who are grateful for the nation and committed to praying daily for it, not making fun of other believers and failing to acknowledge the massive price that has been paid for this nation’s freedoms.

    • Hmmm. Kind of weird that two revelife people showed up within ten minutes of each other and both didn't like what I had to say. I don't really see how I failed at acknowledging the sacrifice of soldiers. If anything, I'm pointing out how our celebrations do so little to make that acknowledgment. Also, the "attitude I seem to be projecting" is your assumption, which you are projecting on me. I love my country, I'm not making fun of it, and I'm grateful for it and all the freedoms we have.

      • We both showed up at the same time because when you have a post on Revelife, people DO read it and comment there…you just might never see it. We were both unhappy with the tone of the post and I found your blog and shared the link with Amy. That’s all.

        Thank you for the kind response on my blog.

      • Thanks for clarifying. I simply stated what I felt was present in your post.

        “Hmmm. Kind of weird that two revelife people showed up within ten minutes of each other and both didn’t like what I had to say.”

        I had commented a while back on your Revelife post, but didn’t know your regular blog URL. Since I doubted you’d see my comments there, I came here.

        This statement:

        “I guess that maybe tells you how much patriotism I’m planning to incorporate into Sunday worship,” seemed to say something about your own feelings, as well as criticizing churches who feel differently.

        I was also bothered by your section on “America day” at church because you very strongly seemed to be implying that it’s impossible to have a very patriotic Sunday that is also God-honoring.

        “But dang it, I will defend to the death your right to sing it, loudly, and off key, in your pick up truck, with your gun rack in the back window, and a mangy dog riding in back, with your shirt sleeves ripped off, and a faded American flag dew rag on your head.”

        This is insulting to any number of people. I’m not sure how it could be construed otherwise. Something can be “funny” and also express a prejudice.

        “But you know what, it really inspires me that for just one day out of the year, we can put aside all of our differences as Christians, and come together in unity as Americans. ”

        Great statement.

        I respect your right to hold different views from mine, but I still consider aspects of the post offensive. Because you put it out on a public forum, I wanted to make my feelings known, and I would hope you would be open to the comments of those who both agree and disagree with you.

  18. I am stopping by from Revelife as I saw this post there and didn’t know if you’d be going back to read comments.

    Your post really disappointed me. My husband is a soldier and the song “God Bless the USA” means a lot to us. “I am proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free…And, I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me…” The lyrics are very touching, in my opinion. It’s not really my style of music but the song itself and what it means is powerful and meaningful. It’s not about arrogance or selfishness but love. And really, was the stereotyping for those who like that song necessary? I am a city girl and anything but a hick but I like that song. You’re free to dislike that song but to call it a blight on our country is going a bit far. I would think that as a pastor, you of all people would be more mindful of your words.

    How do I celebrate July 4th? I celebrate it by spending time with my family and going to watch fireworks with them, sure. But we celebrate it every day. Especially with the current government we have, I am reminded constantly that our freedom and liberty are something very precious and we must always be vigilant that they may not be taken away or infringed on. I celebrate our independence by writing and speaking with other people about it.

  19. Although I spent the 4th at a friend’s lake house, I was invited to a huge Baptist church (it looks like a coliseum and is affectionately known as Six Flags Over Jesus)for an American style celebration. Apparently there were black hawks. YEEHAW.

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