More Patriotic than a Lapel Pin

In a recent comment on an old column a reader of this blog suggested that the Obama camp was subverting the election process by registering voters and encouraging them to vote early while campaigning on college campuses in Ohio. I disagree. I’m grateful for every new voter registered, and I don’t care who does the registering or what motivates them to sign people up for the democratic process.

Each election my church hosts a poling precinct and I’m always moved when I see the community come together to vote, especially when, during general elections, the line to vote snakes past my office window.

So go vote. As acts of patriotism go, it’s far more important than, say, wearing a flag lapel pin or smacking a “power of pride” bumper sticker on your Chevy. And if you need motivation to vote (or if you need to feel good about the fact that you always vote, even when the only things on the ballot are a municipal bond measure and candidates for the water district board) then please, watch this video (unless you’re offended by the occasional f-bomb, in which case, don’t watch the video, but please vote).

Thanks to my dear friend Michael Tullis for turning me on to this video.

Patriotism’s True Color, or Green: the New Red White and Blue

This column was the UPI Religion and Spirituality Forum’s featured commentary on July 2, 2007.


Both my country and my grandfather were born on the fourth of July, and while only a handful of Americans this week will remember the birth of William Mullenger of Crawford County, Iowa, his lasting legacy of service to his country is worth mentioning as a nation prepares itself for the great manifestations of patriotic celebration that, for the next few days will mark American life from sea to shining sea.

My grandfather was a patriot. He served his country in uniform during the First World War—mostly digging graves for his brothers in arms who succumbed to the flu’ pandemic of 1917—but a fuller expression of the love for his country was my grandfather’s dedication to the five hundred acres of farmland he inherited from his father and worked his entire life. Continue reading

The American Abroad

This column was published on February 12 on UPI’s Religion and Spirituality Forum.

Last month, in Davos, Switzerland, at the World Economic Forum, Senator John Kerry royally ticked off a lot of Americans, particularly those who are a little more red around the state, when he criticized US foreign policy.

The story caught my attention because by the time this column is published, I’ll be in Switzerland myself, and while nothing I say in Switzerland will make the news, still the response to Kerry’s comments raises an important question for the American abroad: to what extent should a person refrain from criticizing his or her country while traveling? Continue reading

Joan of Arc: Heretic, Saint, Terrorist.

This column was published on UPI’s Religion and Spirituality Forum on January 29, 2007.  It headlined UPI’s mainpage that day as well.


In the foreword to his thought-provoking and very readable forthcoming biography of Joan of Arc, Joan: the Mysterious Life of the Heretic Who Became a Saint (due out from HarperSanFrancisco next month), Donald Spoto makes the following claim about the “Maid of Orleans”:

Joan fought and died to preserve the identity and particularity of a sovereign place; Continue reading