I grew up playing baseball and watching the Orioles, both on TV and at the ballpark. I used to be an avid fan, though recently I only go to games on special occasions, and I almost never watch baseball on TV. For years I have avoided the national anthem by making a pre-game trek to the men’s room or concession stand.
Last night I watched a few minutes of the World Series game as the top of the 7th became the seventh-inning stretch. The announcer invited everyone to stand for the singing of “God Bless America” in honor of “our men and women in the armed forces at home and around the world.” A female master sergeant proceeded to offer a heartfelt rendition of the song.
Which “god” is this song about? In this context at least, it is a fictitious deity made in the image of American power and prowess. I understand why the average American wants a god made in the image of the United States and dedicated to its protection and blessing. But why are Christians also so enamored with this fictitious deity?
The God revealed in Jesus Christ is not interested in blessing America or Americans any more than any other nation or individuals. Even more importantly, the God revealed in Jesus Christ has absolutely no interest in blessing the American military machine or furthering American military interests around the world. Quite the contrary, in fact.
Sports have their place in any culture. But they can become, and in the U.S. have become, another arm of nationalistic and even militaristic propaganda. The book of Revelation might counsel us to be wary, and even to “come out.”