Thursday, August 18, 2005

Country and God

This is the end of my first week of living in Frederick County, Virginia, which is situated in the northern part of the Shenandoah Valley. While I’ve spent time there before working at Opequon Quaker Camp, it’s the first time I’ve really had a chance to interact with local citizens and get a sense of the community. I would have to say my first impression is that folks here operate under two main themes: Love of Country and Love of God. I’ve lived in the Washington, DC area for over thirty years, known is a bastion of patriotism, but even then I was not prepared for the plethora of red, white and blue that is part of the landscape here. Bumper stickers, flags on lawns, billboards; the colors of America are in evidence everywhere. As for love of God this week marks the first time in my life (I think) that I’ve been approached three different times with folks giving me bookmarks and other materials concerning salvation, Jesus and God.

As I was unpacking I came across a pamphlet I forgot I had. It is entitled, “The Practice of the Love of God”. It is actually a transcript of a lecture that the Quaker economist and peace activist, Kenneth Boulding, gave right before the outbreak of World War II. He directed most of the talk to concerns he had regarding the conduct of the German people during the 1930’s. I’m hoping I’m way off base on this but as I took a break from moving and sat down to read it again I had a strong sense that much of what he had to say was applicable to my county, the United States, in 2005.

One passage jumped out at me when he said, “ Those who love their country in the light of their love of God, express that love of country by endeavoring to make it respected rather than feared, loved rather than hated. But those who love only their country express that love by trying to make it feared and succeed all to often in making it hated.” Pendle Hill Pamphlet #374, pg. 27

I think it would be fair to say that a survey of opinion taken from news sources in various parts of the world would find people using the words “fear and hatred” much more often than they would use the words “respect and love” when it comes to describing the United States. Not only in the Middle East but in Europe and in much of Asia and other areas as well. We are seen more as an empire rather than a beacon of hope to the oppressed and downtrodden. We are seen more as a militaristic superpower, bent on imposing our will on others, rather than the keeper of the flame of the hope and promise of democracy.

Perhaps the only way out of this is to claim the true relationship of God and country as described by Boulding. We must come from a spirit of love and compassion to help our leaders and many of our fellow citizens come to see that if we truly love God then we must make a drastic change of direction in the course of our country. The only way we will gain respect is by showing it to others, even those we disagree with. The only way we will gain love is by giving it to others, even those we disagree with. Love of country must always be subordinate to love of God. Love of country alone sets us on a course towards the disasters that have befallen other counties over the centuries. Charting a new course must begin now before it is too late


At 1:36 PM, Blogger John G. Dungan said...

I am not a blogger. I have never visited a blog until today, after seeing a reference to this one in a news story. I am moved. I am very fearful for our future that a good man, such as Mr. Fox, should now be facing what he is facing. May God save him, and God save us all.

At 2:20 PM, Blogger Helen Quinn said...

I pray for Mr. Fox's safe return to his family. God bless him for his courage in the face of danger. I think every American should take a look at Mr. Fox's blog. It's one thing to hear about what's happening in Iraq on the news and it's another to hear the TRUTH about what's really happening in Iraq from someone who is there living through it. We'll be praying for you!

At 10:44 PM, Blogger Theresa said...

Whenever I see a bumper sticker that says, "God bless America," I wonder, "Why America? Why not God bless the world."

Light be with you in these dark days. May you soon be free to continue your work for peace.

A Friend

At 9:14 AM, Blogger Kay Flanagan said...

This is also my first time visiting a blog. The work that Tom Fox and his group are doing in Iraq is admirable and inspiring. I hope they will be released unharmed soon.

At 1:15 AM, Blogger Amobius-Tek said...

Mr.Fox, I think your blog is a testament to your resolve to be a good person in this world. I commend you for the work you have done and I certainly hope you are able to get out of there alive. Many people are aware of the situation you are in and working to resolve it. Know that god is with you always, and he will see you through all hardships you face.

We are all praying for you in america with all our hearts.
We are praying for you.
I noticed there is a picture of some young boys at the top of your blog main page.. I also hear what seems
to sound like a young-ish child
(person?) coughing in the background
on the tape released by the people who are holding you against your will. If this is so, then perhaps you are being held in a dwelling domestic in nature may find the mercy of the people holding you.
You will never be forgotten Mr.Fox
May god watch over you and keep you free from harm.
May god please allow you to read this one day.

At 3:58 AM, Blogger pcdc said...

Speaking as both a husband and a father, you have no idea how much I love you - or more specifically the humanity that you express through your work and your words.

At 7:27 PM, Blogger Julie said...

I remember Tom as a very peaceful man. His family is very dear to me. They are special people. I hope Tom is okay, and comming home soon.

At 12:51 AM, Blogger Jenny said...

Single mom from Williamsburg, Bklyn, NY, USA, wanted to express my sadness and sympathy to the FOX family. I look back and forward and just DO NOT understand what is going on...and sometimes i think that it is a sick conspiracy..look at 9/11, look at Katrina (especially!!!)..It really scares me..

At 5:41 AM, Blogger Friend4Peace said...

So sad.
I am sure you are held in the light by many.
I shows the anger towards America to take a man of peace. Everyone needs to think.

At 3:31 PM, Blogger grandmabear2 said...

My deepest sympathy to Mr. Fox's family. My thanks to Mr. Fox for living his faith. My apologies for those who here made hurtful comments.

At 3:31 PM, Blogger grandmabear2 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 3:50 PM, Blogger paxitus said...

Tom and the other CPT members are the true heros in a world gone mad. I pray that his family finds some peace in knowing that Tom did not die in vain and he will continue to inspire and encourage others to work for peace.

Blessed be the Peacemakers.

At 6:53 PM, Blogger Catherine said...

Oh Tom No!!!!

Rest in peace my friend. Many prayers for your friends and family.

Love you.

At 8:34 PM, Blogger CatholicPaxDomini said...

Tom, may the Lord of mercy bring you safely to rest and peace at last. Love is the measure with which we shall be judged. The world is thankful for your love.
(And for those of you who responded negatively, may you open your heart to the love you so desperately seek. May the good, the true, and the beautiful move you to pray.)

At 7:20 PM, Blogger Bringer said...

I used to think that peacemaking was naive. How could peacemakers have stopped Hitler, for instance? But after studying the causes of WWII and then more generally, how hostitlities develop into war, it seemed to me we ought to be studying and developing techniques that are proactive. Quakers like Tom understand this. Their goal is not a pure pacifism, but rather a quest to work to resolve underlying problems that can lead to war. And if war is already underway, they attempt to relieve suffering and build trust where possible to lessen hostilities.

Tom had a deeply humane personality and was a person of tremendous courage.

At 5:49 AM, Blogger devildog6771 said...

I offer my sincere condolances to Mr. Fox's family. Under the circumstances I don't consider other comments appropriate. I would not go to a funeral home and discuss what if's or wherefore's and it certainly is not appropriate here now.

At 6:33 PM, Blogger peacemaker said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 3:54 AM, Blogger Dave Price said...

If you visit the blog for "Howard Dean" it is a farce blog. It is simply someone using that name. It is a pretty vile blog. Makes right wing extremism seem tame by comparison. Not that I am a huge fan of the real Mr. Dean, but I certainly wouldn't want to see this guy attributed to him.

At 6:11 AM, Blogger Alice said...

Sometimes things don't work out the way we want them to, or maybe more accurately, the way we THINK they should. By now, we all have heard the news. Mr. Fox is not going America that is...but he did go his eternal home. Only from Heaven's shore's will know the people that he brought with him. Thank you Lord, for men like Mr. Fox who are willing to risk it all. May God Bless his family in this hour of tears.


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