Wednesday, November 23, 2005

One Nation under God

October 2, 2005

Lori Borgman
If not one nation, 'under God,' then under what?

There was an audible gasp of surprise when a federal judge once again challenged the use of the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance.
The gasp of surprise did not come from court watchers, political action groups or the nation at large -- it came from God.

God must be truly surprised that so many Americans were outraged by the ruling, still insisting that we are a nation "under God."

The other day, I passed a billboard advertising the television program "Sex and the City." The billboard proclaimed, "One night stands, five nights a week."

One nation, under God? If you say so.

I was on my way to the bank to switch funds from savings to checking, verify a credit card balance and follow up on a college loan.

I wonder what the ratio is between the amount of time we spend tending our money and the amount of time we spend tending our souls?
One nation, under mammon.

I passed a strip mall that houses an XXX novelty and lingerie store, a tobacco outlet, a liquor store and a check-cashing store. I have always wondered, if one were going to drink, smoke and groom oneself into oblivion, at which end of the strip mall does one start? Is it novelties, smokes, booze, then cash, or is it cash, booze, smokes, then novelties? "One nation, in pursuit of pleasure."

Upon returning home, I sort- ed the mail, which included: a mountain of circulars and catalogs for overpriced things we neither need nor want, but might buy anyway; an invitation to a baby shower where it appears the mother has registered everywhere except at the marriage license office; and an envelope from the Red Cross.

I seriously considered training as a volunteer and helping my fellow man in need, but decided the timing was bad and it would have to wait until later. "One nation, under self."

I checked e-mail and, in addition to multiple offers for performance-enhancing drugs, I received an alert about a federal study claiming that a sexual practice, once reserved for the bottom tier of prostitutes until a former president popularized it in the Oval Office, is now widely practiced among teenagers.

"One nation, under sex." Or would it be, "One nation, oversexed"? "Under God" was inserted into the Pledge in 1954, when we were battling atheistic communism. The phrase, inserted without a ripple of dissent, was not a phrase grabbed at random. The phrase was, and is, familiar to all who have memorized the Gettysburg Address.

In the shadows of the carnage of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln expressed his resolve that "this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom." Lincoln, who may have borrowed the phrase from George Washington, believed that rights and liberties originate with God, not man. Slavery had proved that man was incapable of granting rights and liberties fairly. Lincoln, Washington and thinkers before them and after them, believed liberties must be seen as a gift of God in order to exercise them responsibly and to maintain their existence. We may no longer exercise our liberties as people living "under God," at least not today. But maybe we will again, someday.

In the meantime, "under God'" serves as a historical marker pointing both backward and forward -- a reminder as to where rights truly come from and a reminder as to whom we will one day answer.


Comments may be sent to Lori Borgman at lori@loriborgman.com.


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