Monday, April 28, 2008

Caesar and Ascension

Perhaps I am the only one annoyed by the National Day of Prayer. Don't get me wrong: I am all in favor of prayer. It is just that I don't need Caesar telling me when to do it... and maybe Caesar isn't in fact telling me to do it on Thursday, but it feels that way and so I feel caught in this web, this this unholy cross hairs of God and Country, syncretism and civil religion. One of my constituents is really, really bent with me that I am not having a special NDP service, etc.

Meanwhile, Thursday May 1 is also Ascension Day and I would bet (if our tradition allowed betting) that if my people take note of either "celebration" it will be the NDP and not AD. What is wrong with this picture?

I am thinking of setting up the distinction between the secular "holidays" and the liturgical "Holy Days" on Sunday. It is Eucharist for us, a time when we taste and see that the Lord is good, and as an appetizer the truth that the secular calendar is a celebration of "us" one way or the other while the liturgical calendar celebrates God. This may seem patently obvious, but I cannot iterate how many times I have been fussed at over the years for not giving due justice to the scouts, the veterans, even--and I am not making this up--the submarine crews who fought in WW II--but I do not know that I have ever been scolded for giving short shrift to Ascension Day or the Feast of St. Stephen.

This year the intersecting of "rival" calendars may be too much for me to ignore! I do not want to pick a fight or appear Quixotic...but it seems something fundamental is before us, something crucial about identity and spiritual politics. Every people needs its special places, its special persons, its special times (call them shrines, saints and holy days); what is sad is that in evangelical America we seem to know more of our national shrines, saints and holy days than we do our faith's.


Mike Smith and Rami Shapiro said...


On target! You've written the truth, but you've also phrased so much better than most of us might.

Bert Coffman said...

I just finished Praying for Dear Life and found the blog site. The words from your heart speak to my heart and I am grateful. We share a Candler connection, but more than that, a longing to hear the song that is always being sung in the background and only occasionally identified. Thank you