Tarry for the Nonce

October 11, 2006

Treacherous Waters

Filed under: Religion — lmwalker @ 5:19 pm

Dave Rumoro sent me an article about American faith. Ostensibly, most of us believe in God, which makes sense from a “natural law” standpoint.

The following statistic caught my eye:

Asked whether God favored the United States, only one-fifth of respondents said they agreed. Evangelical Protestants were the most likely to agree, with 26 percent saying they think God favors the country.

I have a fuzzy opinion on this point. From my interaction with fervent Protestants, I know that many hold the United States in the exalted position of being clearly favored by God as evidenced by its militaristic might and overflowing prosperity.

This position presents some difficulties for me. First, as a Catholic, I believe (1) that God’s favor is extended to His faithful servants and that (2) those servants are frequently exalted through suffering. At the same time, I believe that (3) all good things are from God and know that (4) His favor was manifested in the militaristic might and overflowing prosperity of the Jewish nation in Old Testament times.

So while I acknowledge that God’s favor is frequently expressed in earthly blessings, I still lean quite heavily on the fact that His “good and faithful servants” must (almost universally) endure some extremely harsh life trials. (As St. Teresa of Avila said to Christ: “No wonder you have so few friends!”) Sacrifice is necessary for our own perfection and (I think) it’s foolish to read the blessings of this life as a sign of our “favor status” with God. America is a blessed nation, to be sure, but why would we count on those blessings as any level of salvific assurance?

Any thoughts?



  1. Last I checked the beatitudes talked about blessedness in ways that often run contrary to having money and power. Something about blessed are the poor, blessed are the meek, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, blessed are those persecuted for Jesus …

    Comment by Brian — October 11, 2006 @ 6:58 pm

  2. Or could it be the country’s consecration to Mary that occurred way back in the 1800s? Hmmm….

    Comment by Andrew P. — October 12, 2006 @ 2:46 am

  3. blessed are those persecuted for Jesus…

    All of a sudden (seriously), the “we’re so downtrodden and discriminated-against!” perspective of some Christians in America makes sense to me. I’d always assumed it was just a desire to feel special, but I’ve just now realized that it’s at least partially about getting to perceive themselves as blessed (like the Puritans and material success). Like Laura said, the case for God’s preference for Americans is kind of fuzzy on its own – they need something a little more concrete (or imaginary, in this case) to base their feelings of blessedness on.

    Comment by Kevin — October 12, 2006 @ 7:48 am

  4. By imaginary just then, I meant the persecution, not the God. Just so we’re clear.

    Comment by Kevin — October 12, 2006 @ 7:50 am

  5. God helps those who help themselves. True in the time of the Romans, still true today.

    Comment by Toly — October 12, 2006 @ 9:01 am

  6. “God helps those who help themselves.”
    That’s a Benjamin Franklin quote. He was a deist.

    Sure glad that’s not the God of Christianity! As Catholics we believe in a God of infinite “mercy and of love”, who reaches down to help all of us…esp. those who can’t help themselves. 😉

    Comment by Dave R. — October 13, 2006 @ 1:44 pm

  7. I would say it is a both/ and situation and not an either/ or situation. God is a God who helps those who help themselves, and he is a God of infinte mercy and love who reaches down to help all of us … esp those who can’t help themselves.

    Comment by Brian — October 15, 2006 @ 4:38 pm

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