catapult magazine

catapult magazine


I love the U.S.A.


Oct 26 2004
12:40 am

As a bonafide cynic who has finally become aware of the utter unhelpfulness of constantly tearing down and never building up, I appreciate the topic of this issue of Catapult. And I can certainly add a few things to the list of Americanisms to be thankful for: democratized education (at least to an extent), great state and national parks, green bean hotdish, rubbing shoulders with people from all over the world, and a somewhat healthy instutionalized church, to name of few.

But, I have to come to Dan’s defense here and agree that the distinction between “love for” and “love about” is important. Although, we see it differntly, I think. Love for country is in some ways unintelligible, like Dan said. Still, people have managed to be unwaveringly devoted to nebulous and vast entities for a long time—ie. the “isms.” There are a whole lot of people who have a deep love for what their country ostensibly embodies and symbolizes. Nationalism has been an incredibly salient force, particularly in the 20th century. And especially in America, nationalism/patriotism is ripe with religious overtones. In so many ways we worship the idea of our country. We have just as many rituals, dogmas, myths, and collective religious experiences as any religion. And if that weren’t enough, every time I go down to the Mall I am reminded of the degree to which we have declared America sacred by the “shrines” and “temples” of the national monuments. Civil religion doesn’t just apply to Americans, but our brand of civil religion is particularly potent. I’m sure this has something to do with the amount of time I’ve spent with Mennonites, but I find it pretty disturbing how religiously Americans relate to their country. In fact, much of what goes on in American churches is in service to the religion of Americanism more than it is to Christianity.

So, after I just spent all that time describing something that I really don’t like about U.S. culture, I guess I’d better end on a positive note in the interest of adhering to the spirit of this discussion thread. I really like sweat pants, one of America’s most precious gifts to the world.