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We had a particularly bucolic 4th of July this year in Dallas. A flag-waving neighborhood parade. A fried chicken and watermelon meal with friends. And a church-sponsored sing along full of patriotic songs followed by barbeque and a pie tasting. It all felt so wholesome and small town America. As I sat in my creaky wooden pew watching a gregarious bearded priest lead octogenerian servicemen in George M. Cohan’s It’s a Grand Old Flag, I imagined that outside the narthex doors existed  a quaint, rural town, bustling with salt-of-earth types  chock full of small-town values and homespun homilies. At the barbeque after the musical entertainment, my wife and I shared a table with a group of other church visitors.  They were friendly, plain-spoken folk who shared their names, their hometown origins and their hot-enough-for-ya? pleasantries. Then, as I was returning from the parish pie-tasting, a portly man with a Clark Gable moustache  went off on those damn Democrats. Apparently, President Obama had spent the National Day of Prayer cosying up to homosexuals. Bad move, that. Homosexuaity, J.R. (that was his name, I can’t make this stuff up) informed the table, is the most vile, and perverted form of wickedness ever perpetrated by the Devil. I quietly ate my cherry pie, stared vacantly around the Tudor-inspired Episcopal chapel and listened to J.R. rant. Sure, I could have graciously concurred with J.R. that homosexual sex was a most wicked behavior generally decried in both Testaments and add that it is found side-by-side with those equally wicked heterosexual sins of adultery, lasciviousness, and fornication. I could have pointed out to my dear J.R. how a  good Republican like Mark Sanford had spent Father’s Day dittling his Argentine mistress, behavior uniformly condemned by Holy Writ. Equally Satanically-inspired and far more pervasive in our culture– and perhaps our own personal pasts–than homosexual buggery. I could have cited the Apostle Paul who said that the sexually immoral of both stripes shall not inherit the kingdom of God and its colloary “and such were some of you, but you have been washed.” I could have, but instead , I shook J.R.’s meaty hand and said it had been a pleasure meeting him. After all, had this really been a small town in America, everyone would be talking like J.R. about that damn  gay-loving Obama. I walked out the church’s doors, so happy to live in a big, diverse city. Proud to be an American, if not one of those “True” Americans with their old-fashioned values and their mainstream sins.


One Comment

  1. Of course the grand ole liberal 4th of July picnic has the same problem — they don’t recognize the presence and reality of sin in our “new fashioned” economic times. They say they do — the sin they are aware of is all that greed and profit-taking over there — but that is not the sin that is actually causing all the problems. The socialists are painfully unaware of the sin of hypocrisy that informs and drives virtually everything they do. Their mouths are full of words like justice, poverty, equity, affordable, and compassion, but the policies they advocate and insist upon are calculated to make everything worse. It’s the “new fashioned True” American where vices become virtue and virtue becomes vice.

    But on both sides the issue is sin and people act the way they do because of sin. It seems no one gets an exemption.

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