What’s Happening Wednesdays: Pledge of Allegiance

We decided to take the kids on an impromptu trip to Branson this weekend.  It turned out to be a pretty good weekend, all things considered.  We didn’t get to do all of the things we wanted to do, but at least we weren’t posted up on a couch staring at the TV all weekend.

I never even bothered to turn on the TV in the master bedroom of the condo.  All I knew of what happened in Charlottesville, Va., I got in hurried glances at my phone while the kids were otherwise occupied.  There were a few pictures that disturbed me, but I was on a mini-vacation, with my mini-mes, and couldn’t be bothered with whatever else was going on in the world.

That lasted all of five minutes.  Because while I was pretty far from the action at the University of Virginia, I was getting schooled on the ways of the world while riding down the strip.  If you’re unfamiliar with Branson, think of a family-friendly version of Las Vegas.  Replace the casinos with video game arcades, and indoor family fun parks.  There is a theater on every corner and a dinner show at every single one.  Then there are the stores with the overpriced trinkets, the old-timey photo shops, and in every other strip mall there was at least one store selling confederate memorabilia, with the flags flown high.

Branson is in southwest Missouri, just a hop, skip and jump from Harrison, Arkansas.  , You know, where the national director for the KKK maintains his office.  Harrison is also famous for kicking out all of the black residents in 1905 in an effort to “curb crime.”  I was not ignorant of these facts when we loaded up the car.  I was just thinking I wouldn’t have to confront them on vacation.

I was right.  I did not have too.  They confronted me.  You see my oldest is highly sensitive and perceptive.  As we exited  one of the area grocery stores, she noticed a pick up truck parked near the street.  Several rebel flags flew from the rear of the truck, and a few young men had posted chairs to just hang out and watch cars drive up and down the strip.

She wanted to know why they were flying a confederate flag.  I rattled off some answer about them thinking they were being patriotic and nostalgic and she was satisfied with my answer, but I was disturbed, and not by the symbolism of the stars and bars either.

On the way to Branson, we passed a number of Christian churches.  Many were situated just off the highway.  Some were barely bigger than my house, and others I mistook for area attractions.  (The outdoor balcony and the electronic signage confused me, and it was right next to a roller coaster.)  I wondered how many of the guys flying their confederate flags were members, even officers in those local congregations.  I wondered if they had more pride in that flag, than of the blood-stained banner they claim to uphold.  I ask because I didn’t see one single Christian flag on my drive.

I know that tempers flare when people start discussing their tribes, and the flags we pledge allegiance to, so i want to be careful here.  But I have questions.

Jehovah-Nissi, the LORD our banner.

Is the banner I wave enough to sustain me, or do I need other symbols to supplement for its (or my own) shortcomings? Jehovah-Nissi is a Hebrew phrase, Should a person carrying a flag with a swastika on it be uttering such a phrase?Can you claim the LORD as your banner if you place more value on that piece of cloth than you do on another person’s life, whether that person has the same allegiances as you or not?

Jehovah-Nissi.  The LORD is our banner?

Jehovah Nissi.  The LORD is our banner.

Lord, help us all to remember that our most important flag is one of surrender to your will and your way. Secondly, help me to to remember that I represent you with the flag I choose to carry and the way I choose to carry myself.  You are my banner.  Thank you for going before me.

Mama Radford

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