Monday, July 3, 2017

Patriotism and Religion: Blurred Boundaries

Picture Book: Blue Sky, White Stars
Author: Sarvinder Naberhaus
Illustrator: Kadir Nelson
Summary: This book is a tribute to the beauty of the American flag and other imagery of the United States. It’s short, simple, and clever. Brief phrases are repeated once, sometimes with a little tweaking. Here are some sample pairings of phrases and illustrations:

Hanna’s Comments: Tomorrow is Independence Day in the USA so I’m featuring a new book celebrating the best of my country. The author, an immigrant at age 4, says her initial idea for this book was of immigrants boarding ships to America, hoping for religious freedom while looking up at a dark blue sky of stars. As he painted, the illustrator, thought of Abraham Lincoln’s “enduring admonition ‘a house divided cannot stand.’” Where does this book fit in the life of a faith family? The lines between patriotism and religion can be blurred (see scriptures below) so a conversation about both could be very enlightening. I encourage you to explore these 2 important aspects of being human and consider how they can be both harmonizing and in tension. If you are not American, find similar patriotic books and do likewise. Such conversations offer great opportunities for discerning our loyalties and our limits.
Original Publisher & Date: Dial, 2017
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Digital
Scripture Connections: Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord (Psalm 33:12); …render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s. (Matthew 22:21); Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36); But Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29); But our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of tweens, teens, or adults and explore the potential blurring of patriotism and religion. You can see from the scriptures listed above, that the issue is a muddy one.

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