On the eve of the European elections, patriotism – or at least politicians' appropriation of that condition – is much in the air. I shall refrain from any temptation to refer to scoundrelly tendencies and consider instead, the gentler, and what I believe to be the more fruitful concept of a 'sense of place.'
The nationalisms represented in the Eurovision Song Contest the European Football Championships and the Queen's Jubilee are of different shapes and levels of intensity, observes Graeme Smith, editor of the international journal Political Theology. What Christianity at its best offers is a vision of how we hold local commitments in a wider, plural context: because of Pentecost, in fact.
For many people these days, much 'religion' has become synonymous with division, bigotry and violence. Sadly, there is plenty of good evidence that this is so. But it is not the whole picture. There are very strong faith traditions that point in exactly the opposite direction.
Goshen College, a prominent Mennonite liberal arts institution, has reversed its decision to play the militaristic and nationalistic US national anthem at sports events. Andy Alexis-Baker welcomes the move, after a long process of lobbying which he and others led. Never before have so many Christians - and not just Mennonites or other Anabaptists - stated so clearly that these anthems and rituals have no place in Christian formation, he observes.
A leading Mennonite college in the USA has started to play a version of the national anthem. Student David Jost is one of the objectors. He argues that loyalty to the God of Jesus Christ precludes endorsing nationalism and state violence.
To consider the possibility that whatever we cherish in our own environment, legends and customs, could have a parallel in the hearts of others, is to begin to mix the mortar that may bind us in solidarity, says Jill Segger. It is this solidarity which rests at the heart of a patriotism worthy of the name.
The overwhelming victory of the Congress Party and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in the Indian elections is being seen as a decisive victory over communalism and narrow religious nationalism and sectarianism.