Friday, July 25, 2014

Why the Church Needs Feminism

Today I'm contributing to the Faith & Feminism synchroblog occurring this week, which "invite[s] feminists of all faiths to reflect with us on the interplay between feminist praxis and religious faith." Reading some of the amazing posts there, I'm mostly reminded of how little I know about oppression; how as a white, able-bodied, heterosexual, middle-class woman, I dabble at the edges of intersectional feminism, trying to open my eyes and ears to see and hear beyond my own privilege.

But I'm learning.  Thanks to Sarah Bessey's wonderful book on the subject, I have already shared why I'm a Jesus Feminist despite the tendency in Christianity to reject and even vilify "feminism" as a term:
Because neither Jesus nor feminism should be defined according to how they are represented by vocal extremes. 
Because my Savior came to proclaim liberty to the captives. Because feminism, when not defined by extremes, proclaims the simple truth that women and men are equal in humanity, equal in dignity, equal in worth.

Equal, Jesus feminism adds, in Imago Dei, the image of God. Equal in the pouring out of God's Spirit on all flesh (Acts 2:17). For the sake of the gospel of Christ, who said, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10), a woman must be free.
I do believe feminism is about the same the principles of human worth and equality that are encapsulated in the gospel.  But recently I've been reading arguments (particularly from comments on Rachel Held Evans' contribution this week) that use the gospel to claim feminism is unnecessary and superfluous for Christians.

Summarized, the argument says, "What does the church have to do with feminism?  All the church needs is the gospel.  The gospel teaches the worth of every human being in the sight of God.  The gospel teaches that we are all equally sinners and equally in need of grace.  The gospel already teaches the equality and worth of women and minorities. We don't need feminism, we just need Jesus."

And in a way they're right.  The gospel really should be all we need.

The problem is that it isn't.

We, the church both historically and in the present, are just too fond of ignoring the implications of the gospel, of narrowing the gospel's scope to the zone of our comfort. We like the concept of spiritual family, but we prefer our spiritual family to consist of people very much like ourselves.  We haven't realized that all people are equal in the sight of God and should be treated accordingly-- either in theology or in practice. Instead, the church has generally used the power of religion to uphold traditional hierarchies and power structures.

So here's why the church as a whole needs those voices (including but not limited to the voice of feminism) that demand she hold to the full implications of the gospel that she would so often rather ignore:

To shake the church loose from traditions that should be jettisoned.

One of the strengths of religion is that it safeguards orthodoxies and traditions that are valuable, that should not be lost in the tides of time.   But this is also one of its greatest weaknesses.  Traditions that in their essence deny the gospel's implications-- deny the full human dignity and worth of "the least of these"-- often become set in stone.  Anyone who introduces a new idea that jostles the status quo ("Maybe God and the Bible are not actually against women leading churches!") often gets in response, "How can you go against 2000 years of church history?"

Feminism, and particularly intersectional feminism, asks if church traditions are really more important than human dignity and equality.  It challenges Christians to shake off the blinders and see where their status-quo interpretations of the Bible might actually mean they have "let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions (Mark 7:8)." 

To show the church what real justice means.

Here in the West we tend to think of "justice" mainly in terms of the punishment of wrongdoers.  Our "justice system" is all about catching crooks and stopping cheats.  As Christians we often speak of the tension between justice and mercy, and how Christ's sacrifice satisfied God's justice so that we could attain mercy.  "Justice" to us is generally a term that describes something negative (dealing with wrong) rather than positive (dispensing right).  But the Bible often uses the word "justice" in a much more positive sense.  Isaiah 42:3 says (prophesying the ministry of the Messiah):  "A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice (emphasis added)."  In Matthew 1:18-19, Joseph decides to divorce Mary quietly rather than putting her to public shame-- and the text does not say this was because he was a "merciful" man, but because he was a "just" man.

Kenneth Bailey, in his book Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, says:
Here justice means compassion for the weak and exhausted. . . Joseph looked beyond the penalties of the law in order to [show] tenderness . . .This . . . definition of justice required a compassionate concern for the weak, the downtrodden and the outcasts in their need. 
Feminism insists that justice is about more than punishing criminals.  It focuses on changing entrenched, systemic inequalities that marginalize, harm and oppress.  If the church will listen to what feminism has to say about real justice, we will find ourselves moving closer to a more complete picture of justice as shown in the Bible.

To persuade the church to stop justifying oppression.

When the church tells women they exist for men or makes them responsible for men's lust; when the church focuses on upholding its privilege in the public square and refuses to notice our participation in systemic racism; when the church is more interested in punishing LGBT people than feeding children, then we, the church, need voices like intersectional feminism to point out where we need to examine ourselves.  It's too easy to "clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside [be] full of greed and wickedness (Luke 11:39)."  

So often we simply spiritualize away human dignity and equality, making it about salvation only, so that we don't have to change our earthly practices of inequality and subordination.  Feminism is very good at pointing out that this is pretty much the same sort of thing James 2:15-16 warns against:
If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled," and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?
Equality that certain groups can only enjoy in the next world, is of no practical use at all.  It isn't comfortable, I know, to have this brought to our attention, and it's understandable if we don't like the messenger!  But this is a truth we need to hear nonetheless.

To teach the church the humility of accepting truth from outsiders.

Jesus and Paul both taught that Christian believers are of one family, with God as our Father.  The problem is that we tend to get tribal about this, viewing the world through us-vs-them glasses. Sometimes we don't think anyone outside our group could possibly have anything valuable for us to listen to.  But the gospel accounts show us numerous times where complete outsiders "got it" better than Jesus' own disciples-- such as the Roman centurion in Luke 7:9 or the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4.

Samantha Field on her blog Defeating the Dragons wrote this week about how feminism helped her realize what Christianity should have taught her, but didn't:
I listen to our stories, now. I don’t dismiss the individual because their experience isn’t my experience. I’ve learned to value that vast diversity of experiences and perspectives in a way that I’ve never been able to before. . . .  
Because of feminism, I’ve learned to respect myself. The Christian cultures I’ve been a part of, from fundamentalism to non-denominational evangelicalism, have tried to teach me to be ashamed of my sexuality, to see myself as dirty, to think of myself primarily as a subordinate to another person. Feminism has given me the ability to recognize myself as a person whose voice deserves to be listened to. I am a child of God, created with the imago dei, and I have gifts and abilities and talents that should not be ignored. 
But, most importantly, feminism has shown me how to follow Jesus better. Feminism has shown me how to love my neighbor, how to show grace and compassion and empathy, how to defend those who cannot defend themselves. For the first time in my life, when I see the poor and the orphan and the widow, the least of these, I see Jesus. [Emphases in original]
Learning that we don't have all the answers, that there is wisdom to be gained from other voices and movements, is nothing but good for us.  An attitude that says "the gospel is all we need" is at its heart, just plain spiritual pride.  Especially because we use that word "gospel" so lightly, without consideration of all that this gospel means.

So I say that we, the church, do need feminism.  We need not agree with every stance of every branch of feminism, but we need to listen and consider what feminism is telling us.  1 Thessalonians 5:19-20 says, "Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good."  There is a Bible story about how God once used a donkey to impart a message to a prophet.  So how can we say the Holy Spirit only uses Christians to speak to the church?

Let's listen to feminism wherever it speaks truth.  Because when it comes to our own gospel, we still have a lot to learn.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

"Falling into the Holes in Their Own Thought"

(Cross-posted from Bible Literature Translation)

I have been following a blogsphere conversation that Bible Literature Translation (among others) has been involved in, particularly in its Noting Abusive Theologians post, where blog contributor GaudeteTheology noted:
In my class on the History of Systematic Theology, my classmates and I were shocked to learn from our professor (not from any of our books) that Paul Tillich had extramarital affairs, including sexual contacts with his students which certainly today would be considered sexual harassment at best, abusive at worst. It generated an important discussion about the extent to which we could rely on the intellectual work of a theologian whose life showed such serious failings in his ability to “walk the talk,” on the one hand; and the extent to which all of us are sinners, and thus all theologians are sinners, so why do we expect anything different, on the other. . . 
(I do not recall whether the discussion broke out along gender lines; I do recall that another woman student and I were among the most vocally horrified, and that our professor, a man, was rather strongly making the case that we shouldn’t be surprised or concerned.)
[M]y immediate response to learning of this theologian’s persistent sinful patterns of behavior was to question whether and how it reflected on the value of his theology. It seems a screamingly obvious question to me.
This last week Fred Clark at Slacktivist contributed more to this discussion.  Clark's post is in response to Roger Olson's recent question, "Should a theologian's life affect how we regard his/her theology?" Leaving aside for now the issue of whether all sins should be viewed in the same light (whether we should, as Clark thinks Olson does, put excessive beer-drinking in the same category as advocating the slaughter of peasants), I found Clark's post very helpful in providing an alternative to either dismissing a person's theology because of his personal life, or dismissing a person's personal life because of her theology.

Clark says:
It is, rather, a vitally important matter of identifying the way these men fell into the holes in their own thought so that we can avoid falling into those holes ourselves. We can’t shrug off Yoder’s sexual abuse or Jefferson’s slave-owning as, in Olson’s compartmentalizing phrase, “sides to their personal lives that we cannot be proud of". . . 
Did Luther’s anti-Semitism “affect” his theology, or did his theology foster his anti-Semitism? Yes, both. Did George Whitefield’s slave-owning shape his otherworldly revivalism or did his otherworldly revivalism rationalize his slave-owning? Yes, both. 
The inability to recognize that cause and effect can flow both ways makes it unlikely that Olson will be able to “use it but highlight those areas” where the taint of this “scandalous action” can be identified as a discrete, separate compartment of thought. That’s not how humans work.
I think it is important to avoid the ad hominem fallacy when considering this question. After all, the truth or falsehood of a statement is not changed by the nature of the person who makes it. But (and this is an important "but") individual statements of truth or falsehood don't exist in a vacuum. They are each one bit of a whole system of thought subscribed to by the person making them. And often, human beings being what they are, inconsistencies and even outright contradictions can exist within a person's system of thought. These inconsistencies and contradictions often come from unexamined assumptions and prejudices within the person who is writing or speaking. The cognitive dissonance thus created is often assuaged by some small cheat, such as an unacknowledged change in the definitions of the words being used. For instance, Thomas Jefferson's idea that all people are equal is one tenet of his thought. The idea that certain kinds of humans aren't really people is another tenet of the same man's thought: the one that justified both slaveholding and the ongoing rape of certain of his female slaves. Both ideas have to be taken into account in order to make proper sense of Jefferson. The fact that equality depends on how "people" are defined is a weakness in his system of thought that needs to be recognized. In fact, it's a weakness that he either introduced or allowed, in order to justify his personal behavior to himself.

We can't ignore Jefferson's weakness relating to who gets defined as fully human, if we want to avoid falling into similar traps in our own thinking.

Roger Olson's reasoning on the subject is as follows:
If we were to discount the value of every theologian whose life was in some way scandalous our library shelves would be much less burdened down. And perhaps our theological thinking poorer. And I didn’t even mention all the German theologians and biblical scholars who supported National Socialism! 
Having said all that, I have to add this. If those German theologians allowed their pro-Nazi sympathies to infect their writings we would all, I suspect, decline to use them in our courses. So, to the extent that a theologian allowed his infidelities, racial prejudices, wrong political views, to affect his scholarship, I believe we must inevitably either 1) discard his scholarship, or 2) use it but highlight those areas where the scandalous parts of his life affected it. 
However, to the extent that the theologian’s scandalous actions did not affect his theology (or biblical scholarship) I see no reason to make much of them. They should probably be mentioned in a biography but there’s no need to reject his whole theology because of them.
Olson's writing here, I think, reveals his tendency to think in just the sort of binaries I have asserted we should try to avoid-- that either a theologian's theology has been affected by his personal life, or it hasn't; and that it's possible for it not to have been. And where it has been so affected, if it's not too pervasive it's possible to cut away those places like a bit of mold on a piece of cheese, leaving the rest good and usable. However, if the taint of the theologian's personal life is too pervasive, the entire theology must be discarded.

But I'm afraid we humans really don't work that way. We are all a mixture of bad and good acting and thinking. Our thinking does affect the way we act, and the way we act does affect our thinking-- and this is particularly true of the kind of people whose words, spoken or written, are wise enough to have been remembered down through the years. Wise people don't usually leave their actions unjustified by their thinking, because they are thinkers and they can't function that way.

Therefore, it's important to take a theologian's private life into account when reading his or her writings, and note where cognitive dissonance may have been compensated for by changes in definitions and other such things. 

If Tillich abused young women at Union Theological Seminary, then his attitude towards women certainly affected what he wrote (or didn't write) about Eve. The key is to keep that in mind when reading his Systematic Theology and other works.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Conformity is Next to Godliness

My first roommate after I left college was a good friend and a lovely person.  She still is both of those things, though she lives far away.  But there was one dynamic to our relationship in those early roommate-days that wasn't all that lovely.  We haven't talked about it, but I think she'd shake her head in amusement and chagrin as much as I do now.

You see, she was very skilled, even back then when we were young, in the domestic arts.  She could whip together a dinner for six people without turning a hair.  She could make jams and jellies.  She could sew beautifully-- she eventually made her own wedding dress, and then my bridesmaid dresses.  Her cupboards were organized, her shelves were organized, even her junk drawer was organized.  And when she cleaned the kitchen, it knew it had been cleaned!

And I?  I wasn't a bad cook.  But that's all you could really say about me and the domestic arts.

This wouldn't have been a problem except for the kind of Christianity we were both involved in. We attended the same church, and the church taught that women were designed by God primarily for homemaking.  The Proverbs 31 woman and her superlative skills in food preparation, sewing and the like were the standard to be sought and attained.  I never really could attain it.  My sweet roommate seemed to do it effortlessly.

And this meant that somehow she was a better Christian, a more spiritually mature person, and a better woman, than I was.

Our church never put it this way in so many words, and I'm sure my roommate never consciously told herself as much. I know I never put it into actual words, in my mind or aloud.  But under the surface I think we both knew she was measuring up, and I wasn't.

A similar kind of thing happened to the guy I ended up marrying.  We weren't together at the time, but when he joined the same church and began to "grow in Christ," a certain idea of Christian manhood was held up to him as the standard.  A spiritually mature, godly Christian man was, first of all, an extrovert.  No one said as much, but that was the general idea.  A godly Christian man always prayed confidently and articulately in men's prayer meetings.  A godly Christian man knew how to loudly "take authority over the devil and his works" as a true prayer warrior.  A godly Christian man could go into a park and talk to strangers about Jesus with boldness "like a lion," just as Proverbs 28:1 said.  A godly Christian man was a born leader.

The young man who eventually became my husband was quiet and a little shy.  He met the church's standard easily when it came to reading the Bible privately (though he had a discouraging tendency to come to unapproved conclusions about what he read), but in prayer meetings and "witnessing" he just couldn't measure up.

This is not to say a woman couldn't be a good "prayer warrior," or that a man couldn't be a good cook. But there was always this sense that you had to meet the basic expectations for Christian manhood and womanhood first.  If you did that, then these other traits were an added plus.  If not-- well, they were nice traits of course, but-- well. . . . it just wasn't quite good enough.

There were other, more general things too.  The church was a charismatic one, which meant that outward displays of emotion were encouraged.  We didn't want to be like the "church of the chosen frozen," you know!  I don't think there was anything wrong with our dancing or waving our arms to the music, or with our cheering and applauding as a "praise offering" to God.  The problem was that those who were less comfortable with these outward displays were treated as if they were just not as devoted to Jesus as those to whom these things came naturally.

Personality, you see, was often mistaken for spirituality.

One of the most ludicrous things was how, at nearly every church meeting, we were exhorted from the pulpit to "give God the loudest shout that you've ever given!"  I remember thinking, "but I shouted as loud as I possibly could last time, and the time before.  It's physically impossible for me to shout louder than that!"  This, I might add, was pretty much as far as my rebellious thoughts ever went.  I still obediently shouted as loud as I could-- though I was one of those who felt adoration, and God's presence, far stronger when I was alone in complete silence.

Most of the time (with the exception of the domestic arts) I was pretty good at being what I was expected to be, and doing what I was expected to do.  Naturally easy-going, I usually had no problem going along with whatever the leaders said we should do.  My basic quietness, and the good manners my mother taught me, were generally interpreted as meekness and deference to my spiritual authorities-- even after I stopped believing they were always right.   The fact that at pot-luck dinners I'd rather talk theology with those of the guys who weren't watching sports, than discuss marriage and children in the kitchen with the women, was a bit puzzling to people, I think-- but in general, I was considered a good, godly Christian woman.  But this was really because (with the unfortunate exception of the domestic arts) I happened to have lot of the traits associated with godly womanliness.  It didn't really have much of anything to do with following Jesus.

On the other hand, my roommate-- the one with the super-homemaking powers-- tended to be naturally much more outspoken and even a little loud.  I suspect that just as I felt inferior to her in the domestic arts, she might have felt inferior to me when it came to having a "quiet and gentle spirit" per 1 Peter 3:4.  How was she to know that it wasn't actually my spirit, my "inner self" as the same Bible verse says, but simply my outward personality, that was quieter and gentler than hers was?

Other friends of mine in the church, I remember, sometimes had serious trouble conforming.  Those who couldn't manage it sometimes ended up leaving the church or even being thrown out.  Why was it, I wonder now, that no one seemed to be able to see that those who succeeded at "godliness" were most often those to whom the approved behaviors simply came naturally?

Why does it seem like this is still often the case in many churches today?

I'm not talking about those things which Galatians 5:22-23 calls "the fruit of the Spirit":
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law.
It's true that some of these will come easier to some personalities, and others will come easier to other personalities.  But every kind of personality can cultivate these basic virtues, and they won't necessarily look the same in every person.  But what I'm really talking about is when a certain outwardly recognizable stereotype is viewed as "godly" for one whole subset of Christian people (like men or women, or church leaders, or children), or even for all Christians everywhere.  If you fit the stereotype, or can fit yourself into it, you're approved.  If not, you get disapproval and censure.

Under Much Grace, Cynthia Kunsman's informative blog about spiritual abuse, points out that this tendency to seek conformity to a set of unspoken and unwritten expectations can be a spiritually abusive practice:
Manipulative and authoritarian Christian groups manifest this phenomenon all of the time, with great predictability. One of the most significant problems with cultic groups stems from the many different *informal* rules that are held, communicated, and followed by the group, though they often do not directly communicate these rules to new members. . . All groups have standards, expectations, and unspoken rules, [but] cultic groups are riddled with unwritten codes and expectations that are never brought into the light of scrutiny. . . [T]he consequences for failing to comply with [a] standard can range from formal and severe to informal and avoidant.
Every social group has some standards and unspoken rules.  When you meet someone in Western culture, for instance, you shake hands, and to ignore an offered handshake is extremely rude.  But when the standards become restrictive boxes that require everyone in a group to be alike, that's a problem.

Isn't the God who made us, a little more creative than that?  Since God's wisdom displayed through the church according to Ephesians 3:10 is "manifold" (meaning "many and various," in both the English and the Greek texts), shouldn't there be many and various ways to be a good Christian?  And shouldn't it be possible to do so while still being ourselves?

As I remember reading somewhere once (if I could remember where, I'd cite it) individuality in humanity is a feature, not a bug.  Jesus didn't expect Peter to act just like Andrew, or John to act just like Nathaniel.  Or Martha to act just like Mary.

Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen the better thing-- but He didn't insist that Martha choose it too.  He didn't reject her act of service in making a meal-- He just told her she was getting too worried and bothered about it.

I think if Jesus had come in person to my apartment when I was just out of college, He'd have praised my roommate for her individual way of welcoming Him, and me for mine. Neither of us would have felt like we didn't measure up.

No conformity required.  Just love.

Friday, July 4, 2014

I Love My Country, But I Can't be Patriotic Anymore

This Fourth of July, I have a confession to make.

I used to wake up every Independence Day morning with "God Bless America" on my lips.  I used to feel a thrill of excitement and reverence when I faced the flag and pledged allegiance, when I put my hand over my heart and sang along with The Star-Spangled Banner.

I still say the Pledge.  I still put my hand over my heart, and I still sing the National Anthem. I still love America.

But the old thrill is gone.  Flag-waving and loud singing just embarrass me now. I'm like a teenager remembering when I loved to run to my mother and hug her in front of everyone-- and now I don't want to make her sad, but I'm just not going to hold her hand in public anymore.

Today I still plan to barbecue and eat with my family at a table decorated with stars and stripes.  And then I want to go and watch the fireworks-- they'll probably still make my breath catch in my throat, still made my cry "Oooh!" with the rest of the crowd.

But though I still truly hope God will bless America, I just don't wake up singing about it nowadays. I don't want to put flags out on my lawn.  And I don't want to wear one on my shirt with a message that gets in everybody's face about either loving the USA or leaving.

I don't want to be "patriotic."  Because as far as I can see, that word has come to mean something different than just caring about my country and wanting the best for it.

For example, The American Patriot's Bible.

Here's the book's summary from
THE ONE BIBLE THAT SHOWS HOW ‘A LIGHT FROM ABOVE’ SHAPED OUR NATION. Never has a version of the Bible targeted the spiritual needs of those who love our country more than The American Patriot’s Bible. This extremely unique Bible shows how the history of the United States connects the people and events of the Bible to our lives in a modern world. The story of the United States is wonderfully woven into the teachings of the Bible and includes a beautiful full-color family record section, memorable images from our nation’s history and hundreds of enlightening articles which complement the New King James Version Bible text.
When we American Christians narcissistically make the Bible all about us-- when we tweak American history to make America seem more virtuous than it ever actually has been, when we say our country is unique, that it has the special favor of God to be the shining "City on a Hill" which  blesses all other nations-- that's the kind of patriotic I don't want to be.

When Christians seek first the kingdom of America-- and not just any America, but a particular flavor of down-home conservative, white, middle-class America-- and believe they are "taking America back for God," that's the kind of patriotic I don't want to be.

"He Has Risen" & "God Bless America" Lawn Ornaments, On Route 31 (Just North Of Beulah, MI) from Flickr via Wylio
© 2007 takomabibelot, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio
And I think the reason I've lost my enthusiasm for displaying the flag publicly, is because I don't want to be associated with this.

If it's going to be about show-off displays of God-and-country devotionalism, then that's the kind of patriotic I don't want to be.

Because when we wrap our Christianity in the American flag, it's bad for both of them.

The other thing is that the more I've learned about American history, the more I realize that America really hasn't been, and isn't now, a shining example of virtue.  America (and particularly white America) has a long history of taking what it wants and vilifying those it takes it from.  Along with our love of country, we need a healthy dose of humility and repentance.

And sometimes the things my fellow Christians insist we most need to repent of, don't seem at all like the things that matter.

We have so much to learn from the good things other countries and peoples have been, have done, have accomplished.  And yet so many times we act as if America alone has anything to teach, and we don't want to listen or learn from anyone.

I don't want to be that kind of American.  But that's what being "patriotic" seems so often to be about.

So I can't be patriotic anymore.

Still, America is my home.  My best memories-- practically all of my memories!-- are about the life I've lived as part of her.  I love the traditions of my part of American culture while recognizing that it isn't all of American culture.  I want America to be inclusive of all her people, to give them all a voice and a place.  I want America to be great, and I want her to be good-- not because she's inherently better than other countries, but because she's mine.

I find that G. K. Chesterton, in his classic book Orthodoxy, has described my feelings:
It is a matter of primary loyalty. The [beloved place] is not a lodging-house at Brighton, which we are to leave because it is miserable. It is the fortress of our family, with the flag flying on the turret, and the more miserable it is the less we should leave it. The point is not that [it]is too sad to love or too glad not to love; the point is that when you do love a thing, its gladness is a reason for loving it, and its sadness a reason for loving it more. . . If men loved Pimlico [a terrible slum] as mothers love children, arbitrarily, because it is theirs, Pimlico in a year or two might be fairer than Florence.
I do love my country like that.  My problem is that Chesterton actually names this attitude "patriotism."

But perhaps it isn't a problem. I suspect that many of the Americans who are the most loudly and obnoxiously nationalistic, somewhere deep down feel as Chesterton described.  Maybe what we really need to do is let go of all that strutting, and get back to the real meaning of "patriotic": what the Online Merriam-Webster's defines simply as "having or showing great love and support for your country."

And then maybe I can be patriotic after all.