Friday, June 29, 2012

God keep our land glorious and free!

I have to confess, I've never really liked the term "Canada Day". Maybe it's because I was raised to call it "Dominion Day" or "Confederation Day": "Canada Day" feels like very ad hoc, like someone who thought we needed a holiday to go along with the Americans' Fourth of July plucked the date out of the air and said "and it'll be a day to celebrate ... um ... um ... Canada! Yeah! That's the ticket! We'll call it 'Canada Day'!"

Having gotten that off my chest, it's a very popular thing among Evangelicals to complain about Canada "falling away from God", through changing societal attitudes and various pieces of legislation that manage to ursurp God's authority. Indeed, when I first read Isaiah, I found myself saying at practically every other verse, "wow! He could be talking to Canada!" So it's worth pointing out a very convenient truth: Canada is one of the few countries that still officially declares God as sovereign.

There are other countries that try to claim Christianity as their preserve: I won't go into details, because comparisons are odorous, as Shakespeare wrote*, but God takes a prime location in our institutions.

The National Anthem -- O Canada! -- in both languages. In the original French, we sing, "Car ton bras sait porter l’épée, il sait porter la Croix ... " While your arm can carry the sword, it also carries the Cross; and later ... "Et ta valeur de Foi trempée protégera nos foyers et nos droits" -- and your valor steeped in faith will protect our homes and our rights.

In English, there's the line, "God keep our land glorious and free" -- and man, what a fight it was to get that line included in the official version! The forces of political correctness fought a pitched battle to protect the rights of non-Believers to not declare God as the One responsible for keeping our land glorious and free (much better to fall back on nuclear arms, I suppose**).

The very term, "Dominion Day", comes from "Dominion of Canada", which is a reference to Psalm 72:5, which says "[God] shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth." That's also reflected in our national motto, a mari usque ad mare -- from sea, even unto sea.

Another pitched battle was fought over the first line to the Canadian Constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to wit: "Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law ..." Courts and scholars have tried to water that down, saying (I'm not making this up) that "God" doesn't really mean "God", as in The Big Sir, but, well, some other kind of concept, like personal conscience. (Can you say "foundation of sand," boys and girls?)

Personally, I have a bit of a problem with the implication that the rule of law is on a par with God, considering how many laws have been enacted in this country that directly contradict God's word. But the fact remains that God is written into the Constitution, and the best efforts of those who think they know better than He does have not prevailed. Those people -- like all of us -- will die or their thinking will change over time (which is why we have to pray constantly for our elected leaders). God is Eternal. He ain't goin' away.

How about the motto of the RCMP -- Dieu et mon droit -- God and my right hand (the Biblical symbol of strength)?

Truly: can you think of any other country that puts God in the forefront the way Canada does?
So for those who despair over our Home and Native Land not being a Christian Nation, fear not. God is still alive and well and entrenched in our fundamental institutions. Besides, the idea of a "Christian Nation" suggests "state religion" and a requirement to be of a particular persuasion, whereas God leaves everything up to our personal choice and welcomes those who "gladly" receive Him (Acts 2).

Ask yourself which is preferable: to be a Christian Nation ... or a Nation of Christians?

*Yes, I know that should be "comparisons are odious", but the line is given to Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing, and he is one of the wondrous, "fools" Shakespeare injects into his plays, partly to appease the "penny idiots" in the and to slip some real wisdom our way, cloaked in buffoonery.
**It's tempting to make reference here to Tom Lehrer's song, "Who's Next?", which refers to Israel getting nuclear weapons: "The Lord's our Shepherd, says the Psalm/But just in case -- we're gonna get a bomb!"

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