Friday, August 27, 2010

"German Nationalism" in Our Nation

Karl Barth
Writing in April, 1961, Karl Barth recalls the powerful days of the late 20s in Germany:

"I also saw and heard the so-called 'German nationals' of the time - in my memory the most undesirable of all God's creatures whom I have ever met. They had learnt nothing and forgotten nothing, and torpedoed absolutely every attempt to achieve the best that was possible on that basis. With their inflammatory speeches they probably made the greatest contribution towards filling to the uttermost a cup of wrath which was then poured out on the german nation over the next two decades." 

As I read Barth's description of the "German nationals," my mind quickly jumped to the likes of Beck and Palin and Robertson and Colson and Dobson and Franklin Graham (trying belatedly to get on the bandwagon of hate) and Hanity and O'Rilley.

They are taking us down a dark road, and filling the cup of wrath, as Barth noted.

At the time, Germany was hungry for their words, the self-affirmation of nationalism and they were ready to purify their nation. And many an American is equally ready and willing to attach their souls to the wagon of national pride and power.

Nationalism, then or now, is all the same. It's vocabulary, always limited. And the results, always the same.

Nationalism is an enemy of God, even as it seeks to co-opt God for its own purposes.

But God refuses, and so nationalism must settle for lesser gods - the only gods willing to slum around in the swill of nationalism.

Yet the living God is present, not with blessing, however, but with judgment.

A judgment that will not restrain the hand, but allows it to proceed - because some things have to work their sad and sorry way through a culture determined to go that way.

But enough of this rambling ... 

I think Barth's memories of the "German nationals" ought to send a chill down our spine.

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