Aside from the recent winter Olympics, what have you heard about Canada lately? If you’re like me, it’s not much. Actually, in the current milieu of debates over the idea of public health care, most of what I hear people saying about Canada is that the Canadians have created a number of semi-socialist disasters for themselves, not the least of which is their health-care system. Frankly, I am too ignorant to know whether such things are true.
But as I have been studying the history of Christianity in (North) America, I have found something that I believe Canada got right… or at least more so than the US. Once again, I turn to the words of Mark Noll:
Because of the divided allegiances of Canadians [between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism], they were much less tempted than Protestant Americans to conceive of their nation as standing uniquely in covenant with God. Such notions can stimulate good, but they can also lead to a great deal of moral posturing and simple hypocrisy that Canadians have mostly been able to avoid.
I grew up in a family and in social circles of the sort that I have called “God-and-country-evangelicalism.” From that vantage point, I was always taught that the reason that Canadians did not bluster very much was that they knew that their country was quite inferior to ours. To be honest, the posturing and hypocrisy of which Noll speaks so aptly describes the attitude with which I was taught to wear my American Christianity from my earliest days.
Such strong nationalistic pride makes sense for a mere American, of course. But how is it that we American Christians ever got to the place where we believed that such attitudes were okay for us?