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Saturday, April 18, 2015

All Just Drunk Americans

To illustrate the inclusiveness of God's reign, the theologian David Buttrick likes to tell a story about an evangelist who threw a party for everyone in town, and just about everyone was there. There were champagne cocktails, trays of food, and a rock band beating out “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” A policeman walked by just as a scantily clad woman danced out into the street. “Every bum in town is in there,” sneered the policeman. “There’s room for more, officer,” sang the woman, “There’s room for more.”

When I first heard Toby Keith's recent song, "Drunk Americans," I couldn't help notice the parallels between Buttrick's story and Keith's song:
We ain't East, we ain't West
We ain't left, we ain't right
We ain't black, we ain't white
We just came here to drink
We're all mud flap suburbans
All ball caps and turbans
All prom queens and strippers
Where the whole kitchen sink,
And in here, we're the same,
Everyone knows your name
We just raise up our glass
We don't give a rat's ass
If you're a Democrat or Republican
We're happy to be here and that you can see
We're just all drunk Americans
We ain't second ex-wives,
We ain't Cowboys or Redskins
We ain't preachers or kingpins
We're just having fun
We're all suits in blue collars
Short orders, long haulers
Paper and plastic, too old and too young
CEOs, GEDs, DUIs, FBIs, PhDs 
We been in, we been out
We been cool, we been weird
Thank God we're still here
In the land of the free
And we all, singin' wrong
But we all sing along
Sing along 
We just raise up our glass, we don't give a rats ass
If you're a Democrat or republican
We're happy to be here and that you can see
We're just all drunk Americans
In these neon lights, we're all stars, we're all stripes,
And we're all drunk Americans
I don't mean to suggest that God's kingdom is a drunken mess, but the image of democrats and republicans, blacks and whites, prom queens and strippers gathering together at the same table is reminiscent of the apostle Paul's image of God's kingdom (Galatians 3:28):
There is neither Jew nor Gentile,
neither slave nor free,
nor is there male and female,
for you are all one in Christ Jesus
There have been others, such as Tony Campolo, who have compared God's kingdom to a party ("A Church That Throws Birthday Parties for Prostitutes"). And when the late Baptist preacher, Will Campbell, who was one of four people who escorted the black students who integrated the Little Rock, Arkansas, public schools in 1957, was asked where he attended church, he referenced a neighborhood bar, remarking that its patrons would give their lives for one another, which is how the church is supposed to be. Hard to argue with that.

PS: The video of Keith's song appears below:

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