I have found myself watching the two political conventions with an embarrassing intensity. Last week was more easily swallowed than this week, but as much as I would enjoy ranting about the failed policies of the Bush administration, or the nauseating similarity of Senator McCain's foreign policy platform to said failed policies, or the myopic energy policy proposed by Senator McCain, or the shameless pandering of the selection of Sarah Palin as a VP nominee, or any number of the offensive and foolish "selfishness-described-as-the-view-of-the-common-man" Republican party bullshit, I am, at this moment, on whatever whim, in the mood to level a very mild semantic complaint against both parties.
Elected officials of America, when pandering to the religious right or merely when towing the inoffensive party line and attempting to appeal to the millions of religious people in this nation, please insert a "may" before uttering "God bless America."
I know, it's minor. Pitifully minor. But as a thoroughly secular, woefully irreligious heathen, I cringe at the phrase, "God bless all of you, and God bless America!" The omission of "may" makes it seem as though earthly politicians are commanding God's blessing. I am far from a biblical scholar, but I have read enough Old Testament to know that God is not the sort of guy you go pushing around and demanding blessings of. I kinda think God curses and blesses people and nations and baseball teams as He sees fit and if He sees fit. If He's even there. Or a He. Or could possibly be expressed or understood in any sort of man's terms. (I'm a devout agnostic, I have no idea and am fervent in the belief that I have no fucking idea. I a snake-handling agnostic. I have been knocked down unconscious by the force of the presence of the Holy "What-if.")
But this little gesture, this token nod to the "common man," seems a bit haughty--and moreover, disingenuous--to not ask for God's blessing, but to command it or to single handedly bestow it, as a mere mortal, upon a nation. I may have not done much churchin' in my days, but I think the Catholics have got it right: if you're going to ask a guy who's as insecure and petty a son of a bitch as the Old Testament God (even if he has mellowed with age, according to the apostles) for anything, you get on your knees.
Were I a religious person, I'd find the phrase "May God bless America" to be more comforting rhetoric. Lord knows, if you go around demanding His blessing or proclaiming to know it to others, you'd have to consider being turned into a pillar of salt the LEAST of the things He might do to you in recompense.
But that's just one lost soul's humble opinion.