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To Speak of Symbols

Scarecrows at Dusk, originally uploaded by Shirley Buxton.

Much discussion arose from yesterday’s post because of a rag–a rag imbued with meaningful design and color, whose being unfurled in a place judged unworthy took on such significance as to stop a neighborhood on its ear, as to catch the eye of national media and as to grab the heart of America…not to mention affecting to lesser or greater degrees humble–and otherwise–blogs.

The furor that arose yesterday was not over a cut of cotton or linen or rayon or plastic; the furor evolved because of representation, because of symbolism, because that piece of cloth was a flag, the flag of the United States of America. When fold of cheap matter had its threads stamped through with such unique color and design, its import was turned from that of tawdry, little-noticed rag, and at the moment was transformed into an elevated piece of honor, esteem and glory.

Symbols are important, speaking where there is no voice, shouting where silence is ordered, and healing where wounds have slashed. Never urgent is a Halloween sign where a scarecrow flaps in the wind, nor a church marque to announce itself when a cross is lifted to the sky, or flashing Merry Christmas signage where a creche adorns a strip mall. These are symbols, whose architecture and form speak their cause.

What then, gives with this?

Barack Obama may choose not to wear an American flag pin on his lapel, but many of the presidential contender’s political rivals say they wouldn’t leave home without one.

Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton told Thursday night that she sometimes wears a pin to show her patriotism. “Wearing a flag pin, flying the flag, pledging allegiance to the flag, talking about the values that are important to America, teaching your children about what a great nation you have, standing up for those values, speaking out … there’s just so many ways that one can demonstrate patriotism,” Clinton said at a Chicago fundraiser.

A spokesman for Joe Biden told that the Delaware senator “always wears a flag pin.” It wasn’t clear whether Dennis Kucinich wears a pin, but a spokeswoman told that the Ohio congressman does “does carry a mini copy of the Constitution in his pocket.”

John Edwards, Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson didn’t return calls for comment.

Republican hopeful John McCain said he doesn’t wear a flag pin on a daily basis. Brooke Buchanan, a spokeswoman for the Arizona senator, said “his record of service to his country shows his dedication.”

more here.

Edit: October 29, 2007    More cause for desperate concern is pictured here


My devotional blog is here.


By Shirley Buxton

Still full of life and ready to be on the move, Shirley at 81 years old feels blessed to have lots of energy and to be full of optimism. She was married to Jerry for 64 years, and grieves yet at his death in August of 2019. They have 4 children, 13 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren...all beautiful and highly intelligent--of course. :)

20 replies on “To Speak of Symbols”

Jana, He was never a Muslim, and has been a member of a UCC church since the 1980s. He wasn’t sworn in with a Koran (that’s an interest hoax). Although he has Muslim ancestors, both his father and grandfather converted at various times to Christianity.


Great points. I agree with all three. Campaign monies have always been controversial and usually corrupt.

Also, I think Anna was right about Obama and the lapel pin. He is the one who made an issue out of it by commenting on it. If it is such a trivial thing, he should not have addressed it.


Hi, Helen.

The reason I put quotation marks around “the church” is so people would understand–or at least consider–the difference between groups of people who congregate and who may or may not be God’s Church–and the authentic GOD’S CHURCH. A nod to the difference is your statement in # 3…”What’s sad is that the church follows rather than leads.” Surely GOD’S CHURCH–His Called Out, His Bride do not follow the world, but rather lead the way in godliness and righteousness.

We both know GOD’S CHURCH does not reside in one building, but is made up of His people around the world. I surely don’t have it all figured out–except this part: I want to be part of GOD’S CHURCH…believe you do too. 🙂


WOW! What interesting points, Shirley.

1. I think you are spot on about limiting campaign money.

2. We are confused and angry, yes. But as long as we condone violence (racism, war, and capital punishment) what do we expect our kids to learn?

3. The parallel is obvious. What’s sad is that the church follows rather than leads.

I don’t know why you put the quotes there. But of course, there is a church within the church. The inner church strives to be like Jesus. Maybe it’s who the church has as its leaders that’s part of the problem.


Good morning, Anna.

Jerry and I had such a discussion this morning over coffee–that’ll get you going for the day–the strong coffee and the strong discussion :). Couple of thoughts:
1. What are the arguments against limiting the amount of money any presidential candidate can spend on his campaign? Seems to me if a decent limit were set, an opportunity for a fair chance would be created for men who are not wealthy.

2. Our country is not only confused, but we are an extremely angry people. Angry to such degree that it is frightening. Consider yesterday’s deputy sheriff going on a rampage and killing six people. We sat in the home of one of the people we are working with in our church last evening who, in a matter-of-fact way, told how angry are the young people in her family–probably to a large extent because of drug use. One of her grandsons accosted his brother over a single slab of pizza, got in a terrible brawl and threw him down the steps, nearly killing him.

3. It’s interesting to note the parallel between trends and issues in “the church” and trends and issues in politics.


Hi Sis. Buxton,

Probably Obama’s not wearing a lapel pin would not be such a big issue if he did not make it such by being so adamant to make a statement about it.

This world is ripe for the Anti-Christ or his forerunner. In my philosophy class we studied the different types of Leadership such as the Monarchy, Democracy, Oligarchy, Dictatorship, Tyranny, etc…. Quite frankly we have been basically under an Oligarchy, which is defined by Wikipedia as : a form of government where political power effectively rests with a small elite segment of society (whether distinguished by wealth, family or military powers). (Bush, Clinton, Bush, possibly Clinton, and remember there is another Bush in the background of the future. In addition to that everyone who runs for president is typically filthy rich and has some type of political breeding that has been in existence for a number of years.) The interesting thing about this is the forms of Government tend to follow a significant pattern to a point where the people get angry and frustrated with the system and become ripe for an anarchy. Anarchy is a state where the people tend to be disillusioned by government/politics, don’t know who to vote for; therefore, decide they don’t need a government and that they are capable of governing themselves.

This type of situation becomes ripe for a dictatorship or a tyranny as the people are in confusion and begin crying out for a someone who is a strong leader. (sound familiar) Typically, if you study history, a man will step on the scene during these times who is quite charismatic and will encourage the people that he has the answer to their situation. He will go from group to group speaking of how we all need to come together and will become the so-called mediator between the separate factions of power, until he is the final voice/the final power.

America is definitely in confusion. If someone came along in the next few months who showed any remarkable strength and began to speak with a definite voice, people would flock after such an individual in throngs. I don’t know who to vote for, although, I know who I’m not voting for.:) The next few years are going to be interesting, primarily next year.


My understanding is that Huckabee takes a very hard stance against abortion and would support the overturning of Roe v. Wade. I have heard Huckabee speak on only one occasion and was pleased with what I heard. He is currently at the top of my “least offensive” candidate list. I think that we should definitely explore Dobson’s idea of bringing in a third party candidate. I think it would send a powerful message to the ever-increasingly liberal GOP. We might have to endure an extremely liberal president as a result. However, I’m not sure that this would be such a bad thing at this point. I think Christians and other conservatives should take a VERY strong stand at this time, regardless of the cost. Winning isn’t always the only thing. I think it’s time for us to sacrifice winning to saying “we will not compromise any longer”. The day is coming where we will have to take a personal stand for Christ and Christian principals, and we should start practicing now.


Hi, Linda. I certainly don’t think the pin is the issue either. The thrust of the post is that the symbol itself is not the importance, but the representation of that piece of plastic, enamel or wood. I find it telling that Mr. Obama has made a point of removing the pin that he once wore.

How about Mike Huckabee–do you have a statement of his stand on abortion?

Lou, do you agree with Dr. Dobson’s thought to bring into play a third party candidate? Do you think that will greatly increase the chance of electing a very liberal president?


I have never cared for those little lapel pins anyway. I am much more interested in what the character of these candidates is and in what direction they will lead us as a nation than whether or not they wear a bit of enamel. Beware lest we be distracted by the minutae and lose track of the issues that truly matter. I am saddened that I have no candidate that I feel I can really stand up for and vote for with confidence. I will probably be voting for the least offensive of all the candidates rather than for the candidate I believe is a good and righteous one. Ugh. I am not a person who generally votes on the basis of a single issue, but Shirley, when it comes to abortion, I don’t see how I could vote for anyone who has such little respect for human souls to be able to kill the smallest and most vulnerable of all humanity, and then to call it a “right” to be able to do so. We are sacrificing our children in selfishness to the god of convenience. I can’t be a party to that in any way if I can help it. Whoever I do end up voting for will not be an abortion advocate. I can’t trust someone with MY future if they can’t be trusted with the future of the unborn.


R Guy, thank you. Do you believe Dr. Dobson’s strong consideration of a third party candidate will be effective in bringing such candidates as Duncan Hunter and Mike Huckabee to the forefront?

*“I would amend the U.S. Constitution and provide blanket protection to all unborn children from the moment of conception by prohibiting any state or federal law that denies the personhood of the unborn. Likewise, I have also introduced the Right to Life Act, which would legally define “personhood” as the moment of conception and, therefore, guarantee all constitutional rights and protections, including life, to the unborn without utilizing a constitutional amendment.” – Duncan Hunter, 2007

Do you have an abortion statement by Mike Huckabee? I don’t.


I’m with Larry, too. My head spins around election time. Personally, I am concerned about the REAL ID act. I don’t want to vote for any candidate who is for it. I want it repealed. We don’t need a National ID, without this ID you won’t be able to have a drivers license, board a train or a plane, hold a job (won’t have any money to buy or sell!)… Sound like something the Bible warned us about? That is how I am voting this time… No National ID. :/


Larry, I’m probably as frustrated as you are.

WHO ARE WE GOING TO VOTE FOR? Is there one candidate who is pro-life? Can I vote for someone who backs abortion? Can you?


Yes, Obama did allude what is in the heart is greater than that on the lapel, but his action to not wear the pin speaks louder of his lack of patriotism than any action he has generated to be patriotic. As far as I’m concerned, this is just another inconsistency he has shown. He used to wear the pin and then stopped after 9/11. He used to be Muslim and used the Koran to be sworn in but is now born-again Christian. Oh, really?!? It sounds like a confused soul to me. He hasn’t really shown enough stability to merit my vote. I do agree with his words that what is in heart should be of greater value, but our heart leads our actions. It is true wearing a flag pin doesn’t mend broken relations with other countries, but I haven’t heard of Obama mending any relations with or without his pin. No, we aren’t necessarily more patriotic wearing a pin, but no one knows if you really are if you have never given actions to prove otherwise. I personally think wearing or displaying an American symbol can silently speak of patriotism. Sorry, Helen, I still love you but I know we disagree when it comes to Obama.


Hi, Helen.

This story is newsworthy–at least as is judged by Fox, MsNBC, CBS, ABC, Yahoo News, and AP…probably others.

My method of choosing a presidential candidate is to consider every aspect of his life. That a man, during his campaign for the presidency makes a deliberate choice to discontinue wearing an American lapel flagpin–when such wearing is customary with many such candidates–and seems to “make a statement” with that action interests me…and I think may interest others.


Ah, but in the same article Obama explained,
“My attitude is that I’m less concerned about what you’re wearing on your lapel than what’s in your heart,” Obama said. “You show your patriotism by how you treat your fellow Americans, especially those who serve. You show your patriotism by being true to our values and ideals. That’s what we have to lead with, is our values and our ideals.”

Does wearing a flag pin make a person more patriotic? Isn’t that like asking if wearing a cross or crucifix makes one more Christian? Isn’t a symbol less important than that which is symbolizes? Isn’t Jesus more important than one’s jewelery and our nation more than just a flag?

Will a flag pin mend broken relationships among nations? Isn’t Obama right in that it’s what’s inside a person that matters more than appearance (which can be faked)? Doesn’t wearing or not wearing a symbol come under the category of personal choice? Is this any way to judge – yes judge – the qualifications of a presidential candidate? Or is it just FOX way of slanting something that is really not even newsworthy?


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