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Posture politics

War Cry comment on the the 'take a knee' campaign

Standing is widely regarded as a mark of respect

AN NFL American football game at Wembley is always a big occasion. But the season’s opener at the end of September grabbed the headlines even before kick-off. For the playing of the pre-game American national anthem, a number of players and staff dropped to one knee. They were not alone. In the States, other players did the same. Last Sunday, the play was repeated. The gesture, known as ‘taking a knee’, is a growing protest against police brutality towards the black community in the Land of the Free. President Trump was not amused. He labelled the action as ‘disrespect to our country, our flag, our national anthem’. He called for all who engaged in such protest to be fired. He questioned the propriety of their mothers. The fact that, in both games at Wembley, all the players stood for ‘God Save the Queen’, suggests that posture is regarded as significant. Standing is widely regarded as a mark of respect. In entertainment, remarkable performances receive a standing ovation. At funerals, the congregation is invited to stand for the entry of the coffin. People stand for a bride’s procession to the altar. Nor is the national anthem the only piece of music for which people are expected to stand. Traditionally, a concert version of Handel’s ‘Hallelujah’ chorus is heard while standing. Yet, when it comes to saying personal hallelujahs, a traditional Christian posture for prayer is to take a knee. Many people were taught as children that the right way to pray is to kneel with closed eyes and clasped hands. Although posture is meaningful, if it is enforced or merely a response to expectation, it can become an empty gesture. Respect comes from within, not from standing, sitting or kneeling at the ‘right’ time and place. When it comes to prayer, God is more interested in what we’re carrying in our hearts and minds than how we hold our bodies. 

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