Patris and patriotism

We’ve all got favorite passages, right? One of mine is Hebrews 11:13-16, where it says:

“These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” (Hebrews 11:13–16)

In doing some research the other day, I saw something interesting. The word which ESV translates as “homeland” in verse 14 is the Greek word patris. Aside from this passage in Hebrews, it’s only used in the gospel stories which refer to the passage about a prophet being without honor is in his own place.

It’s interesting to me that this word is often used to refer to hometown (like in the gospels), and the Hebrews writer describes the patris they are seeking as a city that God is preparing. The feeling seems to be that of a place to belong, a place to be identified with. That’s what we’re looking for, what we don’t really have on this earth.

I’ve said it before: I’m very patriotic… for the patris that God is preparing for me. No other loyalty can rival that.

3 thoughts on “Patris and patriotism

  1. guy


    Concerning your links to go about the discovery of America, apparently there is fair evidence that Irish monks made it to America very, very early.

    Interesting how there’s all this evidence for pre-Columbus arrival, AND there’s evidence that Native American populations were far, far higher than originally thought, yet the kid-friendly Euro-colonial narrative just doesn’t seem to go away from popular folklore.



    While I agree that the evidence is great for pre-Columbus visits to this continent, there is an undeniable fact. It was Columbus’ voyages that began lasting interaction between the old and new worlds. Hence, his place in history is well deserved.

  3. guy


    Perhaps you’re right. What i take to be doubtful is whether his place in history is such a positive thing given the nature of many of those initial interactions between old and new worlds. i doubt conquered, oppressed, and disenfranchised peoples feel an inclination to recognize colonizers as worthy of heroic accolades.

    But more to the point, even if the old world perspective is one side of the story worth telling, my itch is that it often appears to me to be treated as the only side of the story worth telling because we’re not taught (at least i wasn’t) to recognize the other sides to that story. What is it to know anything about space/time/matter? It’s whatever Western scientists hold general consensus about. What is it to know what “really” happened in the revolutionary war? It’s not know America’s side of the story. What does it mean for any part of the world to be explored or discovered? It’s for Western Euro-Americans to have claimed it. i guess this holiday reminds me of a theme that i think deserves more criticism than it gets.



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