A Church of England bishop has called for the banning of a popular hymn, I Vow to Thee, My Country, because it is too nationalistic.
I looked at the words of the hymn, but couldn't find much that might be considered objectionable. It's true that part of a line does mention vowing to your country a "love that asks no question". If the line simply means "My loyalty is so deep that it is never brought into question" then there's no problem. It's only if the line is read as meaning "My love for my country means I never question what it does" that it becomes an expression of a false, mindless loyalty.
The nationalism of the poem is also a little overwrought, but this is understandable given it was written at the end of World War One, when a generation of British men had indeed made tremendous sacrifices for their country.
Which brings us back to the Bishop of Hulme. He says that "it is dangerous for a nation to suggest that our culture is somehow superior to others." This comment reveals the influence over the bishop of a secular liberal philosophy.
For liberals, society is a collection of competing wills. Social dynamics are therefore understood in terms of a "will to power" of some groups over others. So, for the bishop, an expression of nationalism can only be understood as one group, the English, asserting a right to dominance, a right to superiority, over another group, the non-English.
But this liberal understanding entirely misses the point of the hymn. The hymn stresses very clearly that national feeling is not based on a will to power but on a love of country. In fact, the hymn makes no mention at all of English superiority, and could easily be adopted by any other national group. And far from urging national dominance, the hymn actually calls for gentleness and peace.
The problem is therefore not the nationalism of the hymn but the liberalism of the bishop. The bishop is conceiving things too much in bad faith; he needs to trust better the nationalism that is based on a genuine love of one's own country and people.