Someday we’ll stop resorting to fear as a reason to hurt. Thanks to Jack Johnson for the insightful lyrics: Continue reading ““Using fear as fuel””
Speaking of Faith: Why Religion Matters—And How to Talk About It
Having heard Krista Tippett’s Speaking of Faith radio program a few times, I couldn’t resist buying the book when I saw it in the discount bin at Borders. The subtitle to the book, Why Religion Matters—And How to Talk About It, is an issue that’s been on my mind recently. In traveling to many countries around the world, I have the opportunity to talk to a lot of people of different religious backgrounds: Catholics, Mormons, Muslims, Hindus, agnostics, and atheists among others. I enjoy talking about religion, but I have internalized the American adage that it’s something you don’t talk about in polite company. So this book really caught my attention. Continue reading “Speaking of Faith by Krista Tippett – book review”
I read in a recent piece by David Brooks that, “Over the past seven months, the number of people who say government is doing too many things better left to business has jumped from 40 percent to 48 percent, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.” My first reaction was, “Remember last year when ‘business’ ruined our economy?’” My second reaction was, “Why must we choose between only two options, business or government?” Continue reading “Seven Spheres of Influence”
One of the sharpest social critics of 19th century European industrial capitalism was…Charles Dickens. Those who have read Karl Marx’s writings see the world that he is attacking; those who have read Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, Bleak House, or A Christmas Carol will see that same world. However, we find the world described by Dickens, because it is novelized, less abrupt and perhaps more understandable. Continue reading “For on his brow I see that written which is Doom”
September 14, 2001 – Three days after terrorists hijacked two commercial airplanes and flew them into the World Trade Center Towers, felling them and killing nearly 3,000 people, the President of the United States made a visit to “Ground Zero.” He took a bullhorn in his hands and, as workers chanted, “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” said, “I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the rest of the world will soon know what we’re really made of. In the face of this tragedy, there is an almost unimaginable desire for revenge. However, our founding principles cannot allow it.” Continue reading “What Might Have Been”
I detect a form in the moonlight.
Is it my friend or foe?
It appears, in the obscurity,
to be of the opposing throng.
and thrust my sword deep and hard.
My bloodied brother, eyes clouding, looks up.
His face, illuminated by the neutral luna,
wears confusion and sadness
from the injury I inflicted.
Why do I fight and injure and kill
when my vision is so limited?
How well do I know the soul
of my friend
or my foe?
Is it best to shun the violence
and trust freedom and love?
My vision is obscured.
The judgment must wait.
I will love the “other” and trust freedom.
This op-ed in the New York Times has me worried. I am worried because I know a lot of people who are so convinced that government is the cause of all the problems in their lives, they tread into the ground that the editorialist describes. I am worried because, to a degree, I share some economic views, some social views, and even some political concerns with the “nuts” the editorialist writes about.
This was originally posted by the author at The Idealist.
Leo Tolstoy is perhaps the ultimate example of the late-in-life nihilist-turned-idealist. He is best known for his mid-life fiction, most notably War and Peace and Anna Karenina. He was early on somewhat of a determinist and nihilist but late in life began a study of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and came away a determined Christian, with significant misgivings regarding the Russian orthodox church specifically and organized religion and government generally. He wrote his thoughts in two books that were significantly suppressed by the Russian Church and the Czarist government.
I’ve always loved the words to this song, but mostly the verses we don’t seem to sing, or take to heart. They are hopeful verses, filled with introspection and personal responsibility:
|O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassion’d stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness.
God mend thine ev’ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.
O beautiful for heroes prov’d
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life.
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev’ry gain divine.
O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears.
God shed His grace on thee,
And crowns thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.
This song contains in it a recognition that America has, and will always have, flaws. Once we see ourselves as alway right, just because we are America, we will fall victim to that pride that destroys all people. However, if we look to God’s ways to mend our flaws, if we confirm our souls in self control, America will be beautiful again.
Additionally, we must be noble in our successes and divine in our gains. This country was established upon principles of self-government and faith; freedom and hope; equality and merit. Until we return to these eternal principles, all efforts will fail. Let us make America beautiful again, from the inside out.