Speaking of Faith by Krista Tippett – book review

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”

Seven Spheres of Influence

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”

Turn the Other Cheek? Are you Serious?

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.

Continue reading “Turn the Other Cheek? Are you Serious?”

America the Beautiful

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!

America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassion’d stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness.

America! America!
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.

America! America!
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.

America! America!
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.

Book Review: The Essential Gandhi by Louis Fischer

I read The Essential Gandhi by Louis Fischer a few months ago.  But until a 10-day work trip to Africa and the Middle East, I didn’t have time to write down all the passages I had underlined.  They are many.  I had a hard time delineating his ideas into categories because they are so (not to be cliché) transcendent.

 

This book and the ideas of this man have greatly changed my personal point of view.  He was a significant force in the thinking of the 20th Century.  But, like Christ and many other great teachers, many of his ideas are ignored or ridiculed simply because they are too darn hard for us “modern” people to implement.  We justify this to ourselves by calling them quaint and outdated, but really we’re just too lazy to act on them.

 

Below are some of my favorite quotes (believe me; I could have made it longer). Continue reading “Book Review: The Essential Gandhi by Louis Fischer”

“For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged”

Here follows the weekly (as promised) lyrics/poem from the Fearless Path, this time from early LDS poet and songwriter, Eliza R. Snow, from one of my favorite hymns:

Truth reflects upon our senses;
Gospel light reveals to some.
If there still should be offenses,
Woe to them by whom they come!
Judge not, that ye be not judged,
Was the counsel Jesus gave;
Measure given, large or grudged,
Just the same you must receive.

[Chorus]
Blessed Savior, thou wilt guide us,
Till we reach that blissful shore
Where the angels wait to join us
In thy praise forevermore.

Jesus said, “Be meek and lowly,”
For ’tis high to be a judge;
If I would be pure and holy,
I must love without a grudge.
It requires a constant labor
All his precepts to obey.
If I truly love my neighbor,
I am in the narrow way.

Once I said unto another,
“In thine eye there is a mote;
If thou art a friend, a brother,
Hold, and let me pull it out.”
But I could not see it fairly,
For my sight was very dim.
When I came to search more clearly,
In mine eye there was a beam.

If I love my brother dearer,
And his mote I would erase,
Then the light should shine the clearer,
For the eye’s a tender place.
Others I have oft reproved
For an object like a mote;
Now I wish this beam removed;
Oh, that tears would wash it out!

Charity and love are healing;
These will give the clearest sight;
When I saw my brother’s failing,
I was not exactly right.
Now I’ll take no further trouble;
Jesus’ love is all my theme;
Little motes are but a bubble
When I think upon the beam.

Only through the pure love that Christ demonstrated, taught, and can give to us are we able to judge rightly. It is the only thing that heals, the only thing that changes. “Charity never faileth.” To judge without that “charity” is to judge unrighteously and hypocritically, injuring others and ourselves. The fearless path is to withhold condemning judgment of others, recognizing that the only method to change others is to change ourselves.

The Man in Black

Every other week or so, I will post lyrics to a song or words to a poem that exemplify the ideas of the fearless path. One of the most out-spoken Christian songwriters of the last half of the 20th century was Johnny Cash. His life story is fascinating, demonstrating weaknesses, wild success, failure, loss, and most importantly, redemption. His anthem of “why” is found in the following words:

Continue reading “The Man in Black”

Loving Our Enemies: The Cure for Bigotry.

In Mormon scripture is found the story of a group of four brothers and their friends who decide (after a shocking conversion experience by which they are born again in Christ) to go preach the word among the “idolatrous” and “wicked” Lamanites.

When they make this desire known among their own people, the Nephites, their decision is met with derision and scorn as depicted in the following words:

Continue reading “Loving Our Enemies: The Cure for Bigotry.”