In January of 2008 Barack Obama gave a powerful speech (sermon) on the meaning of Martin Luther King Jr. for America today. This was at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where King was raised and his father was the pastor. Obama directly confronts fundamental moral problems rampant in American society and politics. (I’ve added some emphases to the print version.) I’m talking about a moral deficit. I’m talking about an empathy deficit. I’m taking about an inability to recognize ourselves in one another; to understand that we are our brother’s keeper; we are our sister’s keeper; And he brings the issue home to each of us.
This is a reveiew of Reputation: Portraits in Power, by Marjorie Williams, 2008, PublicAffairs. I wrote it for LibraryThing.com I think this book – or rather this collection of 12 short biographical portraits – is just excellent. Marjorie Williams wrote these for the Washington Post and for Vanity Fair during the 90′s. They are long enough to be substantial and short enough to be easily accessible. I love to find books like this, where you can get a frequently elegant introduction to a certain era or a certain place through the very real lives of very real people. It seems to me to be much more effective than the summary or analytical works that are so much more common. A person must have a lot of depth and profound powers of observation to write so penetratingly and believably,
The Lamb that was slain is worthy to receive power. The path of Christ, the political commitment to – truth, – servanthood, – proclamation, and – suffering love, is despite appearances, the channel of the power of God.
Contemplation and Public Action The public good is most in danger when the voluntary visits to contemplation are neglected in favor of immediate communitarian action. That’s from James V. Schall, Professor of political philosophy at Georgetown University [in his Another Sort of Learning, 1988, Ignatius Press]. We don’t have to go off and become full-time contemplatives. But times of stepping aside from the race do help provide for safer involvement in public life. He says, in fact, that “the public good is most in danger”
The Matthew 25 Network website features Bible quotes like Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with your neighbor, for we are all of the same body. – Ephesians 4:25 Seems elementary, doesn’t it? Why should we have to remind fellow Christians to tell the truth about other people? But Paul had to remind the believers at Ephesus, and we have to remind the believers of America. Because a lot of professing Christians are still parroting lies about Obama (and others), and still forwarding – and choosing to believe – those lying emails. It also features a verse from its namesake chapter, Matthew 25
Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to continually be part of unanimity. – Gotthold Ephraim Lessing The path of least resistance and least trouble is a mental rut
It might be a good project for each of us – to try to summarize the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 – 7) in 209 words. Brian McLaren has done so, in his The Secret Message of Jesus (chapter 15, “Kingdom Ethics”, p 136).
This is a pretty good “translation” of the Declaration, though she does have a couple of points of her own to emphasize that are not quite there in the original. I do recommend this for any and all who want a refresher on what the Founders were thinking as things got officially under way. (I added numbers to the list of offenses.) Sometimes one group of people decides to split off from another group, and to become an independent country, as the laws of Nature and of God say that they can. But when this happens, if they want other people to respect them, they should explain why they are splitting off. We think these things are obviously true: That all men are created equal
Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality of those who seek to change a world which yields most painfully to change. – Robert F. Kennedy
I. Waves of Slander I don’t have statistics, but we all know there’s a lot of falsehood circulating freely online. An email arrives with frightening accusations or innuendos and the reader gets frightened (as was intended) and forwards the email to warn others of the great danger revealed. But what if the email is one of the mostly false ones? How should we react if we’re not entirely sure of it’s truthfulness? After all, when we accept at face value lies about a person, group, or situation, and repeat those lies, we have put ourselves in a very bad place – we have become gossips and slanderers. Slander, you may have heard, is not a Bible virtue,