Freedom – From Fear

No government can ever guarantee that you or I will have nothing to be afraid of. And as the American Founding Fathers well knew, no government, not even ours, can be trusted with freedom to do just as it wants. The Founders built “checks and balances” into the US Constitution for very good reasons. Political parties, political movements – your neighbors – even your friends and family – can harm you in a variety of ways. It might be accidental; sometimes it is deliberate. Most of us have experienced it at some level or other. There is no law we can pass, no person we can elect, no agreement we can make that will guarantee that any particular person or group will never turn against us or persecute us or hurt us. So what is a Christian to do in this unpredictable and sometimes very dangerous world? It is precisely this problem that prompted Jesus’ disciple Peter … Continue reading

A Covenant for Civility (Sojourners)

[You can sign this covenant online at the Sojourners site. I have added underlines and bolds to the version below.] How good and pleasant it is when the people of God live together in unity. -Psalm 133:1 As Christian pastors and leaders with diverse theological and political beliefs, we have come together to make this covenant with each other, and to commend it to the church, faith-based organizations, and individuals, so that together we can contribute to a more civil national discourse. The church in the United States can offer a message of hope and reconciliation to a nation that is deeply divided by political and cultural differences. Too often, however, we have reflected the political divisions of our culture rather than the unity we have in the body of Christ. We come together to urge those who claim the name of Christ to “put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31-32). … Continue reading

Obama at Ebenezer Baptist – Crucial Moral Values for America (as in: Love Your Neighbor)

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. … Continue reading

And Now? Hard Times and Good News.

Bad News Warren Buffett, the widely respected Omaha multi-billionaire, used the phrase “Pearl Harbor” to describe the significance of our nation’s current economic crisis, a phrase he has never before used about the economy. Many other very reputable people feel the same way. “Pearl Harbor” was a very damaging air attack on our forces in Hawaii and it got us involved in World War II. It was a surprise, deadly, and very frightening It took a demanding and costly effort, but we did pull out of it. The sense of things now seems to be that again we are in for some rough years, … Continue reading

Reputation: Portraits in Power [a book review]

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, … Continue reading

The Quiet Place(s) in Our Lives Make Our Public Activity Safer

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” … Continue reading

On War – and Its Effects on Humans

Quotes from the e-newsletter I get from Information Clearing House. … the United States, for generations, has sustained two parallel but opposed states of mind about military atrocities and human rights: one of U.S. benevolence, generally held by the public, and the other of ends-justify-the-means brutality sponsored by counterinsurgency specialists. Normally the specialists carry out their actions in remote locations with little notice in the national press. That allows the public to sustain its faith in a just America, while hard-nosed security and economic interests are still protected in secret. -Robert Parry, investigative reporter and author … Continue reading

Matthew 25 Network – for More Truth and More of Biblical Values in Public Life

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 … Continue reading