Stuck in the Present

WISE WORDS FROM PRESIDENT BUSH ON 9/11/21

It would be a mistake to idealize the experience of those terrible events. All that many people could initially see was the brute randomness of death. All that many could feel was unearned suffering. All that many could hear was God’s terrible silence. There are many who still struggle with a lonely pain that cuts deep within.

Many of us have tried to make spiritual sense of these events. There is no simple explanation for the mix of providence and human will that sets the direction of our lives. But comfort can come from a different sort of knowledge. After wandering long and lost in the dark, many have found they were actually walking, step by step, toward grace.

(Emphasis mine and sounds like it was inspired by Lincoln’s Second Inaugural!)

CHRISTIANS HATING ONE ANOTHER

We live in turbulent and divisive times.  

We may be tempted to focus only on the ungodliness of the “culture” in general, but ungodliness is hardly limited to those outside the church. 

Inside the church there is suspicion among Christians, even hatred. Christians have told me that they can’t talk about their differences on important issues…with their best friends!  How much hope is there then to discuss controversial matters with those we don’t know?  Growing numbers seem pessimistic about the prospect.

The gadfly sensation, Jordan Peterson, likes to tell young people that they have no credibility to protest in public unless they first keep their own bedrooms neat and tidy.  It is good counsel and one we Christians ought to take more seriously, even if others don’t.  To change the imagery a bit, I like to say that we Christians regularly want to start a landscape company when the weeds in our own backyard need serious attention.

Consider the following not so hypothetical conversation:

Pro-Life Christian: I can’t believe that people think partial-birth abortion is okay.

Pro-Choice Friend: How come?

Pro-Life Christian: Because it is the killing of a human being!

Pro-Choice Friend: Why do you believe anyone two and younger is human?

Pro-Life Christian: Because the Bible says so!

Pro-Choice Friend: Would you show me a few of those Bible verses?

Pro-Life Christian: Uh, let me see…I know they are in there somewhere…

Whether it is engaging in conversation with those inside or outside the church, we ought first to consider whether we are adequately literate to speak with such confidence and conviction.

The final chapter of Stuck in the Present offers a way forward…

 

I’VE NEVER SEEN THIS!

For decades, I have paid close attention to how many are reading at the DMV, waiting for a haircut, and always while I am flying. I sadly don’t see much reading these days, even on those demonic Kindles. 

On my recent flight back from Boston I saw what I have never seen before and perhaps never will again: Three women in the row across the aisle were all reading…physical books! Ah, the glories of analog. It was a small in-breaking of the kingdom of God!

 

THE IDEAS THAT MADE AMERICA

Our oldest son and his wife will many times choose a few hors d’oeuvres and then split a meal. They get more variety, and many times find out that the appetizers are better than the main offerings.

I thought of our son and daughter-in-law’s culinary sensibilities as I read Ratner-Rosenhagen’s terrific book. The author does a wonderful job of laying out the seminal ideas that have bubbled up over our country’s history. There are some ideas I wished she unpacked in more detail, but it is a satisfying sampler.

The author is a lucid writer, so any thoughtful person will find much to chew on in The Ideas that Made America.