Gracious and prophetic reflections, not an easy thing to do…
From one of my favorite historians:
I recently read Allen Guelzo’s terrific new history of the Civil War, Fateful Lightning.
Guelzo describes how restless Lincoln was for more responsibility. Others around him, even early on with his law practice, commented on Lincoln’s ambition. It was sobering to read of Lincoln’s ambition in the 1850’s for the next decade would obviously find him with more responsibility than he could ever imagine.
If you are ambitious for more influence, that is not necessarily a bad thing. God hard-wired us for making a difference, but we must be ever so careful. Being ambitious for God’s glory and kingdom is one thing. Being ambitious to “make a name for ourselves” is no less sinister than those in Babel who wanted to do the same thing.
Remember God’s words to Baruch, “Should you then seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them. For I will bring disaster on all people, declares the Lord, but wherever you go I will let you escape with your life.’”
Terrific piece by Rabbi Moffic:
My friend, Randy Newman, recommended this essay to me. I am very interested in writers like Thoreau and Emerson. A revealing piece!
Why, given his hypocrisy, sanctimony, and misanthropy, has Thoreau been so cherished?
HT: Micah Mattix’s excellent email blast, Prufrock
Two “much food for thought” insights from the article above:
Adam Smith spoke of “the man of system” who “seems to imagine that he can arrange the different members of a great society with as much ease as the hand arranges the different pieces upon a chess-board.” [Richard] Thaler and his benevolent friends are men, and some few women, of system. They hate the Chicago School, have never heard of the Austrian School, dismiss spontaneous order, and favor bossing people around—for their own good, understand. Employing the third most unbelievable sentence in English (the other two are “The check is in the mail” and “Of course I’ll respect you in the morning”), they declare cheerily, “We’re from the government and we’re here to help.”
The great essayist Lionel Trilling wrote in 1950 that the danger is that “we who are liberal and progressive know that the poor are our equals in every sense except that of being equal to us.” The same may be said of Burkeans or conservatives, too. He also wrote that “we must be aware of the dangers that lie in our most generous wishes,” because “when once we have made our fellow men the object of our enlightened interest [we] go on to make them the objects of our pity, then of our wisdom, ultimately of our coercion.”
From C.S. Lewis:
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”
No, it is not in Philadelphia! Doreen and I spent a wonderful day in Newport, RI during our time of study at Yale. Here is a terrific overview of Newport and the library: