A Call from Ukraine

President Zelensky tonight delivered a stunning and inspirational speech to a joint session of Congress. After too long a time of bickering and arguing in our public life, we were treated to a moment of moral clarity, born in atrocities against a suffering people. He raised our vision to see that it is not only for Ukraine but the world itself that democracy and freedom must prevail. This includes the Russian people themselves, captive to the delusions of a single tyrant.

For just the briefest moment, the room was together and the finest instincts of the American resolve stirred in defiance and determination against the repressions of evil. It was his and our chance for a finest hour yet to come. He came for what his people needed but he left us something that we needed: the call to stand up together and a reminder of our most cherished convictions.

A Word from George

This is a quote from George Washington’s Farewell Address, 1796, after he had refused a third term.  It was published in every newspaper in the country.  This is only a section I thought relevant to now, as election hysteria causes us once more to wrongly believe this is THE worst situation our nation has ever faced, that our politics right now is a matter of GOOD vs. EVIL, and when we cannot agree which is which, and a time in which we cannot bear the past unless we either gloss over its truth and exchange it for a myth of our own construction or see nothing worthwhile that comes from our imperfect ancestors.

“I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the state, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party, generally.

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind, (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight,) the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public Administration. It agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.”

Before you pronounce “what the forefathers thought” or what they based our nation upon, you might want to read what they actually wrote.

Once while I was reading on “pilgrimage” I came upon an  Interesting article by Urban Holmes from many years ago about the nature of the story of America to leave the past behind and move on.  If he is right, in these times when the world is “falling apart” for the umpteenth time, our greatest danger is not the present threats but our anxious longing for a secure past that never existed.

Thoughts on Suffering

From a sermon two years ago. This was a post from a listener (and one of my staff) from that day.

I am not fond of theories and theologies that discount the depths of human suffering for some exotic notion of “making us better people.” It can pass over the misery and sorrow too quickly. Better to see it, as perhaps the Ukrainian people are teaching us (as did Jesus), that sometimes suffering is the only alternative to yielding to wickedness and evil.

I prefer Romans 8 which pictures the entirety of God’s good creation yearning for wholeness and completion, even as it battles against all that resists it.

“For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.” (Romans 8:20-21). Only by affirming this are we entitled to hope that ” in all things God is working for good.”

This is significant as it describes where God “stands” in relation to us–is the suffering of Christ passivity and yielding to the anger of God against us? Or is it the resistance of God in Christ against the powers of evil that would destroy us all? For us or against us? Is this God’s own internal war with God’s own being and intentions being resolved by self-suffering for those who deserve it instead? Or is it a frontal attack against the very kingdom of violence, coercion and cruelty, unmasking its shame and ultimate impotence to bring about peace and reconciliation? Worth pondering.