Category Archives: civility

A Pause for Beauty

Throughout history, thoughtful men and women have agreed that cultures rise and fall on their inner moral virtues as well as their military and political prowess. “The Good, the True and the Beautiful” are categories that shape our worldview and civil society.

We live is a world deeply marred by injustice, oppression and ugliness. We also have astonishing moments of sacrificial virtue, justice and beauty. Contrary to the cliché, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” we can assert the universality of both the idea of beauty (with its cultural preferences) and certain human experiences that awaken awe and take our breath away.

Year ago, singer Sarah Groves presented the song, “Add to the Beauty.” Part of redeeming our world – however imperfectly – is each of us adding to the beauty. Such labors of love go beyond artistic expressions. Beauty is expansive and each of us can contribute, from doing daily work well with a great attitude to fostering new relationships.

As we lament over sin and violence, we also need a Sabbath of Beauty. There is so much beauty in our Father’s world. For example, a first glimpse of the Grand Canyon and hearing Bach on the cello. A baby’s unfeigned smile. Athletic ability honed by years of practice. Mountain peaks and ocean waves.

Let’s add to the beauty.

Civilizations: Destroyed or Renewed: Our Choice

Civilizations end from internal moral implosions and external military explosions. When civic virtues give way to personal pleasures, elites take control and enemies begin to conquer.

America’s future rests with our moral and spiritual renewal, not the occupant of an office.

Cynicism is not a virtue. Hopeful realism is a better posture: we can have humble confidence as we work for love and justice, while retaining wisdom concerning the depravity and dignity of humankind. We can renew our civilization: it is our choice.

Moral inversion leads to cultural and social implosion.
Internal depravity is a greater threat than external deprivation.
Create in me a clean heart, O God.
May we have vigilance toward both the enemies that desire our demise.
Lord, have mercy.
Protect us from jihadist terror.
Transform the hearts of our enemies.
And protect us from egregious moral distortions and entertaining distractions.
Amen

 

 

 

The Morning After: November 7 and January 21

“There’s got to be a morning after; if we can hold on through the night. We have a chance to find the sunlight; let’s keep on looking for the light…”

These words from the theme song to the “Poseidon Adventure” speak to the hearts of millions of Americans as we prepare to vote and live with the consequences. (The song was the best part of an otherwise campy disaster movie!)

We will once again be part of a peaceful continuation and transfer of power, with some officials looking for work and others placed in offices that will require creativity, discipline and integrity if we are going to move forward.

I do hope we see a complete change of direction and focus in Washington, D.C. We need balanced budgets, intelligent projection of power against Islamic terrorism, sound social policies that care for the needy without bankrupting our nation and business and energy policies that recognize reward for risk and careful stewardship of the beautiful world God has bequeathed humankind. We can be energy independent and have a cleaner environment.

We also need a rebirth of civil debate that focuses on solving real problems and assessing fundamental issues without descending into the quagmire of name-calling, personal attack and hoary generalizations rooted in ideological myths instead of first principles and empirical realities.

We can affirm traditional marriage and offer legal status for other arrangements, without altering the universal understanding of marriage and family that has guided every civilization.

We can stop the holocaust of abortion and infanticide and help vulnerable parents raise their children, find adoptive homes and discover a better future.

We can balance a budget if we will stop trying to maintain a federal warfare and welfare state. We do have local and state governments that work…we can learn from these examples and re-empower local and state political and social progress.

We can create a just system of federal taxation. All it takes is courage, honesty and a willingness to be a one-term official.

We can support Israel and pave the wave for a new Palestinian state committed to non-violence and reciprocal prosperity. All it takes is moral courage, calling the bluffs of radicals and demonstrating that representative democracy is the best form of government. There is no place for Temple and Holocaust denial in a peaceful Middle East.

We can care for the medical needs of all our citizens with innovative private-public partnerships that are humane, local and subject to effective ethical oversight, not a bloated bureaucracy.

All of these ideas will only work with a nation of self-regulating, virtuous citizens. Failure to regulate our own moral, economic and social behavior brings anarchy and paves the way for totalitarian control.

We need to secure our borders and create hospitality centers that welcome hard-working people from around the world. There is a place for seasonal work and permanent residency. There is a way to create a pathway to citizenship for all that come legally. We do not need to atone any longer for real and false guilt from 1848 or any other moment. We need to empty our prisons of violent illegal convicts and deport them. At the same time, we can foster new channels to welcome and integrate new friends.

Thomas More’s famous work Utopia literally means “no-where.” (“U” = no; topos = “land” or “place”). I do not believe we can achieve perfection in this age. I do believe we can make progress.

What about race? In 2008 we proved to ourselves that skin color did not matter. We need to do the same in 2012. Character, competence, ideals and policies, along with leadership, relational ability and a love for our founders’ principles should guide our decisions. I would happily vote for J.C. Watts. Condi Rice is admirable. I wish Thomas Sowell was the chief economist – we would have greater prosperity! We need the voices of John Perkins and Shelby Steele. Race is more than a black/white issue. There are people from every culture that will contribute to an American future. Let’s celebrate our diversity-in-unity instead of balkanizing.

Please pray, get informed and vote. After the parties, the lamenting and rejoicing, the real work begins.