Long before I became familiar with the academic debates concerning calling God “Mother,” debates that I am now currently a part of as a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, I was being raised in a household where I instinctively understood that the divine presence was manifest in the loving hands and arms of mothers, and most especially in the life of my grandmother who raised me. My grandmother’s kitchen was a theological laboratory where she taught me how to love people just as naturally as she taught me to make peach cobbler and buttermilk biscuits. I watched and listened as she ministered to the sick and the lost, with a Bible in one hand and a freshly baked pound cake in the other, despite having no official ministry role.
I knew that if God was real, if God truly loved me as a parent loves a child, then God was also “Mother” and not only “Father.” Only years of dogma and doctrine force you to unlearn what you know to be true in your own heart, demanding “Father” as the only acceptable appellation and concept for God.
Source: Why God Is a ‘Mother,’ Too | TIME.com.
God is love. There is no doubt about it for me that is the primary definition. Although I myself lacked a loving earthly mother I see that love manifested all around me.
Happy Mother’s day….
I have chosen the crabapple tree in the front yard as my inspiration theme for this Sunday. I just love watching things come back to life after a dormant cold season. The horses across the street are wintered someplace else. This was the first week they were back.
For all men being originally equals, no one by birth could have a right to set up his own family in perpetual preferences to all others forever, and though himself might deserve some decent degree of honors of his contemporaries, yet his descendants might be far too unworthy to inherit them. - Tom Paine in Common Sense, 1776
I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country. — Thomas Jefferson
But, you know, we have these entrenched entities – and I’m talking about both Republicans and Democrats – who believe that when you’re elected to office, you become some kind of member of the aristocracy, and that anyone who challenges you is attacking you and is unpatriotic. This is foolishness. — Benjamin Carson
We are the only real aristocracy in the world: the aristocracy of money. — George Bernard Shaw
I thought I would bring up some quotes about aristocracy as the inspiration for this Sunday. Some would deny an American aristocracy but obviously these quotes would not share that belief and neither do I. But they do account for a full range of privileged classes all the way from kings to the monied classes of aristocracy. Being blue collar in my roots I am just no fan of inherited or monied class.
When many of these words were spoken there was a rather stringent inheritance tax in place. In some cases it was as much as 80%. This meant each generation had to find its own way in the world and could not depend of their families to provide wealth for them. Of course now that the 1% hold so much power in this country they are trying to hold on to all they can. so now they try to re-label the inheritance tax into the death tax and even have some outside their monied group parroting that phrase for them. The old saying about power corrupting can also be said for inherited wealth; it absolutely corrupts.
We’ve lost something as a nation when we can no longer look at one another as people, as Americans, and — for people of faith — as brothers and sisters. Differing opinions have become worst enemies and political parties have devolved into nothing more than petty games of blame….
It is not about Right and Left — or merely about partisan politics — but rather about the quality of our life together. It’s about moving beyond the political ideologies that have both polarized and paralyzed us, by regaining a moral compass for both our public and personal lives — and reclaiming an ancient, yet urgent and timely idea: the common good.
Source: On God’s Side: For the Common Good – Jim Wallis | God’s Politics Blog | Sojourners.
I always look forward to the weekly emails from Jim Wallis about our times. The words above from his March 29 emailing which I believe strike at the heart of our current problems. They seem to be the core cause and solution to our problems today. We are no longer able to view those who differ in their political views as Americans like us. Our politics has devolved into nothing but a petty game of blame. I don’t know exactly how this happened but I kind of have an idea of some of its causes.
Rush Limbaugh came on the national political scene in 1988. His rhetoric shocked many of us as blatant bigotry and hatefulness. He is plain a simply a school yard bully on the national scene. But it seems bigotry and hatred sells as his most recent contract was for $400 million for an eight year period. That money has spurned hundreds of look-alikes over the years. I simply can’t understand how Mr. Limbaugh became a major spokesman for the GOP. I can’t understand how so many who call themselves conservatives are so fearful of denouncing his rhetoric? He has been married four times; seems to have no family values, and shows a putrid disrespect for almost everyone. Is that really the face that conservatives want to be identified with? I think not but they seem still listen to him in great numbers and “ditto” almost anything that spews out of his vulgar mouth.
Fox New came on the national scene in 1996. It is very obvious that Rupert Murdoch who owns this media is very much in the same mindset as Mr. Limbaugh. MSNBC came into existence in 1996, some say as a response to Fox News but in a much smaller framework. These three things I think are the major contributors to the reason we can no longer look at one another as fellow Americans but instead now as the enemy. I like to call these contributors the “Limburger Affect”. It put a putrid stink on all our political processes!
I pray that something can happen to allow us to get back to looking at the quality of life in both our personal and public lives. If only we can get back and “reclaim an ancient, yet urgent and timely idea: the common good.
I have ever deemed it fundamental for the United States never to take active part in the quarrels of Europe. Their political interests are entirely distinct from ours. Their mutual jealousies, their balance of power, their complicated alliances, their forms and principles of government, are all foreign toys. They are nations of eternal war. — Thomas Jefferson –Letter, 11 June 1823 to President James Monroe
Even though the words of above were penned over two hundred years ago I believe they are just as valid today as they were then. The only difference is maybe I would now add the Middle and Far East to the list. One of the major things that has gotten us into so much trouble and cost us so many or our children’s lives is our getting into the quarrels of other nations. We just can’t seem to mind our own business. We have replaced the nations of Europe with our mutual jealousies, our balance of power, our complicated alliances such that our original reason for founding this country have been lost to us. We seem to now be a nation of eternal war…..
You must be the change you wish to see in the world. Mahatma Gandhi
For here we are not afraid to follow the truth wherever it may lead… Thomas Jefferson
Remember, we learn nothing by speaking. St. Francis of Asissi
I thought I would pull up three inspirational quotes from some of my heroes for this inspiration Sunday.
Gandhi was a man of simplicity. He lived his life with very few luxuries. But his words were full of riches. We can’t just complain about something in life. Doing only that is a worthless task. Instead of complaining work to find a solution.
Thomas Jefferson left a huge legacy of writing for us to learn from. He spent his life as a seeker of truth. He questioned everything. Like me, that got him in trouble with some.
I bring out a quote from St. Francis of Asissi in honor of the new pope. Even though I am no longer a Catholic I wish him the best of successes.
Fear less, hope more; eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; hate less, love more; and all good things are yours. -Swedish proverb
I don’t know many Swedes I guess so I don’t know if any of them actually live by this proverb. I briefly had a Norwegian roommate in college and he definitely liked to party with his friends. I can’t imagine another proverb that has so many lessons of life in it. I wonder where it came from.
Of course all of us Christians know about the Book of Proverbs in the Bible. There is a lot of wisdom in those words, or at least in some of them. But some are downright scary. What is a proverb? Here is what Wikipedia says about that:
A proverb (from Latin: proverbium) is a simple and concrete saying popularly known and repeated, which expresses a truth, based on common sense or the practical experience of humanity. They are often metaphorical. A proverb that describes a basic rule of conduct may also be known as a maxim. Proverbs are often borrowed from similar languages and cultures, and sometimes come down to the present through more than one language.
I guess I will have to do some studying on American proverbs. About the only one that comes to mind right now is “A bird in had is worth two in the bush”. But as far as proverbs go I think I like the Swedish one better. Fear, gluttony, whining, complaining, hating seem so endemic in our society today that maybe we should hijack the proverb above and try to put it in action.
I wish I knew who originally penned these words. They are inspiring indeed.
My inspiration for this post comes from various quotes but has the same theme. It is easy to sit back and complain about this or that. We all do it and I am certainly no exception. But just complaining about something seldom has the effect of actually resolving what you complain against.
Here are some words from those much more famous than I am regarding this topic:
I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts. ~John Locke
Well done is better than well said. ~Benjamin Franklin
The punishment which the wise suffer who refuse to take part in the government, is to live under the government of worse men. -Plato
To give up the task of reforming society is to give up one’s responsibility as a free man. -Alan Paton
When you are right, you cannot be too radical; When you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. -Martin Luther King, Jr.
The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crises maintain their neutrality. -Dante Alighieri
Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility. -Sigmund Freud
A DECALOGUE of canons for observation in practical life:
1. Never put off till to-morrow what you can do to-day.
2. Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.
3. Never spend your money before you have it
4. Never buy what you do not want, because it is cheap: it will be dear to you.
5. Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst, and cold.
6. We never repent of having eaten too little.
7. Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
8. How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened.
9. Take things always by their smooth handle.
10. When angry, count ten, before you speak; if very angry, a hundred.
When we think of lists and country founders Ben Franklin most often comes to mind. So when I came across this list from Thomas Jefferson it got my attention.
Source Blog: Twenty-something « Cristian Mihai.
I believe that young, inexperienced writers set out to write the words they think the world desires to read. The words the world needs. When they gain a bit of experience, they set out to write the words they desire to read. And that’s a pretty big difference.
I’m not sure this applies to me now, but when I was younger, I wanted to use all my ideas and characters and put them into a single story. I thought that’s how masterpieces are made.
With experience you realize how precious ideas are. You store them. You also realize that in order to write a story you need just one idea.
Some write as if the world is going to end tomorrow, and some as if the world is never going to end.
I enjoy reading blogs of those who are looking at the front end of life instead of the back end. Many of my regular blog views are about those in retirement. Of course that is natural for me since that is where I am. But it is enticing and reflective to see how a twenty-two year old views life on his blog. I must say that for the most part he is more optimistic about the future than I am. No big surprise there; that has been going on for probably centuries.
I have Christian Mihai’s blog on the right side of mine. I know I might get more hits if my blogroll were much larger. I do read at least a dozen blog postings a day. But for whatever reasons I choose to only put those blogs that inspire me in one fashion or another. Christian is one of those types of blog. I am fascinated that some of his posts are filled with too much wisdom for someone so young. The above is one of those posts.
I admit that I don’t know very much about Romania where he lives and I don’t know much about his life. Maybe that is one of the reasons a twenty-two year old can inspire me. Don’t get me wrong here, many of his posts are typical of someone that age. That should not be surprising as twenty-two years olds are really pretty typical across the world. They all struggle in one sense or another with becoming adults. They are all naive in their own ways. It is obvious that Christian wants to become a famous writer some day and I will not be surprised when he actually accomplishes that goal.
Closing out this post as it began, I enjoy reading words from those who are at the opposite end of life’s spectrum than I am. It keeps me young at least in a minimal sense. I can relate to so much this young man is going through in his life. I too was somewhat a moody young person dreaming about the future. I could give Christian some words of advice but somehow I kind of think he needs to discover things on his own…..
The abundant life does not come to those who have had a lot of obstacles removed from their path by others. It develops from within and is rooted in strong mental and moral fiber. – William Mather Lewis
All of us want to have an abundant life. That is we want our life to be full and meaningful. We want to make at least a slight difference because we were here. I believe that the quote above is at the root of making that possible. Although I am not a parent I’m sure that all parents out there want their children to have an abundant life. But as the quote insinuates it does not come from having all the obstacles removed from our paths.
Obstacles and corresponding adversity is what builds character. When you are given life with the proverbial “silver spoon” you develop a very shallow sense of reality. Many of the upper echelons of our society like to chant about the “entitlements” that our country provides to those on the other end of the economic scale. They claim that giving someone something they haven’t earned just drives them to expect more. There is certainly some validity in that argument but what they seem blind to is that many of the elite are doing the same thing with their children. When they remove all the obstacles from their children’s path they are leading them into an “entitlement” mentality. We can look back at history to see how this played out in the royal families of Europe. History shows us that many of the “entitled” kings had lost all sense of reality of how their subjects lived.
Most of the great people in society grew up with adversity and obstacles in their paths. It is what made them strong. We should not deny our children or future generations by removing all their obstacles in life.
I am a collector of quotes. That is just who I am at this point in my life. I look for quotes that are short and to the point. So I thought for this “inspiration” Sunday I would compile a list of quotes that are central to my life.
- I apologize for the long letter but I didn’t have the time to write a short one. ~ Thomas Jefferson
- Essays should be like miniskirts. Short enough to be attractive, yet long enough to cover the main parts. ~ Unknown
None of us have time to listen to one-hundred words where twenty will relay the same message. Well, actually we all have the same amount of time but don’t care to use them up when we don’t have to. At first thought Jefferson’s quote here seems strange but I have come to realize that it is actually harder to say things in fewer words than to just ramble on and on. That is why I am almost fixated on my blogs not exceeding approximately five-hundred words. When I initially set down my thoughts on about any topic it is almost always longer than my limit and as Jefferson implies it takes time to parse out all the unneeded ones so that only the most necessary ones shine through. The second quote is very much like the first, keep it short and to the point but make sure you cover what you intended. Ok, here is another one:
- An education is like a crumbling building that needs constant upkeep with repairs and additions. ~ Edith Wharton
When I was young I dreamed of going to college one day. Even though no one in my family had accomplished it I was determined to do it. At that young age I thought that when I finished college I would be ready to tackle the world and all the problems associated with it. What I eventually came to learn was that college is actually a starting point. Learning goes on as long as we live. When I stop learning I stop living as far as I am concerned. One last round here and then I am finished:
- Ask a question and you’re a fool for three minutes; do not ask a question and you’re a fool for the rest of your life. ~ Chinese Proverb
- There are no foolish questions, and no man becomes a fool until he has stopped asking questions. ~ Charles Proteus Steinmetz
Questions are who I am and have been throughout my life. My constant questions seem to frequently get into trouble, or maybe I just annoy people too much when I ask them. But that has not stopped me from questioning anything even in my old age. As far as I am concerned when you stop questioning things you stop making a difference and don’t we all want to make a difference with our lives.
Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe. ~ Albert Einstein
Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. ~ Albert Einstein
If a cluttered desk is that of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk? ~ Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was one of my first heroes in life. His biography was one of the first “really long” books I read in my early life. I always felt an almost kindred relationship with him. I think maybe I am an “ignorant” version of him. From his early life he, like me, was always asking “why?”. If he were a kid today I’m sure he would be diagnosed as ADD; I’m sure I would have too. So, with this post I want to bring up a few of his quotes that inspire me. More…
Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment. ~ Ben Franklin
I have read several books about Ben Franklin. He is certainly a fascinating character but he is generally not one of my favorite founding fathers. He led a pretty pretentious life and was probably one of the original “dirty old men” But his words above do inspire me. More importantly they help me keep my mouth shut on occasion. On this blog, and in life in general, I seek just the right words to say something, especially something I am passionate about. I often look to say the right thing in the right place.
But in the spur of the moment I often say things that are maybe best left unsaid. Given what I have read about Franklin, he also didn’t do a very good job of taking his own advice. I admit that one of my worst traits is to speak before I think. Maybe that is why I love blogging so much. It allows me to temper my words before they become public and believe it or not most of my posts are tempered.
It seems that many in public life also need to learn this lesson of leaving some things unsaid. I just watched a little of the grilling of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton before a Senate committee about the embassy attack of last September that resulted in four deaths. I was amazed how well she kept her cool during the vitriol words from Senators McCain and Paul. Criticism is one thing that has its place but when it is done for primarily political or self-seeking purposes it degrades the speaker.
And then of course there are the marital spats that all of us have from time to time. (I’m not the only one who has them am I?). In the heat of the moment we often say some pretty cruel things to our spouses that should never have left our lips. We all need to learn to let somethings remain unsaid especially with those we love.
Thanks Ben for these inspiring words…..
The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.
It is obvious to most of you that I think Gandhi was a very inspirational person. The above quote is certainly an example of that. Of course the bible has many quotes with the same message. The ultimate example of this is when in Matthew 20 Jesus himself said he came to serve, not to be served. I looked up the phrase “to serve” in my bible app and it returned 150 occurrences. That tells me that to be a Christian means is to be in service to others.
Regrettably there are so many today that are almost totally self-focused. It is becoming a “What’s in it for me” world. The thought is if I get no gain then what is the point? Gandhi lived his live with very few material comforts but he probably lived one of the most rewarding lives of anyone in the twentieth century.
Almost all young people, certainly me included, spent quite a bit of time trying to find themselves. We seemingly looked on every mountain top for the answer to that question. It consumed much of our early existence. Many times the answer was facing us head on but they just didn’t see it. When we finally get around to focusing outside of ourselves we find the answers we seek about our purpose in life….
How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these. — George Washington Carver
I call the quote here an inspiring definition of successful. Putting yourself in others shoes so to speak is how we most often relate to others circumstances. As Mr. Carver said many of us are at sometime in our lives included in these categories and that is a good thing. It keeps us grounded in our lives compared to those around us. More…
Man was made to mourn: A Dirge
Many and sharp the num’rous ills
Inwoven with our frame!
More pointed still we make ourselves
Regret, remorse, and shame!
And man, whose heav’n-erected face
The smiles of love adorn, -
Man’s inhumanity to man
Makes countless thousands mourn! By Robert Burns 1784
I always wondered where the phrase “Man’s inhumanity to man” came from. I didn’t realize it is generally attributed to Robert Burns. I’m not sure what the difference between a poem and a dirge is? They look pretty much the same to me. More…
At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us. — Albert Schweitzer
I must admit that in some ways I am not a very creative person. I have often times in my life needed a spark from another person to get me headed down a path. So, I certainly appreciated the quote above from Albert Schweitzer. I have deep gratitude for those who have lighted the flame within me.
I am a passionate person who often wears his emotions on his sleeve. I have causes that I now firmly believe in. Most of those causes were not originally part of my being but instead were planted there by words from someone wiser than myself. In that light I thank the Lord for exposing me to all the virtual mentors I have had in my life.