It would be so much easier if God spoke to us through burning bushes or from boiling clouds, or even just sent a text message. But unfortunately, we’re expected to discern what God’s call is on our life, without specific, written-down instructions, custom made for each of us on what to do.
Archives For Other Quotes
We live in an age disturbed, confused, bewildered, afraid of its own forces, in search not merely of its road but even of its direction. There are many voices of counsel, but few voices of vision; there is much excitement and feverish activity, but little concert of thoughtful purpose. We are distressed by our own ungoverned, undirected energies and do many things, but nothing long. It is our duty to find ourselves.
Woodrow Wilson, Baccalaureate address, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, June 9, 1907
It is funny how somethings are very different than they were one hundred years ago and how some are very much the same.
He went on: “The answer is to promote views that are open-minded and tolerant towards those who are different, and to fight the formal, informal and internet propagation of closed-minded intolerance.
“In the 21st century, education is a security issue.”
Even though I did not usually agree with Tony Blair’s stand with Mr. Bush on the invasion of Iraq, I always respected his intellect on other issues. Much more so than Mr. Bush. The more I study the history of the U.S. the more I am convinced that our acceptance of our diversity is what keeps us away from all the sectarian violence that seems to dominate much of the rest of the world.
Part of the accepting, maybe even celebrating, our diversity is recognizing that we all have a right to our own opinions and our own versions of spirituality as long as they don’t impact others rights to do the same thing. We, thankfully, seem to be almost unique in that regard. But regrettably that tolerance seems to be frayed in recent years. Let us pray that intolerance is not getting its grip on us as it has so many other countries in the world.
I’ve been using the word ‘empower’ for years. It’s a great word – one that implies giving dignity to others; the whole ‘give a man a fish and he eats for a day, but teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime’ type story comes up when I hear the word empower….
It had never crossed my mind before that what this word implies is that I have the power and you do not. Therefore, let me give you the power. This also goes against my theology of humanity: that no matter our circumstances we are all uniquely created in the image of God, with our own thoughts, our own beliefs, our own strengths and weaknesses. A beautiful messy collection of broken and poor people, this word ‘empower’ implies a giving of my strength to your weakness, rather than a mutual exchange of dignity. Thereby degrading you and elevating me.
I believe that we need to stop empowering and start inspiring. The word inspire is to fill someone with the urge or ability to do or feel something (especially something creative). We inspire by living an inspired life ourselves. It is natural to be attracted to and want to spend time around inspired people. People passionate about life, creative, honest and fully present. I am inspired when I am with these people to be a better me. So what if, instead of seeking to empower, we began to seek to inspire? To focus inward in an effort to live our own lives fully, to love deeply, to be conscious in our mistakes and present to our pain.
Like the author of the above quote, these words got me to thinking about just was the word “empower” means. I also admit that I have used it frequently without really considering the meaning presented here. One of the primary tenets of Quakerism is the equality of man. We are all considered equal in God’s eyes. He doesn’t love the millionaire, the American, or those who have power any more than the poor and the downcast. As the thought above so adequately convey the word empower implies that I am giving you the power to do something.
Yes, I thoroughly realize that in an economic sphere all men are not equal. Some have managed to accumulate vast wealth while other, for whatever reasons, struggle to just maintain a daily existence. All people might be created equal but all are not equal when it comes to money or power.
We all need people to inspire us to do things we might not tackle on our own. I have many heroes in life who inspire me in that regard. But we have to get over the idea of giving people the power to do something. They don’t need any power that we could give them, they need the inspiration of seeing that something can be accomplished if they put their minds to it.
It really is as simple as that…..
Communities like RLC (Red Letter Christians) are so important because the Church, those of us who claim to follow Jesus Christ have more responsibility to be constantly examining our actions and behavior than anyone. This isn’t about being “self-hating Christians” or “criticizing the Church” it is about growing up. In the end, the wisdom and understanding needed to change the world and do real good will not come from the past, but from working together in the present
Make no mistake, there are some horrible people in prison, people who delight in the power of causing others suffering. Some are mentally ill. Others have been wounded first and learned that way of life. There is no excuse for violent crimes.
I just want you to see their eyes for a moment. I want you to see the pain and the fear. Their eyes don’t change the past for anyone, but they tell us a deeper, more complicated story. They show us that there are some trapped people who can’t find an escape hatch. If they could, they’d use it in a heartbeat.
I like prison ministry because it cuts through all of the grandstanding Christians are tempted to do. A guy in blue prison scrubs can comb his hair nice and wear a cool pair of sneakers or sport an impressive tattoo, but even a prisoner on top of the inmate pecking order is still in prison. You can’t act like you’ve got your act together for long—especially if you’re going to open yourself to the Holy Spirit.
While volunteering in that prison I never felt like I could write about it. I didn’t want these men to become a writing project. As I look back on them, I think of their struggles and uncertainty. I pray for them. The reality is that many of them will end up back in prison. Change can take time.
Unemployment insurance is a pre-paid vacation for freeloaders. – Ronald Reagan April 28, 1966
If ever there was one quote that distinguishes the present difference between the two political parties in Washington this is probably it.
Nothing else needs to be said….
You are what you do, not what you say…
“In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.”
The above quote is from the new Evangelii Gaudium, recently released from Pope Francis. This pope continues to amaze me with his courageous words for the least of these. Here the pope is directly calling those, like President Reagan and his crowd, who believed in trickle-down economics naive. As he mentioned trickle-down although still popular in some conservative circles has never been born out by anything resembling the facts.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a free-market capitalist but I know that capitalism is only successful when it is properly reigned in by regulatory forces. Unbridled capitalism is a dangerous thing since its primary driver is greed. I may be a free-marketer but I am not naive enough to believe in the innate goodness of that system. Quite the opposite is true.
So, here is once again to you Pope Francis for saying what many do not have the courage to say in today’s world….
What Jesus calls us to do as followers is to create a world in which family is not a matter of blood, but of spirit. This more expansive view of family sounds lovely in theory, but is absolutely radical in practice.
SOURCE: The Underground Church: Reclaiming the Subversive Way of Jesus (Meyers, Robin)
I think Teddy Roosevelt was probably my second all-time favorite Republican. Of course Lincoln was number one. If only Mr. Bush had followed in his fellow Republican’s footsteps one hundred years later instead of going to the opposite extreme. Thank you President Roosevelt for taking the bully pulpit as a trust buster for the common good of the people.
Our political system has increasingly been working in ways that increase the inequality of outcomes and reduce equality of opportunity. This should not come as a surprise: we have a political system that gives inordinate power to those at the top, and they have used that power not only to limit the extent of redistribution but also to shape the rules of the game in their favor, and to extract from the public what can only be called large “gifts.”
– The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future (Stiglitz, Joseph E.) –
Punditry is an industry built on confirmation bias. Rush Limbaugh and Keith Olbermann, Glenn Beck and Arianna Huffington, Rachel Maddow and Ann Coulter—these people provide fuel for beliefs, they pre-filter the world to match existing worldviews. If their filter is like your filter, you love them. If it isn’t, you hate them. You watch them not for information, but for confirmation. Be careful. People like to be told what they already know.
Remember that. They get uncomfortable when you tell them new things. New things . . . well, new things aren’t what they expect. They like to know that, say, a dog will bite a man. That is what dogs do. They don’t want to know that man bites a dog, because the world is not supposed to happen like that.
In short, what people think they want is news, but what they really crave is olds . . . Not news but olds, telling people that what they think they already know is true.
—Terry Pratchett quote from his character Lord Vetinari in his comic fantasy book series Discworld
Have you ever wondered why people with advanced degrees in climate science or biology don’t get online and debate global warming or evolution? The less you know about a subject, the less you believe there is to know in total. Only once you have some experience do you start to recognize the breadth and depth you have yet to plunder.
– You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You’re Deluding Yourself (McRaney, David) –
There is a lot to like about a conservative party that advocates for small government and understands what markets can accomplish and what they cannot. The problem is that the Republicans are not that party right now.
From the book The Centrist Manifesto (Wheelan, Charles)
America is not anything if it consists of each of us. It is something only if it consists of all of us.
I wish our politicians in Washington would look seriously at the words above from Woodrow Wilson. They were spoken almost a century ago but are as true today as they were then.
Synergy is a term I am somewhat fond of but seldom get to use it. It means the working together of two or more things to produce an effect greater than the sum of their individual effects. That is at the core of the quote above. The reason that America has been a great nation in this world is that we have accepted and even celebrated our diversity. Individually we just a nation of about 300 million different people but when we look beyond our individual self to the common good we are much more. We seem to have lost that concept lately at least inside of our nation’s capital if not throughout the land. I pray that some day soon we come to understand it once again. We should be celebrating our differences not hating each other because of them…
A little group of willful men, representing no opinion but their own, have rendered the great government of the United States helpless and contemptible. — Woodrow Wilson
This sounds an awfully like the Tea Party but in reality it was another small group of Republicans who tried to do the same thing. They failed and hopefully this current batch of wing-nuts will too.
I came across this saying in a small shop in Middleton Wisconsin while we were recently there visiting the Mustard Museum. Yeah, you got it right. More on that in a near future post. Of course the Groucho here is Groucho Marx.
At the end of the day, we are the ones who elect our government. And that means that we are responsible for what happens in Washington and the state capitals. That is the reality of democracy. It is not entirely unlike the old dog-training aphorism that there are no bad dogs, only bad owners. We “own” this government, and if Congress has been doing the equivalent of peeing on the carpet for a decade, then it is our fault.
Quote from Centrist Manifesto by Charles Wheelan
I love the reference to peeing on the carpet. Being a lifetime pet owner it definitely describes what is going on in Washington right now. I have high hopes that the newly forming Centrist Movement will have some positive effects on our nation’s politics. I dream that there are enough people like me who are fed up with all the wing-nuts currently in our national legislature.
As the quote above says the reality of a democracy is that we are responsible for what happens in Washington. We do that with our vote. It seems totally bizarre to me that congress has an approval rating in the mid-teens and yet so many people continue to vote the same people into office election after election! How idiotic is that…..
But I’m just a simple guy so what do I know.
It’s my honest opinion that we all want to leave our mark on this world. Some of us may not recognize this urge, but we all want to change something, to alter things, to create something that will last longer than us. Even if it is a scar. Yes, there are plenty out there who just want to inflict pain, because that’s the only thing they can do. Or the only thing they think they can do.
Once again my young Romanian blogging friend got me to thinking on a deeper level and that is a good thing. I think one of my major laments is that what I accomplished in my working life is already on the dust heap of time. Technology has moved generations beyond what I developed so my mark on the world of thirty years in the corporate sphere has already been erased. You might find some of my inventions in museums but that is about all.
I am still holding out hope that I will put at least a small dent during my existence. Who knows where that will come from. From my recently started series here on “Don’t Get Stuck” it might be showing myself as an example of how not to do things. Or maybe it will be at least on occasion will be something that others deem wisdom and take to heart. Wouldn’t that be something from such a simple guy as myself?
Most of us want to leave a mark on the world but some, of which I know one intimately, just want to get by with as little notice as possible. I’m sure that approach makes life easier and maybe even more joyful. Most of us just want to be noticed. Unfortunately there are those who accomplish notoriety by some horrendous act. Many with their gun of choice. Since guns are so freely available to any of us in this country that becomes too frequently the tool of choice. They will go down in history and it probably matters little to them the context of the note.