Thursday, March 21, 2019

3 (political) things

1.

The American Conservative is one of my favorite political journals. Since I don't intend to do much political blogging here, I probably won't be mentioning this often, but TAC does consistently good work, say I. One of the reasons is that Andrew Bacevich writes for them. His latest is a discussion of the anti-war position of historian Charles Beard in the run-up to WWII. It's a fascinating story, and very relevant to our current situation. Says Bacevich along the way:

While World War II may have been necessary, it was not good. It was an epic tragedy from which Americans can learn much with relevance to the present day. 

 TAC is consistently skeptical about militarism and is really one of the few voices of sanity on this issue.

2.

Speaking about skepticism toward militarism, there is this from presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard. I probably disagree with her on a thousand issues, but I'm grateful that she will be making this case in the Democratic primaries. 

3.

In Foreign Affairs, Jill Lapore's A New Americanism: Why a Nation Needs a National Story is fascinating. Here's a snip:
When the United States declared its independence, in 1776, it became a state, but what made it a nation? The fiction that its people shared a common ancestry was absurd on its face; they came from all over, and, after having waged a war against Great Britain, just about the last thing they wanted to celebrate was their Britishness. Long after independence, most Americans saw the United States not as a nation but, true to the name, as a confederation of states. That’s what made arguing for ratification of the Constitution an uphill battle; it’s also why the Constitution’s advocates called themselves “Federalists,” when they were in fact nationalists, in the sense that they were proposing to replace a federal system, under the Articles of Confederation, with a national system.

Monday, March 18, 2019

3 things

This article in Christianity Today about Richard Mouw's new book includes this little nugget:
Mouw espouses an ethic of “convicted civility,” and the book models his resolute charity—his insistence on framing disagreements in the fairest possible terms. Instead of lobbing arguments at ideological enemies online, he cultivates embodied relationships and stakes out thoughtful positions without a trace of snark or smugness. I found myself wondering if anyone formed (in the slightest) by Twitter and social media would be capable of writing this sort of book (or living this sort of life).
*

This review of Alienated America, by Timothy Carney. It sounds like a really worthwhile book (Goodreads).

*

"Social media is a contempt machine," says Arthur Brooks (listen). He wrote a book called Love Your Enemies. The conversation is all about choosing to be less contemptuous. Novel idea.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Sunday Meditation: On Seeing the Kingdom

Jesus said, "Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." He was speaking to a fellow (Nicodemus by name) who was having trouble wrapping his head around what Jesus was teaching.

That conversation of Jesus with Nicodemus, found in chapter 3 of John's Gospel, can serve as a reminder that, whenever Jesus' teaching seems difficult to grasp, we may be thinking with the mind of Nicodemus. However well-intentioned, we are all conditioned by our world, uncritically taking on board ways of thinking that make it hard to see at times what Jesus is talking about. This goes for people who have been "born again" as much as those who have not.

All of which puts me in mind of the way Jesus taught his disciples to pray. He starts out the model prayer by asking God, "May your kingdom come, may your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."

When that happens, and to whatever extent it happens, the kingdom of God may just become a little more "visible" to one who couldn't see it before. It's like seeing with new eyes, though maybe at first it's seeing "men like trees walking." The truth is, the world is not divided between people who can see the kingdom and people who cannot. The world is full of people with varying levels of visual impairment; none of us see with spiritual 20-20.

Except Jesus. That is the contention of Christianity. He even understood things that a spiritual teacher like Nicodemus had trouble understanding. It was the burden of his ministry to show people that the realm of God's will being done had come among them. Had, in him and through him, made its appearance: become visible. To those, at least, who had eyes to see.

I need a little more of this kind of seeing for myself. I need a little more of God's will being done in my life and a little less of my own reigning. What would that look like? It would look like fervent prayer after the pattern of Jesus, it would look like charity, it would look like righteousness (sin defeated, thrown aside, walked away from). It would look like love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control. Lord, I want to see the kingdom!

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Standard of the Week: 3 versions of "I'm Confessin' that I Love You"

So I got to thinking about the song "I'm Confessin' that I Love You." What a beautiful song, thought I. If you Google the title you get Doris Day right off the bat (which is fine by me).


Of course there are a lot of great versions of the song out there. Here's one from the Chantels.


Wikipedia tells us that the song with its present lyrics (by Al Neiburg) debuted back in 1930, and since then it has been recorded countless times, but the versions I like best are the jazz instrumentals. It doesn't really get any better than Lester Young with the Oscar Peterson Trio:


3 things

I like pencils. And I don't particularly like pens. A good pencil makes me happy. Makes me want to write, scribble, doodle, even tap out a rhythm. A pen is a mere tool, but a pencil is an instrument, like a paintbrush or a fiddle. Here's everything you need to know about pencils.

This one got by me, but last week was the centennial of the Black Sox scandal.

All kinds of good reading here.