|Chris Rowland, President Carter, Mrs. Carter, David Gowler|
The above photo is of three of my heroes (the three on the left!).
|Photo by Chris Rowland|
|Photo by Chris Rowland|
Fifty years ago, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and many others called for a “revolution of values” in America. They invited people who had been divided to stand together against the “triplets of evil”—militarism, racism, and economic injustice—to insist that people need not die from poverty in the richest nation ever to exist. They sought to build a broad, fusion coalition that would audit America. Together, they would demand an accounting of promissory notes that had been returned marked “insufficient funds.” Today that effort is still incomplete.
Jesus’s words “the poor you will always have with you” are regularly used to suggest that ending poverty is impossible, that poverty is a result of moral failures, and that the poor themselves have no role in changing their situation. In this book Liz Theoharis examines both the biblical text and the lived reality of the poor to show how that passage is taken out of context, distorted, and politicized to justify theories about the inevitability of inequality.
In the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, some politicians today still cite sayings of Jesus as evidence that he would approve of their neglect of the poor. John 12:8 is the most common example: “You always have the poor with you …” Left out of that (mis)interpretation is the fact that Jesus is actually quoting a passage from Jewish Scripture that makes the opposite point: The continual existence of the poor serves as the fundamental reason for God’s command to assist them, to give “liberally and ungrudgingly”: “Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land” (See Deuteronomy 15:1-11).
I found that statement hopeful but other aspects of Falwell's 10-11 minute introduction not as hopeful (e.g., his discussion on the Hyde Act and other concerns).
Falwell made clear in his lengthyintroduction--at about the 10-minute point, President Carter asked, "Can I say a few words now?"--where he agreed and disagreed with President Carter.
Becky and I attended the opening of the Billy Graham Library in 2007 about one month after my father’s death. And I remember commenting to Becky then, that of the four former presidents speaking that day, Jimmy Carter sounded more like one of us than the rest.
At the same time many good Christians disagree about what the role of government should be in helping the poor. Jesus never said whether it was Caesar’s job to help those in need or not, but he made it clear that it is our job.
As president he did support government programs to help the poor, but he also spent the last few decades swinging a hammer himself, building housing and supporting the poor through his foundation. I am proud that Christians are uniting here today on issues where they agree rather than fighting over issues where they disagree.
President Carter spoke a little about his life history, his mission trips, 36 years (and continuing) as an Emory University professor, the world of the Carter Center to promote peace and champion human rights, its work to eradicate many diseases (e.g., the Guinea worm: When they started there were3½ million cases in 21 countries. Last month were were 3 cases in Chad).
Need to learn how to do good for one another and to get along with our potential enemies instead of how we can prevail in combat. In other words, just follow the mandates of the Prince of Peace. Learn to live with even our enemies in peace. It’s what Jesus taught, and it will be our only chance for survival in the future.
I'm glad to say that our common faith in worshiping Jesus Christ is slowly bringing us back together.
One of the things we have to learn is how to get along, to do good for one another, in other words, just following the mandates of the Prince of Peace. We don't need enemies to fight, nor do we need "inferior" people whom we can dominate.
We are one (quoting Galatians 3:28): "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither male or female, there is neither slave nor master, for ye are all one, all one, in Christ Jesus.
Even now some of us are still struggling to accept the fact that all people are equals in the eyes of God.
There are attributes of a superpower that go beyond military strength. It’s the same as those of a person.
Our nation should be known as a champion of peace
Our nation should be known as a champion of equality
Our nation should be known as a champion of human rights
We also should be admired for our generosity for other people in need and other moral values.
In other words, for those principles that never change. There is no reason in the world why the U.S cannot epitomize these high virtues.
As a Christian, I believe the ultimate fate of human beings will be good, with God’s love prevailing.
Use three gifts that God gives us: life, freedom and in effect a guarantee that every single one of us will have enough talent and enough opportunity to live a completely successful life. As judged by God.
We decide the kind of person we choose to be:
We decide whether we tell the truth or benefit from telling lies. We’re the ones who decide, do I hate or am I filled with love? We’re the ones who decide, do I think only about myself, or do I care for others? We ourselves make these decisions and no one else. There are no limits to our ambition as a human being and we have available to us, every one of us, constant contact with God in heaven.
I know this was a very long post--I should have broken it up into three parts.
My main point is that, with people like President Carter, Rosalynn Carter, William Barber, Liz Theoharis, Chris Rowland, and countless others, there is still hope.