“Cleaning out files” August 2008
I’ve been cleaning out files recently, discarding duplicate, irrelevant, or obsolete stuff—like philosophy tests from forty years ago. In doing so, however, I find some things that strike me as worthy of sharing. Think of them not as garbage but as gleanings, okay? Discard or appropriate. Sometimes one person’s junk is another’s treasure. At other times the reverse!
A. Joseph, a faith that waits
1. Temptation can be resisted on principle even without social restraints.
2. Opportunities arise for leadership within a culture holding us captive.
3. In an alien society a minority can preserve a covenant relationship with God.
4. Patience in truth prepares one for significant service to truth.
5. A faith that waits learns how to forgive and to reconcile.
6. Patience conveys a vision of truth beyond this life.
7. A faith that waits sustains and renews for others their confidence in God.
8. Refusing bitterness opens one to spiritual growth.
B. A sad note from history
Bartholome de las Casas accompanied Spanish conquistadores to Latin America, where this priest discovered that Spanish planters were enslaving and defrauding native people. He convinced the Spanish crown of the abuse, laws were passed to prevent enslavement, and he was appointed Protector-GeneraI. To protect the Indians, whom he insisted could and should be won to Christianity only by persuasion, the good man, alas, suggested importing Africans to the Caribbean plantations, “because they were larger and more suited to heavy work”. Quaker writer Hiram Hilty put it poignantly, “in his zeal to protect the natives, Las Casas thus became an instrument in fixing African slavery on the American continent.” (By Land and By Sea: Quakers Confront Slavery and Its Aftermath in North Carolina, NC Historical Society, 1993, p. 11). It should be noted, however, that this zealous man insisted Africans should be free workers, not slaves! It’s a classic case of an alternative to an injustice becoming distorted by sin to the extent that a measure to help one group hurts another group, until prophetic voices prevail to bring justice to them, also. Civic reformers should be alert to the subtle power of this “law of unexpected consequences.”
C. Jesus’ neighbors and siblings
1. Neighbors found it hard to attribute wisdom to a local person (Mark 6: 1-4).
2. Jesus’ family tried (unsuccessfully) to hold him back (Matthew 13: 55-56).
3. They criticized his plans and methods (John 7: 1-9).
4. The resurrection turned them from skepticism to living faith (John 20: 17).
5. Mary, James, and Jude (?) became strong Christian believers and witnesses. (Acts 1:14; Galatians 1: 19)
D. Thoughts from Heinrich Pestalozzi The Education of Man. Philosophical Library, 1951
(Pestalozzi was a progressive, student-centered, 18th century educator)
“Cultivation of the intellect will not ennoble …unless it is founded on cultivation of the heart.”
“Without love, neither the physical nor the intellectual powers of the child will develop naturally.” p. 33
“A thing that nobody looks for is seldom found.” p. 79
“Those who quarrel most about religion have little of it.” p. 90
“Love is the bond that ties the globe together.” p. 93
E. About Poets
A good friend and mentee, Randy Butler, pastor of the Salem Evangelical Church, gave me an old book in which I (an old poet) found this evocative quotation:
“Poets are never young, in one sense. Their delicate ear hears the far-off whispers of eternity, which coarser souls must travel towards for scores of years before their dull sense is touched by them. A moment’s insight is sometimes worth a life’s experience.” Oliver Wendell Holmes, The Professor at the Breakfast Table. VII, p. 99 (Edinburgh, David Douglas, 1890).
Peace and Joy!