Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sunday Sermon Notes 9.27.09

What weighs down your heart?

It doesn't take long for us to realize how hard life can be, how harsh it can be. There's not much we can do about it - it's just the way the world is. And our response to this hardness, this harshness is what often contributes to a weighed-down heart.

How do people typically deal with the hard harshness of life? Some people are partyers, they live for the weekends. Wild-living is their way of reacting to a hard life. Some people become drunks and addicts - they seek to escape the harshness of life through a bottle or a needle or porn. And others become anxious, depressed, worried, listless - life's hardness prompts all sorts of fears in them. And maybe you can add to this general list - there are lots of ways for life's harshness to break people down, to weigh down their hearts, to bury their souls.

Jesus is very much aware of how hard and harsh life can be. And in this instruction to his disciples, he's trying to prepare them for coming events - preparing them to respond to harsh hardness in a way that elevates the heart, not way it down.

Here's the scenario: Jesus has come to Jerusalem as it's rightful king; he's spent the last year or so traveling to the city - healing people, feeding them, instructing them, caring for them. He's done nothing but good, spoke truth to power, empowered the marginalized, infused dignity into the down-and-out. He's poured out into his people only love.

But being wise, brilliant, discerning, etc. he also can see where political, economic, religious forces are sweeping his city. Despite Jesus' work in Israel, he can forsee the day - within a generation - when Rome will send in the siege-works to demolish Jerusalem. The people Jesus sought to save will pick up the sword against Rome, will rebel against the Empire, will call for blood - and it will be their doom. It is breaks the heart of Jesus - these are his people, his kingdom, and they are headed for desolation.

However - many people have listened to Jesus, they have come to trust him, they believe what he says about reality, and they are willing to follow his way of living in this hard and harsh world. So Jesus gives them instructions on how to endure the next generation, and how to survive the siege of Jerusalem when it happens. Jesus' followers will have to deal with persecution because of their allegiance to Jesus and their compassion for others. And when Rome comes to strike down the rebels, Jesus tells his followers to flee - head for the hills.

But Jesus cautions his followers - the next decades will not be easy; be careful or your hearts will get weighed down with the hard reality of life. Beware of dissipation - of debauchary, of wild living. Beware of drunkeness. Beware of anxiety. When life is harsh, respond in love. When life is hard, respond in trust. Love your enemies. Trust the way of God.

For us - we have maybe confessed trust in God, received forgiveness of our sins through Jesus, but still have a weighed down heart. We maybe deal with the harshness of life through occasional partying, or with some kind of addiction, or with anxiety. When we become aware of how we are responding destructively to the hardness of life - instead of condemning ourselves, it can be a wake up call.

Do you want to give up the party life? Do you want to give up the addictions? Do you want to give up the anxiety and depression? Then take your weighed-down heart and give more of it to God. Talk through with Him what is making your heart heavy - and be as honest and probing as you can. Do everything in your power to get wisdom on what is really going on. Do what it takes to get help and strength to keep hoping and trusting the way of Jesus.

There is nothing wrong with having a weighed-down heart; it's what you do with it that can either force you further along the path of desolation or open up a new opportunity for redemption and restoration.

It's your choice... everyday it's your choice. Choose the way of Jesus everyday.

Sunday Sermon Notes 9.20.09

Would you rule the world any different?

If all of a sudden you were bumped up another notch in the management chain of where you work - now you're given more authority and more responsibilities - would you be any different (any better?) than the person you just replaced?

It comes pretty natural to us to complain about whoever is the "boss" of us at work. It's easy to point out the things we'd do different if we were in charge. But what if you actually were given the chance to be in charge - would you do a better job at spending the money, making the schedule, handling conflict, giving promotions, handing out discipline, hiring and firing, etc?

Sometimes we like to think that if just given a chance, if just given some more authority, some more responsibilities, we could really make a difference in our workplace (or church, or whatever organization you are part of). We like to think that we could do a better job than "those" already in charge, and if we just had a shot at it, we could really make a difference.

But what about right now? What about the authority and responsibilities you do have now? What are you doing with the power and influence you do have for good and for God? Maybe the real issue is not what you would do with more power and influence, authority and power, but what you are doing right now with what you do have. If you're not doing much with what you have right now, what makes you think you'd do a better job with more?

You have authority over you - and you are responsible for yourself. How are you doing with that authority and responsibility - are you using yourself for good and for God now in a purposeful, meaningful way? You have power and influence over members of your family, over your friends, over your coworkers, over your neighbors, etc. How are you using that power and influence for good and for God? Are you working to be a blessing to them, or are you usually trying to find a way to use them for your own gain?

Jesus, in the three stories recorded back to back to back in Luke, are attempts by Jesus to point out how the religious and economic leaders of the nation were misusing their authority and responsibilities, their power and influence. He then makes a point to reveal how he uses his authority and responsibility, his power and influence. Who do you want to emulate?

The religious authorities use the Scriptures to support their nationalistic and violent desires for independence from Rome. Jesus undermines both their interpretation and their authority (and thus their power and influence). The religious leaders are also very much involved in the economy of the nation. They also seek honor, to climb the social-status ladder, and to gain prestige. Jesus reveals these arrogant and greedy motives for what they are - that is not how leaders are to use their authority and responsibilities.

And then Jesus points out the contrast between what the wealthy give to God and what a poor widow gives to God. The rich give out of their abundance - a strategic move, calculated to not hurt their bottomline. The widow gave everything she had, revealing her trust in God's willingness to provide for her. God wants leaders to use their authority and responsibility to lift up the widows, not devour their houses. God wants everyone to use their power and influence for the good of their neighbors and for God.

Whatever you have - give it all over for the work of God in this world. Don't make everything about you. Make a difference for good and for God in your world with the authority and responsibilities you currently have. It's more than enough.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Word Alone

Impatience and self-reproach only foster our complacency and entangle us ever more deeply in the net of self-centered introspection.

But there is no more time to observe ourselves in meditation than there is in the Christian life as a whole. We should pay attention to the Word alone and leave it to the Word to deal effectively with everything.

For may it not be the case that it is none other than God who sends us these hours of emptiness and dryness, so that we might once again expect everything from God's Word?

"Seek God, not happiness" - that is the fundamental rule of all meditation. If you seek God alone, you will gain happiness - that is the promise of all meditation.

- from Life Together 88-89

Monday, September 21, 2009

Dwelling On God's Word

It is not necessary for us to find new ideas in our meditation. Often that only distracts us and satisfies our vanity.

It is perfectly sufficient if the Word enters in and dwells within us as we read and understand it.

As Mary "pondered...in her heart" what the shepherds told her (Luke 2v19), as a person's words often stick in our mind for a long time - as they dwell and work within us, preoccupy us, disturb us, or make us happy without our being able to do anything about it - so as we meditate, God's Word desires to enter in and stay with us. It desires to move us, to work in us, and to make such an impression on us that the whole day long we will not get away from it.

Then it will do its work in us, often without our being aware of it.

~ from Life Together 88

Monday, September 14, 2009

U2 TnT Chicago Friends

Saturday morning Reena and Phil drove over to our place around 10amish, Tara and I said goodbyes to the boys (and a tearful farewell from Emma...), and we were off for Chicago! We checked into our Hyatt hotel and admired our view of the Chicago lakeside.

Here you can see Soldier Field - the orange pointy thing sticking up is part of the stage for the concert. From this perspective it's hard to imagine what kind of stage we're looking at.

After we finished admiring our view, the four of us headed out for a loooooooong walk down Michigan Avenue. It was a beautiful day...we decided to not let it get away!. Our hotel was by the McCormick Center, and our goal was to walk to the Hancock Tower.
We had miles to go in our sandals. Tara - God bless her - wanted to find a Starbucks. Somehow I got photographed in front of the store!

Reena, Tara and me - Phil is the photographer!

We were getting very hungry - and we wanted to find a local restaurant. No national-chain restaurants. Being adventurous, we wanted to find something interesting. We saw a sign for some Louisiana fare - and went for it.
Always cool when you have to ride an escalator up to the restaurant.

Phil and Reena are famous for their affection of habaneros. Here's one stuffed with cheese, deep fried and served with a dare: no customer has ever finished one! Not being ones to pass on a dare, our neighbors carefully dived in. Alas, the habanero won! Reena explained about the membranes of the pepper being the source of their evilness (I mean hotness...). Tara and I stuck to something safe - crabcakes. Not picture worthy, but yummy.

After our fantastic bayou-feast, we waddled over to a shopping center. Then a tour of the John Hancock Building - what a view...of the Lake! Stupid clouds hovered right around the windows facing the city and all the cool stuff. What a gip. Oh well, it was neat being 91 stories up above the earth! After our descent we stuffed ourselves into a taxi - no way we were walking back to the hotel. We relaxed for a bit, put our feet up, watched some football, and then walked over to the stadium. My oh my - what a place! Soldier Field is impressive. And so were the U2 wares being hawked. Of course I had to get a program, both Tara and I got some sweet shirts!

Snow Patrol opened for U2. They were okay. For whatever reason, we sat around for almost an hour (or so it seemed...) for the stage to get resent. Lots of time to be over-awed by the stage. And to take pictures of ourselves waiting. And smiling!

The show is finally getting ready to start! First smoke, then the showmen, and then the music! Interestingly, they started off with Breathe. No Line on the Horizon followed. What great stuff!

Tara and I were particularly thrilled by their rousing concert version
of Get On Your Boots and Magnificent.

For the song Unknown Caller, they were nice enough to put words up on the screen to sing along with. Of course this was overkill, since most people were singing along to all the songs anyway. But it was a nice touch. Except for me - I've listened to U2's songs hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of times...and I still don't know many of their lyrics. I'm terrible at remembering those kinds of things.

Bono insisted I shout, which I enthusiastically complied. Oh the joy...

By my face I'm guessing we were singing It's a Beautiful Day (I know part of the chorus...), or we were singing Elevation (again, a bit more of the chorus on that one), or maybe it was Vertigo (ummm...no ability to sing along on that song...). However, I can sing along to almost all the words to I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For - my favorite one of them all.

Adam Clayton driving the songs forward with his brilliant bass playing.

Larry Mullen Jr on the big screen.
The Edge.
Did you notice the screen - the impression is that it's not that good of the screen 'cause you can see all these lines throughout the images. Well, later on they do something amazing with the screen... these guys are so impressive!

The expanding screen.
Look at that screen all stretched out! How cool is that?

The concert is winding down - I have no idea what song is being performed here - maybe it was With or Without You - which he ended by tagging on a few lines of 40. Or maybe this was the acoustic set of Stuck in a Moment (a beautiful song done live acoustic).

What? All done? Already? Please...keep singing...
No? Alas, I guess I'll just have to come back another time!

Hanging out after the concert - enjoying the moment.
Phil and me marveling at how amazing these Irishmen are when it comes to performance and music and inspiring...

Reena and Tara were movin' and a groovin' to the music all night! And why not, U2 music was made to get your hands up and your feet jumping!

Four very happy friends. One joy-full show!

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Suburban Captivity of the Churches - 7

The central concern is ministry and mission: in metropolitan terms today, this means participation in the whole and breaking through the mosaic of insulated enclaves which shatter the public life of the metropolis. This is the only valid criterion for testing any reformation in Protestantism; its formative power will be tested by its assumption of responsibility for the whole.

Church planning, which has emerged in recent decades as a way of allocating new missions in efficient and co-operative ways, has been extremely useful as far as it has gone. Unfortunately, church planning has been preoccupied with extending the organization church in suburban and satellite areas.

Church planning, however, will fulfill its promise only when it regards participation in the whole metropolitan area as its essential principle, its first task is the breakthrough of insulated enclaves within Protestant religious life.

The metropolis is a mission field not because there are unchurched people but because there is no public ministry. By treating the metropolis as a Christian culture in need of supplementary church construction on the periphery, we are seeking to escape from the missionary task.

Missionary strategy must concern itself with the whole. In other other way can it adequately express the Gospel of God's reconciling work for man.

This analysis has offered up incontrovertible evidence that the metropolis is a religiously broken, fragmented cluster of insular pockets estranged from one another. Its religious life is split through the middle by the schism - a truly satanic division - and its religious organization upholds social class identities rather than the universal identity of those who are interdependent in Christ.

We have, in fact, the strategy of an established church in a missionary situation.

The church proclaims a universal identity largely by involving its membership in experiences of obligation toward other people in the congregation. For many people today, church membership means the opportunity to see the same people they meet at Kiwanis or the country club.

The church will guide the metropolitan community toward the meaning of community when church members transcend the social, racial, and economic barriers that inhibit communication.

These members may represent different local fellowships, since housing in the metropolis is more and more confined in particular neighborhoods to single social class levels, and no local fellowship can be all-inclusive. Their church membership, nevertheless, will be proof of their determination to disregard social barriers; it will mean willingness to assume responsibility for financial and personal ministry in areas of radically different social and cultural background.

The church communicates essentially by what it is rather than what it says.
The Church speaks, as does Her Lord, from the reality of Her life rather than the imagination of Her heart.

~ The Suburban Captivity of the Churches, Gibson Winter, 1962, Chapter 7 "The Renewal of the Metropolis", pgs 202-204

The Suburban Captivity of the Churches - 6

The renewal of public responsibility and the creation of metropolitan community are two sides of the same coin. Each is essential to the other.

When the churches suffered a breakdown of community as Christian people, the metropolitan area was deprived of the sustaining power of a faith that embraced the concerns of the whole. The collapse of the public sphere was almost inevitable without a community to represent the whole, for the free play of economic interests fragmented the metropolis, and no countervailing power represented the common good.

What are these issues and problems?
1) Slums are growing and they are increasingly the habitat of minority groups who are isolated and discriminated against, both in terms of housing and in terms of economic opportunities.

2) Social tensions are reaching the explosive states and we continue, doggedly, to ignore causes in favor of treating the results (e.g., juvenille delinquency).

3) Social and political communication is almost at a standstill as the idea of responsibility is lost midst the welter of consumer -oriented propaganda.

4) The concentration of urban populations is raising sever problems of water supply and disposal of wastes.

5) Open spaces are increasingly difficult to preserve, and the implications of this for food supply, standards (material) of living, economics of land development, and aesthetics are keeping many people awake at nights.

There is a grim physical reality to the metropolis. From time to time we make pitiful token gestures toward its "problems." But no one guides us toward a meaning of community which comprehends more than profit taking and congeniality. Will the Church fill this emptiness in our society?

To provide guidance toward metropolitan community the Church can:
1) affirm community by forming a ministry to the whole metropolis.

2) offer a vision and experience of metropolitan community by exemplifying a community.

3) inform the metropolitan struggle for community with its own prophetic concern for the common good of the metropolitan area.

The deformation of Protestantism came about by the severing of its ministry from participation in the whole of metropolitan life; the reformation of Protestantism will come about through the participation of its ministry in the whole and representation of the whole community in the communities of Protestant faith.

The renewal in Protestantism will be tested by the extent of its formative power - whether it can generate inclusive ministries to the whole metropolis. Many pastors and laymen are ready to participate in the whole life of the metropolitan area. Having tasted the emptiness of an insular congregation, they are searching for opportunities to share responsibility with other pastors and congregations.

~ The Suburban Captivity of the Churches, Gibson Winter, 1962, Chapter 7 "The Renewal of the Metropolis", pgs 200-201

The Suburban Captivity of the Churches - 5

The signs of renewal in Protestantism are striking.
The insights of developmental psychology and group processes are being successfully applied to the teaching task of the Church. Pastoral care has benefited from the perspective of depth psychology, enabling churches to respond magnificently to the infinite problems created by industrial development.

The most striking fact about contemporary Protestantism is the re-emergence of lay responsibility. The lay movement is a strong attempt to counteract the shallow activism of the organization church and to search for meaning and direction in a mass society. Many clergy have shied away from this lay movement for fear that it would disrupt the smooth pattern of church life, but those who have nurtured it have found new support for their ministries in sharing their task with laymen.

Two other signs of renewal can be noted in Protestant life. New ministries to the nonresidential structures of society are emerging: ministries to hospitals, universities, industries, and, more recently, to political organizations; furthermore, a ministry to the communal organizations of the cities has appeared in the form of church planning.

The significance of these ministries, at present, is their concern with the structural problems of a mass society. Their potential power for renewal is considerable, since they signify the formation of a public ministry.

The organization of faith expresses or denies the Word to the world. When it expresses the Word, it channels the ministry into mission and servantship.

Renewal of mind is essential to the creation of a ministry to the whole metropolis; renewal of mind through the Spirit is the essence of life in the churches and ministry is the vehicle of that life in the world.

When the forces of renewal now present in the churches begin to shape the ministry, Protestantism will become the central force for renewal in metropolitan life.

~ The Suburban Captivity of the Churches, Gibson Winter, 1962, Chapter 7 "The Renewal of the Metropolis", pgs 198-200

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Suburban Captivity of the Churches - 4

The deformation of the ministry is a religious symptom of the sickness of industrial society.
Many successful pastorates exist under these circumstances, many faithful and devoted lives emerge from them; but the saints of the organization church are apt to appear despite the program rather than because of it.

Notwithstanding the piety of individual pastors and laymen, Protestantism as a whole was vulnerable to the centrifugal forces of metropolitan life. The emphasis on voluntary congregations and individual piety made Protestantism a prey to the distorting forces.

Each new stage of metropolitan disorder will manifest itself within religious institutions unless the churches assume a formative role in their ministry to the metropolis.

This analysis of Protestantism could be summarized as a loss of contact between the churches and the community as a whole.

The choice confronting the churches today is whether to continue ministering to fragments of society or to reform their ministry in order to participate in the whole of life of the metropolis.

It is a difficult choice, since the losses will be great in either direction; ministry to parts means continued frustration and the neglect of the genuinely religious concerns; participation in the whole means organizing a new form of the Protestant ministry.

~ The Suburban Captivity of the Churches, Gibson Winter, 1962, Chapter 7 "The Renewal of the Metropolis", pgs 196-197

The Suburban Captivity of the Churches - 3

Industrial life drives the lower classes into apathy, making them a prey to psychosis and religious escape; competition on the economic ladder drives the middle classes into frenetic attempts to demonstrate their adequacy, which leads to despairing emptiness.

The apathy of the lower classes renders them inaccessible to the ministries of organization churches, for the manipulation of words and people in the organization churches is alien to lower-class life.

This organizational style of religious life, on the other hand, is deadeningly familiar to the manipulated middle classes. Thus, the cleavage within industrial society is mirrored in the styles of Protestant religious life.

Pastors experience the deformation of religious life most acutely in their sense of alienation from the significant spheres of contemporary life. Their ministries certainly touch the sufferings of private life - illness, death, familial estrangement - but they seldom intersect with the collective structures that shape the lives of their congregations.

The pastor runs an ambulance service, so to speak - an important and indispensable aspect of the Church's ministry; but his services in this respect are performed without ever contacting the powers that shape the destiny of the metropolis and the world.

Religion is now relegated to the sphere of personal emotional adjustment.

~ The Suburban Captivity of the Churches, Gibson Winter, 1962, Chapter 7 "The Renewal of the Metropolis", pgs 195-196

The Suburban Captivity of the Churches - 2

This preoccupation with [the role of churches in the renewal of the metropolis] arises... because of the seeming helplessness before the forces of metropolitan blight.

The churches are essential at this juncture in metropolitan development, for they can best represent the interests of the whole in the midst of conflicting economic interests, and can speak out most strongly for life and human values. The churches will fail to bring about a renewal of the metropolis, however, unless they first put their own house in order.

We have been concerned with the renewal of human life in the metropolis - the struggle of the immigrants and newcomers, the alienation of the Negro population, and the frantic search for traditions and security among the middle classes. Such concerns may seem nonreligious or irrelevant to the main stream of American Protestantism, which holds the object of religious concern to the individual piety and spirituality. This religious tradition assumes that preaching the Gospel leads directly to the reconciliation of society; the Church's work, therefore, is to spread the Gospel and let social problems take care of themselves.

The only answer to this pietistic tradition is that the Gospel embraces the whole of human life and society. Man's life in society is an interdependent web. Personal immorality is no more nor less accessible to spiritual renewal than racial discrimination in housing.

A narrow spirituality refuses to recognize the interdependence and wholeness of life; its concern rejects involvement, and its preoccupation with individual piety derives from the false assumption that the individual soul is more open to change than the social institutions.

~ The Suburban Captivity of the Churches, Gibson Winter, 1962, Chapter 7 "The Renewal of the Metropolis", pgs 192-193

The Suburban Captivity of the Churches - 1

Citizens of the metropolis realize that their future and the lives of their children depend upon the creation of a safe, healthy, environment in the metropolitan area. The exodus to suburbia has failed to check the spread of blight. There is no retreat from the disorder and deterioration which plague metropolitan society.

The metropolis is an interdependent community, even though it attempts to conduct its private life in independent enclaves.

Somehow, and before too long, the metropolitan areas must face the task of rebuilding their local communities and integrating these communities in a public sphere; this means the creation of a community in the metropolis in which respect for all citizens is expressed through access to housing and interclass associations.

The churches bear a heavy burden of responsibility for the failure of the metropolis to become a community.

This interpretation of religious responsibility extends to all phases of metropolitan development - the ghettos, housing inequities, school deficiencies in slum areas, exploitation of newcomers by real estate and business interests, the disregard for life that permits residential areas to become highways, and the inadequate fire inspections in slum areas.

The churches are not alone in this responsibility, of course, but they bear a large share of the burden. And the responsibility remains theirs whether they concentrate their ministry in the satellites or remain in the central city.

~ The Suburban Captivity of the Churches, Gibson Winter, 1962, Chapter 7 "The Renewal of the Metropolis", pgs 190-191

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Sunday Sermon Notes 9.06.09

Ever wonder what is wrong with the world?

Ever wonder what is wrong with your family?
Ever wonder what is wrong with you?

Usually the more simple the answer, the closer you are to the truth. Even for very complex situations, it is always most helpful to look for the simple line of cause and effect. So, here's my attempt to give a simple answer to a very complex crisis: the world is the way it is because we reap what we sow.

It won't take long to come up with exceptions to this simple explanation, but that doesn't undermine the credibility of the answer. The idea isn't necessarily a negative one either, but rather a source of hope for when we make the sacrifice day in and out to do the right thing.

When you look at the lives of the people around you, or when you take a long hard look within yourself, and seek to find answers to how you got to where you are, I think that the idea of "you reap what you sow" will provide the most helpful truth.

Think about it like this: the better you can connect the dots between your current circumstances and your previous choices, the better position you have for determining your future circumstances. If you like where you are, then with your new knowledge gained through reflection, you can keep on making the same wise choices. If you don't like where you are in life, then you can start making different, better choices.

But how do you convince people of this? How do you convince yourself of this? We know from experience that most people don't want to change. They want their circumstances to change without changing or improving their choices and actions. They want to reap something better without sowing anything different.

Let's imagine you're a very smart person. You're also skilled, people-savvy, been around the block so to speak, and you have a good grasp on history. And you're very wealthy as well as ethical. And you're a king. Or queen. And you care about your people. And it so happens that your people are heading towards dark path. With all your resources, how do you convince your people to change what they are sowing, lest they reap the dark rewards of rebellion?

This is the position Jesus finds himself in on that last Sunday before he is crucified. He has entered Jerusalem as their king, and yet he stops to weep over the city. He has spent the past few years teaching, healing, pleading, training, helping hundreds and thousands of men and women - trying to help them sow something different in order to reap something better. And yet the city will reject him and his way. Jesus came to save Israel from political suicide and military devastation. Yet with all of his resources, he was unable to save the nation. His efforts led to his execution by the people in power. Kind of a discouraging story...

But note Jesus' attitude towards those who rejected him: he wept for them. He knew that the seeds of their rebellion against God and their hardness towards the poor and oppressed would lead to a harvest of destruction at the hands of the Roman army. Jesus wept for all those who refused to sow something different. He wept for all of those who would get caught up in a hailstorm of swords because they refused to believe the truth about their coming consequences.

And also note that Jesus never gave up on trying to help his fellow citizens sow something different.

So for you: if you know that you need to start sowing something better because you want to reap something different, do it! It'll be hard, and you'll have to press on, but don't give up on yourself. And if you have people in your life whom you know need to sow something different, plunge yourself into that task. Of course it will be difficult, but like Jesus we ought not to give up on our fellow citizens.

Here's a line from Jesus' cry over Jerusalem: "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace..."

If you knew what would bring you peace today, would you do it?

If you knew what you needed to do today in order to reap peace tomorrow, would you do it?

Would you? Do it.

3 Days Until U2 in Chicago!

Only three more days! U2 in their first concert on American soil for the 360 tour!!! I'm listening to only U2 songs for the next couple of days...oh wait, that's what I do anyway.

Here's a list of songs that they've been including in the concerts. Everyone is wondering which songs they'll include Saturday night... will they pick some new ones? If I could pick a song for them to do that's not on the list, I'd suggest: All Along the Watchtower OR All Because of You.

Angel Of Harlem
Beautiful Day
City Of Blinding Lights
Electrical Storm
Get On Your Boots
I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight
In A Little While
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
Moment Of Surrender
Mysterious Ways
No Line On The Horizon
New Year's Day
Pride (In The Name Of Love)
Party Girl
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out of
Stay (Far Away so Close)
The Unforgettable Fire
Unknown Caller
Ultraviolet (Light My Way)
Until The End of the World
Walk On
Where The Streets Have No Name
With Or Without You

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Don't Read This Boring Post on History and Politics

Would you agree that our ideas of government are greatly influenced by the history and politics of the Irish and the British? Would you agree that the modern ideas for what constitutes conservatism and liberalism stemmed from their roots in Ireland and England? And even if our modern experiences of conservatism and liberalism have gone through adaptions in the past fifteen to thirty decades, it's worth remembering the past, right?

Okay, so I'm still reading Trinity by Leon Uris, covering the Irish-British struggle (a mild term...) from 1885ish to 1915ish. The storyteller weaves together themes of industrialism, religion, politics, racism, and violence (military and terrorist). A very modern story.

And in these themes there emerges examples of who are conservatives and who are liberals, and what they stand for. Here is my summary from this novel (well researched as it is, it's still a novel) on general characteristics (not well researched on my part...yet).

Conservatives were those with power - either industrial, religious, or political. They were often the landed gentry, landowners who rented out parcels of property to hundreds or thousands of farmers. The Conservatives were the bishops and priests of the Catholic and Anglican parishes, and the pastors of the Protestant churches. They were the Lords and Counts who ambitiously joined the Industrial Revolution, reaping the fruits of capitalism for themselves. And these Conservatives used violence to protect their way of life, to ensure that their families would stay in power, and to keep the status quo as much as possible. A Conservative was interested in conserving thing the way they were as much as possible - and if they did "permit" change, it was only going to be in such a way that it induced a profit.

Liberals were those that sought to undermine the power of the Conservatives in an effort to bring reform to industrial crimes against humanity. It was Liberal reformers like William Gladstone that fought hard to enact labor laws which protected the masses against the entrenched industrial elite. It was Liberal ideals that sought to stem the flow of industrial pollution into the waters and the air of the bloated cities - infants, children, parents living in squalor. It was Liberal ideals that promoted education, that protected children, that tried to promote democratic ideals to the masses as a way to undermine the power of the few. Liberals also included people with power, those who forsook their family fortunes, who reformed their industries from within, who as pastors and priests joined the masses in inspiring reform.

I think that a hundred years later one can still find these strains of Conservatism and Liberalism at work in our country (heavily populated by Irish and British...). Conservatism and Liberalism was a more complex then what I outlined above, and it has become more complex now. But even the evolutionary complexity of these political ideals doesn't betray its roots.

So, for those of you who know your history better than I do, what am I glossing over or misrepresenting in my general characterization of Conservatism and Liberalism? If my summary is generally close to being reasonably accurate, should the Church step out of both categories? Have these two strands become intertwined so that modern Conservatism and modern Liberalism actually mean something very different today?

I write this in the spirit of one who is searching very hard to understand the times I live in. Any help you can offer up is greatly appreciated.