We should be charitable, contribute to our communities, and teach our children by example to do these things. I know this, and I’ve been reminded of it lately by a young parent who is figuring out how to go about being a good example.
Today, at age 74 and 10 months, I am contributing to my community through my church, a sister church, and Lions Club. I am being charitable by mailing checks to groups I believe are helping others and by giving out food through my church.
But I confess that when I was a parent of young and teen-age children, I was not doing these things, so I was not setting a good enough example. I was a college teacher in a state college where I taught as my contribution to the lives of my students and to making this a better world, but I don’t know that my sons saw it that way. We went to church, and people gave their offerings, but our church was not as engaged in helping others in the community as it is today, even though the congregation was bigger and younger. Individuals served Habitat and a local food bank, and one member served on the school board, but, as far as I knew, that was about it.
So, what can I say, with authenticity, to the young parent who wants to serve his community, help the poor, and teach his children to do the same?
I still believe that the tradition of worshipping God in church is a very important thing for children to experience. Hearing about it is not the same as living it. When you hear about it instead of participating, you don’t get the stories and the songs that stay with you for life, or the comforting ritual, repeated every Sunday, teaching how to pray and worship so one doesn’t have to invent it oneself when in need.
But just going to church is not enough.
It strikes me that one way to have community, charity, and worship at once would be to find a church that does service to the community and become a part of it. It wouldn’t be necessary to go every Sunday, though it’s worthy of the effort. It wouldn’t be necessary to hold an office or participate in every single activity. But if the family can find a church where the worship service seems authentic and comfortable and where there are simple, direct ways of helping others that children can see and eventually participate in, this would be a good step in the direction of serving and teaching one’s children to serve. The activities of helping others, along with the Bible stories and songs to sing, would give the children memories to last forever.
We can’t attend church normally now, let alone join a church, while the Covid-19 virus is still a threat. But we will be able to within the next year. If you are ready to think about it, the time between now and then could be spent looking online and talking to others to find a church that will be nice to join and that helps others in the community.
I’m one who prefers the humble cleric in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and my own humble rector (pastor) at my church, St. Luke’s Episcopal in Fort Valley, Georgia. Egotistic performances at the pulpit normally turn me off.
Today, however, I heard a sermon presentation (not just a sermon but a presentation with video, song, and even a virtual choir) that was part of the Sunday service for the Episcopal Washington National Cathedral. The presentation, “Weary Throats and new songs,” began with compelling song by an older black female vocalist, and after several minutes, the voice of Rev. Otis Moss III began to be heard.
The singing and song were wonderful. But at first, I was not comfortable because his was a fast-paced delivery filled with as many big words as he could squeeze in to capture the essence of the song and of song in the black American experience. I could barely keep up at first with what he was trying to say.
More video could be seen with a young girl watching her grandmother sing in church choir practice, and Rev. Moss kept talking. I began to be moved by the music and the experiences he was describing, and after a while it occurred to me that the events of our time excuse or even require the forcefulness he was using to get across his message.
He ended by suggesting that not only has song carried people through, in the time of the Israelites and in the black experience in our country, but also choirs strengthen us, the act of singing together, being connected in song. I feel this myself, from my participation in our very small choir at St. Luke’s.
Rev. Moss called up on the screen a virtual choir consisting of the musicians, tech people and singers from his congregation. Most of them wore shirts saying "Stay Connected." The experience was very powerful. I’d say it was cathartic if it wasn’t more of a call to action for us to become and stay connected.
I'm a Swedish Lutheran turned Episcopalian who prefers sedate church services and humble preachers, and I would like to share with you the service that so impressed me today. Go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yo44NzWjp0A to be strengthened by song.
I don’t put all my faith into political action. It seems like the free market, education, and our political system are what will influence the future, probably in that order, although they are interrelated.
Right now, the free market seems to be contributing technology as well as increased jobs and affluence through global business interactions. On the dark side, corporations (as well as non-profits, unions, and government entities) spend money to influence government to do what they think will favor them in the short term.
More children have access to education, but results indicate that they do not learn enough about math, history, economics, or cultural heritage. Science is stressed in schools, but those who do not learn to read, think, and do math have limited opportunities in science and technology.
Maybe now more than ever, and maybe due to the failure of schools, many citizens vote based on emotions, on who they are encouraged to think of as enemies, and on what they hope to profit by in the short term. Maintaining our constitutional order and freedom do not seem to be high on most people’s lists.
I say all this to put in perspective what I am glad to have learned from the book Never Trump by Robert P. Saladin and Steven M. Teles. This book reviews in great detail what conservatism has been through--during the last decade, really—and suggests what the two major parties may become in the future. It is a valuable book, and I feel better after having read it.
The authors review the emergence of #nevertrump individuals according to the sectors of the political world the individuals have as their milieus.
To oversimplify, the foreign policy experts already were not very partisan, they had worked to maintain our country’s role in a beneficial world order, and they were horrified not only by Donald Trump’s crudely stated positions but also by his character as a leader. They stated their objections early in letters signed on by many, and as a result, many would not be invited or wish to be invited to play a role in Trump administration.
The political operatives ultimately were separated into two categories, the ones who could make a living and be #nevertrump, and those who eventually realized they couldn’t. However, what I experienced personally during the 2016 campaign and, really, have experienced ever since, could not have happened without these political operatives. I actually met Joel Searby, who risked his career and business to form a plan to try to win in the electoral college by putting forward an independent candidate. To make a long story short, Evan McMullin ended up being that candidate. I had campaigned locally for Rubio who lost (and who disappointed me by lowering himself to Trump’s level during later debates); then I had been on phone calls with Kendall Unrah and a large number of others who were trying to get a voice vote on the floor of the Republican convention to stop Trump; and then I joined with others, like Vicki Hensel and Elaine Stephen, who since have become my dear Facebook friends, to support Evan McMullin. I met Evan, Joel, and John Claybrook in Atlanta, and later McKay Ah Ping. I wrote articles and blogs supporting McMullin for online newsletters and in Medium. I am in Facebook groups formed by Evan supporters: American Pursuit, Americans for the New Conservative Movement, Independent Nation, and Standup Republic. I even joined Unite America, which is bipartisan.
Reading Never Trump helped me get a more complete view and a better understanding of the movement I have been involved in (though I have been playing a very, very minor part).
Another sector the authors of Never Trump report on is the media, which is pretty well broken down into the print and the broadcasting sub-parts. The authors theorize that the intellectuals writing for the print media had the goal of keeping conservatism decent—expunging racist and xenophobic ideas, for example, and of presenting the movement in a positive light, such as by showing how free enterprise helps eliminate poverty. The broadcasters, on the other hand, wanted to whip up viewers at any cost. Two broadcasters, Charlie Sykes and Erik Erickson, were alarmed by Trump. Ultimately, Sykes became a writer and podcaster. Erickson, who writes a column as well as having a radio show, eventually gave up his rigid opposition to Trump. This section of the book helped me to realize that my thinking has been heavily influenced in recent years by the intellectual conservatives. I don’t agree with every point they make, but I consider them to be serious and decent. The trouble is that only a small segment of America reads The National Review, the (now defunct) Weekly Standard, the Bulwark, the Dispatch, and other intellectual conservative publications or the columns by Bret Stephens, Mona Charen, Linda Chavez, and Jennifer Rubin, to name a few. Broadcasters on Fox, CNN, MSNBC, and other outlets form the opinions of the majority of Americans—those who don’t simply rely on dubious social media posts for their ideas and “information.” So, politically, I was living in an imaginary world, thinking it represented the larger world of conservatives. It didn’t, and it doesn’t.
The book also discusses lawyers and economists and essentially says that most of them try to stay away from taking positions for or against Trump, although there are exceptions.
Never Trump concludes by putting forth two possibilities. One is that Never Trumpers will have little or no influence on the future of our country as socialists and populists continue to fight for control with weaker centrists having less and less sway. The other is that a new wing of the Republican Party will grow and come into power in some states and areas that do not agree with populism and racism and xenophobia but do support free enterprise, the constitution, and equal rights for all, regardless of race, national origin or gender. Then the Democratic Party would have two wings, the socialist one and the more moderate, traditional one. And the Republican Party would have two wings, the liberal-conservative one and the populist one. I am not sure where the various wings would stand on use of military force, but the moderate Democrats and liberal-conservative Republicans would favor free trade. Then Congress would make laws based on compromises that could be achieved among the groups, and, hopefully, have more strength to stand up against the president, whoever he or she might be.
Observations on the subjects of friends, family, country, cultures and nature.