love never fails
What the church, and therefore the society, most desperately needs today are young men and young women who can think for themselves and whose education has equipped them to discern fact from fiction. It is become almost impossible to reason with adults who have never learned to reason for themselves. The masses of adults today come to every argument ready, locked, and loaded with the propaganda weapons that they have been amply armed with by the battalions on the left or the right. Very few desire to debate or are capable of debating. Emotions and opinions have replaced reasoned discussion. And so as parents we must turn to our children’s education and seek the best for them. But what we must do first is define what education is. And I can find no better definition than the one offered by Dr. King:
“Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction. The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically.
Intelligence plus character–that is the goal of true education.”
In 1947, Dr. King wrote these prescient and powerful words:
Education must also train one for quick, resolute and effective thinking. To think incisively and to think for one’s self is very difficult. We are prone to let our mental life become invaded by legions of half truths, prejudices, and propaganda. At this point, I often wonder whether or not education is fulfilling its purpose. A great majority of the so-called educated people do not think logically and scientifically. Even the press, the classroom, the platform, and the pulpit in many instances do not give us objective and unbiased truths. To save man from the morass of propaganda, in my opinion, is one of the chief aims of education. Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.
The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals.
We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character–that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate.
If we are not careful, our colleges will produce a group of close-minded, unscientific, illogical propagandists, consumed with immoral acts. Be careful, “brethren!” Be careful, teachers!
Rewriting or re-righting history
President Trump claims that the removal of confederate statues is an attempt to rewrite history. But what the President ignores (or simply doesn’t understand) is that the very erecting of the statues and monuments represented an attempt to rewrite history from a southern confederate position. Most, if not all, of these symbols were constructed decades after the Civil War to reconstruct the way future generations would view the war. No one–except for the most recalcitrant confederates–would have dared to build monuments for the men who in the eyes of most Americans were traitors who had been completely responsible for the catastrophic conflict that left hundreds of thousands dead.
Lee, Jackson, and others would have to wait to be romanticized by another generation. Not accidentally, southern mythology about the “cause” and “the war between the states” rose to prominence at the same time that blacks were being re-enslaved and mercilessly subjugated by Jim Crow segregation laws and sharecropping economic systems. Southern whites began to tell–or rather– retell their cultural myths: the war was portrayed as a noble cause against a tyrannical government. And the construction of symbols became proud testimonials to southern resistance against the “war of northern aggression.” But none of this changes the fact that the South’s “cause” and its leaders were morally repugnant and reprehensible to most Americans then and now. But because of southern revisionism, the construction of memorials to men who had been considered traitors–something that would have been galling, shameful, and unthinkable to most Americans in the war’s aftermath–had in the 20th century become an normal part of the nation’s landscape.
No Mr. Trump: it was the building of the monuments that was an attempt to re-write history. The removal of these symbols is an attempt to “re-right” history so that physical legacies to slavery and rebellion cannot be re-cast as symbols to southern “pride.” In fact their removal is in line with a prescient statement from Lee himself:
“I think it wiser not to keep open the sores of war but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife, to commit to oblivion the feelings engendered.”
Why we’re different:
Some of my good brothers believe that Christians should avoid politics–that we should be silent and stick to our private faith in times like these. But Christians cannot–and should not–avoid political interactions. God demands that his people pursue justice personally and corporately. This is why God kept sending prophets like Amos who said “Let justice roll down.” It is why the Proverbs are filled with political references, and it is why Isaiah prophesied that Christ would establish his kingdom with “justice and righteousness.” God seeks justice for the poor, the widow, the foreigner, and the orphan, and governments are one of the means that he has appointed on earth to achieve justice. America itself was founded on a quest for righteousness and justice.
In fact, America’s greatest documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are founded on Christian principles. There is no American democracy without Christianity and Christians. We cannot, therefore, walk away from government and leave justice and righteousness in the hands of the wicked. The Church must claim every realm of life for the glory of God. It doesn’t retreat from the political or artistic or educational arena, instead it seeks to transform all of society’s necessary interactions into that which images and pleases God. So we are not different because we are neutral or because we practice pietistic non involvement. But we are different because of why and how we act in the public sphere. Because we know and love each other in Christ, we can agree to disagree, and we can do so boldly, respectfully, lovingly, and redemptively. No one has all of the answers, and I suppose that each of us is in some way sincerely wrong and sincerely right. But we as Christians can show the world that political divisions do not necessitate hate. We can speak our minds and yet be kind.
Here’s a great way to end the old year and to begin the new:
Keep a well of remembrance in your heart. This is a deep channel of stored memories– memories of all the good things that you can remember your spouse doing for you or with you. (By the way, you should start keeping a diary of the good times, especially as memories tend to fade with age.)
I Corinthians 13
“Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not conceited, does not act improperly, is not selfish, is not provoked, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
We like comparing ourselves to others: it empowers us to say: “I’m not perfect, but at least I’m better than that person.” But the true standard for how we should treat others is found in the Bible. This Christ-like standard for love ought to humble us and make us compassionate towards others when they fail–just like we fail so often to keep it. God does not judge us, but rather forgives us for our failures. Let’s do the same to others at home, at work, and in church.