Reflection for the week of August 6, 2013 Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny. –Mahatma Gandhi
Reflection for the week of July 30, 2013 We march today for jobs and freedom, but we have nothing to be proud of, for hundreds and thousands of our brothers are not here, for they are receiving starvation wages or no wages at all. While we stand here, there are sharecroppers in the Delta of Mississippi who are out in the fields working for less than three dollars per day, 12 hours a day. While we stand here, there are students in jail on trumped-up charges. Our brother James Farmer, along with many others, is also in jail.We come here today with a great sense of misgiving. It is true that we support the administration’s Civil Rights Bill. We support it with great reservation, however. Unless title three is put in this bill, there’s nothing to protect the young children and old women who must face police dogs and fire hoses in the South while they engage in peaceful demonstration.In its present form this bill will not protect the citizens of Danville, Virginia, who must live in constant fear of a police state. It will not protect the hundreds and thousands of people that have been arrested on trumped up … (more)
Reflection for the week of July 24, 2013 Remember, remember always that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists. – Franklin D. Roosevelt The Faith & Politics Institute is hosting a congressional delegation on a Becoming America Pilgrimage to New York City this week, where we will be hearing and sharing immigrant stories of struggle, hope and accomplishment. Read more about the Becoming America Pilgrimage Here
Reflection for the week of July 2, 2013. Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather … (more)
Reflection for the week of June 25, 2013 Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” –Emma Lazarus’ famous poem “The New Colossus” was engraved on a bronze plaque and mounted inside the lower level of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty in 1903.
Reflection for the week of June 17, 2013 Responding to a gap is not about starting everywhere but about starting somewhere. Wherever we find ourselves, there are gaps. The gap can be as small and near as people in our own family, town or congregation. The challenge is for each of us to be faithful to discern and respond to the gap God puts before us. Leaders see a gap. They become disturbed. They go out of their way to respond to the gap. This is the beginning of leadership in reconciliation. — Emmanuel Katongole and Chris Rice, from Reconciling All Things Emmanuel Katongole (Ph.D., Catholic University of Louvain) is associate research professor of theology and world Christianity at Duke Divinity School. He is the author and editor of several books, including A Future for Africa and African Theology Today. Chris Rice (M.Div., Duke Divinity School) spent many years living and working in Jackson, Mississippi, with Voice of Calvary Ministries. He is the author of Grace Matters and coauthor (with Spencer Perkins) of More Than Equals. Together Katongole and Rice are the founding codirectors of the Center for Reconciliation at Duke Divinity School.
Reflection for the week of June 10, 2013. Our sorrow and despair have by now diminished, to be followed by determination to continue Medgar’s work. For this, I, our children, their children and our extended family, are ever grateful and appreciative. Today, fifty years later, as we gather here again at Arlington, I recall these words I said then in June 1963, ‘so I grieve, but I do not regret. We had a wonderful 11 years together, some people are left with nothing; I have magnificent memories. Medgar didn’t belong just to me–he belonged to so many, many people everywhere. He was so willing to give his life that I feel his death has served a certain purpose. When I find myself in pits of depression, I remind myself that fulfilling this purpose is what he really wanted.’ So I continue to move forward sharing his vision of the future doing what can be done to help make this a better place in which to live for us, our children and generations to come; to make this a country that is really free, where people can walk, and sit, work and pray, and vote and be elected in the dignity … (more)
Reflection for the week of June 3, 2013. What does death, the awareness of death, awaken within us? Precisely what makes human existence a miracle of re-creation: that special belief that breathes significance, i.e., a sense of meaning, into our lives–without necessarily perceiving a metaphysical dimension to it; in other words, the belief that despite everything, human life has a meaning and that therefore every authentic human act of ‘transcendence’ has meaning as well. I would put it more forcefully: without the awareness of death, nothing like the ‘meaning of life’ could exist, and human life would therefore have nothing human in it . . . Vaclav Havel, poet and former President of the Czechoslovakia in Letters to Olga, written during his four-year imprisonment by Czechoslovak authorities for his involvement in the Czech human rights movement.
Reflection for the week of May 28, 2013. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit . . . If other eyes grow dull, other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us. Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a nation’s gratitude, the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan. By order of JOHN A. … (more)
Reflection for the week of April 22, 2013 Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race. –Attributed to Calvin Coolidge and read at his memorial service, 1933 Can we be like drops of water falling on the stone Splashing, breaking, disbursing in air Weaker than the stone by far but be aware That as time goes by the rock will wear away And the water comes again. –Holly Near quoted in Leading from Within: Poetry that Sustains the Courage … (more)