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Good Morning Nanty Glo!

Friday, February 25 2005

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

How far back? part two

When I was reading The '60s Spiritual Awakening last summer, several times I felt twinges of regret about sometimes being on the wrong side in the '60's, especially on the matter of racism. I was never a racist, but neither was the conservative movement of the '60s championing racial equality. As the book recounted that history from my twenties, I had to grudgingly admit that sometimes the better positions were being taken by political and religious liberals on the issues of race and freedom. I was able to atone for my '60s shortcomings in my thirties and the 1970s, by which time I was also much better educated on both socio-political philosophies and biblical theology. But my reason for recounting that time now is that it's sometimes necessary to admit that on some issues in some times, the more liberal side in American life has occupied the higher ground.

We all know people to whom "conservative" refers to fat-cat greedy capitalists and "liberal" still describes defenders of common laborers trying to organize for justice in mines, mills, and sweatshops. In the historical period we recently revisited somewhat extensively, the American Revolution, the "liberals" were the freedom-fighting Democratic-Republicans and the "conservatives" (though that word wasn't current at the time) were the Tories, those loyal to the British crown. (It has only now occured to me how ironic it was that William Penn's descendants were both Quakers, members of a religious sect that is almost the definition of classic liberalism for its fierce independence from monarchist traditions, and at the same time Tories, who famously did not support Benjamin Franklin and Pennsylvania's freedom fighters.)

So to return to Wednesday's consideration of the proposition, how far back would the liberals like to take us, and how far back would the conservatives take us, the answers are multiple-choice. Liberals like Jimmy Carter and others most likely always think of the civil rights movement as liberalism's defining moment. But not a few liberals, like former Labor Secretary Robert Reich and pundit Bill Maher, have in recent months and even days pined for a return to the pre-Christian era, which to my mind could only be the pre-Constantinian Roman Empire with its widespread infanticide, sexual orgies and persecution of all not bowing to Caesar. And "conservatives" like Bill O'Reilley and Rush Limbaugh arguably have more interest in turning us back to the pre-Depression days of greed and excess than back to our moral moorings, as I see in neither of them much interest in godliness in particular or goodness in general. Either side can appeal to the baser instincts of those roused with the rabble, and either side can appeal to the nobler affinities in human hearts

"The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being," Alexander Solzhenitsyn says, suggesting that it's not as easy as pasting a label on our foreheads and claiming to be on the angels' side. It's not a matter of who can claim to have invited God to their side so much as who is willing to go over to God's side.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy 

A complete index of Jon Kennedy's Jonals for 2001 - 2005

T-shirt philosophy (end of series)

Dangerously under-medicated.

In God we trust. All others we polygraph.

Sent by Trudy Myers

Thought for today

Christian one-liners:
You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage him.

Sent by Carl Essex   

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