This is pretty overwhelming, so don’t watch it when you feel you are going to need your composure intact. Mike is an attorney I have had the pleasure to work with on several occasions. [Mike & Sheila’s Story] This was a video tribute played at Chet’s Creek Church last week.
We hate humiliation, but is clearly part of becoming Christ-like. 2 Cor 8:9; Php 2:8; Heb 12:2, etc., etc.
This dense paragraph from Karl Barth reminds me that humiliation is displayed by Jesus because it is in his divine nature. (This is pretty obvious, I guess, but I enjoyed remembering it.)
God does not first elect and determine man but Himself. In His eternal counsel, and then in its execution in time, He determines to address Himself to man, and to do so in such a way that He Himself becomes man. God elects and determines Himself to be the God of man. And this undoubtedly means . . . that He elects and determines Himself for humiliation. In so doing He does not need to become alien to Himself, to change Himself. The Godhead of the true God is not a prison whose walls have first to be broken through if He is to elect and do what He has elected and done in becoming man. In distinction from that of false gods, and especially the god of Mohammed, His Godhead embraces both height and depth, both sovereignty and humility, both lordship and service. He is the Lord over life and death. He does not become a stranger to Himself when in His Son He also goes into a far country. He does not become another when in Jesus Christ He also becomes and is man.
—Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics IV/2, 84 (thanks to Mark Galli).
Four thoughts on the United Flight 3411 incident:
- What a mess!
- Almost everyone involved can (probably) see a point at which they should have chosen differently, and (almost certainly) wishes they had.
- On the whole, if you were one of Dr. Dao’s fellow passengers, filming the event on your cellphone was a better choice than trying to physically intervene.
- It appears that an even better choice for almost anyone on the plane would have been to stand up and say “This man appears to really need to get home, I will give up my seat.”
“Blessed are the peacemakers . . . .”
Peggy Noonan, who once wrote speeches for Ronald Reagan, just won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. It is well-deserved.
For a list of her pieces that won, go to “The 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Commentary,” The Pulitzer Prizes (Apr. 10, 2017) [link]. My favorite is “Imagine a Sane Donald Trump,” Wall Street Journal (Oct. 22, 2016).
The other winners are also listed at http://www.pulitzer.org.
David Bentley Hart writes a nice piece on “book lust” (that’s what my wife and I have always called it) in First Things: “From a Vanished Library” (April 2017) [link].* In this piece Hart reminds us that
I learned from the experience [of losing my library], in the end, that all vanity is vanity, all lust is lust, and all excess is excess, no matter what the objects of one’s desire. The aesthetics of bound volumes is unique and exquisite; but there are more important things.
In the end the article was somewhat deflating as I have not read a single one of the books in his “catalogue of suggestions.” But it is good to remember that books, marvelous as they are, can be distractions from the common purpose of every human.
*Coming across this piece was particularly poignant (and ironic) as my church gave me two first editions as a (sabbatical? retirement?) gift after teaching Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Samuel, Kings, Daniel, Ezra- Nehemiah, and Matthew (with some help, and a few detours) 2003-2017.
Just finished Peter Heller,The Dog Stars (2012) which was a very enjoyable apocalyptic novel in the tradition of The Stand, Alas, Babylon, The Road, Station Eleven, or I Am Legend. The novel is written entirely in internal monologue (not always grammatical, sometimes profane), which is a little confusing at first, but ultimately very satisfying.
I recently read (more of less at the same time) two historical books which I would highly recommend. Each is flawed, but each gives a picture of a tragic time of which I knew too little.
The first was Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (1963), about Nazi middle-manager Adolph Eichmann, captured in Argentina in 1960, and tried in Jerusalem in 1961. Arendt’s famous account of the trial is idiosyncratic, and oft-criticized, mainly for being thought too soft on Eichmann and too hard on the victims, the prosecutors and David Ben-Gurion, who Arendt portrays as the political choreographer of the trial.
She blames the many Nazis who wielded greater power and had greater capacity for evil, but she does not remotely excuse Eichmann. Nor does she blame those who died, except in the sense that she is troubled by the unwillingness of some victims to resist totally and violently early enough that they (might?) have made a difference.
As a trial account, the book is fairly weak, in the sense that she is telling the back story as much as she is summarizing the evidence presented. This may have been due to the length of the trial and her sense that Eichmann was too slender a reed to support the weight of the crimes he facilitated. I would have liked more reporting and less musing.
But her musings are fascinating!*
The second book, Martin Luther King, The Autobiography of Martin Luther King (1998), is equally well-known, a compilation of writings, speeches and sermons stitched together with narrative sections cast in the first person by the historian Claiborne Carson.
If what you know of Dr. King is entirely from the perspective of 2017, or MLK-as-political-signifier for one party or another, then this is a nice opportunity to delve back into primary sources.
In any case, you know Dr. King was a master orator and the audiobook takes advantage of the available recordings — that man could preach!**
Each of these two books is narrow, and it will be necessary to read more to have a well-rounded comprehension of the times and the issues, but both are well worth your investment.
*From Eichmann in Jerusalem:
- “The longer one listened to him, the more obvious it became that his inability to speak was closely connected with an inability to think, namely, to think from the standpoint of somebody else.” p. 47
- “These habits of Eichmann’s created considerable difficulty during the trial—less for Eichmann himself than for those who had come to prosecute him, to defend him, to judge him, and to report on him. For all this, it was essential that one take him seriously, and this was very hard to do, unless one sought the easiest way out of the dilemma between the unspeakable horror of the deeds and the undeniable ludicrousness of the man who perpetrated them, and declared him a clever, calculating liar—which he obviously was not. . . .
Despite all the efforts of the prosecution, everybody could see that this man was not a ‘monster,’ but it was difficult indeed not to suspect that he was a clown.” p. 52
- “The facts of the case, of what Eichmann had done—though not of everything the prosecution wished he had done—were never in dispute; they had been established long before the trial started, and had been confessed to by him over and over again. There was more than enough, as he occasionally pointed out, to hang him. (‘Don’t you have enough on me?’ he objected, when the police examiner tried to ascribe to him powers he never possessed.) p. 88.
- “And the question of individual guilt or innocence, the act of meting out justice to both the defendant and the victim, are the only things at stake in a criminal court. The Eichmann trial was no exception, even though the court here was confronted with a crime it could not find in the lawbooks and with a criminal whose like was unknown in any court, at least prior to the Nuremberg Trials. The present report deals with nothing but the extent to which the court in Jerusalem succeeded in fulfilling the demands of justice.” p. 296.
**From The Autobiography of Martin Luther King:
- I became convinced that noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good.”
- “As a young man with most of my life ahead of me, I decided early to give my life to something eternal and absolute. Not to these little gods that are here today and gone tomorrow. But to God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
- “I have always felt that ultimately along the way of life an individual must stand up and be counted and be willing to face the consequences whatever they are. And if he is filled with fear he cannot do it. My great prayer is always for God to save me from the paralysis of crippling fear, because I think when a person lives with the fears of the consequences for his personal life he can never do anything in terms of lifting the whole of humanity and solving many of the social problems which we confront in every age and every generation.”
“I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice.”
I understand that this is long, but there may not be anything better you can do with the next five minutes of your life. You can read the commentaries later. Remember that this man is writing out of the context of just being fired from a job he held for twenty years.
Open Letter from Zachary Fardon, March 13, 2017
Today I submitted my resignation, effective immediately, as United States Attorney in Chicago. As I walk out the door, there are a few things I’d like to say.
I am not a political person. I belong to no political party; never have. I am not a Democrat. I am not a Republican. I am not a liberal. I am not a conservative. I never found a need or interest in associating myself politically. I have no interest in political office.
For the past three and a half years, I’ve been lucky to be in a position of power as the US Attorney in Chicago. That means I’ve gotten to lead what I think is the best prosecutors’ office and maybe the best public office this country has to offer.
During those three and a half years, by my own choice, I focused my greatest attention on violent crime. I came into office in 2013 not long after Hadiya Pendleton was killed by an errant bullet in a public park. Like most folks, I was horrified and confused by Hadiya’s death and the constant drumbeat of seemingly random deaths of so many others, including kids, on the south and west sides of Chicago.
From the buzzsprout people (some of whom I might happen to know), something worth listening to:
Sarah Brooke, “Best Science Podcasts – 2017,” buzzsprout (Mar. 10, 2017) [link].
The Oscars and beer, not my usual interests . . .
Benjamin Bannister, “Why Typography Matters — Especially At The Oscars,” Life from a Different Perspective (through Medium) (Feb. 27, 2017) [link]. This is exactly right, and should be the final word on this silly (though amusing) story.
Sam Riches, “The Story of Heady Topper, America’s Most Loved Craft Beer,” Food & Wine Magazine (via Longreads) (March 2017) [link]. Nicely written article about how disaster can be liberating (not that we are going to go searching for disaster).