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Footnotes 19'1 Spring 2011


Udo W. Middelmann

The Francis A. Schaeffer Foundation

Chalet Les Montaux, CH 1882 Gryon, Switzerland #41 24 498 1656

Dear friends and other readers,

It is a pleasure to send you this first issue of Footnotes in 2011. I will bring you into our lives and help you catch up on our activities and reflections.

Since our return from NY in early December, Deborah and I are living in Gryon again. We arrived in time to hold and elebrate the tradidonal candlelight & Christmas Eve service in Champery for English-speakers. I have done this for the past 35 years for groups of
different sizes, always with mutch delight.

Last fall, we had a fruitul semester both of teaching at the college and lecturing outside that formal setting. We encouraged a number of people who attended our evenings, joined us at Madison Avenue Presbyterian and a series of cantatas in a Lutheran church across the park. We corresponded with a good number of people who wrote with concerns and asked for advice. One young man contacted us in deep despair over the shallow level of his ollege classes and over what he heard about Christianity in the churches he attended. He came faithfully to our open evenings and has now returned to a better college experience and challenging classes.

In February, I was very surprised to hear that my time at King's College has ended. The many letters of support from former and future students to retain me made no difference. I had been told last fall to assume that I would return in 2011. Changes I was not comfortable with in the direction of the new administration may have ontributed to that decision.

On a more welcome note, my manuscript for "Neither Necessary nor Inevitable: History is a Record of Things That Did Not Need to Happen" was accepted for publication later this year. I am of course very pleased about that and shall let you know as soon as I hear a more precise release date.

In this book I develop the seemingly obvious proposition that history in hindsight is always fixed; the stream of events that brought about the present is largely known and gives the appearance that the present was determined by prior events, that it had to happen the way it did. Yet such links to the past do not let us assume something for the future that looks like historic determinism.

Each choice leading into the next phase is ours to make and will give history a chosen, not a predetermined direction. No one, not even God, will take away our responsibility and significance. We cannot not indulge "in the sirens of retrospecive determinism" (Postwar, p 627.) As Tony Judt says so well, "There is no deterministic infallibility from past events, as if Fate, God, or History acted alone to bring them about.

I include in my book numerous illustrations from the Bible to support this view. First, there are many conditional promises that will only come true if the right choice is made. Then, there are many warnings against false choices. Thirdly, there are the passages which show God’s deep disappointment over choices made by men and women. Individual choices in history have changed its course in the past . . . and always will in the future; the future does not have its own agenda. It is created by choices within the framework originally set in creation by God. The only certainty rests in God having created a definite and lawful universe on one hand, and the confidence that God’s choices are always good, compassionate and just.   

I thought much about the subject and looked at Scripture, general history and some of what I believe are awful things written in the name of God, which often tie God’s will and work to horrendous things done by people. God pleads with us to be wise, to choose life against death,

to practice the discipline of His character as God’s disciples, and yet we do not. I also develop further some of my comments in my earlier book, The Innocence of God. I want to clearly oppose the view linking God’s character and purposes, for example, to the accidental death of 5- year-old Marie Chapman that declares her death inevitable! Anyone who sees a tragic accident as a revelation from God about the length of life intended by God for the deceased makes God out to be the author of all that is wrong with a fallen world.


“Because it happened, it must have been meant to happen,” paints a mentality of fatalism in the name of a God -- the Interventionist. I want to provide a more Biblical perspective and a foundation that does not end up destroying God’s moral reliability and His grief over human carelessness and stupidity.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

   The Coen Brothers’ film remake, True Grit, relates to

this issue! They address the subject of justice when no

one would serve it as the law required, in the senseless,

yet deliberate, murder of a young girl’s father. Since no

officer or deputy is willing to pursue the criminal, the girl

sets out on her own with the help of an unlikely character

-- an old drunkard. The story contrasts a "spiritual”

Christian perspective to the moral and factual demands

for justice in a heinous crime. The indifference to the

demands of justice by simple "leaning on the everlasting

arms of Jesus" with the Jewish understanding that justice

needs to be pursued in real history now. It is overcome

with courage, sacrifice, and guts. Life does not turn out

pretty, but more just than before, when there was no one

willing to invest in it. The symbolism of cross and snakes,

of "he shall bite your heel and you will crush his head", of

a pieta image and the loss of an arm, the signs of the

battle with the now grown woman.... A very Christian

statement by two Jewish producers, who carry out what

Jews often rightly complain about to Christians, that for

us everything is internal, personal and spiritual (Jesus in

the heart), when according to Scripture there should be a

willingness to do battle physically with moral justice by

simply "leaning on the everlastng arms of Jesus" (The old

hymn, repeated in numerous variations, is the main

musical accompaniment.) is countered by the more

Biblical and Jewish understanding that a crime calls for

justice to be served now by human beings in real history.

It is sought with courage, sacrifce, and guts. But it also

has a price: as a consequence of the pursuit to find and

execute the murderer, the lives of the protagonists do

not turn out to be pretty and resolved to normal. They

each pay a price, but real justice has been honored; the

human situation is now resolved. 

   A “spiritual” reading of events, whether the accidental

death of one’s sister by negligence in the Chapman case,

or the senseless murder of a man, leaves everything in

“the arms of Jesus.” But those arms never appear, do

not interfere, leave wrong unresolved and can therefore

be assumed to accept absurdity and injustice. True Grit

makes a more Biblical statement: Until the battle has

been won and God’s kingdom is established, God uses

human agents to accomplish things, whether justice for

murder or safety through effort, food from farmers,

health from medicine, justice from servants of the law,



  Jesus did not offer His “everlasting arms” in order to

free people from obligations to minister to others, or to

neglect life and its demands in the real world of sin,

sweat, accidents or the need to maintain the rule of law.

Therefore, the symbolism of a snake bite and the cross

cut to draw the poison are clear references to the

promise of God that one will “bite your heel and you will

crush his head." Snakes in the film brought about death,

cruelty and horror, and now do it again. Though she was

rushed away in the old man’s arms, like Jesus in a Pieta

sculpture, a lasting consequence remains. The girl, now a

woman a generation later, has lost her arm to the snake

bite and never married. The signs of the battle against

evil remain, parallel to the wound marks of the

crucifixion which were visible after the resurrection.

Evil must not be spiritualized away, but fought against tooth

and claw! That fight brings with it its own wounds. 


   To me this is a very Christian view presented by two

Jewish producers, who portray what some Jews rightly

complain about: That for Christisans spirituality is internal

and personal, a feeling supported by an opinion, i.e.

Jesus in the heart, easy forgiveness, etc. According to

Scripture there should also be a willingness to do battle

with evil physically, legally or wherever it raises its ugly

head in real history, even though we often pay a heavy

price for doing this. 

   If this is not so, everything in history can be concluded to

have been necessarily and inevitably the right thing, the

will of God . . . forgeting that God’s will is revealed not by

the accidents and foolish choices of men in history, but in

His Word and the person of Jesus. He, it turns out, was

quite upset with what people were doing, saying and

neglecting to do.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

  In addition to teaching two courses and writing the

manuscript for the new book, Deborah and I also prepared

and shipped off the complete collection of Schaeffer

materials to be scanned, preserved and made available

for study to the Bush Center for Faith and Culture in Wake

Forest, NC. I mentioned this briefly in the previous

Footnotes . In a formal ceremony, Deborah and I

handed over Dr. Schaeffer’s Bible to Dr. Bruce Little, who is

overseeing the work. By now, a large portion of the papers,

books and articles have been scanned. We are eager to see

the Bible transferred into readable format, as it contains

reams of notes in the margins, cross references and

annotations revealing a clear picture of Schaeffer’s work

during years of careful study. The background of his

sermons, books and lectures is found there. We look

forward to having all the material in digital format soon

and ready to be studied both there and with us in Gryon,

as well as with The Hill House in Austin, TX.


    From New York we visited friends in St. Louis, a former

member of our Board and his wife in Toledo, OH and led a

discussion on The Innocence of God in upstate New York.

We spent time with Jeremy and Lucinda Jackson in

Syracuse and prepared Rachel, a member of their church,

for her time in Gryon to take care of Edith for us for three

months. I also preached in a church in Ossining, which

always invites me to serve there and responds with great

interest to what I work out from the text they assign me

for the Sunday service.


   Some of those sermons, as well as a good number of

lectures by both Deborah and me are available on our web

site. They can be freely downloaded and can serve as a

discussion starter.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 I want to draw your attention to the BBC/Harvard

University lectures by Prof. Michael Sandel on various

issues of Justice. (You may not be able to watch them

directly, as I cannot either, except when they are actually

broadcast. But I found them on YouTube as well, to which,

I hope, you will have access. The lectures are well worth

your interest.



 Sandel teaches Political Philosophy and presents

questions about the moral decisions we face in everyday

life. Is it just to steal medicine for a needy person? Is it

right to torture for the sake of finding the truth? Should a

handicapped person receive an advantage in a sport

requiring expertise? Sandel suggests throughout his 12-

part series that questions of justice for individuals cannot

be separated from questions about “the good” for

everybody. Questions of rights must include a decision

concerning the abstract value of what is good. Only

when that is settled do “rights” have a defined content

and orientation. For the modern insistence on “my

rights” has a built-in problem when one fails to recognize

that until “what is good” is defined, so-called “rights”

separate people into competing interest groups,

expressing a concern of self- centered people. This

Utilitarian outlook cannot be carried through for every

human being, because it focuses on a small solidarity

group (e.g. guys, blacks, women, or a religious



The Voluntarist perception, when a particular

community decides what justice is, works against the

unity of a nation and the objectivity of what justice and

“The Good” are. Justice should treat people without

respect for their looks, wealth, education or

accomplishments, but when it is tied to “my rights,”

justice becomes tribal and loses its universal content.

True justice treats people without prejudice, giving a

stranger the same respect as a friend. The Bible teaches

this by insisting on the same law for “aliens” as well.

Therefore, questions about “my rights” need to take

second place to those of justice.

Justice, and laws codifying its direction and intent, must

not become a creation of convention nor related to only

certain values alone. Justice has as its goal a non-relative,

not only tribal, “good.” 


    That is the foundation of a society where Christianity

has been understood to present the truth for everyone,

rather than gathering people around a certain way of

believing. It insists on the correspondence of fact and

faith, as well as the rule of law for everyone. Things are

true and believable, because the facts demand the

response of faith and acceptance. 


    These lectures are fascinating and well worth your

careful consideration. It is so satisfying that the BBC raises

such questions of justice in a culture of increasing

“tribalization” in reaction to globalization across the

world. In our countries as well, people tend to look out for

themselves and their friends without being aware of the

one mankind God created. Their competing “rights” and

claims stand in confrontation against those of others,

without much consideration of what the implementation

of “my right” will do to others.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~  

     As I write this shortly after the awful earthquake and

tsunami catastrophe in Japan, I cannot resist comparing

the massive tectonic plate movements with all their power

to destroy, their ability to create havoc, with the political

earthquakes and tsunamis currently creating huge

upheavals in the formerly obedient (by religious sentiment

and authoritarian rule!) populations across the Arab world.

Besides the large loss of life, the survivors’ families are

torn apart; neighborhoods, places of work and familiar

objects are gone forever in Japan, washed away by a

mighty wave. In Arab countries a tsunami-like wave is also

tearing apart what seemed once to be a collectivity of

culture and faith, of close families and lasting traditions,

which were exploited and enforced by autocratic dictators

and royal courts. There was little awareness of our Magna

Carta event. 


    Whatever the outcome there, the world will not remain

the same. In this “W” was correct, when he said that the

appreciation of freedom is a human, not just a Western,

phenomenon. Of course, it does not give the present

movements for freedom and greater participation a

direction, or a clear content, once the common harness of

Arabic autocracy is thrown away. Is the desire for freedom

enough to define what a good society will look like?

Freedom without form has no limit, no definition. Already

voices arise and votes are being cast to favor old over

young, men over women, the crowd over the wise, speedy

change over considerations of “The Good”.


    It takes much more effort to clarify possible ideas first

and then to pass the laws to implement and protect them

by practical political measures. 


    Now that the release, finally, from the pressure cooker

of Arab social and economic patterns is happening, will

the mass of courageous, eager and yet desperately

inexperienced people who have no public tradition of

open debate restrain their expectations, work with

people always far from perfect and be able to delay the

fulfillment of their most extreme hopes? Will they

recognize the continuing presence of autocratic patterns

on lower levels of life, such as in families, schools,

employment and religion, which also need evaluation and

greater freedom in order to have a more civil way of

relating to each person in the family and on the street?

Will they be able to create the political and moral

framework enabling them to put food on the table,

create safety into the street and abolish the massive

corruption so common everywhere? 


   The problem is that all groups are now at heart only

minorities, whether in the Near East or increasingly also

in our countries. What common deffinition of “The Good”

do we have, when there is little that reminds us of the

common bonds other than flag, cause and language?

And even the latter is increasingly neglected and its social

and economic benefit in doubt.


   The common good was once defined in our culture by

Christianity. You could tick off the mandate to love one’s

neighbor, the value of individual persons, the nobility of

work and personal property, the tools of reason and the

rule of law and contracts, which guaranteed both

protection under and access to courts of law.

That was a framework for our society.


  That wholeness is shattered, when our concerns

become primarily particular: Christian, Conservative vs.

Liberal, women vs. men, home vs. public schoolers, the

poor vs. the middle class, and Baby-Boomers vs.

Generation Xers, the recent and the distant immigrants.

Add to this the “weird” phenomenon that we think

nothing of having social networks linking people by wire

and electronically without any lasting commitment and

mostly at a distance. My neighbor may belong to another

group, and I can drop my Facebook neighbor and forget

about him or her any time with a simple “delete” on my

key board. Religion also is decided by personal interest. 


  All this is no more than a shadow of a formerly vital

commonwealth under shared cultural assumptions.

Instead of formerly large expressions to bind us

together, we have severely damaged pillars of meaning.

What was once held in common in religion and in

deffinitions of work, wages, marriage, education, or truth

can no longer be assumed to be shared. 


   “Cut loose from their moorings, individuals fall back on

their own resources, which are like jetsam in the oceanic

drift: broken myths, rejected ideologies, disproven faiths,

and untrusted authorities” writes James Carroll, (IHT

03/15/2011). We do not yet see how the common

longing for freedom will produce the required voluntary

order in the new society yet to be born.  


   In our own cultural context I raise the question how an

increasingly particularist orientation can prevent isolation

and keep in mind the need for unity? How can self-

interest be kept from destroying the concern for a

common good? Do we have among us any more of a

common consensus than those who in Arabian capitol

sand villages clamor for individual freedom? 


   We will do well to remember that the Biblical command

to love one’s neighbor as oneself lays out the balance

between selfishness and restraint for the sake of the

common good.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~  

  Finally, I would like to introduce you to the late Prof.

Tony Judt, who valiantly fought against a debilitating

disease that made it ever so much more difficult for him

to speak. And yet he did -- all the way to his death in

August 2010. Deborah and I had the privilege of hearing

him moderate a gathering of scholars honoring Amos

Oz, the excellent Jewish writer at NY University. 


   It is one of the benefits of life in NY to have easy

access to many very interesting lectures. One can meet

fascinating persons, as well as some who are just

“different” (Minnesotans define oddities that way, I am

told!). Prof Judt, who is Brittish, was a Marxist-Zionist in

his youth and became a historian. For many years he

taught at NY University and directed the Remarque

Institute. Among the numerous books he wrote I just

finished Postwar: A History of Europe since 1945 after

reading Ill fares the Land. I look forward to reading The

Memory Chalet, which is a record of his effort to furnish

an imaginary chalet in his mind with ideas, observations,

reflections, when he could no longer express himself in



  As a historian, Judt lays out in great detail with what

effort our countries of the West set up a network of

social relations and obligations with practical benefits

after 1945, when war’s destruction and a wounded

continent was tempted again by rival totalitarian

temptations of two equally utopian visions of society:

Soviet-style Marxism-socialism and Western European-

style Fascism-socialism. Bismarck in the late 19th

century and Roosevelt in the 1930s countered the

“capitalist totalitarians”, who favored capitalism’s

pursuit of self-interest as the exclusive way to benefit

the larger public, but which had failed in the Great

Depression. The only moral or ethical restraints were

those retained in private values and commitments. To

this were added certain social obligations for

unemployment, health and disability insurance by both

leaders. Both politicians understood that short of

depending on perfect people (who can never be found

in this life), imperfect people need a legal obligation to

respect the real world and to address unfair

conditions, unequal opportunities, illness and no-fault



    Bismarck and Roosevelt took their stands, fifty years

apart and on two continents, against a growing

utopian temptation among a number of new visions

for society. For Bismarck it concerned The Socialist

International (1864/76) influenced by Marx and Engels,

as well as the Secular Zionist movement aligned with

Theodore Herzl (1896). Roosevelt confronted the

fascination in the US of the 1930s during the

Depression with Marxism’s vision of a new humanity.

Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh were both attracted

to such utopianisms, the former to Stalin, and the

latter to Hitler. Advocacy of eugenics around the

world, including in the US, is also a utopian search for

purer genetics in people!   


    An imperfect world requiring laws to mandate

behavior is the only world we know. A good civil

society makes laws that transfer Biblical insight to

social and moral dilemmas to reverse what has

become “normal” in the “abnormality” of a fallen

world. We should seek justice, because it is not readily

found by itself. Paul writes: “If it had not been for the

law, I would not have known sin. I would not have

known what it is to covet, if the law had not said: ‘“You

shall not covet’ (Romans 7:7). 


    Judt reminds us that the social model in the West is

in no way utopian and does not pretend to solve all

problems. But it does disarm the attractiveness of both

fascism and communism, to which people are drawn

from real pain and naive utopianism.


I remember from my childhood that this was a part

of the argument my father used to convince the allied

victors to encourage a shared effort between

conquered and conquerors to dilute the lure of Stalin’s

“earthly paradise of socialism” on one side and regret

over the loss of German “national socialism” on the

other. Both continued after 1945 to be utopian, i.e.

totalitarian, attractions that distort the reality of

people’s lives. For at least a decade after WW2,

widespread poverty and shame in the widely

destroyed continent with a broken history, a

humiliated ideology and a barely functioning economy

kept alive the lure of a return to one socialist

alternative or another.


   Most Western countries successfully countered the

attraction of nationalism and socialism following 1945

with a network of public services in a social-market

economy. The reason for this is reality, not an ideology. 


  That reality has at least two components.  First, we

live within a social network of families, neighbors,

citizens. As God’s law does not create a new world, but

clarifies the existing one against wishful thinking, make-

believe and pipe-dreams, so laws concerning social

obligations try to affrm less of the ideal than of the real:

real needs, real unfairness of life, real obligations in the

bond of being neighbors. Reality is unfair, unequal,

uncaring and unconcerned. Our calling as neighbors is to

refuse to accept reality as final until Christ reigns. Until

then, we must diminish the “un”-things mentioned in the

preceding sentence as much as possible. 


   Only utopian social totalitarians wish to impose their

vision of perfection on an imperfect world and thereby do

more harm than good. Their failure is no excuse for us to

fail in what must and can be done without squeezing out

life and love and leisure until there is none left.    

Real, too, is that little, if any, wealth is created by

individuals in isolation. In reality every explorer,

entrepreneur, and researcher draws on the investment of

those who raised him. There is no genuine self-made man.

Conditions of poverty and wealth affect the lives of

everyone. We rightly strive for a surplus, but none is

gained without the work of some who do not always get to

share it justly or in relation to the degree of their


   As realists in this world, we also acknowledge that

opportunities are not equally available. From birth, they

differ through no immediate fault of any person. Birth,

geography, political and religious context have in effect

their own invisible laws for some and not for others. There

are too many undeserved and uncaused variables in life,

such as the decade and geographic location of one’s birth,

genetic influences and school districts, nutrition and even



   The evolutionist sees life as what it has come to be.

Christians acknowledge that life is already unfair and

unequal by itself through no fault of the individual in the

immediate situation. Adam messed things up, and we

inherited a fallen world which we did not earn for



   This unfairness in social, biological and educational ills

cannot be alleviated, as is often assumed, by sufficient

economic growth. While prosperity and privilege will

contribute to an increase in the size of the pie for

everyone, that is by far not an accurate picture. The

opposite is also observed: In times of hardship we share;

in times of affluence, the few are privileged to the

relative disadvantage of the many.  An increase in

aggregate wealth camouflages distributive disparities. 


  We know such growing distance between the rich and

the poor from many backwards economies and societies

across Africa, the Arab world, in Russia and in our own

past 130 years since the trust-busting Theodore

Roosevelt served as president. What is new is how much

we approve of this   “natural” system of distribution

without shame or embarrassment. Have we forgotten

that Adam Smith wrote that the admiration for the

wealthy and powerful is the most universal cause of the

corruption of moral sentiment? (The Theory of Moral

Sentiments, Section III, chapter III, pp. 55ff)   Is that not

also what occurred in the story of the widow’s farthing, in

which Jesus contrasted her gift? with those of the rich?


  The current argument in market economies is that

growth will contribute to overall prosperity. That is true

in terms of numbers. But we must not overlook that

when we center our concerns on market possibilities, we

focus on personal interest, not those of our community. It

legitimizes the view that people could and should be

prepared to work at any age or go to the poorhouse. 


    Tony Judt suggests with some justification that “Ill Fares

the Land” simply because we increasingly find that the

social consensus is weakening when we split up into

groups with separate values due to cognitive dissonance.

Groups, including faith communities, easily withdraw

from the broader culture, making absolute distinctions

between “we” and “they,” what is pure and what is

profane, who works and deserves, and who is idle and

therefore -- tough luck! Such positions are disconnected

from the larger reality. Isolated convictions without any

bond to the larger dynamic cultural tradition are another

expression of increasing fanaticism, because they are

unmediated, unstructured and unconnected. 


    Judt rightly worries whether the center of our society

will still hold together, when everyone pursues primarily

individualist, particular political interests. In the solitude

of being right or left, Christian or anti-, male or female,

we abandon a commitment to solidarity and a willingness

to make do with compromise rather than perfect

situations. A society is not a church, and even in church

so many eccentric views are represented that one must

always deal with something less than perfection. What

threatened people after WW2 was political absolutism. It

was disarmed by social legislation precisely to prevent

the extreme and fanatical pursuits of socialism and

“marketarianism”. Today, the threat is similar with the

enormous income differentials which may well create an

eventual collapse of our social contract. Do look for

Michael Sandel’s lecture series on “Justice”, as he will

make you think through similar issues. 


    The size of country, the increasing cultural

differences without the glue of the One Nation to hold

it together, and the growing suspicion of central

government all work in favor of individual

protectionism. When we add here the curious wording

of the Bill of Rights to say that, unless expressly stated,

government should be kept out of our lives, we

understand perhaps why there is increasing suspicion

towards public authority. Taxes become

“uncompensated income loss” instead of contribution

to the common good when what “The Good” is no longer

has a common content.


   The Bible alone, to my knowledge, gives human

beings a framework for the value of the individual

and the respect for the community, a reality of form

and freedom, of the one and the many

simultaneously. The base is a common reality under

God where the life of believers and unbelievers takes

place. They benefit equally from Creation. Cause and

effect are equally real, as is the fact of making moral

distinctions, regardless of specifics, or the grammatical

nature of language, etc.


   Being concerned about unity and thankful for the

work of labor unions to call factory owners to account,

as in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory where one hundred

years ago this year is not a call for Socialism!!

For socialism is about transformative change, the

replacement of capitalism by selecting an entirely

different system of production and ownership. What

Bismarck, FDR and most responsible statesmen and -

women desire is capitalism and democracy as a

framework within which the hitherto neglected

interests of large sections of the general population

would be addressed, from education to pension plans. 

It requires a continuous public debate about what kind

of society we want and need, what arrangements are

honorable to each person, and how we will pay for

them. These are larger questions than those of just

finance, taxation and investments, and safeguarding

individual rights, though these are all part of it. It is

more a question of ethics, of unity and of what we

need to think, do and put in place to leave a good

situation for the next generation. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

   The last issue of Footnotes brought back to me a

number of interesting comments from many readers

like you. For some, what I wrote was encouraging;

others were slightly surprised and a few possibly also



  My concern all along is to keep in mind our social

context, in which social obligations are part of living

in society with neighbors rather than each person in

isolation, as if in the old “West of the Hudson” of the

17th century. We cannot return to that isolation. We

are living as wheat among the tares until the angels

sort things out. We are told by Christ to pay taxes to

Caesar, whose image is on every coin; but owe what

and who we are to God, Whose image we bear. It is to

our greater benefit when everyone benefits from our

good ideas, work and life efforts. A nation becomes

more civil, economically prosperous, and respecful of

neighbors, aliens, law and life when instead of

separating ourselves, we invest in social benefits for

everyone. Good ideas, Education, Politics, the Arts and

better and more available products result from a more

accurate understanding by everyone about how reality



    David Brooks, in an editorial in the NY Times (The

Modesty Manifesto, NYT, March 10,2011), writes,

“Citizenship, after all, is built on an awareness that we

are not all that special but are, instead, enmeshed in a

common enterprise. Our lives are given meaning by

the service we supply to the nation. I wonder if

Americans are unwilling to support the sacrifices that

will be required to avert fiscal catastrophe in part

because they are less conscious of themselves as

components of a national project.


  “Perhaps the enlargement of the (separated) self has

also attenuated the links between the generations.

Every generation has an incentive to push costs of

current spending onto future generations. But no

generation has done it as freely as this one. Maybe

people in the past had a visceral sense of themselves

as a small piece of a larger chain across the centuries.

As a result, it felt viscerally wrong to privilege the

current generation over the future ones, in a way it no

longer does."

“It’s possible, in other words, that some of the current

political problems are influenced by fundamental shifts

in culture, involving things as fundamental as how we

appraise ourselves. Addressing them would require a

more comprehensive shift in values.”


Let me close with the words of two of Ralph Vaughan

Williams’ Easter songs: 

“Rise heart; thy Lord is risen.

Sing his praise without delays,

Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise

With him may’st rise;

That, as his death calcined thee to dust,

His life may make thee gold, and much more, Just”.

“Truth, Lord; but I have marr’d them:

Let my shame go where it doth deserve.

And know you not, says Love; who bore the blame?

My deare, then I will serve.

You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat.

So I did sit and eat”.


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