The Inner Life and Public Life

The best thinkers often are best, too, at prayer wherein they gain the choicest insights.  The burden for a nation expressed in prayer and thought needs also to be fulfilled in the act.  So it was in the life of Eberhard Arnold (d. 1935) who led the Rhoen Bruderhof in Germany, and whose best-known work (the fifth German edition) was hidden, buried in metal boxes, from the Nazis before its publication in 1936.  This morning’s words seem apt and are thus presented here:

     Every great and deep experience must lead to the deepest self-examination.  Then, from within, we will be equal to the onslaught of unaccustomed events.  War is a challenge to inwardness in the sense of self-examination because the developments that lead up to war lead us further and further away from the roots of all strength.  The increasing prosperity of any country and all the work that is achieved are significant outer blessings for which we cannot be thankful enough.  But they lose their value entirely and turn immediately into a ruinous curse as soon as they begin, like a top-heavy load, to crush the inner life.  With precipitous speed, we are being deprived of the inner blessing of our human calling by the outer blessing of our rapid development.  Our public life has lost its human character; and inwardness has been damaged as a result of the rush and hurry of all the work there is to do on the one hand, and on the other hand by the luxury, excess, and feverishly accelerated pleasure-snatching that has become part of life.

     He has more to say, of course, to bring a consistent message home:  in the inner land of man’s soul where God dwells there is peace, strength, security.  And so forth.  You can read his entire book online, or download it for free at http://www.plough.com/ebooks/innerland.html

The Hall Lectureship and Banquet for 2010

The 2010 banquet on February 22 was a high point for me, and that was satisfying, but it was another great event for East Texas Baptist University.  We honored Madeleine Segal Hall with the first annual Sam B. Hall Jr. Civic Service Award, and I was glad the Hall family could enjoy the gratification from that recognition.  The citizens of Marshall, Texas, may not recognize it, but they should be gratified as well — and for as long as the award is presented, the Hall example of civic and public engagement will be remembered.  So, we start looking for next year’s awardee.

Dr. J. David Holcomb, Associate Professor of History and Political Science from Mary Hardin Baylor in Belton gave us an outstanding lecture–relevant, evocative, and erudite.  Thanks, David, for exemplifying the highest standard as we want it for the Lectureship.

Over 100 local and regional community leaders, citizens, public servants, students, and faculty were present for our exciting evening at ETBU.  The fellowship was marvelous!  We look forward to next year’s event.

Drones over Al-Qaeda

Today’s headlines from Afghanistan bring to mind the association of fiction-science fiction-reality and the visualized apocalyptic fears and fascinations that animate so much of cinema and online gaming.  A new observation?  No, not for at least two generations now.  But who would think the USA would be raining destruction on an enemy using armed R-C aircraft, and with considerable success?  Right, these drones are but the latest generation of the concept and the reality.  Beyond that, the scale is different, but the objectives seem familiar, as when the USA’s massive Vietnam/Cambodia-era bombing campaigns brought insoluble complexity to Southeast Asia.  That was old-style — more like the World-War II bombings in Europe by the joint British and American bombing campaigns that destroyed German cities, or the US bombings of Tokyo.  The technology is less “direct” where instead of massive aircraft, pilots and bombardiers you find the drones get their directions from a marvelous fusion of technological and human resources.  It is less “direct” than the A-bomb deployments over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  I do not like to think too much about the future prospects for the melding of hyper-destructive technologies with the drones.  I know others have, and that is more than a mere concern.  

Of far greater concern:  why does it seem there is so little faith in the prospects for solving international problems through new modes of diplomacy?  Diplomacy often fails, and “the reality of things” is that conflict will continue, but what would it take to diminish conflict?  How much development do we need?  How much are we engaging in?  Why are there no stronger plans?  Where are we putting our resources?  What attitudes are we developing among the newest generation?  What are our 100-year objectives?  Our investment in war — whether we voted for it or not — is no small thing among us, or among our enemies.  

I wonder whether a “public” form of international relations would serve better than a “political” form of international diplomacy?

Weblogging now!

So I’m up now, but not fully squared away! Thanks to some relative technical help, though, and this and another subdomain site will be more than I can handle, but I’m going to try.