This blog’s name comes from a phrase spoken by Abraham Lincoln in his First Inaugural Address. The speech was delivered in March, 1861 as the Union was splintering. Seven states had seceded from the Union and there was a stand-off at Fort Sumter, South Carolina that threatened to pull the country into a civil war.
Since his election the prior November, Lincoln avoided speaking on secession, slavery or the relationship between the states, but most of his first inaugural address was aimed at those subjects. The full text of the speech is here. Its most-remembered single sentence is likely, “The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” [emphasis added]
Fortunately, our times do not threaten a civil war. However, Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, socialists and libertarians, city dwellers and rural folk continue to talk past each other, often in vindictive, mean-spirited tones. More importantly, we have lost a sense of working together for the common good. Indeed, we often work best in belittling or undermining others.
In short, “the better angels of our nature” remain well-hidden, at least in our public life.
I am not immune from this problem, but only further proof of it. I have snapped at or vilified those who disagree with me, no matter whether up close or far away. So, I am writing this blog to explore the better angels of our nature, and the better angels of my nature, to try and imagine what they might look like in our common life and how we might get them to rise to the surface.
As such, this is a religious or spiritual blog that might appeal to those who believe that we do have “better angels of our nature” and that there is a higher set of ethics that we should strive to live out other than those that come naturally to us. I will write from a Christian ethical perspective because that is what I know. Before going into ministry, however, I was a lawyer who primarily worked in and around Texas politics and government. Therefore, it will also have a political and legal bias.
I’m a retired pastor in the United Methodist Church. Before going into the ministry at the age of 48, I was a lawyer in Austin, Texas. The light of my life is my wife, Maurie, and our two children (actually, I am their stepdad), Ashlie and Andrew. Right up there with them are my daughter-in-law, Ali, and two grandchildren, Caleb and Caitlyn.
Maurie and I have live in the beautiful town of Meadowlakes, Texas, located in the Texas Hill Country about an hour west of Austin.