The name of this blog arises out a phrase used by Abraham Lincoln in his first inaugural address delivered in March, 1861 as the union was splintering. He spoke at a time when seven states had seceded, but before the first shots of the Civil War had been fired. However, there was a stand-off at Fort Sumter that threatened to explode any moment.
Since his election the prior November, Lincoln had scrupulously 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 is here.
The most noted words of his address likely were these final few sentences:
I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. 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. I am concerned, though, that 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, being a progressive Christian and Democrat. The mere use of these labels indicates the same kind of divisions that plague our society. So, I am writing this blog to explore what the better angels of our nature, and the better angels of my nature, 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 think that people like Jesus Christ, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King point the way.
I will write from a Christian ethical perspective because that is what I know, and aim to consider not just political but also cultural and social issues. My goal is to post two blogs each week. And, I hope to learn and grow as we go along and invite you to join with me in this journey.
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 and worked in and around the Texas Legislature as a lawyer and lobbyist. 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.