Monday, December 12, 2005

Love the one you're with

Respecting a former President isn't always easy, but there's one that has always blown me away: Jimmy Carter. His continued work after his presidency has done more for the world than most presidents accomplish while in office. Check out his affiliations: The Carter Center, Habitat for Humanity. As my mom says, he's our best ex-President.

I read his newest book, Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis, over the weekend. He has such a reasoned, Christian approach. It's so refreshing to have someone speak as a Christian and not be giving the teaching a bad name at the same time.

Covering such topics as fundamentalism, religious conflict, church and state, divorce and homosexuality (in the same chapter), abortion and the death penalty (also in the same chapter, interesting juxtapositions both), the status of women, and America's foreign policy, Carter brings intelligent, pointed insights to the discussion and helps move us toward how it should be—dialog, rather than diatribe.

In chapter two, Carter talks about his own Christian faith and those who inspired him. He worked in a small church in Brooklyn, New York with Cuban-American Eloy Cruz, who left an indelible impression on him. At the end of their mission together, Carter asked Cruz what made him so gentle but effective as a Christian witness. Cruz's reply: "You only need two loves in your life: for God, and for the person in front of you at any particular time."

Sometimes I try to imagine a world where we all lived by that dictum. What would it be like? If even the majority of us did this on a regular basis? What kind of joy and mindfulness would resonate throughout the world? Ah, if I could only make it resonate through *my* world, with the people I meet each day. And if a few more people in positions of power would work it into their agendas, too, think what could happen.

Paul writes in I Timothy:

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

I've prayed for those in leadership positions before. I've prayed for them to know the right thing to do, and to have the strength to do it. I've prayed for their continued wellbeing. I've prayed for their discernment.

Today I'm thinking the thing to pray for might be that they love. That they know how to love those unlike themselves, that they take actions accordingly. And that they feel loved enough themselves so they do not feel the need to use their office for personal gain or influence.

It's a new thing for me, injecting love into my political prayers. I'd better watch out—I may wind up loving them myself.

Your ideas and inspiration are welcome! Please comment below or Contact Laura.
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At 12/12/2005 11:08:00 AM, Blogger porthos said...

I have the Carter book and it is coming up on my "read now" list. Another book you and your readers might like to examine - in the light of loving your politcal enemies - is "The Gentle Art of Blessing" by Pierre Pradervaand. I know you've read this before, but it seems especially helpful now when the status quo is crumbling and the misdeeds of public figures are coming to the surface. The trick is, how do we "bless" them while keeping them from doing more damage?

At 12/12/2005 04:39:00 PM, Anonymous Franklin said...

I believe that if enough people continued to speak nothing but good of a person, that person would at some point be influenced by those good thoughts(blessings) spoken of them.

I also believe speaking good thoughts of another also bless the one speaking those good thoughts.

Laura, most of the christians I have heard comment on Mr. Carters book, seem to think he has turned from his faith and is speaking against the gospel message.

I haven't read the book so I don't know what may have caused these comments.

At 12/14/2005 08:51:00 PM, Blogger Kim said...

Hi L
Thanks for the critique on this book. I just saw it at the bookstore. Now I want to get it! A friend of mine from the the north of Africa felt that Carter was the greatest President becasue of his work putting human rights on the international agenda ( for trade). I agree with your mom, He's our best ex.
Thanks again for the review!


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