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Tag Archives: Reinhold Niebuhr

From The Irony of American History

Although Reinhold Niebuhr his book The Irony of American History, I think it speaks to each person’s and each collective’s history.

As I read this and his autobiography, I wondered what it means to be a refugee, to seek refuge, and be an immigrant. My family traces its roots in Canada to the mid 1600’s and Kathy traces her’s to the latter part of the 1700’s. On both sides of our family, our ancestors could not expect what was to come for them and us.

Parker Palmer and Allan Watts speak of faith, which allows each of us to step into the future, without understanding what that brings. My ancestors, coming from France, did not know the risks and opportunities that lay ahead. They had faith in what was to come, without knowing what was to come.

What is to come in my life is emerging through the lives of each person that follows. Thich Nhat Hanh writes we are an amalgam of our ancestors. We are individuals that emerge within a collective that is both present and absent in our daily lives. Who we are is a result of product of virtue and love we receive from others. Who we are is not accomplished alone. It is an act of compassion and faith; an act of forgiveness that we will do what is proper.

Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope.
Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith.
Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we must be saved by love.
No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint. Therefore we must be saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness.

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The Irony of American

I could have taken the following from any history. It transcends borders. I was unaware that Reinhold Niebuhr wrote the Serenity Prayer.

I chose this passage as it resonated with my writing today and it was the first page I turned to in the book of poetry I used today. What resonated with me was in my writing I draw on the work of John Dewey, Alfred North Whitehead, Plato, and others. The first two lines about hope provide a people with hope. What does it mean to be educated in the 21st Century? This question is partly premised on what it meant to be educated in earlier times. The context of Dewey and Whitehead was in the shadow of the Industrial Revolution. Horace Mann and Thomas Jefferson wrote in the shadow of the American Revolution. The rapid change of their times can give us faith that we will figure out what it means to be educated in these times.

I do not outline well. I get to writing, but, with a dissertation, I have to try outline so I have broken it up a bit. Today, I wrote part of the introductory chapter and sent it to Kathy to make it makes sense. In that I have hope and faith that love will save me.

Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime;

therefore, we must be saved by hope.

Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense

in any immediate context of history;

therefore, we must be saved by faith.

Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone;

therefore we are saved by love.

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