Five Minutes on Friday #58


‘We are not getting something for nothing,                                               

We are getting nothing for everything.’   [Lionel Basney]

In Wendell Berry’s Life is a Miracle, Berry writes an essay ‘against modern superstition,’ the belief that science alone must set the terms for our conversations about religion, culture, and science.  The three must be the subjects of one complex conversation.  (I particularly like his proposal for a new Emancipation Proclamation to free our lives from enslavement by corporations).   Highly recommended.



Here are two items that seem to me like very good news . . . in a time when the bad news appears unremitting . . .

One from the current issue of The Christian Century headed “Out of Endangerment.”

We’re used to reading stories about wildlife in decline — in the last decade, 23 species have been declared extinct — but some species have started to recover. India and Nepal have doubled their wild tiger population. River otters have returned to parts of the mid-western United States. The California Condor, American alligator and humpback whale have also begun to recover. Many eco-systems are recovering too. Across 18 countries, about 35 million acres — roughly the size of Greece — are being restored, including Florida’s coral reefs.


And from the podcast Econ Talk, this from the recent episode with Dwayne Betts on his inspiring project “Freedom Reads.” The idea is get to curated libraries into the housing units of prisons all across the U.S. Listen to the whole thing to learn more about a venture that builds dignity not only for inmates but among corrections officers.

Dwayne Betts was a 16-year-old in solitary confinement when a fellow inmate slid a book of poetry under his cell door. What happened next is an astounding story of transformation: from desperation to the discovery of beauty, even behind bars. Listen as the lawyer, prison reform advocate, and award-winning poet explains to EconTalk host Russ Roberts why he’s on a mission to bring books–and beauty–into prisons.


BEATITUDES – Matthew 5.4

‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.                   

Wonderful news for the mourners!  You’re going to be comforted.

The spirit of the age blesses those who are shallow and thus happy all the time—
But Jesus blesses those who have the capacity to mourn deeply.   [Brian Zahnd]

Blessed are those who care so deeply: who lament in the awareness of the difference between the world as it is and the world as God wills it to be.   On a freezing night a homeless woman dies alone under a bridge.  Children become the prey of gangs.  A large multinational oil company reaps record profits while people struggle to pay heating bills.  Human life is broken in many places.  The people of God lament, ‘O God, do not let your world hurt this way forever.’

‘There is a direct relationship between the word here for ‘comfort’ and the word describing the Holy Spirit as the Comforter for the disciple (John 14.16).   [Myron Augsburger]

Clarence Jordan, the great advocate and tireless worker for integration in the southern U.S. translates this beatitude as ‘Joyful are those who are deeply saddened to the point of action, for they will be comforted.’

Jesus offers several parables about the need to be concerned to the point of action:  Matthew 21.28-32; Luke 16.1-8. – The Summons – John Bell