Lucifer Jones

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Four Forces

It has been some time since I've written in my section on Matters of the Spirit. And even though I have the KJV and the NIV on my Kindle, it has been a while since I've done much reading of the Bible. And no, I haven't been to church all month, nor much this season. For the grace of God I am not trying. Yet I remain engaged with matters of the spirit in my heart and mind and certainly every day am thinking about our great endeavors in the affairs of men.

I begin with a story about my girlfriend back in 1980 when Jamaica Funk was at the top of the charts. She asked me if I was afraid of Hell, and I said no. She asked me how I resisted the temptations of sin, and I made it clear to her that my relationship with God was structured as the Jesuits gave me structure, which was the evocation at all times to be Christlike. It was clear to me then that I had absolutely no difficulty in the pursuit of that moral ambition and understood that while I might fail from time to time, that my aim was right. From that, whatever righteousness I might possess would be evident to God and by his grace I would do well. I never trusted a preacher who called his flock 'saints' and invited all those who had accepted Jesus as their personal savior to stand or sit or perform some deed. In fact, I've always had a theological problem with the idea of Christ the Redeemer as Personal Savior. It seemed too immodest considering what deeds needed doing in service to His example. But I was aligned. All I ever wanted was to be good. I didn't need Heaven nor Hell. It seemed to me, a frivolous question, and by and large it still does.

Having a religious education beats a month of Sundays in church. It taught me how to think about God and morality and worldly ambition and a number of related matters. I was fortunte to have had things explicitly discussed. Today I hear mostly silence, even in all the talk about religion. Most Americans will never have what I had, which was a Catholic priest as a biology teacher and a computer science instructor who had been to Divinity School. The conflict between rationality and Christianity never entered my mind as a fundamental problem but as a philosophical debate about epistemology. But more importantly, what I came to an early understanding about my religion was that it was about the moral foundations of justice.

Everybody comes from somewhere on their way to somewhere else. Their measure of ambition often determines their speed. We are often admonished to 'remember where we came from'. Well, before I came from a Jesuit prep school, I came from a black neighborhood. More importantly I came from a family that was intellectually engaged in the Black Arts Movement. And specifically we celebrated Kwanzaa and heard extra clicks on our telephone calls in the years after 1968 when America was on fire. There is a passport photo of my mother and siblings. You see, we were prepared to leave. As it became clearer to most Americans that burning down the nation was a distinct possibility unless integration happened, there were certain Black Nationalist dreams that had to die hard as well. Our family closed down the Institute For Black Studies and went to church. My mother could never go back to the Catholic she had been. She went evangelical, in fact a rather millenarian flavor not quite to the handling of snakes, but far into faith healing, speaking in tongues and jumping Holy Ghost dynamics. I didn't take the Foursquare Church in stride, but there was the music. My father did not find it too difficult to return to his Episcopalianism. I chose LA's upscale Episcopalian slice of Christian lifestyle, that was leavened with the harder edge of my Catholic schooling. Crossover for me was relatively smooth. I had several flavors of Christian experience by the time I chose for my Confirmation.

And so from these traditions of social justice and struggle I emerged whole and in no way confused about my moral ambition, purpose or identity. So it was easy to answer my girlfriend's question. What remains is not doubt so much as curiosity. Still, life throws us curveballs for which we are not prepared, and every once in a while I have to go back to where I came from and think my way to the present. Sometimes I backtrack, sometimes I'm smug and sometimes I don't even want to think about it.

This afternoon, I received a note from one of my many associates in thought and spirit, David Theroux. And he asked me to consider his essay. In doing so he reviews some familiar ground implicit in what I have learned about matters of justice and liberty and what Christianity has to do with any of that. It is an area I think far too many Americans have not considered at length and I find in his essay a good provocation and framework for knowing some of what is important to know about secular humanism. I use the term with a smile because I used to mock the very concept before I was in any ways a Conservative. But let me excerpt a small piece and move forward.

However in the Renaissance, religion became viewed as a “private” impulse, distinct from “secular” politics, economics, and science.[7] This “modern” view of religion began the decline of the church as the public, communal practice of the virtue of religio. And by the Enlightenment, John Locke had distinguished between the “outward force” of civil officials and the “inward persuasion” of religion. He believed that civil harmony required a strict division between the state, whose interests are “public,” and the church, whose interests are “private,” thereby clearing the public square for the purely secular. For Locke, the church is a “voluntary society of men,” but obedience to the state is mandatory.[8]
There's a lot to unpack in just this paragraph, but it is I think, the central portion that must be made clear. In all things, I strongly believe that people should strive to be independent and self-reliant. I say this with as much forcefulness as my own inheritance allows me to speak as a descendant of slaves. A free man, in order to keep his freedom, must owe no debts of purpose or identity. Of those things, he must be self-possesed. What I have described autobiographically is some part of the experiences that made me just that. I am not morally indebted to a single politics, a single church, a single race, or any such singularity beyond whose gravity I have no hope to escape. And yet from every institution and experience I know that there is a singular moral law to which all of humanity is ultimately indebted and responsible.

To my way of looking at things, there are four primary forces in the world which leverage our aiblity to pass instituional knowledge and power. They are government, religion, education and commerce. I would like to elaborate on these and had written up another 500 words which were unfortunately lost. But the nut of the matter is that to see these forces in balance needs a philosophical recognition of which roles in human life each should take and in what proportion. The proper conservative wishes to see these balanced in such a way that government - the single institution of those four which posesses the only legitimate monopoly of coercive law and force of violence should take a minimum of autonomy from its consenting citizens such that their debts of purpose and identity remain more closely aligned with institutions they have more autonomy in controlling. In this way of looking at institutions, the separation of church and state is a necessary but only minimum requirement. All four should have overlap and interdependence but not be controlled by the others. I see Theroux's argument as a specie of that which says the four forces are out of balance.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Following the Morally Talented

Pops and I had one of our unending discourses last evening, and I was interested to hear his wariness of judgment. While I stayed away from the direct arguments and themes of my Peasant Theory, I did end up asking him a question about the elite vis a vis the mind of God. I had a couple ways of expressing this concern which I will now try with you. But first a little background.

He opened the discussion by telling me that he is considering remaking the Stations of the Cross into contemporary form, and asked me if I remembered whether there were 12 or 14. I hadn't thought about the Stations of the Cross in many years, but I knew beyond a doubt that the answer was 14, even though I went to the web to verify my answer. I was right. And then went searching for the music and lyrics to that song which begins 'At the Cross her station keeping' and finally found the melody on YouTube. It was difficult to find that exact melody and there were not many hits. And so I was reminded what troubled me about all the conveniences we have - and the implications of his dumbing down that Mass for the masses.

So I began with the quote from Stephenson who put words into Leibniz' mouth, the wit of which is the following:

“So I ventured into that library which had been closed up since the death of my father and still smelled like him. It might seem funny for me to speak of the smell, but that was the only connection I could draw at the time. For the books were all written in Latin or Greek, languages I did not know, and they treated of subjects with which I was completely unfamiliar, and they were arranged upon the shelves according to some scheme that must have been clear to my father, but to me was unknown, and would have been beyond my ken even if someone had been there to explain it to me.
“Now in the end, Monsieur Fatio, I mastered that library, but in order to do it I first had to learn Greek and Latin, and then read the books. Only when I had done these things was I finally able to do the most difficult thing of all, namely to understand the organizing principle by which my father had arranged the books on the shelves.” 

This is the point. It takes effort to understand the mind of God, but progress can be made and understanding can be gained. Dumbing it down for the masses, is this useful? This begs several Lutheran questions, but we didn't go that way, primarily because he began to argue that in the hands of man, the words, will and mind of God becomes corrupted into such a state that no matter what the man's intention it becomes a project of Man at which point the Devine is lost.

So I pointed out all of the albums we were listening to and asked him to consider musical talent. I said that if you were to find the world's most talented composer, would it raise any concern if in the entire life of that artist he never considered writing sacred music and was never inspired by God. He said it wouldn't trouble him in the least. Wow. So I put it another way.

If I found the two most morally advanced men on the planet, both studying for decades, of equal intellect and one said that he had nothing more any man could teach him, and thus should be the moral authority of the planet. The other said he too had nothing more any man could teach him but humbled himself before God thus claiming he had more to learn. Which would you follow? He said it didn't matter.

Then I took two albums out, one from Herbie Hancock and another from Lisa Lisa & Full Force. I placed them five inches apart and analogized the implication of his arguments (which I do not do full justice in this abstract). That if you looked at the most talented musician in the world and the least

My argument is that I accept that any human healthy enough to survive has enough moral acuity to survive as well. It is a natural endowment. (via Spinoza, meaning it is a gift of God). That this acuity may be improved upon and expressed as law, and that this moral law is permanent and unchanging. Christianity may have 10 Commandments, but that is as insufficiently complete as a human with 10 words in his vocabulary. That for the sake of argument there are 10,000 moral laws analagous to a 10,000 word vocabulary with which we can all acquire full literacy and understanding.

I will have to leave it at that for the moment.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

God = Good

Understanding of this equivalence in my early childhood is what makes me what I am today which is a great admirer of Christian ethics an quite enough of an Episcopalian to pass, but not interested in being either evangelistic nor passive to atheists.

So the question was asked can atheists and theists find something to agree on. It's actually very simple; they merely need to agree that God = Good. Now comes the question of ego, which is whether any atheist or devotee can assert with certainty that they know everything any human needs to know about Good God. The failures of atheism and faith come from misapplication which is a function of arrogance. It's something atheists ought to know considering the scientistic awe at the greatness of the Universe.

I find it interesting considering this proposition of equivalence that with respect to arrogance and overproduction that two books come to mind. The first is that by Hitchens: God is Not Great. The second is the famous business book Good to Great. In the stretch between saying that God is Good to God is Great is perhaps that fudging of the supernatural that Spinoza weighed against. Does God have to be Great, or is Good enough? Why, in fact, does God have to be so incredibly transcendent? Is not the proposed greatness of God merely the whip across our backs to get our donkey attention? Perhaps so. The summation of Good is so far and away from us. It ought to be enough for eternal inspiration in our present. But somehow we are not satisfied with that. God must be great, man must strive to understand transcendental greatness. Great becomes unimaginable, which is just enough to twist all the rest of the rules.

I invert something in this passage I read this week.

One of the books I am currently re-reading is C.S. Lewis' THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS. For those that haven't read this classic, it is a collection of letters from a senior and experienced satanic demon, Screwtape, to a junior and struggling satanic demon, Wormwood, on how best to snare and keep ensnared the souls of men; how to hold them in thrall until such souls can be harvested into Hell for all eternity.

As I was escaping from the unremitting BS flow that oozes out of the government when it comes to BS budgets yesterday, I found myself reading this passage from Chapter XV of The Screwtape Letters:

We sometimes tempt a human (say a widow or a scholar) to live in the Past. But this is of limited value, for they have some real knowledge of the past and it has a determinate nature and, to that extent, resembles eternity. It is far better to make [humans] live in the Future. Biological necessity makes all their passions point in that direction already, so that thought about the Future inflames hope and fear. Also, it is unknown to them, so that in making them think about it we make them think of unrealities. In a word, the Future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity. It is the most completely temporal part of time—for the Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays. Hence the encouragement we have given to all those schemes of thought such as Creative Evolution, Scientific Humanism, or Communism, which fix men's affections on the Future, on the very core of temporality. Hence nearly all vices are rooted in the future. Gratitude looks to the past and love to the present; fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead.

All afterlife is the Future. And while I don't quite understand the author's use of 'eternity', we can surely see how the overly pious wring their hands in anticipation of a Judgment by a Great God at some point in the Future. A bit of passive aggressiveness I think.

A Good God, the summation of Good, the concept and the entity only need to be that. Our duty, whether deist or atheist is to approach that good, remembering Cobb's Rule #11: Perfect is the enemy of Good.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Joy to the World

I read somewhere that Christmas isn't mandated by the Church as a high holiday. It's truly not a solemn occasion. If you think about that which might be a co-opted pagan celebration, this one has probably been the one that most often does not use Christian symbols. Happy Birthday Jesus doesn't quite fit so much as Happy Birthday Baby Jesus. And so the word Joy best describes what this time of year is all about. Joy to the World.
It's not actually even a message we Christians are likely to be known for. There's always an evangelical hook in there somewhere - or for me in my blend, a Jesuit mind trick. Proper Christianity challenges your mind and soul, but in late December the challenges are more about getting a parking space and all other sorts of preparation for joyous celebration. This year we got duck.

Right now, everything is as perfect as it gets. All the family phone calls have been made and all the news is good. People are healthy and in good spirits. Them that had no jobs, now got jobs. Some travelling has been done and old faces have been seen, warm embraces had in defiance of winter and quiet talk over hot drinks have given us another chance to pause, smiling and look down at the table for that moment when we say to ourselves nodding, "that's really good". The confessions are done as well. People like to come clean around this time of year. According to the guy on the radio, almost nobody breaks up on Christmas Day, but starting at Black Friday if your affair is in jeopardy, be prepared to handle the truth. The truth is that we know and we admit it finally, that human beings can be awesome, and sometimes we have to just let go of our fears and tell the honest truth. We play that game when the family is in a good mood and as parents we promise to forgive confessions of mischief - we call it BOL, for blurt out loud. Blurt. That's a good and giggly word. You just can't wait to talk about everything so that you can tell your good news, and feel good and prepare for the joy.

There's a kind of inevitability about Christmas joy. This year it was a long time coming. As it turns out, I'm between jobs and have had lots of time to think about other things, a good seven week sabbatical it turns out. Christmas couldn't sneak up on me this time; it felt like it took forever to get here. I started singing carols in public last week, and although I didn't burn a CD for the car, I did have it on the home system. The first thing I did yesterday morning was I listened to several renditions of O Holy Night. Whitney Houston, Celtic Woman, Celine Dion, Susan Boyle, Charlotte Church, Mariah Carey, Carrie Underwood, NSync, Alicia Keyes, another Mariah Carey version. Right there in bed on my iPhone via YouTube. No matter how many times I listened to it, I still love the song. I still don't know all the words, but man when they get to the 'fall on your knees' part, it just melts me when they do it right. And yeah I have to say, Mariah does it best. You know the words are coming, and it still gets you in the gut. Advent. What a wonderful word.

We're at that family age with three teenagers. They know what they want, we know what to get them. It's wonderful watching all the bubbly subterfuge as we raid the bag of ribbons and wrapping paper. Everybody snatchs the roll of scotch tape from my desk and scampers off to their rooms to wrap another gift. We color code the sticky bows, if it's red it's mine. It seemed to take almost no time at all to get the tree and decorate it and now it's surrounded. There have been sleepovers and videogame parties. We baked cookies and made many runs to the stores.

.and that's all I'm writing this morning...

Merry Christmas, and may your thoughts be more coherent and complete than mine. Pass the eggnog.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dissonance & Faith

Dissonance is a keyword in the story of my life. For me, it is the experience of living the truth of the false claim that blue is not blue. It is the experience of the epistemological nightmare, of hearing people tell you after you have explained something profound with precision that you have nothing to say and are at any rate incapable of saying it.

I have, like you, wished that I could read people's minds and that they could read mine, because I hate dissonance. So writing has become an indispensable part of my life. I have, in my adult life, always considered myself a writer - a writer for people and for machines with the emphasis on people. In every opportunity to write software for machines, I have always discounted the value. Software that doesn't engage the end-user was never interesting to me. The machine was a logical substrate. It was never my desire to escape the complications of humanity. In fact, I never grew to learn enough of the mathematical universe to appreciate the ability to get a computer to think mathematically, nor enough about any scientific discipline to feel rewarded by shaping the computing tool. What I have learned instead are matters of finance and ethics.

Roger Ebert writes about the experience of being mute and of being blind, and then conveys a letter sent to him by someone rendered mute by surgery. Both the blog entry and the letter are longish, but I understood them implicitly. In my ethical journey, the first intellectual country was characterized by the landscape of race. What I discovered early on was how the hunger of those wanting to understand and sympathize led them to jump to whatever seemed to lead them to a proper conclusion, to forge instantaneous brotherhood at the first hint of commonality. But this kind of sentiment was never sufficient to bear the burdens of reform implicated by the scope of anti-racist politics and action. Most everything became symbolic. The dissonant supply and demand of dialog on the matters of race in America sometimes ossified over time into the kind of hostility that could be called racism. That characterizes our epistemological nightmare well, because it isn't true racism but most people do not possess the words to make this clear. They only possess the sentiments appropriate towards the ethics of anti-racism. Smarter folks substitute culture for race and welcome culture wars often to the point of the political and the politics of difference underlies a great deal of what sparks frustration in American public life. This is all dissonance to me. It is dissonance until it is crime.

I don't believe that man is a social animal in the way many do. I think that we are evolutionarily hardwired to be constrained in our affairs to Dunbar's Number. Everything else is maintained by hegemonic forces and, of course, ignorance & incuriosity. You have your number of Facebook friends, and that's about it. You either fit the profile of the person you always wanted to be or you suffer from the ignominious underachievement. You don't need to communicate to more people, and in fact you cannot. You can only be leveraged by the impersonal, which means you will be interpreted. The French have a verb for that. Connaitre. Connaitre is for people. Savoir is for things. Both verbs mean 'to know'. When you write a program and compile it, the computer knows what you are telling it - almost instantaneously. Savoir. You, on the other hand, will be interpreted.

You will be interpreted.

Interpretation is imprecise, and there are for humans very distinct advantages to being interpreted. For in dissonance is the ability to play both sides of the coin. Human social identity should be worn, as James Baldwin wrote, loosely like the clothes of the desert. Give a little room for the mind to shape the body. Let some ambiguity in. We don't want to live in a bot-mediated world. We want to live in a world where we have permission and license to be what we want to be, to go where we like and to behave as we please. If we strive to achieve a precise goal and redefine ourselves in pursuit of that goal it is only to ultimately attain that freedom. At least, that's my philosophy. It is about the Dosh Point.

Next year I'll be 50. I'm slimming down and realizing that I look more like I did at 35 then at 45. I've been a bit too chubby for a bit too long. Dr. Sakurai tells me, even after I shed 20 pounds this year, that I'm too fat. He's over 80 years old, so perhaps I should listen. Do you see all of these unambiguous numbers? Why do we try to express ourselves that way?

Dissonance is a permanent factor, and I've been thinking about the epistemological problems of the age. It's a constant itch for me since I have continually evolved my thinking and so span political, geographical, religious, class and racial lines. I've gotten to the point at which I'm convinced that I have achieved a level of mature wisdom which is the result of years of writing and thinking. I've more than done my 10,000 hours on the blog, writing for people. Now I get people. I am people. People are me. Like Chaka Khan. No, actually deeper still without the flash, like the people who wrote it. Ashford & Simpson.

Humans have faith, but they often forget their faith in themselves, in humanity. We need to interpret each other with faith in mind. Then the nightmare dissolves.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I have been unable to sleep lately. For one thing I've been staying up late and waking up later and extending a cycle of madness. For another I just got rid of a bad tooth after a weekend of suffering. So in a bold attempt to get some sleep, I decided to put on the most boring podcast I could think of. I made a mistake and put on Will Durant.

Will Durant is one of those names from my childhood that used to arise whenever people asked who was the smartest man in the world. Aside from the typical answer of Einstein, people used to say it was Bertrand Russell who was such a super-genius that took a genius to appreciate him. It seemed that only Will Durant was smart enough to understand Russell, whereas once the bomb was built anybody could steal the blueprints. But I've already talked about information thermodynamics...

So I put on the podcast and this time, unlike the last time I had insomnia, I actually absorbed a bit of it. And so decided to play it during the daytime as well. So now I know what the big deal about Spinoza is, and I am happy to say that I have found in Spinoza's remarks, precisely some of the same troubles I've had with lesser forms of Christianity.

I'll boil it down thusly. If you are like me, then you simply refuse to gamble that there is no possibility for the existence of God. To put it simply God's mind is the Universe. God's law is physics. God's name is Pi. Or maybe e. Or better yet, e to the power of pi. People struggle mightily to understand the universe, and the lazy people think such knowledge will be Revealed, in the meantime industrious people are figuring it out. It's not wrong to have faith, but the real value of faith is not found in its ability to explain the working of the world. Spinoza recognizes as do I, the false dichotomy between the natural world and God's miracles and explains religious dogma as the dumbed down version of communicating the nature of things to lazy or otherwise non-brilliant people. If God created everything, why would he need to suspend the rules of nature in order to make himself known? 'He' doesn't and he wouldn't. It's just superstition maintained for the interventions of religion. Something lazy thinkers need to believe.

There are a great number of other quotations I have forgotten, but that one is a stunner I have long believed myself, without of course, the ability to put it concisely before my encounter with Spinoza.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Haps

Thanksgiving is one of those days that is very telling in that it's also the one holiday that nobody can do for you. I have found that you really can't wish people a happy Thanksgiving, they either have something to be thankful for, know it and are given comfort by that or they don't. Every Thanksgiving wish is therefore a dual-edged sword, because you can't really evade the fact that there is nothing else to do but look to your family and assess what life has brought you.

Christmas has been externalized to fit every different shape. You can objectify it and get through it without having to deal with its deeper implications. If you're Jewish, you probably have a tradition of eating Chinese food. If you're an atheist, or a materialist you can do the unreformed or reformed Scrooge act according to your mood without bothering to think about Christ in the Spirit of Christmas(tm). If you're a harried parent, you can get caught up in the busy work of it while getting more or less satisfaction depending on your budget and mall traffic. New Years Day, you can get your kiss at midnight and party like it's 1999, or just watch the ball drop eating cheetos in a bean bag chair in your underwear. It gets easier now that Dick Clark has finally become the ghoul he has avoided appearing in the prior century. On the Fourth of July, you don't have to call it Independence Day. On Memorial Day and Veteran's Day you're not expected to *do* anything but take the day off. They've changed President's Day and MLK to fit the schedules of ski venues, and the white sales of JC Penney. But while Black Friday gets more and more like Wall Street's triple witching hour, Thanksgiving still has that unavoidable weight and presence. You *have* to think about giving thanks and family. There's not much else you can do except be with your intimates and deal with the your measure of gratitude.

Dennis Prager and I share a definition of happiness in that we recognize that it cannot be faked. Happiness is the end result of accomplishment. It is in a three legged stool with gratitude and goodness. You cannot be happy if you are not grateful. You cannot be happy if you are not good. These are two qualities that I cannot wish for you or grant you. They are things you must accomplish for yourself. So in that way, I cannot really wish you a happy Thanksgiving, if you are not grateful and good, then you won't have happiness on this or any other day. While you might be able to fake some cheer on the other holidays, and there is something to be said for having that positive attitude because at least you are spreading cheer, Thanksgiving makes you think seriously about what you have to be happy about.

All that sounds like an elaborate excuse for me to be stingy with my holiday greetings, and to be honest, that's how I started off. I mean I just wrote about North Korea and Neil Farage, two rather in your face bad news subjects. So I said, well so many people are wishing me a Happy Thanksgiving, oh crap I better write something. But what am I doing, and why is my Thanksgiving going to be happy no matter what people say? Aha. Happiness.

There are not happiness chicklets dropping from heaven in my happy Thanksgiving so much as there are happenings in my life that are more or less under control that are contributing to my sense of accomplishment. Some fraction of those efforts are bearing fruit and I am grateful for that. So I will be happy, and now is the time to recognize. Every day should be the time, but today is the day to speak up and share that recognition and that means recognizing how the people around you have contributed to that sense of achievement and real accomplishment. Our better selves know this and live in the moment, recognizing real accomplishments as they happen, championing them along their curve to success and anticipating that success by spreading cheer before the fact.

So the haps are good. I'm learning again. I'm enjoying good health, although I really need to check a few things. I'm finding ways to stay home and stay here as my kids finish high school - the most important matter of all. I'm finding satisfaction in simple things.

I'm grateful for the attention I get here and for the opportunity to share. I'm grateful that my car didn't break before I paid it off (fingers crossed, one more payment on the Transporter). I'm grateful for the backup on my files, and that I have a record of my children's early lives. I'm grateful for the good things people see in me - that I've been able to turn my obsessions into knowledge and work and that work has helped others accomplish what they desire to. I'm grateful for all of my baseball caps sitting over in that box. I'm grateful that I can afford my electric bill and that nobody has come over to my house to steal the things that use all those kilowatts. I'm grateful that my children are mine, that I possess them and that they possess me. I'm grateful for my wife, for that woman who was patient with me and that we made it work 22 years now. I'm grateful for the teachers who work hard to discipline this community's children. I'm grateful for the gifts of the intellectually generous, and for the spirit of people whose faith in humanity encourages us all. I'm grateful for my cultural inheritance - that I have music to hum to over a dinner whose ingredients we all know, speak it in a word.

I know in every way how I have worked to make all of those things work - that I have no right to it, but that I made efforts that might not be fruitful to attract those virtuous blessings towards me and mine. It's all a part of something we all control and I know that. We do for us. We've done pretty well. So I believe we all have something accomplished. So I just ask you to look at what your work has done.

I'm going to say something else here that I have come to understand, I think. It would be easy, and I almost did it on reflex to say 'All things work together for good for those who love the Lord'. That trips off the tongue a bit too easily. My Christian education helps me understand a great deal, but I also know that I cannot impart that education on others. If I could only speak English then I would never speak anything else. If I could only understand Christian ethics then I would speak only in that dialect. But I am beginning to know things beyond that and with any luck will be able to communicate beyond that argot. So I call attention to the spirit of God in every man even to men who do not see it as God's grace or doing. In doing so I am aiming to be consistent to the ends of faith and reason and the laws of the universe, all as one, all that is seen and unseen. All ends of proper faith and proper reason are the same.

And that's what's happening today. I wish you the peace you require.