Christ is my all
501 stories
·
4 followers

With Liberty and Justice for All

1 Share

In the coming weeks I hope to write several posts applying explicitly theological categories to our “national conversation” on race. But as we approach the Fourth of July, I thought it would be worthwhile to first post this piece as a reflection on our national history and identity.

What should we think of America?

In an important sense, that’s not a question I can answer as a pastor. The Bible won’t settle any debates about the meaning of the Constitution or the failure of Reconstruction or the legacy of the New Deal. It’s important to say that up front, lest we make a particular interpretation of American history—either one that sparkles sunshine or one that sees little more than a long list of atrocities—a de facto standard for friendship and fellowship. No American history test is required for entrance into the church universal, and hopefully none is required for our local churches either.

And yet, the issue of race in America—so much in the news these days—is inescapably historical. Anytime we talk about these matters we have in our head some outline of who we are as a country, some sense of where we have been and how far we have (or have not) come. So even though there is no single Christian response, most of us have an answer in our heads already, so we ought to talk about how that answer shapes our thinking and how some answers are better than others. We can be humble about our interpretations without being historical relativists.

So what is my view of America?

Well, it’s complicated. The more you look deeply into any person, any time period, or any nation, the more you realize that the “good guys” and the “bad guys” are usually more of a mixture than we’d like to admit. History on the cheap goes digging through the past with the goal of bringing some weapon of judgment back to the present. A better approach, in the Quentin Skinner school of intellectual history, is to try to “see things their way.” As Christians we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves. That means our dead neighbors too, even the ones we think we wouldn’t have liked very much.

If earlier generations were guilty of telling the American story as nothing but a mighty tale of noble triumph moving from strength to strength, I fear we are in danger of trading one reductionist interpretation for another. To be sure, we need to look injustice squarely in the eye. The slave ships, the beatings, the lynchings, the fire hoses, the Trail of Tears, the internment camps, the dehumanizing treatment that Native Americans and blacks and other minorities (sometimes white) have been made to endure in this country cannot be ignored. This is our history as Americans. We need to own it and grieve over it.

There is also more that must be said. The history of God and race in America is, as Mark Noll puts it, a “tangled history” filled with “moral complexity” (181). On the one hand, the Christian faith has been a prominent feature in American history and has often been a beneficent force at home and abroad. “Christian altruism, Christian philanthropy, Christian consolation, and Christian responsibility are not the only forces for good in American history, but they loom very large and have had very positive effects” (177). And yet, Noll admits that “the American political system and the American practice of Christianity, which have provided so much good for so many people for so many years, have never been able to overcome race” (178). If we are honest about ourselves and honest about our faith, we must conclude that Christianity in America has done much at times to promote racism, while offering hints of redemption as well (181).

Slavery at the American Founding

History is rarely simple, and it is rarely static either. The American experiment is not the story of steady moral uplift and courage nor the story of constant declension and depravity. We must not be ignorant of the contours of our own history, lest we forget, for example, that by the time the Constitution was ratified—effectively the beginning of the United States as truly united states—slavery had been abolished in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and in all the future states north of the Ohio River in the Northwest Ordinance.

As for the Constitution itself, while it was undoubtedly a compromise document that mollified the concerns of Southern slave-holding states, it also held the line—thanks to James Madison—that there would be “no property in man.” At the time of the drafting of the Constitution, Northerners who opposed slavery assumed (wrongly) that slavery would fade away. They did not know that slavery in the South would be revolutionized and re-energized by the invention of the cotton gin in 1793.

To be sure, none of the Founding Fathers got the race question right in the way we wish they would have. They were men of their age, in ways that made them better and worse than our leading thinkers and statesmen today. Nevertheless, it is important to see how the Founding generation was viewed in their own age. The Constitutional provision allowing for the abolition of the slave trade in twenty years was greeted by many free blacks as a great triumph. Two generations later, Alexander Stephens, vice-president of the Confederacy, lamented the fact that the American Founders had believed in the equality of the races, a mistake (as Stephens saw it) that the Southern states would not repeat:

The prevailing ideas entertained by him [Jefferson] and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old Constitution were, that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with; but the general opinion of the men of that day was, that, somehow or other, in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away. This idea, though not incorporated in the Constitution, was the prevailing idea at the time. The Constitution, it is true, secured every essential guarantee to the institution while it should last, and hence no argument can be justly used against the constitutional guarantees thus secured, because of the common sentiment of the day. Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the idea of a Government built upon it-when the “storm came and the wind blew, it fell.” Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and moral condition.

Granted, Stephens was no unbiased interpreter of history. He is surely giving the Founders too much credit, if not in terms of their loftiest ideals, then certainly in terms of their actual practice. But still, his reading of America should not be quickly dismissed. Stephens believed the Confederacy stood for something profoundly different than the vision laid out in the Declaration of Independence. For Stephens, the idea of the Confederacy was fundamentally about the subordination of blacks to whites and the enduring good of slavery, whereas the fundamental idea of the United States was that all men were created equal and that the disagreeable institution of slavery would eventually disappear.

In Frederick Douglass’ powerful Fourth of July address from 1852, he castigated his fellow citizens, and especially the churches, for their failure to mount up with zeal for abolition. “The existence of slavery in this country,” he said, “brands your republicanism as a sham, your humanity as a base pretence, and your Christianity as a lie.” Douglass did not spare his country the verbal chastisement it deserved. And yet, these moral evils were not an indictment of America’s ideals but of its “national inconsistencies.” Although five years earlier in London, Douglass denounced the duplicity of the Founders and the Constitution’s failure to deal honestly with slavery, in his 1852 address he lauded “the fathers of this republic” and “the signers of the Declaration of Independence” as “brave men” and “great men too.” “They were statesmen,” he opined, “patriots and heroes, and for the good they did, and the principles they contended for, I will unite with you to honor their memory.” Douglass’ complaint was not with the Fourth of July and what it stood for, but with the brutal reality that it was not his Indepedence Day and that the “great principles of political freedom and of natural justice” had not been extended to all.

In hindsight, the compromises made at the founding of our country were tragic, but in the 1780s they made sense to most free Americans as necessary provisions for political Union and national unity. Take the mainline Presbyterian church, for example. A resolution from the Synod of New York and Philadelphia (May 16, 1787) approved of “the general principles in favor of universal liberty that prevail in America; and the interest which many of the states have taken in promoting the abolition of slavery.” Although the Synod did not try to dis-fellowship slaveholding churchmen and did not advocate for immediate abolition, it did encourage educating slaves, giving them a share of property, and teaching them to be self-sufficient so that they might be useful freemen someday. Moreover, the Synod went on to “recommend it to all the people under their care to use the most prudent measures, consistent with the interest and the state of civil society, in the parts where they live, to procure, eventually, the final abolition of slavery in America” (emphasis in original).

A More Perfect Union

Obviously, the racial views of many Presbyterians, especially in the South, would get worse instead of better in the nineteenth century. The point is not to exonerate Presbyterians, but to dispute the telling of American history that reads the worst aspects of Southern slavery into our national story from start to finish. In his famous campaign speech on race, then-Senator Barak Obama rejected “the profoundly distorted view of this country” that “sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America.” The speech, with a nod to the Constitution, was fittingly entitled “A More Perfect Union.” While America at its worst has been brutally far from perfect, that doesn’t mean that in our imperfect Union there is nothing worth celebrating, even when it comes to race.

If we are not careful, we can reinforce racial stereotypes by telling American history as the story of what white people have done to black people in the past and what white people can do to help them in the present. As Shelby Steele argues, blacks have often been rendered a “contingent people” without personal agency in the story of America, a people first oppressed by whites and now dependent upon the goodwill of whites for their success. “Thus it relegated us to the sidelines of our own aspirations” (179). Feelings of white guilt should not obscure the fact that “as a group, black Americans have made the greatest gains, over some of the highest hurdles, and in a shorter span of time than any other racial group in history. . . As such, it speaks to the intestinal fortitude of a people. Just as important, it speaks to the greatness of a nation in which such gains were possible.”

Land of Liberty

The founding documents of this country were based, in part, on a Judeo-Christian understanding of the fallenness of man. That’s why Hamilton believed in checks and balances, and why Madison insisted that ambition must be made to counteract ambition. They did not trust men with too much power. Unfortunately, as is the case with all nations, we have our examples of those in power acting unjustly toward those without power. But that doesn’t make the promise of the Declaration that “all men are created equal” a lie. It makes our national sins more painful.

We do not have to believe we are as bad as we’ve ever been to acknowledge that we aren’t what we can be. There has been racial progress in this country that few whites or blacks would have imagined sixty years ago. Yes, there is still racism and injustice. Yes, there are self-deceptions in every human heart. But there are also declarations in our history that can still inspire. The ideals of liberty and justice for all are not less noble or less indicative of the American story because we have so often failed to live up to them.

The genius of Lincoln and MLK is that they appealed to the best of America instead of the worst. They understood that a relentless focus on America’s original sin without a surpassing hope in America’s original ideals would not move any of us closer to the better angels of our nature or to the dream of being judged by the content of our character instead of the color of our skin. Shame can arouse the conscience, but for the long-haul people need better motivation than disgust and despair. A people cannot long endure without some sense of shared identity and purpose, some sense of mutual striving together, some sense of an idea that defines them. In other words, being an American must mean something, and I still think “We hold these truths” and “We the people” can be that something.



Read the whole story
rtreborb
1 day ago
reply
San Antonio, TX
Share this story
Delete

Reddit, Acting Against Hate Speech, Bans ‘The_Donald’ Subreddit

1 Comment and 2 Shares

Mike Isaac, reporting for The New York Times:

Reddit, one of the largest social networking and message board websites, on Monday banned its biggest community devoted to President Trump as part of an overhaul of its hate speech policies.

The community or “subreddit,” called “The_Donald,” is home to more than 790,000 users who post memes, viral videos and supportive messages about Mr. Trump. Reddit executives said the group, which has been highly influential in cultivating and stoking Mr. Trump’s online base, had consistently broken its rules by allowing people to target and harass others with hate speech.

“Reddit is a place for community and belonging, not for attacking people,” Steve Huffman, the company’s chief executive, said in a call with reporters. “‘The_Donald’ has been in violation of that.”

It’s a race to get out of Dodge as the whole world gets is footing back on the rightful notion that bigotry is shameful and must be shunned.

Read the whole story
rtreborb
7 days ago
reply
Not that I know what went on in this subreddit (nor condone it), but it seems like most subreddits could probably be removed by the same rationale.
San Antonio, TX
leonick
7 days ago
There may be some arguments in the comments, but now, most subreddits are not filled with harassment and hate speech...
Share this story
Delete

RT @bencbartlett: parent: if all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you do it too? machine learning model: yes

1 Share

parent: if all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?

machine learning model: yes


Retweeted by SwiftOnSecurity on Sunday, June 28th, 2020 9:59pm


57006 likes, 8131 retweets
Read the whole story
rtreborb
8 days ago
reply
San Antonio, TX
Share this story
Delete

Why Does Water Come Out of the Water Bottle When It Is Shaken?

1 Comment

The illustration above from Paul Tripp illustrates the reality of verses like these:

“Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matt. 12:34; Luke 6:45)

“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” (Prov. 4:23)

For a book-length treatment of the heart from a biblical perspective, see Craig Troxel, With All Your Heart: Orienting Your Mind, Desires, and Will toward Christ.



Read the whole story
rtreborb
14 days ago
reply
A wise and valuable mindset.
San Antonio, TX
Share this story
Delete

Collect Natural Rain To Water Your Garden With A Water Barrel

1 Share

If you’ve got a garden in your backyard, you’ve probably got a range of tools from shovels to hoses and shears. Another tool that’s helpful to add to your gardening collection is a rainwater barrel. As the name suggests, these help with reducing water usage in your home as they collect rainwater that runs off the roof. The water can then be used to irrigate flowers, ferns, and more.

Before purchasing one, however, there are a few things that you’d need to consider. Here, we’ll talk about a few features that you should take into consideration before delving into the details of 10 of the best rain barrels that we’ve found.

Features to Take Note Of 

When purchasing a rain barrel, there are a few things you’d need to take note of. The first thing would be selecting the right size. Rain barrels are bulky by nature and while most start at 50 gallons, some can fit up to 90 gallons or more. Keep in mind your irrigation needs along with space constraints before making your purchase.

Next, you’ll have to consider the aesthetic of your rain barrel. They come in all sorts of designs, and you should choose the aesthetic that suits your best. Planters are also a common feature in rain barrels, and some of them are even completely removable. You’ll also have to take price into consideration as rain barrels do cost more than a normal garden house. A good rain barrel, however, is incredibly durable and can last for a period of time, so it is an investment that’s worth making.

Finally, you should be aware of the different types of materials that can go into making a rain barrel. The main materials used are plastic, terracotta, concrete, and wood. Wood and terracotta rain barrels are generally the heaviest and aren’t difficult to clean. For the average homeowner, plastic rain barrels are the most popular, but do your research beforehand and decide which one would suit your needs best.

How to Choose

  • Decide on the aesthetic that you want. Rain barrels come in different designs, so you should pick the one that you feel would suit your outdoor space best.
  • Figure out your budget. Rain barrels come in a variety of price points, so you should consider how much you’d like to pay for your rain barrel.
  • There are many different types of materials used in rain barrels, and while some might be heavier than others, you need to consider which would be best for you.
  • Check out reviews. Before purchasing your rain barrel, do your research and check out what other individuals have to say before making your purchase.

Top 10 Rain Barrels 

We’ve taken the liberty of rounding up some of the best rain barrels and breaking down the details to help you choose one that will work for you.

1. Impressions Capri 50 Gallon Rain Barrel

For a gorgeous rain barrel, this is the perfect purchase. It’s sturdy and is an eye-catching rain barrel that has a premium exterior clay texture. Since it has a deep welled top, you’re also able to plant flowers or even a small herb garden up top. The top of the rain barrel also has an overflow channel to divert all overflowing water to the front and prevent your foundation from flooding. The large opening has a soft, fine mesh screen that will also help in keeping heavy debris and insects out of the rain barrel.

Who Should Purchase This?

Those looking for an aesthetically pleasing rain barrel that gets the job done. It has everything you need from a textured mesh screen that blocks debris to a sturdy brass spigot that won’t rust or break.

Pros:

  • Gorgeous design
  • Has a deep-welled top
  • Has an overflow channel to divert overflowing water
  • Comes with a soft, fine mesh screen

Cons:

  • Isn’t made with recycled material

2. Bella Vista 50 Gallon Rain Barrel

For a simple rain barrel with a minimalist design, this is a great purchase. This rain barrel is crafted from plastic and has a curving silhouette and woven design that’s perfect for any outdoor space. It also has two brass spigots that you can easily attach to a hose or another barrel and also has a planter and removable debris screen to keep the pests at bay. Other unique features of this rain barrel include being mildew, weather, and warp resistant.

Who Should Purchase This?

Those looking for a rain barrel with a minimalist look but still comes with a number of features. The wicker finish is a great aesthetic touch, and the routed channel will help in diverting excess water to avoid flooding your foundation.

Pros:

  • Minimalist design
  • Two brass spigots
  • Also comes with a planter and removable debris screen
  • Is mildew, weather, and warp-resistant

Cons:

  • Some have mentioned that the planter draining system doesn’t work well

3. Rain Wizard 65 Gallon Rain Barrel

If you require a larger rain barrel, this will do the job perfectly. It has a rustic look with a material that resembles oak. It has a fine mesh screen to keep out bugs and debris along with an overflow channel that’s front-facing. There’s also a self-draining planter top if you’d like to grow some vegetables or herbs. There are also connection points to link rain barrels together, and the wood-grain texture adds a touch of style to your outdoor space. It’s a sturdy barrel that’s capable of holding up against heavy impacts and harsh winters.

Who Should Purchase This?

Those that need a larger rain barrel that can hold up against all sorts of weather. It’s FDA-approved and is also BPA-free thanks to its polyethylene construction. Its wood-grain construction also gives it a lovely rustic look.

Pros:

  • Lovely rustic design
  • Comes with a fine mesh screen
  • Sturdy construction that’s FDA-approved and BPA-free

Cons:

  • No way to open the top as it’s a one-piece barrel

4. Russellville 50 Gallon Rain Barrel

You won’t even know that this is a rain barrel due to its unique look. It’s got a paneled design, and a cool gray finish for a classic look. With a secure foundation, it’ll be able to easily catch water to keep your plants healthy. This rain barrel also comes with two spigots that you can connect to a hose or other barrels, along with a debris screen. It’s also both water and UV light resistant.

Who Should Purchase This?

For those that want a rain barrel with a unique aesthetic. With its paneled design, it’ll fit perfectly into any outdoor space, and its gorgeous look makes this a great purchase.

Pros:

  • Secure foundation
  • Comes with two spigots and a debris screen
  • Unique paneled design look
  • Water and UV-light resistant

Cons:

  • Since the plastic is thinner, when the barrel is full it bulges

5. Rain Wizard 40 Gallon Rain Barrel

If you’ve got less space within your home, this rain barrel can help save the day. It can collect up to 40 gallons of rainwater and has an attractive faux oak barrel design to fit into your landscape. There’s a plastic screen mesh to keep out bugs and animals, and a front side overflow that’ll keep water from flooding against your outside wall. It also has a flat-back design feature to conveniently sit up against your home, so you don’t have to worry about purchasing any other parts.

Who Should Purchase This?

Those that need a smaller rain barrel, and since it’s made with UV-resistant resin, it won’t fade for years. It’s also linkable to other barrels, and is resistant to rust, mold, mildew and rotting.

Pros:

  • Rustic oak design
  • Comes with a plastic screen and a front side overflow
  • Flat-back design feature to conveniently sit up
  • Resistant to rust, mold and more

Cons:

  • Some have mentioned that the material isn’t particularly sturdy

6. Impressions 50 Gallon Rain Barrel

This beautiful rain barrel can hold 50 gallons of water and is both sturdy and eye-catching. It has a highly reflective surface along with a modern design that’ll fit great into any outdoor space. It also has a two-gallon capacity planter top so you can plant some flowers, vegetables, and more. There’s also an original integrated overflow channel to divert all water to the front of the barrel. The large opening is covered with a fine mesh plastic screen, and there are also two spigot locations.

Who Should Purchase This?

With its gorgeous light granite design, this is perfect for those that want a rain barrel that can fit into any space. It’s also great for those that want to grow plants or vegetables on top of the rain barrel.

Pros:

  • Sturdy and eye-catching
  • Modern design
  • Comes with a two-gallon capacity planter
  • Has a mesh screen and two spigots

Cons:

  • Some have mentioned that there’s a hole in the planter which can clog the spouts

7. Impressions 50 Gallon Rain Barrel

This rain barrel comes in a light granite design with a captivating aesthetic that’s reminiscent of European cobblestone. The deep welled top is great for planting flowers and herbs, while the integrated overflow channel will help in diverting all overflow water to the front of the barrel. The screen will keep out debris and animals, while the two spigot locations mean that you can connect to a bucket or hose with no issues.

Who Should Purchase This?

With its aesthetically pleasing design, this can fit into any space. The deep welled top means that you can plant whatever you desire up top, and you won’t have to worry about your rain barrel overflowing as well.

Pros:

  • Light granite cobblestone-like design
  • Deep welled top that’s great for planting flowers and herbs
  • Integrated overflow channel

Cons:

  • It only comes with one downspout, and you need multiple downspouts to evenly spread water

8. Diverter Kit

If you’ve already got a rain barrel and just need a rain barrel kit, this is a great purchase. It comes with everything you need from a diverter that’ll divert water into the barrels while sending debris and overflowing rain back through, and a spade bit. It’s easy to install and creates a closed system with no access to outside contaminants. It’s environmentally thoughtful and has no harmful additives.

Who Should Purchase This?

Those that already have a rain barrel but want a kit that will help in sending overflowing water back down the rain stout to avoid clogging screens or entering the barrel. It’s also great for those that want something that’s easy to install.

Pros:

  • Easy to install
  • Creates a closed system
  • Has everything you need

Cons:

  • Is relatively pricey

9. Oatey Mystic Rainwater Collection System Fits 2″ X 3″ Residential Downspouts

For those that already have a rain barrel, this mystic rainwater collection system will help in directing rainwater from downspouts into your collection barrel. It’ll divert a maximum amount of rainwater, and the unique built-in reservoir will channel the rainwater from the sides of the downspout while allowing debris down the center. That way, you’ll be collecting rainwater with much less unwanted sediment.

Who Should Purchase This?

Those that don’t want to collect rainwater that has sediment in it. These downspouts are constructed with UV-resistant PVC plastic and can also be painted if you prefer. They also come with a hose for your convenience.

Pros:

  • Unique built-in reservoir
  • Collect rainwater with less sediment
  • Made with UV-resistant PVC plastic

Cons:

  • Not incredibly sturdy

10. FreeGarden Rain Barrel-Lawn and Garden

For a simple rainwater collection barrel, you’ve got this barrel that comes in a sleek flat back square design that’ll naturally fit into any location around your home. It’s easy to take care of and comes complete with a spigot, hose, powder-coated steel screen, and even child locking screws. There’s also a stainless-steel mesh screen to keep mosquitoes out. Everything that you need for years of use.

Who Should Purchase This? 

If you’re not picky about the aesthetic of your rain barrel and want something that’s functional, this is a great purchase. It has everything you need and is made with high-quality materials that are durable and long-lasting

Pros:

  • Sleek flat black square design
  • A stainless steel mesh screen
  • Durable and sturdy

Cons:

  • Some deal with issues of leaking

The Bottom Line

There you have it, some of the best rain barrels that we’ve found. There are plenty of options to choose from, and you’re sure to find a rain barrel that meets your needs. The great thing about these options is that they come in different price points and features. You’re sure to find something that you like from the variety of options listed above.

The post Collect Natural Rain To Water Your Garden With A Water Barrel  appeared first on Home Decorating Trends - Homedit.

Read the whole story
rtreborb
17 days ago
reply
San Antonio, TX
Share this story
Delete

twitter.com/mashable/statu… pic.twitter.com/5dM1FD47M7

1 Comment

This futuristic face shield is a serious upgrade from a bandana face mask pic.twitter.com/Ybb6YzsNLh




146 likes, 58 retweets




107 likes, 16 retweets
Read the whole story
rtreborb
17 days ago
reply
I was laughing until I realized it wasn't a joke.
San Antonio, TX
Share this story
Delete
Next Page of Stories