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Reflections on Red Muskogee and Blue Baltimore [5-8-15]


Dear Friends:

Thomas Edsall is a regular political and social critic for the NYTimes and his articles are usually full of statistical analyses of deep controversial issues. His tact is to marshal some statistical studies and solicit some responsive comments from carefully selected ‘authorities’ and observers about those issues. A recent article by him entitled Sex, Drugs and Poverty in Red and Blue America was an arresting discussion of and comparison between Red Muskogee, Oklahoma and Blue Baltimore, Maryland. In its own right the article is sobering, but it was especially interesting about Muskogee, Oklahoma, the small city toward which Sarah and lived when we moved to our cottage on Ft. Gibson Lake in eastern Oklahoma. I will say more about Muskogee below.

But the main question posed by Edsall is whether Red/Republican political rhetoric and practice has actually produced social improvements in cities/states in which they have been the primary political power, in comparison to the obviously Blue/Democratic Baltimore of recent infamy in the news. Edsall concludes, after examining a range of social statistics that cities/states in which Red/Republicans have been in charge have not been any more successful at addressing and solving…


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Violent Death and Hope in Oklahoma City [4-22-15]


Dear Friends:

On Sunday, April 19th, Oklahoma City remembered the horror of the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in which 168 persons were killed, including 26 children, and another several hundred injured both in that building and in the surrounding buildings and spaces. But even in that remembering there was a defiant celebration of the city’s dogged refusal either to collapse from the staggering devastation and deaths or turn away from it in attempt to bury it in a forgotten past. Instead the city collectively saw to the care of the wounded and the burying of the dead and then set its mind on creating a different future in which terror and the horror of terror will neither be forgotten nor definitive of the city’s future.

In the coming years partisan politics faded as common aspirations took shape and a new vision of the city beckoned and pulled the politicians and the public into a heretofore unimagined future. The badly demolished Murrah Building was replaced with a grand memorial to the dead and injured and their surviving families that to this day is one of solemn dignity and…


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Christmas Greetings from Sarah and Joe [12-13-14]


Friends:

For years Sarah and I have composed a Christmas Letter sent to family and friends scattered here and there. In posting this year's letter here on the site, I hope it reaches many others and gives blessings.

In the letter preface, we said to friends there and now here: "Hope our Christmas greetings finds you joyfully resolute and forgiving."

 

http://grammaroffaith.com/images/uploads/Christmas Letter 2014(1).pdf

Peace, Joe


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Grammar-Matters in Life and Politics [10-20-14]


 Dear Friends;

While my students had almost grown accustomed to my use of the word ‘grammar’ in my lecturing and discussions, it was still something of a surprise to see my first book entitled A Grammar of Christian Faith: Systematic Explorations in Christian Life and Doctrine. Early in that text I mention Plato’s discussion in his Euthyphro about how words get up and walk around on us. In almost all of his texts Plato understood his prime intellectual task to be searching through and clarifying what we mean when we utter or write sentences and make arguments and claims about ‘what is the case’ or ‘what is true’ in some particular context of controversy.

In some philosophical circles in the last century, it was widely proposed that philosophy was not so much about making truth claims about morals and ultimate matters of fact, but about clarifying our talk about such matters and much more. Or sometimes it would be said that philosophy is about ‘conceptual analysis’ of our language when we talk about the subject matters of ethics, aesthetics, metaphysics, and even in everyday life, such as politics. We need the conceptual or grammatical…


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A Prayer at My High School Class 60th Reunion [9-15-14]


Friends: 

I graduated from Classen High School in Oklahoma City in 1954, and on September 12, 2014 my class had a brief, but well-attended, 60th reunion outdoor picnic. I was asked to give the prayer for the meal, and I prepared the following prayer for that occasion. As it turned out, the lawn had a steep decline and was wet from a rain that had stopped just about an hour before we met. In that urgency of quick changes-in-plan, my thoughtful and profound [:)] prepared prayer was laid aside and a thirty-second quick-prayer was uttered. I am sure my classmates had no clue what a great prayer they had missed: a short meditation on what it meant to graduate from an all-white and privileged high school in 1954 Oklahoma.

On the hunch that there might be some readers out there who graduated from similar institutions, I hope this prayer might touch some chords.

 

O Lord—are you listening to this, or is this ritual exercise in praying merely a shot in the dark? Yes, if you are listening, we ask that question a lot. But…


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