The Ones Whose Stories You Want To Tell To The World

Abraham_Lincoln_giving_his_second_Inaugural_Address_(4_March_1865) John Wilkes Booth Above Him

Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth Second Inaugural Address

The photographs above are of Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address in March 1865.  John Wilkes Booth is in attendance, above Lincoln.  Booth assassinated Lincoln in the next month, April 1865.  Click on the images if you wish to view them larger or in more detail.

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I often write about new ideas I discover, ideas I wish I’d known years ago.

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Slave Owners vs. The Abolitionists

The concept of one man owning another man may seem ridiculous to modern man, but in the mid-19th century, during The American Civil War, the slave owners had the Bible on their side.  There were more specific scriptures condoning and supporting slavery than there were specific scriptures against slave-owning.

For a “textualist” or “fundamentalist,” the Bible still clearly suggests slaves should accept their role as slaves and be subservient.

It took someone like Lincoln, who after the North (and the Abolitionists) won The Civil War, to concede this truth:  the Bible, the authoritative text for the dominant religion in the US, supported the South’s position on slavery.  Lincoln, after the war concluded, in his famous Second Inaugural Address said about the North and the South:

“Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other.  It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged.  The prayers of both could not be answered.  That of neither has been answered fully.”

What persuaded Lincoln to break from the Bible’s clear declarations that slavery was acceptable?  Was Lincoln simply not a religious man?  Was he not a true Christian?  Was he just another politician pandering to changing popular sentiments?  When faced with an ethical dilemma, what were his priorities?  Between “being true to his religion” and “being considerate and kind,” which priority ultimately won in his analysis?  Between “popularity,” “self-interest,” and “the common good,” what persuaded him?

John Wilkes Booth, Lincoln’s assassin, wrote in his diary, after he shot Lincoln, he expected popular opinion and history would agree with Booth and characterize him as a hero.  Booth also thought God and the Bible were on his side.  Booth thought the world would eventually be more interested in telling his story than Lincoln’s.

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To Be Invested Is To Be At Risk

If you are invested in something, you are exposed to the risks associated with it.  Don’t be fooled by the romantic notions of “being fully invested.”  Only invest in the risks you wish to carry.

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How Will You Know If The Person With Whom You Are Involved Is Someone To Pursue As A Significant Other?

Pursue someone who you’d like to tell the world about their story. 

Pursue someone who you’ve known well for a long time, and after knowing them very well, you’d want the world to know more about them and how they spend their days.

If knowing them well, you are not proud of how they behave, then that’s a red flag – no matter how much you love them or feel emotionally attached to them.

And the same principle is true in the other direction.  If you sense the person you’re with is not proud of you, that’s also a red flag.  If they know you well, and don’t wish to tell others about you, that’s a sign of conflict.  For example, if they don’t want to tell others you are their close friend or companion, then they probably are not proud of you.

You will probably do better with someone who wants to acknowledge you to their social world.  If your significant other doesn’t want you to tell anyone you are their signficant other, that’s a red flag.  If they want to portray to the world they are not involved with you, then they probably don’t want to tell the world your story.

As the saying goes, we are judged by the company we keep.  This is because we tend to keep company with others we wish to be associated with.

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Experiencing Withdrawals

I experienced some unexpected withdrawals this week.  For the last several weeks, I’ve been listening to a book on tape while doing daily walks and chores.  Now that I’ve finished the book, I’m surprised how often my brain wants to hear more of the story being told.  It is not so much that I’m interested in the rest of the story.  It is more:  I miss the illusion of a conversation, and I miss the process of someone carefully communicating to me a well-thought-out narrative.

I’ve never liked when conversations (I’ve enjoyed being a part of) have ended.  I never stop missing the conversations.  If you don’t have a similar understanding of this kind of absence or vacuum, it might be analogous to someone saying to you, “You know that song you love?  Well, you can never hear it again.”  Or “You know that book or movie you love?  You’ll never be able to see or read it again.”  Many of us never stop looking for continuations of those “conversations” in our queue.

Feeling that absence, I continue to converse on this blog – for the few readers who, like me, fear that conversations may someday end, and for the few readers who, like me when I visit others’ blogs, feel a sadness when facing indefinite periods of silence.

May your conversations never end . . .

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Some nights I stay up cashing in my bad luck
Some nights I call it a draw”  
   ~ from Fun.’s song “Some Nights,” one of the three most recent songs added to my iPod.

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This blog began in 2006. If you enjoy these posts, and would like to read all of them in order, you can begin here. When you’re done reading one, click on the link to the next post in the lower right corner.

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One thought on “The Ones Whose Stories You Want To Tell To The World

  1. Saying that “the Bible supports slavery” is kind of true. But “the Bible […] supported the South’s position on slavery”? I think that’s more than a stretch; I think it’s completely misleading.

    First off, one observation: The Bible is not a single text. It is a collection of texts written over the course of a thousand or so years by different people with different opinions and different agendas. Like any anthology, it doesn’t speak with a single voice on many matters. That it “contains clear declarations” doesn’t change the fact that it also contains teachings which contradict those earlier declarations.

    The ancient Hebrews kept slaves, as every nation did. The religious/civil code of the Ancient Hebrews set down the rules by which slavery was governed. (I might add, the law had some remarkable differences from how slavery was governed in the United States and Confederate States.)

    The New Testament, however, treated slavery in a very different way, but then it treats all of morality and ethics in a very different way. In modern thinking, the ethics of the New Testament is not deontology (as in the Hebrew system), but virtue ethics. Its treatment of slavery is no different. To Paul of Tarsus, slavery is a legal fact, and Christians are bound by the law. (Christianity, you must understand, was not a state religion at this point; it was never really designed or intended to be that.) But what does it say about you when a Christian owns another Christian?

    Moving from the Bible to the South, it’s worth reading the famous “cornerstone speech” by Alexander Stephens, Vice President of the Confederacy, and see how closely the South’s opinion on slavery (especially when it’s laid out in a candid way; this speech was extemporaneous, unlike the carefully written speeches from most Confederate leaders) really matches up with anything “the Bible supports”.

    So from both directions, I think the argument that the Bible supports the South’s position on slavery is problematic at best. So I don’t think that Lincoln really broke from the Bible at all. Over the course of the Bible, the religion portrayed changes from an ancient tribal religion, to a state religion based on a single ethnic group, to something more personal, mystical and philosophical, to something which incorporated Greek philosophy. Lincoln represents yet another point on the continuing evolution of Christian thought, which extends through to today.


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