Tikkun Olam

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Fourth Presbyterian Church – Chicago

John Buchanan looks to the Jewish concept “tikkun olam” amid the alarms of 2018. Dr. Buchanan is Pastor Emeritus of Fourth Presbyterian Church-Chicago, past Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA), and former editor of the The Christian Century. “Hold to the Good” is now his pulpit in retirement.

Hold to the Good

For years, at the conclusion of public worship, I have used words that come from St. Paul, written 2,000 years ago.

“Go into the world in peace and courage.
Hold to the Good.
Honor all God’s children.
Love and serve the Lord,
Rejoicing in the power of the Spirit.”

Last Sunday, as a guest preacher at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan, when I came to the words “Hold to the Good” I almost couldn’t go on. The news from Pittsburgh Saturday morning stood as a contradiction to those words and to everything I hold dear and regard as essential to our life together….

…the trust that in the eternal struggle between good and evil, good will ultimately prevail,

…the trust that the heart of the nation I love, its government and politicians, is essentially fair, honest and good,

…the hope that the long arc of history bends, as Martin…

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Working for Something Better

Hold to the Good

A technological error resulted in the previous post being published without the final two paragraphs! Apologies to you all! Below is an updated version of “Working for Something Better” with the entirety of John’s reflections. Thanks for your patience. 

The President’s racism hits me like a body blow. Of course I know that people talk like that, and that both individual and institutional racism remain alive and well. But over the years I have harbored the hope and assumption that progress was being made. The old familiar words for racial minorities are no longer heard in social discourse. We learned, I thought, to stop using the “N” word, first substituting “colored” then “negro”, finally African American which says what needs to be said about origin and identity. Racial quotas and barriers in education, business and the professions slowly came down. And so, at first, I had trouble believing what I…

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With Patience and Courage

Hold to the Good

I had a good idea recently. Stop hyperventilating about Donald Trump and focus instead on American history; really focus. It is helping me and I highly recommend it. There is, of course, so much to hyperventilate and worry about, something new every day: Russian interference in the election and the President’s obvious unconcern, his rejection of the high moral vision expressed in American foreign policy for two and a half centuries and replacing it with a starkly different vision articulated by two top presidential advisers, H.R. McMaster and Gary Cohn in the Wall Street Journal: “The President embarked on his first foreign trip with a clear-eyed outlook that the world is not a ‘global community’ but an arena where nations, nongovernmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage.” That is a very different and harsh vision which David Brooks described as “moral decoupling…morality has nothing to do with anything…

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Like a Mustard Seed

I needed John Buchanan’s commentary this morning. Maybe you do too.

Hold to the Good

I was in a pew with in the Kensington Community Church, United Church of Christ, with our San Diego family last Sunday. The preacher, the Rev. Darryl Kistler, reminded us that Jesus talked a lot about the Kingdom of God and that whenever he was asked about the Kingdom, when it was coming and what it would look like, his answers were enigmatic, not at all what people expected or wanted. “The Kingdom of God is among you,” he said once. On another occasion he said that the Kingdom would be quiet, almost invisible: like a tiny mustard seed or like the yeast that does its important work in bread baking without fanfare.

It was the reminder I needed this morning because I am worried about the particular kingdom I am currently living in. It has not been an easy, hopeful time since the presidential inauguration in January. Not long…

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Building Walls instead of Bridges

buchananThis post by John Buchanan’s “Hold to the Good” is well worth the read IMHO. John is Pastor Emeritus of Fourth Presbyterian Church-Chicago, past Moderator of the Presbyterian Church, and recently retired Publisher of The Christian Century.

Thank you, John, for your fine work than and now.

  • Gordon and Steve

Hold to the Good

I simply do not know what to say about Donald Trump. I grew up in a home where what was going on in the world and in the nation was talked about regularly at the dinner table. Politics was often a spirited discussion between my father, a dyed-in-the-wool Republican and conservative in almost all his opinions and positions, and my mother who I realized was a lot less ideological and more liberal. He didn’t have much good to say about President Roosevelt and Eleanor but she liked them a lot. Dad used to brag that the first words I spoke as a toddler were “Wendell Wilkie”, the Republican presidential candidate in the 1940 election, an election FDR won handily. I still have his Republican campaign lapel pin bearing Wilkie’s picture from that election. Robert Taft, Harold Stassen, Earl Warren, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, and Nelson Rockefeller, were familiar names to…

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