Monday, May 28, 2012

A Letter to America

I determined to read David Boren's A Letter to America - to start off a summer full of reading!  Delighted to consider it's insight this Memorial Day Weekend.

Dr. Boren credentials are impeccable - a Rhodes Scholar, currently President of the University of Oklahoma, Boren was the longest-serving chairman of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee.

The book was simple to read - as the genre is, well, like a letter!  The book was longer and more researched than it should have been to have the same kind of impact, in my opinion.  In other words, if it is to be a letter, it needed to read even more like a letter!   I think the intent of the book was to create a tide of change, perhaps like other famous "letters" - no doubt Letters from the Birmingham Jail.

Having noted that, I would say there is much to applaud in Boren's text.

I'll highlight a series of quotes of note - for which there is extended narrative if a reader is interested:
"Instead, our foreign policy has been marked by ad hoc interventions and relationships."  (24)

" 'The wind of change is blowing,' Macmillan said.  'We must all accept it as a fact, and our national policies must take account of it."  Noting a famous speech in the U.K. from 1960.  (30)

"We should begin by placing as much emphasis on building our nonmilitary strength as we have placed on building our military might . . . .  We need to sharpen and hone our diplomatic strengths."  (31) 

"Environmental policy is a fourth area of importance to improving our tattered relations with other nations."  (37) [It was somewhat surprising to me to read this, as I have lived in Oklahoma for 14 years and find Oklahomans, in general, to be completely disengaged from environmental care or concern, or even awareness.  I will say, my personal experiences on the campus of the University of Oklahoma are a beacon of hope for Oklahomans - and perhaps as President of OU, Boren has helped shaped this ethic for that campus.]

"The disconnect between Washington [D.C.] and the people was very surprising to me when I quite the U.S. Senate to come home to be an educator.  Even though throughout my Senate Career I returned to Oklahoma at least forty times a year to hold meetings with my constituents, I later realized that I had been living in an artificial environment."  (58)

"We [the U.S. as national power] must improve our ability to listen." (105)

"We must be prepared to talk with and listen to all other nations, including those that appear to be hostile.  Conditions change and alliances constantly shift. . . . Talking with adversaries is always valuable . . . ." (106)

Boren invites us to consider a more conversational, participatory, informed population, willing to extend the influence of American ideals in more charitable ways.

Boren is more committed to an active and engaged militarism than I, but his framework of being willing to consider more conversational and open foreign policy, along with more non-military options for moving forward with our world neighbors is important.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The LORD's Invitation to Love!


I finished my 2nd book! Time to celebrate!

Design work will be completed by Publisher - & awaiting the Foreword.

The book is about "You shall love the LORD . . ." from Deuteronomy 6:4-9.

Chapter 1 (in pre-publication copy) can be read at this link!  (More details to follow, but should be published by August.)

Since the book includes a focus that includes children, it is a delight to finish this project on this day, May 24th, 2012 - Cambree's 15th Birthday!

Extended blessings!

And - my first endorsement (from someone who has had the full-copy - not just the excerpt! ha!)

I would highly recommend Marty Michelson’s book, The Greatest Commandment, to anyone who desires not only to hear and read scripture, but also to have scripture speak into their everyday life. To all who want to walk their biblical talk, this book was written for you. If you have ears, hear!

Patrick Allen, PhD
George Fox University

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wendell Berry is priceless


Wendell Berry is hugely important.  His words, his writings, his ethic.

He talks about life, economy, place, and culture.

I am excerpting the final words of his extended lecture for the National Endowment for the Humanities:

Awards & Honors: 2012 Jefferson Lecturer

Wendell E. Berry Lecture

“It All Turns On Affection”

Transcript of the Lecture Here.

Web Video of the Lecture Here.

His final words here:

But I would insist that the economic arts are just as honorably and authentically refinable as the fine arts. And so I am nominating economy for an equal standing among the arts and humanities. I mean, not economics, but economy, the making of the human household upon the earth: the arts of adapting kindly the many human households to the earth’s many ecosystems and human neighborhoods. This is the economy that the most public and influential economists never talk about, the economy that is the primary vocation and responsibility of every one of us.


My grandparents were fortunate. They survived their debts and kept their farm—finally, and almost too late, with help from my father, who had begun his law practice in the county seat. But in the century and more since that hard year of 1907, millions of others have not been so fortunate. Owing largely to economic constraints, they have lost their hold on the land, and the land has lost its hold on them. They have entered into the trial of displacement and scattering that we try to dignify as “mobility.”

Even so, land and people have suffered together, as invariably they must. Under the rule of industrial economics, the land, our country, has been pillaged for the enrichment, supposedly, of those humans who have claimed the right to own or exploit it without limit. Of the land-community much has been consumed, much has been wasted, almost nothing has flourished.

But this has not been inevitable. We do not have to live as if we are alone.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

God is not a factionalist, says Desmond Tutu

Insight from Desmond Tutu on working for a better world at this Washington Post Article.

Among some quotes:

Because we live in a pluralistic, global world we need to be able to listen to other viewpoints, place ourselves in the shoes of others, and respond fairly, magnanimously and pragmatically.

God is not a factionalist. Surely St. Peter does not stand at the Pearly Gates and  grant tickets only to Lutherans or Hasidics or Sunnis or Jains… or to Christians, but not to Buddhists?

The ethic of reciprocity enjoins us to treat others as we would like others to treat us.

Toward eupan ~

~ marty alan michelson, ph.d.