Tag Archives: stewardship

“Peace on Earth” – Classic MGM Christmas Cartoon

23 Dec

Peace On Earth. Classic Christmas cartoon. MGM 1939. Anti-war.

Here is my early Christmas gift to all of my friends and visitors to this blog. I hope you take the 8 1/2 minutes to watch this extraordinary classic cartoon. It is distinguished as being the only cartoon to be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. I would describe this as a post-apocalyptic, dystopian-yet-utopian tale that presents the true meaning of the peace associated with the Christmas story in a manner that makes it still as relevant today as it was when it was first released, back in 1939. Think of it as an extended meditation on the twin themes of the “peaceable kingdom” and “turning swords into plowshares” that figure so prominently in the Book of Isaiah; two themes which serve as a backdrop to the story of the first Christmas found in the Gospels of Mathhew and Luke. What is ironic and sad is that this cartoon’s powerful anti-war message was largely forgotten or ignored just two years later when the USA entered the throes of WWII.

I post this now as we enter into this year’s Christmas season in hope that perhaps the message of this cartoon may engender in some people a reconsideration of the subversive but much needed message of Christmas: of the power of non-violent love that was incarnated in the coming of the Christ child some 2000 years ago. As we reflect on the sorrow, injustice and violence that plague our world right now, it should be clear that we need this cartoon’s simple message of peace and hope even more today.

I would love to have you post your reactions and thoughts here once you enjoy this heartwarming cartoon and ruminate over its message. And you are certainly encouraged to share or re-post this!

Merry Christmas and “Peace to All People of Good Will!!!”

Tom

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An Appropriate Prayer for Election Day: “Step Back And Take the Long View”

2 Nov

On this day of the 2010 mid-term elections, I am shortly going to fulfill my civic and spiritual duty by voting my conscience. I will then join others in the effort to encourage other citizens to do the same by making phone calls and/or canvassing neighborhoods. As I embark, I frankly find my characteristic optimism in danger of giving way to despair concerning the probable outcome of this election as I envision the possibility of a rather bleak future for my children and country. Clearly at stake in this election is the election of officials that will assert their power to stem the tide of racism and xenophobia, economic and ecological calamity, the threat of assaults on civil rights and basic freedoms, and an almost certain roll back of some of the much needed health care reforms.

Deep down I realize that, regardless of whatever the immediate voting results might be, I am seeking to join myself with a larger current of grace and providence that trancends not only myself, but even the army of good people involved in effecting positive political change. In the end, as a Christian it is incumbent on me to humbly seek God’s Kingdom and will. Victory is assured. No effort born of a love of Truth and Justice, and motivated by a compassionate concern for my fellow human being and creatures of the earth, will be in vain. I must abandon my fears and renounce even the fruits of my own efforts, patiently trusting in God’s grace to guide this mess to his own end.

Today, then, I offer a prayer written by Roman Catholic Bishop Kenneth Utner for a homily read by Bishop Deardon in 1979. It was preached shortly after the assignation of Archbishop Oscar Romero, who had been assassinated in El Salvador for his stance in solidarity with the poor of that country against the rich and powerful there. The prayer so reflects the spirit and tone of Romero’s own spiritual vision, it is often erroneously attributed to him. With a little adjustment, I find it a perfect prayer to make my own.


It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.

The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is even beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying
that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted,
knowing that they hold future promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation
in realizing that. This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well. It may be incomplete,
but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference
between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.

Amen.

Behind the BP Oil Spill: A Deeper Look (Part 1)

17 Sep

A few weeks back I was contemplating the idiotic nature of the BP oil spill in the Gulf. By then, I had moved past simple anger over the long-term, largely hidden ramifications of the spill. Clearly this held deleterious effects that we all need to come to terms with, not only on the part of those people dependent on the health of the fishing industry (e.g., the fishermen, the consumers, etc.), but also (let us not forget) the immediate and future environmental impact this will have on our coastal region and the countless creatures of the sea. My reflection that day concerned grappling with considering ULTIMATELY WHY this could happen at all!

It is apparent to myself and many others that there clearly exists a destructive underlying philosophy and worldview that most of humankind has bought into, an understanding of which the whole future of our planet depends. Hence I wrote the following in my journal:

The fact that the were galaxies and stars spinning, displaying a symphony of light, and later, on earth, life teeming with one-celled creatures and ants and birds and dragonflies and fish and whales and dinosaurs and ferns and flowers and trees — AEONS BEFORE  humans walked this earth — should dispel any theological assertions that the earth and it’s creatures somehow exist “for Man.”  — (c) Thomas C. Webber  7/26/2010

In my second, future posting on this subject, I will attempt to briefly deconstruct  and trace the origins of this anthropocentric (i.e., human-centered) understanding of the world. I will argue that understanding this worldview ultimately explains why “man-made” disasters such as the BP oil spill have happened, and will likely continue to happen, in the foreseeable future. As the journal entry above hints, religion itself has played a sad and insidious role in the formation of this philosophy.  The good news is that such a bleak view of the future is not inevitable — provided humankind as a whole is willing to undergo a fundamental moral / spiritual revolution. It is my hope to do my small part in helping to raise consciousness so that future generations face a brighter future.

Hope you find my thoughts helpful. Please take time to share your own in return by leaving a comment!