Between a Rock and a Hard Place
From Chapter 1. Politics and Pretension
“An important, but often ignored, factor is the essentially dehumanizing character of relationships in the political world. People relate to a Senator’s prestige, title, and influence. They assume that his opinions must automatically be more accurate than their own. A Senator grows accustomed to being treated in this reverential way. Within, this can breed the belief that he is more important, more virtuous, and wiser than the average citizens whom he represents.” (p. 16)
From Chapter 2. Power as Servanthood
“There were few people, however, with whom I could honestly share my inner doubts about the wisdom of continuing in political life, and no one in the Senate, with one notable exception….” (p. 25)
From Chapter 3. Prophetic Faithfulness
“Many times I have thought about what I would have done if I had been an eligible draftee during the Vietnam War. I had fought with the Navy in World War II and its aftermath when, in fact, we ended up in Hanoi, just liberated from Japanese occupation.” (p. 36)
From Chapter 4. The Politics of the Cross
“The outset of this [1970s] decade in America was marked with draft resistance, massive protests against war, estrangement from the political process, and strong dissent from America's domestic and foreign policies. ... [Jesus' life] was lived, like ours, amidst social upheaval, ... he was deeply involved in the struggles of his society [and] spoke powerfully ... about the political, social, and economic tensions they confronted in their age. His words and teachings ... are not less relevant to similar questions raised in our world today.” (p. 47)
From Chapter 5. Challenging the Powers
“The natural tendency of any State is toward idolatry and self-glorification.” (p. 74)
From Chapter 6. The Constantinian Legacy
“In dealing specifically with the question of violence and war, [Augustine, 354 – 430 A.D.] constructed the ‘just war’ theory which held, basically, that Christians should fight in wars which were ‘good’ or justifiable.” (p. 87).
From Chapter 7. Civil Religion and Biblical Faith
“As we celebrate our Bicentennial, the dangers of the Church misusing civil religion and confusing the clear Word of biblical faith will be accentuated. Our temptation is to believe that the spiritual motivations evident in many of America’s early settlers can be appropriated today to give the nation an aura of divine sanction and blessing. That is precisely the kind of national idolatry which the Scripture, as we have seen, so forthrightly speaks against. America’s destiny will only be jeopardized by attempts to assure ourselves of a special spiritual preference.” (p. 107)
From Chapter 8. Faith and Violence
“The most agonizing decision I have ever had to make in public office came shortly after my election as Governor in 1958. A man was being held in the penitentiary, convicted of a most gruesome murder, guilty beyond credible doubts, and sentenced to die.
“I was firmly opposed to capital punishment, and had publicly so stated.
“As Governor, I possessed the legal power to commute the man’s sentence.” (p. 109)
“Vietnam fundamentally challenged the synthesis between faith and a nationalistic call to war. Partly because of my past experience in Indochina, I felt that the moral case against our involvement was overwhelming. Christian doctrines allowing for “just wars” would clearly prohibit what we were doing there. As I explored these questions in light of my Christian faith, even more fundamental considerations could not be dismissed. I began asking whether and how a Christian’s active participation in violence and war ever could be justified.” (p. 111)
From Chapter 9. The Puris and the Apologist
“Humanity has tried placing a utopian faith in liberal pacifism; this was crushed by World War II. No longer can we say that pacifism by some will lead to peace for all.” (p. 132)
“When are the interests of a nation, which often mean its economic prosperity, truly more vital that the lives of people? When are we ever justified in repudiating our fundamental conviction about the worth and dignity of all human life?
“…If you kill your neighbor you can be executed. But if you slaughter hundreds of “enemies” who were born not next door, but in another country, you are a hero.” (p. 134)
“Our world is so deeply addicted to violence that it has lost all objectivity about its actual efficacy and value. Having developed such psychological and economic needs for their machines of war, nations are no more capable of exercising detached and wise judgments about the usefulness of violence as opposed to other nonviolent alternatives than a junk could render about heroin.” (p. 136)
“First, war is always a terrible evil. It is never good nor glorious. Nothing about a just war makes that war good; it is never more than a necessary evil, necessary because the consequences of not fighting would be even more evil than war itself…
“In America we do not mourn over past wars; we extol them. Until Vietnam, we tended to view them all as righteous crusades, even when the motives were obviously tarnished with imperialism, as was the case with the Spanish-American War.” (pp. 142-143)
“Our current military posture throughout the globe is call into serious question by a just-war critique. The premises of our “defense” policy rely on being prepared to go to war in protection of our interests in Western Europe and in the Pacific, including our bonds with Japan and other Asian allies. That strategy rests far more on the necessity to protect our own economic and political ties than on preserving a just peace for all concerned….We ignored Americans like Herbert Hoover who warned about the dangers of building a post-war military based on the protection of economic and political interests throughout the globe rather than the prudently circumscribed necessities of our own defense.” (p. 145)
“The final questions I have are whether love ever can motivate violence, whether we can turn to war as a means for building true peace, and whether the ends ever do justify the means. (p. 148)
From Chapter 10. “To See the Earth as it Truly Is”
“The men with me had been through Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Though the war had finally ended, little more than a month had passed, and hatred of the enemy still was fierce. Once ashore in Hiroshima, some of the U.S. servicemen from my ship pulled teeth with gold fillings out of mouths of dead Japanese for souvenirs and pierced earrings. These men would return to America to become lawyers, teachers, ministers and businessmen—patriotic citizens and respected leaders in their communities.
“The devastation I saw in Hiroshima seemed beyond the comprehension of my mind and spirit; I felt jarred in the depths of my soul. I was witnessing the effects of a horror too terrible to imagine. Never would I be the same again; the shock to my conscience registered permanently within me.” (pp. 153-154)
“In a collective sense, we are threatening to become the emotional by-products of society’s one-dimensional exaltation of scientific and technological achievement. Dazzled by material success, we have developed a new religion: the worship of progress itself.” (p. 157)
From Chapter 11. A Liberating Revolution
“Two hundred years ago, the American Revolution was attempting to sweep away the vestiges of political power practiced without equal political representation. The fight for liberty on this continent had begun. It was a struggle that Jefferson believed must have no end; he believed other revolutions might be required about very twenty-five years.
“The birth of American tore away at the traditions of tyranny that had characterized so much of civilization. The barefoot, hungry armies of George Washington fought for the overriding primacy of one concept—the right of any individual to be free from the coercion of abusive and freedom-destroying power. The struggles of those years were toward human liberation. The beginning of the American experiment was for many throughout the world a breath of fresh life for humanity’s purpose and dignity. History was challenged, and changed.” (pp. 169-170)
“People believe the federal government has grown too big; that it spends far too much money to accomplish far too little; that what it does spend it frequently wastes; that it has lost touch with the citizens; that it employs too many presumptuous bureaucrats; and that it blunders on, not in control of itself, nor controlled by others. To an unsettling degree, they are right.
“In both business and government one of the most historically significant phenomena has been the massive growth of bureaucracy. Bureaucrats become specialists in a specialized age.
“They dictate power and they hold real power. They are not elected to their positions; yet their decisions are far reaching, affecting millions of lives daily in both the political and economic spheres of influence.” (p. 175)
“Spawned by institutionalized bureaucracy, this alienation is in large part a function of the massive size of society’s corporate and political apparatus. It is perpetuated by unwillingness toward change, a resistance to chart any new course for government or for work that is a fundamental alternative to the complex centralization of modern institutions. Continued estrangement of modern that surround us. Society rewards those who ‘do not make waves’ and whose answer to every question of purpose is ‘I do not make the rules, I am merely administering them.’
“The great Russian novelist Tolstoy warned early in this century:
“The medieval theology, or the Roman corruption of morals, poisoned only their own people, a small part of mankind; today, electricity, railways and telegraphs spoil the whole world. Everyone makes these things his own. He simply cannot help making his own. Everyone suffering in the same way, is force to the same extent to change his ways of life. All are under the necessity of betraying what is most important for their lives, the understanding of life itself, religion. Machines—to produce what? The telegraph—to dispatch what? Books, papers—to spread what kind of news? Railways—to go to whom and to what place? Millions of people herded together to and subject to a supreme power—to accomplish what?
“These questions remain unanswered, but the technological, industrial and institutional power that provoked Tolstoy’s concern has come to form one foundation of modern life. Through misuse that power, corporate and political, can become anathema to human dignity, freedom and liberation.
“So it was with the lost souls in Kafka’s authoritarian world. Somewhere, sometime—Kafka did not tell us exactly when—tyranny grew; and liberty, humanity, and, finally, civilized culture were destroyed.
“With Kafka, tyranny was not overt; it did not take the form of a screaming madman appealing only to the weakest traits in people. Tyranny as subtle, silent, persuasive, and yet still as deadly. And so it is today.
“The quantum growth of institution power in the industrial age has bred a strange, despondent alienation among those who live by its sufferance. Such alienation threatens to breed, in turn, the tyranny of authoritarianism.” (pp. 183-184)
“As our nations moves into its third century, we find ourselves strangely spiritless at a time when we desperately need renewed spirit for looking forward. …the estrangement experienced by modern humanity flows fundamentally from the loss of true community. … A beginning point for their witness is the setting forth of a model for community…. Economically, socially, racially, and spiritually, such new communities can in the way to the rest of the world, and become true means of hope for us all to build a future of promise and creativity.” (p. 184)
"What is the alternative to the massive growth of both industry and State. I believe it lies, simply and logially, in smalness, through decentralization. It is essential that the processes, within both the political and economic spheres, be returned to dimensions that can be afforded and modeled by the people who now live their lives under the unswerving influence of centralization...
"The mechanism, nationwide, that can be used for such purpose would center in the establishment of neighborhood and community governments...
"Neighborhood government is an alternative that could begin the restoration of liberty, dignity and true democracy to towns, city-neighboroods, and communities -- the heartland of America...
"There is nothing more American that a community-based self-government in which people can deal with their own problems and resources. The town meeting, the voluntary organizations, the P.T.A. and the neighborhood associations have been historic tangible expressions of self-determination and liberty...
"In Washington, D.C. the Adams Morgan Organization is in the process of developing communty self-sufficiency both politically and economically...
"As we have led the industrial revolution, so must we take the leadership in insuring that industrialism does not become and end in itself, with human beings constituting the means toward that achievement." (pp. 178-183)
From Chapter 12. Stewards of Creation
“But in what we have called “progress,” we have misunderstood the intended relationship which we are to have with the earth itself.” (p. 186)
“Contemplation and the preservation of nature go hand in hand. Our tendency to abuse and ruin the created world mirrors our disregard for spiritual reality, both within ourselves and throughout the earth.” (p. 194)
From Chaper 13. Bones and Bounty
“The most grave division in the world today is no longer between the East and the West; the division is not ideological. Rather, the division of the world which must concern us most for the future is economic: the division between the rich and the poor…
“How the rich nations relate to their poor neighbors will determine the prospects for true peace for us all in the decades ahead.” (p. 198)
From the Epilogue
“Our call is to faithfulness, not to efficacy; it is to servanthood rather than power. … From this point flow our mission, outreach, and hope.” (p.217)