Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants

the blessing tree have just split up and gone their separate ways for the time being, but not before playing 4 great shows in the DC area. these last 2 weeks have been great, finding our new identity in new places, and learning new songs. in the last 3 weeks together we added no less than 10 new songs to our already brimming repetoire. it was wonderful to have the problem of needing to leave out some songs that we love to play, simply because there were new songs that we also love to play.

ben returns to montreal, ashton to st. louis, and jessica to boston, while i will be continuing on tour for the next 6 weeks. for the time being i am in raleigh, NC, and will be playing my next shows (after tonight) in Georgia - my old stomping grounds. cant wait to get back to the fecund south.

one of the most moving moments of this tour was visiting the national mall together. it was a first trip to DC for ben, ashton, and jess, and first time to the mall, for me in about 25 years! there was a kite flying festival, so the sky was filled with bright colors around the washington monument, and a feeling of delight pervaded the park. but the moment that meant the most to me was walking into the lincoln memorial (which i have painted in a mural!) and being greeted by that great, suffering, and heroic image of lincoln, and then to read these words, of hope, humility, and redemption, from his 2nd inaugural address: (pardon my including the whole text, but i can only hope it will touch you as deeply as it did me)

Fellow Countrymen: At this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential office there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement somewhat in detail of a course to be pursued seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself, and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured. On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war—seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came. One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. 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. The Almighty has His own purposes. 'Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.' If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said 'the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether'. With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan – to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.


  1. The context for that speech is so amazing, too. With the Civil War winding down (Lee surrenders a month later), he could have taken on a triumphal tone, but instead he uses the pulpit to remind people of the consequences of evil, that enslavement of others was not God's will, and that neither side could claim God's favor in war.

    And even cooler is that it is during this time Mrs. Eddy makes her discovery. Just a decade later, in the first edition of Science and Health, she stakes Christian Science's claim in this battle for freedom:

    Man's enslavement to the most relentless masters-- passion, selfishness, envy, hatred, and revenge--is conquered only by a mighty struggle. Every hour of delay makes the struggle more severe. If man is not victorious over the passions, they crush out happiness, health, and manhood. Here Christian Science is the sovereign panacea, giving strength to the weakness of mortal mind,--strength from the immortal and omnipotent Mind,--and lifting humanity above itself into purer desires, even into spiritual power and good-will to man. (pg. 407)

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