For Thanksgiving we went the the movie Lincoln. It was an amazing film. Having lived less than an hour from Lincoln's Springfield home and living in Lincoln, IL, my wife and I have an interest in him. The city of Lincoln was a place where he was on the court circuit. He christened it with watermelon juice (there is a bronze plaque to mark the spot, and yes it is shaped like a piece of watermelon). I am no expert on Lincoln. I have been to New Salem, Springfield, and his grave. I have read a lot about him, but there so much I don't know about him, really.
I came away from the movie with several, unrelated reaction:
The sure power of his will and the commitment he had to the Union is mind boggling. More than anything he wanted to save the Union. The energy he consumed and the decision that he made were amazing. Few leaders have had the ability to see things as he did.
I was profoundly trouble to hear the arguments against the 13th amendment among the people of that era. I knew about the South that their view about blacks and women. But to hear the things said in the House of Representatives was unsetting. Aside from the names used for people, the whole notion of inferior human beings from the lips of Northern leaders caught me off guard.
I have argued for some time (and not everyone will like this idea) that America is not a Christian nation, but a nation of Christians. Too many people like couch current political opinion as contrary to our national heritage. Well, this time of our history is one I am glad to have in our past. Too many people hold shadows of those attitudes. There is nothing Christian about those viewpoint, It is but one example (or a series of examples) of the nonChrisitan heritage of America.
I could go on, but as I came away from the showing I made some personal commitments related to my own spiritual journey. I have for most of my adult life reflected upon and evaluted the attitudes I have toward others. I check regularly the vocabulary I use, sometimes words have become part of my vocabulary that I have not understood as being inappropriate and insulting. Yet, more important than the word I carelessly use, is the attitude I have toward things like war, dignity, and the like. We are, I am, great a saying love the sinner, hate the sin. Yet that is so hard. And finding the balance is hard too. The Word of God says certain things are wrong. Plan and simple. Yet, those who do them are loved by God. That brings me to what it means to be loved by God. I love my grandkids, but don't let them do whatever they want just because I love them. There is a standard to behavior and attitude I expect from them. I expect manners: "Please," "thank you," and "may I". Love does not mean "whatever."
Lincoln took a stand, on the Union, on Slavery, on Dignity. Yet, his attitude toward those who surrendered was enlightened. While some wanted to punish, not Lincoln. Maybe that is the attitude I am trying to foster in myself. Understanding, yes. Forgiveness, yes. Love, yes. Truth, yes. I guess I just want most of all to be a Christian. I am an American by birth. I look to a higher kingdom, an unshakeable kingdom, as I mentioned on Sunday. It is a doable thing, but not always an easy thing, and I think not always a popular thing.