Archive for February, 2013

American Socialism

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

The alienation, the downright visceral frustration, of the new American ideologues, the bone in their craw, is the unacknowledged fact that America has never been an especially capitalist country. The postal system, the land grant provision for public education, the national park system, the Homestead Act, the graduated income tax, the Social Security system, the G. I. Bill — all of these were and are massive distributions or redistributions of wealth meant to benefit the population at large. Even “the electrification of the countryside,” Lenin’s great and unrealized dream, was achieved in America by a federal program begun in 1936. Europeans are generally unaware of the degree to which individual state governments provide education, health care, libraries, and other services that complement or supplement federal programs, as do counties, cities, and other political entities. Since many American states are larger than many countries, their contributions are by no means inconsiderable.

— Marilynne Robinson, When I Was a Child, I Read Books, p. 50-51

God’s Generosity

Monday, February 4th, 2013

Gorgeous, amazing things come into our lives when we are paying attention: mangoes, grandnieces, Bach, ponds. This happens more often when we have as little expectation as possible. If you say, “Well, that’s pretty much what I thought I’d see,” you are in trouble. At that point, you have to ask yourself why you are even here. And if I were you, I would pray “Help.” (See earlier chapter.) Astonishing material and revelation appear in our lives all the time. Let it be. Unto us, so much is given. We just have to be open for business.

Sometimes — oh, just once in a blue moon — I resist being receptive to God’s generosity, because I’m busy with a project and trying to manipulate Him or Her into helping me with it, or with getting my toys fixed or any major discomfort to pass. But God is not a banker or a bean counter. God gives us even more, which is so subversive. God just gives, to us, to you and me. I mean, look at us! Yikes.

God keeps giving, forgiving, and inviting us back. My friend Tom says this is a scandal, and that God has no common sense. God doesn’t say: “I have had it this time. You have taken this course four times and you flunked again. What a joke.” We get to keep starting over. Lives change, sometimes quickly, but usually slowly.

— Anne Lamott, Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers, p. 85-86