First, let me congratulate the Roman Catholic Church on its new Pope Francis. From what I have read he is an excellent choice for this time in the Church’s history. I have been praying that God would lead the Cardinals to choose someone who will faithfully hew to Scripture in his theology and focus the Church on Jesus’ Great Commission. That seems to be what has happened here.
As interesting, it seems to me that Benedict’s resignation and Francis’ humility suggests the Church may be moving away from doctrines such as papal infallibility. Time will tell.
Dr. Ben Carson got a lot of attention after his homily at the National Prayer Breakfast the other day.
Some people were outraged that he would say things contrary to President Obama’s agenda while the President was sitting there. That seems silly to me. Since when should a president be exempt from hearing contrary points of view? Dr. Carson’s remarks were mostly taken from his new book, “America the Beautiful: Rediscovering What Made This Nation Great.” Between that and the fact that Carson has spoken at the Prayer Breakfast before, I’m sure the organizers knew exactly what they were getting.
But Carson’s remarks were hardly attacking the President, nor were they insulting to him. That’s not what Carson does. Instead, he is a very gentle soul with a profound belief in God and a deep confidence that God is active in the affairs of men. This confidence is born out of his life’s experience, which is chronicled in his biography, “Gifted Hands” and a movie by the same name in which Cuba Gooding Jr. plays Dr. Carson.
I cannot recommend the movie highly enough. It is the story of a boy who grew up in the slums of Detroit and Boston, a lousy student, and strong candidate for a life of crime and prison. But God worked through his illiterate mother to turn his life to one of service. He became a renowned pediatric neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins hospital in Baltimore. God is at work in every stage of his journey – and he knows it.
His book is similar. His testimony is not partisan, but it is deeply principled, identifying how God was at work in the American experience, mostly because the Founders asked for His assistance. He writes –
“We have been favored by God because we have acknowledged him, but as the forces of political correctness attempt to push God out of our lives, we must have the courage to resist them. That does not mean that we should retaliate or manifest the same intolerance they have shown. It does mean. However, that we should stand up and be counted.”
Most of the book is a pretty elementary civics lesson, but it also includes quite a few examples and quotes I was not familiar with, especially about the contributions to science and technology of African Americans over the years. He is also very fond of Ben Franklin and disputes the idea that Franklin was irreligious. He includes a very fine quote from Franklin when the Constitutional Convention was on the verge of floundering. Part of it reads –
“We had been assured, sir, in the sacred writings, that ‘except the Lord build the house they labor in vain that build it.’ I firmly believe this and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel: we shall be divided by our partial local interests, our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves have become a reproach and byword down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing governments by human wisdom and leave it to chance, war, and conquest.
“I therefore beg leave to move – that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings upon our deliberations, be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service.”
Overall the book is a very fine reminder of what has made America succeed and how that success might be as ruined as every other successful society in world history has done – too much dependency and not enough initiative, too much arrogance and not enough humility, too much favoritism and not enough impartiality, too much blaming others and not enough taking responsibility.
Many people have been so impressed by Carson that they want him to run for president. This is a terrible idea. The one thing Carson is decidedly not is a politician. Elsewhere on the NCPA Blog I will be discussing the one section of the book where he makes policy recommendations (health reform). They are not well thought through.
We do not need another politician. What we could use, however, is a moral leader of the stature of Billy Graham or Martin Luther King, Jr. I think Dr. Carson might fill that need, reminding us of eternal truths that are written in Scripture and reflected, however imperfectly, in our Declaration and our Constitution.