October 09, 2010

In response to a clergyman who hoped "the Lord was on our side,"

I am not at all concerned about that, for I know that the Lord is always on the side of the right. But it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation should be on the Lord's side.


- Abraham Lincoln (1864), as remembered by F. B. Carpenter, the artist who painted his portrait that year


Ironically, it seems that this quote of Lincoln's has now gradually been seeping into the woodwork in a different way: to justify an existing course of action. It seems that the simple action of citing this quote, even with the intent to use it to justify a course of action, is considered a sign of humility.

The sentiment comes with a curious amount of hairsplitting for such a straightforward idea: this was said but not that ... or at least, not in the same sentence -- and what is not said in the same breath cannot possibly be connected.

Certainly, one of the things said was a paraphrase of Lincoln's sentiments:
Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right, also for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God.
Sarah Palin goes on to specify
I would never presume to know God's will or to speak God's words, but what Abraham Lincoln had said, and that's a repeat in my comments, was, let us not pray that God is on our side, in a war, or any other time. But let us pray that we are on God's side. That's what that comment was all about, Charlie.
Yet Palin also goes on to say
I believe that there is a plan for this world, and that plan, for this world, is for good. I believe that there is great hope and great potential for every country, to be able to live and be protected within inalienable rights, that I believe are God-given, Charlie. And I believe those are the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That in my worldview is the grand plan.
So we find three points, said in separate breaths:Is it really so unwarranted a stretch to see these three ideas as linked?

The perfect title for a book on theology: Has It Ever Occurred To You That You Might Be Wrong?While we are at it, let's add a fourth idea, unvoiced, yet utterly implicit within the first three statements:
In every conflict between human beings both sides claim God is on their side. One side must be [wrong], and both sides may be wrong. I only pray we are on his side.
- Abraham Lincoln
(Although, if someone out there has figured out a way to conduct a war without killing people on the other side, whether or not one dances carefully around the word "infidel" [someone not faithful (fidel) to God's grand plan]: please, let me and the world know. There are many who will be grateful.)

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