Why Leadings?

Not to lead, but to be led            -- by the Holy Spirit.

See Leader, Servant, or Slave? in the section below, "Walking the Walk".

Jack in Denali National Park, 2012.

God's Wrath

Why was Sodom destroyed? Ezekiel tells us in chapter 16, verse 49: "This was the sin of your sister, Sodom: Pride, full-ness of bread, and abundance of idleness. Neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy."

That's also why Jerusalem was destroyed.

And now, with greed as our national virtue, what hope is there for the United States of America? We are afflicted by imperialistic pride, obesity, and entertainment addiction, and we are all called to do our part to "strengthen the hand of the poor and needy".

"Strengthen the hand" is the King James wording. Modern translations say "help the poor and needy." And there's a world of difference between the two. Helping the poor = as little as throwing some cash in the Salvation Army bucket at Christmas time. That's charity. It's doing for, not doing with.

My Grandmother was right about charity. On a below-zero day, she went out on the back porch with a skillet to throw hot grease on the back-yard snow. She shivered as she re-entered the kitchen and said, "Wooooh, colder than charity."

Strengthening the hand is much different. We get personally involved with another person who needs help, and we work with her or him to get the needed help. That's risky. You're vulnerable. It takes prayer, time and patience. You need knowledge and wisdom from the LORD. There are great rewards, however. You get a brother or sister.

Strengthening the hand is great work for our churches -- which we ignore far more often than we perform. Why? Because we're afflicted with the Ameri-can curse of individualism. Christians are to be a tribe -- a tribe that takes care of each other. In Galatians 6:16, Paul calls us "the Israel of God" -- the new 13th tribe.

Jesus said, "The poor you shall always have with you." He didn't mean that as a curse -- the notion that the poor are an inevi-table nuisance and expense, to be hidden in the slums. Rather, He was saying, "You shall always be among the poor."

When you strengthen hands, you fulfill Deuteronomy 15:4-5: "However, there need be no poor people among you, for in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the LORD your God . . ." It's a glorious responsibility and promise.

And how do prosperous Americans fulfill that promise? Generally, by making sure they have no contact with people who are poor -- and we have been that way from our beginnings in the 17th century. Early villages in Massachusetts solved the problem by out-lawing poor people. Today, we deal with the same problem by confining the poor in urban reservations, our slums.

As the Supreme Court Bailiff says at the beginning of each session, "God save the United States of America..." 



In an anthology, I recently ran across a poem, written in the 1920’s, that surprised me. Can you guess the author?


I like Americans.

They are so unlike Canadians.

They do not take their policemen seriously.

They come to Montreal to drink.

Not to criticize.

They claim they won the war. 1

But they know at heart that they didn’t.

They have such respect for Englishmen.

They like to live abroad.

They do not brag about how they take baths.

But they take them.

Their teeth are so good.

And they wear B.V.D.’s all the year round. 2

I wish they didn’t brag about it.

They have the second best navy in the world.

But they never mention it.

They would like to have Henry Ford for president. 3

But they will not elect him.

They saw through Bill Bryan. 4

They have gotten tired of Billy Sunday. 5

Their men have such funny hair cuts.

They are hard to suck in on Europe. 6

They have been there once.

They produced Barney Google, Mutt and Jeff.

And Jiggs. 7

They do not hang lady murderers.

They put them in vaudeville. 8

They read the Saturday Evening Post.

And believe in Santa Claus.

When they make money

They make lots of money.

They are fine people.


On first reading, I assumed that the author was Canadian. But he wasn’t. Instead, he was born and raised in Oak Park, Illinois. His family summered near Charlevoix, Michigan, where we lived when I was in junior high. He drove ambulance for a while, and after the war he was the Paris stringer for the Toronto Star. So, he had perspective on both Canadians and their cousins to the south.


His name?


Ernest Hemingway



I’m 79, so the references in the poem are clear to me. Annotations are provided if you find Hemingway’s references obscure:


1.  World War I.  (1914 to 1918)

2.  BVD’s—the original version of today’s underwear. In contrast to Canadian long johns.

3.  Henry Ford—founder and president of the Ford Motor Co.

4.  William Jennings Bryan—Democratic candidate for president in 1896, 1900 and 1908.

5.  Billy Sunday—major league outfielder who became the Nation’s leading evangelist in

     the early decades of the 20th century.

6.  “suck in”—to fool or bamboozle.

7.  Comic strips.

8.  Murderesses in vaudeville? See for example the musical, Chicago.


Source for "I Like Americans" is Poems for America, edited by Carmela Ciuraru, Scribner Poetry, 2002.


Purpose of this blog is to compile books for my grandchildren to read in 25 years.


I welcome your reactions.  Please click below on "Post a Comment".