From my own personal experience, these old white men are beautiful voices of truth, love and wisdom, and each one of these men have helped me to remember who I am and how I am naturally designed to be a healthy, whole and holy human being. In fact, these men have deeply encouraged me with the encouragement they were encouraged by, inspired and nourished me with truth, love and beauty, and have helped me to imitate the way, the truth and the life of Christ. In my humble opinion, these old white men’s experience, strength and hope deserve our time to listen.
I realize the times we are living in and the cultural, social and political airs seems to be so charged with with such divisiveness, hatred, racism, xenophobia, narcissim, hostility, indifference, apathy and the wide acceptance of pathological lies and manipulation, and the crosshairs of guilt finds itself, more often than not, aimed at older white men. But even now, it is vital that we create the space to listen to individuals whose lives and language are overflowing with peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.
I know it is has become very easy to dismiss old white men but I believe we not only hurt ourselves and put ourselves at great danger by refusing to listen, but we deny ourselves opportunities to hear Truth speak through everyone. Upon believing in Christ, a well studied Johann Hamaan said “To me, every book is a Bible.” Let us not forget that we must listen to every person to hear the Truth pouring out of them to testify whether or not they imitate the Way, the Truth and the Life, and whether we should love them as an enemy or friend.
I discovered Henri Nouwen in 2012, the following is the first quote I saved in my notes.
“For as long as you can remember, you have been a pleaser, depending on others to give you an identity. You need not look at that only in a negative way. You wanted to give your heart to others, and you did so quickly and easily. But now you are being asked to let go of all these self-made props and trust that God is enough for you. You must stop being a pleaser and reclaim your identity as a free self.” -Henri Nouwen
I think I read Life Together in 2014 but I have found Dietrich Bonhoeffer’ Letters and Papers from Prison to be pure gold. “
“The Church is her true self only when she exists for humanity. As a fresh start she should give away all her endowments to the poor and needy. The clergy should live solely on the free-will offerings of their congregations, or possibly engage in some secular calling. She must take her part in the social life of the world, not lording it over men, but helping and serving them. She must tell men, whatever their calling, what it means to live in Christ, to exist for others. And in particular, our own Church will have to take a strong line with the blasphemies of hybris , power-worship, envy and humbug, for these are the roots of evil. She wall have to speak of moderation, purity, confidence, loyalty, steadfastness, patience, discipline, humility, content and modesty. She must not underestimate the importance of human example, which has its origin in the humanity of Jesus, and which is so important in the teaching of St. Paul. It is not abstract argument, but concrete example which gives her word emphasis and power.”
I have Merton in my notes from 2012 but it has only been the last 5 years that he has become a brother.
“Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find it with another.”
“Do not depend on the hope of results. You may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. You gradually struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationship that saves everything.”
“Love seeks one thing only: the good of the one loved. It leaves all the other secondary effects to take care of themselves. Love, therefore, is its own reward.”
This man changed my life. The Ragamuffin Gospel was the Good News that I had so longed to hear.
The story goes that a public sinner was excommunicated and forbidden entry to the church. He took his woes to God. ‘They won’t let me in, Lord, because I am a sinner.’
‘What are you complaining about?’ said God. ‘They won’t let Me in either.” -Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Ou
In 2018 I started reading Emerson.
“Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
I found Thoreau by way of Emerson. He seems to be the reason why I found Emerson. I love Thoreau. I believe he is closely connected to my own story.
“All that is good, is wild and free.” -Thoreau
*Caucasians- if using proper definitions.