A Quint of Quotes #4: Is Democracy Good?

Fellow travelers,

Here is another “Quint of Quotes” from my collection.  Five quotes somewhat related to each other, but not exactly in agreement.  Hope you find them interesting and thought-provoking.  Enjoy!

“Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half of the time.” – E.B. White

“Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” – H.L. Mencken

“Mankind will in time discover that unbridled majorities are as tyrannical and cruel as unlimited despots.” – John Adams

“Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion.” – Edmund Burke

“No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…” – Winston S. Churchill

See previous Quints: [#1], [#2], [#3] and other posts on quotes here.

Flashback Friday: More Than Truth

Last June, I posted “More Than Truth” about how the media are “trying hard to weaponize you and I” with their own particular, filtered versions of what they call truth.    Proverbs 14:21 says “Whoever despises his neighbor is a sinner, but blessed is he who is generous to the poor,” yet we are bombarded by stories grouping people into neighbors we should love and those we shouldn’t because they’re somehow causing the problems of the world through their political or other affiliation.  I struggle with the right balance, and I know others do as well, especially when the voices get louder.  The “Us vs. Them” mentality is everywhere, and while I generally stay away from commenting on daily news flow on this blog, this one couldn’t wait until Rewind Wednesday.

How should the gospel of the kingdom of God impact how we live in this bitter and chaotic environment?  Please read “More Than Truth” which is linked below, which makes a case that we must prioritize some truths over others, and that we also must not allow ourselves to “weaponized” by particular versions of truth.  Proverbs 14:20 – “The poor is disliked even by his neighbor, but the rich has many friends.” – is as true as Proverbs 14:21, but it too can weaponize if taken out of context and used as a prescription, not just a description.  “The wrong truth can make us despise our neighbor, or to support the wrong gospel.”

Don’t let the daily roar of news distract you from the love God has for you and for the people you will interact with face-to-face today.  Instead, pray that you may bring the eternal love of God into the pain of today’s world in a very real way.

Eternity matters, but life is hard. Therefore encourage each other today!

Memorial Day Meditation

In an essay in The Weight of Glory[1], C.S. Lewis wrote: “the sun looks down on nothing half so good as a household laughing together over a meal, or two friends talking over a pint of beer, or a man alone reading a book that interests him.”  As we celebrate Memorial Day here in the United States, I pray you can enjoy what matters most to you and give thanks for others who sacrificed to made it possible.

In the same essay, Lewis says “all economies, politics, laws, armies, and institutions, save insofar as they prolong and multiply such scenes, are a mere ploughing the sand and sowing the ocean.”  These cannot deliver our salvation, yet they are absolutely necessary in this life.  These institutions have “no higher end than to facilitate and safeguard the family, and friendship, and solitude.”  Therefore, give thanks whenever peace and fellowship are possible, and pray for those living in places where they are not.

The essay also includes this quote: “do not let us mistake necessary evils for good.”  What did Lewis mean?  That when things that exist to provide “family, and friendship, and solitude” become an end in themselves “what was undertaken for the sake of health has become itself a new and deadly disease.”  While these things are absolutely needed, we should think of them “only in order to be able to think of something else.”  On the other hand, “a sick society must think much about politics.”  Therefore, give thanks for those who faithfully serve, and for preservation of the freedoms you enjoy.

Most importantly on Memorial Day, give thanks for those who gave up their lives so those they left behind could enjoy “family, and friendship, and solitude.”  Without their sacrifice, we could not celebrate Memorial Day, or any other day.  “Great sacrifices of this private happiness by those who have it may be necessary in order that it may be more widely distributed.”

Jesus said: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) As He gave His life for you, pray also for the ability, willingness, and freedom to sacrifice your own time and talents for others.


[1] Lewis, C.S.  The Weight of Glory (1941).  P. 161-162.

Finding Port for the Good Ship Ambivalent

From yesterday’s post, you’ll know I am reading King’s X: The Oral History, a book chronicling the history of the rock band King’s X, by Greg Prato.  Yesterday, I dove into one of their more bizarre and unknown songs, but today is about the band’s biggest hit.  “It’s Love” got to “#6 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock charts and #1 on the FM Radio Airplay charts. It was our highest-ranking single, ever,”[1] according to Ty Tabor, the band’s guitarist and sometimes lead singer, who wrote the song.

I knew both Christianity and King’s X by reputation before becoming a true fan of either, but both were growing at the same time in me during college.  Having heard of King’s X but never actually heard their music, I once saw one of their CDs in a friend’s dorm room.  My friend said it was his roommate’s but that he wasn’t much of a fan.  Before leaving I picked up the CD and looked at it.  The album, called “Faith, Hope, Love” had a cool cover, and included the song “It’s Love.”

Album cover of “Faith Hope Love” by King’s X

Later, the memory of that album cover made the triad of faith, hope, and love jump out at me whenever I saw it in the Bible, including 1 Corinthians 13:13, which says: “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”  This triad is all over the place and there are many verses explaining the relationships between them.  Seeing these references also made me come back to the band and give them a listen. The rest, as they say, is history.

Before getting into “It’s Love”, you can find the lyrics here, or listen to the song here.  I promise it’s an easier one to listen to than “Six Broken Soldiers” and also that this post will be shorter than yesterdays.

Overall, the message is fairly simple: Ty says he doesn’t know everything, but the thing he wants to share from his experience is that love is the most important thing in life.  Love both keeps the world from falling apart (“holding back the weather”), but also eventually love is what requires a loving God to bring about a plan to fix what’s wrong with the world (“the same will let it go”).

But there’s one line in the song I didn’t really get until reading about it recently: “There’s a ship on the ocean, and I can’t decide if I like it.”

There Ty is, enjoying good company, the beach, and the ocean, but he wasn’t sure about the ship on the ocean.  There’s an ambivalence about the ship, and a suggestion that maybe it’s an exception to the overall message of “love,” but I couldn’t figure out more than that.  I wasn’t alone in not getting it.

In the book, Ty says his brother didn’t understand the line, so he explained: “my point was, man’s progress is wonderful and everything, but when the ship turns over and poisons all the fish, that’s not so wonderful. So, it was me contemplating all that we do and all that I’m happy with about it, but how much destruction it causes. It’s yet again one of those socially conscious songs. I just had to say it.”[2]  It was almost that Ty was struggling with whether love applied when someone does something that “poisons all the fish.”  In tricky, real-life situations, does love still rule?  Ty doesn’t seem sure.

Contemplating What is Crooked
Yesterday I quoted Romans about Paul’s inner conflict, but later in the same chapter, Paul wrote: “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.” (Romans 7:21). This idea that even our best efforts at goodness in this world are tainted is not a new one.  Solomon referred to something similar twice in the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes, in 1:15 – “What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be counted.”  And also in 7:13 – “Consider the work of God: who can make straight what he has made crooked?

What Paul and Solomon are getting at is that there are things in this world, including us, that will remain crooked and unfixed until God’s plan is completed in eternity.  The Bible tells us that all of creation is cursed by God because of our sin.  Some things are wrong because God has made them so.  Until a person establishes this in their own heart and mind, they will chase the wind of worldly utopia until they become hopelessly ambivalent, or continue on, highly motivated but frustrated and angry.  The phrase “under the sun” comes up 28 times in the book of Ecclesiastes (by my quick count) and refers generally to the actions of mankind done without consideration of God’s wisdom or eternal consequences.  Everything done “under the sun” is lacking, and none of it can provide the satisfaction and meaning true wisdom can deliver.

It’s Still Love
Since “under the sun”, even good things come with a cost, what do we do?  We can’t be ambivalent to those costs to the point of not caring, but we also can’t be so committed to removing these costs that our efforts become another cost.  The world is broken, but also people are broken, and how we treat them matters.

Despite any ambivalence about the ship on the ocean, it’s still “love that holds it all together.”  Therefore, the priority is always to focus on obedience and thankfulness to God, who tells us to love, not on utopian alternatives to God that tell us something is more important than loving every one of our fellow humans.  The proverbial ship on the ocean and its problems are seen by God and are part of His plan.  He cares about our conflicts and paradoxes, but still tells us to have faith, hope, and love.

However, rejection of love means prioritizing our own, temporary, interests and decide who we should love and who we should hate based on that.  One side will defend the necessity of the ship – and more ships – at all costs, because it’s good for the economy.  They can make money and enjoy what little time on earth they have.  The other side will condemn those who poison the fish, or might possibly poison fish in the future, because this earth is all they have, and they want to protect it.  “Under the sun” there is no nuance or ambivalence about the ship, but our opinion of the ship determines everything, including whether we can enjoy the beach and the ocean that we do have.

The answer lies not in some abstract move to the center politically, but in knowing that there is more than what exists “under the sun.”  Regardless of the conflicts inherent in living with broken people in a broken world, faith in God to save us, hope in His provision of a perfect future, and the priority of love for God and others, is always the right answer.  We can be a little ambivalent about the ship on the ocean, but we should have no ambivalence about love, nor about its partners, faith and hope.  We should pursue them with everything God has gifted us with and give Him the glory.  We can’t fix all the world’s problems, but we can show the world the character of its Creator and show it the way to a better world.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”  Always.


[1] Prato, Greg. King’s X: The Oral History (2019).  P. 105.
[2] Prato, Greg. King’s X: The Oral History (2019).  P. 95.

The Law of the Medes and Persians Has Been Revoked

During the Old Testament book of Daniel, God’s people were in exile in Babylon, and a group of Babylonian officials really wanted to make a point.  They wanted to do this so badly, that it’s recorded several times in just a few verses of the book of Daniel, chapter 6:

Verse 8: “Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.”
Verse 12: “Then they came near and said before the king, concerning the injunction, “O king! Did you not sign an injunction, that anyone who makes petition to any god or man within thirty days except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?” The king answered and said, “The thing stands fast, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked.
Verse 15: “Then these men came by agreement to the king and said to the king, “Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no injunction or ordinance that the king establishes can be changed.”
Verse 17: “And a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel.” [bold emphasis mine]

What provoked them to insist on this law that “cannot be revoked”?

They decided Daniel (of the book’s name) needed to be persecuted for successfully contributing to the welfare of Babylon, while humbly giving God the glory for all his gifts, abilities, and success.  He was making them, and their gods, look bad.  It is remarkably similar to the reasons Jesus saw opposition.  Daniel, a Jewish exile, was about to get a big promotion and they wanted to sabotage it.  Knowing Daniel openly prayed three times a day, the officials conspired and convinced the king to sign a law “that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions.” (Verse 7).  Either Daniel gives glory to Babylon, or he dies.  Forcing Daniel to change his worship would prove that an unjust law was more important to him than his God.

What did Daniel do in response?  Nothing new.  He continued his standard practice of worship, praying in front of his open windows, probably including prayers for the welfare of Babylon[1].  Verse 10 says Daniel acted “as he had done previously,” which indicates he wasn’t snubbing his nose at his government or its new rule.  His faithfulness was more important to him than an unjust law, even when he didn’t know God would deliver him from the lions.  Daniel didn’t just come to God when he thought he needed God; he knew he needed God at all times.

Therefore, when the officials were provoked, it was an outcome of Daniel’s success and prayer, not Daniel’s intent.  Basic, consistent faithfulness to a higher power can sometimes irritate people, especially lower powers who think their rule “cannot be revoked,” even when it’s not very effective.

Following the law, the king had Daniel thrown into the den of lions, but “God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths.”  Daniel said he was saved because he had faithfully served his God and the king (verse 22), not because he was a provocative protester.

Seeing Daniel delivered by God, King Darius tore up the law that “cannot be revoked,” but even if Daniel had not been rescued from the lions, the laws would still have been revoked.  The kingdom of the Medes and Persians no longer exists.  Likewise at the end of time every law of every Babylon will be no more.  However, God’s promise of blessing for all who will worship Him and seek His will still stands.  On this promise Daniel stood, or rather, kneeled, and served his God and his countrymen, even in exile.

The law of loving service to neighbor will never be revoked, wherever and whenever you live, and even in heaven!  In the words of G.K. Chesterton, “Men did not love Rome because she was great. She was great because they had loved her.”[2]


[1] Jeremiah 29:7 says: “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare,” referring to Babylon.
[2] Chesterton, G.K. Orthodoxy (1908).  P. 103.