Posts Tagged Carter

Faith: A Journey for All – Jimmy Carter – ethicsdaily.com

 

Mitch Carnell – 

'Faith: A Journey for All' | Mitch Carnell, Jimmy Carter, Book Reviews, Baptists, Social Justice

Jimmy Carter comes down solidly on the side of social justice with our obligations to the poor and disenfranchised at the forefront, Carnell says. (Photo: EthicsDaily.com)

One of my birthday presents this year was accompanied by a great compliment.

My son gave me Jimmy Carter’s new book, “Faith: A Journey for All,” and said, “Dad, this sounds like you.”

It was an over-the-top compliment, but I sincerely hope that it is true.

There is not much that surprises in this new volume, but it does remind me of the Baptist faith that surrounded me in my formative years.

Yes, segregation was in full flower, but, even then, it was beginning to fray at the edges.

My parents were products of their time and place, but to their everlasting credit, they never taught my sister and me to hate. They knew that we would not live in the same world that they had experienced.

The message of love for all people was preached from the pulpit every Sunday, just not practiced toward the local African-American population. One of the great ironies was that we took our offering to support missions for those living in Africa.

Carter touches on all of the hot-button issues, especially the struggles within the Southern Baptist Convention that moved this great body from a position where the Bible was the only creed to a hard-and-fast creedal denomination.

The before-unassailable belief in soul competence of the individual was trampled along with the time-honored independence of the local congregation.

Carter says that three words describe this type of fundamentalism: pride, domination and exclusion.

He contrasts these views with the teachings of Jesus: humility, servanthood of leaders and breaking down barriers between people.

The most important statement in the book is, “Christians should be known by our love and our laughter.”

Carter’s love for every human being and the planet shines through loud and clear.

Considering the current arguments against social justice, Carter comes down solidly on the side of social justice with our obligations to the poor and disenfranchised at the forefront.

The press often wondered how such a spirit like Jimmy Carter’s could emerge from what most considered a dark, provincial, unsophisticated background.

If one grew up in the same Southern Baptist churches at the time that Carter and I did, it is not a mystery.

The gospel lessons were presented in such a way that they took hold in a receptive soul.

There was no doubt in my young mind that God loves every human being. The problem was reconciling the teachings with the practices I saw around me.

Jimmy Carter had the great influence of his mother and her social involvement as a model.

In addition to his mother, he was greatly influenced by the theological writings of Karl Barth, William Sloane Coffin, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Abraham Joshua Herschel, Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich.

He also gives great credit for his way of thinking to Millard and Linda Fuller, Dr. Bill Foege and Admiral Hyman Rickover.

One name on his list of influencers that surprises me is that of his brother, Billy. He pays great tribute to him.

Carter has taught Sunday School classes for most of his adult life. He has written extensively about his faith and has practiced his humanity before the entire world.

In this book, he states his basic philosophy very succinctly, “My general attitude toward life is that of thanksgiving and joy, not anxiety or fear. In my weekly Bible lessons at our church, I teach that our Creator God is available at any moment to any of us for guidance, solace, forgiveness or to meet other personal needs.”

He also emphasizes the importance of prayer in his life. At 93 years old, Jimmy Carter states, “Faith is not just a noun, but a verb.”

I cannot recommend this book too highly. Reading it and reflecting on its contents constitute pure joy.

Mitch Carnell is a member of First Baptist Church of Charleston, South Carolina. He is the author of “Our Father: Discovering Family.” His writings can also be found at MitchCarnell.com.

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Prayers for President Jimmy Carter by Paul Brandeis Raushenbush – Day 1

August 14, 2015

Jimmy Carter is no stranger to cancer. In his remarkable book A Full Life: Reflections at 90 he writes of how he lost his father and two siblings to pancreatic cancer, all before they reached 60.

Now the 39th president of the United States has revealed that he too has cancer and will undergo treatment in Atlanta. Many of us who have long admired Jimmy Carter have responded with appropriate worry and call for prayer.

Given his faith, I am sure these prayers are appreciated and that the president hopes and even expects to make a full recovery. I had the privilege of interviewing the president just two weeks ago and he hardly sounded like someone who was weary of this life — if only because he told me that each day he grows more in love with Roselyn, his wife of 69 years.

However, perhaps because he has lived such a remarkable life, the president did also not appear to fear death. When I asked him about his own understanding of what happens to us when we die and what constitutes a good death he responded:

Well, I’m a Christian and I share the same faith that we all have that through our faith in Jesus Christ we are given permanent life after we are dead in some form that we don’t comprehend. I think the most simple explanation of it is Paul’s use of the seed that is like an acorn that is planted and it becomes a tree so you don’t even know what the future will be in your heavenly life. So I don’t try to assess exactly what it will be but I feel completely confident about it.

But also the basic principle in Christianity is that we don’t start living our future life after we are dead, but we start living our better future life now. And start to let our religious faith and our moral values and ambitions be shaped to do what we think is ultimately better for other people, not in some future day but in the life that we lead today.

One of the best examples of that was given to me by a Cuban-American pastor with whom I did one of my mission trips and his advice to me was that we must love God and love the person in front of us at any particular time, that’s a very profound theological statement I think and
pretty much encapsulates my religious beliefs.

While I join people around the world in wishing President Carter a full recovery and pray for his health, I am also inspired by his faith in the face of death, and his reminder to recognize that every day in this life is an opportunity to love God and love our neighbor, and to plant a seed that grows a beautiful tree in this life and in the life to come.

Jimmy Carter has spent his life planting such seeds with his presidency, his peace activism, his health work and his deep love for his friends and family. We all pray that he will have many years in front of him to plant many more seeds of peace and love in this world before he passes onto the next.

Paul Raushenbush wrote the Foreword to my book, Christian Civility in an Uncivil World, published by SmythandHelwys.

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Profiles in Goodwill – Mitch Carnell – www.ethicsdaily.com

Profiles in Goodwill: Mitch CarnellEthicsDaily Staff

Profiles in Goodwill: Mitch Carnell | Mitch Carnell, Profiles in Goodwill, EthicsDaily Staff

Mitch Carnell, an EthicsDaily.com columnist, admires Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jimmy Carter and Pope Francis.

Mitch Carnell is a consultant specializing in effective communication and the founder of the Say Something Nice Day and the Say Something Nice Sunday movements.

Mitch’s articles that have appeared on EthicsDaily.com are available here.

1. Where did you grow up?

Woodruff, South Carolina.

2. What is your favorite Bible verse, book or story? Why?

Matthew 22:37-39.

I think it sums up all of Scripture and gives us unmistakable guidance.

3. What is your favorite movie? Why?

“Driving Miss Daisy.”

It demonstrates in a beautiful way how love and respect can overcome racial, cultural and religious biases.

4. Who are three of the people you admire?

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jimmy Carter and Pope Francis.

5. What is one little known fact about yourself?

I taught practical speech to Cuban refugees in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Because of the popularity of the television program, “Sing Along with Mitch,” it quickly became known as “Speak Along with Mitch.”

 

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Happy Birthday, Jimmy Carter

Today former president Jimmy Carter is 86 years young. I resisted the urge to call him Mr. President because he insists that we have only one president at a time. He is a remarkable man by any measure. There are those who think that he was not a very good president. I think time will prove them wrong. What I celebrate is the man himself – his great sense of personal and national values and his relentless search for a lasting peace. He is the kind of compasionate Christian I would like to be. When I think of Jimmy Carter, I think of a man who has been true to his beliefs for his entire life. In addition to that he is one heck of a Sunday school teacher. In March of this year, Carol and I had the great pleasure of hearing him teach at the Plains Baptist Church.

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