Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Anybody Sitting Pretty?


Are you "sitting pretty" right now?  Do you live a life without trouble or concern?  hat's a question that was raised in a sermon more than sixty years ago by the founding minister of the church I now pastor.  Using Luke 12:19 -- "I’ll say to myself, You have stored up plenty of goods, enough for several years. Take it easy! Eat, drink, and enjoy yourself" -- as his text, he suggests that no one ultimately ends up "sitting pretty."  No one can just sit back and rest on their laurels.  

Common sense and experience alike tend to explode the belief that anybody can "sit pretty" long.  The facts of life are against the possibility.  Nothing is static here; fortunes fluctuate; riches take wings.  To have and to hold any desirable thing or place or office means perplexity and perchance disappointment and disillusionment, while accident, illness, and death itself crash devastatingly into the prettiest picture, marring it at least for the time.  Those who "sit pretty" today may be prostrate and wretched tomorrow.  Life is a moving, not a still, picture." [The Coming of the Perfect:  And Sixteen Other Sermons Preached in Troublesome Times, (Bethany Press, 1946), p. 41.]
To illustrate his point -- and the reason why I decided to post this -- he points to the American Presidency.  The President of the United States is, as he notes, the most  powerful elective office in the world.  There is a lot of power and prestige inherent in the office, but are they really "sitting pretty?"  Well, for short period perhaps.  Most Presidents, like most preachers, get a "honeymoon," but it doesn't last long.  President Obama had a 70% approval rating for a few days after his inauguration, then, like most Presidents, he got to work and things changed.  So what happens then?  Jones speaks:

Ask the shades of Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, Cleveland, Wilson, and Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Interrogate the living presence of Herbert Hoover.  How about it, gentlemen?  And the answer:  Vicious abuse, venomous criticism, base calumny, malicious misrepresentation, insensate and vitriolic hate.  These go with the honors and distinctions of the presidency, and, to a greater or lesser degree, they are educational and disciplinary experiences for the occupants of what Lincoln called "the Executive Mansion." (p. 42)
Does any of this look familiar?  

Jones notes further that the one President who didn't seem to suffer from this in his life time was Calvin Coolidge, but the reason for this was likely that "Mr. Coolidge instituted no reforms or experiments, and his administration was ringed about by a prosperity which, though unsound and short-lived, was much praised while it lasted."  Oh, and he didn't do anything to offend and thus had the complete support of the commercial interests, which, "can, when offended, can make life miserable for any president."  

What is the point -- anything worth doing will encounter resistance.  So, do what is right.  Stand for something.  Care for the widows and orphans.  Make a difference!  Carpe Diem!

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