Hope in Troubling Times

How can we deal with all the negative things swirling around us?  A natural tendency is to hunker down and avoid the bad vibrations. Just wait out the negative things until positive things are possible.

Of course, if everyone does this, anything positive could be a long time coming.  Michael Curry has a proposal. Curry is the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church and preaches fairly often at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC.

I have met Bishop Curry a couple of times during services at the Cathedral. Once he provided me a personal blessing. This experience and his compelling sermons have made me a fan of Michael Curry. No one else can pause during a thoughtful sermon to a thousand or more Episcopalians and say, “I could use an Amen right now,” and enthusiastically receive it.

Bishop Curry’s new book is Love Is the Way: Holding on to Hope in Troubling Times (Avery, 2020).  He focuses on agape love — brotherly love, affection, caring, good will, and benevolence — and how it can change the world.  His argument is compelling, just like his sermons.

But this book is not a philosophical treatise. It is the story of Michael Curry’s life as a preacher, mentor, and a black man making a difference in the world. It is laced with very moving stories.  Many are about his experiences, often involving little known people who epitomize his approach to life.

Curry’s book will cause you to explore your own values and beliefs, including the role played by faith.  This includes defining the authentic you.  His compelling story will not only appeal to Episcopals and Christians, but also to those affiliated with Judaism and Islam, as well as Native Americans.  Bishop Curry’s message is universal.

After reading Michael Curry’s fascinating book, I moved on to Good Company by Arthur M. Blank (William Morrow, 2020), cofounder of Home Depot and owner of the Atlanta Falcons (NFL) and Atlanta United (MLS). I was not expecting a confluence of themes and messages.

What do an Episcopal Bishop and a Jewish billionaire have in common?  They have very similar philosophies about people, caring, giving and contributing to society. Their respective books provide persuasive bookends to their compelling philosophies.

Having lived in Atlanta for three decades, this alignment of philosophical agendas probably should not have surprised me. Blank is Jewish and the Atlanta Jewish community has strong ties with the Atlanta Black community. Blank’s book relates captivating stories of black leaders of the Civil Rights movement, as well as his caring responses to recent NFL players’ protests.

More down to earth is the pricing practices at Blank’s Home Depot, as well as their workforce practices.  They intently listened to customers and employees, wanting to learn about their desires and complaints. Post Home Depot, his decisions regarding seat width in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, as well as food and drink prices at the stadium portray an intense focus on other people’s needs and desires.

Similar to Bishop Curry, one of Blank’s core values is giving back.  He discusses his efforts, in partnership with other organizations, to resurrect the Westside of Atlanta. His message is that you can only move at the “speed of trust.”  Blank had engaged employees, termed associates in all his businesses, in choosing recipients for his many philanthropic endeavors. He wants them to frame and recommend grants, as well as enjoy the satisfaction of giving.

My recent blog posts have been less than optimistic. These two books have renewed me. We are capable of doing what is right and doing it well. Thank you Michael and Arthur. The title of this post is the subtitle of Michael Curry’s book. I’ll end with the heading of the last section of Arthur Blank’s book  “There is enough (economic) pie for everyone.”

Leave a Reply