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Welcome to Cry, Beloved Country, a blog about contemporary culture: what it means, how it got here, where it’s headed, and how we shape it. Pull up a chair, grab a cup of coffee and join the conversation.

What, you wanted me to say more?

Well, I’m trying to be:

  •   Charitable

The U.S. is locked in a War of the World(view)s. It’s not the first time. (Think, e.g., 1850-1865.) But, sadly, much of what should be dialogue consists, on both sides, of little more than name-calling.

Remember Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address? It ends:

 With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Is it possible to create a conversation without malice, without name-calling, and with the goal of achieving a just and lasting peace among ourselves? I don’t know, but I think it’s worth the effort.

So I’m trying to keep CBC a no-snark zone. For me, one of the easiest ways to do that is to assume that the person I’m disagreeing with will read what I’ve written while in a state of despair. Because our enemies are always ideas, never people.

  •   Honest

Pretty self-explanatory. I’m trying to tell the truth as best I can. I’m trying to fact check my references, and to point out the weaknesses in my position.

  •  Hopeful 

This place we live is, as Frederick Buechner has said,

   . . . a world of magic and mystery, of deep darkness and flickering starlight. It is a world where terrible things happen and wonderful things too. It is a world where goodness is pitted against evil, love against hate, order against chaos, in a great struggle where often it is hard to be sure who belongs to which side because appearances are endlessly deceptive.

It’s often a very scary place. And, when the foundations are destroyed, well, it’s easy to crawl into a cave and howl. Or hide. But I’m betting the farm (again, with Buechner) that,

   . . . for all its confusion and wildness, it is a world where the battle goes ultimately to the good, who live happily ever after, and where in the long run everybody, good and evil alike, becomes known by his true name. . . . That is the fairy tale of the Gospel with, of course, one crucial difference from all other fairy tales, which is that the claim made for it is that it is true, that it not only happened once upon a time but has kept on happening ever since and is happening still.

Once you put all your chips on that number, then what can you do but to practice being hopeful on the inside and cheerful on the outside?

So when you notice me getting crotchety, poke me, will you?

  •    Passionate

We only go around once (Shirley MacLaine notwithstanding). So I want to live with passionate intensity (Yeats credits that to “the worst,” but let’s prove him wrong, shall we?) based on the conviction that the things we’re talking about matter.

  •   Thoughtful

Life is busy. It’s easy to read an article, or watch a talking head, and be convinced. It’s hard to find the time to listen to, and read, and watch, both sides, all sides, and then think about the information flowing out of the firehose and into our faces on a daily/hourly/momently basis. But I’m trying. (I kinda like momently. Whaddya think?)

  •   Accessible

I’m trying for a simple, informal, conversational, easy-to-follow blog that doesn’t talk down or dumb down.

  •   Human

This blog isn’t written by a committee. So why should it sound as if it is?

It’s written by me, Carolyn Schultz-Rathbun. I live in the U.S., in Southwest Washington, in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, at 1100 feet, in a log house my husband and I built long ago with our own four hands and a lot of help from friends and relations. (We’re kind of like Pooh’s friend, Rabbit–we have a bunch of friends-and-relations. And we’re glad we do.)

I’ve been in fifty states and lived in seven. I have a high school sweetheart-turned-husband, six kids, a son-by-marriage (my daughter’s marriage to him, that is) and three grandkids; also two elderly horses, three cats, a dog, and a dove-grey top hat with a scarlet hat band that I absolutely adore. (Although it’s a hard choice between it and the navy blue fedora.)

I’m a quirky person. Why shouldn’t CBC be quirky and personal?

So that’s what I’m shooting for. When I fail to hit it, please point that out. –But please try to do it with charity, honesty, hope, passion, thoughtfulness and accessible humanity. Just in case I’m in despair that day. Thanks.