David Brooks and the Beatitudes

Lara Schopp Articles, Carla Aday, Senior Minister Blog

I first became intrigued by David Brooks when he provided the conservative commentary on the PBS NewsHour. I didn’t always agree with him but I always admired his thoughtfulness and the kindness that he exhibited to his dialogue partners.

Later I became acquainted with his written words  appearing in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times as well as many others. I was impressed by how frequently he referenced theologians, poets, social psychologists as he reflected on our political and civic life. In his most recent book, The Second Mountain:  The Quest for a Moral Life, he becomes more explicit about his own spiritual journey.  Having grown up in a Jewish household he was also profoundly shaped by attending a Christian school and Christian summer camp and at one point he says, “I can’t unread Matthew. The beatitudes are the moral sublime, the source of awe, the moral purity that takes your breath away and toward which everything points. In the beatitudes we see the ultimate road map for our lives.”

When we pick up our phones/iPads to read the national news or read the morning paper or watch the evening news, we can easily become overwhelmed with the heaviness and despair that seems to grip our national landscape. Sometimes I feel powerless to make a positive difference. But what I hear in Brooks’ astute reflections is that what we do in our own small corners of the world–schools, families, neighborhoods, churches–truly does matter. It may not have an immediate impact, but it does shape the world.  He says “The rot we see in our politics is caused by a rot in our moral and cultural foundations…”

When I hear Brooks describe how our society suffers from a “crisis of connection” and how our society has become a “conspiracy against joy” I am reminded of how we as a church play a critical role in the world. In our individualistic culture the church offers a place to bond, to learn trust, to experience grace, to give of ourselves without expecting anything in return. Where else can we learn and practice the road map that Jesus described:

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth . . . . Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Grace and Peace,