John Danforth

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We are seekers of the truth, but we do not embody the truth. And in humility, we should recognize that the same can be said about our most ardent foes.

John Danforth (born 5 September 1936) is a former United States Ambassador to the United Nations and former Republican United States Senator from Missouri. He is an ordained Episcopal priest.

Quotes[edit]

Faith and Politics (2006)[edit]

  • The problem is not that Christians are conservative or liberal, but that some are so confident that their position is God's position that they become dismissive and intolerant toward others and divisive forces in our national life.
    • Page 10
  • Whether religion is a divisive or reconciling force depends on our certainty or our humility as we practice our faith in our politics. If we believe that we know God's truth and that we can embody that truth in a political agenda, we divide the realm of politics into those who are on God's side, which is our side, and those with whom we disagree, who oppose the side of God. This is neither good religion nor good politics. It is not consistent with following a Lord who reached out to a variety of people — prostitutes, tax collectors, lepers. If politics is the art of compromise, certainty is not really politics, for how can one compromise with God's own truth? Reconciliation depends on acknowledging that God's truth is greater than our own, that we cannot reduce it to any political platform we create, no matter how committed we are to that platform, and that God's truth is large enough to accommodate the opinions of all kinds of people, even those with whom we strongly disagree.
    • Page 16
  • We are seekers of the truth, but we do not embody the truth. And in humility, we should recognize that the same can be said about our most ardent foes.
    • Page 17
We do not put God in our nation's life by placing the Ten Commandments in courthouses, nor do we evict God by removing the Ten Commandments from public property. God is not portable. Bland prayers, offered as noncontroversial formalities after the National Anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance do little to honor God.
  • I had not been left behind in the parish. I wasn't holding the hands of grieving widows. I wasn't struggling to educate my children. I was pontificating on the great issues of the day in the comfort of a privileged lifestyle.
    • Page 47
  • Most of all, faith brings recognition that our quest never leads us to certainty. We are always uncertain, always in doubt that our way is God's way. That self-doubt makes it possible to be reconciled to one another. It is faith that makes the reconciling work of politics possible.
    • Page 53
  • But the public display of religion is not God. We do not put God in our nation's life by placing the Ten Commandments in courthouses, nor do we evict God by removing the Ten Commandments from public property. God is not portable. Bland prayers, offered as noncontroversial formalities after the National Anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance do little to honor God.
    • Page 66
  • Many, if not most, Americans can imagine a fate worse than death, and it is a seemingly interminable process of dying. For them, it is frightening that politicians can find ways to interject themselves into this sad process.
    • Page 72
  • I think a lot of us share a fear that we and people we love will lose control of our own destinies at the end of life.
    • Page 74
  • At least Alzheimer's patients do not know what is happening to their brains and bodies. Some say this makes Alzheimer's less terrible than ALS, where the patient understands everything. But if lack of comprehension is of some small blessing to the Alzheimer's victim, it does nothing to help the family. Care of the stricken spouse or parent can consume a family's time, energy and resources. Instead of enjoying retirement years, a husband or wife, whose own strength may be declining with age, can find every day consumed by care giving. Then there is the wrenching decision of whether to place the loved one in a nursing home, a decision that can result in enormous cost, not to mention guilt.
    • Page 95
The old adage that polite conversation should not include talk of politics or religion is understandable because both subjects are so heavily laden with emotion that discussion can quickly turn to shouting. Blood is shed over politics, religion and the two in combination.
  • The relationship of faith and politics is not about fashioning religious beliefs into political platforms. It is, instead, the way in which faithful people go about the work of politics. If it were the former, family values could be reduced to legislation, but despite the efforts of Christian conservatives, that is not possible. Family values concern how a person, in my case a political person, values his family, his wife and his children. Is the family, especially the spouse, first on the list of priorities, or is it somewhere down the line?
    • Page 124
  • Valuing family more than job gives perspectives to politics. It puts the politician in the proper place, which is somewhere less than being the self-perceived agent of God. If family comes first, the politician needs to find ways to make that clear- by words, symbols and actions. The politician must make the effort. By its nature, the job will not do it for him.
    • Page 125
  • The Senate is indeed a deliberative body, and that quality serves the nation well. A slow-moving government helps us maintain a stable government. But slow moving is not the same as immobile.
    • Page 154
  • We have a God-given commission, but it is not a commission to be self-righteous know-it-alls- quite the contrary. Our work in God's world begins with the acknowledgment that we are not God, and that our most bitter rivals are made in God's image.
    • Page 166
The Senate is indeed a deliberative body, and that quality serves the nation well. A slow-moving government helps us maintain a stable government. But slow moving is not the same as immobile.
  • The starting point is the recognition that throughout history, religion has been a cause of bloodshed, and it remains so today. Because religion has contributed to the world's problems, it must develop specific and practical ways to help solve those problems.
    • Page 180
  • Plenty of kind, decent, caring people have no religious beliefs, and they act out of the goodness of their hearts. Conversely, plenty of people who profess to be religious, even those who worship regularly, show no particular interest in the world beyond themselves.
    • Page 186
  • It is concern that precedes and inspires agendas, and survives when agendas fail, and it causes us to try again, always trying our best, never certain about our own judgment. It is knowing that God's purpose exceeds whatever we can put in an agenda.
    • Page 189
  • When we vest our personal opinions with the trappings of religion, we make religion the servant of our politics.
    • Page 213
  • The old adage that polite conversation should not include talk of politics or religion is understandable because both subjects are so heavily laden with emotion that discussion can quickly turn to shouting. Blood is shed over politics, religion and the two in combination.
    • Page 215

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