December 7, 2018 Zach Tackett

A Kinder and Gentler Nation: A Tribute to George H. W. Bush

“I do not like broccoli.… I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.”

President George H. W. Bush was known for his many pithy – and not so pithy – statements.

“Read my lips, no new taxes.”

“Well, you never know,” Bush reflecting upon his inadvertent asking a mannequin to vote for him.

At his acceptance speech at the Republican Nation Convention the previous summer, Bush reflected upon the beauty of the United States as “a brilliant diversity spread like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky.”

Bush reflected upon the beauty of the United States as “a brilliant diversity spread like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky.”

The most lasting of his statements calls us to acts of goodness. At his inauguration in 1989, Bush implored that Americans have a responsibility “to make kinder the face of the nation and gentler the face of the world.”

How should the church be an example to the nation of a kinder and gentler people? How should the church speak to the nation? Should the church extend this gentleness into the political arena?

One of Bush’s statements that was quite pithy, but not so kind, was his critique of Bill Clinton and Al Gore during the 1992 presidential campaign. “My dog Millie knows more about foreign affairs than these two bozos.”

The two political rivals, Bush and Clinton, Republican and Democrat, later became best friends. This friendship began shortly after Bush’s bruising critique. Bush lost the election to Clinton. In a handwritten note, Bush expressed his confidence in Clinton. “You will be our President when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well. Your success now is our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you.”

The church is to be the mother and father of a family that promotes kindness, to a nation that can come to value kindness. Through the loving empowerment of the Spirit, we are to bring together children who do not see eye-to-eye. We are to embrace the brilliance of the diversity of our family. Rather than ones who stoke the political flames, we are to harness the flame to light the nation and nations.

The church is to be the mother and father of a family that promotes kindness, to a nation that can come to value kindness. Through the loving empowerment of the Spirit, we are to bring together children who do not see eye-to-eye.

Transforming nations through loving all people was a focus of the early church. The Roman Empire legally protected infanticide. The early church embraced the infants, taking them into their homes so they would receive life. The early church challenged poverty by extending food and care to the poor. In a society that devalued women and rejected women’s voices in home and society, the early church gave voice to women as leaders in the church. The early church rejected the marginalization of ethnic minorities by welcoming the immigrant and valuing ethnic minorities.

As points of light, the church and her family can welcome the fullness of our nation and the fullness of humanity as family. As points of light, we can be the extended arms of our loving God. We can advocate for life by giving life. We can challenge poverty through extending lights of hope. We can address immigration by loving the immigrant first. We can address sex trafficking, sexual abuse, and domestic abuse by loving the abused and the abuser first.

Having extended the love of God, as a kinder and gentler nation, we can speak and work as God’s people. As Bush would reach out to Clinton, as Republicans and Democrats we too can reach out to each other. We can value Jesus’ call to love God and love others above all other actions. In this we can speak in words and actions to Bush’s vision of a kinder and gentler nation.

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About the Author

Zach Tackett An ordained AG minister, Dr. Tackett was on staff with an Assemblies of God church in Louisville, Kentucky, from 1992 until joining Southeastern in 2008. During his 16 years at the church, his responsibilities also included those of associate pastor, interim assistant principal for academics at the church’s school, and associate pastor of two satellite churches. Dr. Tackett has also served in churches in Pennsylvania and Arkansas.