Advent 2022

Sunday, November 27th is the first Sunday of Advent 2022, a time of reflective preparation for celebrating the birth of Jesus of Nazareth: God’s revelation of Divinity as well as God’s revelation of authentic humanity. 

Regardless where we are on planet Earth these days, we are witnessing a major shift in human history. Perhaps we no longer have the best language or imagery to correctly describe and interpret what’s happening. Perhaps we have grown so accustomed to inflated rhetoric and public relations packaging that we have lost our perspective on the human drama that is reshaping our lives. People are fearful and anxious about losing identity: national identities, religious identities, sex and gender identities, racial and ethnic identities. 

A person’s identity was once based on a common language, a common religious tradition, and ancestral, social, cultural, or national experiences. Today, in a world of tremendous human migrations across all the ancient boarders, and with ever-growing cyber communications networks, identities are changing, whether people are comfortable or not about the new realities. 

Perhaps we should see our identity as based on something far deeper? Maybe we need a new perspective on identity? Some fearful people are working hard to reassert their old, often prejudicial, identities. In the United States, and across Europe, we see the last gasps of white male supremacy in all its ugliness, hatred, and violence. In the United States, we see as well a level of socio-cultural polarization that is higher than at the time of the nineteenth century Civil War (or the “War of Northern Aggression” if you are from the South). The past week has brought seven mass shootings in the United States. Twenty-two people have been killed and 44 wounded. 

I suggest we need a new perspective about contemporary life and contemporary people. Seeing people in the old categories just won’t work anymore: liberal vs conservative, Republican vs Democrat, traditional Catholic vs Vatican II Catholic, and of course evangelical Protestant vs progressive Christian.

Although an older fellow, I still meet occasionally with groups of young university students.They are a delight. They experience socio-cultural change as part of our contemporary reality and not a threat to their identity. They are much more concerned about the human values of truthfulness, integrity, honesty, respect for the other, and human outreach based on dialogue, compassion, and personal encounter.

I get frustrated with contemporary church leaders trying to resurrect the 1950s. Or worse. In October a fundamentalist pastor in Idaho told his congregation that gay, lesbian, and transgender people should be executed. A Texas fundamentalist pastor did the same in multiple sermons. They call themselves Christian! And I get frustrated with contemporary politicians pretending to be Christians but displaying neither words nor actions grounded in Christian belief.

We should ask all of them: To what degree do the life and message of Jesus of Nazareth reverberate in your hearts? That is what our conversation should be about. To what degree does the Gospel guide decision-making: celebrating divine love to the extent that people genuinely care for others, support, and yes even forgive one another. This conversation undercuts racism, the denigration of “losers,” the unhealthy lifestyles of self-centered and self-seeking bullies, xenophobia, homophobia, and all human phobias. 

Genuine Christianity celebrates the life of the Holy Spirit to the extent that a healthy and healing spirit pervades the individual and collective lives of people who try to genuinely follow the way of Jesus.

This week end we light the first Advent candle, remembering the Prophet Isaiah’s words: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” Isaiah 9:2


Today is also U.S. American Thanksgiving. I offer a very sincere thank you to readers who have contributed to my annual For Another Voice appeal. If  someone would still like to contribute, all details are in last week’s post. Any questions? Just write me at

Annual Giving

Annual Giving

Dear followers of For Another Voice, 

As I do once a year, I am inviting you to contribute to my annual appeal. As you know there is no charge for my blog. Once a year contributions therefore help me keep my equipment up to and cover other related expenses. Right now my old laptop is on its last legs.

There are several ways readers can contribute:

(1) With a US dollars check, from a US bank, sent to: Dr. John A. Dick, Geldenaaksebaan 85A 002 — 3001 Heverlee BELGIUM

 (2) By ZELLE using:

(3) By international bank transfer to my Belgian bank: BNP Paribas Fortis Bank name of John A. DickSWIFT CODE: GEBABEBB   — IBAN: BE83 2300 3923 6015

(4) By credit card or PayPal. Simply click on this link:

Many sincere thanks for your support. 

If you have any questions, please contact me at:


A Brief Meditation

From time to time, we all need to simply reflect. This week a brief meditation, based on The Hill We Climb. Find a quiet place. Turn off cellphone. Read slowly and then reflect in silence…



Amanda Gorman

When day comes we ask ourselves,

where can we find light in this never-ending shade?

The loss we carry,

a sea we must wade.

We’ve braved the belly of the beast,

We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace,

and the norms and notions

of what just is

isn’t always just-ice.

And yet the dawn is ours

before we knew it.

Somehow we do it.

Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed

a nation that isn’t broken,

but simply unfinished.

We the successors of a country and a time

where a skinny Black girl

descended from slaves and raised by a single mother

can dream of becoming president

only to find herself reciting for one.

And yes we are far from polished.

Far from pristine.

But that doesn’t mean we are

striving to form a union that is perfect.

We are striving to forge a union with purpose,

to compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and

conditions of man.

And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us,

but what stands before us.

We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,

we must first put our differences aside.

We lay down our arms

so we can reach out our arms

to one another.

We seek harm to none and harmony for all.

Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true,

that even as we grieved, we grew,

that even as we hurt, we hoped,

that even as we tired, we tried

that we’ll forever be tied together, victorious.

Not because we will never again know defeat,

but because we will never again sow division.

Scripture tells us to envision

that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree

and no one shall make them afraid.

If we’re to live up to our own time,

then victory won’t lie in the blade.

But in all the bridges we’ve made,

that is the promise to glade,

the hill we climb.

If only we dare.

It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit,

it’s the past we step into

and how we repair it.

We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation

rather than share it.

Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.

And this effort very nearly succeeded.

But while democracy can be periodically delayed,

it can never be permanently defeated.

In this truth,

in this faith we trust.

For while we have our eyes on the future,

history has its eyes on us.

This is the era of just redemption

we feared at its inception.

We did not feel prepared to be the heirs

of such a terrifying hour

but within it we found the power

to author a new chapter.

To offer hope and laughter to ourselves.

So while once we asked,

how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?

Now we assert,

How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?

We will not march back to what was,

but move to what shall be.

A country that is bruised but whole,

benevolent but bold,

fierce and free.

We will not be turned around

or interrupted by intimidation,

because we know our inaction and inertia

will be the inheritance of the next generation.

Our blunders become their burdens.

But one thing is certain,

If we merge mercy with might,

and might with right,

then love becomes our legacy,

and change our children’s birthright.

So let us leave behind a country

better than the one we were left with.

Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest,

we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.

We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west.

We will rise from the windswept northeast,

where our forefathers first realized revolution.

We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states.

We will rise from the sunbaked south.

We will rebuild, reconcile and recover.

And every known nook of our nation and

every corner called our country,

our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,

battered and beautiful.

When day comes we step out of the shade,

aflame and unafraid,

the new dawn blooms as we free it.

For there is always light,

if only we’re brave enough to see it.

If only we’re brave enough to be it.

The Big Question

When I think about the November 8th midterm elections, I ask myself where are we going in a highly polarized U.S. society. A healthy democracy is a social system in which citizens are constructively linked with fellow citizens, with each person bearing social as well as personal responsibilities. A healthy democracy gives the homeless shelter, gives the sick care, gives the vulnerable protection, and gives the terrified refuge. It is anchored in honesty and truthfulness. It asks how we treat ourselves and how we treat others. It asks us to seriously consider our place and our responsibilities in a fragile world. 

Looking toward next Tuesday, I am thinking of course about political leadership. When political leadership gets disconnected from the truth, democracies collapse into either chaos or authoritarian regimes. Those dangers are very real today. What is truth? What are the contemporary socio-political delusions that people adhere to? What are their contemporary socio-religious delusions?

In authoritarian regimes, social order is maintained not by adherence to shared public values but by fidelity to the dictates and wishes of the authoritarian leader. Authoritarian leaders like chaotic situations in which people, living in fear, can be kept obedient and dependent on the leader. 

In a healthy democracy there are certain primary values, like, for example, that murder is immoral, that theft is immoral, that dishonesty is immoral, that harming innocent people is immoral, and that lying is immoral. When these immoral actions, however, are turned into social virtues or social normalities, society is in trouble. And the survival of the human spirit is threatened.

By the “human spirit” I mean those positive aspects of humanity that people show towards one another: empathy, respect, generosity, compassion, and identifying with the other. Contrary to the “human spirit” are extremely self-centered attitudes and behavior:  “my race,” “ my perspective,” “my politics,”” my kind of people.” They lead to conflict, not cooperation. To fear, not hope. To aggression, not mutual respect. And to suspicion, not trust. 

The United States is a country that is seriously struggling with issues of race, economic inequality, gender, immigration and, yes, crime. But constructive change is possible. The story is not over. Another exciting chapter can begin.

People set and adjust their values through interaction with family and friends, and with social, religious, and political groups with whom they identify. After the midterm elections, regardless of the election results, we will need to safeguard our lives and our society based on shared common-good values. 

Houses fall apart if they are not maintained. Democracies as well.  I remember the words of the French philosopher and writer Voltaire (1694 – 1778), who was an advocate of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and separation of church and state: “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.”

May we all observe, judge, and vote.


PS As a U.S. citizen living abroad, my absentee vote has been sent.