Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.Most of us, I'd guess, are familiar with a song called "Kum-ba-ya" (or "Kumbaya"). Before looking it up, I'd assumed it was of 1960s vintage, but it's a little older; it seems to go back to at least the 1920s or 30s. I don't like it, really: melodically tiresome and lyrically insipid, it always seemed to me like a dull waste of time.
Back around the time Emperor Bush II was kicking off Gulf War II, I noticed the title of the song becoming used as a sort of go-to insult by my former companions in political conservatism; if you argued that invading somebody else's country might not be the thing to do, you were apt to be accused of being a kum-ba-ya singer. (That happened to me, at least, lots of times.) But in the passage above, when I read James's description of the wisdom from above (pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy), it occurs to me that many, many war fans would likely suggest that "Kum-ba-ya" must have been a real favorite with James. Shamefully, the American evangelical "church" tends to be heavily infested with such folks; several have been my pastors during my long, weary trek of the last couple of decades.
I still don't like the song. But, please, give me the wisdom from above. Maybe it'll displace some of that other kind of wisdom, that I still have plenty of.
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