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Oct 26, 2015 | EDOT Staff

Caritas, Service at Heart of Faith and Nation, Meacham Says

President George H. W. Bush’s Points of Light Foundation celebrated its 25th birthday this week with an extensive conference in Houston. Jon Meacham, former editor of Newsweek and current executive editor and executive vice president of Random House, spoke at an interfaith prayer service for “peace, unity, for our nation and in the cause of serving others” held October 18 at St. Martin’s, Houston, to mark the anniversary.

One Prayer: Many Faiths featured a number of religious leaders who offered words of prayer between hymns for the country and for peace. The Rev. Russell Levenson, rector of St. Martin’s said the service was “a visible symbol in a divided world that we can be united in prayer,” he said. In other opening remarks, Rabbi David Lyon of Congregation Beth Israel said he hoped the hour together would “be filled with prayer and hope that we may fulfill all God has entrusted us to do.” Imam Wazir Ali of Mercy Community Center said that interfaith dialogue was the only way to improve understanding and then, as the Venerable Ru Wu’s chanted a Buddhist prayer a cappella, Christians, Jews, Muslims and others knelt or stood in silence listening to the rythym of her offering.


In his remarks, Meacham said, “Thomas Jefferson did not say there was a wall between religion and politics or between religion and our common life.” The wall metaphor Meacham said was not to be taken “ as an assertion that the United States was a secular undertaking.” Quite the opposite, he said. “The freedom to believe or not, as one’s consciousness dictates, is inextricably bound up in the American heart and the American mind. The good news about the country is that faith shapes our public life without strangling it, and the ecumenical nature of our time together on this occasion--where so much light shines--bears unmistakable witness to the role that belief in God can play in inspiring acts of service and sacrifice,” he said, adding, “George Herbert Walker Bush embodies that spirit and the Points of Light Foundation is well guided by the 41st President’s conviction that any definition of a successful life must include service to others.”


“Such a spirit of caritas lies at the heart of our common faith tradition and at the heart of the nation,” Meacham said.


Meacham received the Pulitzer Prize for American Lion, his 2008 biography of Andrew Jackson. He also is the author of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, Franklin and Winston, American Gospel and his newest book, Destiny and Power, a biography of George H.W. Bush to be published in November 2015.