The Chaplain of the U. S. House of Representatives, Father Daniel Coughlin, says that President John F. Kennedy taught him how to pray and speak of faith in the public arena. See President Kennedy’s Gift of Language and the Art of Prayer. The man, for all his faults, certainly was eloquent, making today’s politicians sound like inarticulate adolescents.
To observe the 50th anniversary of his death, read his Inaugural Address, which contains many rich ideas in addition to the justly famous line, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” So much for the entitlement mentality that drives so much of today’s politics and government. What else do you find in this speech that we would never hear today? Are there ideas in the speech that suggest a way forward out of our current malaise? I’ll post the speech–it isn’t long–beginning here, with my emphasis, and continuing after the jump:
 Vice President Johnson, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, President Eisenhower, Vice President Nixon, President Truman, Reverend Clergy, fellow citizens:
 We observe today not a victory of party but a celebration of freedom–symbolizing an end as well as a beginning–signifying renewal as well as change. For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forbears prescribed nearly a century and three-quarters ago.
 The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe–the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God. [Read more…]