From Duncan Newcomer: ‘Do we need another Lincoln?’

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series Letters to America

Author of ‘30 Days with Abraham Lincoln


Have you noticed, this autumn, that there is a lot of talk about how we need another Lincoln? Wherever you turn in major magazines and newspapers and even on air, these days, we keep hearing this question: Whose Lincoln do we want and need right now?

There’s a good reason this question keeps arising in each new season of our nation’s history: There’s a lot of Lincoln available!

Paradox is his most noteworthy psychological and philosophical characteristic. Lincoln seems to have values and virtues on one side of the tracks and then values and virtues on the other.

He was a great joking extrovert, he was a silent somber introvert.

He was big and ugly, he was sweet and beautiful.

He was a warrior king, he was a man of peace.

So recently in The New Yorker you could read about a Common Man Lincoln who knew how to love and mix it up with the vulgar circus of humanity. The Atlantic weighed in as well.

There was an Old Sage Lincoln who knew how to speak to tragedy from the Bardo of his own grief. (And George Saunders’ Bardo novel went on to win the Man Booker Prize.)

There was a political Glad Hand and Iron Fist Lincoln who knew how to bring people together for the common good in politically shrewd ways.

Then there is the Yonder Lincoln, whose spiritual life infused all of the above versions.

Or consider the Circus Jokester Lincoln who once hosted Little Tom Thumb as a White House guest and regarded this wee gentleman as a marvel of equal humanity while fully one-half his own size.

To the Lincoln in the Bardo of death his grief for his son defines the god-send from Scripture, “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”

To the Hand and Fist political Warrior King, Lincoln was also the mythological Grail King, the one who communed with the Holy Grail of the Sacred Feminine, giving the Kingdom its true greatness, which, of course, would be its goodness.

So many questions about Lincoln! We never seem to tire of puzzling over the paradox.

Please, this fall and winter, I hope you will continue to enjoy my own weekly Quiet Fire reflections on Lincoln. Feel free to share with me your own thoughts via [email protected]

Click the cover to visit the book’s Amazon page.




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