As we sat discussing wedding plans, we reviewed all of their family history and started dreaming up lines for a wedding homily. Lauren said, “We just want to be good people,” and I wrote it down. That line will be in the homily.
In a world of such maddening events, I am proud, honored and humbled that seven Buddhists from the other side of the world, and at least 150 neighbors, from across my own community, were comfortable to come to a Baptist church, sit for an hour, search the silence of their own souls and the strains of ancient, chanting rhythms, in search of peace.
It takes work to overcome our fears. Daily, persistent, intentional WORK. You have to decide not to be afraid. You have to take deep breaths, utter phrases that are filled with Truth rather than propaganda over and over to yourself, and then push yourself to press through the fear and decide to live life to the fullest.
Speaking from a perspective of enlightened self-interest, it’s clear that in a capitalist economy the stronger the lower and middle classes are, the more money those at the top are going to have.
And speaking from a perspective of faith, God’s concern is not those whose hard work and unmerited advantages put them at the top. It is the well-being of all – especially those whose hard work and undeserved disadvantages have put them closer to the bottom.
Foolish idolatry! Can you imagine, wrapping up some little stone statues to keep them warm, while a child lies shivering in the very same night air? We good Americans, schooled in the virtues of Christian orthodoxy, have been gratefully enlightened beyond such silly, abusive hypocrisy. We would never do such a thing.
Or would we?
In his research on “happiness economics,” John Helliwell writes: “if 10 percent more people thought they had someone to count on in life, it would have a greater effect on national life satisfaction than giving everyone a 50% raise.” “Someone to count on” – not economic factors that can be measured - that’s the solution to our problems.
A recent study has shown that between 2002 and 2013, 141,796 Americans have died in gun violence in this country. 141,796 mothers and fathers, brothers, sisters, children, friends. In that same time period only 263 Americans died in attacks by “terrorists.” If you are offended by those quotation marks, please ask yourself … Of what, and of whom, should we really be afraid?
Being a successful neurosurgeon is apparently no guarantee you won’t embarrass yourself in the national spotlight. I’m not sure which constitution Dr. Carson had in mind when he opined that no Muslim is fit to be the President. The US constitution guarantees freedom of (and freedom from) religion, and specifies that no religious litmus test shall deter anyone from holding office.
I think of my nation, still divided, still judging one another not by the content of character, but by the color of skin. I think that there are a lot of very complicated factors in this case, but what I know is that this mostly comes down to America’s Original Sin, and unless and until we can finally own it and engage the very hard work of healing we’ll always be waiting on a jury…