Since that disturbing Oval Office pronouncement there have been thousands of opinions written across the political spectrum, endless hours dedicated to punditocracy in the marketplace, countless words of pulpiteering offered by the Church.
And I’ve been afraid to speak.
Love is real. But so is the hateful power of revenge.
Or, maybe they are two sides of the same naked, human emotion, always warring within us, enduring all things – or inflicting all things – in a quest for submission and supremacy.
I’ll be honest. The sight of all those cheering Christians almost brought me to tears. I cannot bear the thought of a so-called “Christian” sanctuary filled with cheers and praise. The pastor says: bomb the hell out of them, just as Jesus said. The people cheer.
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.
Since when are secular companies, practicing competitive business in a free market society supposed to speak for the Church? Is that what Christians really want? And would that actually “put Christ into Christmas” – or just make him another commodity, traded on the Market?
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?
So today, governments are afraid of preachers, because the Gospel has always been a political narrative. You only have to read the critiques by U.S. politicians and pundits of Pope Francis's comments on climate change and income inequality to understand the truth of this assertion.
We will take those 5 Stars and celebrate! But the number of stars will never fully show what it takes to care for children. That takes love and can only truly be measured by the heart. Our CDC has heart.
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’m told that Trump’s appeal is his honesty. Finally, they say, a politician who actually speaks his mind instead of all that politically correct drivel. Am I alone in preferring a little discretion from those who will lead us? If your “honesty” makes you that poor a role model and such an embarrassment to the values of decency and respectability, common courtesy and just basic good manners – it should also disqualify you from being taken seriously in the public and political arenas.
We deserve so much better.
Amazingly, Park Road has stayed together, committed to the idea that uniformity of belief is not what should hold us together - in fact, such a conformity would be contrary to that Baptist spirit! As a result, Park Road exists as a Christian community, dedicated to openness and individuality, and committed to being community, even within a community that is diverse in theological and political convictions.
Fear is at the center of our lives – and living in fear is a terrible way to live. Fear drives international policy-making. Fear drives discussions of budgeting priorities. Fear drives marketing and politics and the priorities of time and money in local households. What if we weren’t afraid?
I want to tell you about the best three hours I’ve spent lately.
Mary, who has walked the grounds at 3900 Park Road since there’s been a church on that corner, suddenly found herself dying, alone. I can’t bear that thought. So on Tuesday, I sat. Most of the time she didn’t even know I was there. I’m pretty sure that didn’t even matter.