Saturday, November 29, 2008


Thanks so much for all your prayers! Dear Friend is definitely better this evening. His hand is still terribly swollen, but not as bad as this morning, and the red streaks have faded from his forearm. The hospital staff has done a great job of managing his pain, and he's even started cracking jokes again--so I am breathing a sigh of relief.

You are the best, folks. As many of you know, I struggle mightily with the theology of prayer--but it has been an inexpressible comfort to know that so many of you are praying for us. Thank you for being the face of God in my world.


Standing in the need of prayer...

We don't sing that song in the Episcopal Church (not that I know of, anyway), but it came to me this morning.

I had to take Dear Friend to the Emergency Room at midnight last night. He had come to town to spend Thanksgiving with the children and me, and, over the course of the last couple of days, he developed a very serious infection in his right hand--which is now so swollen it looks like something out of a horror movie. The pain is intense. He was admitted to the hospital about 4:00 a.m., where they are currently pumping him full of IV antibiotics and morphine. He is likely to be there for a couple of days.

He is due to preach on Sunday, so he is NOT happy about this turn of events. His sense of duty is so strong that sometimes it overrides his reason. I am running around behind his back to tell the nurses they need to be firm about the fact that he is not going anywhere until he is well. (I'm very firm about that to his face, just in case you were wondering...)

Please pray for him--not only that he will get well (natch), but that he will recognize the need to be good to himself and to accept the help of others.

And, if I may be so bold, I ask for you prayers for me, too. He means so very much to me, and this taps into all my worst fears about losing him, just when I've finally found him.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Superior Scribbling?

Well, Ruth, at Ruth's Visions and Revisions, has dubbed me a Superior Scribbler, and I am most honored...

I feel a real kinship with Ruth. We are both professional writer/editors, and I think we share a passion for education and matters of faith. I wish I had her skills with knitting and roses, but it's nice to enjoy the beautiful visions and labors of others without the frustrations. Thanks for the vote of confidence, my friend.

Here are the rules:
  • Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.
  • Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.
  • Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to this post, which explains The Award.
  • Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we'll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!
  • Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.
Here are some of my favorite bloggers:

, of course---Fran's blog is always the first thing I read when I open my Reader. As the Quakers say, "Friend speaks for me"--and she does it with such heart and eloquence.

Closeted Pastor
--Though we've never met, Cecilia is near and dear to my heart. In ways that are not obvious, her "coming out" story has real resonance for me, so I await each new post with bated breath.

Feral Christianity--This one is new to me, and it's a doozy. Duck is an amazing writer and thinker. Check her out.

Kirkepiscatoid--I am jealous of the extremely thoughtful posts that Kirk does on a variety of subjects. Kirk is on my Short List of Bloggers I'd Like to Have a Beer With.

Shuck and Jive
--Another I never miss. John is a powerful and articulate advocate for Christianity---but it ain't your parents' version...

Find one you haven't read, and go be amused, enlightened, or challenged.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Lessons of History

I've been on a self-imposed Internet fast for most of the last week. I spent so much time obsessively hitting blogs and news sites in the days leading up to the election that I felt positively poisoned by the news and analysis overload.

So last weekend, I decided to read a book. A REAL book. With covers and pages and everything.

That book was written by my friend Joel Haas. Joel is one of the most creative people I've ever known. He is a sculptor by profession, but he is also a storyteller--a first-rate raconteur. He comes by this honestly, as his father spent Joel's childhood entertaining Joel and his brothers with a whole universe of make-believe characters who had wonderful adventures.

(Hearing Joel's stories about his father always make me hang my head in shame--I couldn't make up a story for my kids if my life depended on it...)

Joel's whole family history is fascinating. He grew up in Charlotte, NC--where he lived between the Billy Graham family on one side and the John Shelby Spong family on the other. That, as he says, "explains a lot." (Doxy's Note: Joel corrects me about this in the comments. It was his dad who grew up between the Grahams and the Spongs. I still think my version is funnier. ;-)

Joel's father came from a German Jewish family, and Joel's novel, Adlerhof, is based loosely on his paternal family history. It is the story of two halves of the Adler family--one set of individuals who make their way to North Carolina in the late 19th century, and the others, who are forced by circumstances and disastrous choices to remain behind in Germany. (You can read more about Adlerhof at Joel's blog about the novel.)

It is a sobering book, as any tale about the Wilmington race riots and the Holocaust (no link necessary) must be--and I recommend it to you. There are scenes in it that I will remember forever. In fact, I finished it just before Dear Friend's Saturday Mass, and I spent most of my time during the service praying over how awful we humans are to one another.

Joel's novel was doubly poignant for me for me this week, as I mourn the passage of California's Proposition 8. In the wake of so much finger-pointing and so many recriminations about the result of that vote, Joel's book reminded me of what happens when a minority group (whether it be Jews, gays, or African Americans) is blamed for all the ills in a civilization. It reminded me of how craven and cowardly people can be when those in power use their might (and their money) to intimidate--and how "little people" will often use whatever power they have to trample others.

It reminded me of how easy it is to demonize others and to convince yourself that you are doing right in the bargain.

On this day, 70 years after the Holocaust began, I see few signs that we've learned much. Oh, sure...we just had a peaceful election, and--as long as you don't count Gitmo--we don't have any concentration camps.

But we still demonize those who differ from us. We still rush to put our boots on the necks of others, so that we can feel that we are in control. We still live in a world where we must rely on the threat of punishment--rather than the inherent goodness of the human heart--to keep people from hurting others.

As I said before, I live in hope. But that hope is sorely tested on occasion. I do not understand how people can sit by and do nothing when others are being persecuted merely for who they are. I do not understand how people can actively participate in persecuting others. (And let the reader understand, "persecution" does NOT mean "disagreeing with your position." It means taking away the rights, freedoms, livelihood, or personal safety of others.)

I particularly do not understand how people can do so in the name of Christ.

Joel's book was a powerful reminder that we must always be vigilant in the defense of the vulnerable in our midst. That evil only wins when good people stand by and do nothing--or participate in it out of fear or manipulation.

It was also a reminder that there is a price to pay for standing up for what is right.

This is the hard part--the part we don't like to acknowledge...that protecting our freedoms can require great personal sacrifice. On this Veteran's Day, we acknowledge the sacrifice of those who have gone before us, as we honor those members of our military who paid the price for our freedoms.

"Freedom isn't free," as the saying goes---and it isn't only those in uniform who fight for it. I think of Mickey Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney. I think of Jonathan Daniels and, of course, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I also think of Alice Paul and Lucy Burns who went to jail and endured being tortured so that women could have the vote. And I think of the gay and transgender rioters who fought back against the brutality of the New York City police force at the Stonewall Riots, starting the modern gay rights movement in the process--and the members of ACT UP, who fought to get access to lifesaving drugs for those living with AIDS.

Today is a day to remember the brutal lessons of history--and to pledge ourselves to ensuring that we do not repeat them. It is a day to ask yourself:

  • What prejudices do *I* hold, and what am I going to do to remedy them?
  • When have *I* participated in violence (rhetorical, physical, economic, or spiritual) against others, and what am I going to do to avoid committing violence in the future?
  • Just what sacrifices am*I* willing to make to usher in the Kingdom of God in the here and now? (No fair demanding that others make sacrifices you are not willing to make yourself...)
May God bless all those who struggle for freedom and justice, and may God guide those of us who have so much of it to extend it graciously to others.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Why I Vote the Way I Do--The Final Answer

(For those of you joining the party late, here's the Prologue, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.)

I had made a list of at least a dozen more things that cause me to vote progressive--most of them issue-specific (war, healthcare, taxes, public health policy, etc.).

But at the end of this historic election day, there is really only one more important reason that I vote the way I do.

I live in hope.

Jesus and all God's angels give the same message: "Fear not!" To me, progressive politics reflect that message.

I don't want to live in fear my whole life--and it seems to me that so much of conservative politics is about fear. Fear that someone, somewhere, is plotting to take away what I have. Fear of change. Fear of difference. Fear of "them."

I refuse to live in fear. I live in hope.

I live in hope of liberty and justice for ALL. Regardless of your sex. Regardless of your skin color. Regardless of your creed (or lack thereof). Regardless of your sexual orientation.

I live in hope that we can come together and build a better future for our children--a future where all people have their basic needs (food, shelter, healthcare, education) met...and none are left behind.

(You parents will get this one. I live in hope of ohana.)

I live in hope that people will grant freely to their fellow citizens the rights, liberties, and responsibilities that they want for themselves and their children.

I live in hope that we, as a nation, will one day live into the promise that we Episcopalians make every time we renew our baptismal vows: to strive for justice and peace among all people, and [to] respect the dignity of every human being.

As John Lennon once wrote, "You may say I'm a dreamer." And I will acknowledge the truth of that statement. But I make no apology for it.

In the end, I come back to my first reason for voting the way I do. I am a Christian. I believe Jesus when he says "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (John 10:10b). I take seriously the need to ensure an "abundant life" for all of God's children.

I believe him when he says "Do unto others as you would have them do to you." (Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31) That means that I cannot claim privileges or benefits for myself that I will not grant to others.

I believe him when he says "for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.'...Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.'(Matthew 25:35-36, 40) There is nothing in that verse that allows me to decide who is "worthy" of help. "Give!", "Care!", "Visit!" Jesus commands. I have no choice but to follow...

I live in hope. I vote progressive.

There endeth the lesson. Thanks for reading.

Monday, November 03, 2008

What he said...

From conservative commentator Andrew Sullivan:

The world will soon remember why it resents America as well as loves it. But until this unlikely fellow with the funny ears and strange name and exotic biography emerged on the scene, I had begun to wonder if it was possible at all. I had almost given up hope, and he helped restore it. That is what is stirring out there; and although you are welcome to mock me for it, I remain unashamed. As someone once said, in the unlikely story of America, there is never anything false about hope. Obama, moreover, seems to bring out the best in people, and the calmest, and the sanest. He seems to me to have a blend of Midwestern good sense, an intuitive understanding of the developing world that is as much our future now as theirs', an analyst's mind and a poet's tongue. He is human. He is flawed. He will make mistakes. His passivity and ambiguity are sometimes weaknesses as well as strengths.

But there is something about his rise that is also supremely American, a reminder of why so many of us love this country so passionately and are filled with such grief at what has been done to it and in its name. I endorse Barack Obama because I will not give up on America, because I believe in America, and in her constitution and decency and character and strength.

Let the people say "Amen!"

H/T to FranIAm