The Guns of April

Today is the 150th anniversary of the shelling of Fort Sumter, in Charleston harbor–the first guns of the Civil War.

How appropriate then that we should wake up this morning to find a newspaper report telling us that under Virginia law it is legal for people to carry guns in houses of worship–for their self-protection.

I am trying to remember the last time I felt sufficiently in danger for my life, or the lives of others, in church, that a firearm seemed necessary. I sometimes go to synagogue with Jonathan, and I am having a hard time remembering a time when I felt that threatened there either. But it must happen. Why else would this be legal?

I have only been to a Muslim service once–in California, not Virginia–and surely with everyone on their knees, and often their hands and heads on the floor, I felt no danger.  Maybe it is the Buddhists who need this? Or practitioners of Hinduism?

At any rate, I am relieved to know that the next time a preacher gets too wound up for God someone can calm her or him down by brandishing their weapon of choice.

I am sure you feel safer, too.

How About a Little Prayer in Washington?

What is wrong with our government? Or more to the point, what is wrong with our leaders?

I hear some of them say all the time, “We have to live within our means. American families have to do that, and so do we.”

Well, I say to them, and those who oppose them, too: American families don’t have the luxury of just shutting down, of just sitting down and saying, “Its too hard, so we quit.”  Sure, some folks divorce, but they still have to go on with their lives. And if there are children, they really have to keep things going.

What seems to be missing in all this huffing and puffing is simple listening. Our leaders have forgotten how to listen:  to each other, and to the God of their understanding. And too many of them have decided that they, and only they, know what is right. 

I know about this, because there are time when I act like this, too. Or at least I have in the past (don’t ask my husband, he may remember a more recent outbreak). Eventually, I realize I am acting out some childhood scenario. Jonathan usually helps me work through it and so I can move on. And prayer really helps; God always helps me.

Its time for our leaders to do the same. If they need help, the love seat in my office is available. We can pray together.

I think they even have a chapel in the Capitol. It hope it is very full these days.

And if they fail in their basic responsibilities, and the government shuts down, I am sure there are many priests and pastors available for confession. I know I am. And God is always available.

New Life, Renewed Life

As spring rolls along–some days warm, others more nippy–I continue to marvel at the beauty of creation. Is it any wonder that we celebrate Easter, the Sunday of Resurrection, at this time of year?

Of course, the date of Easter is not determined by our calendar, or even our weather–but still, it seems so right. After the dreary tomb of winter, God’s creation is alive!

Lent always used to be a time of heaviness for me, but since my seminary days (can it be 26 years ago this May that I graduated?) I have come to see it as a time of amazing rebirth. Lent is 40 days that are equivalent for me to what I imagine the nine months of pregnancy must be like for a woman (like our daughter, Meg, who will deliver any day now).

Life is kicking inside me. I am making changes, sometimes small ones but still they will have lasting effect. My personal clean-up campaign is not running a sprint, but I am on a marathon to change my ways. And I know God is cheering me on.

New life, renewed life. It is available to us all the time.

Who Are We, Anyway?

There is much huffing and puffing on all sides these days about the federal budget and the national debt.

Certainly, our level of debt is cause for concern. And a continuing conversation about the role of government is a good thing.

But frankly, neither is the main thing. There is a bigger question of which these two concerns are each part, but neither (alone or together) is the whole. We need conversation, but this larger one is not one that I see many folks having these days.

That conversation focuses on this central question: what kind of nation do we want to be?

We are more than our debt. We are more than our government. We are more than our economy.

I am a communitarian. I admit it. I believe the good of the whole is of central importance, even as I uphold certain inalienable rights for each of us. I do not believe individual rights are safe if the whole is not healthy. I am not sure where I first got that idea, but in 60+ years of life and study it has been reaffirmed time and again. It has its roots in American history, as well as my relationship with God.

Further, I make no bones about my general attitude that the good of the whole requires attention to, and care for, those at the margins. I come by this attitude honestly: it is how I read the Bible and how I understand the teachings of Jesus. Others read the same book and hear the same teachings and come to different conclusions. And others don’t care at all about any of these texts.

So, I want us to talk a lot more about what kind of nation we want to be, what kind we feel called to be, because I must say that a lot is happening these days–and not just due to Republicans–that is causing me deep concern.

Who are we, anyway? Who are we supposed to be?

There’s No Fool . . . .

“There’s no fool like an old fool.”

How many times did my mother say that over the years (sometimes about my father)! She did not live long enough to say it about me, although I imagine she might have thought it a time or two even when I was younger.

I thought of that today as the calendar turns to April, and April Fool’s Day.

The world is in a mess. Are we the fools? Are we the old fools who are making such a mess?

We could use a court jester about now.

But I don’t see much humor these days, and what there is, seems to be edgy and ironic. I can”t remember the last time a national or state politician actually showed a sense of humor (I’m not counting the stupid things they say in all seriousness as humor).

I’m going to try to smile a lot today, and even to look for humor (although if you have to look for it, is it humor?).

I know this is a downer for a day that is supposed to be fun. But its how I feel, and I don’t think I am alone.

But then again, there’s no fool like an old fool.