I saw David Brooks, on Charlie Rose, observe that, “I am a Whig.” I suspect I may be one too. Brooks suggested that there are not two trends conservative and liberal in America. Rather there are three: liberal which seeks to use government to increase equity, conservative which seeks to limit government to increase freedom, and a third way, call it “Whig” which seeks to use liberal and yet vibrant government to increase love, relationship and mutual growth.
I am trying to think about how that triad works in terms of national policies. I have been recalling President and Mrs. Kennedy who defined his career as, “politician” and hers as, “politics.” They understood that they probably possessed at best partial truth, and that the opposition might have some part too. So, to quote another president,Ronald Reagan, “It is better to have a piece of the pie, than no pie at all.” About the same time, the Senate had two leaders, Ev Dirksen for the Republicans, and Lyndon Johnson for the Democrats. They were famous for being two of the three leaders – the third being the Jack Daniels Whiskey they shared after each session. We were the most centrist country around, and the most successful.
These few people met, debated, argued, discussed, and then brought their members into the coalition. For decades, they effectively ran the country. We were better for them. They agreed with President Kennedy that, “politician” was an honorable title, with Eisenhower that
politics and compromise were how the country was designed to work.
So the question, what is wrong with us now? I think the,”tea party” movements (they are legion) have grown out of the social media phenomena. It is observable, and many have, that we now have a mix of anonymity and access that allows us to be horribly rude. We can express horrible ideas about each other, never know one another, dispise compromise, and avoid the reactions and responses with a key stroke. With humanity's unerring guidance system engaged we have managed to take the magnificent benefits of our technology and turn it to sin.
Add in our propensity to be about ourselves first, call it racism, homophobia, or Trump, and we have a perfect storm. We do not do compromises any more. We do not do politics. We instead, “primary” any one who does. And in the most sinful way, we claim this is virtue. After all, when we refuse to see the other person's view, we are "pure."
It is clear to me that the fault lies on both sides. Angry “conservatives” are no worse than smug “liberals." Both fail precisely because, of their legalistic puritanism. I cannot make you a progressive, nor should I seek to do so. But at the same moment, I should not dismiss you if you are not. I am not correct, I possess a portion of the same truths you share.
We need to learn politics again. We need to consider the possibility that some of us have a point, eve if we do not like it much. We need to bring collegiality back to our institutions.
Maybe we need to start with Jack Daniels. I have no idea if Mrs. Clinton whom I hope will be our next president drinks, nor do I know if Speaker Ryan does. But I do know that if they, and half a dozen others do, and get together to consider how to move government and society forward, on a regular basis, we will be a better, safer nation. There is something to be said for freedom, but also for commonwealth.
There are evil ideas abroad. Anything Ayn Rand wrote or said comes under that rubric in my view. Misuse of social media so it becomes almost anti-social media, privacy taken to an idolatrous level, attempting to enforce inclusion and diversity on people, all of these are evil. We need politics, a chance to be ourselves and grow together instead of becoming an ever more self-segregating collection of ideologues.
Ideology, at the end of the day is almost always sinful. Liberal ideologues are not better, conservative ideologues are not better. Compromise is better. I guess I am a Whig. Who knew?
My friend and No Anglican Covenant Coalition colleague June recently posted this part of Leviticus on Facebook.
"When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God."
That made me recall similar verses especially this.
for my house shall be called a house of prayer
for all peoples.
8 Thus says the Lord God,
who gathers the outcasts of Israel,
I will gather others to them
besides those already gathered
So where do we go from here? The easy thing for a liberal, progressive, democrat (moi) is to point out how far God is from the "wall" and the immigration policies various GOP candidates espouse. In fact, it is too easy.
Yes, Mr. Trump's slander of Mexicans, his Islamophobia, his anti-immigrant stand generally, is an easy, and appropriate target. Most of the national voices in the Republican party are not far from Mr. Trump. So, easy targets.
But ask yourself, how do we alleged progressives have to boast about. It is democrats who run the ghetto cities, Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, Los Angeles, Washington, and especially New York. It is so-called progressives who are mayors in most of these cities. Those cities are a major part of the democrat's vote totals in general elections.
In plain language none of us pink white people, none of us, "natives" should preen. We all live in a world where the alien is either excluded, INS works for us, or is exploited, or both. Most of of the fast food chains, where let's be honest, we all eat from time to time, rely on undocumented aliens for back of of the house labor. Living on the run, the undocumented never have time to claim the benefits they earn. Guess who keeps the money!
Very little has changed since Woody wrote this.
Shame America, we can do better.
Pascha is perhaps the more common name for Easter, the feast of the resurrection of Jesus. This is the last day of the Christian Triduum, the three days that begin with the execution on Calvary, and culminate with the women coming to the empty tomb. For Christians, this is the moment of triumph for Jesus and the beginning of the reconciliation of God with creation. For liturgical devouts, Anglicans, Lutherans, Moravians, Orthodox, and Roman Catholics, the Great Vigil that moves from Holy Saturday to the announcement, "Alleluia He Is Risen" is the crowning moment of all liturgy.
So today is not merely special, it is pivotal. As St. Paul said, "If Christ be not risen, then our faith is in vain." But we believe, indeed it is central, that the resurrection happened. So too, did Patti. This day, on which we in the West celebrate resurecction, Patti joined the celebration. This is so hard, and hard for Pam, her kids, Patti's cousins, and those of us who loved her and Brian.
Ah but for Patti this is the day of resurrection! For her this is the day of reunion with Brian, her folks, her uncles and aunts, and so many others. And I suspect she will be seeing Mary and St. Teresa. For her this is joy and triumph. At noon, roughly, in Denver, she departed this life, and became one of the cloud of witnesses who surround the faithful. For those of us who love her, there are tears and a deep sense of loss. For her there is joy and connection with her many friends, loves, and puppies. Yes, I believe the pups will be there. Others are less inclined to my view, we shall all see. As of yesterday, Patti sees clearly.
Rest in peace and rise in glory Patti. Let your joy overflow.
How does one do this? How to say thanks for something this profound?
I finished my first chemotherapy session. I am still here, and functioning, but I gather it was not cut and dried. I reacted so badly to the initial dose of drugs that the doctors were forced to suspend the injection process. The special crash team dosed me with large (relatively) amounts of benadryl, while my doctor sat with my brother, until my reactions calmed down and the injection could go on.
Or so I hear. I was of course there, but I was equally not. What I do know is the reaction to the chemotherapy has to have been somewhere near 10 on the pain scale. Because I have almost no memory of it. A few disconnected flashes of searing hurt, and nothing. OK, some of that is really good doctoring. I could not have contributed anything, so why not let me stay unconscious? So some of this I know second hand.
Sue-z went to take care of grandkids thinking not much would happen. So except for caring, wonderful nursing, and medical staff it was just me when the chemo began. Except my brother Tom was there. I hear my brother Rick would be later. They stayed by me, without getting in the staff's way, until the danger had passed, and I was merely sleeping.
Sometimes siblings have difficult relationships. But also sometimes we recall that mom wanted us to have each other precisely so we could love each other -- and it works. So thank you both! You answered the call: A new command I give you, that you love one another.
I am blessed with a huge array of friends and family who love me, and a healing team that cares deeply about its patients. And always, till death do us part, there is Sue-z. Sue-z who keeps things going, refuses to tolerate my fears, and always affirms my eventual salvation. Cancer has little chance!
So Archbishop Welby decided to bring the primates (that is first or leading bishops) together to talk and pray. Given the inability of the arch-misleaders to agree on much, we have issues with the first affirmation of the church, "Jesus is Lord" in unison,I thought he was quite optimistic.
The Americans cannot manage to say the Nicene Creed together. I won't say the "et filioque" the statement that the Holy Spirit is begotten of the Father and the Son. I think it is an error. People have been excommunicated for holding both my view and its opposite. While Americans are not prone to excommunication, the history is still there.
Modern, "Conservatives," so called, are much fonder of limiting church membership. So much so that the context of gatherings sometimes eludes them. This appears to be such a time.
His Grace of Canterbury did not call a, "Primate's Meeting" into session. He can, with His Grace of York do that. They didn't, probably in fear of exactly what happened. This "gathering" for "conversation" turned into a let's-slap the-Americans session. Clearly, the intent and agenda of His Grace were ignored. His Grace wanted a discussion leading to a plan which allowed both the liberal North and the ultra-Conservative South to share a space, and both talk and pray together. Uganda, and its friends came looking for a path to exclude those who have the temerity to believe something they don't. The excluders seem to have taken over and imposed their hate-filed views on at least the final communique.
So, did the right-wing, "win?" No. TEC is still itself. ACCanada is still itself. CoE remains the established and moving church in England, (They seated the first female in Lords today!) TEC Scotland has not suddenly become conservative, nor has the Church of Wales. The actual governing body of the Communion, the ACC has no reason to obey or further the communique, in fact institutionally, it has reasons to ignore the primates. Unlike the ad hoc gathering, it has constitutional status. Paying attention to the primates would arguably reduce its status.
So keeping the second meaning of primates (monkeys) before us, we can look at the gathering as a swarm making noise, but signifying nothing. In that sense it is sort of like a Republican debate....
We are told of the coming of God, that the people who were in darkness have seen a great light. What are we to do with that in a secular culture that considers Christmas over after the flood of returned gifts and clearance sales ends. We have not, the secular culture proclaims, seen a great light, unless this year it is the combustion of a hover-board.
Bp.Lee preached in Advent in our parish. His message was not that the secular and commercial aspects of Christmas are wrong. Rather, he called us to slow down, take some time for ourselves, and let the story of a 14 year old girl, some angels, a carpenter, and a birth talk to us.
To the surprise of visitors, Episcopalians, Lutherans, and Roman Catholics are still singing Christmas carols in church this week. While the rest of the world rushes off into post-Christmas merchandising, we are singing, "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," and, "Joy to the World."
There is still time. Christmas is not over. As Dickens wrote, we can keep it in our hearts all year. There is never a moment when we do not need to be the Jesus movement, and never a moment when the world does not need that movement. From now, today until Ash Wednesday, the liturgy contemplates the Epiphany event, that those in darkness have seen a great light. The lessons, and songs are intended to aid in contemplating what it was we saw in that birth, those journeys, that baby, and eventually, that life.
Take some time, a few minutes a day, and as Mary did, think about those things. What did you see as the couple took their child and fled to Egypt? What are you, am I, fleeing? Will we respond to the call to return?
I believe the best time for a "Children's Pageant" is not Christmas, it is at the Epiphany. After all, "epiphany" means insight. Offering us their understanding of the event, the children can share something very special. We used to do this in my current parish, but the schedule won, it is easier for relatives to see the event if they are making Christmas visits.
But(!)at the end of the season, as the greens come down, this is a good time to ask ourselves what we saw in that stable? Take some time, consider the bravery of a couple of unmarried teenagers, treading through the desert to Egypt as strangers, carrying a divine baby. Why do we think it matters? How should we respond?
The thing about facing 70 is that one has been through it all at least once. I have been through Donald Trump before. His name was Joe McCarthy.
At the end of World War Two, the euphoria that America experienced after the defeat of both Germany, and Japan, gave way to fear. That fear was caused by, and focused on the Soviet Union and China. We summarized that as, "godless Marxism."
How afraid of Marxism were we? Congress, always a bellwether of our fears added the words, "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance. We went from a post Civil War affirmation, "One nation" to "One Nation under God. Somehow, some Americans believed that if we just said that loud and often enough, we would create a world without Marx. To say the least, that was not a success. The damage done to the First Amendment is perhaps a topic for another post.
We became more afraid. As our fear rose, the level of our political discourse, and the quality of our candidates fell. By 1952, an out-of-control alcoholic, bombastic, and dishonest demagogue named Joseph McCarthy had become a national politician. He left a new, "ism," word: McCarthyism. He fed on the fears of the country, and very nearly took control of the Senate, and presidency. He had allies in the fear business, Richard Nixon, Bishop Sheen, and a fairly large number of protestant clergy.
So what do we say about this time in America? The Christmas story we Christians tell ourselves in almost countless children's pageants, begins when an Angel appears to Mary and says,
“Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”[c] 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
Luke 1 v28 - 30, The Holy Bible, English Standard Version as found at this site
The Christmas story, as told by Luke, Mathew, and explained by John, over and over again tells us, "Do not be afraid" for a reason. It is fear, which is the enemy of faith, love, and democracy. Irrational fear of minorities, ethnic, gender, or religious, is the tool of the demagogue.
I do not mean we should be headless. Yes, we should maintain an office of vigilance, looking at whom it is who seeks our visa. Yes we should feel free to exclude fundamentalists, jihadists, of any religion. And yes we should seek out Constitutional ways to regulate the application of the Second Amendment. Some of my progressive / liberal friends fear guns at the same irrational level Mr. Trump asks us to fear Muslims, so we need to be careful in this action too.
But we need always, to say to ourselves: do not be afraid. Informed caution does not tarnish the many for the evil actions of the few.
In the process of not being afraid, we need to cast the Trump candidacy on the scrap heap of history, next to McCarthyism, and its European cousins. Be not afraid, be active, committed to you faith as it may be, and seek to move forward.