19 September 2014

Someone, Preferably Someone "Progressive" Needs to Say This -- Dear Mr. Barkley

Dear Mr. Barkley:

I have been a fan of yours for a long time. When you were battling the Bulls for the NBA championship, even though I live near Chicago, I was hoping you might win one. We had plenty after all. I have enjoyed your perspective and ability as a sportscaster too. Until this week.

You see this week you did untold damage to the African American community, to kids generally, and to America. In the process you handed a victory to the very worst part of my white history.

White racists, the KKK, but also a lot of idiots who would never join a social outcast group like that, (might get our lily white hands dirty!) used the line for years. The reason for slavery, for Jim Crow, for de jure segregation, for de facto segregation, for all of the crap my people handed yours, was that Blacks simply did not understand the cultured approach. And last week, you bought the line. During slavery, it was whites explaining the reason for beatings was that Blacks only understood a whipping. Last week the Klan did not have to say that -- you did it for them.

In a real way you demonstrated the horrible fact that abusers can make the abused believe it is their fault. "Black parents in the South" all beat their kids according to you. I doubt it is true, but what is terrifying, is that you might be correct! You said out loud what I am guessing way too many Americans Black and White were thinking -- you validated their excuse for the abuse.

"Slave thinking" as some call it, or Stockholm Syndrome, runs deep. It is the eternal shame of White America that some of us did this to Black people. When Sue-z and I were civil rights demonstrators in the 60's, we heard "what will the Whites think" derided as, "slave thinking." I knew Mark and Fred before Cook County murdered them, and they had the right answer, "Who gives a damn what Whites think?"

So if you choose to dismiss me because I am indeed an old white hippie type, so be it. But consider this: what about how black people think? What about the next 4 year old who is beaten, the next child who dies? It does matter how you speak to those potential abusers who think "Southern Black parents" all beat their kids.


J. Andrew (Jim) Beyer

14 September 2014

War and Memories

Some of us, the ones with the fearful faces and white hair, remember that because USA would not become involved in, "another land war in Asia" (after Korea) we sent, "advisors" to a country most of us did not know existed. A place called, "Viet Nam." 58,220 dead US service women and men later, we lost. OK, I know president Nixon called it, "Peace with Honor." But, if and this is what we were told, we went to war to keep marxism at bay, consider that Viet Nam is in fact a Communist country. If, as we were also told, we went to war to maintain the integrity of South Viet Nam, look at the map. There is no South Viet Nam. We lost.

I was there. We lost. Every single objective articulated in that war, every single one, was not achieved.

Here is something though, no one can disparage the courage and dedication of the American forces, or dispute the superiority of the American war fighting technology. Our people, in the air and on the ground, fought bravely - in the end it did not matter.

We lost because we had stunningly bad leadship in Congress, the White House, and the Pentagon. One glance at the Speaker and other Congressional leadership today, and yes, I am scarred.

When Mr. Nixon met with Mao in the process of opening a relationship with China, Mao asked why we had allowed the North Vietnamese to win. He told Nixon his entire foreign policy in the region was based on the assumption we would win.

In the end, we lost because we lost our nerve.

So here we go again, talking about limited war, sending advisors, and bombers.

The first American casualty in what remarkably we call the "Cold War" (was it "cold" in Viet Nam?) was a young man named John Birch. The father of the Koch brothers used the name (without permission) to start an ultra rightwing group, The John Birch Society. They claimed anyone who did not do their will was a traitor. Not much has changed.

And that is why the folkies with the white hair look scarred. We have danced this dance before. 58,220 Americans and Heaven only knows how many Vietnamese died. And we lost. Even if we had won, the cost was not worth it. Viet Nam could have become one Communist country in the 60's without any harm to the US, and we would have avoided the death and destruction the war visited on it, and us. No good was served by that war. Yes, I am scarred.

08 September 2014

It is party time!

Emmanuel parish loves a good party. Our October fest was a total success last year. If you live anywhere near Chicago, this is a destination for your Saturday. If you are a runner, Saturday morning you can run through beautiful LaGrange, do good for some very deserving folks, and then after you recover, come for the beer, brats, and fun.

06 September 2014

"Re-imagining" the Church

Long before "air piracy," "hijacking," and, "911" became household words, the doors to flight decks on commercial airliners locked so that flight crew had to open them to let anyone into he area. If you asked, you were told this was to avoid distractions, but the truth was the airlines recognized the tendency of panicked foolish passengers to for not obvious reason think they could take the controls and do better in a crises. Those who study mutinies note another interesting and perhaps complementary trend. After the hated captain is disposed of, the mutineers often appoint a new leader who is frequently more brutal than the officer they disposed. Roman law suspended the rule of the Senate in favor of dictators who could deal with a crises. Eventually the Ceasars figured out crises can be permanent.

What brings those thoughts to mind is the report of the commission, "to imagine the church." The fools want to take over the cockpit. And why not, it works so well in flight!

The report imagines a church where pesky things like Executive Council, uppity laity, democracy, and pastoral criteria for popes presiding bishops, are replaced with a managerial model. Do not look for the pastoral bishop to be our chief pastor, the new idea would be, look for a great manager.

Bp. William White argued against a separate House of Bishops. He was right. The report is the sure sign that someone wants to take over. I shall be reviewing sections of it in detail here over the next few weeks. For now, I am too repulsed to write further. For now, one example: the new image limits General Convention and requires pre-approved resolutions. That will keep the laity in its place!

05 September 2014

Short Observtions

  • Right wing Christians face a problem. Their entire system is designed to benefit wealthy people at the expense of the poor. Jesus said, "You cannot serve God and wealth." So what is it gonna be?
  • Just think about it: America with freedom and surveillance for all! Sort of makes you proud doesn't it?
  • Atheism is belief that everything is seen. And they sell this as logical?
  • Denying white privilege exists, from the top, is like an English duke denying there is a class system.
  • Poor, poor Illinois. We have a record for former governors in prison at one time. Now we have an, "Illinois Family Institute" which makes the Westboro Baptists look Christian. Westboro may have to become more extreme to compete.
  • Speaking of which, here is a life's goal: Live so that when you die, Westboro pickets the funeral. How? Live like St. Francis or Jesus.
  • Are you planing to celebrate, "Banned Book Week?" If not, why not? In America, the books the censors go after are often fantasies. After all, how can Harry Potter not be banned when no one burns the witches? Seriously, some fundygelicals took that view!
    It strikes me that conservatives (self identified,) and Christians (even more self identified) might want to be against censorship. Probably the most banned books in the world are those in the "New Testament."
  • Somehow the same fools who object to Banned Book Week are upset that under, "Common Core," States have to comply with minimum educational goals. I do not understand their surprise. When you take the Fed's money, you get the Fed's rules.
Never a dull week.

03 September 2014

War of Jenkin's Ear

In 1739, England went to war with Spain. One of the causes cited by the English was alleged abuse of English merchantmen by Spain. A specific example was the display of a severed ear, allegedly cut from a merchant captain, Robert Jenkins. Europe was ready to explode into wars, and this one did not exactly end, it simple merged into another European war. Wikipedia has a rather good discussion of this war and its successors.

I first heard of this war in a college history class, so you may have missed. The war began with British politicians reacting to the alleged atrocities, and setting out to punish Spain. In a sense, they got there. Spain was the big looser in the war and its successors. On the other hand, the wars lasted until the 19th century, with France going through revolution, terror and the Bonaparte empire, most of Europe eventually invaded by one side or another, and two wars that eventually established USA independence. The 18th century was bathed in bloodshed.

1739, England and Spain. 2014, USA and allies versus ISIS/ISIL. There is every reason for any reasonable person to be outraged at the murderous atrocities ISIS has visited on Iraq, Syria, and two Americans. Like the war of 1739, outrage abounds. And yet, we need we humans, a more specific target. Tyrants, stupidly, provide those targets. We won't fight for Iraqi women, but we will avenge two journalists. Which leads to a question: should we?

Let's look back again. The war that began in 1739 effectively ended in 1848! It is impossible to even estimate how much art, science, and love was lost in that period. In the end, Spain and France's imperial dreams were shattered. If that is what England and its eventual allies wanted, I suppose they won. What price victory?

I am not arrogant enough to ask, let alone tell you the answer to the sometimes question: What Would Jesus Do? That is not our department. None of us are Jesus. What would Jesus have us do? That is a question I think we each can attempt. I simply do not know the answer.

31 August 2014

33 Years! A Long Friendship

33 years ago, Sue-z and I baby in arms, came to the Episcopal Church. We were somewhat battered, the Missouri Synod Congregation of my youth and most of our marriage had become an evangelical right-wing place we could no longer abide. We found people who maintained the catholic worship traditions we loved, welcomed us into their church, and recruited us into their ministries. In short the Gospel as it was intended was alive and well at Emmanuel!

Emmanuel's people were so good at pulling new people in, that we were both singing in the choir, I was reading lessons as a lector, and Sue-z was learning the altar guild's tasks, before we had decided to leave Missouri Synod. In fact, we decided when we realized how completely we haed become, very quickly, involved in Emmanuel. Michael was one of our healers as we passed through the pain of separation and the joy of becoming new "Episcopals."

Michael was a major part of that welcoming, enfolding hospitality. Secure in the parish he had become a member of at baptism, he held the doors open wide, his arms ready to hug, and his infectious smile ever ready.

Michael embodied the maxim, "Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi." Literally, this translates, "as we pray, so we believe. Ask a specific question about the faith, he was completely competent to answer it. But he preferred his liturgical and visiting ministries He showed via what he did, what he believed. That alone is an epitaph for the ages.

Michael became a verger about a year ago. Emmanuel has not benefited from the ministry of vergers very often. They are rare in the diocese of Chicago. Michael made it sing. His precise, dedicated completely involved approach to liturgy, his gentle correction when something did not go well, and his sense of humour served him, and Emmanuel well. He showed us all how he prayed, and through his other ministries, how that worked in his belief and life.

This morning, after a short but difficult battle with coronary arrhythmia and various breathing issues, Michael passed from life, through death, to life everlasting. He carried with him the love of the congregation, the clergy he served for decades, and the devotion and love of his family. He also carried a bit of my heart.

He finished his race, a life well and devoutly lived. May he rest in peace and rise in glory!
St Laika's

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