jeudi, juillet 18, 2019

Undaunted, organized and taking the long view, Catholic sisters grapple with an uncertain future

In the world of American Catholic sisters, there are challenges aplenty, including coping with diminishing numbers, disposing of homes that are now way too big for them, and in some cases, finding others to carry on their mission(s).

But when it comes to creative solutions, the nuns, as they have for centuries, are bringing it.

dimanche, mars 24, 2019

The American way of gun violence

Yes, I thought grimly as I drove home.


If I/we could, let's be honest, we could come for your guns.

I'd like to regulate the sale and possession of handguns, so that parents don't come home and find

their child bleeding from a head wound in their bedroom.

I'd like to regulate the sale of semi-automatic weapons, (or assault weapons) like the ones used in

New Zealand, which they banned within less than a week,  so that it's harder for a madman to go into

a school and kill six-year-olds.

I'd regulate how you can store your lethal weapon.  I'd regulate sales at gun shows.

When I read about the second allegedly gun-related suicide of a Parkland student this week, I was

standing outside the doors of our church after a pleasant lunch with parishioners.

Seeing the notification, an involuntary "oh my God" escaped my lips.  Quickly I walked away from

the lovely couple emerging from the church doors behind me.

Because I couldn't. I really couldn't.

Let's talk about suicide.  It's on the rise in America for a number of reasons.  A lot of them are drug-


But we know that tighter gun laws have a beneficial effect on suicide rates.  A Vox article

from late last year notes:

"Experts say suicide is largely preventable. Research has shown, for instance, that states with higher rates of gun ownership also have higher rates of suicide, suggesting that tighter gun laws could lower the rate of suicide. The CDC also suggested that an emphasis on housing and financial policies and “promoting social connectedness” could prevent suicide."

If one were a cynic, one might conclude, from the howls of rage that go up whenever new gun rules

are suggested,  that many Americans would rather own guns than protect children.

Their warped interpretation of the Second Amendment is more a fig-leaf than a reasonable choice.

When gun control is proposed,  answer on the pro-gun-rights side so often seems to be: well, THAT

wouldn't work (whatever that happens to be,whether it's gun safety measures or restrictions on who

can own an assault weapon).

With the exception of banning gun stocks (and how many of us own gun stocks) the gun lobby and

members of Congress who are paid off by them fight restrictions tooth and nail - even when data

suggests that they save lives.

Suicide is a messy business, to say the least. I know that from family experience - but I wasn't the one

who had take a trip out to California to identify my brother's body. I wasn't the one who had to

dispose of his things.  I wasn't the one to live with the memory of a beloved child, now gone forever.

And still I have suffered enough to have some dim idea of what the Parkland parents are going

through right now.

But I can't imagine going through a massacre with my child and then losing them.

Three out of ten Americans own guns, according to the Pew Research Center. Right now,  they and

their supporters make choices for the rest of us.

How many more innocents will have to die before that changes?

samedi, décembre 29, 2018

Who cares about global faith stories? Uh, you should.

dimanche, octobre 28, 2018

Please don't make me choose

This morning I went to the church where I have worshipped and worked on and off for the past twenty plus years, and I was lost. 

Not physically lost, of course. The contours of the sanctuary are so familiar I could probably give a tour to a stranger who wandered in.

Instead, unexpectedly, today I felt as if I was the stranger.  I didn't like the sensation at all.

It wasn't for lack of affection given or received. Part of what I love about this congregation is how motley it is, embracing an array of people with diverse beliefs on everything from liturgical practice to same-sex marriage. Attend the eleven o'clock in the original sanctuary and hear a traditional Episcopal Rite II service, complete with choir. Walk over to the newer church and experience a less formal service and a lot of folks praying with raised hands and lustily singing praise music

Normally I'm one of them.

But I was raised in a Jewish home.  My cousins on both sides of the family (some, anyway) are still observant.  And even if they aren't observant, they are still Jewish.  So even though I converted many decades ago, and "pass" as a devout Christian, my Jewish roots go deep. 

The men and women murdered in Pittsburgh yesterday died simply because they were Jewish, worshipping on the Sabbath. The visceral grief and fear I felt today was probably shared by people all across America - but especially by those who have observed the spike in anti-semitism over the past two years with concern and now with horror.

Jesus was a Jew.  Christians don't engage that messy truth very often in church, but there is no indication that he renounced his ethnic identity or beliefs - he came to fulfill the law, Scripture tell us, not to abolish it.

I sat on the hard pews. I stood. I watched. I prayed. I wept.  I have rarely felt so isolated in the midst of a friendly crowd. 

With increasing anxiety, I wondered - does anyone here really care that much? Or is it, for them, a passing tragedy, to be noted and then forgotten?

I don't have an answer. It's not fair to expect that non-Jews will experience the Pittsburgh synagogue slaughter the same way Jewish person might (and there is no one way or a right way). Perhaps I would have done better, today, to attend a vigil service with those gathered purposefully to mourn and celebrate the holy lives lost yesterday.

"Today we are all Jews," said Maura Healey at the Boston vigil to mourn the dead and support the living who need to find ways to go on.

I hope many of you will be Jews (or blacks, or high school students, or gay or immigrants) tomorrow, too.

Heaven knows, we need you.

jeudi, septembre 13, 2018

Who is affected by the opioid crisis? The person in the pew next to you.

If your pastor isn't talking about the opioid addiction crisis - ask them why not.

samedi, septembre 08, 2018

Our little town

Less than half-way through Community Day, the skies opened (actually, they re-opened).

I knew it was still happening, though, because I heard the Glenmoore Fire Company sirens. The Fire Company, staffed by locals, is an integral part of pretty much every event we have - and their open house is a community occasion.

Stuck at home answering emails about a story, I didn't actually leave the house until Community Day was almost two-thirds over.

Having parked my car behind the Firehouse, I took off down our Main Street (otherwise known as Route 282).  Even in the pouring rain, the Victorian houses adorned with gingerbread trim and other decorative flourishes looked lovely. Some seemed to have gotten a more recent coat of paint than did others. Bikes crammed some porches, others were a visual feast of hanging flowers and plants.
Before I had gotten too far, a friend stopped and offered me a ride. Grateful but determined to appreciate a street I often view without truly seeing,  I pushed on.

Prosperity has certainly touched Glenmoore with its golden cloak.  Try hard enough, and you can find homes  starting at $750,000. People with acreage could sell it to developers and become multimillionaires. Generally, they don't seem to want to do so.

But there aren't too many of that homes on Main Street. Cars aside, it is still possible to imagine it was it was 100 years ago.

And when I got to Wagenseller Park, residents were chatting with each other and enjoying the band, and the chicken barbeque sold by the Fire Company as a fundraiser pretty much the way they might have in 1918.

Only we didn't have women running for the PA House and Senate in 1918, did we? The 19th Amendment to the Constitution wasn't even ratified until 1920.

We love our little town in part because time seems to pause if not stop.  But not enough to turn back the clocks that far - do we?