vendredi, février 02, 2007

For the good of the church

Once upon a time, in another land, I was active in a congregation that was full of light. The men, the women, even the children tried to live in harmony with the teachings of Jesus, and with each other. If you put on a program at that church, you could be assured that some people would show up. The music was wonderful, the campus large, the staff and lay leaders truly devoted to making the congregation into a a beacon for the Gospel.

Once upon a time, in that land, I worked in a church that was all too open to darkness. Perilously often, the leaders forgot that they were supposed to be merciful as well as judgmental, loving and inviting as well as critical. They drew the drawbridge up, proclaiming themselves the only keepers of the light. Many came, attracted by the idea of being part of a chosen community. Some left quietly, put off by the aura of arrogance, or wounded by the very human misdeeds of unaccountable leadership. Generation after generation kept secrets, thinking that they were doing it for the good of the church, but making it more comfortable for bad things to be done in darkness.

Of course, I am describing one and the same church. Perhaps I am describing most churches.

It is a congregation with a great capacity for doing good, but a frightening capacity for doing harm. It is also a church where some of the leadership has been put in the unfortunate position of baptisizing behavior that they had qualms about-"for the good of the church." Lots of nasty things are done "for the church of the church"-that does not make them anymore excusable.

I am rather quick to be critical of what I feel is a lack of personal integrity on the part of men and women who had the opportunity to stand up to leadership and instead pretended they were powerless.

After all, Jesus showed us a different sort of power-strength in weakness, power in humility.

Yet I wonder how I would behave, were I in such a position of leadership. Perhaps I would not do much better than they did.

Seeing the damage happen once again with the blessing of a little distance, I have to wonder: how hard is it to stand up for what you believe is right? How costly is it to deal with the consequences? Is courage a matter of grace or genes or maybe some of both? Or are there only certain men and women who know the consequences...and defend the weak and powerless anyway?

jeudi, février 01, 2007

Later rather than sooner

We're going interactive!

Well, we thought we were. My intention is to start posting some of the essayettes on this blog (the ones I think are half-way decent) as audio files as well as text files. I've joined a audio file sharing company which is supposed to post my files to the blog. Because I'm mildly technologically challenged, I haven't quite gotten them to upload my posts to this blog...nor do I have any idea as to whether there is an audience who wishes to hear them. But, as in many things in life, I leave that choice to you. Reading me might be more than enough, or maybe even too much sometimes...have a cup of tea, and go back to that novel!

By the way, I think that was a very cheap shot Fox News took at Anderson Cooper...or was it Paris Hilton they were trying to offend? What's wrong with SNAG'S (Sensitive New Age Guys)?After broadcasting false accusations about Senator Barack Obama having gone to an Islamic madrassa, Fox might want to look at some of its own reporters-and think about adding Ms. Hilton to its news staff.

mardi, janvier 30, 2007

One smart Republican

Driving back from the gym tonight I heard the end of a conversation that Terry Gross, host of the NPR program "Fresh Air", was having with Senator John Kyl. Sometimes lost in the shadow of the 'other' Senator from Arizona, John McCain, Kyl just happens to be his parties' third in command. Two barometers of how reliably conservative Kyl is: he is to the right of President Bush on immigration and he has come out (as it were) against gay marriage. Given the amount of unctuous baloney that passes for political conversation in D.C., Kyl sounded candid, straightforward, and intelligent. Gross, who has proved over and over again what a good interviewer she is, had a couple of misses today. Questioning Kyl about dissonance between his opinion on gay marriage and the fact that VP Dick Cheney's daughter is a partnered, pregnant lesbian is a major stretch, in my opinion. Kyl's not married to Dick Cheney, he just happens to share a party affiliation with him-and if Cheney refuses to answer questions about Mary Cheney, why the heck should Jon Kyl? In addition, Mary Cheney makes an odd subject for a symbol of discrimination-nor is there much indication that she wants to be the subject of a crusade. Although gay marriage may be a cause celebre among the chattering classes,left and right, it doesn't seem to arouse simmering passions among moderates. There is growing support for legal rights for partners, but no great public outcry for gay marriage-which suggests, agree or not, that Americans draw a distinction between cohabitation and marriage. Gross's other mistake was most unlike her, but it was also unintentionally funny-she asked Kyl about his father, the Congressman. Gross thought that he was still alive, and serving in Congress. Congressman Kyl, who died several years ago, left Congress decades ago. What most impressed me about the present Kyl was his willingness to take a hard look at why the Republicans lost-and why, from his viewpoint, they deserved to lose. His reasons, while apt, are do not tell the whole story. But his capacity for self criticism, particularly while serving as a mouthpiece for the minority, is relatively rare. Although Kyl will not openly blame the mendacity and arrogance of this Administration for the Democratic triumph in both Houses of Congress, he must quietly reflect on what it would have been like to have a conservative President who knew how to work with his party, and not against it.

lundi, janvier 29, 2007

Follow up to last night's post-call me naive

I met a two of my journalist friends for lunch today. Over sandwiches and soup in a Puerto Rican luncheonette we talked about careers, our families and the politics of reporting. One of us commented that the "kicker quote" at the end of a piece can tell the reader how the writer really feels about a particular issue. I'm not sure that even the most able journalist can write about issues he or she carers about in an objective manner. We talked about the value of moving from covering controversial issues in a way that polarizes to covering them from an individual, human perspective (what if newspapers reported on abortion or the war in Iraq that way?) I regaled them with some of my dating adventures (and misadventures)-their tolerant incredulity at my ignorance was humbling, to say the least. It felt like a tough love session with a couple of big brothers. I realized that, as I said last night, I had spent many years in a virtual cocoon-and was blithely oblivious to signs of trouble that most other people might have picked up on. Although he agreed with me that I was naive, one of them said that my desire to see the inner light in everyone I met was one of my endearing qualities. I hope so-because I don't seem to be able to shake it.