samedi, novembre 08, 2008

Wise Man of West Virginia

I was touched by Senator Robert Byrd's move to relinquish his job as head of the
Senate Appropriations Committe.

Nobody had to pressure the Senator from West Virginia -- although, as it says in the NYT, he must have been aware folks were chattering.

Still an eloquent speaker, he's becoming frailer, and apparently colleagues had feared that the enormous work that committee will have to do in the coming year would be too much for Byrd.

Byrd's decision to step aside leaves the post open for Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, a youthful 84.

jeudi, novembre 06, 2008

Column from this past Saturday


In dark times, look for saints among us

Published: Nov 01, 200809:37 EST

Focus on Faith
As I sit here at my desk, a chilly rain sweeps against my window. In the yard, the brown and orange leaves raked into piles have been impelled every which way by the October wind. Simultaneously I admire their beauty against the still-green lawn, and calculate how many hours I must add to my yard time because I wasn't swift enough to read the forecast
As I consider the minor irritation of a little cold rain and a few thousand soggy leaves, I am aware that around me families are coping with much worse. Whoever he is, our next president is going to have to reach out to cities and towns across this country devastated by an economic crisis that shows, as yet, little signs of tapering off.I wish I was more holy, I think, then all of this "little stuff" wouldn't bug me.By the time you read this, it will be Nov. 1, All Saints Day. On this day, we in the "liturgical" churches, which include Anglicans and Roman Catholics, honor the work of the Jesus-followers who have gone before us, men and women known and unknown.We honor them because they revealed God's love to a world in desperate need of love, and justice and forgiveness. In ways spectacular and covert, they brightened an oftentimes gloomy world with God's light.It would make life so much simpler if we knew the saints who walk among us — we'd be on our best behavior. But God doesn't make it so easy for us.The ones we see in medieval paintings with the gilded halos around their heads? Well, there's a formal or less formal agreement that they were a blessing to someone. (Unless they got a halo by virtue of having paid for the painting!)But then there are the ones we don't know about.I had a few relatives in my life I might call, stealing a phrase from the Catholic theologian Karl Rahner, "anonymous Christians." While they were not believers, they demonstrated Christ-like love in tangible ways that left a lasting mark on me.Other saints I recall have reached out in times of doubt or sadness and spoken a word of grace or joy that helped me to see just far enough to take the next step.A professor at seminary, an elderly parishioner in my former congregation, children in the pre-school chapel service I used to lead — all of these members of the family of God have been windows letting His love gleam into shadowy places, when I wasn't willing or able to see light.This may be a dark time for you. Perhaps you are coping with chronic pain. Maybe you have a son or daughter struggling with an addiction or trapped in a bad relationship. As you face a new onslaught of credit card bills or that next auto payment, you may not be sure about how you are going to rob Peter to pay Paul.Without diminishing what you are facing in the least, let me suggest that you ponder the saints who have spoken to you in the past — and the ones who brighten your life today.Think you don't have any? Pray that God will bring someone to help you bear your burdens, or give you new eyes to see the person already there.Perhaps you are one of the fortunate folks sailing along without large challenges. Have you considered being a saint for someone who needs help?If you get to know a saint, or find a concrete way to be one in someone else's life, you may find that your perspective on it changes.Being a devout Christian is not all about observing "them," the holy ones as they set an example.It's about "you" — one child of God helping another one.Halos not required.

Elizabeth an Episcopal priest from Glenmoore, can be reached at The Focus on Faith column appears on the first Saturday of each month.

mercredi, novembre 05, 2008


Political compass aside -- and is it ever aside? I woke up still incredulous that our country had actually elected a black man as President.

First of all, my condolences to those who voted for John McCain for reasons of conscience -- and thanks for his gracious words of support for Obama last night.

Since I was a child, race has been a huge (if slightly less toxic) issue in the political arena.

And I'd be dumb to argue that it will stop being so -- there are too many older folks to whom it matters. But if on that ground alone, I'm so proud of our country today. The Europeans, who pride themselves on being so progressive, haven't done this yet.

I saw a video of conservative commentator Juan Williams tear up discussing the Obama victory - very touching.

What would the family who raised me have thought? My grandmother and great aunt, who raised us to believe people of all colors were created equal. So many marches for a dream.

My mother, who championed the right of all children to achieve. My dad, whose close and dear friend outlived him, the nation's foremost black historian.

Maybe my kids won't have to cope with a nation in which we continually evaluate others through the lens of their color. You can't call one President a trend. But we have a glimmer of hope today.

lundi, novembre 03, 2008

Have fun on Election Day

Can you buy such a whimsical notion?

I have no advice for tomorrow except "vote early, vote often." They've been doing it in Chicago for centuries.

Actually, Election Day is kind of exciting...isn't it?

I'm just ready for all of the vituperation and monkeyshines (as my late fabulous Aunt Jennie would say) to stop. Well, they won't stop. But at least people may pause to draw a breath before they start their doomsday rhetoric again.

Let's see what the victors come up with before we give up on democracy. It's a poor system, but the best we have (cribbing from Winston Churchill).

I think most of us would take it anyday.

dimanche, novembre 02, 2008

Past midnight

Last night a colleague sent around an article from Politico that touched me to the core. I'll attach it to this post tomorrow. Going into the voting booth Tuesday and choosing forces me, and thousands of others, to sacrifice my belief in the sacredness of life.

Either way, both candidates, horrible choices. I remain a conflicted Democrat, but that may change after this election. Joining the hordes of independents doesn't solve the bigger problem, but it may make me feel a little cleaner, Pharisee that I am.

Obama hasn't given an inch to the anti-abortion people in his own party. The Democratic party platform remains a hymn to abortion rights.

With his iron self-control, he.s the guy who scares me more -- because I don't think we know what's behind the mask...and because he very well may win. At least you know where McCain is coming from -- which will scare me if he wins.