samedi, novembre 05, 2016

Why did the Republicans try to court Amish voters?

mercredi, octobre 05, 2016

The Amish legacy of forgiveness endures ten years after Nickel Mines: Philadelphia Inquirer

samedi, octobre 01, 2016

Ten years after the Nickel Mines shootings, the work of forgiveness continues

lundi, juillet 25, 2016

A journalist reflects on why sex abuse by clergy continues to haunt Pennsylvania - and its churches.

mercredi, juillet 20, 2016

PA State Representative Mark Rozzi's "je t'accuse" ecclestiastical Philadelphia moment

vendredi, juillet 08, 2016

Do our polarized views on race and violence represent an America being torn apart?

Two African American men shot and killed at the hands of police in cold blood on the streets of Baton Rouge and St. Paul.

Five police officers murdered by snipers near the end of a peaceful protest route in Dallas.  Dallas, a city in which the police have worked successfully to bring down the arrest rate and number of officer-involved shootings.

Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla.  Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.  Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Md.  The Justice Department, which investigated the Martin and Brown cases, couldn't prosecute (and it's looking unlikely that any police officer will be convicted in Gray's death), because to do so would mean proving intent.

But we, the American people, who generally aren't judges or jury members - we don't really need to prove intent, a tremendously high bar.

The problem we're having isn't really isn't solely about bad cops, though there certainly are rogue policemen.

To be clear - it's  not an excuse for the horrific killings of black men to say that unless they have accompanied officers on patrol, most Americans probably don't have much idea of the pressures under which many policemen and women actually work.

Maybe it would help for some of us to learn more.  It's possible that some of the aberrant behavior we have seen is a result not only of bias but of lack of training, overexposure to violence, or a culture of toxic masculinity. It may be no coincidence that one of the gunmen was an Army reservist who served in Afghanistan.

But at least in part, there's a larger problem - it's us.

A long time arriving here, many of us have stubbornly refused to see the toll institutional racism and militarization is taking on the daily lives, not only of minorities, but of what we claim to value most about our culture: mutual respect, compassion, civility, the humane decency that should inform our democracy.

Centuries of racism aren't erased with a war over slavery, Congressional legislation like the Voting Rights Act, affirmative action, or even proactive policing policies (though those offer some real hope of success in reducing the carnage).

When I watched those videos (once was enough), and read the articles, the first question that sprang to mind was: why were those officers so afraid? Is fear of blackness that engrained in some of us that our first response is to shoot?

That black men are killed at a higher incidence than anyone else (except a smaller population of Native Americans) isn't up for debate. The question is why.

Given your political leanings, it's way too easy to fall into these traps.  I'm sure you can name many more.

If police are generally good, the protesters must be bad. If the protesters have justice on their side, there must be no good police.  

Men and women of goodwill can respect the authority and good intentions of most officers of the law while expecting them to treat African-American men like human beings - at a minimum.

These tragic incidents are all about white rage. No wait, they are all about black rage. 

Let's not confuse the Black Lives Matter movement with a sniper atop a building shooting white officers.  Conversely it's not helpful to  imagine that every white person is filled with racial hatred.

White Americans have no right to prescribe a fix for racism.  White Americans are solely responsible for fixing it. 

First and foremost, privileged white men and women have got to find a way to sit still and listen to the pain of our black sisters and brothers.  But it's also true that there is no way our culture can heal without white participation, given the power we wield in more or less measure.

This crisis is all about racial justice. Or about police misconduct. Or America's toxic gun culture. 

Wise voices among us, like Congressman John Lewis, are calling us out on all three counts.

In embracing anyone of these perspectives, with polarization as our default setting, we have abandoned not only reason but responsibility for the fate of this country many of us claim to love. It's broken.

If we  don't take a hard look at our own assumptions, the favored narratives that inform our perspectives, there's really no hope of substantive change.

Do we really want to be a society that slaughters or incarcerates its African-American young men or has lost faith in the rule of law? Is the bloodstained, angry, fearful America we saw this week the best that we can do?

There have been few times in recent history when the questions seemed so pressing - and the need to find constructive and hopeful answers so great.  Are you scared enough yet?

I am.

dimanche, juin 19, 2016

After Orlando - when narratives compete, nobody wins

#Orlando  #gayrights #guncontrol 

vendredi, juin 17, 2016

Think Jo Cox's death needn't matter to you? Think again #weareyorkshiretoo

This past week, along with many if not most of you, I have struggled to take in the horror of the 

shootings of 49 mostly young, mostly queer men and women of color by an extremist, a 

slaughter so immense that it seems to divide one epoch of time from another - as though, 

somehow we cannot but emerge changed, if not in heart, at least in the words we use, and 

the way we use them.

I suppose that's progress.   Balance against those incremental steps our culture's unhinged

 fascination with guns and violent death and the insanity of our current political scene and 

it's hard to see a clear path to compromises on many of the intrinsic problems that continue

 to  shadow our culture, including bias against people of color, the threat of more terrorist 

events and the stream of  bills targeting gay and transgender men and women currently 

under discussion in state legislatures.

We're in turmoil. It's easy to feel immobilized, panicked, or determined to just take care of

our own "tribe."

So why should we pause to mourn the killing of a lone female legislator thousands of miles away?

Because when things are apparently getting worse and worse, she reminds us of what we 

could be at our best. 

Because we also, like the U.K.  are a democracy under threat.  

Because it's possible her courage may embolden us, as well as her fellow citizens to step out of the 

shadows, and have the bravery to advocate for those who can't speak for themselves.

According to those who knew Cox, she was a person of  profound character and conviction. Colleagues and friends who worked alongside the Labour MP from Yorkshire described a woman of passion and purpose - someone who seemed destined for leadership.  
“We’ve lost a great star,” Prime Minister David Cameron told the BBC, according to the Washington Post. “She had a huge heart. She was a very compassionate, campaigning MP. She was a bright star, no doubt about it — a star for her constituents, a star for Parliament, and a star right across the House, and we have lost a star.”

An advocate for remaining in the European Union (the so-called "Brexit" vote looms next week),

 she was a voice of conscience and an advocate for Syrian refugees -as well as someone 

who appreciated the many voices and backgrounds of her own district and saw the blend of 

races and ethnic groups as an advantage.  

While we celebrate our diversity, what surprises me time and time again as I travel around the constituency is that we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us," she said in her first speech before Parliament.

Another reason we might want to mourn Jo Cox? Her killer is alleged to have long-lasting 

links to an American Neo-Nazi group.  We know that our own extremists have inspired

 killings over here, but it's still shocking when their tentacles reach abroad and 

touch innocent lives. 

Jo Cox was the mother of young children, and a wife. When I look at her photos, I see so many  

young mothers I know.  Perhaps it's unfair to hope that younger parents, preoccupied with raising their kids, will estimate the gravity of this moment the way many of us older parents 

do (or the way Cox apparently saw it).  But I hope that they will see something of 

themselves in her - and grasp the nettle of this extraordinary time.

“She would have wanted two things above all else to happen now, said her husband Brendan. "One that our precious children are bathed in love, and two, that we all unite to fight against the hatred that killed her.”

Or, as The Guardian put it today: "Honour her memory. Because the values and the commitment that she embodied are all that we have to keep barbarism at bay."

She's not here to do it on our behalf anymore.  Now it's up to us. 

All of us. 

dimanche, mai 22, 2016

samedi, mai 07, 2016

For formerly married sisters pursuing new calling, family ties still bind

lundi, avril 25, 2016

When it comes to choosing a candidate in Pennsylvania, God is not dead

lundi, avril 18, 2016

Less judgment, "local option," more compassion for divorced/remarried couples: that's the Pope's call in "Amoris Laetitia"

lundi, mars 07, 2016

Formation stories: four women on the long and sometimes winding road to becoming Catholic sisters

lundi, février 29, 2016

Samaritan Center helps churches prevent child sex abuse before it starts

vendredi, février 19, 2016

Handicapping the evangelical vote this year? It's not easy

My column in the Philadelphia Inquirer

jeudi, février 11, 2016

After horror, in the midst of grief, a killer's mother finds Amish grace

lundi, janvier 25, 2016

Is schism ahead for the Anglican Communion?

In spite of its move to punish the shrinking (yet relatively wealthy) Episcopal Church for gay-ordination and marriage-advocacy, and a symbolic attempt at unity as the Canterbury gathering ended, thunderclouds are on the horizon for the Anglican Communion.

mardi, janvier 12, 2016

In 2016, PA politicians, advocacy groups remain divided over refugee/immigrant issues

dimanche, janvier 03, 2016

"Augustine": Robin Lane Fox's extraordinary biography (my review in the Philadelphia Inquirer)