Thursday, November 27, 2008
For the changing of seasons
For brisk fall and winter hikes
For my friends, especially my church community
For my parents and all they taught me
That this election season is finally over
For the way the election turned out
That God is with us and all about, regardless of who was elected
For friends that I have not met, including those in all these internets - the world is full of good folk and friends I've yet to meet
For those who disagree with me, including those on these here internets - for Eric, Marshall, Bubba, Mom2, Mark, etc, for helping me think through what I believe
For my health
For music - the chance to hear it, the chance to play it, the chance to sing it
For the birds singing outside my window
For the meal I'm sure to enjoy today
For all the many blessings of God, my country, my community, my home, my church and my family, I am thankful.
Monday, November 17, 2008
I have now finally gotten around to setting up the account so that you can order these Jeff Street books online! We actually published two books. The first is Bread for the Journey: Stories and Whatnot from Jeff Street. This is our book of stories and, well, whatnot.
The second book is Steve P. Holcombe, the Converted Gambler: His Life and Work. This book was written by Alexander Gross and published by the Courier Journal Press in 1880. It is the fascinating story of the fella who founded the Union Gospel Mission, the church from which Jeff Street sprang.
Both of these books are available online at our Jeff Street "store." When we received permission to republish the Steve Holcombe book, we had to promise to only charge the actual publishing costs. So, if you go to order that story, you will see that it is cheaper (free! if you choose to download it!) and that is why.
All profits from the Jeff Street book go directly to the work of the church. If you are interested in either book, please check them out.
Throughout Jeff Street’s history, we’ve never been a large church - mostly averaging fewer than 100 in attendance on any given Sunday.
We’ve never been a rich church, being made up of the homeless, the mentally ill, the working poor, and – moreso in these last 20 years – teachers, mental health workers, social workers, labor and justice organizers, and those working in environmental fields: sort of the seamy side of the working class.
What we have been is there. We’ve consistently been there, on the frontlines of Louisville’s poverty issues, homeless concerns, and justice and peace issues. What a blessed history to remember!
What a future yet to tell!
Friday, November 14, 2008
From Matthew 5 and 6, Jesus' own words...
Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.
Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.
Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent.
~Matthew 5: 23-26
You have heard that it was said, 'AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.'
But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.
If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.
Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.
Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.
~Matthew 5: 38-42
Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.
So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing
~Matthew 6: 1-3
Pray, then, in this way:
'Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [some texts add: For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]'
For if you forgive others for their transgressions [literally, debts], your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions [literally, debts].
~Matthew 6: 9-15
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also...
No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other You cannot serve God and wealth.
For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?
And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?
And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.
But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!
Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?'
For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Creator knows that you need all these things.
But seek first God's kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
~Matthew 6: 19-34
Saturday, November 8, 2008
I thought, as a public service, I'd offer some opinion on where the Republican Party has gone wrong and how it might best save itself from going the way of the Whigs. That answer lies in what TYPE of conservatism Republicans will represent.
It is my opinion that conservatives have become doctrinaire and exclusive. There's a cold wind of "IF you don't agree with me, you're a terrorist, socialist and murderer" blowing through their tents and it's chasing people out of the tent faster than they can recruit people in. It's not a winning solution (ask any community organizer, they can tell you).
Now understand, I am NOT suggesting that Republicans give up their moral beliefs, but rather that they approach moral problems with the recognition that this is a free nation and we are all moral agents seeking to do the right thing and sometimes failing, but we're seeking nonetheless. Shrillness and bile is no way to win over converts and, unfortunately, many people have begun to associate the Republican party as the Shrillness and Bile party.
So, to best save the GOP, here are my suggestions, for what they're worth, beginning with the over all suggestion that conservatism has its best chance at survival in redefining/reclaiming its role as the small gov’t/libertarianism type of conservatism.
So, my thinking would be:
1. They de-emphasize the gay marriage/abortion/drug war social/cultural hangups they have. Still remain opposed to such cultural things, if they think they are wrong, but recognize that it’s not gov’ts role to get involved in these personal matters.
Or, at the least, do so for gay marriage and drug war (I can understand the thinking that abortion does remain a gov’t issue insofar as the defense of the defenseless angle). But by and large, social conservatives come across as nosy busybodies, presuming to tell everyone in this free nation how they can and can’t live. Big gov’t to the extreme. It’s not a winning argument.
2. If they want to keep abortion as an issue, change the approach. Less shrillness. Less preachiness. Recognize that no one is out to “kill babies,” but that there are complex moral issues and honest differences of opinions by free moral agents on this topic.
Work across the aisle on the decreasing the number of abortions angle, rather than emphasizing abortion as holocaust. I fully understand being opposed to abortion, but the approach is not working and if it’s not working, then you’re not stopping it or slowing it down. Why not shoot for an approach that works?
3. Go for the more traditional conservative ideal of less military adventurism. We have no business gallavanting around the world playing world police. It’s part of what people don’t like about the US globally. Again, SMALL gov’t, not big gov’t.
4. Go for the libertarian, fiscally responsible PAYGO no deficit small gov’t type of conservatism. The last three “conservatives” in the White House have all ended up with the most massive growth of gov’t in our nation’s history. That sort of hypocrisy has been recognized and is a no-winner for conservatives.
Them’d be my thoughts. Any one else have opinions on how to save the GOP? Am I way off?
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get to where we are today, but we have just begun. Today we begin in earnest the work of making sure that the world we leave our children is just a little bit better than the one we inhabit today.
There is not a liberal America and a conservative America - there is the United States of America. There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America - there's the United States of America.
Monday, November 3, 2008
But first, vote.
And then just relax and know that it will be all right.
And then, tomorrow, keep working to make it all right.
While we wait for the results, you can enjoy some of the joy we experienced at our annual fall retreat our church takes. See the slide show below...
But, as much as I'd hate to see McCain elected, I am among those who do NOT think the world will end or that the United States will utterly collapse if McCain becomes president. 'Twould be a shame, but we would survive.
I DO believe that we are in tough times right now, largely due to the choices that most of us make every day in how we live, how we consume and how we relate to one another. Whoever is elected president will have a tough row to hoe and we'll need to give them whatever support, well-wishes and prayers we can afford. (But don't confuse "support" for a blank check to do as they wish...)
Having said that, as this campaign winds down, I would like to offer a few words in praise of this both McCain and Palin.
I believe that McCain has shown himself to be a man of integrity. He has also waivered at times in acting honorably, but we all do and this campaign has surely been difficult for all involved.
Still, McCain's willingness to not merely voice support for a military but to actually take part in it, his refusal to leave the Viet Nam prison camp when offered the choice, this speaks well of the man's sense of honor. I certainly would have disagreed with his support for that war, but at least he wasn't a chickenhawk. He put his money where his mouth was and it cost him dearly. That says something about a guy.
More recently, this integrity has peeked through when some of his own followers have spoken falsehoods and he has confronted them - I'm thinking of the lady who said Obama was an Arab and McCain corrected her firmly - it is a difficult thing to stand up to one's own supporters and friends and he has done so at times, to his credit. Also, his classy ad the night of Obama's nomination where he praised Obama for reaching this historic point, is another indication of integrity and class. Good for him.
Further, I believe that McCain is genuinely a small gov't kind of politician - unlike the Reagan/Bush/Bush types who crow loudly about being small gov't but then oversaw devastating increases in the size of gov't and in all the wrong places. Times will be tight in the coming years and we definitely DO need to cut back in some places (in addition to adding on in others) and McCain might be able to deliver where his neo-con brethren have not.
And Palin, I'm sure, is a decent woman. I believe that she fully intended to reform Alaskan politics and be a different sort of politician, a representative of the common folk because she IS common folk, and that's a good thing. Her devotion to her family and to simple values are all good things. I don't believe she would be the right person to be at the White House (at all - horrifyingly bad, even), but she may very well be a good match for Alaska's people.
As much as I'd hate to see McCain as president, I believe that he would probably be a much better president than he was a candidate. I think he pandered to the Right way too much (although he probably couldn't have gotten this far if he hadn't) and he will return closer to the middle (middle of the Right, that is) and more to his more sincere values if elected.
That's still far too far to the Right and too close to Bush's policies for my tastes, but I don't believe he would be as bad as Bush was. Faint praise, perhaps, but them's my thoughts.
I stand by my belief that Obama will win handily tomorrow. I think he has run an incredible campaign and, even if the Republicans disagree with his policies, they could stand to learn something from his campaign. I think Obama's community organizing skills and experience served him well during this campaign and smart analysts will be reviewing it in the days and years to come as a model of how to run for office.
Additionally, I don't think Obama will be as good a president as he was a candidate - his candidacy was too perfect and the job of president too impossible for him to be able to live up to that bar of excellence. Still, I look forward to seeing what he and the Democrats do with their possible dominance in this election. At the very least, I'd hope they'd manage to do less harm than we've seen the last eight (28?) years.
And, should the worst happen and McCain is elected, God be with him and here's hoping he's up to the job. He's bound to be better than his predecessor.