Monday, March 29, 2010


I'm realizing that I'm proudly part of this nation's political system called at different times progressive, liberal, "socialist." I believe that our country was founded on the principle that a person was free to determine their own faith stance, and not have to worry about a group in power dictating whether or not they could practice that faith - and yes, I also believe there are limits that are rightfully placed on that freedom. I believe that extremism in ANY of it's varied forms is wrong - be it Islamic, Jewish, Christian, or related to the birth gifts of an individual someone doesn't like (if they even know nothing about that person).

This morning I noted a news story about one of our nation's law enforcement organizations raiding the facilities of Christian militia - with the notation that one of those raided sites had called another to seek a hiding site. Now, why are you calling for a hiding place, IF you aren't doing something wrong? If the police showed up at my apartment and demanded to search, I would step back, because I know I'm doing nothing that would get me in trouble.

I keep listening to the political pundits from the right, yelling about the Islamic extremists, and defending home-grown terrorists who have decided murder is justifiable to support their particular politico-religious point of view. I don't care if it is someone who fires a rocket blindly into Israel, who uses tanks to destroy the homes of innocents because they SUSPECT the homes are being used for attacks, who put pipe bombs in a plaza filled with people celebrating the human spirit and enjoying the athletic endeavors of the best of the best, or someone who uses a high powered rifle or hand gun to shoot that "damned" abortion doctor - extremism is extremism, and it is wrong.

I've worked hand in hand with Jews, Christians and Muslims to address social issues in more than one of the churches I've served over my 30+ years of pastoral ministry, and found them all to be people of faith, concern and a desire for a better life. I've worked with so-called straight, gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals - again finding them just as appalled by those of any of those persuasions who abuse they positions of power to abuse persons under their care.

Face it, people, there are good and bad in every group, every nation, every persuasion. So, let's stop acting like only "my" point of view is valid, only "my" faith perspective is right. If we learn to work together, we will find a lot of this nation's problems being answered as they were meant to be answered.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Once again, I'm surprised by the appearance that image is everything - particularly in the current political climate. A big example is the GOP position that Democrats are for big government - the fact? Current levels of federal government involvement in our lives is a direct result of 8 years of GOP control of the whole legislative system, and building a continuing influence through appointments to the judicial side of government.

Watching Hardball with Chris Matthews tonight, I was struck by the clips he played of Presidents and Senators from both parties going all the way back to Tricky Dick. Health care reform is an old and continuing need for this nation. It is an embarrassment that while we call our nation the best in the world, we are one of a very few, if not the only, industrialized nation without a national health care system that provides health care to all citizens.

It's also embarrassing to hear health care providers admit they defraud the insurance companies by overcharging for supplies! And we wonder why health care is so expensive? Why is it that our representatives cannot come up with enforceable regulations to stop fraud in our health care system? Lobbyists!

That old evil that has always been around, and that we are warned about even in the Hebrew Bible - the love of money -- increase the bottom line over all other concerns - short cuts in production of medicines, in treatment programs, over-charging insurance companies or the government, turn away the people who most need the coverage to help with the cost of conditions that just soak up money because of our system. That is just wrong!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Blind Bigotry

One of the on-going sources of pain in my faith life is the manner in which Israel seems unable to see or feel the pain they cause the rest of the world by their blind, unthinking, unfeeling, arrogant hatred of the Palestinian community - nor can they seem to see how they perpetuate the things done to the Jews by the way they treat these people they displaced much as the Germans displaced people when they were in their wars of conquest. Nations like the US try to reach out and find a peaceful way to allow Israel and the Palestinians to live, each in their own lands, and Israel plays a teasing game of "Of course we'll enter peace talks," and "Hurry, build another invasive settlement in direct violation of previous agreements!"

And tonight I saw another story that just confirms this. The Vice-President tries to restart the peace talks that Israel said they wanted to restart, and they announce the start of construction on another settlement. To quote a show my son used to loved to watch on TV, "Doh!"

I recall an incident from some years ago, when a colleague of the Episcopal persuasion went to Israel, returned to the states and spoke of his experiences, describing the treatment of Palestinians that at the time were still allowed into Israel for work and shopping - and comparing some of the tactics he saw as similar to the Gestapo treatment of Jews under Hitler - dragging people off buses because they were Palestinian, stopping them on the streets for no other reason than that, brutality, insensitivity to persons acting normally. A Jewish colleague came to me later and demanded to know if that other had called the Jews Nazis. I spent a good bit of time calming my Jewish colleague and finally was able to get the concept of "treatment similar to" across.

Many of the Jews I've known in this country are as perplexed by Israel's policies and action as are non-Jews. And I find myself simply unable to comprehend that inability to see how badly they are damaging their image in the eyes of the world - and another analogy of current affairs lifts its ugly head, that of the Republican party that cannot seem to see how out of touch their views are with the majority of this nation's citizens, while they continue to plow the same furrow over and over again, offending more and more people by lies, hate, bigotry and so on.

God gave us brains to think with, hearts to feel with, and hands to help our brothers and sisters in this life. When we won't think, can't feel, and hurt instead of helping - what message to we send to our God? What message do we send about our so-called faith?