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What Will the News Commentators Talk About Post-Trump?

I am thinking about the news. One commentator said she wasn’t sure what news will be like post-Trump. She was joking, but I thought it worthy of some thought.

First of all, I anticipate hearing more world news or broader news. We have been so anal as a country the last four years. How are people doing in other places in the world? We hear a few things, like what is happening in the middle east right now. But what about the third world countries? I used to know where people were suffering from drought or flooding. I know I knew because I remember praying for them. I miss hearing about inspirational leaders in the world who are doing great things for their countries. What about global warming? Are we the only country having fires, floods and storms? I remember Americans stepping up to help people suffering from earth quakes and tsunamis.

I would like the news stations to do more teaching of history. This is happening on CNN and MSNBC right now. I hope they don’t stop. Yesterday I saw a discussion between three presidential historians about the current election process and how past presidents managed the shift between leadership. It was fascinating. I learned that history tends to repeat itself because, while times change, people tend to be fighting the same battles over and over again. It seemed dire, but also hopeful. I hope this continues.

I would also like to see more civic teaching. I don’t even know if civics is even being taught in the schools today. I took civics, but I was quite young and am not sure I really got hold of the ideas. I wish I’d had a teacher who not only taught me how government works, but how it was being played out in current affairs. I have learned more about civics in the last four years than I have ever known before. George Washington suggested that a democracy will only work with an educated citizenry.

We watch public television where we have seen some great specials like the lives of past presidents and the stories of American wars. Unfortunately, most people don’t choose to watch this kind of programming. I think presenting info in bits and pieces tucked into other programs that the greater number of people watch might be one way of getting information out.

Having said this, my husband pointed out to me that people choose the news media that corresponds with what they believe. History and civics could be part of any news media but it is possible that not all will tell the same story. We live in a new age when facts are not always accepted as the truth and there are even voices that suggest that information being presented is part of some deep state, some master deceiver.

I don’t feel very hopeful. But I can choose to be an educated person. At 76, there are still more history books to read, more documentaries to watch. I don’t know what to do with the information. I will always only have one vote. But maybe, just maybe, some truth will come out in a conversation that will enlighten another just a little.

 

Old Journal Reflection

From my journal, March 26, 2008:

Watching the sun rise this morning, I remembered a game we used to do in Youth Ministry called “knots”. Teens would be instructed to get in a huddle and grab 2 hands, any hands. Then they were to try to untangle themselves until they formed a circle. I was never the one who could figure it out. The thought I had this morning, as I stood in the field, is that, in order to be free of being part of the conglomeration, all one had to do is “let go”. Easier yet is if everyone let go – though that would be cheating. In fact, people get pretty mad if someone lets go before the game is over.

Yesterday I prayed to be free of the time trap – it feels like a knot. It feels like a box. I feel You saying this morning “just let go”. So I guess I should get back to “one day at a time”, even “one moment at a time,” or, as Myron says, “Just do the next right thing.”

Trump’s Most Heinous Action Comes to an End

I am watching President Elect Biden select his leadership team and my heart is starting to heal. He chose Alejendro Mayarkas to be head of Homeland Security. The Cuban American lawyer will have his hands full from day one with the first order of business to begin reuniting the last 500 children separated from their parents at the border. I don’t know if there has been another action by President Trump that has been worse for America than this one. It was during this time of separation that I recalled hearing people comparing Trump to Hitler and the actions he took akin to the Holocaust. Thank God, this is over.

Sikh Prayer for America

This poem was spoken by Valarie Kaun on November 9, 2016:

In our tears and agony, we hold our children close and confront the truth: The future is dark.
But my faith dares me to ask:
What if the darkness is not the darkness of the tomb, but the darkness of the womb?
What if our America is not dead but a country still waiting to be born? What if the story of America is one long labor?
What if all mothers who came before us, who survived genocide and occupation, slavery, and Jim Crow, racism and xenophobia and Islamophobia, political oppression and sexual assault, are standing behind us now, whispering in our ear: You are brave. What if this is our Great Contradiction before we birth the future?
Remember the wisdom of the midwife: “Breathe,” she says. Then “Push.”
Now it is time to breathe. But soon, it will be time to push; soon it will be time to fight – for those we love – Muslim father, Sikh son, trans daughter, indigenous brother, immigrant sister, white worker, the poor and forgotten, and, yes, the ones who cast their vote out of resentment and fear.
Let us make an oath to fight for the soul of America – “the land that never has been yet – And yet must be.” (Lanston Hughes)
The Revolutionary Love and relentless optimism.
And so I pray this Sikh prayer:

“In the name of the Divine, in the name of Love within us and around us, we find everlasting optimism.
With your will, may there be grace for all humanity.”

 

Calm Sure Feels Good

This is one crazy time, isn’t it? The American people have chosen a new president but the present one is trying to find a way to stay in office. Every time I turn on the TV, I hear the potential problems caused by Trump not allowing the President Elect and his team to come into the White House to get info on what is current in the nation and international affairs. I feel I am watching a two-year-old hanging onto his mother’s leg when she tries to drop him off at day-care. I have seen that drama a lot in my work and it is pretty pathetic. Interestingly, when  mom finally breaks away and gets out the door, the two-year-old usually stops screaming and settles down to play with the toys. Teachers watching are pretty attune to what the kid is doing. As long as he can get Mom to feel sorry for him, he has a chance to not be left behind. I have only seen it work once. All it accomplished was to postpone the separation to another day.

I hope we get through this smoothly. The president-elect seems to think all will be well in the end. His calm demeanor sure feels good after the last four years.

The Caesar Question

I am reading Jim Wallis’ latest book, Christ in Crisis? Reclaiming Jesus in a Time of Fear, Hate, and Violence, published this year, 2020. Wallis is a Christian Evangelical Preacher and scholar steeped in social justice according to the teachings of Jesus. I have followed him for years. He touches my need to find relevance in my Christian faith. I am not a person who thinks being a Christian is just about giving ascent to a doctrine. For me it is about following a person, Jesus of Nazareth, whose life and teachings come to me in written form in the New Testament. If people want to haggle over what the cross means or whether Jesus ascended into heaven or whether his miracles were literal events or symbolic, fine. For me, life is too short and the world seems to be going down a snake hole. Wallis has offered me hope if for no other reason than there are people like him living in our midst.

What Wallis sets out to do is pose questions about our government, its policies and practices, based on the stories on the gospels. The one I want to focus on is The Caesar Question. The story of reference is familiar to most Christians because it is often used to show that obedience to government leaders is what God wants us to do. I heard it said that this is the basis of Vice-President Pence’s deep faithfulness to President Trump. I suspect that Pence would use the same story Wallis uses here to explain his loyalty.

The story goes this way:
 The Pharisees went off and made a plan to trap Jesus with some questions. Then they sent to him some of their disciples and some members of Herod’s party. “Teacher”, they said, “we teach the truth about God’s will for man, without worrying about what people think because you pay no attention to man’s status. Tell us, then , what do you think? Is it against our Law to pay taxes to the Roman Emperor or not?”
      Jesus, however, was aware of their evil plans, and so he said, “You hypocrites! Why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin for paying the tax.”
      They brought him the coin, and he asked them, “Whose face and name are these?”
      “The Emperor’s,” they answered.
     So Jesus said to them, “Well, then pay the Emperor what belongs to the Emperor, and pay to God what belongs to God.”
      When they heard this, they were amazed, and they left him and went away.

Here’s the deal. Jesus’ consciousness and his teaching was all about the Kingdom of God. He believed that this Heavenly Kingdom was real and anyone who just opened their eyes and ears would see it. This is why he came to his people, to announce the Kingdom. Remember his conversation with Pilate before he died? Pilate asked him if her were a king, and Jesus responded that he was but not in the way Pilate would understand. “My Kingdom is not of this world.” In other words, Pilate as an earthly king had nothing to fear. He wasn’t going to take over Rome.

But Jesus went on in his discussion with his questioners. Pay your taxes, obey the law, but pay to God what is God’s. He was setting a priority for his followers, for Christians today, for me. I pay my taxes and I follow the laws until what God wants of me conflicts with what the state is asking of me. This is really clear.

Religious leaders like Wallis are adamant about the choice Christians need to make. When the government makes laws that are unjust, resist them, he preaches. Even when disobedience leads to your arrest, as it has for Wallis. This was clearly the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and M. L. King.

“If you are a Christian living in the Kingdom of God, how are you supposed to live in the Earthly Kingdom?” Read the words of Jesus in the Gospels, note his actions. Choosing the Kingdom of God is not an easy choice…it can lead to trouble. It did for Jesus.

 

 

Wise Words from Anne Lamotte

In an old journal, October 2005,  I reflected on the words of Anne Lamotte from her book Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith:

Lamotte writes: “Maybe this is what grace is. The unseen sounds that make you look up. I think it’s why we are here, to see as many chips of blue sky as we can bear. To find the diamond hearts within one another’s meatballs. To notice flickers of the divine, like dust mote on sunbeams in the dusty  kitchen. Without all the shade and shadows, you’d miss the beauty of the veil. The shadow is always there, and if you don’t remember it, when it falls on you and your life again, you’re plunged into darkness. Shadows make light show. Without shadows, we’d see only what a friend of mine refers to as ‘all that goddamn light’.”

I think as I read this’ “Yea, easy for you to say, or me, but what about the mother in Iraq?” No sooner does one see the blue sky or the crimson flower than another blast takes a child away. When will grace come to her? It isn’t fair. Not fair at all and it makes me feel guilty for hoarding the grace, as though it is my fault. Do I want some of her pain? No, thank you very much. Thinking of her and feeling a little sad for her is enough.

Perhaps lifting the pain of someone near is one thing I can do (and) maybe the person whose pain I relieve today will help someone tomorrow and that person will reach out the next day and the day after that a blessed person will write a letter to a man serving in Iraq and he will open his eyes to the suffering of one mother and speak out about the horrors of war.

It is all I have, all I have. I don’t want to reject the patches of blue sky or the wiff of a dew damp field because someone else is in to see or smell. That wouldn’t be nice. Maybe seeing more is better. The connectedness – maybe the more I give in to grace, the more likely others thinly connected will see, even a  little.