Saturday, August 17, 2019

An Artist Protests in a Telling Way 2019 America

photo by Will Luo / flickr

The America Prospect has interviewed artist Eastaban Whiteside. Esteban is a self-taught artist who has done a whole series paintings and drawings of his feelings of Mr. Trump and the direction our country is going. I recommend you reading this article and study his fine and telling work. He is an African American  feeling like a stranger in his native land.

What he doesn't realize is that you don't have to be a person of color to feel like an outsider these days. This is supposed to be a United States. Our Constitution talks about liberty and justice for all. Of course we have always had great divisions and strong opinions about many things--but our current President does not seem to understand that part of his calling is to be the President for everybody.

photo by Bob Jagerndorf / flickr

--Roger Lovette /

Friday, August 16, 2019

First Day at School in Mississippi Won't be Forgotten

photo by U.S. Army Garrison Casey / flickr

"Children finished their first day of school with no parents to go home to tonight. Babies and toddlers remained in daycare with no guardian to pick them up. A child vainly searched a workplace parking lot for missing parents."--Ashton Pittman. Jackson Free Press

Do you remember your first day of school? Scary and not quite knowing what to expect. The big kids in the neighborhood told stories that kept you awake at night. Mean teachers. A whipping machine in the Principal's office. Shots sometime in the fall for vaccinations. Teachers wouldn't let you go to the bathroom. The first grade teachers, they said were the worst. Why they'd kick you out for chewing gum, for whispering to someone across the aisle. Just about anything. 

But it wasn't all bad. Mama had taken us to town on the bus, went to the store we could afford and we got outfitted mighty fine. New shirts--cotton and checked. New pair of pants. Even new shoes. We had underwear and socks already. My mother opened her purse, took out the lay-away receipt, paid what she still owed. We got back on the bus and headed home.

Days before we had picked up some pencils and a Blue Horse notebook. This was the time without backpacks. But we did have a metal box that held paper and pencils and our tiny pencil sharpener and our lunch in a paper sack.  Even though we were scared we followed a long line of big kids up the street to the red-brick school. Scared but excited, wondering what this new chapter in our lives would mean. 

Back home we later found out that our parents, especially our Mamas cried a lot that day. Their babies were leaving the nest. They knew what we did not know. From now on things would be radically different in our little lives and theirs too. It would never be as it was.  

But this August--this starting of the school week in Mississippi another drama was played out.
photo by Zhang You / flickr
Without notice ICE officials descended in Morton,Mississippi and hauled away 680 Hispanic parents. Most of those arrested worked in food processing plants. 
It will be a long time before I forget that picture of that little girl sitting on the curb crying and saying,  " I want my Daddy. I want my Daddy." 

What happens to kids who feel abandoned by their parents? School officials said that for the next few days 50% of those children did not go to school. And if they did--how could they concentrate wondering where their parents were and what would happen to them.

This is our government in 2019. Cages and kids shipped off to God knows where some never able to see their parents again. What kind of traumas are we foisting on these children? And what is these terrible actions doing to the hearts of the people of our country. 

Where are we going folks? What do we do with these dreams we have had about a place called America where people could find safety and hope and a better life? T.S. Eliot year ago expressed our time well:

"A Cry from the North, from the West and from the South
Whence thousands travel daily to the timekept City;
Where My Word is unspoken,
In the land of lobelias and tennis flannels
The rabbit shall burrow and the thorn revisit,
The nettle should flourish own the gravel court,
And the wind shall say: 'Here were decent godless people:
Their only monument the asphalt road
And a thousand lost golf balls.'" (T.S. Eliot, Choruses from the Rock)  

photo by Thomas Cizanskas / flickr

--Roger Lovette /

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Something We Need to Remember in a Crazy Time

photo by Indi Samarajiva / flickr

In these strange days it is very hard to keep our perspective. And so many of us who claim to be people of faith find ourselves not so sure about this faith business. With shootings just about everyday and the heart-breaking stories of so many whose lives have been torn up by the roots. With ramblings of hate and rage and injustice just about everyday. With immigrants scared to walk our streets and so many have forgotten that Statue of Liberty and all she stands for. And then politicians jockeying for power and so little leadership or courage from those we have elected. It all adds up to a whole lot of darkness.

Every day I pick up a little devotional book with readings from a great preacher of another day. Paul Scherer was a Lutheran preacher and has influenced me greatly through the years. In today's meditation written so many years ago, he wrote:

"The simple fact is that the cross never stayed on the hill where they put it. It marched out across the Roman Empire. It leaped on those proud standards and got itself emblazoned there. It fluttered over Europe, in dark forests, on lonely castles. And began to point the patience centuries to a better way of treating men (and women) than they had found. It brought them face to face where hate would always fail. " (Paul E. Scherer, Love Is a Spendthrift )

When Marianne Williamson, one of the Democratic candidates said during the debate that we have to remember that the greatest of these is love. That word seemed so strange and other-worldly and out of place. Wait! Wait! This love is no sloppy and sentimental word. It may just be the hardest commandment of them all. But this its our charge as Democrats and Republicans and Independents and the Indifferent. Love will span every division and smother every single hate--so let us take up the mantle that we would just as soon ignore and continue to do our parts in a divided and hurting world. Our religion keeps telling us: it works. Hmm. "Lord, I thou my unbelief..."

photo by Kristoffer Borsting / flickr

--Roger Lovette /

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Are We Really Nazis--Seriously?

photo by BrotherM/ flickr

Ted Kopple has written an article that I think helps clarify the current situation in our country. He takes on those people that say we are like Nazi Germany. Does that mean everything is dandy today? No. But newscaster Kopple is a cautious optimist. He believes in America and the values that are bed rock in our country. Read his article and ponder what he has written.

In John Meachum's book, The Soul of America: The Battle for our Better Angels he reminds us that we have had a lot of dark pages in our history. Those that have lived very long can footnote these. But he also says that finally, even though in the process many get hurt or broken, we come to our senses and remember the values that made the country great for everyone.

If we are people of faith we do not lose heart. We really do believe that goodness wins out in the end. We keep working and fighting for what we feel is right. We don't watch the TV continually but we do turn it on long enough too know what is going on around us. Flannery O'Connor, the writer once said, "You shall know the truth and it shall make you odd." Maybe what we need are more and more odd balls.

In another dark time Reinhold Niebuhr wrote:

"Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime, 

therefore we must be saved by hope. 
Nothing which is true, beautiful or good makes complete sense int any immediate context off history, thererfore we must be saved by faith. 
Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone, 
therefore we must be saved by love. 
No virtuous act  from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint. 
Therefore we must be saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness."

William Sloane Coffin in another hard time said, "There never was a night or a problem that could defeat a sunrise or hope."

photo by Guiseppe Calsamiglia / flickr

--Roger Lovette /

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Responding to Trump's Rants, Tweets and Attacks

"Remember the faith that took men
  from home
At the call of a wandering preacher. 
Our age is an age of moderate virtue    
And moderate vice
When men will not lay down the Cross
Because they will never assume it. 
Yet nothing is impossible, nothing,
To men of faith and conviction. 
Let us therefore make perfect our will.
O God, help us.
         --T.S. Eliot

Let me say first I don't believe Preachers should be telling people how to vote. I do believe in Separation of Church and State like old-time Baptists did and still do. But this article by a Roman Catholic is entitled: "A Priest Says Mr. Trump Should Quit Hate Talk" got me too thinking. I found myself saying: "Yes...Yes...Yes." The writer talks about her Priest in Washington who has preached strongly about what the bed-rock principles of our faith are all about. Courageously in his Washington pulpit the Priest said: "the current occupant of the White House spews hatred, bigotry, and intolerance and must resign."

He said that he used these words because: "Jesus won't let me off the hook." He says no President should be telling elected Congresswomen to go back to where they came from. Three of those he attacked last week were born in the United States. The other is a citizen of our country. But the Priest continued: the Christian faith is not consistent with separating migrant children from their families,*courting brutal dictators, seeking to bar Muslims from the country and stirring racism." The list goes on and on. The Priest stressed the need to: "respect one another as children of God" and talked about racism is always rooted in fear.  

After Hitler came to power a group of concerned Christians protested many of the things Hitler was doing. They penned what they called: The Barmen Declaration. It is a document rooted in the faith of Jesus Christ and Holy Scripture. You can read it on the Internet if you wish. It is a powerful statement about another time and another place.

Holocaust victims have protested using Hitler to underline many of the actions of our President. I think they are right. This is a different time. But a group of committed and concerned Christians have written a Barmen Document for today. These words do not mention Hitler or Germany. They do talk about our time and where we are as a people. Read these words and ponder their meaning. For the Christian, God must come first. 

Many of my friends have supported Trump. Many do not understand my feelings about the President. Most of these folk are decent people whose values for the most part are like our on. We have no business bashing them or raging at any group like Republicans. Neither should Republicans trash Democrats.

Jesus Christ talked about peace. He said the greatest commandment was love God and love one another. That's pretty clear. Most of us fall short of following our Lord. We keep falling off the wagon. Jesus talked a lot about self-righteousness and how wrong it is. But whether you agree with me on this issue or not--we are a divided country. The United in our title does not represent where we are. The ALL in our Constitution seems to have been lost in the shuffle of today. 

Looking back in our country's history there have many dark pages--but we seem to put these aside and move on for a while. And then the challenge comes again. And I think we are being challenged as a people. I am not talking about who anybody voted for or will. I am talking about the larger issue of who we really are and what we want to be. I just heard a song, "There Comes a Time..." and have put it on my Facebook page today. It is written by a lady who loves this nation and speaks to all our hearts. 

Thanks for reading whether you agree or not. I keep looking at the above statue of Jesus bearing the cross knowing I have much, much yet to do. And so do we all.

* (almost all these desperate people are poor and have nothing but their children)   

--Roger Lovette /

Monday, July 22, 2019

Church--Coming In Out of the Storm

This picture captures perfectly what Church means to me. I call it: Coming in out of the storm. Years ago my family and I were in Charleston and I saw this watercolor. I couldn’t get it out of my mind. But we went home and I did not buy the picture. Years later we were back to Charleston and I saw this picture again and bought it. I hung it in my office and from to time I would look at the picture and it moved me again and again. It reminded me of what my real job was.

Church gets a bad rap many days. And sometimes there charges are right on target. And yet on our better days we really do open our arms and say welcome to everybody. 

As I look at this picture I think of all the people out there in the storm. It really is stormy weather. And many folk think there is no place to hide. And we in the church have not always provided a safe place for those out there cold, wet, scared and not knowing which way to turn. 

Sometimes they are divorced. Sometimes they are poor or black or gay or abused women and men, too.  Many have found alcohol or drugs destroying their lives. Sometimes they are rigid and closed minded and judgmental. Sometimes they have no screens on their windows at all. Today those on the Southern border wonder just wonder about us.  

And all this political talk—not ethical talk—but political talk doesn’t help. People are still left out in the cold. And yet come Sunday it is my hope that out there all those in need—which really are  all of us—will find those open doors and come out of the storm. And once inside we can find acceptance and love and forgiveness and help and encouragement, too. 

Last Sunday I remembered an old story that i heard years ago. Dean Snyder talked about working in an emergency shelter in an inner city church. He said that one day Nora came and stayed with them several days. Her family had kicked her out. She was covered in tattoos. Se walked around in too-tight pants and kept wearing a see-through blouse. She couldn’t have been a day over 16. And she was hard as nails.She chained-smoked and talked to loud and flirted with the men and had a very foul mouth.

One after Snyder said that as he worked alone in the kitchen Nora came in at sat down. After a long time she said, “I been meaning to ask you somethin’. I heard a priest say one time that Jesus loves everybody even prostitutes. Is that so?” He said he was a tempted to tell her that God loves the sinner but not the sin. But for once, he said he didn’t say that. He just answered her question, “Does God love everybody? Even prostitutes?” He nodded and said, “Yes.” He said the dam broke and Nora cried and cried. After a while he knew those were happy tears and not sad ones.

That’s our job in the church. To open the doors. To say welcome to all those out there in the storm. To say yes and not no.

Roger Lovette /

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Dear Melania...

Dear Melania—

Since you wrote me a letter the other day—I thought I would respond. You began your letter: “Dear Mr. Lovette, 

          Decisions made by the President of the United States impact countless lives across our nation and throughout the world

          From the moment my husband, Donald, placed his hand on the Bible and took the oath of office to serve as America’s 45th President, he has worked nonstop to deliver on his promise to Make America Great Again.”

Well Melania, I don’t believe I will be sending you a check.  I cannot understand how you can sleep at night, with your son, Barron in another room safe and sound—and at our Southern border little children cry for their parents, for enough to eat, for someone to hold them. Many do not know where their parents are. And across the country children have been snatched from their parents and sent to places where many of their parents cannot find them. 

Back at the border men and women old and young are penned behind chain-link fences. Your husband has tried to tell us that we have to “protect the border” from rapists, drug dealers sex trafficers. Most of the people—and by the way they really are people. They have names and many of them came thousands of miles to find a place called America where they might be safe and they had always heard this was a land that would really care for them. Most, if not all of them are dirt poor. The only thing some of them have are their children for them to be taken from them must be horrifying indeed.

Mrs.Trump this does not make America great. It joins a whole line of countries that do not care for people who are in desperate circumstances. The Bible your husband put his hand on that day he was inaugurated has a lot to say about how we treat the stranger and aliens. 

But there is another reason I cannot respond too your request. On this Sunday, which we Christians call the Lord’s Day ICE will send out troops all over the country to knock down doors, drag some parents away from their homes, splitting couples This is done under your husband’s direction. And as we  Christians sing our songs and say our prayers all over America there will be people living in utter fear. They came rot this country to escape from fear. And America on her better days has never engendered fear in the hers arts of ordinary people. Notice I did not say citizens. The Constitution does not use this term. 

I weep this Lord’s Day when what we are doing with undocumented immigrants is beyond belief. There are a lot of reasons I cannot support the re-election of your husband. He is shredding the decent things that have made America the shining light on a hill for multitudes. 

So I must deny your request for money.

I have closen a Facebook piece by Hania Thomas-Adams. She is a pediatric pre-op Child Life Specialist at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, Oakland, California. She knows the damage that we re doing to children who may never recover emotionally from what the United States is doing to them. Read it and weep.

“I regularly see young children separated from their parents. It is one of the hardest parts of working in a surgical environment. We go to great lengths to make it less traumatic for them, including medications, transitional objects, putting the parents in head to toe covering so they can stay with their child, showing the kids exactly where Mommy will be waiting for them, and forming relationships with the kids days in advance so they have someone that they trust to carry them in. Even so, it is always difficult and frequently terrifying for the children. In those cases we sing, we rock, we make promise after promise that Daddy will be right back, and we go as fast as we can. It is a significant portion of my job, and all of this is done to limit the disorganizing fear and effects of being separated from caregivers for less than three minutes.

Today there was a little one who I carried in to an OR and who had to be pried off her mother. I saw the screaming and the reaching and the "mommy mommy" and the feral terror that takes over small children in these situations. I repeated over and over in her ear that her mother would be right back, I rocked her, I wondered out loud with her whether Mommy would ride the elevator to come see her and what color popsicle she would choose for herself and for Mommy. She calmed down a little but not much and we went as fast as we could. After she was asleep I walked back out of the OR and had to hold on to the wall.

I can't stop thinking about those children at (the) border who can't find their parents and the parents who can't find their children. It is not kind or fast for them and there are no promises of coming back soon. I feel so helpless beyond writing and calling and I feel myself being drawn toward despair one minute and all out anarchy the next. There's been this terrible subtle process where I've become gradually overwhelmed even as I am realizing that, yes, this is truly evil if the word means anything at all, and yes, it's being done by my country and my tax dollars. Please everyone write and please call and please, please vote as soon and as often as you can.”

On this Sunday I lift up all the children of the world. Maybe Jesus had in mind children of all ages. If we open the book we call the Bible we cannot look away from the evil which is perpetrated on many people even as we sing to Jesus this day.

(I took the two photographs of people who gathered March 28, 2015 to stand with the Dreamers who were trying to finish their educations and get a job in this country. This is July 14, 2019 and the status of the Dreamers is still in limbo.)

--Roger Lovette /