Thursday, February 25, 2010

Stormy Weather

"Protect me oh Lord for my boat is so small
 Protect me oh Lord for my boat is so small
 My boat is so small and your sea is so wide
 Protect me oh Lord."
  --Prayer of Breton Fishermen  

One of my best friends was very sick. He had had a long painful bout with cancer. We had known him and his family for thirty years. And so months before his death my wife and I drove several hundred miles just to be with them.

The day of his funeral we were far from home, sitting in a chapel service in England. All I could think about was this friend I had lost—and his grieving family back in the States. The preacher that night chose for his text the Mark passage of Jesus in the boat with the disciples. The Lord slept as a terrible storm shook the boat dangerously. The disciples were understandably terrified. They woke Jesus up and he stilled the troubled waters.

On the wall behind the speaker was a painting by a Chinese artist, Dr. He Qi. In the picture Jesus stood in the boat as the waves lashed and the wind blew. In the middle of that awful storm Jesus was there. At the end of the service we were given postcards of that event—Jesus in the boat protecting the frightened disciples. I sent that little picture back to my grieving friends in the states. I told them that Jesus was in the boat with them and somehow things would be all right.

Two years later my friend’s widow called me. She told me she would be getting married soon. Grief had been hard for her and her daughters. She still missed her husband and she said she stilled cried. Yet—she is slowly moving on.

When I get frightened for myself or those I love I remember this picture in Mark’s gospel. The waves may be high, the wind may blow ferociously—yet we are not alone.

Lord of winds and waves and fears and the unknown—help us to remember you are here and whatever the storm—you bring us peace. Amen

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

We Remember the Fallen

CNN World reports that there have been 4,699 Coalition deaths in Iraq since the war started. 4,382 of these have been Americans. 31,693 U.S. personnel have been wounded in action.

There have been 1,644 Coalition deaths in Afghanistan since the war started. 995 of these have been Americans. 5,064 U.S. personnel have been wounded in action.

"Sit on the bed. I'm blind, and three parts shell.
Be careful; can't shake hands now; never shall.
Both arm have mutinied against me, --brutes.
My fingers fidget like ten idle brats.

I tried to peg out soldierly, --no use!
One dies of war like any old disease.
This bandage feels like pennies on my eyes.
I have my medals?--Discs to make eyes close.
My glorious ribbons?--Ripped from my own back
In scarlet shreds. (That's for your poetry book.)

A short life and a merry one my buck!
We used to say we'd hate to live dead-old,--
Yet now...I'd willingly be puffy, bald,
And patriotic."
                      --Wilfred Owen, World War I

Lance Cpl. Matthias N. Hanson / age 20 / Bufffalo, KY / Died while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan/ February 23, 2010.

Lance Cpl. Adam D. Peak / age 25 / Florence, KY / Died while supporting combat operaions in Helmand province, Afghanistan / February 21, 2010.

Pfc. JR Salvacion / age 27 / Ewa Beach, Hawaii / Died of wounds wuffered when insurgents attacked his unit with a roadside bomb at Senjaray, Afghanistan / February 21, 2010.

Lance Cpl. Eric  L. Ward / age 19 / Redmond, WA  / Died while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan / February 21, 2010.

Capt. Marcus R. Alford / age 28 / Knoxville, TN / One of two soldiers killed when their helicopter experienced a hard landing at Qayyarah Airfield, near Mosol, Iraq / February 21, 2010.

Chief Warrant Officer Billie J. Grinder / age 25 / Gallatin, TN / The second soldier killed in that helicopter addicent near Mosol, Iraq / February 21, 2010.

Staff Sgt. Michael David P. Cardenaz / age 29 / Corona, CAL / Died when enemy forces attacked his unit with rocket-propelled grenades in Kunar province, Afghanistan / February 20, 2010.

Staff Sgt. Christopher W. Eckard / age 30 / Hickory, NC / Died while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan / Febryuary 20, 2010.

Lance Cpl. Joshua H. Birchfield / age 24 / Westville, IND/ Died while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan / Ferbruary 19, 2010.

Cpl. Gregory S. Stulz / age 22 / Brazil, IN / Died while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan / February 19, 2010.

Pfc. Kyle J. Coulu / age 20 / Providence, RI / Died while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan / February 18, 2010.

Lance Cpl. Klein T. Dunn / age 19 Chesapeake, VA /Died while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan / February 18, 20010.

Lance Cpl. Larry M. Johnson / age 19 / Scranton, PA / Died while supporting combat operations in Helmand province / February 18, 2010.

Sgt. Jeremy R.  McQueary / age 27 / Columbus, IN / Died while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan / February 18, 2010.

Petty Officer 1st Class Sean l. Caughman / age 43 / Fort Worth, TX / Died while supporting operations in Kuwait / February 16, 2010.

Lance Cpl. Noah M. Pier / age 25 / Charlotte, NC / Died while supporting combat operations in Helmand province / February 16, 2010.

Lance Cpl. Alejandro J. Yazzie / age 23 / Rock Point, ARZ / Died while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan / February 16, 2010.

Pfc. Jason H. Estopinal / age 21 / Dallas, GA / Died while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan/ February 15, 2010.

Spc. Bobby J. Pagan /  age 23 /Austin, TX / One of three soldiers killed when enemy forces attacked their unit with a roadside bomb  in Kandahar province, Afghanistan / February 13, 2010.

Staff Sgt. John A. Reiners / age 24 / Lakeland, FL / The second of three soldiers killed from that roadside bomb in Kandahar province, Afghanistan / February 13, 2010.

Cpl. Jacob H. Turbett / age 21 / Canton, MICH / Died while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan / February 13, 2010.

Sgt. Jeremiah T. Wittman / age 26 / Darby, MON / The third soldier killed from that roadside bomb  in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, February 13, 2010.

Sgt. Adam J. Ray / age 23 / Louisville, KY / Died of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan / February 9, 2010.

Pfc. Charles A. Williams / age 29 / Fair Oaks, CAL / Died of injuries sustained while supporting combat operations at Camp Nathan Smith, Afghanistan / February 7, 2010.

Sgt. Dillon B . Fox / age 22 / Traverse City, MICH / Died of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with a roadside bomb in Badghis province, Afghanistan / February 5, 2010.

Sgt. 1st Class David J. Hartman / age 27 / Merced, CAL / One of three soldiers killed when a bomb exploded near their vehicle in North Western Frontier province, Pakistan as they were on their way to attend a ceremony at a girls' school that had been renovated with U.S. assistance / February 3, 2010.

Sgt. 1st Class Matthew S. Sluss-Tiller / age 35 / Callettsburg, KY / The second of those three soldiers killed at a bomb explosion in North Western Frontier, Pakistan / February 3, 2010.

Staff Sgt. Mark A. Stets / age 39 / El Cajon, CAL / The third soldier killed at that bomb explosion in North Western Frontier, Pakistan / February 3, 2010.

Pfc. Zachary G. Lovejoy / age 20 / Albuquerque, NM / One of two soldiers killed when enemy forces attacked their vehicle with a roadside bomb in Zabul province, Afghanistan / February 2, 2010.

Cpl. Daniel Whitten / age 28 / Grimes, Iowa / The second soldier killed when enemy forces attacked their vehicle in Zabul province, Afghanistan / February 2, 2010.

Lance Cpl. Michael L. Freeman Jr. / age 21 / Fayetteville, PA / Died while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan / February 1, 2010.

Spc. Marc P. Decateau / age 19 / Waterville Valley, NH / One of two soldiers that died of injuries sustained during an incident in Warduk province, Afghanistan / January 29, 2010.

Capt. David J. Thompson / age 39 / Hooker,OK / The second soldier who died of injuries sustained in Wardak province, Afvghanistan / January 29, 2010.

Pfc. Scott Barnett / age 24 / Concord, CAL / Died of injuries sustained while supporting combat operations in Tallil, Iraq./ January 28, 2010.

Staff Sgt. Rusty H. Christian / age 24 / Greenville, TN / Killed when a roadside bomb detonated during  patrol in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan / January 28, 2010.

Sgt. David J. Smith / age 25 / Frederick, MD / Died of wounds received on January 23 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province,Afghanistan./ January 26, 2010/

Sgt. Carlos E. Gill / age 25 / Fayetteville, NC / Gill was medically evacuated from Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan and died at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC / January 26, 2010.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Coming Home

"Coming home, coming home,
Never more to roam,
Open wide those arms of love,
Lord, I'm coming home."
             --Old Gospel song

More than anything else, for me Lent is coming home. Nothing captures this idea more than the story of the Prodigal son. We know it like the back of our hands. The boy, mad and foolish, went far from home and found that over there was not all it was cracked up to be. In time, he lost everything and had no place to go. Finally—in desperation he decided to go back home, groveling in the dust, ashamed and embarrassed. Hopefully his father would take him back, maybe as a servant. We know the rest of that story.

Robert Penn Warren had a great novel entitled, A Place to Come To. The setting was the hard, cold mines where work was backbreaking and life was short. In one of those little mining houses, a mother was determined her son would not be stuck there. So as a young adult she pushed him away. She made him leave. She told him he could never come back. She thought if he returned he would and never leave there again. It was the hardest thing she ever did.

Through the years she kept up with him. She missed him terribly—but he never came back. She married again in later life and one day she died. The boy, heart broken and devastated, came home to pay his last respects. The old man she had married told him how much his mother had loved him and talked about him continually. The old man said “Did you know that your Mother kept your room for you all these years?” The boy did not know that. “She changed the sheets, fresh and white every single day just in case you decided to come home.” Warren wrote in his wise, wonderful way that it is a wonderful thing to have a place to come home to.

As I think of these early forty days that lead up to Easter, I think of homecoming. A place to come home to. At the end of the road there is a light in the window and someone who waits. There are clean, white sheets just for the likes of us. Let us leave it all behind, the broken promises, the shattered dreams, the fears and rage of so much. A world that some days seems like an insane asylum. Let’s begin again that long journey. At Lent I remember we have a place to come to. Thanks be to God.

(I took the above photograph at the Louisville (Ky.) Speed Museum. I  do not know the name of the sculptor--but this life-size piece of the Prodigal is moving and beautiful.)

Thursday, February 18, 2010


"I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than live in the tents of wickedness." (Psalm 84.10b)

He stands at the door every Sunday without fail. He welcomes people and gives out bulletins. But that’s not the best part of his work. He always says: “Welcome to our Church! We are so glad you are here. We love you and God loves you. Come on in."

What a lot of people don’t know is that he does this at two different churches. At 8:45 every Sunday morning he is standing outside the door of his own church welcoming all those that come in. And then—at 10:45 he moves to another congregation where he picks up a handful of bulletins and does the same thing.

I don’t know any Greeter that does this at two different churches. Maybe he ought to be in the Guinness Book of Records. He is 90 years old. He is always dressed impeccably with white starched shirt, tie and suit. When it is cold he dons an overcoat and gloves. But Sunday after Sunday you can count on him. Standing there—welcoming everyone who comes—and reminding them that they are loved.

One minister, going through a terrible time, told me one Sunday she decided to attend one of these two churches. She had never been there and did not know what to expect. But—the African-American greeter was there with his bulletins and a smile. She told me later, “He made my day—he reminded me that God loved me and that the people of his church, not even knowing my name, loved me, too. I am having a hard time—but that word at the door of the church brought me back to my senses. I am so glad I came that Sunday.”

Often we think it’s the sermon or the carefully planned worship that helps people—and perhaps they do. But more likely than not it is the tiny things that bring us back to what matters. A smile. A handshake. A hug. A stained glass window. A little child on the bench in front of you. Or someone standing at a door giving you a bulletin and reminding you of the essence of it all.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Kept--First Thursday in Lent

Years ago in a hard place my wife and son came back from the store. “We got you something. I hope you’ll like it.” I opened up the box and there was this wooden angel with spreading wings—heavily endowed—I closely observed. “We thought we might hang her somewhere close and she could protect us all during these hard days.” We hung her in our kitchen, over our table where she swung day after day.

Since that time that angel has been an important part of our lives. From time to time I look at her and remember. The gift so lovingly given. The reminder so easily forgotten. We are not alone in this mess, none of us. If we are lucky, and most of us are, there are people around us who keep us going. But the grace comes through them when we need it most.

So when I read the Psalms 91 passage about how the angel guards our ways and bears us up—I remember that Jesus in his hard place fell back on these words. Acts reminded God’s people that even when they were in slavery—God was there even though they thought he was a million miles away. Later, God reminded Moses that an angel came to him in the wilderness. He took off his sandals and saw that rocky barren ground with its thorns and scorpions was holy. Ponder the mystery—over all our lives there hangs some angel. Messengers of God, they were called. Whatever. They nudge us forward one two steps forward-one step backward toward the humanity God called us to be. (Psalm 91.1-2, 9-16; Exodus 5, 10-23; Acts 7. 30-34)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Smudges--An Ash Wednesday Musing

“What’s a smudge?” my new secretary asked as I gave her this title for my Ash Wednesday meditation. Good question—what’s a smudge? I thought for a long time before I answered. “Elaine, a smudge is a dirty mark. Sometimes it’s a blot or a blur. Sometimes I’ll pull a printed page out of the computer too fast and it will smudge the paper. It wasn’t dry!” A smudge, I told her, was when your Mama licks her finger and says, "Let me get that spot off your cheek."

We know about smudges, don’t we? The spots we leave. The not-rightness of something. The dirty track we leave behind long after we are gone.

Lent is the season of smudges. We spend 40 days thinking about our humanity, our weaknesses, our earthiness. We turn to old Scriptures like: “Rend your hearts and not your garments...” or further on down the page: “Return to the Lord, your God for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.” We turn to Psalms and confess: “Have mercy upon me O God…” We are talking about smudges.

William Safford one of my favorite poets wrote:
                                  “It’s too heavy to drag,
                                    this big sack of
                                    what you should have done.
                                    And finally
                                    you can’t lift it any more.”

Because our sacks get too heavy and we have a hard time lifting them we come back to Ash Wednesday. We remember that other forty--forty years when God’s people lived from pillar to post—doing stupid things. Struggle, rebellion, pain and downright shame. We also remember that another forty—forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness struggling and praying.

There is so much in our sacks we have not yet dealt with. I like the way the author of The Right to Write puts it: “…very often, without knowing it, we slip ‘out of synch’ in our lives. We are subtly out of alignment, off our center, and it happened without our noticing. At times like this, we need help integrating, coming back into a whole.” And so we come with our brothers and sisters stand in the long line and wait for the ashes. We, like fellow strugglers through the ages, begin our forty day journey again.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

About Don't Ask...Don't Tell

I was going to write something about the latest move to eradicate Don't Ask...Don't Tell.  I remember reading when Harry Truman desegrated the armed forces the same arguments that are used against gays were used against blacks. It is time to stop this double-standard. We need to remember that the Constitution says: "Liberty and justice for all..."

Doris Kearns Goodwin writes in Team of Rivals that when the Supreme Court ruled in the Dred Scott Case in 1856 it ruled against Dred Scott a slave. "Two days later, on March 6, the historic decision was read by the seventy-nine-year-old Taney in the old Supreme Court chamber...The 7-2 decision was beathtaking in its scope and consequences. The Court ruled that blacks 'are not included, and were not intended to be included, under the word 'citizens' in  the Constitution.' Therefore Scott had no standing in federal court.' This should have decided the case, but Taney went further. 'Neither the Declaration of Independence nor the Constitution had been intended to apply to blacks,' he said. 'Blacks were 'so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.'" Goodwin writes that later reviewing the Dred Scott case, Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter later said, was "one of the Court's greatest self-inflicted wounds.."

What does this have to do with gay rights? Everything in my book. Joey Kennedy of The Birmingham News has written a great column about this--read it for yourself. Halford Luccock, a great preacher of another era said the hardest words to pronounce in any language are the little words not the big words. All is a word we are still having trouble pronouncing.

Pondering Abraham Lincoln's birthday in 2010

Abraham Lincoln was born February 12, 1809. Carl Sandburg wrote: “On the morning of February 12, the granny woman was at the cab in. And she and Tom Lincoln and the moaning Nancy Hanks welcomed into a world of battle and blood, of whispering dreams and wistful dust, a new child, a boy. "

Dennis Hanks, a nine year old neighbor boy asked the new Mother: “What you goin’ to name him, Nancy?” “Abraham,” was the answer, “after his grandfather.”(p. 7)

Sandburg continued: “Whatever the exact particulars, the definite event on that 12th of February, 1809, was the birth of a boy named Abraham after his grandfather who was had been killed by the Indians—born in silence and pain from a wilderness mother on a bed of perhaps cornhusks and perhaps hen feathers—with perhaps a laughing child prophecy later that he would “never come to much.”(p.8)

Lincoln was 51 years old when it was whispered that he was a candidate for President. “In Springfield and other places, something out of the ordinary seemed to connect with Abraham Lincoln’s past, his birth, a mystery of where he came from. The wedding certificate of his father and mother was not known to be on record. Whispers floated of his origin as “low-flung” of circumstances so misty and strange that political friends wished they could be cleared up and made respectable. The wedding license of Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks had been moved to a new county courthouse—where no one had thought to search.”(p. 147)

At a Shelbyville rally of Democrats, he debated with a local leader, the Register of Springfield saying his three hour speech ‘was pretty and dull…all about ‘freedom,’ ‘liberty,’ and niggers. He…dodged every issue.’”(p.132)

“Lincoln’s colleague, Edwin M. Stanton, was a serious owl-eyed man, strict in language, dress, duty. When his eyes lighted on Lincoln at the Burnet House in Cincinnati, wearing heavy boots, loose clothes, farmer-looking, he used language reported as: ‘Where did that long-armed baboon come from?’” (Stanton would later be asked to join the President’s cabinet as Secretary of War—purported to be the most powerful civilian post that Lincoln could offer anyone.)(p.125)

“‘Resistance to Lincoln is Obedience to God’ flared a banner at an Alabama mass meeting; an orator swore that if need be their troops would march to the doors of the national Capital over ‘fathoms of mangled bodies.”(p.187) (Quoted in Carl Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World) 1954

Doris Kearns Goodwin, in Team of Rivals writes the following words: “Exulting in Lincoln’s lack of national experience, Democratic newspapers had a field day ridiculing his biography. He is ‘a third rate Western lawyer,’ the Herald gloated. ‘the conduct of the republican party in this nomination is a remarkable indication of a small intellect, growing smaller.’ Rejecting Seward and Chase, ‘who are statesmen and able men,’ the Herald continued, ‘they take up a fourth rate lecturer, who cannot speak good grammar,’ and whose speeches are ‘illiterate compositions…interlarded with coarse and clumsy jokes.’ Not content to deride his intellect, hostile publications focused on his appearance. ‘Lincoln is the leanest, lankest, most ungainly mass of legs, arms and hatchet-face ever strung together upon a single frame. He has most unwarrantably abused the privilege which all politicians have of being ugly.’”(p. 257)

“More violent attacks appeared in the Charleston Mercury, which scornfully asked: ‘After him what decent white man would be President?’…The Richmond Enquirer would say: ‘he was an illiterate partizen…possessed only of his inveterate hatred of slavery and his openly avowed predilections for negro equality.’”(p.258)

“Hoping to organize a Lincoln Club in Kansas, Addison Proctor approached one of the state’s most respected Republicans and asked him to preside. The man vehemently refused: ‘You fellows knew at Chicago what this country is facing….You knew that it will take the very best ability we can produce to pull us through. You knew that above everything else, these times demanded a statesman and you have gone and give us a rail splitter. No, I will not preside or attend.”(p.262)(Quoted in Doris Kearns Goodwin, Team of Rivals (New York: Simon & Schuster) 2005

Maybe what we need in these strange days of 2010 is a sense of history. With the birthers holding their ugly, ugly signs about our President being a Marxist, Socialist, a closet Muslim, not even a bona fide citizen of the United States and some even demanding his impeachment—maybe it is time to remember the stormy days of Lincoln. How he weathered not only the storm of a divided country and the bloodiest war this country has ever seen but the loss of three boys and a demented wife and attacks from all sides. I hope our President has read this part of the history book.

We are in desperate need of leadership today. If we join the bandwagon of hoping President Obama fails—what happens to the country we all love? Pause and remember Abraham Lincoln and the man who sits in the White House today. Wonder if there is any connection?
(The photographs come from the new Sculpture of Abraham Lincoln found on the banks of the Ohio River in Louisville, Ky.)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Hope During the Cold Days

It's cold--Alabama cold.
The ground is crusty--
Even the pansies and the camellias 
  have shriveled.
The birds still come though sparsely.
And in the middle of this winter

   the green shoots of daffodils
   are popping up all over my yard.
They are  everywhere--
   these prophets of spring.
They remind me that life stubborn,
   stubborn life goes on.
They teach me that the work
   of yesterday pays dividends tomorrow  
   and tomorrow and tomorrow.
What I thought was over and finished
   will come back every spring   
   long after I'm gone.                                           
                                        --Roger Lovette

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Let's not Forget Haiti

“To witness the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti is to be lost inside a waking nightmare. The markers on this mapless journey are the swarms of looters, children with chopped-off limbs, cities fabricated of sticks and bedsheets, pulverized cathedrals, dogs circling and dead in the streets.”
                      --James Nachtwey, Photographer

It’s been a month now since that terrible earthquake hit Haiti on January 12. I haven’t heard how many really did die underneath the rubble. Reports estimate somewhere between 100,000 to 200,000 have lost their lives.

I have been proud, very proud to be member of the human race when I have seen such love and care that has reached out to our brothers and sisters in Haiti. A little eight year old Ismail Taylor-Kamara spoke for so many when she said, “Will you help me.” Churches and a multitude of charity organizations have come to the rescue. Someone said epic catastrophe has been met with epic generosity.

I’ve looked through several magazines and newspapers in the last two weeks. If there is a story about Haiti it is buried on page 32 or a brief column or picture by someone. Let us not forget our brothers and sisters in Haiti. We’ve heard the terrible term, “Compassion fatigue” again and again. Overwhelmed by the too-muchness of it all many of us just shut down. But our interest and compassion span must be stretched as we think of Haiti. Food and water and tents have been so welcomed and so needed. But there must be some plans for the future and for one of the poorest countries in the world. Let’s keep Haiti on our prayer list…let’s give as we can.

John Dart quoted Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of the Episcopal Church in the Christian Century, January 9: “The reality is that life is not safe or predictable, but what we do with our lives gives them meaning. God does not cause suffering or punish people with it, but God is present and known more intimately in the midst of suffering. Above all, we become more human through our broken hearts.”

(If you’d like to keep Haiti in mind you might download 43 pictures of the devastation by great photographers.)

Just this morning I read words from Joan Chittister in her book, Wisdom Distilled from the Daily. They speak to me about Haiti and all the other troubled places and people: "Real hospitality for our time requires that, instead of flipping the channel or turning the page, we try to determine what it is about our own lives that is affecting these others. We have to wonder how we can help the poor at the doorstep who live thousands of miles away. Hospitality says that the problem is mine, not someone else's. It is my door and my heart upon which these people are knocking for attention."

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Looking at our Checkbook

Since the Federal Budget has been released everybody is scared. It is hard to believe we’re talking about trillions and trillions of dollars of red ink. Legislators are scratching their heads and trying to figure out what to cut—that is, whatever it is that doesn’t affect their constituents. Funny—some of the people screaming the loudest about the amount of this budget have somehow wiggled their earmarks into this document for their special projects that will benefit folk back home. They all want to cut somebody else’s budget. As people have talked about budget cutting few voices have been raised about the military chunk of this new budget. We must remember that President Obama has put the war expense as part of the budget. In the past years President Bush handled the war as a separate item that was voted on separately. It was not even part of the proposed annual budget. This would be like preparing your family budget and leaving out the house payment. We couldn’t do that. So I applaud our President for openly putting out the astronomical figures for all to see. Most of those screaming about the deficit have not mentioned the fact that the war is a huge part of the budget.

If we could do something about all this money we are plowing into the military and the war—we could solve many of our hurting problems. But the war goes on and people hide behind terrorism as the deficit keeps mounting. If you are concerned about the great silence on military spending you might want to join Jim Wallis’ and Sojourners’ campaign to send a message to Washington. Read it for yourself. You might want to join all these that think this is a moral issue.

I felt a little better about the proposed budget when I read Paul Krugman’s article in Saturday’s New York Times. This well-respected economist says these deficit horror stories are simply not true. He says the screamers are not dealing with the facts at all. He points in clear terms that running big deficits dealing with the worst financial crisis since the 30’s is actually the thing to do. He says a lot of this money should be spent on jobs, jobs, jobs. I’m no economist (just ask my wife)but I do know that attacking and name-calling and spreading panic could well be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Who wants that? Nobody.

Somebody said the most theological document in any family or church is the check-book. Study where the money goes and you will know where people’s hearts truly are. If this is true of the Federal Budget—look at what we are spending on the military and you will know where our priorities truly are.