Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Candles in the Dark--Charting a Way in A Tough Time

Cleaning off my desk—I came across some wonderful articles that I wanted to share. I have a file in my mind called: “Wish I’d Said That.” The following writings are superb and looking back they all deal with inclusion, in community, in trying to discover the all-ness that this country has always dreamed about. Let’s face it—we have not lived up to it by a long shot—for the fiftieth anniversary of Martin King’s “Letters to Birmingham Jail” reminded us how very far we were (and are) from the American dream. We all know that we are living today in a fractured society. We cannot continue this way. To segment any group—even if they are Muslim—and isolate them and say they are not welcome is certainly at counter purpose with what it means to be a United America. The Boston attack has left us all heartsick. But we must not make the terrible mistake as we care for the wounded and bury our dying to take actions that would make us more like the terrorists than the free people we are supposed to be.

The New York Times reported this morning just underneath the sad picture of the chaos and maiming in Boston should give us pause to think. The headline reads: "U.S. Practiced Torture After 9/11 Nonpartisan Review Concludes.” A nonpartisan independent review of interrogation and detention practices after September 11, 2001 concludes, “It is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture.” And that the nation’s highest officials bore ultimate responsibility for it. It is a 577-page report and hammers the point that brutality is not to be the American way. Surely we need to ponder this report as we search for terrorists once again.

The three articles I recommend all deal with community and the challenge of inclusion. Wendell Berry has written a splendid article “Caught in the Middle,” about his troubled feelings about abortion and homosexuality. He takes on the right and the left and says that we must come to some agreement on these issues and live together. He talks about the difficulties raised by both abortion and homosexuality and in a fair manner calls for us to move beyond the politics of mutual estrangement.

Mark Schloneger is Pastor of a Mennonite Church in Goshen, Indiana. He writes an article entitled, “Altar Politics.” On the eve of the national election for President he planned what he called an Election Day Communion service. He had the strange idea that the table of the Lord ought to bring us together despite however we vote or do not vote. This Pastor has caught a vision of the way Church is to be. A safe place for everyone. The Church everywhere needs to consider the wideness of God’s mercy for all God’s people.

The last article found in the secular Harper’s Magazine deals with the thorny problem of immigration. Ted Genoways has written a piece asking how do we decide who belongs in America. It is a question we have struggled with from the beginning of our nation. In telling terms,  Mr. Genoways points to where we are today.

I wish I had written each of these articles. In a dark time—we still have those that hold up the candles in the dark. 

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