Teach Us To Pray

July 24, 2016

We have what may be the earliest form of what we call “The Lord’s Prayer” in our Gospel reading for today. Certainly it’s the shorter of the two versions of the Lord’s Prayer we have in the New Testament. The longer one is in Matthew and it’s hard to believe that Luke would have shortened the one in Matthew (if he knew it at all). Easier to understand how Matthew might have added a few things, perhaps by way of explanation, to Luke’s account of Jesus’ prayer.

Bible readers are often surprised that none of the biblical versions of this great prayer correspond exactly to the one we use every Sunday, and which most of us memorized as children. The prayer has developed, with constant repetition, over the centuries, into the form we are familiar with today. There’s even a more contemporary translation in Rite Two of the Eucharist which, sadly, very few of our churches use, even though it’s probably closer to the original than what we say every Sunday.

In any case, the fact that there are two version of this famous prayer should make it clear to us that the Gospels are not  word-for-word transcriptions of what Jesus may have said, but rather recollections and remembrances, passed down through years and finally written down forty or fifty years after Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Nonetheless, it’s a powerful prayer that has its origins with Jesus, so let’s take a look at the two versions as they actually appear in the Bible.

Luke’s version begins in the simplest way possible: “Father!” We know from other accounts in the Gospels that this was Jesus’ favorite way of addressing God. It came from the Aramaic “Abba” which, as you probably know, was an intimate way of addressing one’s father, more like our term “Daddy” than  anything else. Matthew renders this, “Our Father in heaven.” He wants us to know that God was not just Jesus’ father, but “our” Father as well. And then he gives us the best definition of heaven I know of: heaven is where God is, and where God is, there is heaven!

Both Luke and Matthew follow that title of address with this phrase: “hallowed be your name.” That means that God’s very name is to be considered holy and it certainly was by the Jews. In their tradition God had revealed his real name to them through Moses at the burning bush. “I AM Who I AM” it is sometimes translated, and the Hebrew letters are YHWH (which we pronounce as Yahweh.) That name was so holy to the Jews that they wouldn’t even pronounce it out loud. When they read the Scriptures and came across the name Yahweh, they would substitute the word “Adonai” which means “Lord,”

Every time you see the word “LORD” written with all capital letters in the Old Testament and the Psalms, know that behind that is the Hebrew word “Yahweh” which the Jews would not even speak out loud because of its holiness. Only once a year, inside the Holy of Holies, was the High Priest allowed to call God by this actual name. That’s what it means in the Ten Commandments to say “Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain.” The Jews certainly didn’t then…and don’t today!

Luke goes on to say, in the prayer, “your kingdom come.” That was the ancient Jewish hope that God would finally come back to them, establish the kingdom, once and for all, and set the world to rights. Matthew makes that clear when he adds, “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Christians don’t just hope for a disembodied eternity spent on some cloud playing a harp but, after a period of rest in Paradise after death, that God will one day judge the living and the dead and usher in a new heaven and a new earth where we will live in happiness and health, in justice and in peace — A time and place where God’s will will truly be done “on earth” as it is (now) “in heaven!”

With all this emphasis on the future, the next line in both Luke and Matthew’s version focuses on the present: “Give us this day our daily bread.” That reminds us that we are dependent on God for everything in this life, including the very food we eat. But the sense of this prayer is that we should just ask God for “bread enough for today”, daily bread, and not worry about storing things up for tomorrow. God will provide — Jesus seems to be saying — so let’s not be greedy about it!

The prayer then moves on to our need for forgiveness. Luke says “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” Matthew says, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Matthew’s version may actually be closer to Jesus here. He tells parables about debtors who were forgiven their debts and how grateful they were. The Jews were overtaxed and overcharged by their Roman oppressors in Jesus’ day and many of them lived under the burden of crushing financial debt. Either way, Jesus makes it clear that we are only to expect forgiveness if we ourselves forgive. “Forgive us…AS we forgive others.” It’s a two-way street!

Luke concludes the prayer “And lead us not into temptation” and Matthews adds: “but deliver us from the evil one.” Not just deliver us from evil, but deliver us from the Evil One! Matthew knows where true evil comes from and he prays for deliverance from that one – from Satan…the Adversary…the Evil One!

Now, neither Matthew nor Luke actually included the familiar closing doxology of the Lord’s Prayer. That was added by some scribe in some of the ancient manuscripts so it’s been around for a long time. I’m glad somebody added it because it’s wonderful…and a fit way to end a marvelous prayer: “for yours is the kingdom, and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”

I have, on my Android phone, a screensaver from NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration). And, streaming onto my phone everyday are the most recent photos from the Hubbell telescope or other observatories. Photos of the Milky Way or other galaxies, photos of stars being born or dying in a blaze of glory, sometimes pictures of our beautiful planet earth, taken from thousands of miles away. Every time I look at a new picture, these words come to mind, “For thine is the kingdom…and the power…and the glory…for ever and ever. Amen!”

So, I actually agree with many saints and scholars across the centuries that the Lord’s Prayer is perhaps the most perfect prayer ever written. We acknowledge our intimate relationship with God;  we remember how Holy God’s very name is; we yearn for that Last, Great Day when God will judge the living and the dead and establish the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven; we remember that God is the source of everything we need in this life, even our daily bread; we ask for forgiveness and remind ourselves of the commandment to forgive others ourselves; we pray not to be tempted beyond our power to resist, but rather to be delivered from the Source of all evil…the Evil One! And we conclude with a hymn of praise to the Creator of all that is: “For Thine is the kingdom…and the power…and the glory…for ever and ever. Amen.” Never has a prayer said so much with so few words!

 

‘Splaining Kaine

July 23, 2016

While faithful followers of this little blog will know that I would have preferred Julian Castro, the brilliant and young Hispanic Cabinet Secretary, as Hillary Clinton’s running mate, I am nonetheless more than content with Tim Kaine. Clinton and Kaine are personally compatible and he certainly meets the primary qualification of being able to serve as president should that become necessary.

Tim Kaine has other experiences that are important for me: He has solid, Midwestern (Minnesota) roots but has served as both governor of the swing state of Virginia and a senator from that great state who happens to sit on the Foreign Relations Committee. Even more importantly, for me, he is

“the son of a welder who owned a small metalworking shop…(is)…a Roman Catholic…(who)…attended a Jesuit school and took a break from law school at Harvard to spend time as a Catholic missionary in Honduras, an experience that his family has said shaped him and helped him become fluent in Spanish. Early in his career, Mr. Kaine worked on fair housing and civil rights issues as a lawyer.” (New York Times, Saturday July 23)

I am a great fan of the Jesuits and believe it has to be a good thing that he was shaped by their blend of deep faith and educational excellence. He shares with me a personal, Catholic view of abortion but, like me, nonetheless is pro choice and believes only a woman can rightfully make such a momentous decision. He has a 100% voting record for Planned Parenthood. His fluency in Spanish will be invaluable and I believe his is the only United States Senator to have given an entire speech on the floor in Spanish.

I like the fact that he has been a governor and so has actually had to “govern” and make the kind of tough decisions that only come to one on whose desk the buck actually stops. Yet, he is also a well respected senator who knows how legislation gets done on the national level as well. He is certainly not flashy, but by all reports is liked by nearly everyone and can nonetheless be plenty tough when the situation calls for it.

Tim Kaine will be a worthy opposition VP nominee to Mike Pence and their debates should be interesting. Maybe more interesting than the Clinton/Trump ones which will undoubtedly be dragged into the mud by Donald Trump who seems to know no other way to disagree with someone. Kaine and Pence will actually debate the issues and my guess is that more light than heat will be generated by their conversation. I look forward to it.

I hope next week’s Democratic National Convention will be a celebration of unity and the launching pad for perhaps the most consequential  presidential election in my lifetime. Both candidates for the highest office in our land have opted for solid, if less than exciting, vice presidential picks. That’s OK with me. There will be enough fireworks as Hillary and the Donald battle it out.

It will be nice to have a couple of pretty solid back-ups in the bullpen.

 

Donald Trump’s Alternate Reality

July 22, 2016

Donald Trump gave an acceptance speech last night that, while crafted by someone else, he read credibly from the teleprompter. The speechwriter had gotten most of the Donald’s cadences down pretty well, and the fact that he yelled for most of the longest-ever acceptance speech made it all seem pretty much like a normal Trump rally.

The fact that his children (especially Ivanka) did masterful jobs of paving the way for Donald’s acceptance speech and that he was actually able to sound like he knew what he was talking about for a change led most of the media to stand in awe and commentators like Chris Matthews actually to sing his praises. What the media seems incapable of doing is to identify the fact that Donald Trump told at least 21 lies during his speech and set himself up as the savior of some alternate reality country that he calls the USA! A few examples cited by Politicus USA:

  1. Obama has doubled our national debt. Nope, most of is was amassed before he took office.
  2. Before Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State ISIS was not even on the map. Nope, its roots go back to 2004 when Bush was president.
  3. There is no way to screen refugees or find out where they come from. Nope, a careful vetting system is in place.
  4. Trump says he has been deeply affected by parents who have lost children to “violence spilling across our borders.” Actually, there is no evidence that immigrants commit more crimes than native-born Americans.
  5. Donald claims that his tax plan would be the largest reduction of any candidate’s proposals and middle income Americans will experience profound tax relief. Nope, the Trump tax plan (predictably) will mostly benefit those at the very top.
  6. When the F.B.I. Director said that Clinton was “extremely careless” and “negligent” in handling classified material, those words were to save her from facing justice for her “terrible crimes” when others have paid so dearly for similar transgressions. Well, F.B.I. Director Comey has repeatedly said that is not true.

These are just a few examples, but they serve to illustrate the fact that Donald Trump is somehow able to tell the most outrageous lies and describe a nation in decline and in serious danger from within and without and no one seems willing or able to call him on it! I’m sure Hillary Clinton and the Democrats will try, but we will simply be caught in a “he said, she said” vicious circle and folks will discount our rebuttals as more political fabrication.

It is incumbent upon the national media, particularly the so-called “mainstream” media (network news and newspapers) which people actually listen to, watch, and read to hold all the candidates (Secretary Clinton included) to a higher standard of truth than we currently see happening. If the “Fourth Estate” does not fulfill its responsibility to be a watch-dog on politicians, then we are in danger of electing someone who lives in an alternate reality and wants to take us along for the ride.

These are indeed scary times. But not for the reasons Donald Trump enumerated last night.

 

The Communion of Saints

July 20, 2016

So many formative memories came flooding back yesterday as I attended the funeral of onetime Presiding Bishop Ed Browning at Trinity Cathedral in Portland, Oregon. Here are a few:

Processing into the church next to Bishop Fred Borsch,  my New Testament professor in seminary and a primary mentor over the years. Listening to retired PB Frank Griswold, my old boss at the Episcopal Church Center in New York preach the sermon, and seeing him join retired PB Katharine Jefferts Schori and current PB Michael Curry presiding at the Eucharist.

Being led in the intercessions by a dozen of the Browning children and grandchildren. Precious time with Patti Browning at the reception as she grieves and prepares for the immediate future without her life partner, her beloved Ed.

Private dinner after the funeral with dear friends and former 815 colleagues: my predecessor as ecumenical officer David Perry; peace and justice officer Brian Grieves; Chancellor David Beers; House of Deputy Presidents Bonnie Anderson and Gay Jennings; old friends and colleagues Don and Carol Ann Brown. So many Browning-era memories shared, so much laughter, so many tears.

My life has been enriched and blessed by all these folks and more with whom I was able to spend time yesterday. The communion of saints stretches across time and space into eternity…but it begins with shared commitments, adventures, and friendships with people like these.

This morning I am filled with gratitude for the life and ministry I was able to share with these dear ones. God is good…all the time! All the time…God is good!

 

Not Slaking Evil’s Bloody Thirst

July 16, 2016

Black men shot in their cars for no apparent reason, innocent policemen mowed down by a sniper, scores of French citizens and visitors run over by a madman at the wheel of a huge refrigerated truck. Why?

Racism? Anger and hatred fueled by racism? Mental illness at the service of radical jihadism? Likely.

Yet there is something other at work here which must be named. Evil. Whether understood as stemming from satanic power, the “fallen” nature of humankind, or human nature not completely evolved from the survival-of-the-fittest mentality of our primitive ancestors, “red of tooth and claw,” there is Evil in this world.

And this Evil is greater than the sum total of all the individual evil acts committed by men and women. There is the power of Evil. Evil with a capital “E.”

We are at war with that Evil, make no mistake about it. Unfortunately, when people realize that they are at war, their first thought is to use the weapons of war — violence, killing, conquest, imprisonment, torture, deportation and exile. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.

This will never work. Using Evil’s tools against it only slakes its bloody thirst.

The only power able to overcome Evil is the power of Love. Blessing those who curse you, turning the other cheek, not returning evil for evil, loving your enemies not hating them.

Why will this ultimately work? Because God is love, and those who love align themselves with the power which holds the universe together, from galaxies far away to the quarks and gluons of beyond-microscopic atomic reality.

In the Face of such Power, Evil must eventually bow.

Wait for it with confidence.

 

Presidential Leadership

July 14, 2016

In the wake of a new series of “unjustified” killings of black men by police officers and the horrific assassination of five innocent cops just doing their jobs and protecting peaceful protesters in Dallas, President Obama hosted a largely-ignored but very significant meeting in the White House yesterday. Bringing together administration officials, community activists from the Black Lives Matter movement and representatives of police organizations, the President said this:

“There is no doubt that police departments still feel embattled and unjustly accused, and there is no doubt that minority communities, communities of color, still feel like it just takes too long to do what’s right. We have to, as a country, sit down and just grind it out — solve these problems.”

Sit down…grind it out…and solve these problems. Exactly!  Because at this point we continue to talk past one another with African Americans feeling like they are unfairly targeted for traffic stops, stop-and-frisk, and worse. And the police feeling that they are under siege, victims of a tiny minority of bad cops when most of them are risking their lives every day to keep everyone in this country safe.

As in most debates, there is truth on both sides. But we simply have to find spaces where we can actually sit down, “grind it out” (as the President said), and solve these problems. A meeting such as the one Barack Obama hosted at the White House is a magnificent example of the kind of thing which must happen. I think it is actually encouraging that, according to reports, “…hostility flared at times behind closed doors at the session, particularly as those representing police organizations clashed with people who had been arrested at protests.”

That is encouraging because it means truth was being spoken and wildly different perspectives were being shared and heard. This is the kind of thing that happened at Desmond Tutu’s “Truth and Reconciliation” meetings in South Africa after the fall of apartheid. But those meetings brought healing to a troubled land. We have a lot of painful conversations to have before we reach the common ground necessary to begin to work together to end this senseless cycle of violence in our communities.

And, of course, it is in our local communities that these conversations must take place. A meeting in the White House, even one that lasted for over four hours all afternoon and into the evening, can only be a model for what needs to happen all across this country. If our President is looking for something to occupy his time after the election in November, he could well look to Jimmy Carter’s Center and Bill Clinton’s Foundation as prototypes for an “Obama Initiative” focused like a laser on racial reconciliation in this “land of the free, and home of the brave.”

Someone needs to lead us in finding ways actually to have these crucial local conversations on race. Who better than the first African American President once he is freed from the responsibilities of saving the economy, winding down two wars, reforming health care, opening the doors of equality for GLBT folks, and keeping us safe from terrorists?

The Graciousness Of A Great Leader

July 12, 2016

Yesterday, I wrote these words on my Facebook status and received nearly 60 “likes” almost immediately: “Ed Browning, who died today, inspired a generation of us as a missionary priest, an international bishop, and Presiding Bishop. When he presided at my Consecration, my only prayer was to follow in his footsteps. His contribution to this church, and to the cause of Christ in incalculable. My his rest this day be in the Paradise of God.”

I shall never forget watching him, by video, in the pulpit of Washington’s National Cathedral on the day of his installation as our 24th Presiding Bishop. It was on the Feast of the Baptism of Christ and he preached a magnificent sermon on Compassion, based on the Proper lessons and theme of the day. It was out of his profound understanding of the Sacrament of Baptism that Ed reiterated his famous declaration on that day, “In this church, there will be no outcasts.”

This was not a “politically correct” or “bleeding heart liberal” statement. This was a conviction borne out of his theological commitment and deep spirituality to the fact that we are all created in the image of God, that we are to respect the dignity of every human being, and that baptism is the great equalizer, the celebration of that radical equality preached and demonstrated by Jesus and lived out, when we are at our best, by the church.

Ed presided at my consecration as the 8th Bishop of Iowa and I served with him on the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council for three of my six years (the latter three being with Frank Griswold). With Ed as the chair and Pam Chinnis as vice chair of the Council, I witnessed the finest example of shared leadership between clergy and lay that I have ever seen in our church. They had the deepest respect, and even love, for one another and they led this church with passion, integrity, and courage during those difficult years.

One of my proudest possessions is an autographed copy, in his beautiful handwriting, of the book No Outcasts, a collection of excerpts from his sermons and essays narrated and edited by The Rev. Brian Grieves, Ed’s dear friend and the Peace and Justice officer for the Episcopal Church during his tenure as PB. Please allow me to share Ed’s words, not because of what they say about me, but because of what they reveal about the graciousness a great leader:

To Chris

With the deepest admiration and gratitude for your ministry — for me you are one of the most articulate statesmen of this Church. It has been a privilege to be both in the House and the Council with you!

+Ed Browning

Executive Council

Hawaii 1997

If these kind words indicate that at least Ed thought I had partially succeeded in walking (far behind) in his prophetic footsteps, they bring me much peace and contentment in retirement. There is no one for whom I have had greater respect.

“Into paradise may the angels lead you. As your coming may the martyrs receive you, and bring you to the holy city Jerusalem.” My dear brother…

 

 

 

 

 

Head of Congressional Black Caucus Visits Iowa Democrats

July 10, 2016

Emanuel Cleaver, longtime Congressman from Missouri’s 5th district and now head of the Congressional Black Caucus, paid a visit to our campaign headquarters in Davenport, Iowa yesterday. He was there to give a pep talk to those of us who are volunteers in the Hillary Clinton campaign, and to implore us to work hard in what he called “the most significant presidential election perhaps in our nation’s history.”

This is not a man given to hyperbole. He is a United Methodist pastor who grew up in public housing in Wichita Falls, Texas. He served on the Kansas City Council from 1979 to 1991 when he was elected as the first African American major of that city. He is now the ranking member of the Banking Committee and has fairly recently been named chair of the Black Caucus.

On September 11, 2014, around 2:50 a.m. a Molotov cocktail was thrown through the window of Cleaver’s Kansas City office. Fortunately, he was in Washington at the time and no staff members were injured.

So, I have to take this man very seriously when he expresses his genuine fear that Donald Trump might be elected President of the United States. He believes the presumptive Republican nominee to be not only unqualified, but dangerous. Traveling across the globe on Congressional business, he told us he has found, wherever he goes, foreign leaders and ordinary citizens aghast at what is happening in America, not least in this political season. “What is happening in your country?” Cleaver said he is often asked.

After a passionate and moving address, he went on to his next campaign headquarters stop (he had just come from Cedar Rapids) and many of us began making phone calls on behalf of Hillary Clinton and indeed the entire Democratic slate which will appear on the ballot next November. I found lots of support for Secretary Clinton, a few Trump supporters, and some who — unbelievably to me — are undecided!

Of all years to be “undecided” at this point, this is patently not the one. Some simply don’t trust either candidate, a few are therefore looking to Gary Johnson (the Libertarian Party candidate) as a way to express their displeasure with the two traditional parties. I guess I can understand that, but I encouraged them at least to vote for Democrats “down ballot” if they could not bring themselves to vote for Hillary Clinton.

While, on the one hand, I think she may win an overwhelming victory in the Fall. Yet, on the other, this is an unbelievably unpredictable electoral cycle. I will continue to work as hard as I can to get out the vote and encourage people not to vote against their own self interest, simply because we have two flawed candidates from which to choose. When has this not been the case? It’s just more evident this time.

But the stakes could not be higher, as a very wise man reminded us yesterday.

I invite you to join me in defeating Donald Trump by working and voting for Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Surely The Presence of the Lord Is In This Place

July 9, 2016

Challenged by Brandi Riley’s powerful live video on Facebook, imploring white people to get involved, to raise their voices because black folks cannot do this — call for justice and an end to police (and other) violence — alone, I joined a march yesterday.

Sponsored by a coalition of churches and community organizations here in the Quad Cities, we marched from police headquarters in Rock Island, Illinois across the Centennial Bridge, to headquarters in Davenport, Iowa. As we marched we chanted the familiar “No justice, no peace” and “Hands up, don’t shoot.”

One of the leaders, at the start of the march, made our intentions clear, “We will not turn this into another Dallas. Anyone bent on provoking violence can go back to your car now.” There was no violence. Here are excerpts from some of the speeches we heard:

“Is everybody here black?” No, the crowd responded. “Is everybody here white?” No, the crowd roared. “We’re here because we respect humanity. When black people are killed, I hurt. When civilians are killed, I hurt. When police are killed, I hurt. A life is a life. Until we resemble what we see today, people of all backgrounds respecting life, until that day comes, we have to shout to all people that black lives matter. Because obviously too many people don’t think those lives matter.”

“We don’t hate cops,” a young woman said, “I don’t want to be a mother standing over a casket.” And another organizer summed it all up, “We’re here to share our concern, share our love, and share our will to say that things have got to change. We can start change in our community.”

I hope so. This is the first march I have participated in since the Trayvon Martin murder. After that event, there were a few meetings here of community leaders and clergy but things sort of fizzled out. We have a short attention span in this country. We are numbed to gun violence and systemic racism.

But this is the only way things will change. Yesterday, I called for continuing hard work against racism and for sensible gun laws. Even more important are ongoing conversations between black people and white people, between law enforcement and the citizenry to build the kind of trust necessary for genuine and lasting change to begin to happen.

I was proud to be a Christian yesterday. Even though there were Muslims, Buddhists and people of no faith in the crowd, the spirit of the black church was much in evidence. When a young pastor closed our time in prayer, he acknowledged the presence of many faiths and none and he expressed his respect for them all. But then he asked their indulgence while he prayed, with integrity, out of the faith which brought him there. The powerful prayer ended in the Name of Jesus.

I don’t believe anyone was offended.

Because his spirit was surely present in that place.

 

Baton Rouge…St. Paul…Dallas

July 8, 2016

Just a few thoughts about these last awful days: First of all, it hardly needs to be said, but must be, that at the root of it all, is white racism. Whether or not the police officers in Baton Rouge or St. Paul were themselves racists or whether the killings of the young black men were even motivated by racism, white racism is nonetheless at the root of it.

Racism is not the same as prejudice. The definition of racism is “bias plus power equals racism.” A powerless person cannot be a racist. He or she may be prejudiced (making pre-judgments about others) or even a bigot. But a powerless person cannot be a racist…by definition. So, we live in a racist society where white people (white men, more specifically) have the power. When that is coupled with bias or prejudice, you have racism and a racist society.

Black people especially (among other people of color) are victims of this racism. They have been denied adequate housing and education, they have been denied employment opportunities, they have been denied their basic humanity. Most white people are afraid of black people, black men especially. They have become dehumanized.

Many police officers are afraid of black men, and are therefore hyper-vigilant when confronting a black person for some alleged violation of the law. I believe it is that fear, borne of generational racism, that is at the root of so many of the recent killings of black men by police officers.

Secondly, our society is awash in guns. We often think of white, redneck types as the most likely to “conceal and carry” but the epidemic of black on black murder on the South Side of Chicago makes it crystal clear that lots of black youth are carrying weapons as well these days. Both the recent victims, in Louisiana and Minnesota, were carrying handguns. One was apparently properly licensed, the other most likely was not. Does anyone seriously believe that the fear of a black man reaching for his weapon was not at the root of these police officers firing precipitously?

Now, we have another black man in Dallas who, enraged and full of hatred, used yet another gun, this time a high powered rifle (perhaps schooled by military training) to mow down and kill five innocent police officers, wounding others and some civilians as well. The bitter irony is that these officers were trying to protect the rights and safety of those who were protesting the actions of some of their fellow officers!

Think about this vicious cycle: Two young black men, victims of white racism all their lives, carry  concealed handguns. Frightened (and perhaps angry) white cops, believing that these men might be going for those guns pump multiple rounds into their bodies, resulting in their deaths. People around the nation organize peaceful protests against this action and another black man, armed with a powerful weapon himself, slaughters five more.

Two concealed handguns, two police weapons, one (at least) long rifle. Seven innocent lives lost…needlessly…again.

What are we to do? Engage in the ongoing war against racism. Get to know your neighbor of color. Speak out against racist remarks and actions. Try to determine how the policies and positions of your elected officials (from city council to the presidency) serve to either advance or retard racism in our society and vote accordingly.

Secondly, do all you can to support efforts for effective gun control in this country. That will likely mean local and state efforts since the will to do something on the national level seems lacking. Of course such things as banning assault weapons, limiting magazine capacity, assuring that there are effective background checks on gun purchasers will not eliminate gun violence. But if there are no laws on the books, or if those laws are not being effectively enforced, then we have no way to prosecute those we do find in possession of these weapons of mass destruction. Saving one life, such as the ones we lost this week, would be worth it.

These are just initial thoughts, ramblings, I guess. We will all be processing this for weeks, months, years. Please, God, help us to do something about it. This time…


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