Entries related to things political.

A New Golden Calf

This morning, as I got ready for church, I read various Facebook posts, including one with a picture of a current U.S. Presidential candidate, with the words “If you believe America should always be first! Please Like and Share!”


What does that even mean? First in what? I thought of the toddler screaming, “Me first! Me first!”. I thought of people who shout down differences of opinion chanting, “USA! USA!”

My thoughts drifted to what the Bible has to say about being first. Matthew 20:16 - “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” I thought of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet at the Last Supper.

No, those who paint their faces like the flag of their country and chant “USA! USA!” in hopes that a leader will come along, to “make America great again”, to protect America’s safety and prosperity from people who are different from us, are worshiping A New Golden Calf.


“That looks like cancer”,
the bereaved mother
who had lost her son
to neuroblastoma
said to the handyman
carrying his bottle
of some weird
bright blue
power drink.

I thought it looked
more like solvent
or perhaps one of
those nasty chemicals
they pump you full of
during chemo.

“At least I’m safe here”,
she said
as she adjusted her hijab
looking down the street
at the homeless man
selling cigarettes
to the drunks
and addicts
when three young black men
ran by
chasing a stranger
down an alley
as something went wrong.

The sun hung high in the sky
shining on the just and unjust,
the Muslim, the Christian and the agnostic.

It would be three more hours
before she could break
her Ramadan fast.

The Sacrament of Animal Crackers

I open the box
of animal crackers
what they signify
to me.

I count them,
arrange them,
at the different species
and broken pieces.

It is a writers’ prompt.
What do these crackers
What is their story?

I stare blankly,
waiting for inspiration
but all I can think of
are the forty nine
who died
at The Pulse
a gay nightclub
in Orlando.

Who were they?

I think of the nine that died
in Charleston,
the twenty six
in Sandy Hook.

I think of Columbine
and Aurora,
of San Bernadino
and Virginia tech.

Who were they?

I eat the animal crackers
the innocent days of my childhood
and those who were killed
because they were different;
because they were gay,
or simply
because they were in the right place
at the wrong time.

What if
every time
we ate
animal crackers,
or anything else
for that matter,
we remembered;
we remembered the victims,
the broken,
the grieving,
and those who sought
to bring love
and compassion
for everyone?

These are my animal crackers
broken for you.

Reflections on Orlando

Terms of Engagement

I seek to have open and honest discussions about what has happened. Fundamental to this is a willingness to listen to what others are saying and a willingness to change one’s own opinion. If you are trying to score points for your side, I’m not really interested. If you believe that President Obama is a Muslim or was somehow involved with the Orlando shootings, I cannot take you seriously. I cannot even be your friend on Facebook. The same goes to people who believe that the right to have a weapon that can fire over 180 rounds a minute or have magazines that contain more than ten rounds trumps the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.


My first reaction is grief and sadness. I recognize the desire to address the problems of hatred and gun violence in America. It is urgent. However, I believe it is important to own our grief, to sit with our grief, to not rush off to do something right away, as a means of not dealing with our grief. If you haven’t wept for the victims in Orlando, for those who loved them, and for our country, that may be the most important thing you need to do right now.


A friend posted on Facebook

Reach out to someone who is Latinx and a member of the LGBTQ community and let them know that you value and support them. If you don't already know someone like that, it's time to make a new acquaintance. Their heartache knows no bounds today.

Current estimates are that about .3% of the population is trans. What percentage of the people you know are trans? I have around 3000 friends on Facebook. Off the top of my head, I can think of seven friends that are transgender. To match the demographics, it should be about nine, so I’m about in range. There are probably others that are I just don’t know their gender identity.

Three to four percent of the population identify as LGBT. I don’t know what percentage of my friends identify as LGBT, but that sounds about right. A my friend above suggested, if you don’t know someone who identifies as LGBT, you need to find some LGBT people to become friends with.

Likewise, about 17% of the population is Latinx. What percentage of your friends are Latinx?

You need to show solidarity and shared grief with Latinx and LGBT friends.


Another friend posted

Don’t Pray for Orlando, Fight Against Hateful Ideology

As many of you know, I am exploring becoming an Episcopal priest. I understand the need for calls to action, but I believe saying “Don’t Pray…” is misguided. It creates a false dichotomy and promotes black and white thinking: either we pray or we do something.

If we say instead, don’t JUST pray, or don’t pray without doing something, or don’t pray as a political statement as an effort to avoid taking responsibility, then we are saying something much truer and more important. Prayer should change us. Prayer should move us to help make the world a better place.

Congressman Jim Himes framed it very well in his speech, No More Silence. Moments of silence are important to deal with grief and to show solidarity with others that grieve. However, if your job is to serve the common good and when you are asked what you are doing to address hatred and gun violence in this country, and all you offer is silence, you are not doing your job. “When you bow your head and think about what you will say to your God … there will be silence.”

Counter Narrative

Besides the obvious efforts of improving gun safety in America, there are other things that we can change. A good starting point is to think about counter narrative. Congressman Himes does a little bit of this in talking about the victims. Do you know more about the gunman or the victims? We need to know the victims. You can start with this list.

The official narrative talks about the gunman’s support for ISIS. The official narrative doesn’t talk about his interest in the New York Police Department, his posting selfies of himself in unofficial NYPD garb. It doesn’t fit the story that people are trying to tell us.

There is another counter narrative that people may mention in passing, but doesn’t seem to get as much attention as it should, the gunman’s history of domestic abuse. This counter narrative jumps out at me because of a Muslim woman I know who was a victim of domestic abuse. In Muslim communities, too often women who suffer domestic abuse are told to be quiet about it, to not speak out. We need to encourage all people, and perhaps especially right now, Muslim women, to speak out against domestic violence.


Some of my atheist friends are quick to blame the violence on religion. They claim that no one kills people in the name of atheism. They may even be so bold as to claim that atheists have no beliefs. They may believe that, but it sounds self-contradictory to me. Blaming people of various different religious beliefs, include a belief in “No God” and the religion of “atheism” is just as bad as blaming people of various sexual orientations, gender identities, races, or ethnicities.

In the discussion about the “Don’t Pray” post, a friend wrote,

in this country, right now, religion has been playing a dangerous role in promoting hate speech and violent acts against those who don't fit the mold. So right now, religious organizations across the country need to take a hard look at the part they have been playing in the outbreak of gun violence and mass murders.

This is something many of my religious friends have also been saying, especially my Methodist friends lamenting the lack of support for LGBT people at their General Conference which recently ended. It is something many of my Episcopalian friends have been talking about as they celebrate the decision of the Scottish Episcopal Church at their synod to pave the way for allowing same sex marriages, despite threats from others in the Anglican Communion.

Father's Day 2016

Father’s Day
two thousand and sixteen:
The Psalm asks
“Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul?”
and I respond
because no one heeds the epistle
“There is no longer Jew or Greek,”
and I think of Orlando;
straight or gay,
Muslim or Christian,
and all the other
false divisions
for we are all one in Christ Jesus.

Then I read the Old Testament lesson
and the news headlines,
but the Lord was not in the news headlines,
and I read the social media posts
but the Lord was not in the social media posts
so I sat quietly
and wept
for Stanley
and Amanda
and Oscar
and Cory
and Tevin
and Javier
and the list just goes on and on
and the Lord was in
the sound of sheer silence.

So I read the Gospel
and the news headlines
and found our woes are called
for many demons
have entered our political discourse.

Then I returned to the Psalm
“Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul?”
and I replied
“I will yet give thanks to God.”

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