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Showing posts from November, 2010

Contrition

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It is always interesting to read about wrongdoers, to see whether their apology, if they offer one,is sincere. Almost always it is not. Caught red-handed, they still try to save face by glossing over the true nature of the deed. In so doing they only dig their holes deeper. 
This is the case with Rep. Charles Rangel, who has been recommended for censure by the House ethics committee. Many in the news media made note that indeed he did apologize -- but did he really? All he actually said was that he regretted embarrassing Congress, and that he was sorry he failed to follow the rules. 
"There is no excuse for my acts of omission and failures to abide by the rules of Congress," he told the committee. "I have made many mistakes that I will forever regret, and I apologize for them."
Read the list of violations, though, and it's clear that they come from the cunning abuse of power, not "sloppy record-keeping," as Rangel insisted during the investigation. …

Divine Justice

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Our world is filled with people who commit egregious acts of self-enrichment. They abuse, oppress, deceive, and take advantage of others for purposes of personal gain. Some are caught and make spectacular headlines, but many seem to get away with it. We console ourselves with the thought that "in the end, they'll get what they deserve." 

This is the Old Testament-way of thinking: "The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished." (Proverbs 16:5) 

For those of us who have not sacrificed our lives on the altar of power and greed, the New Testament invites us into a radically different, bracingly life-giving way of being: Justice has already been served! We are already winners! I had this experience this past weekend when I participated as a finalist in a composition competition that, once there, I realized I could never win since the mechanics clearly favored the insiders and I was an outsider. When the awards were announced a…

Flight

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This morning's nytimes.com carries a story about new attacks against Iraqi Christians. It reads in part:
"It was the third attack targeting Christians since the church siege on Oct. 31. Late Tuesday, a series of bombs hit three empty houses belonging to Christians in western Baghdad but no one was hurt. Last week, an al-Qaida-linked group claimed responsibility for the church attack and threatened more violence against Iraq's Christian community. 
"The threat left many Christians in the country wondering whether it was time to flee their homeland.
"'We were terrified by the explosions," said Juleit Hana, a 33-year-old Christian who lives in one of the neighborhoods targeted Wednesday. She was having breakfast with her daughter when she heard the bombs go off. She vowed to leave the country.

"It's not worth staying in a country where the government is not able to protect you even when you are sitting in your house.'" 
Flight is not s…

The Emptiness of Our Hands

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An article in today's Columbus Dispatch (see link) reinforces unfortunate stereotypes about homelessness, even while admitting to doing so. The piece concerns a homeless man befriended by members of a local church, who were impressed "by the fact that he didn't have the appearance, vices or behavior stereotypically associated with the homeless.He didn't show signs of a drinking or a drug problem, he didn't ask for money and he didn't appear mentally ill."

I've gotten to know many homeless people through a ministry at St. John's Church in Columbus called The Largest Table, and only a few exhibited any of these characteristics. The vast majority are people just like you and me who are down on their luck. Without question the homeless are the most spiritually rich people I have ever known. Their faith is all they have, so it burns brightly. 
And anyway, I'd like to pose this question who continues to insist on theses stereotypes: If homeless, would…

Rand Paul and the Gospel of Luke

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In his victory speech earlier tonight Rand Paul proclaimed that the United States of America "is the greatest nation in the history of the world." Really? A nation where rage rules the roost? Where anger is the archetype from which all action arises? Where campaigning for public office consists of demeaning one's opponent and drowning out all contrasting points of view? Where ignorance of the great panorama of history makes for the bliss of self-aggrandizement? Where the well-being of neighbors in need lies, battered and bloodied, on the altar of one's own self-enrichment?

Wake up, America: This is the morning of our new day. What has become of hope? The reasoned voice of the NY Times' David Brooks pointed out in his Nov. 1 column that "Democratic victories are always ascribed to hope; Republican ones to rage." Now, more than ever, we need the Gospel of Luke to remind us of the perils of such arrogance and to feed us with the hope that has been swallow…

The Magnificent Giants and All Saints Day

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All Saints Day has always been special to me because it was my father's birthday. He would never have thought of himself as a saint -- quite the opposite, I'm sure, since he wasn't religious at all -- but to me he embodied all the necessary traits, including the all-important quality of humility. 

Charlie, as he was fondly known by friends and former students, died in 2006 but would have been 90 today. Were he alive, he could have experienced the surpassing joy of today's World Series triumph by his beloved San Francisco Giants (formerly of New York, which is where he came to adore them as a boy). A college history professor, Charlie was also a writer and a great story-teller,which is what made him such popular professor, despite his strict rule that any paper which bore than three misspellings or grammatical errors received an automatic F.

Charlie knew a lot about defeat. He managed many campaigns during his long career in local politics but never had a winner. Many …