Thursday, October 14, 2004

Grant light, grant strength and patience to all who work for peace*

During the Kennedy adminstration, as the nuclear arms race created a palpable threat, Thomas Merton read a prayer into the Congressional Record.

Here's a portion of it:

Grant light, grant strength and patience to all who work for peace,
To this Congress, our President, our military forces, and our adversaries.
Grant us prudence in proportion to our power,
Wisdom in proportion to our science,
Humaneness in proportion to our wealth and might.
And bless our earnest will to help all races and people to travel, in friendship with us,
Along the road to justice, liberty, and lasting peace…

In your will, O God, is our peace!

To read the complete prayer click here.

*This prayer was published in Thomas Merton Essential Writings
edited by Christine M. Bochen
Orbis Books, Maryknoll, New York, 2000

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Single issue senselessness

The minister made his case against abortion this morning in a suburban Detroit church attended by my best friend. At the conclusion, he summarized the significance of the issue and then told the congregation that they must vote on the abortion issue. God will hold them accountable for their vote based on that issue. Sound like something coming from the Vatican? No, it was from a “nondenominational” independent church.

It seems to me that at some point, God may very well ask us what we did in the face of the abortion debacle. Yet, I am concerned that the preacher may have fallen into a trap from which logic will not allow escape. Even a high school civics teacher knows that elections do not measure public on opinion on single issues. A vote for a pro-life candidate may feel to voter to be a vote for life, but in today's party structure, the vote speaks to more issues—among them war and peace, human rights, and healthcare for starters.

Obviously, the minister meant that his congregation should vote Republican. Did anyone else observe two pro-choice figures dominating their convention? When Moral Majority leader Jerry Falwell was asked why he was not featured, his reply indicated that he did not attract folks like the other speakers, and what really mattered was winning the election. If some moral purity is effected by the election of the Republicans, is the message then that the ends justifies the means? Parading pro-choice people to draw the crowd looks more like bait and switch than furthering the will of God.

The preacher rightly has a passion about abortion, but does he have the moral, spiritual, or any other authority to say that abortion trumps all other moral concerns? Much to the chagrin of some fellow believers, hundreds of Christians, including dozens of evangelical leaders, signed on before the invasion of Iraq to a statement saying that the invasion of Iraq did not meet the “scripture test” including a widely accepted standard for just war.

As important as the protection of the unborn is, what about the thousands of Iraqi dead from American fire in this war? What message of the love and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is being communicated to the Arab world through our public policies? Justification of the Iraq War is open to passionate moral, political, even scriptural debate. So my question is: how can the minister justify lording his interpretation of political priorities on his congregation? What text does he use to back up such proposition?

For all the well meaning folks out there who desire to please God, honor His Word, and proclaim His Truth, my thought is this: honor His Word by proclaiming what is clearly revealed.

I recall that in Matthew's narrative Jesus spoke of accountability, but among the issues crucial to him-the poor, the sick, the imprisoned, and the stranger, I never remember the verse about voting Republican--or Democratic. If there were only one moral issue, then the preacher may have had a case, but the complexities of today's politics go far beyond a single issue, although there are many highly paid consultants who want church going folks to think otherwise.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Friends are friends for ?

from New York Times Wednesday, October 5 Posted by Hello
Taken at the Senate Prayer Breakfast 2001. Those were the good old days.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

King of glory fill the earth

Fill the place in the rubble where the man pulls out his infant son
Lighten the darkened room where the widow heaves with the loss of her husband
Run down the street with the sister who heard an explosion moments ago
Sit with the Marine in the humvee
Follow the refugees to the camp in Sudan
Pour yourself, your very self into the crowds in Haiti
Walk the streets of Manhattan with the family members haunted by loss

King of glory fill the earth

March into the palace
Fly into the chambers
Join the conference table
Envelope the kings and queens, the prime ministers, the presidents, the Pope, the muftis

King of glory fill the earth--cover all the nations; touch all the people

That we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness