About a year ago I found a note someone had slid under my office door following a service: “Talk to us about the Devil,” it read. “Is he real? How do we tell if he’s messing with us?”
I freely admit that I’ve never been one to ascribe supernatural import to most events. I was raised in the sort of household where fatherly wisdom over concern about the possibility of ghosts consisted of the statement (filtered through combat experience in Vietnam): “I’ve been around the world, son, and I can tell you, there’s no reason to worry about dead people. It’s the living ones you have to worry about.” Or, to put it another way, quoting a Cumberland Presbyterian classmate of mine from seminary, we don’t want “to see a demon behind every tea cup.”
Then there was the man we picked up from the drain, half eaten by worms and, after we had brought him to the home, he only said, “I have lived like an animal in the street, but I am going to die as an angel, loved and cared for.” Then, after we had removed all the worms from his body, all he said, with a big smile, was: “Sister, I am going home to God”—and he died. It was so wonderful to see the greatness of that man who could speak like that without blaming anybody, without comparing anything. Like an angel—this is the greatness of people who are spiritually rich even when they are materially poor.
We are not social workers. We may be doing social work in the eyes of some people, but we must be contemplatives in the heart of the world. For we must bring that presence of God into your family, for the family that prays together, stays together. There is so much hatred, so much misery, and we with our prayer, with our sacrifice, are beginning at home. Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do, but how much love we put into what we do. . . I want you to find the poor here, right in your own home first. And begin love there. Be that good news to your own people first. And find out about your next-door neighbors. Do you know who they are?
—Bl. Mother Theresa
“A culture of stalwart respectability builds an impenetrable wall against truth-telling. In most mainline churches people drop out, at least for a while, when life gets messy. An impending divorce, an adulterous affair, chronic depression, a job layoff, a child in trouble with the law: all these commonplace occurrences drive people from the church just when they most need the grace of the sacraments and support of the community. Pastors find themselves tracking down the lost sheep. And why do they disappear? Because the missing members are ashamed or confused, fearful that their neighbor might “judge” them or think ill of their failures as spouses, parents, and solid citizens. Someone might even think them guilty of sin. When Bonhoeffer asserts “The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner,” he goes on to observe that as a consequence of this suffocating pretension “everybody must conceal his sin from himself and from the fellowship. We dare not be sinners. Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy.”
—Go in Peace: The Art of Hearing Confession, Julia Gatta and Martin L. Smith, p.6-7
Thought on the Supreme Court decision of yesterday (re: VRA). I think it was the reasonable decision, but the real world ramifications are going to be very bad indeed.
What I mean by that, is that the pre-clearance requirement should have somehow been expanded, and some new formula enacted that would allow for abuses all over the nation to be addressed, not just these particular states.
As it is the likely future is that gerrymandering (which i think should be outlawed) will continue, polarization will increase, barriers will be put in the way of people exercising the right to vote and our political system will likewise increase and the means to combat it outside of pre-clearance are practically speaking outside the hands of those who need them.
My hope would be that this would prompt either a revision of section 4, with Congress actually functioning and either accepting the invitation of the SCOTUS on two occasions (2009 and yesterday) or calling their bluff (depending on your perspective) and revising the formula for what jurisdictions need pre-clearance based upon what is happening today–and there’s more than enough voter obstruction happening all over the country to be combatted.
Alternatively, a Voting Rights Ammendment would be good… but has even less chance of actually happening.
So… get ready for a side show, a lot of abuse masquerading as modernisation or just politics, and zealously guard your rights and the rights of ALL your neighbors…
Misread a G. Eliot quote to read “It’s never too late to be what you have been,” rather than “might have been.” I sort of prefer my version