Thursday, February 22, 2018

THE MADNESS MUST END

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Not long after Nancy and I watched the initial news reports about awful events at Parkland High School, I took our dogs, Ranger and Katt, for their evening walk. I went a bit earlier than I normally do, hoping to inject a bit of sunshine into what had become another day of senseless American mayhem. It worked for a while, until we passed by Walnut School. The building was empty. As I made my way past the dumpster in the parking lot, a surge of grief and rage swept over me. I turned and leaned over the dumpster, sobbing in despair as I did. It was my silent plea for the madness to end.

Before I took Ranger and Katt for their walk the next morning, I read that the death toll seems to be capped at 17. Seventeen! That’s the same number of combat deaths our military suffered in Afghanistan during all of 2017. Now, one should reasonably expect  casualties in a war, but it’s absolutely insane to think that an American school would become, in essence, a war zone where the body count is worse than a “real” war. Yet, since the 1990’s it’s happened over and over and over.  It’s almost impossible to grasp.

We took the same route we did the night before  By the time we got to Walnut School, children were beginning to arrive.  Ranger, our Sheltie, was, as he always is, in his element. He absolutely adores children. He’ll sit in front of them and whimper a bit, a signal that he wants to shower them with affection. Sometimes he fidgets, then holds up one of his front paws. It’s his way of asking, “Can we be friends; I’d really like that.? Let’s shake on it.” The kids love it. Katt just stands quietly, allowing Ranger to take center stage. It’s not that she doesn’t like kids. She’s a bit shy and it takes time for her to warm up to them.

As Ranger and Katt went through their paces, I just observed. One thing I always find amusing is the backpacks the kids tote. They’re bigger than the kids, so big in fact that it sometimes appears to me that the backpacks are toting the kids, not the other way around. The more I think about, the more I sense that those backpacks aren’t so amusing. They just may be symbols for the enormous burdens being placed on kids these days. Not only do they have to worry about their school work, they’ve now got to worry about their safety and whether or not one of their classmates is hatching another diabolical scheme. I’m sure their parents are also worrying as they send them off to school with a hug or kiss.

There’s so much that’s frightening about these senseless acts of terror. The perpetrators always seem able to marshal powerful weapons. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, who were about 18 when they went on their rampage in Columbine in 1999, used a 9MM carbine, a 12 gauge pump shotgun, and a 9MM pistol with high capacity magazines. Adam Lanza used a high powered Bushmaster when he killed 26 people at Sandy Hook in 2012. In 1997, Luke Woodham was only 16 when he bludgeoned and stabbed his mother to death in the morning, then took a rifle and 45 caliber pistol to his high school in Pearl, Mississippi where he killed 2 of his fellow students and wounded 7 others. Yesterday, 19 year old Nikolas Cruz used an AR-15 to kill 17 at Parkland High School. While the weapons used in the attacks were frightening, it was far more blood curdling to realize that, in each of these cases,  it was kids, not deranged adults,  who were killing classmates, teachers, administrators, and even their parents

I thought about that as I was leaving Walnut School that morning. I saw a couple of older boys walking toward the school. They looked like normal kids, but in the light of all that’s happened in America since the 1990’s, I found myself wondering, “Is one of these boys the coiled spring of anger and despair, ready to snap over some perceived grievance?” I offered a silent prayer for them as I made my way back home.

As I said, I have no solutions to offer. More vigorous background checks and restrictions on high powered weapons, consistent with the Second Amendment, seem reasonable to me. I don’t find that difficult because I don’t own a weapon, unless you consider my “flame tempered” Louisville Slugger (Kirby Puckett model) a weapon.  I have friends who I’m sure would strongly disagree with me.

So, I’m left with the same old solutions, which aren’t being accepted. All I’m left with in the end is my plea for the madness to end!

Thursday, February 08, 2018

THE LAST ENEMY

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There’s a once in a lifetime event that has many euphemisms attached to it. It’s been described as popping your clogs, pushing up daisies, being promoted to glory, biting the dust, buying the farm, kicking the bucket, or riding the pale horse. We even have euphemisms for our furry friends. We put them to sleep or put them down.

I’m sure you’ve figured it out. I’m writing about death, that once in a lifetime event that the Bible calls, also euphemistically, the last enemy.

I read a recent obituary in the Gazette about a 103 old person whose friends reported that the deceased’s passing was “unexpected.” Unexpected? The deceased must have been a wonderful person and will undoubtedly be missed, but the idea that death at 103 would be unexpected is hard for me to fathom.

It’s been like this for ages. In the Old Testament, subjects of some kings had to address them with the phrase, “Oh king, live forever.” (Daniel 3:9) I’ll bet the satraps and seers must have rolled their eyes when they said it.

I remember attending a meeting years ago in a corporate setting. The young turks were  puffing out their chests, desperately scrambling up the ladder of success, It was pathetic. I sat silently for a while until someone  asked me, “What do you think, Dillon?” I couldn’t help myself. “Do you realize that every person in this room is going to die?” Granted, it was a career limiting move, but it did end a pointless meeting.

Of course, we don’t want to die, but most of us accept death’s reality. That, however, is not always the case. I recently read that a few Silicon Valley bigwigs are spending a lot of money trying to solve the death problem. Larry Ellison, the founder of Oracle, is  pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into “life-extension therapies.” PayPal’s Peter Thiel, who has described death as “a terrible, terrible thing,” is spending millions in his effort to put death out to pasture.

My youngest son and I have talked about Ellison, Thiel, and others involved in this search. He seems to like their ideas. Me? The idea of a cure for death begs a couple of very important questions. First, how much would it cost  the rest of us if they ever did manage to figure it out? I don’t think they’d give it to us out of the goodness of their hearts. It would probably cost a pretty penny, which would make the haunting lyrics of the old Bahamian lullaby a sad reality: “If life was a thing that money could buy, then the rich would live and the poor would die.”

The second question is also very important. Would we want to live in this fallen world with an eternally alive Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton? Not me! No way! I’d be looking for the exit, screaming “Stop the world, I want to get off.”

The dream of staving of death isn’t new. One of my all-time favorite movies is “On Borrowed Time,” a 1939 film about a grandfather who has an appointment with death in the person of a man named Mr. Brink. Gramps is worried about his orphaned grandson, Pud, and wants to protect him at all costs. One event leads to another until he discovers that by sending Mr. Brink up into an apple tree outside his house, Mr. Brink cannot come down to ply his deadly trade. No one can die. Next, Pud is tricked into trying to climb the tree and falls. He’s paralyzed, doomed to spend an earthly eternity in a wheelchair. Gramps then realizes his error and comes to the conclusion that death is the only humane avenue of escape for Pud. He relents and allows Mr. Brink to come down. The movie ends with Pud shedding the wheelchair and walking into a far better  eternity with Gramps.

I once had the opportunity to speak to a group of workers who had a contractual right to “stay on the clock” on any given payday if their checks weren’t being made available to them. I asked them if they would make that same demand for another wage they’d earned. “How many of you guys are prepared to storm the gates of heaven to demand the wages of the sins you worked so hard in life to earn?”

I got no takers.

I’m seventy-five. I have no illusions. Mr. Brink is waiting in the wings for me. That’s alright. There’s also an eternity beyond and I’m told that the rewards that await me are wonderful and they’re free.  So,  when that day comes, I’m going the old fashioned way. I’m just going to listen to the advice of my Counsel and lean on the mercy of the High Court.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

ONE THING




In a recent First Things essay, Darren Guerra observed, as have other Christian writers, that fault lines are springing up within the Evangelical movement. The cause of the fissures? Donald Trump.

For example, Peter Wehner, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a Conservative think tank, has decided to shed the Evangelical and Republican labels, citing his concerns about Donald Trump’s impact on both groups.

Ross Douthat, a Conservative Roman Catholic, recently observed in his New York Times column that  Donald Trump “has forced a crisis in evangelicalism.”

Guerra believes that Douthat is right and goes further. He subdivides the current Evangelical “movement into three distinct groups: Jacksonian, Tocquevillian, and elites.

Jacksonians are, for the most part, from rural America’s working classes. They found their “champion” in Donald Trump when Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party abandoned them for the wealthy. According to Guerra, Jacksonians are Trump loyalists who “will not abandon Trump unless he abandons them first.”   

Tocquevillian Evangelicals  “possess more social capital than Jacksonians. They attend church regularly, have strong family ties, and wide circles of friends, are active in churches and voluntary organizations and work steadily.”
Elite Evangelicals are “the institutional and intellectual leaders of the Evangelical world.” I can’t describe it any further than that. I don’t know any elites.
I’ve given it some thought and I’ve decided that Peter Wehner is right. The label “Evangelical” doesn’t paint a full picture of his faith, or mine for that matter. There’s much more to the Christian faith than labels, political affiliation, or political power.
I’ve never been a Donald Trump supporter, nor will I ever be, despite the claims some of my critics make. That doesn’t mean I don’t have great affinity for some Trump supporters. I know many of them. We share a common faith. I consider them friends. I would never willingly abandon those relationships.
I’m only one part of the world-wide Christian movement. My thinking and affinities are neo-Pentecostal/Charismatic/Emergent. My identity is Christian, nothing more, nothing less.
I can best illustrate what I’m trying to communicate by describing an experience I had over the New Years’ weekend in Kansas City.
Saturday morning my wife needed some things from the grocery store, so off I went to Cosentino’s in the Power and Light district. I got quite a surprise when I got there. The place was mobbed; there were young people everywhere. Some were in long lines at the cash registers. Some were sitting in the aisles, eating breakfast meals they’d purchased at the buffet. They were engaged in animated conversations. I didn’t know what to make of it. I thought perhaps there had been a power failure in the city and the crowds were trying to make the most of a bad situation. I got the few things I needed and made my way into one of the long lines. A cop motioned to me and said, “This way, Bud. I’ll take you over to customer service where the line is short.” As soon as I got there I felt quite privileged. There was only a young woman, a millenial, in the line ahead of me. As I positioned myself, she turned, smiled and asked, “Do you love Jesus?” I have to admit I was taken by surprise by her question. How often does a person get asked a question like that at a grocery store? I gathered myself and responded, “I do indeed.” We struck up a brief conversation and I found out that the aisles were filled with young people who were attending a Christian Conference in Kansas City called “One Thing.” She explained that the thousands of young people  gathered were in Kansas City to express their love and devotion to Jesus Christ. “We just love Jesus and we want to worship him and serve our communities.”
There’s  further proof in the pudding. I’ve seen some of the video from the conference. Young millenials were caught up in praise and worship for hours on end.  They were expressing their adoration for Jesus. It was as compelling to watch as it was winsome.  It was clear they loved Jesus more than anything else in this world, more than Donald Trump or political power.
The conference was aptly named “One Thing.” Read Psalm 27:4 and you’ll see what I mean.
I have to admit that I often have a hard time understanding millennials, but the young woman I met at Cosentino’s and the thousands gathered at the conference  have shown me and their Christian elders a better way, We, like they, need to come to the place where we too love Jesus more than Donald Trump or political power.
It’s time to shed the labels!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

WISDOM AND POWER, EXPRESSED QUIETLY

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“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” (I Corinthians 1:27)

While I was in Boston last month, I went to a Boston Bruins game at the Boston Garden. It was fun, except for a trip to the concession stand to get Nancy and me two cups of gelato. By the time I started back to my seat, I missed about 8 minutes of the second period, including a goal. That would have been bad enough, but on my way back up the stairs with the treat, a young man, trying to be kind, offered me some assistance. “Can I help you?” he asked. The only thing missing was “old timer.” It was a kind gesture, but it found it’s way under my skin. I thought to myself, “Do I look that old and feeble?” I should have said, “Thanks, but I’m okay,” but I didn’t. My retort was sharp, to the point. “Of course I don’t need any help...I’m fine!”

I’ve wondered since what that young man might have said to his wife or significant other after the game. “Man, an old timer practically bit my head off when I offered to help him. See if I ever offer kindness to the elderly again.”

Christmas is almost here. For the past three or four years, I’ve spent good parts of this time of year reading the Christmas narrative from the Book of Luke, with most of my time spent in the second chapter. I’ve always loved reading from Luke. He was a writer with immense skills. I think if he were around today, he might be winning Pulitzers. He was that good.

Most scholars believe Luke was a physician, which may be why in some Christian circles he’s known as the patron saint of physicians and surgeons, in addition to being the patron saint of bachelors and butchers.

About halfway through the second chapter, we’re introduced to a man named Simeon. There’s nothing earlier in the narrative that says anything about him, nor does Biblical history have much to offer. He comes upon the scene at a time when Israel has been conquered over and over again. The Babylonians have gone, as have the Assyrians. The Seleucids/Greeks have come and gone. The Romans are now in charge. Religiously, Israel is a shell of what it had once been. There are religious groups like the Pharisees, the up tight, legalistic band, and the Sadducees, who don’t believe in an afterlife.

Religious hope, if there is any, seems hidden from the view of most. This is where we see Simeon. Luke describes him as a man who, mysteriously, has come to believe that he won’t die until he sees Israel’s messiah face to face. His friends, if he had any, must have thought he was quite amusing. When they talked about him in polite company, the conversations must have been sprinkled with skepticism and rhetorical jabs. “That’s just Simeon being Simeon. Don’t pay him any mind, he’s really harmless.” “Simeon? He’s just a half a bubble off plumb. Just nod your head and pretend  you believe him.”

If there was any chatter in the background about him, Simeon didn’t seem to mind. He persisted. Every time I read the account, I’m amazed. He must have been a baby inspector, questioning God about every child who passed through his hands. “Is this him, Lord?” “No, you say.” “I’m still holding you to your promise. I believe you.”

How long did the pattern repeat itself? I don’t know, but I do know something special happened when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to him in accordance with tradition. Simeon cradled Jesus in his arms and made a startling declaration: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations.”

Simeon knew what the so called wise and strong of his time couldn’t, or wouldn’t, see.

As the years pass, I sometimes wonder how old Simeon was. Was he 75, the mile marker I just passed? Was he 35? We’re not told, and I suppose that’s the point. The story of Jesus is a story for people at any age, young or old.

That means a lot to me. Jesus promised a second advent, which tells me I can go on looking ahead to an even more profound “consolation.” It doesn’t have anything to do with my age. It has everything to do with the amazing way God often does his work outside any culture’s approved streams of wisdom and power.

Simeon saw this and it would be good for us to consider it also.

Friday, December 01, 2017

THE IMPRESSIONS OF YOUTH


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I had a homecoming of sorts to celebrate my 75th birthday. It came in the form of a surprise trip to Boston.

Nancy had told me we were going to Chicago and I was quite content with that.  But, when the skycap told me we were actually going to Boston, my jaw dropped. Then, when I saw my kids were waiting for Nancy and me at the departure gate, my jaw hit the floor.

I had a wonderful time. On our first night there I got to see a Boston Bruins hockey game, complete with lots of goals, a fight (which Nancy loved), a rare penalty shot, an even rarer save, and an empty net goal to cap the evening off. For the rest of the week we spent most of our time walking along Freedom Trail, stopping at historic sites like Faneuil Hall, the Bunker Hill monument, Quincy Market, Paul Revere’s house, Old Ironsides, and the Old North Church. On the 8th, we celebrated my birthday, along with Nancy, my kids, and my brother and his family, at a wonderful Italian restaurant in Boston’s “North End” neighborhood.

On the day before we came back to Kansas City, Nancy, my son Jarrod, his girlfriend Julie, and I took the subway over to Harvard Square, then walked over to Christ Church, the church I attended when I was young. I was amazed at how familiar everything looked - the Revolutionary War bullet hole at the entrance to the sanctuary, the short, circular staircase going up to the 18th century pulpit, and the kneeling benches in front of the altar.

My brother and I were acolytes. I had the responsibility of lighting the altar candles before the service and snuffing them out when the service was over. My brother led the procession, carrying the cross at the beginning and end of the service.

As I walked around the sanctuary, I got caught up in old memories and the mystery of the religion I was trying to understand. As I knelt at the altar, I was almost always aware that there was a “presence” near me, but I never could quite tune in to the frequency of that presence. Part of it stemmed from the fact that, after the priest recited a couple of collects (collective prayers), I would find myself swaying from side to side, feeling sick to my stomach. I’m not sure whether the feeling came from an allergy to the flowers at the altar or the sins of my youth convicting me, but about the time we got to the collect of confession, with the priest reciting, “We have offended against thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us,” I’d be ready to go. One of the choir members, a young African-American college student, would take me to the restroom where I’d heave my guts up. He’d then wash my face and we’d get back to the sanctuary in time for the end of the service.

It happened so often I began to believe that God had it in for me. I don’t think I ever got to hear the last part of the collect of confession - “But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare thou those, O God, who confess their faults. Restore thou those who are penitent.” If I had, I might still be an Episcopalian today.

The impressions of youth are often quite powerful. My impressions of God as a cosmic killjoy stayed with me for almost fifteen years, until a series of personal crises led me back “home.”

I thought about my young experiences this morning as I was reading Ross Douthat’s op-ed in the New York Times, in which he outlined the un-Christian manner far too many Christian leaders are approaching the intersection of religion, politics, and ethics. Speaking primarily about evangelical leaders like Franklin Graham and Flip Benham, or politicians like Alabama state auditor Jim Zeigler, Douthat accuses them, rightly so, of being hypocritical in their strenuous defense of Alabama senatorial candidate Roy Moore. Douthat's words were pointed and powerful - “younger evangelicals (are being) betrayed by older pastors who insisted on the importance of moral character and then abandoned these preachments for the sake of partisanship — revealing their own commitments as essentially idolatrous.”

Douthat is right. Do these men really believe that the young in their flocks or political action committees can’t see the hypocrisy and idolatry? Well, they can and they will abandon this Christian tribalism and self-serving politics and replace it with religion and politics that are new and vibrant.

The change can’t come soon enough. We’re desperate for it.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

MONEY LAUNDERING IS BAD BUSINESS

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The news is a bit dated now, but it’s still important. Paul Manafort, one of Donald Trump's former campaign managers, has been indicted by a federal jury for money laundering and tax evasion. What's next? There's an old proverb that says a very good prosecutor could indict a ham sandwich if he had a mind to. Robert Mueller is very good at what he does, so, we'll see.
Lest you think I’m being flippant, let me assure you that I understand the seriousness of the charges Mr. Manafort faces. In fact, If he had contacted me several years ago, I could have warned him about the dangers of money laundering.   
I’m married to an eagle-eyed accounting whiz. She’s meticulous and she’s as honest as the day is 24 hours long. There are days when I may be working on something here on the second floor while she’s on the third floor reconciling our books in Quicken. Just about the time a bolt of inspiration is about to strike me, I hear the dreaded words. “Okay, Slick, what did you buy at Wal-Mart last week? It cost 97 cents.” My response is almost always “I dunno.” I think you can guess what’s next. I go upstairs and read the receipt. “FLTLS HEAVY 0017500207222...0.097” I haven’t got a clue. I then go to Wal-Mart’s customer service and discover that it’s spray starch. I’m tempted to ask why they didn’t they didn’t label the receipt “spray starch,” but realize that would be pointless. When all's said and done, my accountant gets the information she needs and I try to find that lightning bolt that was about the strike me before I was interrupted.
What does this have to do with money laundering? A lot.

Most of us have occasionally left a stray dollar in the wash. In our house, that money becomes Nancy’s property even if I’m the one who carelessly leaves it in my jeans prior to depositing them in the washer. It’s usually not a problem, but sometimes there’s more than a buck at stake.

A while ago, Nancy inadvertently left four twenty dollar bills in a pair of her jeans. They went through the fill, wash, rinse, and spin cycles, along with scads of loose change I’d been leaving in my jeans for who knows how long. When she retrieved the jeans, the twenties had been thoroughly shredded. We worked feverishly to put the money back together, piece by piece, thanks to Nancy’s eagle eye, I was able to take the pieced together money to the bank and retrieve sixty of the eighty dollars that had been laundered.

But, there’s more to the story. All the loose change I’d been laundering broke the washer. I can’t remember the exact amount of money Jim, Guion’s repairman, dug out of the washer in the process, but it was enough to buy us a couple of burgers at J’s Carry Out. I don’t know how much the repairs cost, but suffice it to say good professional help these days isn’t cheap.

I learned a couple of valuable lessons when the smoke cleared. First, a good accountant is a godsend. Second, money laundering can get quite expensive. If only Paul Manafort had spoken to me before he launched into what might become his very expensive adventure.

What a witch’s brew we have. Our political air is full of shady deals with foreign powers, money laundering, collusion, conspiracy, tax evasion, under the table sales, and dossiers. I suppose I should be discouraged, but I think I should try to look at the bright side. This whole mess is about the only  thing about our politics that’s bipartisan right now.  Michael Flynn is nowhere to be found. We haven’t seen hide nor hair of Trump the younger for some time. The Podesta boys, who were locked arm and arm with Mr. Manafort, are scurrying for the hills, waiting for the next shoe to drop. Hillary’s just written her best imitation of a Greek tragedy,  buying dossiers, selling  “smidgens” of uranium to the Russians on the sly, while the Russians are probably selling it to the North Koreans and Iranians. Bill made a half a million bucks for a speech he made in Moscow, thanks to the generosity of Vladimir Putin’s bankers.

It’s enough to make my head spin.

I’m not sure this is going to end well. I think it might look a bit the old slaughter operations at Tyson. Folks who worked there used to tell me that cows came in one end and everything after that was a bloody mess.

How can those of us on the sidelines escape what’s coming? About the only advice I can offer comes from  Hamlet’s words to Ophelia - “Get thee to a nunnery!”

Thursday, November 02, 2017

STOP THE INSANITY - PLEASE!



"First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen."  

  • From Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee’s eulogy to George Washington (1799)

The above statement would almost surely have been accepted by most Americans as true until a few days ago. Then, on October 26th, Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia, banished our first President from his place of honor. In a letter to their congregation, the church’s vestry said they were going to remove two plaques that had been erected in 1870, one honoring Washington and another honoring Robert E. Lee. They explained their reason for doing so this way:

“Hebrews 13:2 says, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some you have entertained angels unawares.” Christ Church lives into this call, feeding the hungry with our Lazarus ministry, welcoming the stranger in our refugee ministry, and inviting all to worship with us. The plaques in our sanctuary make some in our presence feel unsafe or unwelcome. Some visitors and guests who worship with us choose not to return because they receive an unintended message from the prominent presence of the plaques.”

Washington’s history with Christ Church goes  back to 1773, when he purchased pew number five. The Washington Papers project credits him with being a vestryman and a lifelong contributor to the church (source Rod Dreher’s “American Conservative,” October 28th).

What had Washington done to merit such rejection? While it’s true that he was a slave owner, it’s also true that he emancipated a large number of them in the 1780’s. He would have emancipated all of them if he hadn’t been legally prevented from doing so by the language of a will.

Was it from the way he put down the Whiskey Rebellion in the 1790’s, when he led a 10,000 man state militia into Pennsylvania that crushed the rebellious farmers who had refused to pay the federal excise that had been levied on liquor?

Some of our Presidents have done far worse. Woodrow Wilson used the Espionage Act of 1917 to suppress and imprison socialist Eugene Debs. Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator and savior of the American union, suspended the writ of habeas corpus, a fundamental American legal right. Franklin Roosevelt, who shepherded the nation through the Great Depression and World War II, put thousands of loyal Japanese-Americans into internment camps. Richard Nixon gave us Watergate.

Does the vestry of Christ Church really expect us to believe the reason they’re relegating George Washington to the catacombs or wherever else they’re going to plant the plaque because a symbol honoring him is making some people “feel unsafe or unwelcome?” Who are these people? How many are there? Rod Dreher’s words here are exquisitely insightful - “Find five people who did this. I dare you.”

I spent a few of my formative years as an acolyte at Christ Episcopal Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts. As it is with its sister church in Alexandria, Virginia, the church I attended has a long,  storied history. It was founded in the early 1760’s. I can still see in my mind’s eye a plaque in the narthex wall commemorating what the vestry in those times claimed was the “first shot fired in the American Revolution.” Legend has it that some brave patriot taunted the British as they were on their way to Lexington and Concord and a stray shot aimed at him wound up in the narthex wall.



There is another plaque in honor of Abraham Lincoln, who visited the church some time during the Civil War. There was also one other plaque. It was there to honor George Washington!

So, what’s next? Should the Christ Church I attended remove the plaque honoring our first President? Should it be removed for the sake of ecclesiastical symmetry? Should Lincoln’s plaque stay until some offended soul complains about the way he suspended habeas corpus? Or, should it go right now?  And, what of the plaque below the bullet hole in the narthex wall? Shouldn’t it stay? After all, a bit of historical fantasy is good for tourism. Right?

Is it any wonder that the number of baptized Episcopalians in America has declined by 25% since 1980?  (source: Covenant - the Living Church, July 2017)

I’m am really getting tired of the offense and willful blindness of our history that some self-absorbed leaders are taking at every turn. I realize that our history hasn’t always been pretty. We’ve done some good. We’ve  done some bad. It’s all part of who we are. If those taking umbrage don’t like it, they need to stay at home, lock their doors, turn off the TV, radio, computers, and steer clear of social media. That way, they won’t have to deal with us and we won’t have to deal with them.