Saturday, May 28, 2011

No Anglican Communion? I wonder.

The reports out of the UK the past few days regarding expose by Dean Colin Slee of Southwark Cathedral have really aired the Church of England’s dirty linen. Thinking Anglicans line up of commentary show the tawdry state of affairs the hierarchy of the CofE. And now that it has been posted all over the world now should let the whole Communion know that the leadership of both archbishops of the CofE has lost dignity and respectability. Their actions are neither in keeping with the Scriptural expectations of bishops (1 Tim) nor are able to stand the scrutiny of even the most modicum of the infamous British sense of ‘fair play’. [It is interesting to hear from some of my CofE buddies the dismissal of them both as ‘not really English’ doncha know?--++Williams is Welsh; ++Sentamu, Nigerian] Where ever they are from, it is clear that something has seriously gone off the rails.  Nothing  seems to embody much constitutional authority there at all.  It sounds like the same ole stuff that King George III used to do and he was mad, I believe.

At the Crown Nominations Commission responsible for nominating the new bishop candidates for the diocese of southern London (Southwark), last year the nominations for Dr. Jeffery Johns and Nicholas Holtam were proposed by the people of the diocese and vetoed by the archbishops of Canterbury and York. The description of the way that this was handled was described as ‘high handed’ and brutal. The voice of the people lay and ordained was overridden. John, a gay man in a civil but celibate relationship with a partner was told to stand down from the position. And it was the leakage of this story that incurred the wrath of the ABC.

When one reads the whole of the revelation by the now deceased Dr. Slee, one sees what kind of bully pulpit that the Archbishop of Canterbury maintains. And the more I learn of ++Rowan Williams the more discouraged I am about the Anglican Communion. Even more, it has shown how byzantine the mechanics of accusation and personal pique are part of the character of ++Rowan. Rather than address leaks he accused Slee of, ++Williams accuses without any substantiation. He refuses to see his own complicity in the leaking of information to the press. The paranoia at the upper levels of the Church of England is clear and fearful. And it should serve all in the Anglican Communion that there is something sincerely ‘rotten in Lambeth’.

I have a hard time trying to follow ++Williams’ thinking. Without a doubt he does not like the US of A or The Episcopal Church (TEC). He sees US as profligate and unprincipled. He was, at the beginning of his episcopacy, seen as a liberal theologian. His writings in support of the LGBT community have been highly touted. However, the weight of the episcopacy and certainly the archiepiscopacy he has not born well. He has demeaned our Church because we have tried to address a serious moral and legal issue within our nation. He has reversed his initial writings by declaring LGBT folk as unfit for the episcopacy. He has demeaned women in general, women priests in his own church and our Presiding Bishop with petty and spiteful comments and actions while never chastising those ‘flying bishops’ from Africa who invade our church with regularity. He has consorted and colluded with those who teach schism in our church. And in doing so he has contributed to those who would undermine the spirit of Anglicanism in Africa (Cf. the Chapman Report and Jim Naughton’s “Follow the Money.” And it could be construed by his actions in Africa to support those who would replace our constitutional government both in the nation and the church with an oligarchy. And now he is trying to strong arm a document (The Anglican Covenant) that will forever change the fabric of Anglicanism by making himself an “Instrument of Unity?” I don’t think so.

I have throughout my career been a supporter of the Anglican Communion. I have found real comfort in our via media approach to the broad house of Christianity throughout the world as a beacon of hope as many faiths become more and more particularized and marginalized by hard lines and pre-modern stances. I have given to Anglican relief efforts. I have studied and visited churches throughout the world finding the same kind of welcoming spirit despite this world’s continuing effort to shatter the love of Christ with factionalism, power and greed. I have welcomed clergy from around the world to the parishes I have served. I have believed the kind of Anglicanism that I have known which is welcoming and accepting is the kind of church I want for the future. And yet, and yet…

With the revelations of the machinations of the upper echelons of the CofE, I question if it is a good and holy thing to continue to support the Anglican Communion. Personally I am proud of TEC and its willingness to take on the LGBT issue with dignity and integrity. Yes, it has cost us. But as our world continues into this post-modern era, the LGBT issue will pass away so that in 2 generations no one will understand what the flap was about. We need but note that African American educated thirty-somethings do not even know about Selma 40 years hence. Perhaps it IS time for us to walk apart to show that the Church does not necessarily have to mire itself in pre-modern understandings of Scripture or praxis to convey a Gospel of love and caring for humankind. Perhaps it would be better if our brand of Anglicanism was free to live a transparency that seems totally at odds with the hierarchy of the CofE.

I do not deny that TEC has its own problems with those who play power games. It is quite obvious in those dioceses that have felt the dishonesty of the schismatics who have wandered into a pseudo-anglican never-neverland alphabet soup where wholesale fraud and embezzlement have marked their departure. I do believe that we will have times in TEC when we will have to look deeply into our actions and root out the sins that mark us all. That is part of the human condition and the saving work of Christ. But at the present moment, the leadership of the present Archbishop of Canterbury cannot be trusted. The Anglican Communion does not get to be his bully pulpit simply because the English feel that they should be ‘nice’ to THEIR Archbishop. The character of the Anglican Communion cannot be tailored to meet the desires of a single crown appointed fellow that hasn’t got the integrity of a jellyfish.

I will continue to pray for ++Rowan.  He needs it.  I will continue to pray for the CofE.  But it too has to look to itself and root out the sin that is within it.  The duplicity of denying the episcopacy to superb candidates simply because they are gay or women is anti-deluvian and sinful in a nation that embraces female and gay leadership all of the time.  No amount of dictatorial behavior is going to be able to lead the CofE that is trying to 'listen' to one another.  The laity and the clergy of the CofE are going to have to bite the bullet and claim the honesty that the Church of England desperately needs.  They must be willing to 'buck' a system that is rotten with privilege and purple and find shepherds that will claim the high calling of serving Christ rather garnering honors for themselves.  And if there are no mechanics to do so within the CofE, it is time to make them for the future of the Church.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Achoo: Friday Five

Hello, my name is Mary Beth, and I'm allergic to ligustrum.

Ligustrum is a type of privet hedge and it is very invasive. VERY. It's a spready green bush with leaves of various sizes and tiny white flowers of a head-piercing sweetness.

The house I grew up in had 14-foot ligustrum bushes on three sides. The house I live in now, 250 miles to the north, also has several...they are a different variety but the flowers still get me. Instant sinus attack, that's what these are. And: they are in bloom.

You can remove them, but they grow back. Forever and ever. My husband recently had his helper cut all the blooming branches off of this one, next to where I park my car. What a guy!

So, thinking about allergies:

1. Do you experience any seasonal allergies? Are you allergic to anything else?


I have never had any allergy tests so I am not sure what else I am allergic to, but I know I come down with something in the spring and the fall. Whether it is dust or mold or ragweed or whatever. The doctor says it doesn’t matter, the result is the same: it will end up with a secondary infection that gets in my lungs and I cough and have a fever and it turns if not treated, into pneumonia.

I am also allergic to mornings, washing dishes, long walks, almost anything healthy, and work in general.

2. What kind of symptoms to you have?

I get poison ivy systemically. I might get the sniffles, but as I have grown older, I am unaware of any symptoms until I have tightness in my chest. In addition I am very grumpy.

3. How do you manage your allergies? (ie: medication, avoidance, alternative therapies, etc)

DRUGS! And avoidance. But I am up for any alternatives except snuffling saltwater up my nose and excessive exercise. (and almost any exercise is excessive)!

4. What is the strangest allergy you've ever heard of?

I heard of someone being allergic to their own immune system, but it may be urban legend.

5. How do you feel about school and social policies banning peanuts and other allergens?

I think kids need to learn to manage their own health early. But I also believe that school lunch programs need to be healthy. All too often prepared foods used in lunch programs these days have additives that are filled with allergens that are not apparent. And since I am a Democrat and am supposed to believe in big gov’t, I would like to see policies to safe guard the food we eat. FDA, Man up!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Truth will make you free.

It is always good to find one of your seminary classmates online that has brought a new aspect to your understanding of faith or church. Today it is Eric Law, the founder of Kaleidoscope Ministries in California. Eric is Chinese American and has a wonderfully eastern perspective on matters of faith, art, leadership and equality.

I remember commenting how difficult it was to use chopsticks while sitting at the refectory table at EDS. (Boston Chinese restaurants do not provide knives and forks.) Eric laughed and said he remembered when at the age of 6 or 7 having to learn how to use a knife and fork (in the British manner) in at a fancy restaurant without embarrassing himself or his family. He said he sat there and thought how totally illogical knives and forks were. Eric was wonderfully out of step at seminary, always able to step outside of the “we always have done it that way before”. He was from my diocese,  an engineering graduate from Cornell, a sculptor and artist, a talented musician and poet. I am so glad he has been able to cobble all of these wonderful talents, compassion and intelligence to serve the whole of the Church.

Today he once again gives me a different viewpoint:

Spirit of Truth

The Chinese word for truthful or genuine, 真 (zhēn) consists of the two ideograms 十 (shí) and 目 (mù). 十 is the number ten while 目 represents the eye. The number ten symbolizes completeness or wholeness. Discerning the truth requires that we look at an issue or event in a wholistic way, perhaps through 10 different eyes, 10 difference perspectives.

The Hebrew word for truth, emet, is composed of the three letters, א-alef, מ-mem, ת-tav - the first, middle, and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The composition of the word may signify that in order for something to be true, it must start at the beginning, continue to the middle, and complete at the end. There is no half truth in the Hebrew emet.

The Chinese and Hebrew essence of truth point to a comprehensive inclusive approach to discerning the truth. This “spirit of truth” is difficult for the world to receive. We live in a world conditioned by the paradigm of either-or thinking – something is either true or false (remember all the true/false tests you took in school?). Many prefer the simplistic and often adversary approach to truth – it is easier to define the truth by proving that the others lie (remember the “You lie!” outburst of a U.S. senator during the President’s state of the union address?) It is easier to claim my own experience as the only truth and not listen to other’s perspectives. The spirit of truth calls us to attempt to understand the multiple points of views. This truth-discerning process is always complex and messy.

I know that I have tended to look at the world in either/or or black/white. When I was younger, I needed that dichotomy to see the edges of my own boundaries, the explicit understanding of what was right or wrong to order my own behavior. But as experience has given me ‘case studies’ in life, I have become clearer that the grey in life is much more prevalent than the black and white. What is truth for some is not truth for another. And no matter what I do, it cannot change that person’s truth until something powerfully changes it.  And it too me a long time to learn that.  I wanted TRUTH to be something so clear and so 'stand-alone' that everyone could point to it.  But that isn't reality.

I noticed on another Facebook article today the testimony of a man who had lobbied against same-sex marriage all over the US and Europe  finally coming to the place where he not only could accept it, but has become a spokesperson for it. It was his ‘experience’ of people in same-sex relationships that brought the change in him. It was where he could see the benefits of loving same-sex parents and talk with them and their children that he was turned from the ‘truth he had learned’ to the truth he had experienced.

I constantly have to revise my understanding of issues that I would like to declare as right or wrong simply because I have met people who are struggling with the issues. Whether it is divorce, just war, stem-cell research or other momentous ethical dilemmas, no dogmatic pronouncement can completely encapsulate a certain topic. This does not mean that I have no values. Quite the contrary! It means I must bring ALL my values to bear on a case-by-case basis. It makes me bring compassion into my judgments. It means I have to make decisions for myself and not for others. It tells me how I need to live MY life, not how OTHERS must live theirs. It means I have to look with 10 eyes at an issue before making a decision. I must be willing center my experiences in the midst of the community. And most of all, I have to THINK. I cannot blithely wander through life unwilling to address major issues or unwilling to tackle the ethical or political matters of my time. It takes work to live a Christian life. It takes being available to people and embracing a wakeful way of living. Now, I am beginning to understand what it means ‘be wakeful and watchful”. It is an attitude of being willing to embrace the wholeness of life that Christ invites us into. Truth does make us free to work hard.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Five: Words

Jan has come up with an interesting FF.

So my suggestion for today's Friday Five is to write about 5 words you really like. Please explain why you have chosen each word, in such ways as:
It is a

• description or attribute of yourself

• activity you enjoy

• word that is spelled or pronounced in an interesting way

• passion of yours

• word that brings you hope, peace, or comfort

• word you like to repeat or sing”

Ok, Jan, you have thrown down the gauntlet. Oh Oh. The Texas skies have just opened up. And there is a bit of hail with the rain—not an unusual occurrence but the cats think it is. Now at least, I don’t have to water the lawn.

1. INTEGRITY: This is the most important word I know for a clergy person, for a LGBT person, for a Christian, for me. When I was young I lived in a household in which to cover the family dysfunction we lied regularly. My parents to each other, and I lied as a regular course because the punishment for any mistake never fit the deed. But when I became a Christian, I knew I had to change that. But I continued to lie about who I was. I permitted myself that because I understood that God and I were OK, but it was not OK to be attracted to the same sex in the Church. Finally when Bishop Gene Robinson had to wear a flak jacket to his own consecration, I knew I had to own who I was. It cost me my congregation and my relationship with my diocese for almost 10 years, but I have known an integration within myself that is so good and so holy. What I saw in my diocese at that time was a bishop who lied with great alacrity to cover his butt. I watched him turn a once vibrant diocese into dust because of his unwillingness to look at his lack of integrity. And I swore to myself that I would never again allow that kind of ‘stinking thinking’ to manipulate me. It is a discipline that requires attention for me as I preach, as I teach, as I just chat with my friends. It also requires a willingness to be dead honest with myself in my confessions and review of the day before I go to bed each night. Integrity is not an easy way to live, but I can, before Christ, do no other.

2. FLY FISHING:  I do love to fly fish. It is a wonderful sport. I began ff (not Friday five) before the movie “A River Runs Through It” came out. So I remember the sport before it became so commercialized and you could go to a farmer’s house and ask permission to fish his stretch of a stream for a part of your catch. The meditative casting motion and the cool trickle of a stream put one in harmony with Creation. I became a Catch and Release fisherwoman many years ago knowing that wild fish are too precious to kill. I tied my own flies and became fairly conscious of the kinds of bugs that fish eat. I found it just as exciting to look under rocks to find the insects so I could go home and imitate them at the vise. I was afraid that I had lost all that when we moved to TX because trout are not common here. But just yesterday I found an article on fly fishing in the Gulf of Mexico for sea trout and red fish. Whoopee!

3. CALLIOPE: I remember calliopes as a child when the circus came to town. But when I lived in New Orleans I found that that you pronounced the word “Kally-Ope” and since it was one of the major streets in town ( along with Terp-si-cor—Terpsichore to anyone who had studied Greek) I have to remember how to pronounce the word each time I read it.

4. JUSTICE:  I have been passionate about so many things in my life; I am sort of enjoying being a bit more sanguine in my retirement. But I have always been passionate about justice. I seem to be hard-wired about that. I have stuck my neck out on so many justice issues that I am lucky to have a head. But I could not have lived my life any other way.

5. RAIN:   Returning to Texas after being gone for 40 years has reminded me of how precious rain is. The downpour that we got as I began this FF has freshened the air. The cats are now exploring new smells on the patio and puddles of fresher water than is in their dish. One forgets how much rain means to a people of a parched land. It is part of the Resurrection of life. After a spring of range fires out west of town, the thunderstorms that frightened our neighbors in California are greeted here with joy. Now the dove hoo-hoo and the mockingbirds trill and sweet breezes blow. I am sure, though, that any of you living in the Mississippi valley would not appreciate this.

BONUS: This week I attended a celebration of new ministry in which we used a lot of Taize music during the service. The repetition of phrases with a church filled with people who were able to sing in harmony was so healing and wonderful. Music goes so far beyond words for me. There is something holy that resonates in my whole body when I make music. It has always been in music that I have understood the Divine in my life. Even as a small child, the act of music making was so much more than performance. There was a connection with the world and beyond. And so I do not worry about what words I sing—I know that all music I make is union with all I recognize as God.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

There is a temptation to idolize or to totally excoriate one’s mother depending upon one’s experience. And when the mother is “late” as Maa Ramotswe would say, the temptation is even greater. But I would rather not do that with my mother. Mom never would have wanted me to do either. She was a woman that did not think highly of herself and for that I am sorry. She was a smart woman from a tiny little town in northern Missouri. She was from a family that was deeply rooted in American history from the French and Indian Wars, the American Revolution, the westward expansion in the 1830’s, through the Civil War, the Reconstruction as it was lived out in a border state.

Mom was born in a house in a little crossroads community in 1912. When she was quite small, they lived on a farm. She had few recollections of the farm except that she was terrorized by the rooster that she had to face when her chores included feeding the chickens. It colored her attitude toward fowl the rest of her life. She would not eat it and prepared it only under duress.

Her only brother was sixteen years older and the apple of her mother’s eye. And from what I saw of her mother, whom I loved dearly, mom was basically ignored. It was the day when you made over your sons and the daughter was to help with the housework. I am not saying that my mother wasn’t loved. She was. And Grandma certainly made over me, but something had happened that neither of them talked about. I don’t know if it was that Mom and Dad ran off and got married, or something earlier, but neither of my parents was keen on going home to visit their mothers. Mom took me which was the highlight of my summer because Grandma fed me fried chicken which my mother never served.

My mother and I did not get along well from the time I was little. I was not the frilly, doll-playing girl that my mother wanted. She was quite worried about what other people thought. And somehow I didn’t measure up to what a little girl was supposed to be. Somehow I embarrassed my mother. It saddens me to say that after all these years. My tomboyishness disturbed her deeply, and she was always telling me to ‘act like a girl’, whatever that meant. Our neighborhood was all boys. I loved playing baseball, football, cowboys and Indian and wanted a football for my birthday when I was 8. She had her son when she was a young wife. He was twelve years older than I and she made over him as had my grandmother made over my uncle.

Now that I look back on it, perhaps she knew of my being a lesbian long before I did. It was an icky thing in those days. In all my 65 years, my mother and I never talked about it. By the time I came out, my mother had entered into a kind of dementia that denied her the ability to speak. I lament that.

Mom was not a warm person. Our family was not demonstrative in their love. Mom was not someone you could go and curl up with when you were feeling blue or unhappy. But she did have a sense of art, music, and drama that she helped me develop. I started school at four—way too early for me. I always trailed in my classes because of it. At times in my young adulthood I was angry at my mother for starting me too soon. But it was in music that I excelled. My folks had not set money aside for me to go to college. They had for my brother, but he was a boy, after all. It was only through a music scholarship that I went to university. But they did support my musical bent. They went to the football games to watch me march in the band and went to concerts. Mom would take me to the opera and symphony concerts.

Mom was a school secretary. She would have liked to have gone to college to become a teacher. But she graduated high school in the height of the Great Depression. She could organize to a faretheewell. She put up with a principal who was known as the school district’s battle ax. But they respected each other. Her friends were the teachers she worked with, the families in our neighborhood, the women in her club, the men and women in their camping group and her best friend acted as my godmother. It was Mom’s “girl friends” that gave me the first glimpse of what sisterhood was. I doubt she would have been able to make it without them.

Both of my parents were introverts. They made up their mind before consulting with others. And the wars in the family were always about “you didn’t tell me…” Of course I was the extrovert. I was always asking questions, wanting to talk, speaking my mind. It was not appreciated.

But as I grew older, Mom and I would talk. After Dad died while I was in seminary, Mom began to ask questions about what I was studying. After I was ordained, she was quite uncomfortable when I would wear my collar to church. She thought I was ‘putting on airs’. Her Campbellite heritage frowned on such manifestations. She hated the Episcopal liturgy so we went to the Methodist church when I visited. It was also easier as the Ft. Worth diocese began its trek towards schism.

Throughout her 80’s and 90’s I enjoyed our relationship. We were finally beyond the need to control each other. She could still “zing” me—make a comment that would cut to the quick. But I began to understand her. We would talk on the phone almost every day until she was unable to hear me on the phone. After I came out in 2003 and lost my parish, I knew she wanted to talk about it. But I was too raw at the time to share it with her. The “family (church)” that I had chosen had abandoned me and it was just too hard to share it with her. By the time I went to the ELCA parish and I was getting healed, Mom had lost her ability to communicate at a deep level.

I have always felt that when a person died, that did not end the relationship. Mom died about two years ago during Easter week. I was able to see her before she died. She waited for me to come, I believe. I miss her terribly especially now that I am back in FTW and I am close to her haunts. I am unreasonably angry with Jack Iker for not having left the Church a couple of years earlier so I could have spent the last few years with Mom. I miss her on days like these. But it was time for her to go. I talk to her often now, mostly working out all that disjuncture that happens in life, letting her know what I have learned. She is one of those women I admire. I know that much of her is in me, some of it I like and some I don’t. But she is there and I like it.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Friday Five: Word Associations

Friday Five: Word Association

Songbird says:

It's been a busy week for me, trying to get back into the routine after a post-Easter vacation. (How did it get to be Easter 3?) So to keep it simple, here's a Word Association Friday Five, with a bonus twist for those feeling creative. First, for each of these five words -- all of which remind me of my *most* excellent vacation -- share the first word that comes to mind when you read it.

1) Airport

Ugh! I really hate airports. Usually because flying is a hurry –up- and- wait experience. And invariably the gate I am presently at is on the other side of the airport from where I need to be.

2) Baseball

Ho-hum. Tx didn’t have a major league team when I grew up. Sometimes we would go to a minor league game on a hot summer’s night but I never got into baseball like so many in the North. Football is the game here and I feel bereft after the Superbowl.

3) Art

We joined the local art museum when we moved here. I am so amazed that the DFW area has such wonderful museums now. And they get rather amazing traveling exhibitions. In just the 10 months that we have been here I have seen several really good showings of people I would not normally know about. And the local art museum has a wonderful series of events for its members.

I am not one who paints or doodles or even crafts but I enjoy the work of others.

4) Chocolate

I am trying to stay away from the stuff. But we still have Peeps from Easter.

5) Grill

Interesting you should ask, Songbird. One of today’s chores is to go and buy a gas grill.

We have a nice back yard with a glass door on to the patio. And the weather has been wonderful for almost a month now. I love BBQ and love to make it. I have been a bit of a purist with my Weber kettle. I make my own sauce. I smoke brisket like a real Texan and have been known to smoke chickens and turkey. I even have some Cornish game hens in the freezer for just that purpose. I don’t think I have done hamburgers or hot dogs on a grill in ages. But I am getting tired of the charcoal routine especially since we have had such high winds with drought conditions.

Our new house does not have a good broiler in the oven. It makes it difficult to do chicken or steaks right. And since both J and I need to eat broiled meats rather than fried and sautéd, I am off to Lowes to find a gas grill. Nothing fancy but hopefully one with a rotisserie.

Have any of you had beer can chicken?

Can I get a bonus for a recipe?

Butterflied Leg of Lamb

Get your butcher to butterfly a leg of lamb or buy a boneless one from Sams. Make sure that the meat will lay flat and approximately the same thickness. Marinate in one part good Italian dressing (I use Good Seasons) and one part white wine overnight. If using a charcoal grill prepare coals for indirect cooking and place a drip pan under the place where the lamb will cook to catch any drippings from going on to the coals and causing flare ups. Cook for almost an hour depending upon preferred doneness.

There is also a marinade that uses plain or Greek yogurt and white wine that is also scrumptious. (Now I am hungry)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I will not rejoice!

The news of the killing of Osama Bin Laden is being celebrated by many. The thought of my country being a part of a strategic plan to “take out” a leader of a movement that is contrary to the commonweal of my nation bothers me. I know there is war. I know that we were attacked by the efforts of this man. I know that I enjoy a quiet life in a nation that has responded to an attack with an act of vengeance. I don’t rejoice in Bin Laden’s death. But I AM relieved. Perhaps by cutting off the head of the movement, we will see that movement diminish. As a Christian I deplore acts of violence as ways to settle problems in the world because they never do.

I am also reminded of Dietrich Bonheoffer’s complicity in the attempt on Adolph Hitler’s life. As a theologian he hated what was happening in his country in the name of the Church, the name of Christ with the twisted theologies of Nazi anti-Semitism. He saw that Hitler needed to be assassinated as a way to regain the soul of the German people. So he left the safety of the US and returned to his homeland to assist in that plot. He was caught after the plot failed and he was executed just days before the fall of the Third Reich and Hitler’s suicide. He is marked as a saint by many. And yet, we are aware that he crossed over that line into participating in violence. The end somehow justified the means.

All too often I am overwhelmed with the complexities of life. I am overwhelmed with economic systems that must be run by those who have great wealth and power that deprive others of their small holdings just to keep the world running as we have known it. I am overwhelmed with foreign policies that keep small nations from being able to exploit their own resources for the benefit of their own people. I am overwhelmed with military attitudes and national jingoism that often take root in the hearts of my neighbors and friends in this country and I am embarrassed. I am embarrassed at the celebration of the death of a single man when so many more are dying in the streets of our cities, the deserts of Iraq, the mountains of Afghanistan and so many places in Africa. And in that embarrassment, I have to accept the guilt of also being relieved.

As a Christian I want to be better than that. I want to call from myself, and those who represent me, efforts that are rooted in the shalom of Christ. And so I stand in this ambivalent way, not rejoicing but not maligning the actions of my President or military either. I am not likely to find fault with the leaders who brought about this mission militarily. Just as I have never maligned Harry Truman for the A-bomb in 1945 or Kennedy for the Bay of Pigs. It was what it was. Were their actions just? Only God knows. No one today can stand in the shoes of those leaders knowing what they knew at the time any more that I can stand in the shoes of our leaders today.

I want my nation to live more clearly what it means to be Christ’s own in their lives so that they do not resort to violence. I want them to understand that violence only begets violence. So I continue to preach what I preach. I continue to write what I write.

In the Middle East things are happening in Egypt, in Libya, Syria and other places in the Moslem nations that are boiling up from the bottom that are not rooted in violence. There is a weariness of fighting and a deep longing for freedom from dictatorship. Hopefully they will be able to create among themselves a kind of governmental system that is appropriate for them that will take into account the needs of the people. Who will be the Thomas Paines of their struggle; who will be the Thomas Jeffersons or Ben Franklins of their revolutions? Even the Deists who formulated the Constitution and finally the Bill of Rights knew that vengeance could not be sustained as a policy without it costing us our liberty. And hopefully they will know that the salaam of Allah can only be found in the willingness to listen and compromise.

So my ambivalence stands. The media can string this story out for as long as they want. I won’t be glad. I will respect the precision with which our forces did their job and commend their willingness to put themselves in harm’s way. But I will not rejoice in it. It is time for us to know that peace is much harder to maintain than is war and costs us much more than young men and women’s lives. It cost us power and might. It costs us economic sovereignty; it costs us pride. But after all, that is what we need to give to know the peace of God.