The summer Olympics provided inspiring entertainment. There were some surprises, some poignant moments, some problems with judges, and a marathon runner pushed off stride by a spectator gone mad. In other words, it’s all a reminder of day-to-day life; it’s about hopes and dreams; it’s about disappointment and surprise; it’s about all those poignant moments we experience as we move through the days and years.
The Democratic Convention in Boston provided inspiring moments, entertainment and hope; the Republican Convention is just getting under way with a half million Americans taking to the streets to protest the war in Iraq, environmental policies that threaten the fragile planet we share, and moderate members of the Grand Old Party calling for a return to fiscal responsibility, health care equity and a return to responsible environmental programs.
We’ve taken a trip down memory lane with the Vietnam-war controversy as politically-motivated and sponsored Vietnam veterans tried to trash John Kerry’s war record. It’s déjà vu all over again, as they say. Kerry fought in Vietnam, witnessed atrocities that any sober veteran saw, and came back to lead his brother veterans in protest to bring the others home. He said, “Who wants to be the last one to die for a mistake?”
That was a terrible time for America. Those of us who spoke out against the war considered ourselves loyal, patriotic citizens—it wasn’t easy to be told that we were betraying our country, that we should ‘love it or leave it.’ It was so divisive that some social commentators refer to it as a ‘social civil war.’
Now we move into a Presidential election season. There will be televised debates, of course, and there will be more negative, sensationalist ads, presumably directed at the small number of voters who remain undecided.
All this is the backdrop for a new and challenging church year. We are challenged to find a balance between addressing important social, moral issues without crossing the line into the quick-sand of partisanship and grandstanding that leaves no room for disagreement. The most destructive thing we could do is to bring a sense of divisiveness into our religious home.
I’ve never tried to hide my personal views; I’ve spoken up and spoken out when I believe there are important moral, ethical issues that ought to be addressed. I will, however, to the best of my ability, avoid the kind of harsh rhetoric from the pulpit, from this page, and in my conversations that can only cause us to be divided one from another. I hope you’ll do the same.
I look forward to our effort to clarify the role of a part-time Social Action Coordinator, and to find the right person for the job with funds provided by the extraordinary generosity of Jan Park.
I look forward to the visit from our Partner Church minister and his wife, Mihaly and Elizabeth.
I look forward to getting back into the pulpit, polishing poetry to provide inspiration and spiritual nourishment.
Most of all, however, I look forward to seeing you again, real soon. I hope you’re well.