Two numbers leapt off the page of the New York Times: 170,000 and 2,000,000,000,000. The first is the number of lives lost in two decades of fighting in Afghanistan and the second is the dollars it cost(1) (or perhaps we should say it initially cost since it was funded on credit, the interest expected to add another $6.5 trillion; commitments to Afghanistan and Iraq veterans are estimated to add another $2 trillion, those costs to peak after 2048(2)).
As I was visiting his church last week, a recently widowed man realized that the woman who had cared for his wife was someone I knew, and might see later that day. He asked me to share with her some very high praise. The caregiver, he said, was an amazingly patient and persistent person. His wife in her last several months had been difficult for caregivers, especially when it came to eating anything. My friend would prepare and bring her meals. "I don't want it, take it away." was the response. OK. Fifteen minutes later our friend would come back with the same warm food. "You need to eat, __. Your husband and children need you to." "No! Take it away." Fifteen minutes later the caregiver would bring the meal again perhaps with a new garnish. "Take it away!" But by the third or fourth or fifth time of gentle persistence, his wife would say, "OK," and would eat.
I paused then and I continue to pause now, at what she had said.
In this case, she was a parishioner and because she was appreciably ahead of her time in so many ways (Saint Peg, we called her, Mother Inferior she called herself in retort), I wondered at her identifying herself as an aspiring pacifist. Years later, I still wonder, does not the idea of being an aspiring pacifist sound a little like being a little bit pregnant, which is to say, either you’re all in or it doesn’t count?
My contribution to the People of Faith for Justice blog this month will attempt to help us all understand the challenges one of the largest Christian denominations has endured regarding their role in and relationship to the systemic racism being faced in the United States today.
There’s an old story about a farmer who receives a pastoral call by his minister. The
farmer loved his farm and was delighted to give his pastor a tour. He loaded his pastor
into his jeep and off they went. Fields of corn as high as an elephant’s eye and golden
wheat swaying in the breeze as far as the eye could see. The Pastor, amazed by the
beauty of the sight surrounding him said, “I have never seen anything like this. You and
the Lord have a wonderful partnership on this farm!”
Does ecology need philosophy? Do we need a coherent, life-affirming philosophy to undergird lifestyles and communities for environmental justice? I’m Mike Eggleston, blogging for People of Faith for Justice in March of 2021, and I think so.
Nearly four years ago to the day, a just-inaugurated president called our attention to the
American carnage oozing throughout the various layers, hidden recesses, and dark
corners of the nation’s landscape. Under his careful tutelage, on January 6, the American
carnage reached its nadir in an assault upon the very foundations of our democracy.
````For many faith traditions, this is a special time of year. There are lots of holidays this time of year. Which is why I do my best to say, “Happy Holidays” to people. There are more holidays than just Christmas being celebrated this time of year. If, however, I know that the person I’m speaking to is Christian (which is my faith tradition, too), I say, “Merry Christmas.”