Thursday, June 30, 2005

Refuting Steinbeck

Ick, what a wasteland I created this month! Only 5 postings, some creativity!!?? But I shall not miss the tradition: a poem on the last day of the month.

Refuting Steinbeck’s Admonition

Most lives extend in a curve. There is a rise of ambition, a rounded peak of maturity, a gentle downward slope of disillusion and last a flattened grade of waiting for death.
John Steinbeck, The Pastures of Heaven

So this is it?
I dream, I wake, I doubt, I mope, and I die?
Wherein the faith
that my words and actions
mean hope to someone who walks behind?
Why do blue sky and green carpet warm my day,
why the cardinal chirp or the cat purr,
of what use are the smiles those bring to me?
All cannot rush grimly downhill after I wish for more.

Prufrock’s coachman can be a happy reaper,
not just the grim locksmith on a dark four score room --
I can leave more for him to read from my ledger.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Misappropriating the Word

"We face a clear choice. We can decide that fighting over issues related to homosexuality is our most important task, and proceed down that road. Or we can keep the main thing the main thing, while agreeing to an honest and discerning dialogue over differing perspectives."

"This alternative can best keep our energy and resources focused on our call to God's mission. And it also can make all the room necessary for the ongoing dialogue and debate over the presence and participation of gay and lesbian people in our congregations.

"The Reformed Church in America has the opportunity to model a different way for a denomination to address the controversies in the church over gay and lesbian people. It would be a gift to ourselves and others in the body of Christ to do so."
RCA General Secretary Wesley Granberg-Michaelson
General Synod, June 17, 2005, Schenectady, NY

Yesterday, two American soldiers were killed in Iraq, bring the total American lives lost in that war to 1,718.

Meanwhile, the Reformed Church in America has stripped a pastor of his right to minister because he officiated at the wedding of his daughter to another woman in Massachussets.

The governing body of a Christian church spent nearly a full day trying Dr. Norman Kansfield, the former President of New Brunswick Seminary. His accusers alleged that his actions were ‘contrary to RCA beliefs, contradicted his ordination vows, and violated his promises made when installed into the office of professor of theology.’

Meanwhile, America invaded a Muslim country, on phony premises, and thousands of people have lost their lives. How many people were harmed by the relationship between the two women who Dr. Kansfield married last summer?

The Synod should spend more hours praying and debating the Christian reaction to a questionable war, and the deeper issues of cultural and religious overtones inherent in this war.

What is it we fear? Why the hatred of individuals based upon their sexual orientation? Why the mistrust of individuals of Islamic faith? These are the more germaine questions for debate and discourse.

The RCA has now chastised and isolated one man, and tainted two women (both of whom attended the same Seminary), over a fear of homosexuality. They have raised sexual orientation above the importance of Christian faith, and condemned them for the former over the power and grace of the latter. A total misappropriation of God’s love, if there ever was one.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

In touch, out of touch

Communication means we are always connected electronically.

Erin is hours away in Atlanta, and yet we speak (Pam or I) almost daily.

Drew does not talk to his friends on the phone. He communicates with them on AIM, even while doing homework.

Nelson Corby finishes his work each night at 5PM in Niskayuna. When he returns at 8:30 the next morning, someone in Italy or India or China will have worked on the same project, and left the work for him to continue.

The world is flat. But in our own immediate neighborhood, people rarely get together. We barely know our neighbor’s names.

Electronic connections, physical distance. In many ways.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

More graduation comments, and the 9/11 shadow

On the graduation theme, an except from Anna Quindlen’s Newsweek column of 5/30/2005:

So the young men and women who began their college years in the shadow of September 11 graduate in its shadow as well. The intolerant, the monomaniacal, the zealots driven by religious certainty engineered the worst attack on American soil, and the result has been intolerance, monomania and zealotry driven by religious certainty. [Columbia University] President Bollinger cited the contempt of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., the legendary Supreme Court justice, for the man who “knows that he knows.” If Holmes lived today, of course, he would be either lionized or demonized. And he would find, much to his sorrow, that America had been hijacked by those who cannot tell the difference between opponents and enemies, between disagreement and heresy, between discussion and destruction.

An entire generation will know exactly what the numerics 9/11 mean -- but we may each have a different perspective, a different context for that meaning. Another irony: the reverse numeric, 11/9, is the date that the Berlin Wall fell in 1989.