An Open Letter To Donald Trump


Dear Mr. Trump,

After the latest terror attack in France, you proudly proclaimed that you would have Congress declare war on ISIS if you were elected President.

I will give you credit. There have been perhaps one or two candidates for President who have campaigned on the platform of starting a war. At least you have declared that you will follow the Constitution and have Congress declare war instead of taking off on your own.

And it makes a little difference because of the number of proposals that you have previously made that defy Constitutional authority.

But what are you going to do if Congress doesn’t do as you ask? Remember, Congress does not work for you nor does it automatically do your bidding; Congress works for the people (though they have to be occasionally reminded of that fact).

And, if they do agree, how are you going to do this? Where will this battle be fought? Will you simply bomb ISIS wherever it may be? Do you even know where these criminals hide? Or do they all look alike to you? Since ISIS is not a country or geographical entity, will you seek the help of countries in which ISIS is operating? Or will you simply invade these countries? Do you intend to include France, Belgium, and the United Kingdom on your list of targets because elements of ISIS are in those countries? How much of the world do you plan to destroy in this quest?

Will you send the youth of this country, our wives and husbands,our brothers and sisters, our children and grandchildren, to fight this war? Or will you proclaim that the other countries will pay the price for this war?

And what sort of bombs will you drop if this is your course of action?

What will you do that we are not already doing? And more importantly, what are you going to do when this war is over, if it is ever finished? Do you intend to keep us in a state of war forever?

Who will pay for this war that you propose? Who will rebuild the world that you seek to destroy? What will happen to all of the people whose homes and lands are destroyed in the process of defeating ISIS? Will our doors be open to those who only want to live a life in peace? Or will you slam the doors in their face and say that they are part of the problem?

Being President is an important task and decisions made by our President reverberate throughout the world.

You may say that this is a world at war; how will you make this a world at peace?

Knock, Knock! Who’s There?


As I have noted before, growing up in the South I have personally experienced the effects of segregation (many of classmates did so as well but they didn’t understand because they didn’t know).

In the spring of 1969, I stood by my friends in protest of unfair housing practices in Kirksville, MO. It was a peaceful sit-in but it could have gone bad quite easily. And I will be honest, my parents went ballistic when they found out what I was doing.

I participated in the Moratorium in 1969 in protest of the Viet Nam war (causing more concern for my parents). And I was prepared to go to jail or Canada if I were to have been drafted in 1971 (I got lucky and received a deferment).

In everything that I have said and done, I have tried to stand for equality and freedom. I have taken the precepts and principles of the Gospel as what they are, the Truth that will set people free.

It strikes me that we should never had to have passed this torch on to the next generation. We should be moving forward. But it would seem some in my generation haven’t learned the lessons of history. There are those of my generation who refuse to see others as equals because of race, gender, sexuality, or income. And they seek to pass this ignorance and hatred onto the next generation.

It works this way. We are all children of God, made in God’s image (Genesis 1: 27). We all have the same rights and freedoms, no matter what our race might be, no matter what our gender or sexuality, and certainly no matter what our economic status might be.

Those who work to keep others from having the same rights, freedoms, and, if you will, privileges as they have will have to answer to this when they meet God first hand. Those who loudly proclaim that they know what God is thinking better than God does.

And they will have to wonder why when they knock on Heaven’s Door, no one answers.

But I Don’t Know How


A Meditation for 10 July 2016, the 7th Sunday after Pentecost (Year C). The meditation is based on Amos 7: 7 – 17, Colossians 1: 1 – 14, and Luke 10: 25 – 37.

We woke up this past Friday morning to another shooting, another act of senseless violence. Was this shooting just the act of a senseless madman or a response, rightly or wrongly, to an environment that sees violence as the only response to violence? Or was it both?

Are we a society that sees itself as one group with many parts or are we so diverse, divisive, and separated that we can never see ourselves as one group?

As I have stated in the past, I grew up in the South, perhaps at the worst possible time to be growing up in the South. Parts of the South were still segregated and the parts that were being integrated were doing so slowly and somewhat reluctantly. And I know that many of those who grew up during that time, some of them my classmates, probably haven’t accepted those changes.

And today, with the reluctance of many, we haven’t accepted the idea that the statement “all men are created equal” applies to all, men and women, people of all colors, people of all economic status, and independent of gender or gender identity.

For some, the idea that some person, whom your grandparents may have considered inferior (or worse), is your equal is still a hard pill to swallow. We still somehow want to think that we are better than anyone else and we rejoice when some politicians tell us that. We rebel when others want to claim the equality that we have taken for granted.

And the Christian church, once the hope of the oppressed and forgotten, once the source of moral strength and whose members stood up against injustice and with those cast aside by society, was among the first to build a wall and keep people out. The sanctuary in too many churches across this country have become a place that keeps society out and allows its members to hide; it is no longer a place that welcomes the outcast and the forgotten; it is slowly becoming a place that says we don’t care who you are, we don’t want you here.

But the good news is that there are those who see the inequality and the injustice and work to end the oppression. There are those who are like Amos, who would rather just do the normal jobs. But God is calling them to take on the task, of speaking out against injustice and oppression, of saying that hatred and violence will never work.

Amos also pointed out that those whose only interest was in their own well-being and maintenance of the status quo would lose in the end.

Jesus was asked by someone who probably wanted an excuse to ignore the problems of society who was his neighbor. But Jesus wouldn’t give him that opportunity but pointed out that everyone was everyone’s neighbor and that you could not ignore anyone just because they didn’t fit some notion of correctness.

Paul reminds us, as he reminded the Galatians, that the Gospel still remains true and that grows stronger every day. But it still remains for each one of us to continue the work that began two thousand years ago in the back roads of the Galilee.

We may not know how to rid this world of oppression and hatred; we may be afraid to even try.

But we do know how to bring peace and justice to this world because we know the love of Christ and we know what Christ did for each one of us.

Because God loved us enough to send His son to die on the Cross for our sins and to bring us into freedom, we know what to do. And when we take that love into the world, things will begin to change.

The View Of The Future


I heard a comment the other day that suggested, to me anyway, that the money that was spent on the Juno mission to Jupiter would have been better spent feeding the poor.

In one sense, this was correct. When we have one dollar and we have to choose between feeding the hungry and exploring the outer reaches of space, we need to feed the hungry. Because we will be unable to explore the outer reaches of space.

But I also feel that there is something wrong with this idea. It presupposes that we only have one dollar to spend, when in reality, we have perhaps ten dollars to spend. And the vast majority of that ten dollars is spent on military and security items, items which in the end destroy things.

There is clearly something wrong when the majority of our money is spent on destruction, in whatever form it takes. Because sooner or later, we will not be able to rebuild what we destroy.

If, on the other hand, we spend the vast majority of our money on building things, then we wouldn’t have to worry about feeding the people or healing the sick or the other things that suffer when we destroy rather than build.

And if we spend our money building the creative skills of the people, then we will find cures for illness, ways to grow food without modifications, create energy that does not pollute and discover answers to the questions we haven’t begun to ask at this time.

For too long this country, this society, and this planet have focused on the practice of war. It may be that there are times we need to have such a focus but, over the long run, it can only mean the destruction of people, society, and in the end, this planet.

On the other hand, a focus on building up and focusing on people allows us to have a clearer view of the future.

Which Way Will You Walk?


A Meditation for 29 June 2016, the 6th Sunday after Pentecost (Year C). The meditation is based on 2 Kings 2: 1 – 2, 6 -14; Galatians 5: 1, 13 – 25; and Luke 9: 51 – 62.

This is about our legacy, that one thing that will be here after we are gone, our bones have turned to dust, and our soul is in Heaven. In the movie “A Man For All Seasons” Sir Thomas More suggests that Richard Rich should be a teacher.

Sir Thomas More: Why not be a teacher? You’d be a fine teacher; perhaps a great one.

Richard Rich: If I was, who would know it?

Sir Thomas More: You; your pupils; your friends; God. Not a bad public, that.

These are simple times, times which define history. History is not determined by complicated issues but rather simple actions by everyday people.

And whether we like the idea or not, the decisions we make, no matter how insignificant they may seem, will have a lasting impact on what happens next.

Paul points out that God has called us to a new and free life. But this freedom comes with a price; it is not an excuse to do whatever we want because that only costs the very freedom we gained, and in the end, leads to our destruction.

I believe that there are perhaps four different types of people in this world: 1) those whose only intent is evil (and I hope that are not too many of these individuals), 2) those who see acts of evil as a manifestation of good, 3) those who perform acts of good but solely for their own benefit, and 4) those whose acts of good and kindness are for the benefit of all.

Admittedly, this is a very arbitrary scale and I don’t know how one fits onto it but, to be quite honest, there are people who do fit into the first three categories and those who are in the fourth category are in a distinct minority. I would presume that most individuals are in the third category who only do good when it is best for them to do so.

But it is quite clear that this is not the choice that Jesus demanded from those who choose to follow Him, either two thousand years ago or even today. As Paul wrote, it is not just what you think but what you do that counts.

There comes a time when each one of us has to make a decision about what we are going to do and the path we will walk. Time and time again, the prophets of the Old Testament pointed this out. The decision by Elisha to follow Elijah, to take his cloak and continue his work is the decision we are called to make today.

Will you walk your own path, knowing only that it does lead anywhere (no matter what you might think at this time)? Or shall you walk with Christ, knowing that it leads to total and complete freedom?

Turning The Pages Of Time


I am about 2/3 through the editing of my grandfather’s World War I diary. His comments about the war itself are limited and perhaps a bit understated. But they help to put into context some of the things I learned in history while in high school and college.

There are interesting similarities between what is happening now and what he wrote in 1933 (“My Grandfather’s Diary – The Last Entry”. We can build walls and keep people out; we can let the Atlantic and Pacific oceans protect from Europe and Asia; we can enact tariffs to protect American businesses. We have done it before and it almost ruined us and it didn’t keep us out of two world wars. We know what has been written on the pages of history; do we want to rewrite those pages (again)?

We are, for the most part, a nation of immigrants who seem to want to forget who we are. We are part of this planet and there is no way we can separate our lives from the other lives on this planet.

The recent decision by the British to leave the European Union may seem as if it were a rational and well-thought out vote but it is quickly appearing to be a vote based on fear and without a lack of thought. And the comments by some politicians indicate that they truly reflect the heritage of the “Know-Nothing” party of the early 19th century (when asked what they stood for or what they believed, many of this party proclaimed that they knew nothing).

We cannot turn back the pages of time to make a better life; we can only work today to make tomorrow better. We can live our lives in fear but fear only allows us to back up, not move forward. To reach the future, we must move forward.