President Obama’s words to all of us today

Current Affairs

President Obama, giving the eulogy at Congressman John Lewis’s funeral today, said (in part) the following:

[T]his country is a constant work in progress. We were born with instructions: to form a more perfect union. Explicit in those words is the idea that we are imperfect; that what gives each new generation purpose is to take up the unfinished work of the last and carry it further than anyone might have thought possible.

John Lewis — the first of the Freedom Riders, head of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, youngest speaker at the March on Washington, leader of the march from Selma to Montgomery, Member of Congress representing the people of this state and this district for 33 years, mentor to young people, including me at the time, until his final day on this Earth — he not only embraced that responsibility, but he made it his life’s work.

John Lewis lived his faith in a public way that challenges each of us who say we are following the same Lord. May the Holy Spirit give us the grace to follow, however imperfectly, in his powerful steps.

Finishing The Mirror | The better the mirror, the more light that can be reflected…

SOSc

Some of you know that I’m a vowed member of a dispersed religious order called the Society of Ordained Scientists. It’s been an important part of my life and helped to focus my work on the integration between faith and science since I became a member.

Mother Pan Conrad is the Warden of the North American Chapter of the society, and a friend. She’s also a wicked smart scientist and is principle investigator a couple of instrument packages in the new Mars explorer Perseverance. 

And now she’s blogging!

Finishing The Mirror | The better the mirror, the more light that can be reflected…:

I’ve been thinking a lot about this mission to Mars and how it intersects with my mission as a Christian. You see, whether lay or ordained, we all have a mission—our heritage as followers of Jesus. How we carry out the vocation—our individual missions as Jesus followers—is unique to each one of us. My own formation as a Christian and quest to find my vocation has been a long and rambling exploration. I kept praying for a teacher or guide to help me figure out who I am, and it didn’t dawn on me for decades, that exploration itself WAS my vocation. I am an explorer-priest, and my vocation is to use both the exploration of creation and the exploration of relationships in God’s Kingdom to learn better how to live into the promise inherent with being made in the Image of God.

I love this. It reads to me like an updated version of the pilgrimage language we often use to contextualize our faith journey. It strikes me that exploration is an even more evocative metaphor – and one that speaks more powerfully to the work of integration that seems to be missing in our lives these days. (It’s common in my experience to have an active faith life in church and an active secular life outside of worship and bible study, but rarely do I meet people who have tried to put the two together.)

At any rate – follow her at the blog above. I hear that she’s planning on journaling the mission as it unfolds – and doing it in the context of a priest and scientist.

Can God still use a people such as us?

Current Affairs

John Meacham writes in his 2006 book “American Gospel”:

”A tolerant, pluralistic democracy in which religious and secular forces continually contend against one another may not be ideal, but it has proven to be the most practical and enduring arrangement of human affairs — and we must guard that arrangement well.”

As we celebrate a difficult anniversary of the Declaration of Independence this weekend, fully aware of the flaws in our foundation and the shortcomings of our nation, it’s worth remembering that in spite of them all, there’s still something of value. And perhaps we can, by God’s grace, breathe upon that ember and re-ignite something greater than we now have.

Something is shifting in this country’s understanding of race

Current Affairs

It feels like this moment in America’s racial divide is different than the moments that have gone before. There have been racially motivated shootings and violence in the last decade or so here in America, but after a few weeks of protest, most of us move on to the next issue.

Yet this year, the data indicates that there’s a real and measurable shift in the way white American’s view discrimination. The data is presented in an article in The Washington Post. The article ends with this:

The Floyd protests have changed public opinion about race and policing. Here’s the data. – The Washington Post:

In fact, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. justified his 2013 decision to dismantle key sections of the Voting Right Act by writing, “Our country has changed, and while any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions.”

Americans, however, no longer reflexively agree with the chief justice’s argument. At the time of his 2013 ruling, only 19 percent said there’s a lot of discrimination against African Americans; just 20 percent thought we haven’t made much real progress against racial discrimination since the 1960s. Those figures are now up to 50 percent and 41 percent respectively.

Fifteen years ago I would have never imagined that public opinion would shift so rapidly on same-sex marriage. But it did. Five years ago I wouldn’t have imagined a shift on racial justice could happen suddenly. But it seems to be.

There’s lots to lose heart about right now, and lots to worry about. But take heart. Perhaps in the midst of the turmoil something new and hopeful is starting to emerge.

That’s my prayer for us today.