What the Numbers Don’t Tell Us

A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping.  Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more. –Jeremiah 31:15

I am writing this the day after a teenager walked into Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas and killed nineteen children and two teachers, and wounded 16 others.  Before going to the school, he had also shot his grandmother.  This was just 10 days after a young white racist killed 10 people and wounded 3 at a supermarket in a Black neighborhood of Buffalo, New York.  Nine days ago, another gunman killed 1 and wounded 5 people at a church in Laguna Woods, just down the freeway from here.  In the past 10 days, there have been 17 mass shootings across the United States, resulting in the deaths of 44 people and leaving 89 wounded.  This is just a small 10-day sample of the 213 mass shootings which have already occurred in 2022.  By the time you read this, that number will be higher.  I guarantee it, because there were a total of 693 mass shootings in 2021 and we’re already on pace to match or exceed that.  You can see all the numbers at www.gunviolence.org.

There have been a total of 119 school shootings since 2018.  There were 34 school shootings in 2021, and the shooting at Robb Elementary was the 27th so far this year. 

There are 393 million guns in private hands in the United States, the equivalent of 120 guns for every 100 citizens.  Fifty-three people a day on average are killed by firearms in the US.  79% of all homicides in our country are caused by guns.  

According to Pew Research, 53% of the people in this country favor stricter gun laws, including universal background checks.  NPR and Forbes place that number at 60%.  Gallup breaks that down, finding that 91% of Democrats favor stricter gun control but only 24% of Republicans and 45% of independent voters.  77% are in favor of “red flag” laws that would remove firearms from the hands of persons in a mental health crisis, spousal abusers, and persons who threaten violence.  All in all, the takeaway is that a clear majority want stricter gun laws.  Two major gun control measures were passed by the House of Representatives last year: the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021 and the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021.  Both bills are stalled in the Senate.  Think about that for a moment.  Fifty Senators are blocking legislation that the majority of the people in the country want to see passed.

All of that is just numbers.  Those numbers describe a country that is addicted to personal weaponry far beyond all need or reason, a country where life is cheap.  Those numbers tell a story of a country that is so sick in its soul that significant numbers of its people are so turned inward on their own fantasies or pain that they can’t see the other people around them as, well, people.  Not even children.

Those numbers tell us a lot.  But they don’t tell us anything about the pain of bereaved families.  They don’t tell us anything about the heartbreak.  They don’t tell us anything about the fear that scars the survivors of gun violence for life.

Nineteen kids in the 4th grade didn’t make it home from school yesterday.  That breaks my heart.  But my heartbreak is nothing compared to the devastation the families and friends of those 19 children are experiencing.

Nineteen 4th graders.  That hits so close to home that I can’t stop the tears as I write it.  Two of my three grandsons, the twins, are in 4th grade.  Their mother, my daughter, Brooke, is a former School Psychologist.  My son-in-law, P.A., is an elementary school principal.  Here’s what my daughter wrote on Facebook earlier today:

“This morning I talked to the twins about the Texas school shooting before school.  I remembered my school psych training, where we had to practice how to discuss this exact topic with different age groups.  We were taught to emphasize how rare it is for this to happen.

But…I just couldn’t say those words without feeling like a complete liar.  Instead, I reassured them that it is very unlikely that something like this would happen at their school and we discussed the safety measures in place.

And then I left them at school.  And I couldn’t stop worrying.

What if someone starts shooting at recess?  What if they’re in the bathroom?  Where are the most likely entry points?

If they come through the office this might buy enough time for the children and teachers to get into their locked classrooms.  But then, what will happen to the people in the front office, like P.A.?

What will happen to all my friends who are administrators, school psychs, counselors, speech pathologists, administrative assistants, parent volunteers?  What will happen to the teachers? WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE CHILDREN?

What if one fourth grader comes out of the school, but not two?  What if three kids come home, buy my husband doesn’t?”

The trauma from these incidents isn’t limited to the victims and their immediate families.  It spreads out in ripples and damages all of us.  I am heartbroken.  But I am also furious.  I am furious with a culture that lionizes violence.  I’m angry at a culture that makes life so cheap.  I’m furious with a country that puts profit above health and safety.  I am particularly angry at the politics that greases the wheels of all this.  I’m incensed by 50 Senators holding the country hostage to this violence while their campaign chests are being stuffed by the gun lobby.  And, quite frankly, I am also angry with all the people who wring their hands and say we’re helpless, that nothing can be done.  I am furious with all those people who work to oppose common-sense legislation to curtail the damage done by an overbroad interpretation of the 2nd Amendment.  The words “well-regulated” are in that amendment.  Let’s start there.

We long ago crossed any imaginary threshold of an acceptable number of deaths.  We are way past the threshold of patience.  We have spent too much blood on the altar of alleged “rights” and not nearly enough sweat on the sacred ground of responsibility.

And yes, we need to pray.  We need to hold the victims of our violent culture in our thoughts and prayers.  We need to ask God for help.  But we also need to ask God for the courage, the wisdom, the will, and the vision to be part of the solution as we try to find a way to disarm this country and to address the alienation and dysfunction that’s at the heart of these incidents.

Finally, I know that some people who read this will not like what I am saying here.  I offer no apologies.  My ordination vows obligate me to speak for justice and to stand with victims.  But beyond that, I want to live in a country that loves its children more than it loves guns.

Pro Gloria Dei,

Pastor Steve

Unresolved Melody

Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

When I was seven years old, not long after we moved to California from Kansas City, a little black dog showed up at our door one night, whimpering on the front porch and scratching on the door to be let inside.  This adorable and pugnacious little Pekingese/Cocker mix of a dog didn’t have a collar or tags, and this was decades before microchips, so we had no idea where he came from or who his people might be.  We ran an ad in the paper and I went door-to-door for several blocks asking if anyone had lost their little black dog, but nobody claimed him. 

So we did.  We named him Barney. We got him his shots and tags, and he officially became our dog.

We loved Barney, and I’m pretty sure he loved us, too.  He would sleep curled up next to me in my bed.  He would snuggle up next to us on the couch when we were reading or watching TV.  He gave us lots of little dog kisses.  He loved to pull my sister and me up and down the sidewalk on our roller skates.  And he rode patiently in the car with us as we made the long car trip every summer back to Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas to see family.  He was in almost every way a perfect family dog.  But Barney had one bad habit.  An impulse, really.  If anyone left the back gate or the screen door open, he would be off like a shot, running as fast as his little legs would carry him, launching himself out into the world to have an adventure.  A few times he was gone for several days before some kind soul took him in and then called us to come pick him up.  

When Barney took off on one of his adventures, I’m sure it never crossed his little canine mind that we were heartbroken and worried sick about him.  And when he came home nothing was ever really resolved.  Dogs are very capable of showing regret, but Barney never did.  There was always a risk that he would take off and go exploring again.  It was just in his nature.  Some dogs are like that.  And so are some people.

We are all happier when people—and dogs—color within the lines.  We all secretly think that the world would be a better, happier place if everyone stayed in their lane and lived by the rules and boundaries as we know and understand them.  But the plain truth is that not everyone does.  Some people have different, looser ideas of what is acceptable and what is not.  Some dogs just want to see what else is out there.

Some Pharisees and scribes were grumbling because Jesus was hanging out with and sharing meals with “tax collectors and sinners.”  They didn’t think it was appropriate for Jesus to be making friends with people who were not socially acceptable by their standards, and they told him so.  But Jesus didn’t respond directly to their criticism.  Instead, he told them a story.

“There was a man,” he said, “who had two sons.”  We all know this story.  We call it The Prodigal Son, although a better title might be The Two Brothers, or even The Over-Indulgent Father.  Amy-Jill Levine suggests that it could be called The Parable of the Absent Mother.  That puts a different spin on things, doesn’t it?   And it fits, since this is really a story about family dynamics.

Whatever title we use, we know this story so well that I wonder if we really listen to it.  There is a lot going on in this parable that could, maybe should, make us uneasy.  We assume that it’s about sinning, repenting, and forgiving.  But is it?  Or are we imposing our traditional understanding and ideas on this story and ignoring the ancient culture that heard it first, a culture that saw things very differently?

Was it a great sin for the younger son to ask his father for his inheritance?  Jewish law did not prohibit asking for your inheritance, so while it might have been considered foolish, it wouldn’t have been seen as a sin—at least not by the first century Jews who were listening to Jesus as he told this story.

Does the father sin by giving away half of his estate to the younger son?  Deuteronomy 21 says that the oldest son should inherit a double portion, but by the first century it was considered perfectly allowable for a man to divide his estate any way he saw fit.  So while the father’s actions in this parable could also be seen as prodigious foolishness, no one would think he was sinning.  In some circumstances he might even have been seen as prudent.  In The Wisdom of Ben Sirach, Ben Sirach counseled, “When the days of your life reach their end, at the time of your death distribute your property.”  Is the father in this parable, perhaps, nearing the end of his days?  Would that explain why he so readily indulges his son’s unusual request?  The wording in the New Revised Standard Version says that the father “divided his property,” but the wording in the original Greek text says that he “divided his life.”  How should we hear that—not that he is giving half his money or property, but half his life to this younger son?

After asking for his inheritance, the prodigal son doesn’t leave immediately.  “A few days later” he gathers up his things and leaves.  Jesus doesn’t say what happened during those few days.  Did the father try to talk his son out of leaving?  Did the older brother step in and try to talk some sense into him?  The story doesn’t say.  We don’t even know if he said goodbye.  

What the story does tell us is that he went far away—to a far country—somewhere out beyond the boundaries of Jewish law, somewhere far beyond the boundaries and expectations of the home and community he grew up in.  In that far-away place, out beyond the familiar restrictions of home and community, he squandered his wealth with reckless living.  When his money was gone and famine hit the land, nobody helped him.  He managed to find a job feeding pigs, but it didn’t pay anything and he was so hungry that he thought about eating the seed pods that he was feeding to the pigs.  Amy-Jill Levine points out that there’s a proverb from the rabbinic commentary Leviticus Rabbahthat says, “When Israelites are reduced to eating carob pods, they repent.”

This is the point in the story where this reckless young man decided that it was better to go home and eat crow than to starve to death in a pig stye.  Jesus, telling the story, says he came to himself.  He admitted to himself that he was not living the dream, having his best life.  He also seemed to realize that if he was going to go home, some sort of apology might be in order.  So as he walked the long way home, he rehearsed a little speech: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”

Now this might sound like he’s repenting, but is it real repentance or is it conniving?  He already knows that his dad is inclined to be extravagantly generous.  And notice this:  he not going to ask to be restored to the full status of being a son, but he’s not volunteering to be a slave, either.  He’s planning to ask his dad to treat him like one of the hired laborers.  They get paid.  When you read his little speech carefully, he still sounds pretty self-absorbed.  There’s no remorse for how he has treated his dad or his brother.  His confession that he has sinned is generic at best.  Basically, as David Buttrick put it, what the prodigal is really saying to himself is, “I’ll go to Daddy and sound religious.”

He has rehearsed his little speech, but he never got to deliver all of it.  Before he even got all the way home, “while he was still far off” his father saw him and was filled with compassion.  His father ran to him, put his arms around him, kissed him, then started issuing orders.  “Get him some clean clothes!  Put a signet ring on his finger!  Get the barbeque going, and let’s celebrate!  My son was dead and is alive again!  He was lost and is found!”

And now the story shifts focus.  The older brother comes in from mowing hay all day in the hot sun and is surprised to find that there is a party going on because his younger brother has returned home.  This makes him mad, so angry that he refuses to go in the house.  His father comes out to plead with him, to beg him to come in and join the party.  And that’s when we learn that the relationship that is most damaged in this story is the connection between the father and the elder brother.  The older brother unleashes a tirade of pent-up resentment, and as he spews out his bitterness over years of being neglected and overlooked, the father realizes that it’s his older son who is truly “lost” to him.   For years the older brother has worked hard to be “the good son.”  For years he has been faithful to the family values.  For years he has faithfully contributed to the success and wealth of the family.  It’s clear from his outburst that he has a pretty low opinion of his younger brother, but it’s even more clear that his anger is directed primarily at his father.

In response to this flood of anger, all the father can do is try to reassure his eldest son that their bond endures.  “Child,” he says, “you are always with me.  All that I have is yours.  But we had to celebrate and rejoice because your brother was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.”  And that’s where Jesus ends the story.

As I said earlier, we have a long tradition of assuming that this parable is about sinning, repenting, and forgiving.  But is it?  As I read it again, I can’t help but notice that nothing in this story gets resolved.  It’s like a melody in the key of C that ends with a G7 chord.  Everything feels suspended.  The younger son never really expresses any remorse or sorrow, in fact no one in this family expresses any regret for the ways they’ve hurt each other.  The father gins up a party to celebrate the return of his younger son, but did you notice that he never actually speaks to him?  He does speak to his oldest son, but the story ends with the two of them still standing outside the house, outside the celebration.  

This parable leaves us with questions hanging in the air.  Will the two brothers reconcile?  Can the father repair his relationship with his oldest, neglected son?  Can he even persuade him to come into the house, to join the party?  Will the prodigal son stay and work for the good of the family, or will he be out the door again when someone leaves the gate or the screen door open?

When all is said and done, if it’s not about repentance and forgiveness, then what is Jesus trying to teach us with this parable?

In Short Stories by Jesus, her outstanding book on the parables, Amy-Jill Levine says that this parable actually guides us with straightforward advice: “Recognize that the one you have lost may be right in your own household.  Do whatever it takes to find the lost and then celebrate with others, both so that you can share their joy and so that the others will help prevent the recovered from ever being lost again.  Don’t wait until you receive an apology; you may never get one.  Don’t wait until you can muster the ability to forgive; you may never find it.  Don’t stew in your sense of being ignored, for there is nothing that can be done to retrieve the past.

“Instead, go have lunch.  Go celebrate and invite others to join you.  If the repenting and forgiving come later, so much the better.  And if not, you still will have done what is necessary.  You will have begun a process that might lead to reconciliation.  You will have opened a second chance for wholeness.”[1]

[1] Short Stories by Jesus, Amy-Jill Levine, p.69

Dear White People

Dear White Working-Class Persons—especially you White Working-Class Men:

I get to say this because I am one of you. I am white. I’m a Boomer. I’ve worked as a roofer and a liquor store clerk. I’ve harvested wheat in Kansas and tossed hay bales in Arkansas. I’ve also worked in advertising and in academia, and for the last 20 years I’ve been a pastor. That’s right, a clergy person—right now one royally, righteously pissed off and more than a little depressed clergy person. But I’m still the guy who puts new guts in the toilet at home when the parts wear out and the guy who knows how to patch the roof. I’m still the guy who struggles to balance the household budget. I still load up my motorcycle with a tent and a sleeping bag when I have to get away from it all and blow out the cobwebs. So I get to say this because I’m one of you.

Last night you screwed the pooch. Last night you took the final steps down a primrose path that is nothing but dust and feathers. You were led there as deftly as any pied piper ever absconded with the village children. And it didn’t just happen overnight or even during this latest election cycle.

You’ve been played.  For the past 35 years you’ve been listening to a very loud and very skewed story about how awful everything is for you. And yes, I know that things have been tough. Things have changed. The ground has shifted. Jobs have been tougher to come by and they pay less. You’ve got a legitimate beef.  But instead of looking at why all that is happening and what you can do about it and who maybe has some solutions, you just listened to the loud, sad, bad story of punditry which was really nothing more than a lot of finger-pointing in all the wrong directions.

Don’t you get it?  Well, clearly you don’t. It’s all been a big carnival trick of misdirection. All the Rush Limbaughs and Fox News Personalities convinced you that it was those nefarious (it’s a real word, you can look it up) Liberals who were to blame for all your troubles. And you bought their fertilizer by the bagful. And if any legitimate news source tried to give you some actual facts that didn’t agree with the story those windbags were spewing, they taught you to just dismiss it as “Liberal Media.” My God in Heaven, with all the competing information out there you had to choose to be ignorant.

And over and over again while you were memorizing their evil little song about how bad everything is, you let them guide you into making it worse. You let them lead you into electing people whose primary role has been to create schism and dysfunction. You let them pull you by the nose into electing people who manufactured the worst, longest-running war in our history out of nothing but fairy tales in the desert. You let them convince you that the people who were deepest in bed with the lobbyists, big money, big pharma, big oil and all the other special interests were, somehow, the best people to represent you!  You let them lead you into electing people who pulled the brakes and steering out of our financial industry so that they could crash the economy and make you pay for it!

You let them lead you into electing people who brought the whole government of the United States of America to a standstill. You let them tell you it’s a matter of principle, that you have to take a firm stand. Well guess what, compromise is also a principle. You can actually take a firm stand on that, too. Finding common ground is a principle. Finding a common vision is a principle. Opening doors so that everybody has a chance to enjoy those unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is a principle. And maybe if you had shut off the Angry Red channels for a week or two you would have heard a few interesting facts about where we stand and a few workable ideas about where we could go from here.

But no. You let them convince you that our government, itself, is at worst evil and at best incompetent. You swallowed their blame story about The President or The Party We Don’t Like. How could you not see how insane that is? Didn’t you study civics? Didn’t you learn about the balance of powers? Didn’t you understand that the balance of powers only works when there’s an effort to actually balance the powers? And didn’t you learn where the ultimate responsibility for all of this really lies? Didn’t you learn that WE ARE THE FREAKING GOVERNMENT??? Oh…you didn’t? Well that explains a lot.

So you let them make you angry. You let them take that cold little trickle of fear that everybody feels from time to time in our ever-changing world and convert it into a gleeful little flame of self-righteous anger. You let them take all the things that make you nervous—your discomfort with people of color, your discomfort with immigrants, your discomfort with different religions, your discomfort with LGBTQ people, your discomfort with women in positions of leadership, you discomfort with freakin’ CHANGE which is simply a fact of life—all your myriad little discomforts—you let them play on all those anxieties like a fiddle until they had you dancing down their lane right into the voting booth. And there you voted your fears instead of your hopes.

Don’t you ever ask yourself who wants you to believe what and why? Don’t you ever stop to think about the crap you’re hearing through your radio and TV and social media and ask who those pundits are working for and what’s their agenda? I’ve got news…your well-being is not their top priority.

But you followed them. Boy did you follow them. And this time they were led by the greatest showman since P.T. Barnum. Remember him? He’s the guy who said, “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American People.” Yep. Last night you elected a showman. And face it, when all is said an done, that is all Donald Trump actually is. He sure isn’t a successful businessman, although he plays one on TV. He sure isn’t a family man, unless your idea of a good family man is a guy who blows through wives like candy and makes salacious comments about his own daughter. He sure isn’t a paragon of moral virtue. Do I even have to cite examples of how much he is NOT that? And for all his buddying up to the Fundagelical Religious Right, he sure as hell doesn’t look or smell much like a Christian to me. Yeah, I know. Judge not. I’m just saying, if I was his pastor, we’d have some words about the Word.

No, when all is said and done, Donald Trump is nothing more than a showman. He is P.T. Barnum writ larger than Barnum ever dared to portray himself and that’s saying something. Last night all y’all elected a huckster. A showman. I hope you like the show. The previews give me nightmares. May God forgive us all for electing entertainment over substance.

A Channel of Peace

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.The Prayer of St. Francis

We are crossing the equinox once again. This is the time of year when we get busy again. The schedule shifts back into high gear. Meetings and classes resume. Choirs starts up again. Certain dates loom large on the calendar. Reformation. Advent. Christmas. Election Day. We begin to cram more things into less time and, while there’s a certain kind of comfort in all the momentum, there’s also the increased anxiety that comes from a fuller calendar. “Anxiety is the garden in which sin grows,” said St. Augustine, and it’s easy to see why. This year, especially, with all the violence that has filled the news and with an acrimonious election cycle building to a climax, anxiety seems to be washing over our world, our nation, and our communities in waves. “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom,” says Jesus (Luke 12:32). I don’t know about you, but I find myself praying more fervently than ever, “Your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.”

Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

 Much as I would like for God to hurry up and simply give us the kingdom, it seems to me as I look at the long sweeps of human history that God has been giving us the kingdom all along, making God’s divine rule a reality on earth as it is in heaven in a very slow but inexorable process. Oh…so…slow, this process—more than two thousand years in the making so far. And it’s been precarious every step of the way. That’s because God, in God’s wisdom, knows that the systems by which we operate—the systems that tend to create winners and losers, insiders and outsiders, the systems that encourage us to see life as competition rather than collaboration—the systems of the world won’t be transformed into something that benefits everyone until the people of the world are transformed. God knows that if the divine values of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control were simply imposed on us they would be brittle and false; they would crumble and leave cynical bitterness behind. But when this fruit of the Spirit grows in each of us organically and naturally, when we cultivate it in our internal life it gives us a resilience and strength that enables us to meet the nastier currents of our time with deep-rooted grace. When antagonism, depression, conflict, impatience, meanness, stinginess, faithlessness, violence, and self-indulgence are abroad in the land we, as followers of Jesus, must stand against them, but we must draw from the deep wells of grace, love and truth in doing so. When the voices of misogyny, bigotry, racism, separatism, and scapegoating are loud and strident in the land, we who are disciples of Jesus must, as gently as possible but as firmly as necessary say No. That is not the way forward. That is not who we are called to be. That way lies dystopia—that road leads to hell, not heaven. “Beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned. It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

 Christ tells us that we are the light of the world and that idea is affirmed throughout the Scriptures. “For once you were darkness but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light.” (Ephesians 5:8) The work we do together, the thinking we do together, the lives we live together are God’s antidote to forces that would divide us and set us at each other’s throats. As we cross this Autumnal Equinox, as the days grow shorter and the nights grow longer, it’s easy to feel sometimes as if the darkness is winning. But we are children of light; we have the light within us and as the nights grow colder the light and love of Christ can keep our hearts warm if we remain conscientious and faithful in gathering together.

“Let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25) We gather together in all kinds of congregations.  We gather together in our places of worship.  We gather together, often spontaneously, in like-minded communities in social media.  We gather together in community events.  The important thing for us to remember as we gather, though, is that “provoking” each other to love and good deeds should be the highest priority.  It’s so easy to simply form echo chambers for our biases and pre-conceived ideas, but if that’s all we’re doing it would probably be better if we didn’t see each other so much, online or elsewhere. There is already more than enough acrimony, bigotry, and mutually reinforced deafness bouncing off the walls of the world without us adding to it.

“Be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness.” (James 1:19-20)  I’m thinking of getting that tattooed on my right forearm where I’ll see it all the time.  My anger does not produce God’s righteousness.  On the contrary, when I release it into the blogosphere or let it bounce down the labyrinths of social media it simply adds to the strident blare that deafens us to each other.  The light of compassion, grace and honesty can illuminate and bring clarity to the dark corners of our collective psyche, but the glare of anger and opposition simply blinds us to each other.

I’m writing all this to myself  more than to anyone else.  I’ve needed to give myself a good talking-to for a while now.  This political season has not always brought out the best in me.  I have a tendency to do some of my most exquisitely pointed and logical writing when I’m good and pissed off.  Anger is my pony and I tend to ride that baby till it drops. I need to remind myself that “if I have prophetic powers and understand all mysteries and have all knowledge, if I have faith to move mountains but have not love, I am nothing.” (1 Cor. 13:2) My anger does not produce God’s righteousness.  There’s a time for anger.  It is sometimes a useful and necessary tool.  Sometimes.  But it’s not a safe place to live, and I, for one, have been spending far too much time in Angryland.  When your eyes adjust to the glare you begin to realize that it’s really a very dark place

“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under a bushel basket, but on the lampstand and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

Now is the time. Let your light shine.  Make me a channel of your peace.

(Written 9/16/2016, revised 10/5/16)