“time for action”

“time for action”

It seems that “America first” means America alone … and that is not good for America or for the rest of the world.

Fortunately, there remain leaders of erstwhile allies and partners who refuse to be bullied and who are prepared to stay the course for the sake of the well-being, not only of their own compatriots, but of all of humanity and of the planet we share. The president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, said today:

The European Union will not renegotiate the Paris Agreement [on climate change]. The 29 articles of the agreement must be implemented and not renegotiated. Climate action does not need more distractions. We have spent 20 years negotiating. Now it is the time for action. Now it is the time for implementation.

He affirmed that the US ‘abandonment’ will not mean the end of the agreement, but would make the world more united and determined to work towards the accord’s full implementation.

Because we must! If we care about our children and our grandchildren, we must! If we care about the planet with which we have been entrusted, we must!

Climate change is truly a global issue, an impending catastrophe to which all peoples contribute and by which all peoples will be impacted. Confronting its perils will require long-range thinking, coordinated effort, and common sacrifice. There is no better or worse “deal” to be found, for any given nation, for any given economy. There may not be nations, let alone economies, if we do not act now with resolve.

May the best hopes of European leaders like Hilda Heine, president of the Marshall Islands, be fulfilled that the nations of the world may “use the three years before the US pulls out of Paris to try to convince President Trump of the importance of climate action.” And may American recover some of its capacity for moral leadership, leading not by intimidation, but by example, not saying “me first,” but standing for liberty and justice and dignity and life for all.

 ZtdtLnot again

 ZtdtLnot again

In Again. JzAn attack. A suicide bomber. Scores of people dead and injured. Again.

  1. But fords twenty-two human beings, including an eight-year-old girl, it is not again, but the first time, the last time, the only time, that their lives will be brought to an end, an unwarranted, untimely, unconscionable end. For them, for their mothers and fathers, for all those who love them, this is not one more act of terror, but THE single moment that now overshadows and redefines an entire history, a life that was and the life that might have been.

I too feel the grief, the unabated sadness, not again, but for the first time, twenty-two times over. Each had a name. Each had a life, a gift, a most precious gift, given each of them by God, now stolen from them, now stolen from God.

“Do not kill.”

The command is rooted deeply in our religious heritage. Do not kill. Period. To take a life is to defy God, because God is the life-giver. To bring a life to a foreshortened end, at any time, for any purpose, is blasphemy: defaming the name and being of God, desecrating the image of God that is imprinted into each of us.

It was blasphemy when Salman Abedi wandered into a crowd of teenaged girls at a Manchester concert and detonated an improvised explosive device …

It was blasphemy when Mohammed Atta flew a hijacked plane into the tower of the World Trade Center …

It was blasphemy when six days ago a Georgia prison official inserted a needle into the arm of J.W. Ledford Jr. …

It was blasphemy when the crew of the Enola Gay dropped “Little Boy” onto the citizens of Hiroshima …

Do not kill. Ever. Not again.

robin hood in reverse

robin hood in reverse

President Trump’s first major budget proposal on Tuesday will include massive cuts to Medicaid and call for changes to anti-poverty programs that would give states new power to limit a range of benefits. How does it make us better or stronger to turn our backs on our most vulnerable citizens? One commentator quoted in the article calls it “Robin-Hood-in-reverse” … in other words, stealing from the poor to give to the rich.

Democracy at its best is a social contract, a mutual commitment to take care of each other, to pool resources of wealth and power to ensure that we are together protected from threats, both external and internal. Internal threats include poverty, disease, injustice, exclusion. It is government’s purpose, not merely to create conditions for economic growth and “stay out of the way,” but to make sure none of us are left behind or left out.

This is not about partisanship or politics. It’s about survival … both of our most vulnerable compatriots and of our democratic ideals.



Last night, Arkansas executed two men by lethal injection, after carrying out its first execution in twelve years last Thursday, making three men put to death in five days. It seems the state will not achieve its objective of executing eight men in eleven days, but a fourth is scheduled to be put to death later this week.

Is this justice? Arkansas governor, Asa Hutchinson, says it is: “After more than 20 years, justice has prevailed for the family of Stacey Errickson. I reviewed this case thoroughly and determined that clemency should not be granted. I appreciate the patience and long-suffering of the Errickson family through this ordeal. This is a serious and reflective time in our state and it is important for the Errickson family and all Arkansans to know that in this case our laws ended in justice.” Will justice not be satisfied, can an aggrieved family not heal, unless and until a life is taken? Can we only absolve blood by taking more blood?

Aren’t we better than that? Can’t we be better than that?

Here is the roll call of the countries of the world which carried out the most executions in 2016: China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Pakistan, Egypt, North Korea, and the United States. Is this the company we want to keep? Are these the nations whose justice systems we want to emulate? Granted, we do not carry out the nearly the number of executions that China and Iran and Saudi Arabia do, but killing is killing. Killing more or less doesn’t make it better or worse.

One hundred and seven nations of the world have absolutely prohibited capital punishment. Because they understand it is barbaric …

a human agenda

a human agenda

I, along with many EPA staff, are becoming increasing alarmed about the direction of EPA under your leadership. The policies this Administration is advancing are contrary to what the majority of the American people, who pay our salaries, want EPA to accomplish, which are to ensure the air their children breath is safe; the land they live, play, and hunt on to be free of toxic chemicals; and the water they drink, the lakes they swim in, and the rivers they fish in to be clean.”

These are parting words from Mike Cox, a retiring twenty-five year EPA employee, part of a letter sent to EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt.

Clean air is not a liberal agenda; it is a human agenda.

Clean water is not a liberal agenda; it is a human necessity.

A clean environment, an environment as free as possible from toxins harmful to life, human and otherwise, is not a liberal agenda; it is a human agenda.

The Environmental Protection Agency is not the enemy; not the enemy of progress, not the enemy of profitability. The EPA is the friend of the people, the friend of the earth, the friend of our children and grand-children. Only a fool would poison his own family for a short term gain. I pray neither we nor our elected leaders will be foolish …

i was hungry

i was hungry

“I was hungry and you fed me.”

It’s clear.  It’s specific.  It’s indisputable.  Jesus said this is what righteous people do.

The author of the gospel of Matthew places this message at the end of the twenty-fifth chapter, just before  beginning the account of Jesus’ last days — his passion, his arrest, trail, and execution.  These are Jesus’ “final words,” his “parting message,” to his followers.  This is what matters.  It is by this standard that you will be measured.  “I was hungry and you fed me.”

But when did we ever see the Lord hungry and feed him?  Whenever you did this for the least of my brothers and sisters, you did it for me.  That is Jesus’ message.  Clear.  Specific.  Not metaphorical, but quite literal.  You see a hungry person?  Feed her and you feed me.

I was overcome with grief and horror when I read about the plight of the people of the Horn of Africa as I was doing research for last Sunday’s sermon.  Twenty million people in Somalia and South Sudan and Yemen at risk of severe famine.  The equivalent of the entire population of Iowa and Wisconsin and Minnesota and Missouri combined, all starving to death.

If that were indeed true here, we would think it a crisis of apocalyptic proportions.  It is a crisis of apocalyptic proportions!  I could not do nothing: “I was hungry and you fed me.”  If you want to do something, consider a gift to the American Relief Agency for the Horn of Africa (ARAHA), a relief organization based in Minneapolis.  A gift of $150 supplies one family with a relief package that includes a “food basket, nutrition packs for children, and water“ (https://araha.org/drought-relief-2/).