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mia or barry?

mia or barry?

Mia Hamm and the 1999 World Cup Trophy

On our way home to Iowa from our vacation in Maine, we stayed with a friend in Oneonta, New York, and visited the National Soccer Hall of Fame. On August 26, Mia Hamm and Julie Foudy will be honored there as 2007 inductees. Here’s hoping that Barry Bonds, the new “home run king” of baseball, will not merit such an honor in nearby Cooperstown …

Let’s see, Mia or Barry?

One an athlete of character, intensity, passion, compassion, humility, generosity, and unselfishness. The other almost certainly a cheater.

One a player of America’s game, discrediting the game, discounting his teammates, and casting a long shadow over a hallowed record. The other a player of the world’s game, doing more than any other single individual to inspire a new generation of girls (and boys) to a love for that game, for sport itself, and for joy of being team.

One taking the fun out of the game. The other reminding us that fun is what games are supposed to be about!

the desire to please you

the desire to please you

A prayer from Thomas Merton:

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me, I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore, I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

I had never seen this prayer quoted before, but now I have “happened” upon it twice in three weeks! Three weeks ago, I used it in my eulogy for a ninety-two year-old retired music teacher and unretired Christian who had it cut and pasted into the front cover of his Bible. And today I read it again quoted as an afterword to a book entitled Listening Hearts, a book about discerning the call of God and the role of community in discerning call and supporting ministry.

It is a wonderfully humble and wonderfully hopeful prayer!

But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.

There is much that we do not know and much that we will never know. And it is true that even when we want more than anything else to do what God wants, we may struggle with knowing just what that is or how to do it. But if wanting itself matters … If it is our passion itself that pleases God … If it is our love itself that honors God … May it be so! And may we love God with all our heart minds and strength!

And may we walk side by side with our Christian sisters and brothers with this prayer on our lips, because if we do, if we come to our common Christian enterprise with this kind of humility, with this kind of passion, with this kind of trust, there will be little to drive us apart, and much to hold us together. I do not stand over against you or your values or your opinions, but with you in our common desire to please God, as we acknowledge to ourselves and to each other that even in our zeal we are not always certain of the way!

obama: the role of faith in political conversation

obama: the role of faith in political conversation

Tolerance and passionate faith are not mutually exclusive. In fact, I believe the opposite is true. Passionate believers, genuine believers, are more tolerant people, because they understand how tolerant God has been with them!

It is refreshing to hear Sen. Barack Obama, a Christian and a member of the United Church of Christ, speak about his faith and its role in framing his political agenda … and his response to folks who may not share his political agenda. He is not apologetic about his faith. Neither is he dismissive of other people’s faith.

He is right. We need a deeper, fuller conversation about religion in this nation, about the role of faith in shaping our values … not slogans and sound bites and accusations, but a conversation, a conversation that includes both honest sharing and respectful listening.

Read this excerpt from his keynote address at Pentecost 2006, sponsored by Call to Renewal, a movement affiliated with the Sojourners Community in Washington D.C. Or read the entire address: Keynote Address: Sen. Barack Obama.

A few days after I won the Democratic nomination in my U.S. Senate race, I received an email from a doctor at the University of Chicago Medical School that said the following:

“Congratulations on your overwhelming and inspiring primary win. I was happy to vote for you, and I will tell you that I am seriously considering voting for you in the general election. I write to express my concerns that may, in the end, prevent me from supporting you.”

The doctor described himself as a Christian who understood his commitments to be “totalizing.” His faith led him to a strong opposition to abortion and gay marriage, although he said that his faith also led him to question the idolatry of the free market and quick resort to militarism that seemed to characterize much of President Bush’s foreign policy.

But the reason the doctor was considering not voting for me was not simply my position on abortion. Rather, he had read an entry that my campaign had posted on my Web site, which suggested that I would fight “right wing ideologues who want to take away a woman’s right to choose.” He went on to write:

“I sense that you have a strong sense of justice … and I also sense that you are a fair-minded person with a high regard for reason … Whatever your convictions, if you truly believe that those who oppose abortion are all ideologues driven by perverse desires to inflict suffering on women, then you, in my judgment, are not fair-minded. … You know that we enter times that are fraught with possibilities for good and for harm, times when we are struggling to make sense of a common polity in the context of plurality, when we are unsure of what grounds we have for making any claims that involve others … I do not ask at this point that you oppose abortion, only that you speak about this issue in fair-minded words.”

I checked my Web site and found the offending words. My staff had written them to summarize my pro-choice position during the Democratic primary, at a time when some of my opponents were questioning my commitment to protect Roe v. Wade.

Re-reading the doctor’s letter, though, I felt a pang of shame. It is people like him who are looking for a deeper, fuller conversation about religion in this country. They may not change their positions, but they are willing to listen and learn from those who are willing to speak in reasonable terms – those who know of the central and awesome place that God holds in the lives of so many, and who refuse to treat faith as simply another political issue with which to score points.

I wrote back to the doctor and thanked him for his advice. The next day, I circulated the email to my staff and changed the language on my website to state in clear but simple terms my pro-choice position. And that night, before I went to bed, I said a prayer of my own – a prayer that I might extend the same presumption of good faith to others that the doctor had extended to me.

faith without passion?

faith without passion?

Faith without passion …

… is like playing soccer without the ball. You may go through all the motions, but you don’t really accomplish anything and it’s not much fun!

Faith without passion …

… is like marriage without love. All form and no substance. It may serve a purpose — for maintaining some kind of social stability and keeping people out of trouble, but has no depth or intimacy or life … or satisfaction.

Faith without passion …

… is demeaning to God. If God is God — the one whose breath is the source of life, whose power and wisdom and glory are beyond imagination, whose grace and mercy and love seek and save and lift up a wandering and broken humanity — how can we relate to this God with indifference, with a shrug of the shoulders or a nod of acknowledgment … or a lukewarm faith?

Faith without passion …

… is an oxymoron, because faith is passion!

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