Thursday, June 23, 2022
Understandably, some have asked why it is that preachers like me are so vexed by Supreme Court decisions--like this week's rulings expanding access to guns and restricting rights to abortion and reproductive health. "Why can't ministers leave politics to the politicians?" they ask. "Take care of spirituality, and leave the political issues alone. It just gets so divisive. And I don't come to church for that."
A couple of thoughts today:
1. Spirituality explores vitality and meaning, the wholeness of human being and human community. There's just no reasonable way to divorce it from political concerns and realities. The issue of guns and weapons in American life is a case in point. In our attachment to violence as the means of safety and wellbeing, we have traumatized ourselves and compromised community trust across the country. This isn't a partisan issue: it's a human, communal, and (yes) political one.
When I preach on Sunday mornings or counsel parishioners in my office or their homes, I now face a community stressed and streched to the breaking point--by the possiblity that the next school massacre will be at their kids' school, by the reality that every second neighbor at the mall is packing a piece, by the grim and bloody news from Buffalo and Uvalde and Las Vegas and Orlando and on and on and on. Without any meaningful efforts to end the madness. Does this wear people down? Does it affect the spirit of a community? Does it stress families and marriages and friendships and neighborhoods? You bet it does. Spirituality suffers.
2. What I'm finding especially maddening this week, with today's ruling on guns and the inevitable ruling on abortion to follow, is the plain truth of it all. This is not--if it once was--an independent Court doing its own independent work in consideration of weighty moral and legislative concerns. This is now a very determinedly Right Wing Court--put together by Right Wing leaders like Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Donald Trump, to enact (without doubt and without question) the Right Wing agenda.
Does anyone out there (reasonably) disagree? Does anyone out there (reasonably) believe that these 6-3 decisions reflect an independent judicial branch, considering all sides of issues, weighing what's truly best and constitutional, and discerning (according to their duty and calling) the constitutionality of matters before them?
3. What I'm learning about the Second Amendment this summer is that it was in a very powerful and direct way a response to the South's commitment to perpetuating slavery and using armed militias as an active tool to prevent uprisings and liberation movements among free and enslaved Blacks. (See The Second: Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal America, by Carol Anderson) In order to commit to the union of states, Southern white landowners insisted on arming and engaging militias to quell any hint of uprising or rebellion. They knew--because it was happening--that the enslaved would eventually join together, organize and turn toward rebellion and freedom. And they also knew that their enormous privilege--and economic power--was built around the institution of bondage. The Second Amendment was designed, even in compromise, to assuage their fears. To enforce racism.
It's a devastating truth, this. And it reminds us that what's happening in this week's ruling--and in Buffalo, and in Uvalde, and in the next place, and the place after that--is designed to make us fearful. It's designed to keep us fighting one another. It's designed to make us wary of one another. That's how this Right Wing vision of America works. If we're so wary of one another, so traumatized that we don't do much except buy stuff...they've won. If we're so weary of the political madness, if we're so demoralized by the way a small minority controls and manipulates power at the highest levels that we don't engage in the political process...they've won. It's just about buying the next car, betting on the next Super Bowl, etc.
And that's why all this is about spirituality. Spirituality explores vitality and meaning. And these decisions are ripping hard at the vitality of our American life, the meaning of our democratic project. That's hurting all of us. And those of us committed to spiritual life, and spiritual communities, have a lot of hard work to do. To bind up the broken hearts. To repair the tattered fabric. To reawaken the spirituality of a people.
Friday, June 17, 2022
Tuesday, June 14, 2022
June 14, 2022
Friends and siblings,
Abortion should be safe, legal and accessible. One in four women of reproductive age will have an abortion at some point; it's been an essential right for women in this country for 50 years. It's a critical piece of promoting reproductive health and family choice, and encouraging well-being for women, children and the partners who love them. So there is no doubt. Abortion should continue to be safe, legal and accessible in this country. Full stop.
Over the next couple of weeks, there's every reason to expect that the Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade, and provide a road map for criminalizing abortion in many states. It's important to note, for you and me and our families here, that New Hampshire is not one of those states. There is work to be done here--a lot of work--to protect reproductive health and the right to a safe abortion; but New Hampshire is not one of the states that will quickly move to ban all abortions. That message is critically important for all of us to understand and share. Women will still be able to seek, find and receive the care they need and deserve in this state.
Sunday, June 5, 2022
Monday, May 30, 2022
Sunday, May 29, 2022
Friday, May 27, 2022
People of courage, kindness and defiant hope gathered today on the lawn at Sig Sauer's corporate headquarters, in Newington, NH, to call on weapons manufacturers to stop the madness. Sig Sauer's own assault rifle was used in the mass shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando in 2016--killing 49 souls, most of whom were young people out dancing and enjoying their friends. Similiar rifles were used this month in Buffalo and South Texas, bringing death and heartbreak to communities of color, schools and families who will never be the same.
|The Rev. Sarah Rockwell, St. Andrew's, Manchester|
We are so very aware that vigils and protests are just a small part of the work ahead. We must translate energy and anger into political power--making a case to folks from all kinds of backgrounds and political parties that gun control is smart, democratic and right for our kids and neighbors. "A New Imagination," as Jon Bromley puts it, "For What is Possible."
|Jon Bromley & Dennis Drogseth|
|Allison from First Parish, Dover|
|The Rev. Hank from Milford|
|Chuck Hotchkiss, GSOP and Community Church|
In "Foster's Daily Democrat" this week, John Shea names the crisis: "In a world full of problems, we may be losing sight of the most critical among them. The most pressing crisis today in the United States is not the pandemic, inflation, or the abortion divide. It is the growing number of guns and increasing violence in our country – at a time when too many people are hurting in too many ways, too many people are filled with too much hate, and our nation’s democracy is arguably as factious and fragile as it’s ever been." How in the world do 300 million weapons--under our beds, in our closets, in our pockets--how do they make us more trusting, more engaged, more creative? There's just no way. Those weapons are designed to divide us, to make us mean and to drive us from one another. We cannot let that happen!