Invited guests and stretched hearts

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All are welcome – that’s the idea anyway.

Imagine that you are invited to a great banquet, a sumptuous feast, a life changing event that you never imagined that you would attend. Maybe you wanted to attend, maybe you swore you would never go to such a thing, but whatever the case, you find yourself getting ready to enter. As you approach, someone greets you, but you notice they are looking you up and down in a way that makes you deeply uncomfortable. You were told that the host of the vent welcomed all people, yet now you are not so sure.

As you proceed, another person stops you and asks for your credentials. Suddenly you loose your emotional footing – you wonder what’s going on. You have your invitation, and it appears to express that you are welcome at any time, so you’re not sure what might be wrong.

While others stream in through the great doors, you and some others are asked to step to the side while these so-called greeters meet. You see them looking over at your ever growing group, and talking. You may feel Continue reading

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Compassion, Not Vengeance. Maybe Some Hope on the Side.

Lately I can’t write – yes, I know that is how I started my last post too. My juices are just not flowing; waiting for the thaw, I suppose.  However, I am trying to get over here and say something every few days.

Today I was in the car listening to Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) response to the President’s weekly message and I found myself getting angry.  It felt like a rhetorical train wreck to me, but maybe that was just my January ennui matched up with a full moon.

Upon returning home and losing any patience I had left trying to figure out my new phone, I decided to check out some online reading. I came across this great reflection about Howard Zinn, on the Commonweal blog. The post links to Zinn’s great post 9/11 essay from the Chronicle of Higher Education and is entitled, Compassion, Not Vengence.

This paragraph in particular, struck me: (remember it was written 15 days after 9/11):

We need to think about the resentment all over the world felt by people who have been the victims of American military action — in Vietnam, in Latin America, in Iraq. We need to think about the anger of Palestinians, who know that the weapons used against them are supplied by the United States. We need to understand how some of those people will go beyond quiet anger to acts of terrorism.

Wow. As if we even understood resentment. Then I think about Susan Collins’ words in the weekly response today. Quite opposite ends of the spectrum, don’t you think?

In the Commonweal post there is also a video of Zinn, which I will post here. Many have written about him and eulogized him this week, but this is the only place that I saw this particular – and particularly good, short video.

Zinn was right. We need compassion not vengeance. We need hope, which is real power. You know who totally got that? Gets it still – Jesus. Think on that for a bit if you will, whether you are a follower of Jesus or not. Maybe you are not a follower – maybe, like me, you admire Jesus a lot, but this following business is hard.

It requires compassion and not vengeance. It requires compassion, courage and hope. 

All of which seem to be in very short supply.