don’t know

I don’t know much about a lot of things.

I don’t know how it is governments can poison their own people (or any people).

I don’t know how it is children are victims of gunshot wounds at the hands of those who are barely out of childhood themselves who are armed with metal death.

I don’t know how as the planet continues to wobble in ways more and more dramatic there is a continued unwillingness to claim culpability for global warming.

I don’t know how it became politically incorrect to share sorrows and questions.

I don’t know.

What I do know is that there is Holy Heart beating in the midst of the pain.

I do know that when people come together to remember who they are the world breathes hope.

I do know that what I can do is “love from the center of who I am” (Eugene Peterson’s voicing of Paul, Romans 12) and trust that in so doing I am naming and claiming the source of life.

I do know that in our flailings we are not alone. We can chose love and resistance to thuggery and we can use the wonderings of our heart to get us out in the world in order that grace might be communal heart beat.

Is there any other way?

What would we live that does not have hope in it?

I don’t know.


My phone rang at three this morning.

On the line was my daughter, sobbing.

Most times that combo platter would strike terror in my heart but not last night.  The tears sprang from joy.  After months of leaving full time work to phone bank and organize for the defeat of the marriage amendment, after spending months with her partner gone to the trenches of voter ID battle, Leah heard the voice of her beloved state speak.

What she heard was that in Minnesota, we don’t countenance legislated barricades to full inclusion.

That is a voice the world and our state sore need to hear.

Tears indeed.  Gratitude and wonder and hope live.

Here in Minnesota, they live.


fear and trembling

While on pilgrimage in Ireland, I fasted from news.

I didn’t log on or pick up newspapers.  It was intentional.

I’m invested in this upcoming election.  Beyond the electing of the President and others running for office (no small thing) are two issues that seem to me to define who we are as Minnesotans in community:  the (anti) marriage amendment and the effort being made to restrict access to voting.

Should Minnesota voters vote “yes” on either issue, the numbers of people who will be uninvited from living in community is staggering.

I cannot comprehend that the love of same gender persons who make family together is so  “dangerous” that Minnesotans must contort our Constitution to legislate oppression.

I cannot comprehend that Minnesotans would willy-nilly make it more difficult for anyone who stirs themselves to care about our public life to make their voice heard at the polls.  Reading the fine print of implications of this voter restriction is essential.  The people affected are the young, those serving our country, the elderly and the disproportionate numbers of non-whites who do not have a photo id.  The statistics concerning past voter fraud are laughable.  There are few cases proven.  There is no sinister band of folk seeking to rig an election through voter fraud.

There does seem to be a move afoot to “protect” the state of Minnesota from those who are not straight Scandinavians.

See what I mean?  I’m concerned about these issues and the impact the vote will have on our sense of who we are together.

Already I’m making plans for where I will be on election night.  It feels immense, this time of casting of votes and defining of values.  I am checking in with my children, each of whom is phone banking and door knocking as the day of casting ballots nears.  I want to be sure they are in good company on election night.

As for me, I’ll be at the home of dear friends.  We will eat jello and share the decisions made by our neighbors.

In the meantime, I’ll remember the ten day news fast as gift and as reminder; the world commences without my heart being pummeled by newspapers and defining votes.

And, I’ll bring my heart and my voice into conversations and prayer for the opening of hearts here in Minnesota.



The questions that walk with me:

How is it politicians can say they want government out of private lives while seeking legislation that invades bedrooms and bodies?  The (anti) marriage amendment and the continued encroachment around choice are an attack on the sovereignty of heart and body.

How is it politicians mouth words about caring about this nation while spending millions to gain office in order to decimate safety nets?

How is it the church is so often silent about justice issues?

How is it the Catholic Bishop and hierarchy create vendetta energy and monies around who is NOT allowed to live married when all families are being shattered by poverty?

What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus?

When will we live compassion?  Why spend so much time and passion around demonizing others?  When will we spend the energies to claim who we are instead of lobbing out incendiary verbiage about others?

How do United Methodists live into wholeness when our polity proclaims barricades to grace?

How do we live the despair and possibilities of these days?

And, who will go with us?



what is (?)

There are dramas aplenty for the living.

Republican candidates are posturing, the President is mingling, protesters are gathering and the polite veneer we put on being community in these days is being fissured but good.

We are what we read and believe, aren’t we?

Charts are flying through cyber space indicating that the economic well-being of many is in worse shape than it has been since before the Great Depression.  Corporations are flourishing while actual earning power is languishing for those who are working.  The number of those who cannot find work is dismally high.

Facts is facts, right?

Except that facts get spun, depending upon ideology.  Whether liberal or conservative, we latch onto the “facts” that support our perspective.  And if those facts get our hearts racing and our sense of umbrage pumping, they are precious indeed (evidently).

I’m aware of the power and privilege of preaching every Sunday.  I’m aware that every time I approach the fear-and-trembling task involved in weaving Holy teachings into the plot of daily living, I’m coming from a perspective molded by which facts I cotton to.

Facts don’t lie, right?

But whose facts?

I was in conversation recently with someone working in a drastically changing profession (so say we all, right?).  The benchmarks for what makes for professional integrity in her field are shifting.  She is doing her work grounded in what she holds to be basic tenets of competency.  Others have tossed off those tenets as expendable.  It is wracking her.

As Wesleyans, we are called to assess our preaching, our living, our giving and our being through the lenses of Scripture, tradition, reason and experience.

Nothing I have encountered through any of those four lenses prop up the gouging of the poor. Nothing.

Nothing I have encountered through any of those four lenses prop up the notion that God and God’s people are to dismiss and seek to silence the crying out of the oppressed.  Nothing.

Which tenets are expendable in the practice of Christianity?

The question is wracking us, but good.

It ought.







repulsive good

“I thank your ladyship for the information concerning the Methodist Preachers. Their doctrines are most repulsive, and strongly tinctured with impertinence and disrespect towards their superiors, in perpetually endeavoring to level all ranks, and do away with all distinctions. It is monstrous to be told that you have a heart as sinful as the common wretches that crawl on the earth. This is highly offensive and insulting, and I cannot but wonder that your ladyship should relish any sentiment so much at variance with high rank and good breeding.”

From a letter by the Duchess of Buckingham to the Countess of Huntingdon. Lady Huntingdon was a supporter of the Wesleyans.

So much has not changed.

I love the snippet of disdain shared above.  It is the response of a woman not too keen on being challenged to live the gospel.  To be lumped into the whole of humanity rather than cosseted by class was offensive and insulting to the dear soul.  She would have none of it.

How different is the response encountered today?

I natter on often through sermons and other writings about the significant challenge it is to live in the ways of Jesus.  Situated as I am in a middle to upper class congregation in the midst of a groaning mission field, a goodly portion of work goes into trying to peel back the walls of the church and our hearts to see the realities lived by our neighbors;  to see those realities, and to know them as our own.

There is push-back.  It’s human and natural to want to distance ourselves from pain, particularly when apprehending that pain means we take it into our bodies as our own.

Living the gospel means we are called to question all things that enslave and keep bound the hopes and bodies of our community.  It means practicing “impertinence” and “disrespect toward superiors” in order to explore how it is systems of government and culture countenance the gouging of the poor.

There are mutterings about the political nature of ministry and sermonic messages but I ask you, how can followers of Jesus “go along” with impertinence in check when the gulf between the rich and the poor widens and the aches of the displaced are so often silenced by derision and class cocoon?

I am blessed to be pastor in a congregation that “allows” such impertinence and challenge.  It isn’t always welcome, and it isn’t always appreciated.  But we know that what binds us is stronger and more powerful than the so-many forces that seek to silence the call to wholeness for all of God’s people.

On this day, I am grateful for a community that sanctions the speaking of the repulsive and saving message of the Christ.


I am trying not to sink into either anger or despair.

At the state and national level, politicians are taking aim at the misguided and seemingly flat-out evil they can readily find in those they have identified as enemies:  elected leaders of the opposing party.

This impasse in sensibilities has huge implications.  We have borrowed from our children’s future in order to buy a short-term fix at the state level.  At the national level, the jousting for ideological bragging rights may result in untold catastrophe.

All this while the chasm between the rich and the poor grows ever more immense.

We are not a “Christian” nation.  Clearly we are not.  Scriptures are a recurring drum- beat calling us to awareness of the plight of our brothers and sisters.  That plight is our business, it is our concern, it is our call to heart action.

What is the best instrument of redistribution?  Many, and rightfully so, insist that government is an inefficient manager of playing-field leveling.  So, consequently, government ought not be trusted with such.

But if not the government, then who and what and how?  Those who insist on downsizing (and the downsized are seniors on fixed incomes, children who didn’t choose to be born into poverty, and people shaken by health crises) have much to say about what isn’t working: government.

The same voices seem to believe that government does work to mandate decisions about intimate life decisions.

Evidently in such thinking, government cannot be trusted with ensuring that each child born in this country has access to fullness of life, but it can be trusted to enter bedrooms and bodies.

I am afeared.  The rhetoric saturating our nation is all about finger pointing.  It’s a great diversionary tactic; it feels good to take aim and fire at another while the tender dream of “justice for all” burns itself into extinction.

There is enough for all.   Economists have named it, and in the unsoundbited portion of our tender souls, we know this to be true.  God has promised ongoing care and nourishment for creation.

So while children are starving in Somalia, elders are wrangling vulnerability in Minnesota, and assets are stockpiled by the increasing few in our nation, we could choose to stop the slashing of he-said-she-said and work with what we have.

We have enough.  How will we see it shared?  We move toward becoming a nation grounded on Christian values when we ask that question and work with what we have – our government, our churches, our hearts – to live into the power of communal care.