Waking Up to Another (and Another) Death in America

From 1992’s Unforgiven.*

It was a week of bullets.

Like last week. Like last year. Like last decade. And the decade before that. Like when a Democrat was president. Like when a Republican was president.

A person about my age,

In his sixties, on the playing fields of youth,

On a bright blue early morning in Virginia,

Started shooting.

And shooting. Were the early reports really true? Was the man with two guns and hundreds of bullets targeting Republicans serving in Congress?

The bright blue bruise of a day had just begun, for on the west coast a solitary man in a UPS uniform entered his former employers in San Francisco and opened fire. He shot and killed three. Wounded two. And then he squeezed the trigger one last time. He won’t be answering any questions about why he took this gruesome action.

Two lone men. Right coast. Left coast. Two “mass shootings.”

And yet not alone.

For no reason other than seeking a city that infrequently makes the national media—and a city I’ve visited—I searched the news about Albuquerque, New Mexico. On June 5, I learned that two men had been shot. Another “mass shooting”—meaning multiple victims. But I could’ve found others wounded or killed elsewhere. In the last 72 hours (I started these words on June 16, 2017), there were 29 mass shootings in America. Continue reading →

Don’t Samaritan Lives Matter?

Luke 17:11-19 – The 21st Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, October 9, 2016

“No one returned to praise God except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:18)

ten-lepersFirst it was ten men in Luke 17:11-19

Then, as Luke continued the account of this healing, the reader’s informed that the ten men had skin diseases. “Skin diseases” is how the Common English Bible translates leproi from the New Testament Greek. Other translations use leper or leprosy. We now know anyone with a “skin disease” could be labeled as a leper during Biblical times. Regardless of accuracy, they were considered unclean; to be avoided, scorned, and isolated. Their outward appearance served as an obvious clue to their inner sins.

Next in the passage, after instructions from Jesus, and after departing to become clean—healed and acceptable to society—one of the ten returned. He was a Samaritan.

How could Jesus do that!

Why would Jesus do that?

Those two phrases would likely describe the first century listener’s reaction to this tale when one of the healed men is revealed as . . .

The enemy.

The hated.

The other. Continue reading →

I Hate You

Luke 14:25-33 – The 16th Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, September 4, 2016

“Whoever comes to me and doesn’t hate father and mother, spouse and children, and brothers and sisters—yes, even one’s own life—cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)

i-hate-you-imageThere is my voice . . .

I hate you! Hear me as a seven-year old kid yelling at my older sister because she did or didn’t do something that seemed unfair.

I hate you! Hear my anguished thoughts about my soon-to-be-former wife (who I no longer loved, honored, or obeyed) as I staggered through a divorce in my mid-twenties.

There are other voices . . .

I hate you! Hear the malicious anger of a white male in 21st century America who is convinced a woman or person of color or gay man received preferential treatment for a new job and/or a raise.

I hate you! Hear the Trump supporter belittle Clinton. Hear the Clinton supporter demean Trump. Hear or read the regular, relentless, roiling, raging voices streaming through flat screen televisions and high-tech phones and tablets, as 24/7 attacks are unleashed on “the other.”

Are you a Christian?

I am.

Oh how I (try, try, try to) follow Jesus. Continue reading →