Wednesday, February 22, 2006

What Ever Happened to Ferocity About Veracity?

There's a little article on page A-ll of today's Kansas City Star. I'd link it for you, but it isn't on the Star website. The article isn't "breaking news," apparently. It's short, though, so I'll just retype it:

"WASHINGTON--Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Tuesday that the Pentagon was reviewing its practice of paying to plant stories in Iraq, withdrawing his earlier statement that it had been stopped. Rumsfeld told reporters he was mistaken in the earlier assertion. 'I don't have knowledge as to whether it's been stopped,' Rumsfeld said at a Pentagon news briefing. 'I do have knowledge it was put under review. I was correctly informed. And I just misstated the facts.'"

Now, call me sensitive, but I think if you are "correctly informed" about something, and you say something else, then you are not "mistaken." You are choosing not to tell the truth.

I suppose I should be pleased that Rumsfeld is willing to say right up front that he "misstated the facts." But it seems to me to be the height of hubris to just throw that out there, as if it is okay.

But it's not Rumsfeld who dissappoints me. To be honest (hey--why not?), I now expect this sort of bold assertion of the untruth. It's a news media which buries the story on page A-11, and a public which will be unmoved by the story, if they happen to read it, who worry me. Shouldn't the fourth estate challenge this sort of, well, lying? And shouldn't the citizens of a democracy expect more of their officials?

I'm still idealistic enough to want my leaders to tell me the truth--and to expect some outrage when they "misstate the facts." I'm still idealistic enough to believe that someone will stand up and declare that the emperor isn't wearing any clothes--even when he's wearing a borrowed flight suit.

Yeah, I wrote a letter. Hopefully a few other people did too. And hopefully a new day will dawn--a day full of grace, as the hymn goes--and maybe even the truth.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Hi Mom

My mother says she read my blog. So just in case she's reading it again--Hi Mom. I love you.

Christian Left...Behind?

On NPR today, a guy was talking about William Jennings Bryan. He was explaining that when Bryan was in congress, Christians were experiencing a political revival, much like the one being experienced today.

The difference was, though, that at that time, political power was being wielded by those on the Christian Left. It was the time of the social gospel, of a religious voice which spoke of care for the poor and fair treatment of all of our neighbors. (Wonder where they got that stuff...)

The guy on NPR drew the obvious distinction between those days and ours, and then said about today, "The Christian Left is practically nonexistent."

I imagine it seems that way. And it is hard in these days of color reduction ("I'm blue; you're red") to want to carve out our side of the political spectrum.

A spectrum--what a novel idea! Or a very bad mixed metaphor--you make the call.

But I am a proud member of the Christian Left. I hope we're not irrelevant, and I know we're not "practically nonexistent," though I can imagine why one might think so. It's the only place I can think of to be, as a person trying to follow Jesus, though messing that up pretty badly some days.

Here I stand, I guess. I can do no other.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Fun with Deuterocanonical Works

I know what you're thinking--"Donna, how can deuterocanonical--or apocryphal--texts be great fun for us all?"

We've been studying them in our adult ed class (held at Andy's church--see how it all just comes around). We've been reading and remarking on a book called Lost Scriptures--Books that Did Not Make It into the New Testament. The last text we're looking at is called The Didache. It's a text from (probably) the very early first century, filled with teachings (that's what didache means, for the non-Greeky folks among us). If you want to read it, go here:

The teachings run the gamut, pulled mainly from canonical--or Bible--sources. Most of the teachings are divided into the two sections which discuss "the path of life" and "the path of death."

I rather like The Didache, because it pulls together a lot of the best teachings of Christ and of his early church. The part that really hit me, though, on this morning after the State of the Union address, is the first description of "the path of death." I actually made a sound (heard only by my dogs, fortunately), when I read this: "It is filled with persecutors of the good...who turn their backs on the needy, oppress the afflicted, and support the wealthy."

This is, of course, just good old Jesus didache. But it sure seems to indict a lot of our public officials, especially those with most of the power in the state and nation in which I live. Last night I heard the president talk about how well we're doing as a nation. Then he outlined some new "initiatives." But both the "progress" we're making and the directions in which we're heading seem to me to be in direct violation of the great Jesus didache I'm reading this morning.

One quick example: health savings accounts, which Mr. Bush touted last night. These are a really great idea for healthy people with money. Last time I checked, those weren't the folks who most desperately needed health care. With a health savings account, you'll spend less on insurance, as long as you don't need it. If you do need it, you'll pay a whopper of a deduction, and woe to you if what you've got is chronic or requires hospitalization. I'm not sure how this is helping out the folks who really need help. The experts agree that it won't help stem health care costs.

So, okay, these realizations aren't exactly the dictionary definition of "fun." In fact, the oppression of the needy and afflicted, for the express purpose of supporting the wealthy, is anything but fun (at least for the former group--the latter are doing quite nicely, thank you very much).

But loving Jesus is fun. And taking his "moral values" into our hearts and our lives is fun, even when it causes us to do without so that others might do with. I'm thrilled to be part of a very fun congregation that gets all of this, and doesn't mind me nattering on about it. In fact, some of them natter right along.

The Jesus didache will win in the end. I hope we'll all have fun getting there. There's a lot of work to do, but that can be fun too.