Friday, June 29, 2018

Our Civil War

photo credit: Washington Times
Make no mistake about it: we are a country at war. Not with some foreign power trying to invade us, although one might make an argument that the Russian interference in our election is evidence that we are under an external threat. No, we are at war with ourselves. And unlike the First Civil War, this one has no geographic boundaries, no Missouri Compromise, and it's not based on economies and slavery. It is ideology and our identity as Americans. 

This week's news is a prime example of just how deep this divide has become. On the one hand, we have the supporters of the president who are rejoicing at U.S. Supreme Court rulings that uphold a travel ban on people from Venezuela, North Korea, Yemen, Syria, Iran, Libya, and Somalia. They are anxiously awaiting the opportunity for the president to nominate another hard-line conservative justice to the U.S. Supreme Court, in the hopes that they might finally overturn the Roe v. Wade abortion ruling, and strip away marriage rights for the lesbians and gays like me, and continue to undermine the Voting Rights Act, which has protected the rights and ballot access to minorities since the 1960s. While there was much rejoicing from Trump voters, those of us on the other side of the political spectrum have been grumbling and growing more and more depressed as we view these same events with alarm and fear of seeing the basic principles of  justice and equality being eroded in our country.

And then there is the flap over the harassment of the president's minions at DC-area restaurants and the dismissal of his press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, from a farm-to-table eatery in Lexington, Virginia. The self-described conservatives complained that these acts were attacks on people out to enjoy a meal. Almost immediately, media outlets were impaneling focus groups and pundits to talk about civility. I can't help but find it ironic that when the leader of the free world refers to African nations as "shithole countries" and has used his Twitter account to attack individual Americans, there were no panels on TV and radio to hash out what it means to be civil. Negative reaction? Yes. But a whole discourse on civility. No. That's just "Trump being Trump." 

This, to me, is reminiscent of the complaints about NFL football players kneeling in protest about police violence. We, the white fandom of the NFL, become offended by their act of defiance as they use their public status to demand justice for black people who feel under threat of being shot by the police.  We are offended by this and say they must stand for an anthem and a flag that represents a nation where they don't feel safe and if they don't do it, our president says they should be deported. Where is the white outrage over police shootings? Where is it over the assault on the free speech rights of football players who are kneeling for those who cannot stand up for themselves? And, again, why no panel and whole hour-long programs on civility when the offensive speech is the president's?

Yesterday, one of my more politically conservative clients was bemoaning the fact that we can't have disagreements with each other any more without it becoming a personal attack, or a food fight. I agree with her. I don't like where all this has gone. I don't like that business owners are called in to ask a person to leave a restaurant because the wait and cook staff are uncomfortable at this person's presence...or that a Colorado baker maintains his religious beliefs prevent him from baking a wedding cake for a gay couple. The increasing tribalism in America is definitely undermining our ability to be civil with one another to the point where we can't even do commerce with one another. And I would like it to stop. I am sure most of us would because it doesn't feel good to be angry at everyone and everything all the time. 

I also want us to stop separating children from their asylum-seeking parents at the border. I would like for us to come up with an immigration bill that recognizes those currently in the country while establishing a saner way for people to seek naturalization status that doesn't take years. I want us to recognize our culpability in the destabilization of these countries in Central America that make innocent people want to flee and come here. I want us to quit using religion to justify treating people like me as second-class citizens. I want a country where citizens in school, work, church, the mall, the movies, concerts, don't have to fear getting shot. I want us to become innovative about energy, and lessen our carbon footprint so that we can slow the destruction of the planet. I want us to go back to the days where those elected to represent us could talk with each other, reason, disagree, and compromise. And I want a president who believes in the United States and realizes that the president often sets the tone and the mood of the country. I believe the political left and the political right would be more civil with each other if those in positions of leadership would follow the wisdom contained in this prayer from the Episcopal Church's baptismal covenant:

"Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons loving your neighbor as yourself? I will with God's help."

We are at war. God, have mercy on us.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Bible: A Book, Not a Baton

A child cries as mom is frisked at border in Texas photo by the

Late Thursday night, I saw on Facebook that a friend had tagged me in a post. In it, we were to play a game of quoting the Bible to defend a position. I was puzzled by this, having missed the news in favor of earning a living and rehearsing with my theater company. Luckily, she had included a video clip of Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions smirking and quoting the first few lines from The Letter to the Romans, Chapter 13: 

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God.--Romans 13:1

This was to justify the administration's policy of separating children from their parents as they cross from Mexico into Texas in search of a better life in the United States free from the gang violence that forced them to flee. Those gangs, by the way, such as MS-13? They began in the Latinx communities in Los Angeles. We deported the gang members back to their countries of origin, and those gang members took their well-honed gang terror to their native lands thus creating this exodus of people running to the U.S. border for safety. Once upon a time, we promised hope to all those "tired and huddled masses yearning to breathe free." Apparently with this administration, hope has an asterisk.

As I pointed out to my friend, and therefore all her friends, the practice of proof texting the Bible (lifting a passage out of context to make a political, social, economic, etc. point) is a really bad idea, especially if you aren't someone who has spent the time studying Scripture and wrestling with its contents. There are those who do that. You can usually find them at seminaries or on college campuses...and--dear me--even sometimes in the pulpit! And what most knowledgeable people will tell you is that the Bible is chock full of passages that are mysteriously slipped in that seemingly have no place; thus making it quite possible that another party added these lines into the script after the fact because that party had a score to settle or some other self-interested idea.  In fact, this line to support the authority of government as "God given" is noted in the Harper-Collins Study Bible as very likely one of those add-ons. Why would Paul stick that in after he just finished a whole statement where he made the case for what makes a good Christian, which comes down to "love God and love your neighbor as yourself"? 

It's fascinating, and very infuriating, that the hacks of this administration will quote Scripture for every part of the Bible except the Gospels. Perhaps they might want to check out what Jesus, who is the Christ where we get the word “Christian,” had to say about how we are to treat the poor, the children, the widows, the prisoners:

‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’ 

Of course, that is a bit wordy, and doesn’t make for a neat 10-second sound bite. It also seems to fly in the face of what this administration believes.

Maybe I should break this down into something a little easier to comprehend: the policy of separating children from their parents and telling mothers that they are taking their kids “to the showers” (history buffs, does that make your skin crawl?!?!) is abhorrent, evil, and un-Christian. It would be “better for us to have a great millstone tied around our necks and be drowned” than to continue with this way of treating traumatized and frightened people coming into our country. (Matthew 18:6)

What would Jesus do? Not what we’re doing!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Pentecost and the Presiding Bishop

The Most Reverend Michael B. Curry preaching. Photo: BBC 

The Holy Spirit is on fire, baby, in the form of a wedding sermon that shook up the stodgy ol' Church of England but good.

There have been countless articles, and critiques, of our Episcopal Church's Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and his message that he preached at the wedding of England's Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle's wedding in St. George's chapel at Windsor. I don't plan to do any more analysis of the brilliance he brought with his standard message of "God is Love, and Love can change the world!" If you listen to ++Michael Curry enough, you know that he will take you on a journey and the path will always lead back to his main, constant, absolute point: we are the products of a loving, life-giving, liberating God who intends for us to make Love be the cornerstone of our lives and this world. Always.

I could also talk about the significance of having our Presiding Bishop, an African-American, preaching before the royalty and upper crust of a one-time colonial empire which had enslaved his ancestors...and those of the bride's as well. Of course, ++Curry did bring up slavery in his sermon and did note that the slaves, in the midst of their pain and suffering, knew that Love would set them free because "There is a balm in Gilead that makes the wounded whole. There is a balm in Gilead that heals the sin sick soul." Note: these are lyrics of a spiritual and those of us who are big fans of our PB know he will pull out that quote at some point if given the opportunity. I had to laugh when the Diocese of Fort Worth began circulating on Facebook a Michael Curry Bingo Card because we all know some of his trademark images and lines and we know them so well because they resonate (or should resonate) as true to the message of Jesus.

It certainly was on my mind that a real significance, and power, of Bishop Curry preaching at the royal wedding is the posture of the Episcopal Church within the broader Anglican Communion. We are in something like a "time out." We were sent to our room without any supper by the primates of the Anglican Communion in January, 2016, because of the ongoing angst about our church's decision to honor and celebrate same-sex couples who wish to be married in the church. The Archbishop of Canterbury, both present and the former, have balked at allowing marriage rites for same-sex couples in the CoE. And then there are all the African countries whose bishops are tacitly, if not publicly, supporting governments that crack down on queers and put them in jail. So, to then allow our Presiding Bishop to have the pulpit at such a public and watched event all over England and the world shall I say this? Hmmm...Perfect.

And it was perfect. Because what Bishop Curry did was bring to the ceremony the infectious power of God's love which under girds all the human emotion of love that brought the prince and this biracial American woman together. It was perfect because he didn't hold back from raising his voice in jubilation about Love. It was perfect because there were those faces in the crowd who were stone cold to this style of preaching sitting next to people who were smiling and enjoying a taste of what it means to be an Episcopalian in America. I had to laugh because I could see how desperately our very animated Presiding Bishop wanted to get out from behind that lectern and be right there in the congregation as he proclaimed Love over and over again. As he brought up the discovery of fire and how that changed civilization, I could sense that the fire fueling him in this moment was the same Spirit that got into the apostles on Pentecost and had them all babbling in languages they didn't know but were reaching the ears of those desperate to hear a message of hope and Good News. And he was bringing that message to the watching world and to people all over who are living in edgy and uncertain times due to the distinct lack of Love in our politics.

Did Curry succeed? Well, they did a parody of him on Saturday Night Live that night. And, whether they knew it or not, even by making a joke of his repetitious use of the word "Love," they still were giving a nod to Curry's theme of the redemptive power of God's love. And that is a success, in my opinion. It might have been for yucks, but if it caught the comedians attention...that's a point for ++Curry and a score for Jesus.

If you are ever within even a day's drive of a place where PB Michael Curry is preaching, you really should make it a point to go. In the words of the old Dunkin' Donuts slogan: he's worth the trip!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Something is Terribly Wrong: a Good Friday sermon

photo Associated Press

Something is terribly wrong here.

Jesus, the man who has healed and cared for the sick, taught and preached a message of love to people living under the oppression of the Roman regime, a man who prodded the powerful to remember that they are serving God and not the letter of the law, hangs rejected and mocked on a cross to die. He was betrayed by one of his own. He was abandoned by most of his friends. He endured what was basically a trial by the kangaroo court and found guilty of the crime of being an upstart and one who dared to speak truth to the worldly powers of his day.

Jesus knew his entry into Jerusalem was going to cause a stir. In an act of defiance and highlighting the disparity of the prevailing power structure, he came down from the Mount of Olives into Jerusalem riding on a donkey. And while throngs gathered to greet him with palm branches and shouts of “Hosanna in the highest,” the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate, and his army were riding into Jerusalem on horses in a show of military might.
The lines are drawn and the contrasting images are clear.  
Let the showdown begin.

While in Jerusalem, Jesus enters the temple and sees that it has ceased to be about praising the glory of God the Father and instead has become in worship of God the Barter. This is the Wall Street of Jerusalem. In one of those few moments where we see Jesus exhibit the very human emotion of anger, he is flipping over tables and chasing out the money changers. It’s not hard to imagine that those most concerned with commerce were alarmed and resentful of what he did, and might want to put an end to this preacher and his “Get back to God” message.

The religious authorities also were not too keen on what Jesus had to say either. They would come to him and challenge him:
“By what authority are you doing these things?”
And Jesus, imbued with Godly wisdom, uses his rabbinic knowledge to turn the tables on them. The Evangelist Mark captures the exchange in this way with Jesus posing a question of his own,
 ‘Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin? Answer me.’ They argued with one another, ‘If we say, “From heaven”, he will say, “Why then did you not believe him?” But shall we say, “Of human origin”?’—they were afraid of the crowd, for all regarded John as truly a prophet. So they answered Jesus, ‘We do not know.’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.’(Mark 11:30-33)

Now he has shown the religious leaders to be hypocrites, and offended their place of power and importance. Risky business indeed. In no time, he has made enemies of the religious, political and economic powerful in Jerusalem.
Jesus was encouraging people to return to the premise that God, who is Love, should be the center of praise and the basis for how they lived, moved and had their being.

Love would free them from the bondage of sin and death.
Love would heal them and give them strength.
Love would empower them to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.
Love would bring them life!

And so for these offenses…Jesus is nailed to a cross to die because he was calling for a new way. They mocked him. They pierced his side. They left him to die. He had challenged the religious, political, and economic status quo. And they didn’t like it. At. All.
As our presiding bishop noted in his sermon at this winter’s revival at Honey Creek, “Always be careful when religious, political, and economic interests come together. It was trouble in the First Century, and it’s trouble today.”

 If we think back to Ash Wednesday of this year, we might recall the image of a woman named Michelle. We don’t know Michelle’s last name. But we know the anguish on her face. We recognize the black ash cross prominently displayed on her forehead. She is holding another woman, and they are in shock and horror as they await word of what had happened to their children attending Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. It was a powerful photo and came to symbolize the tragedy that unfolded in that community. It was a stark reminder that the idea of “we are dust and to dust we shall return” is a literal truth and can come when we least expect it and in ways to terrible to contemplate. It is the same pain so many mothers throughout America, across racial and ethnic lines, have found themselves having to endure after learning that their children have been victims in a mass shooting. We have witnessed their suffering so many times now that one could almost become numb to it.

I imagine that the Blessed Virgin knows their pain. She has been there, standing hopelessly, watching her son in agony as he seeks comfort in the words of Psalm 22. As Mary, and the other women, stood at the foot of the cross more than two-thousand years ago, they might have looked broken and devastated…felt their knees buckling under the enormity of their grief. Holding each other close, the women stare up at the cross and wail, “Something is terribly wrong here!”

But here is the “Good News” and the reason we can call such a long and terrible day, “Good Friday.” As God has done many times before, what was meant for bad, God will redeem and make it good. Love may be patient, and kind, according to St. Paul (1Corinthians 13) but it’s also stubborn and will not be so easily vanquished.
Love will have the last word…both with the resurrection of Jesus and even in post-Parkland America.

So how do we live into the call to love more deeply and do the heavy lifting so that the kingdom of God is on earth as it is in heaven in light of such difficult and troubling times?

Jesus’ death…as terrible and gruesome as it was…would be a transformational moment for the women and men who had been his disciples. Despite their fears, Joseph and Nicodemus would give Jesus a proper Jewish burial. Mary would visit his tomb and discover him resurrected. The resurrection did give the disciples, who were frightened and worried that the Romans were going to kill them next, the courage to be bold and outspoken…taking up Jesus’ mantle of preaching Love. His death upon the cross for them, as for us, is not just a terrible and awful death; it is the gateway to a bigger, bolder, and brighter life. Even now…some two thousand years later…Jesus’ act of selfless love is calling us into our own version of the Jerusalem movement to see that when something in our world is terribly wrong, it is our mission to make it right...even at the risk of being at odds with the status quo.

This is the way that Love conquers death.
This is how Love makes things new.
This is how Love is the way of life.
Choose life.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Their Jerusalem Moment

I had a thought as I woke up this morning, the day when, once again, people will be taking to the streets for the March for Our Lives:

This Sunday, Christians the world over will be marking Palm Sunday. It is the day that we celebrate Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem for his final showdown with the ruling Roman oppressors. Some theologians have characterized this moment as an act of defiance and protest by Jesus. He entered the city of Jerusalem on a donkey, a show of humility, while the Romans and Governor Pontius Pilate rode in on horses in a show of might at the opposite end of the city.

Today, we will participate in and bear witness to a march led by teenagers, many of whom are not yet old enough to vote for or against the political leadership in this country that has allowed for such porous gun laws that make mass murders possible.

They will not be riding into Washington, or other cities, on donkeys. There will be no palm branches strewn in the streets in front of them. And yet, this is an act of defiance and to raise up the needs of those who have suffered for too long with the threats of death by military-style assault weapons in the hands of civilians. And at the DC march, the teenagers have turned away the powerful who have almost a pathological need to be "seen" at these events in favor of those who must be heard: teens and young adults raised in what they call "the Mass Shooting Generation."

Think about it: today's sixteen and seventeen year old was not alive at the time of September 11th; hence they have never known a world where people could pick up and drop off at the airport curb without harassment from police. They have never known flying where there weren't TSA agents. They don't remember the days where you didn't have to take off half your clothing just to go through a metal detector or store your shampoo in a zip lock bag in tiny travel-size bottles. They were all born after the 1999 shooting at Columbine. They have had to do fire drills AND active shooter drills. They have watched countless shootings happen at shopping malls, movie theaters, concerts, night clubs, schools. And all the while, they have watched adults try to reason their way out of taking any action while those who have cried out for stricter gun control have been made to accept that their political leaders will never do anything because they fear the NRA more than they do the voters. We have been too complacent. And our complacency has made us appear complicit with this acceptance of body counts. In other words, these teens have grown up in a fear-filled world; therefore, they do not fear standing up for their lives in hopes that we might end this insanity.

These teens have now called B.S. to all of it. I couldn't agree more.

This is their Jerusalem moment. And I say, "Hosanna in the highest!"

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Taking Up The Cross and a Cause

He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.--Mark 8:34

It was one week after the Valentine's Ash Wednesday massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and the word had been spreading far and wide throughout Tallahassee: come to the state Capitol and show the students that we are going to fight for their right to go to their public school and not be mowed down by a semi-automatic weapon. Our school board and school superintendent thought this rally was important enough that they granted excused absences to any student wishing to attend. Marches organized on both the Florida State and Florida A&M University campuses, approaching the Capitol from south and the north sides. And then there were just the ordinary, work-a-day folks like me, who laid aside whatever was on the day's agenda to make this event the priority.

I don't have kids. I have never wanted to have kids of my own. The "biological clock" that I, as a woman, supposedly have built into my system must have broken back when I was a teenager because I haven't felt less feminine or upset that I didn't experience pregnancy and birth and then the responsibility of raising a child. All that said, I still have a tender spot in my heart for children. I delight in their successes (often shared with me by their proud parents), and I feel empathy for them when the world knocks them around because I remember that for my youth. But I never had to practice what to do in the event of an active shooter entering my school. And I never had to worry about someone wielding an AR-15 or other weapon firing multiple high-powered shots at me and my peers. Today's children are facing greater dangers than I ever did. And it's not OK.

So, just as I have done for Black Lives Matter, and standing up for Muslims in the face of a travel ban, and joining in silent peaceful protest for indigenous people fighting the Dakota Access pipeline, I went to the state Capitol not for me and my kind, but for those who are under attack: kids in public schools.

And what an experience! I arrived about ten minutes after the appointed gathering time of 11am. Already, there were probably about 300 people at the state Capitol, many of them teenagers from the local schools. I felt my heart swell with love and pride in these kids as they led chants of "We Want Change!" and "Vote Them Out!" Their voices were clear and loud and there was an urgency to their calls for action. The crowd kept growing. More people, young and old, and even a man in a WWII veteran baseball cap being pushed in a wheelchair carefully made his way through the growing throng of people. By the time the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School arrived, there were more than 3,000 people crammed into the area in front of the Old State Capitol. It was amazing. The crowd was so large that the PA system they were using wasn't quite powerful enough for the people standing out in Monroe Street to hear the speakers. But it didn't matter. The speeches weren't "the thing"; it was the presence, the witness, and the commitment to the Parkland students that we, the grown-ups, won't let them down again.

Because we have let them down before. As I said, we have accepted a society where the children of today must not only practice how to leave the building during a fire drill, but must know what to do in an active shooter situation. Really? Shouldn't we be about making sure that there are no active shooter situations? Is there a reason that we have tolerated the expansion of the gun culture?

One day after the rally in Tallahassee, and a follow-up town hall on CNN, the National Rifle Association was peddling its agenda of fear and horror to conservative voters at the CPAC meeting. NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch actually said that the mainstream media, or what she called the "legacy" media, enjoy mass shootings because it's a ratings booster to show "sobbing white mothers." NRA leader Wayne LaPierre tried to feed into the paranoia that the Democratic Party is attempting to use a "new European socialist" approach to taking away everyone's guns. Some NRA members have decided to make death threats against the kids from Parkland, FL, who are speaking out about the shooting at their school. How ugly can you get?

But the voices of the children are vibrating at a frequency much higher than what we've seen before. Corporate America, which had been offering all kinds of membership benefits to people who flashed their NRA card, have started dropping the gun enthusiasts like the hot potatoes that they are. Politicians, refusing to cut loose from their NRA overlords, are feeling the pressure from voters in ways they are not used to experiencing. They're hearing from teens, parents, grandparents. But they are also hearing from the childless people such as me. Because this issue is bigger than me, or any one individual. This is a collective fight for the restoration of sanity to our country. I will pick up that cross and carry it into the streets, and into the voting booth this fall. 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Ash Wednesday: Mortality Too Close to the Surface

I was going to write a post yesterday noting that Ash Wednesday this year landed on Valentine's Day and my 50th Birthday. Fifty--the Jubilee Year--a year to celebrate freedom and returning to one's roots.

But I made the mistake of looking at Facebook. And there was the live stream from one of the south Florida TV stations doing coverage of the 18th shooting at a school in the United States, this time in Broward County at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. 

Two dead. Then seven. Finally, the number climbed to seventeen. The shooter, a 19 year-old former student, was captured after initially eluding police. The details about his life and what was known, and not known, about him are coming to light and will continue to surface over the next several days.

And then, the story will fade from the headlines. People won't be talking about it. News crews will leave Parkland, Florida. Nothing will change.

One of the most striking images I saw from Parkland was that of a parent holding her teenager, arm around her, rushing her away from the scene with the unmistakable black ash of a cross on the mom's forehead. 

Wow. That's right: it was Ash Wednesday. "Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return." But do we really believe that a child at 14, 15, 16 years old or even an otherwise healthy thirty-something year old adult are going to return to the dust? Does a parent really think that kissing their child good-bye and sending them off to school is akin to sending them to a war zone? 

This sobering thought was on my mind for the rest of the day and into my own trip to an Ash Wednesday service. I couldn't stop thinking about the image of that mom, the terror that must have filled the hearts of both the kids and the adults. Tears came to my eyes as I watched a family go forward for the imposition of ashes. As the rector traced the sign of the cross on the forehead of the toddler, it felt like a punch to my gut. I looked at that and thought, "Newtown." 

Ash Wednesday is the beginning of a 40-day journey into self-examination and reflection. And while I can't do the spiritual work of anyone other than myself, it seems we are dying--literally--to examine our political leaders inability to do anything to address the wide-spread availability of semi-automatic weapons and reflect on whether we want something different. 

The Broward County Sheriff, the Governor, and several politicians described Wednesday's massacre as "evil." I agree. And a mentally-disturbed person armed with a semi-automatic weapon is more dangerous than a mentally-disturbed person who is unarmed. Refusing to acknowledge and address the issue of guns is like Peter in the courtyard pretending he doesn't know Jesus in those hours before his execution. The good news about Peter's betrayal is that he felt remorse and he had the opportunity to undo his denial by affirming his love for the risen Jesus. Perhaps this could be something for our political leaders to contemplate while they are down on their knees praying for the victims of gun violence. Maybe if they listen closely they'll hear a call to stand for something other than the money they receive from the NRA.

Lent would be as good a time as any for lawmakers to change their ways and take this issue seriously.