Saturday, April 21, 2018

N. KOREA AND U.S. TALKING.. OUT OF MORAL STRENGTH AND/OR WEAKNESS?


“Morally unfit for the office of president?”   A judgment of James Conley about Trump--thoughts of one who's been at the president’s side and should know. 

Comey is clearly literate in moral matters, law and government service. Acknowledges influence of theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reinhold_Niebuhr#International
Thus, not naive when he makes a moral judgment.  I credit Comey for willingness to make the judgment.

But Pres. Trump: morally unfit? Trump has never spoken to that point directly, as far as I know. Routinely, he has charged others with moral weakness. Remember "Lyin' Hillary?" 

Nevertheless, I will say: chalk one up for Trump. He has acknowledged N. Korea and promised Kim Jong-un a place at the table. Just this meeting might be a step back from at least one brink.

Is Kim morally fit? Certainly his means to attaining and retaining power are despicable. But in matters of international relations, what is Kim Jong-un seeking? To defend NK from attack? Remember that the Korean War has never been formally ended. So a N. Korean could be understood as building a defense arsenal to protect against attack.  

N. Korea has developed a nuclear weapon capable of attacking anywhere in the U.S. Through bellicose threats to use that power Kim gained attention and has now won a place at the table. 

Here's a way of raising the moral question: are the aims justifiable and are the means and ends in synch? In both governments?

American aims unclear. Trump needs to clarify American aims and the means he’s willing to use.

N. Korean aims. Also unclear. Guaranteed safety of the nation? Acknowledgement of Kim's right to rule? Kim also needs to clarify.

The dance of the morally naïve and the desperate. World in danger. Neither articulates a clear moral case. Both Kim and Trump morally unfit?

My conclusion: one can't expect perfection. At least they’ve agreed to talk and that is less immoral than lobbing nuclear devices at each other's nations. We'll be able to make a better judgment when we see the results.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

CONTRADICTORY PATHS TO PEACE: PRAYERS AND MISSILES




Early in Saturday morning, April 15, 2018, American, French and British missiles hit Syrian military targets with explosions and smoke. On April 7, the Syrian government reportedly attacked one of its own towns, Douma, with poison gas. The April 15 attack was justified as retaliation for the beastly violation of globally accepted standards for warfare. Rancor, justifications and accusations followed in the wake of both attacks.

At the approximate time of missile attack several hundred people filled the sanctuary of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Portland, OR, to hear a concert of J. S. Bach’s Mass in B Minor. The presentation by the Cathedral choir and the Portland Baroque Orchestra, conducted by David Hill, renowned British musician, ended with an enthusiastic standing ovation by the audience of several hundred.

The last Chorus of Bach’s B Minor Mass is a masterful musical prayer: “Dona nobis pacem,” or Grant us peace. After the tones of the final “Amen,” hundreds stood tall and applauded vigorously for many minutes.

There we have the human condition. At about the same time: weapons and prayers: simultaneously launched, oddly coincidental.

Which will prevail? Some answer like this: God’s peace in response to our prayers. Others say: fighting forces and weapons, as in the case of Syria just now? Certainly this is a question for civics classes, study groups, public policy gatherings and governments.

How do you answer?

Saturday, April 7, 2018

THE MAGNIFICENT CHALLENGE: RECLAIMING JESUS FOR THE PATH AHEAD

On my March 24, 2018 post, I reported on a proclamation just posted by American Christian leaders. Speaking from vantage points across the spectrum of American Christian traditions, the leaders agreed that the culture of the United States reeks of disorientation about basic beliefs.

To what are these leaders calling Americans (and people across the world)? The elders call believers to recover fundamental beliefs and values at a time of crisis.

I support their approach and have decided to echo their remarks while adding points that they overlooked.

"We believe that the soul of the nation and the integrity of faith are now at stake."


2018 PALM SUNDAY CROSS
What do you make of this judgment call? Are these evangelists, bishops, denominational leaders (elders all) exaggerating? Or are they on target?

They assert that political actors are deliberately undermining Christian faith and normal American political roles. 

  • Politics' roles include restraining the bad and reward the good--to ensure justice and peace.
They agree with M. L. King: the church must be reminded that it's not the master nor the servant of the state, but the conscience of the state.

"Jesus is Lord." That's the foundation of Christian belief.


  • The elders reject racism and bigotry at all levels of society.
  • They call out sexual harassment and assaults on women, and any oppression of any child of God.
  • They continue further to call out abandonment of the poorest and most vulnerable among us.
  • They reject autocratic political leadership and authoritarian rule.
In sum: bravo, brava! A great statement.

From the viewpoint of this blog-site, the statement understates risks in two dimensions of life, each of which must be re-formed if Planet Earth is to continue as the human home territory. 

  • First dimension: care for the health of the planet. It's a sin against God to tear apart and trash the American Environmental Protection Agency and global environmental agreements. 
  • Second dimension: support for safe, ennobling global networking.
Personally, I want to defend against attacks on the planet and bullying people on-line. I ask the elders to include these two challenges in their list and I ask you to join with me in growing our world more green and networking more safe.

Bottom line: reclaiming Jesus, and all religious and inter-religious thought and teaching, is a huge challenge. Where can it be done? Who is doing it? How can the conversation be joined? 

I thank the "Reclaiming Jesus" leaders and writers. I ask you to join the movement. Offer your own contributions through your on-line postings or in your off-line writings.  

A project suggestion for the motivated: author a "Reclaiming Jesus" article for Wikipedia.

God is always creating, and one of God's avenues of creation is you. 



Note to all readers: According to Google, its host, this blog's settings have changed. All visitors are now able to view it over an encrypted connection. Same address: https://www.darrellreeck.com. Existing links and bookmarks will continue to work

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.: REMEMBERING, BY LEARNING

To mark the Fiftieth Anniversary of King's assassination. . .

Trinity Church Wall Street is providing you, your family, your organization with a treasure trove of up-to-date material on Martin Luther King, Jr.  To navigate to this gift to America click here: Take Me to Wall Street. 

You'll discover a treasure: three videos exploring relationships between races, using materials by King as a basis.

These are video materials, so prepare your speakers or headphones to benefit yourself.

Also, if you want a personal story by myself, click here to pull up a posting by myself from a few months ago. It's based on my personal experience with King's mark-up manuscript for Why We Can't Wait.

Now, just as fifty years ago, King's marvelous vision of justice in America can help us.



                          King delivering the "I Have a Dream" speech at Lincoln Memorial

  Photo in the public domain as a work of the United States Federal 
Government under the terms of 17 U.S.C. § 105 via Wikimedia Commons






Sunday, April 1, 2018

BLOSSOMING INTO A MIRACLE

EASTER 2018!

This is the day on which the Christian year has peaked in excitement and faith for over 2,000 years. It's the of the triumph of life over death, sacrifice over slavery, Jesus over Pilate.

Here's a photo with the whole story simplified. A Christmas cactus in blossom at Easter. I captured the picture early this morning.

The plant did bloom over three months ago when Christians were celebrating the birth of Jesus. Very normal for the cactus. That's how it earned its common name: "Christmas" cactus (C.C.) . Every year it bursts forth about December 1. The blossoms die and fall in January. That's normal C.C. behavior.




This year, Lucy and I noticed veritable bushels of buds springing forth in March. Unusual behavior! That's never happened before in the decade since we've owned and tended the plant.

Suddenly, last week, buds began to burst into these beautiful flowers. This morning, April 1, it's headed toward full bloom. Maybe I don't have to rehearse how the plant copied our remembrance of the life of Jesus in 2017-2018.

I took the photo early this morning and, without the use of any photographic technique on my part, the color purple dominated the background. Purple: for suffering. Just a wonderful, simple retracement of Jesus' life: miraculosu birth, blossoming into a life of teaching and healing, ending in woeful suffering, then miraculously blooming again in new life in three days.

What a a cactus! What a symbolic, spiritual story. Next: off to the Cathedral for an Easter service.

Now it's your turn. Anything like this happening in your house or yard? Your can reply below or on Facebook.




Saturday, March 24, 2018

FOLLOWING JESUS OVER ROCKY GROUND



Dear Reader,

Possibly you've been confused by postings you’ve read in this blog? You’ve seen me commenting on politics, society, economics and faith. I can understand that you might well have wondered: “What right does Darrell have to comment in this way on all this stuff?"

Well, I’ve an answer. It provides PERFECT SUPPORT for my approach to blogging. I want to share with you that on ASH WEDNESDAY, 2018, twenty three American Christian leaders (they call themselves “elders” probably because of their average age) met in retreat and fashioned a “Confession of Faith in Time of Crisis.” (Click the link.) I'll call it the Ash Wednesday Confession.

The elders speak of perilous, polarizing times: a dangerous crisis of moral and political leadership. They continue: “We believe the soul of the nation and the integrity of faith are now at stake.” “It is time to be followers of Jesus before anything else. . . .” They offer six affirmations of faith and reject six practices that threaten the soul of the nation. One might add, “Soul of the world.”

When I read their Confession on March 22 I shared the link immediately with a colleague in Christian ministry. I’ve known this “elder” for decades. He stated that he was just blown away by the Confession. And he vowed to message an elder of his own denomination to ask her to add her own name to the list of signers.

I hope you’ll be as grateful as he for the Ash Wednesday Confession. We agreed that it’s parallel to the stance of the Confessing Church in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s. (Read about the Confessing Church here.)

So, all of you, the Confession will guide me, and I want you to join in affirming the “Confession of Faith in a Time of Crisis” as a guide to your own thinking and action. 

If you’re a priest, pastor, or Christian teacher, please share the Confession with your faith community. As my friend suggested, “Forget your Sunday sermon. Instead, just read the ‘Confession’ from your pulpit.” That applies to preachers, but if you're not one of those, what's your pulpit? Be creative. Any of us can post the link on a blog or other social media: your Facebook page or Twitter for example. Here’s that link again:

The Confession is the clearest appeal for faithful Christian action I’ve encountered since my younger years. Now I’m an elder too, and therefore I write on faith, society and economics as  I do in this blog.

Whether you’re young, middle-aged or an elder, please keep reading weekly. And always feel free to comment: let’s have some dialogue. For you, what is the way forward over our rocky, dangerous trail? 

Does the Ash Wednesday Confession help you as much as it helps me?

Saturday, March 17, 2018

EMERGING ENERGETICALLY FROM CHAOS AND FEAR


Chaos: confusion, disorder, energy loss. 

Regain: order, peace, calm, energy.


How do you stay calm?

President Trump is reported to have said, “I like chaos”. Not a lie. Administration by chaos (firings, specifically) was an overriding theme in the television series, “The Apprentice.”  The now-President Trump played the lead role, a 14 year rehearsal for a role in government.

Now the world sees federal administration by purposeful chaos in national government.

Of course, chaos because it sells. The current government is a daily source of chaos and fear imagery and stories. Grumpy facial expressions, abrupt firings. Reports by victims. These draw beaucoup internet hits. The world’s attention is grabbed daily. Chaos and fear worked in government and business. Why not in government? He's trying it for all it's worth.


After months of this chaos-and-fear climate I ask myself: how do you and I keep our cool, our strength, and our health amid the current induced wave of fear? Can I/we get some help?


Long before this wave of fear, people practiced the calming benefits of physical exercise. Depending upon your age and fitness, a run, a vigorous walk, a ride on a mobile or stationary bike will help. I’ve found that a gentle Tai Chi routine gives 30 minute of escape and an energy boost. Gardening: it’s spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Trim your roses. These ways will help your clear your mind.


In ancient times, people left the fear zone in the village and spent time out of doors. Jesus went to the wilderness. Muhammad regularly practiced meditation at the entrance of a cave. Likewise, a break-time in the desert or on a shoreline or up on a peak can help you regain your mental balance and your energy level.


More ideas: I’m also finding games that provide energy therapy. The internet is loaded with free, fun games. The AARP website is a bountiful source of games. Or try this search for additional free games. If you subscribe to a hard-copy newspaper, first go to the crossword puzzle, then go back to the front page. The masterful music of an organ concert helps.


No matter where you live, government may seek to attract and entrap you through inducing a climate of fear and chaos. Chaos and fear are effective. They grab attention. How should a citizen react? Be alert but don’t lose your moorings.


Morally, fall back on dependable principles like compassion, respect, justice.


None of the physical/mental/spiritual balance techniques above relieve you from doing your job well or working to achieve better government.


They do give you a break and restore your strength so that you can fight a better fight and rise up with wings like an eagle.