Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Black Lives Matter: my letter to the late Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dear Reader: in these days of Black Lives Matter, I want to share a memo I wrote to (and in honor of) the deceased Martin Luther King, Jr.    The memo was written in 2009; King died in 1968.

Dear Martin Luther King, Jr.

Re. Memories of your and our Dream.

Martin, you provided a beacon of light to me in the 1960s through your courage in the face of danger and your marvelous communication skills demonstrated in a book such as Why We Can’t Wait and in oratory like “I have a Dream.”  

Dear Martin,

In 1961 I arrived in Chicago from the frontier State of Washington.  In seminary I interned with ministry mentors in Chicago, particularly the Revs. Jim Reed and John Winters of Parish of the Holy Covenant. 

Together with thousands, we marched for educational justice at the headquarters of Chicago School Board.  I felt ever so white, but knew my presence was appreciated by African-Americans in the demonstration.  

On one weekend in 1962, a group of several black students from Tougaloo College, accompanied by two Chicago clergy and two seminary students including myself, attempted to integrate worship services in a couple of segregated white churches in Jackson, Mississippi.  I was not at great risk personally, even though ushers called police for help as we approached a church, asking for entrance.  

My colleagues and I were visitors in Mississippi, on call to help provide some cover for the Tougaloo students in their equality campaign.  They were the ones at risk.  I would go back north.  But during that weekend I had a glimpse of the risk that they and many others were taking routinely in pursuit of the American dream.

Your 1963 speech, I have a dream, was unspeakably motivational and, at the same time, heart rending.  The March on Washington exhilarated me.  The fact that it had to happen depressed me.

Then the horror of the assassinations:  yours, President Kennedy’s, Robert Kennedy’s.  

Somehow our country managed to pick up the pieces and get on with national life.  The forces of darkness did not prevail, though residual conflict remains until this day.

A couple of your Boston University professors later taught me as well:  Prof. Paul K. Deats and Dean Walter Muelder. They were so proud of you.  Paul gave me the privilege, as his assistant, of bringing the manuscript of one of your books from Mugar Library to a secured showcase in the School of Theology library.  Your hand-written editing notes appeared on the typescript.  As I walked down Commonwealth Avenue with that treasure in my care I marveled at the sense of contact with you that I enjoyed at that moment.

From you, I learned the values of risk for the sake of higher values of community, equality and justice.  I give thanks to God that I was allowed the opportunity of brushing up against your jet stream.  I’m one of millions who testify that you live on through your influence.

Sincerely,           Darrell Reeck

Sunday, May 10, 2020


We all find ourselves up against some Covid-19-induced dilemmas. Not just employers. Not just workers, Not just school kids. All of us.

These are some rules DESIGNED to limit damages of Covid-19:

Don’t leave your home.
Don’t let anyone into your home.
Don’t shop in public stores including grocery.
Wear your face mask out in public.

I accept the need for such rules. They're necessary for my family's good. You may be limited by similar rules.

But the rules entail dilemmas. Example #1: how do we survive if we can’t enter a store to shop for groceries?  

Do I ignore the stay-at-home rule and go to the grocery? Or do obey and starve?

Large-scale workarounds have been launched, like Federal Reserve Board lowering interest rates.

But in the neighborhood, you and I are left with small-scale problems that must be overcome. In this situation, some helpful heroes have appeared in the lives of my wife and myself.

Here’s a way around the “don’t let anyone into your home” rule. Our daughter and her kids have made a couple of family visits, not in our home but on our driveway.  Daughter and her kids have remained on the driveway, by their car. Lucy and I open the garage door but stay ten feet inside the garage. In one such visit the whole family sang “Happy Birthday” to one of us and chatted. Then they left without coming into the home. Results: spirits lifted, smiles on all of our faces, and no rules violated.

“Do not go grocery shopping.” That’s a rule imposed for our protection by our retirement community. But how to obey this rule and stay alive? In this situation a younger resident from a nearby neighborhood came to the rescue. How did she know about us? She directs a community chorus in which Lucy sings. Out of the goodness of her heart she checked with Lucy, volunteered to shop for us, and they worked out a system. 

In this workaround system, Lucy emails our shopping list to her. Then we place reusable cloth grocery bags on the driveway for the volunteer. The good fairy, wearing protective gloves, picks up the bags, buys the groceries, then returns to place the full bags just outside our garage. The volunteer texts that she’s left the goods. We collect the bags of groceries. We clean the bags and contents against virus, and we’ve got groceries for a week! Thanks so much to the volunteer heroine!

What about the grocery store itself? What are they doing to sell without breaking the Covid rules? A couple of grocery stores in our town (and more broadly as well) have brought out an online shopping system. Here's how it works. First, customers establish an online shopping account. Once that's set up we email our list of items and the store replies with a collection time. At collection time we park in a designated area in the supermarket parking lot. An employee places the groceries in the trunk while we wait a responsible distance away. We’ve obtained our order without entering the store; we’ve obeyed the rule.

My doctor encourages me to take long walks out of doors. But the rules require keeping social distance. How do I walk for an hour on public sidewalks and woodsy trails without violating the social distance rule? Mainly by using trails and walkways sufficiently wide to allow for social distance. Or by switching to the sidewalk on the other side of the street. Most oncoming walkers cooperate to maintain social distance between us. In a low density community it works. (I can't say it'd work in Brooklyn, however.)

Adjustments like these require require a bit of creative thinking and work-arounds. May these adjustments keep Covid-19 from overwhelming individuals and communities. 

Sunday, March 22, 2020


Thoughts and Prayers On Sunday, March 22, 2020.

Your place of worship may be closed in respect of the stay at home orders in many states and nations.

However, you may be able to join with other internet worshippers.

Here's an example from Portland, Oregon: at 10:00 a.m. Western time zone, Sunday.

Trinity Episcopal Cathedral invites you to a streamed communion service. If the link doesn't work just search on Facebook for Trinity Episcopal Cathedral. Once on the homepage, click "videos" (column to left of page.) https://www.facebook.com/trinitycathpdx.

And at your home, today may be a time of quiet and prayer as remembering the grieving whose loved ones have contracted or died from the coronavirus plague.

Friday, March 20, 2020


My Mom used to tell me, "Practice what you Preach." A very practical bit of advice.

The authorities are preaching "Social Distance Yourself" for corona abatement.  Why don't they model what they advise us to do? Wouldn't distancing be easier to for us citizens to adopt if our leaders did so? That's what a friend of mine asked after watching the daily press conference today.

Presidential Press Conference 
March 13, 2020
photo in the public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Does it make sense? $1,000 government payment to each American?

Are government payments in time of apocalyptic need appropriate?

A plan being floated in the U.S.: a federal payment of $1,200 per adult, $500 per child. Perhaps repeat in six weeks if state of emergency is still in place.

Does this plan make moral sense? Note: it makes no room for the degree of need. Certainly: people who are poor, due to loss of work. Low income people with families. Homeless people living in tents: in great need of government support right now. Targeting these makes sense.

Those Americans with emergency savings, fortunes and/or continuing income to fall back on, are not in great need. Throwing taxpayer’s money at high wealth levels doesn't make sense--is a waste of taxpayer money. The plan should be revised to focus more financial assistance to the unemployed, the poor, and otherwise needy. 

There's a cost to sending one or two thousand dollars to 200 ML people. That money will be debt for future generations to pay off. Doesn't make sense.

Why would the government dole out money to every ) citizens (or most citizens)? I don't know the motive but seems as if the government is trying to silence a fearful public rather than concentrating on effective measures to defeat the con-virus. Or worse, trying to buy votes in the 2020 election.

An ancient ancestor offers standards to follow: (Deuteronomy 15:11--The Bible--Revised Standard Edition:).  “You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor. . . .”    

"The Poor Sisters"   Meynell. In the public domain via Wikimedia.

Important P.S.: 3/25/2020 The bill that passed the Senate today has proposes an income cutoff. Persons with incomes higher than the $71,000 cutoff would not receive money.    Another high mark for Senator Romney who, I believe, proposed this change. 

Saturday, February 29, 2020


President Trump is quoted as saying coronavirus is the Democrats' latest hoax.     (Reported by NBC news.)
Yet almost simultaneously the first American victim of the disease has just died (as reported on 2/29/2020). He died in Kirkland, Washington State. Gov. Jay Inslee, State of Washington, declares state of emergency.
What are we citizens to do? A sixth-grader could tell you: We need to elect class leaders who don't flip excuses and don't blame someone else. In our damaged democracy, we need political leadership that accepts responsibility and speaks truth. Jesus: "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:32. Ridicule and name-calling from the bully-pulpit is making our nation un-free.

Thursday, January 23, 2020


Ruth, a teenage "sis", is looking out for Lino, her younger brother. They're on the way to school.

Just like your family, right?

Well,  wait a minute. These two kids must pass border guards and wait in long lines both school-bound and returning home. Their school is in another country.

And here's why. Their home is in Juárez, Mexico but their school is in El Paso, TX, U.S.A.

The full story gives you many details of their daily passage. Their educational goals. Their fears. Their sacrifices of time: start to school early, get home late. Details of their sheer endurance. Their strength would exhaust most people.

Ruth and Lino on the way to school

Their school in El Paso is church-related. Makes me proud of the Texas Methodists who support the school.

The story raised a question in my mind: what is more effective in the long run? Border walls or border bridges? What do you think? I vote for BRIDGES.

Click here to link to the original story with its many photos.  Click here to link to Bishop's statement.


Photo used with permission of UM News