Friday, January 23, 2009

Love for corrupt politicians?

I sat in a Starbucks yesterday working on our budget. . . . way too many numbers on a computer screen makes my head spin. 

Next to me sat George W.  (not bush!).  George is a man about 70 I would guess.  We struck up a conversation and I found out that he is a working man, now retired.  Maintenance mostly which I took to mean cleaning with small repairs now and again.  George was dressed respectfully in the way you can with clothes closet charm.  the suit coat and slacks don't quite match, both a dark green and nice material but not often washed and not quite the same. 

The white cotton dress shirt was likely a size or 3 too big, as the sleeves hung out from the coat, but that made room for the 2 layers of white long-johns underneath for warmth.  This was a man of respect and simple means and probably a great backstory. 

As we spoke he shared that he was behind in the rent and looking for odd jobs to try to make it right.  His landlord has taken him to court twice and hit him with the court costs, but the landlord hasn't shown up.  So he still has his place but went from being behind by $400 to now $800 with court costs.  

his rent is $605.  his income is $635 per month.

As we spoke George pulled a bus card from his wallet and told me how the card gave him free access to public transportation.  This was a blessing because he has had cancer a few years ago and while it is in remission, he had gone 2 years without a doctors visit -- because he never had money to ride the bus and get around town for appointments, check-ups, medication and other things.  Rod Blagojevich, who negotiated free public transportation fare for all seniors in IL, is his hero.  probably saved his life literally.  

As we spoke I remembered that my wife reminded me that our kids have health care only because Blagojevich used an executive order to provide the medical care program for children in IL that we are under.  That's why she voted for him last time.  I did too come to think of it.  

So while the whole world is casting aspersions (and rightly so) we should remember that like all of us, Rod Blago is not all bad. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

local history: 3 black US Senators

Since Reconstruction there have only been 4 black senators elected to the US senate.  

3 of the 4 live within about a mile and a half of our home.  I've met our
 current senator (Burris) and think highly of him and his wife, who taught in the Moody Grad School for
 several years. 

Obama's live (or did until this week!) at 51st
 and Greenwood (you can google map their address and see the big brick home!) and I've run into Carol Moseley Braun at the Valois cafe.  

Wild stuff!

More Trouble with "Success"

I sat quietly as a well intentioned student dutifully read aloud my bio to a roomful of listeners, ready for my workshop.  It spoke about my position, work experience and even a bit about my interests and family.  

Earlier in the day I had listened as the bio of another speaker (a really good one too!) was carefully reviewed. . . all the great things he's done for God.  

Call me cynical. . . but I just keep retreating, shrinking, pulling back internally from "great things" done for God.  I was physically ill late last year upon visiting a new church and freshly remodeled portion of an evangelical school. . . clearly millions upon millions had been spent in both cases.  A close friend recently recounted for me how "X" dollars would be spent by his church in a missions project of great efficiency and great effect.  the kind of thing where if you spend these dollars a clear prediction of how many churches will be established can be certain.  

This is exactly the kind of "winning" presentation that I am urged, pushed, influenced, and encouraged to use to portray our work at Sunshine. . . but I just don't buy it.   Don't get me wrong, we are working on our marketing and I know its important.  I just don't know if the "image" is true.  At the very least its an incomplete picture and in that sense, its not true.  

What kind of person or church always grows, always wins, always triumphs, always experiences efficiency and decorum, always impresses, always reflects strengths? No true church or person does.  So if that's all that is presented. . . if that is what is put forward as "success". . . our honesty, and integrity, and understanding are in jeopardy. 

Yet the true church perseveres through adversity, the true Christian loves without concern for accomplishment, fame, reciprocation or adulation.  The true Christian fails, even in this unrequited love of neighbor.  

I don't think God's work is efficient.  I don't think it is predictable in a scientific, expedient, rational way.  There are few Christian leaders I've known who lead out of weakness and suffering, and what Paul calls his resume of garbage.  

How do we want to be introduced?  Whose list of deeds do we want read aloud on our account? 
How's this:  imperfect dad, faulty husband, inefficient minister, lowly neighbor, slow learner, one growing only by God's grace, doing small things for a Great God.  Hungry for another round of communion. . . one of sovereignly propped up faith.