Monday, April 30, 2012
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Frontline has done a good job detailing the particulars in its current series on Money, Power and Wall Street. Not only do we stand judged by our own Greed, but we also stand near the precipice of insisting on our own self destruction.
We fight sensible self regulation.
To ask that the rich and the super rich pay as much taxes as their menial helpers is fought with every fibre of the political might of the right wing.
They claim that it would be a job killer to tax business at a rate that is equal to those who have work for these same businesses or even those who have been laid of from them.
It is untrue to say that fairer taxation is a job killer.
Business has more cash on hand than at any time in the past 20 years, and still no jobs!
Greed gone wild!
Not something I might add that God is doing to us; it is rather something we are doing to ourselves.
The people arise in protest. 99% Rise up in protest.
Something is telling us that the rich and the super-rich and the multi-national have gone way too far toward the Wildness of Unrestrained Greed!
Common sense tells us that lie upon lie continues to sap the middle class, the working class, and the poor.
The Occupy Movement has not gone away. In fact a whole new burst of energy is close at hand.
Let us pray that we are not too late.
Even Trinity Church in Wall Street is preparing a May Day Teach In!
When the Episcopalians on Wall Street figure out that that things are way out of hand you know that we are onto something.
Keep pushing folks. We're onto something!
Saturday, April 21, 2012
And press with vigor on;
A heavenly race demands thy zeal,
And an immortal crown,
And an immortal crown.
Friday, April 20, 2012
Somebody needs to tell the Holy Father not to bully nuns. According to a recent New York Times article and according to the Vatican itself, it has become necessary to reign in a national network of nuns for their outspoken commitment to the poor, the uninsured, and the unemployed.
Saturday, April 14, 2012
Doubt, Skepticism and Faith
Our readings today proclaim the story of our dear friend "Doubting Thomas". Not only do I like Thomas, I think that without him there can be no real faith, and I would go a step further. Without Thomas, scientific inquiry could never have found a home in the world of faith either.
Many can take their faith blindly on the basis of other witnesses. And there certainly is a special blessing for those able to do so. Not so Thomas. He wanted to see it with his own eyes, touch it with his own hands. He is the Patron Saint of the fellow from Missouri; the “show me state”.
Down through history, some of the greatest minds in science have also been great minds in the world of faith.
Copernicus for instance set the stage for Galileo’s struggle to make us aware that the earth was not the center of the solar system, but that the sun was. He was a papal nuncio and brilliant canon lawyer, but he was also a mathematician and an astronomer. And his curiosity; his inquiring and discerning mind could not let go of the elegantly simple thought that the earth and planets revolved around the sun. He worked out many of the mathematical problems and it became clearer and clearer to him that he was onto something. He was fortunate that the publications of his new theory came near the end of his life. He was reputedly given a copy of his newly published book describing the orbits of the celestial bodies on his death bed, and thus, it is said, he died in peace.
True enough, both Copernicus and Galileo were persecuted by the Biblical literalists but that did not change the fact that they were correct. And after 600 years of so the church did apologize.
As humbling as it is to wake up one morning and figure out that the universe does not revolve around you, it is just as essential. For until we discover our true place in God’s universe, we cannot have a true understanding either of ourselves or of God. This is the nature of the scientific enterprise. It is essential for us in discovering the truth.
Another good example of just such a man is Gregor Johann Mendel, the Augustinian friar who pioneered the work of modern genetic research. He really didn’t know that’s what he was doing. He was just trying to grow better varieties of peas for the monastery. Then he began to notice that traits in pea plants followed particular patterns. He took careful and complete records. His work was not recognized until the turn of the 20th century, but finally his curiosity and his search for fact and truth was finally rewarded.
Then there was our own Charles Darwin. He was a devout member of the Church of England and studied theology, and even took the bible quite literally as an ethical guide for human behavior but not as a document for scientific authority. He noticed aboard the Beagle in his five year journey around the world that fossil remains, and the amazing variety of species that he witnessed in places like Patagonia, for instance, began to suggest to him the notion of natural selection.
His discoveries have revolutionized the way we think of the evolution of our own ancestry in the development of humankind. It may be humbling to recognize that we are inextricably interwoven with all life, but that’s the truth of the matter.
So controversial is his work that there are places in the United States that take his work as a threat to biblical authority. In some states Evolution must be presented as a theory on a same level as Creationism as if they were completing and valid scientific options; the one based on flawed human inquiry and the other based on inerrant biblical revelation.
That’s like saying; “Nah, the sun still revolves around the world”...don’t believe facts and figures and scientific observation, and for God’s sake don’t look into that telescope!"
Such thinking is an assault not only on the truth of science but on the truth of faith as well.
The ongoing battle between science and religion is a false one for most intelligent and educated people of faith and/or science. Some of the greatest minds of our time have seen a role for both. One of my favorite quotes is from Albert Einstein who is often thought to be an atheist. But hold the phone; was it not he who said this; “Science without faith is lame; and religion without science is blind!” Thus for many thoughtful folks science and faith can be mutually creative and corrective.
In our own church, Margaret Mead taught us a great deal about cultural relativism in her observations in in the South Pacific. Her book; “Coming of Age in Samoa”, is mandatory reading in most Liberal Arts Colleges. As a brilliant thinker she was clearly a formational mind in the development of cultural anthropology. She was also a devout Anglo-Catholic and an Episcopalian.
And lest we forget our current Presiding Bishop. Not only is she a marvelous and articulate woman of faith; she is also a brilliant biologist and a pilot. She is indeed a Renaissance woman.
So then that brings me back to Thomas. He would not believe until he saw it with his own eyes and touched it with his own hands. I am like that in many ways. And yet when I look and when I touch what is indeed around me, I see and feel a world that reveals that God is very much alive, and that Jesus is alive in the hearts and lives of those around me.
The Resurrection of Jesus is not so much a reassuring comfort to us about where we go when we die, but an ethical demand about who we are called to be while we are alive.
There are the poor to be fed, the homeless to be housed, the young to be educated, the elderly to be cared for, the sick, the bereaved and the broken heated to be mended with the healing touch of Jesus.
That’s something I can see and touch. It is the healing touch of Jesus that will make all the difference.
I can assure you that God’s existence does not depend on whether you can wrap my mind around various doctrinal statements. When I am asked to "Believe" in the Creed, I am not asked to give my intellectual assent to a credal formula, as much as I am asked to make a commitment to a way of life.
In many ways, Christ’s existence does depend on whether I am willing to do the work of the living and loving Christ for the sake of the world.
Teresa of Avila summed this up in these words
Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Saturday, April 07, 2012
Monday, April 02, 2012
THE KING’S BEACH STATEMENT
PAUL B. BRESNAHAN
Revised, Holy Week 2012
A Response to Class Warfare being waged against the 99%
I wrote this statement last Spring as I looked down the long barrel of class warfare being waged against us. I'm in this for the long haul. We need to be clear about where we stand. What I list below is a reasonable set of demands. What is not reasonable is that we should carry the rich on our backs enduring heavy unemployment, working for $5 an hour, with no health insurance, no vacation, and then having them take our homes away and giving our jobs away and taking our jobs away.
We may or may not do it this time, but momentum is building. Eventually we, poor, working class, middle class, first responders, teachers, etc. will all see that we are all on the same side.
The people shall arise from slumber!
From Cairo to Wisconsin the people have taken to the streets to demand justice. The grinding poverty under which too many of us are living has caused enough pain! We labor for wages that cannot support a family, while the super-rich are giving themselves billions in tax cuts and immoral bonuses. The corporate machine lays us off, and ships our jobs overseas. Now they are taking aim at government jobs and collective bargaining. They want to take away a hard won health care victory, they want to take away our homes, they want to take away our social security, and cut medicare and medicaid all for the sake of lower taxes for the rich. They have no idea of the pain they inflict upon the poor and the worker and now even on the middle class.
It is time for us to gather at every town and city hall across the country and I dream of a day when by the millions we gather at the Lincoln Memorial and stand our ground until our just demands are met.
HERE IS WHAT WE DEMAND!
1. Jobs and Job Security
We demand full employment. Unemployment Bureau is a misnomer. It should be THE EMPLOYMENT BUREAU. Unemployment insurance should then be EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE. The government shall be the employer of last resort.
We demand that all teachers, police, fire and EMT’s be rehired and that we beef up education and public safety. It is a matter of national security! We cannot afford not to do this at the very least.
THERE SHALL BE UNION REPRESENTATION IN ALL WORKPLACES. The workers shall elect representatives from the workforce who will negotiate on behalf of the worker. THAT'S CALLED COLLECTIVE BARGAINING.
No more layoffs or terminations without a review of elected workforce representation. Grievances shall be brought to the same representatives for mediation and negotiation. WE INSIST ON UNION PROTECTION FOR THE AMERICAN WORKER.
Figure out how to bring our jobs home again. We want to buy American made products again.
We demand an immediate doubling of the minimum wage.
We demand an immediate increase of 20% of all wages under $100,000. You can figure out how to pay for that but you can begin with a super-tax on the super-rich.
And we want another 20% bonus for our work too on November so we can spend it on Black Friday and pump up the economy. They’ve been giving themselves billions in bonuses while we were losing our jobs and suffering from cutbacks, and losing our homes. You owe us!
3. Universal Health Care
We have fought long and hard for healthcare. It is unconscionable that in this country anyone should be deprived of good health care. Now you want to take away this modest advance on behalf of millions of folk in this nation! NO! We demand healthcare. We’re willing to negotiate how to pay for it. But we demand it and we demand it now. Hands off heath care!
4. Two Year Moratorium on Foreclosures
You made a huge mess and we bailed you out (Banks & Mortgage Companies, Finance Institutions.) Now its your turn to bail us out. No more foreclosures for two years while we secure the American worker with good jobs and good pay. Then you better be ready to cut a deal, or its back to the streets!
5. Three Weeks Paid Vacation
You keep preaching to us about family values. I’ll tell you about family values. We want a minimum of three weeks paid vacation, two weeks annual allowance for illness, and five personal days a year. We cannot afford what you have. The least you can do for us is give us time with those we love. Then, as a bonus we'll take four weeks after five years working for you.
6. Quit picking on Gay Folks! Quit the bullying! Quit the threats on Obama and the Liberals! IN CASE YOU HADN’T NOTICED THE GREAT AMERICAN EAGLE CANNOT FLY WITHOUT BOTH WINGS. YOU NEED US AND WE NEED YOU. WE WON’T FIGURE THIS OUT UNLESS WE DO THIS TOGETHER.
Paul Bresnahan is a semi-retired Episcopal Priest on assignment in Douglassville, PA at St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church.