Friday, January 30, 2015

Violence Proofing the World

It all started with a meeting following Sandy Hook. A group from our congregation gathered to talk about gun violence. More meetings followed. We sponsored a "Respectful Conversation" led by a person trained by the Minnesota Council of Churches. Then followed a sign proposal, desiring to put a sign at the church entrance to read something like: GUNS ARE BANNED IN THIS PLACE OF WORSHIP. BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS. A meeting was suggested to talk about it. One person who objected to the sign attended. Another meeting with a couple more people. I lobbied for a session on gun violence prevention. However, apart from me, no one, including the pastors, wanted to deal with GVP, even though gun violence had been the initial reason for the planning session. Instead, the result is a six session series on "Violence Proofing the Person, the Home, the Community, and the World", preceded by a pastor talking about Biblical interpretation and concluded by a conversation about action steps. 

My assignment was to lead the session on VIOLENCE PROOFING THE WORLD. I WILL bring up gun violence! Guns and militarization are an integral part of world violence. The session plan will be: 1) THEOLOGY: First Things First; 2) Violence Proofing Axioms; 3) Step Up, Speak Up, Act Up!-Violence Today. The next three blogs will focus on these areas.

THEOLOGY: First Things First
Christians bring specific menu items to the table conversation about violence proofing the world. The Christian grace is to be the main course of this meal. We need the right energy food to engage violence. What foods are we given?

The WORD. GENESIS speaks of God's original action of creating the world and being pleased, calling everything good.  There was no violence. Shalom and harmony were the design. The Fall follows. Human choice poisons God's design intention. The apple.  Cain's murder of his brother Abel. Choice. Noah is the story of cleansing and starting over.  God's mercy. Never again. The Tower of Babel signifying global arrogance leading to division. Abraham becomes God's person of blessing for the world. Violence was not smiled upon.  Even God cancelled it.

The EXODUS is liberation. The violence of slavery was not God's intention for God's people. God's Ten Commandments were given to guide the faithful to living the God-life. No violence here! Obedience and ethics were woven into one. More Law books followed. Guidance for the faith life. Worship and ethics bound together. 

Books of history followed. Blood. Power. War. Conquering Canaan and murdering everyone not Hebrew. Captivity. Division of the Kingdoms. More war. Supposedly God was on the side of the Chosen People. At least so the writers of history announced. Historians have a knack of interpreting events through prejudiced minds, too frequently using God to justify national intentions. I would suggest this was the Deuteronomic historians plan. Not that God cannot work through war and genocide. But were these wars and slaughters God's will?  I question this conclusion.

Hence the PROPHETS. God working through tragedy, injustice, and war, yes. BUT, God willing this sadness, oppression of the poor and powerless? No. The prophets called for justice, mercy, love, and transformation. And often pointed to Jesus.

JESUS. Union of God and humanity. God choosing to become human to remind us what it means to be a human being created in God's Image. Throughout history and the Biblical narrative we read of a constant departure from God's will. In Jesus, God says to us, "You just don't get it! You forgot my will for you! I will show you again." In Jesus, we are given both a human example of lifestyle and of grace and freedom and call to live within God's Image. Justice, mercy, forgiveness, reconciliation, and love. Nonviolence reflects God's Image. Jesus is ultimate nonviolence!

ACTS: Preach, teach, and take care of each other according to need.  Where is the call to violence?

PAUL: Paul is the first theologian of nonviolence. Consider the Fruits of the Spirit and the Armor of God, both shrouded in nonviolence. In Romans 12, Paul exhorts the Christ followers to not conform themselves to this world. The passage about being subject to the governing authorities is book ended by the call to love. Furthermore, there were no Christians in Roman authority. Finally, Paul wrote Romans in the midst of Nero's murderous reign, meaning that Paul wanted to protect Christians.

REVELATION: Courage in the midst of the reign of the murderous Diocletian. No call to arms. Only the promise of a New Heaven and a New Earth. Hope. God is in charge of history!

HOLY BAPTISM is God's welcome in, God's choosing us to be part of God's family, forgiving us. Our Affirmation of Baptism calls us to live among God's faithful people, hear the Word of God and share in the Lord's Supper, proclaim the good news of God through word and deed, serve all people, following the example of Jesus, and strive for justice and peace in all the earth. We promise to do these actions. 

I am reminded of Dr. Franklin Littell's comment: "We must realize that the Holocaust would never have happened if Protestants and Catholics had not betrayed their baptism."

THE LORD'S SUPPER offers forgiveness and the invitation to come and meet Jesus. We partake with other brothers and sisters in Christ. We are part of a communion, a community, not alone, united with all Christians world wide. Then the invitation of "all are welcome!" Some try to limit the invite to only those who can rightly and doctrinally qualify. The LS means "come and meet Jesus." For some reason, everyone who enters our churches enter because of the stirrings of the Holy Spirit. They may have been out of the church or never been part of the community. BUT THEY WALKED THROUGH THE DOOR! Come and meet Jesus!  Jesus has a a gift of grace for you! The LS is the ultimate answer to division. Diversity is the LS's calling card!

Holy Scripture is burgeoning with grace! Freedom! Hope! Love! Given for us that we may be Christ in the world. We can remember Bonhoeffer: "We Lutherans have gathered like eagles around the carcass of cheap grace and thereby killed the life of following Christ."

The Word showers us with grace upon grace, that we can lead the costly life of violence proofing the world. Eliminating violence? Probably not. But giving witness and an intentional try to reflect God's love, a resounding yes! The grace is always present to repent and start over, learn new things, forgive time after time, and lay aside hate.  Let us begin, again!

Peace!

Ron



Tuesday, January 20, 2015

NRA: Opposition Points the Way
The National Rifle Association is the leading opposition force to common sense gun safety laws. Yet, it is in the laws they oppose that we see the way forward to gun violence prevention actions. What the NRA opposes is what we need! 

Furthermore, what the NRA opposes overwhelmingly protects common sense individual right to bear arms. People can still hunt, can still have handguns for home and car protection, and can still target shoot.  All this while protecting the lives of many innocents. What does the NRA oppose?

Assault weapons ban
Ban on automatic and semi-automatic weapons
Ban on large ammunition magazines
The Brady Bill which mandates background checks by licensed gun dealers, and a five day 
              waiting period for handgun purchases. The NRA leadership said after its passage: 
              "When Clinton signed the Brady Bill, a drop of blood dripped from the finger of
              that sovereign American citizen."
Universal background checks (Licensed deaslers must do background checks)
Background checks for private sellers (Not required to do background checks)
Background checks for internet and mail order sales (No background checks required)
National gun registration
Ban on cop killer bullets
Smith & Wesson proposed safety measures (handgun trigger locks, no ammo magazines 
               larger than 10 rounds, and a more thorough system of background checks) S&W
               had to back-off support for these measures as their sales had plummeted 40%.
Mandatory trigger locks
Development and sale of smart guns (Guns can operate only by the owner who has a 
               special chip in a bracelet)
Authorizing and funding research on gun violence by the ATF and National Center on
               Injury Prevention
Funding for ATF staff in order to keep in undermanned
Publications by THE NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE and JOURNAL OF THE
               AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION, saying: "We have a problem with these
               organizations, too, for not holding their articles to their usual standards."
Keeping guns out of the hands of people on the Terrorist Watch List
Laws that would hold gun manufacturers liable and open to suit if their guns were used in a
               crime if they knowingly sold them to straw buyers
Holding a serial gun seller accountable for not keeping records of sales of selling to people
               with criminal records
Senate proposal that would have made straw purchasing punishable by up to 25 years in prison
Laws that would have allowed health care providers to charge a higher premium to people
               who owned guns
United Nations efforts to control illicit small arms trade, saying "The UN is a lethal threat to
               the 2nd Amendment."
Gun laws in Brazil, Australia, Britain, Canada, and New Zealand. "If gun [control] proponents
               succeed in these countries, America will be next."
Requiring gun dealers to conduct inventory checks to prevent losses or thefts
Criticism of militia movement
Banning of high capacity of high capacity ammunition magazines [after Columbine]
Any regulations or weapons ban after Sandy Hook
LBJ's bill to register all and license firearms and ban imported weapons after JFK's 
               assassination

The NRA's position is to not give an inch allowing any regulations. Why? Because to the NRA, guns are a symbol of freedom from government control and tyranny. There is a strong belief that "the government wants to take our guns away." No compromise! No common sense gun laws. Fear and paranoia reign! To quote Wayne Lapierre: "Clinton's semi-autocratic ban gives jack-booted government thugs more power to take away our Constitutional rights, break in our doors, seize our guns, destroy our property, and even injure or kill us."

I believe the above suggestions opposed by the NRA are reasonable accommodations for a safer home and nation. Their opposition points the way forward for a safer society. Their adoption would significantly lower that 30,000+ annual gun violence deaths. It is time to move beyond fear and paranoia and instead concern ourselves with protection of life.

Peace!

Ron


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Incarnation Implications
Advent is fading, Christmas is rising, Epiphany is coming, Lent is shadowing, Holy Week is excruciating, Easter is liberating, and Pentecost is expanding. All because of Jesus, the Incarnate God of the flesh, of humanity, of personness.

I ask why?  Why did God choose to become human?  Why could not God have remained a Spirit, a mystical presence who stirred our inner self, touched our consciences, who sometimes came as fire or rain or storm, or sunrise?  Why wasn't God's liberating activity in the Exodus enough? Or the conquest of Canaan enough? Or the Restoration from Babylon enough? Or the kings, the Psalms, the Prophets enough? Why wasn't that enough so that God could just be God?

I submit these actions were not enough because God's People forgot what it meant to be a human being created in God's Image. God had to become human, to remind us again what it means to be a human being created in the Image of God, to restore the created nature of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, to restore, enlighten and transform humanity's place, nature, and character in the world.

Here comes Jesus, the Christ. What happens through Jesus the Christ?

WE LEARN WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A HUMAN BEING.
What does this mean? (Sounds Lutheran!)

BECAUSE GOD CHOSE TO BECOME HUMAN AND ENTER THE WORLD:

WE LIVE OUT OF GRACE: "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (I Cor 15:10). Grace is God's love and forgiveness given to us and claiming us as part of God's family. Grace tempers any arrogance, shuts down any sense that we are "masters of our fate, and captains of our souls" (Poem: "Invictus"). Arrogance turns attention upon ourselves instead of God's higher purpose.  Grace yields the stage to Jesus. We live in the spirit of the hymn: "Give me Jesus, you can have all the rest". Through grace we humbly kneel to the will of God.  We are nothing apart from God's grace. Grace is life's starting point. Our place and purpose in the world is defined by God's grace because grace creates out of nothing. We are because of God's grace. God's mark is upon us meaning we not our own.  Through grace, our bodies, our personhood are united with God in Christ so that we reflect the character of God. God's grace makes humanity humbly holy. All this because we are "in Christ." Christ, fully divine, fully human, ocean of grace!

WE ARE FREE: "For freedom, Christ has set us free." (Galatians 5:1) In Christ, through Christ, we are forgiven, redeemed, transformed, washed by the blood of the Lamb, made new. "Dance with the Spirit [of Christ] early in the morning.  Walk with the Spirit [of Christ] throughout the long day." (Song by Jim Strathdee) "Where the Spirit of [God] is there is freedom." (2 Corinthians 3:17) We are liberated to be human beings, persons of God, to discover our gifts, to form relationships, to value our feelings, to test our minds, to respect our bodies, to use our senses. To quote Tony Campolo: "The Kingdom of God is a Party!" In Christ, we are fully human and fully alive! Only the humanity of God in Christ can liberate humanity.

WE ARE DISCIPLES: "I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God." (Romans 12:1) In the Affirmation of Baptism (ELW), each person who stands prepared to confess their discipleship, promises to: live among God's faithful people, hear the word of God and share in the Lord's Supper, proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed, to serve all people, following the example of Jesus, and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth. All of these promises are experienced and expressed through Christ's humanity as Son of God and our humanity, within humanity.  Because we are Baptized into Christ, we look to Christ as the human example of discipleship, to imitate his actions in our contexts. Because we are "in Christ", we are bound to be Christ through our humanity. Christ's humanity is our humanity, meaning out of grace, out of freedom, we engage the world, enter the joys and sufferings of the earth and humanity, and be instruments of God's transforming will. God's grace, God's freedom, God's call to discipleship is realized through Christ's humanity lived through us. 

WE ARE CALLED TO LIVE NONVIOLENTLY: "Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection....overcome evil with good." (Romans 12:9-10, 21). Jesus' life was a testament to nonviolence. In two situations when weapons were central to the dramas, Jesus said "Enough" and "No more of this." The Fruits of the Spirit [of Christ] are: "Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control." (Galatians 5:22-23) All of these fruits are nonviolent. These words were written by Paul, a converted Jew, who was transformed from a life of violent persecution to one of proclaimer of love. Paul in his humanity was reflecting Christ! Nowhere in the Gospels nor Paul's letters are Jesus' followers called to do violence to others. We learn nonviolence by imitating Christ's nonviolence.

It is only through becoming human in Christ that God transforms each of us and the world. In Christ, God reveals in human form what it means to be created in the Image of God and called to be Christ's holiness in the world. In Christ, humanity is sanctified because Christ's humanity was sanctified. Christ's humanity transforms and physically exemplifies God's character. Christ defines what it means to be a human being. Christ's humanity teaches us what it means for us to be a human being. We learn from Jesus how to live and what to do that we can please God and make real the Reign of God.

O Holy Night!


Monday, December 15, 2014

The Greater Fools
Linda and I have been watching Aaron Sorkin's HBO Series "The Newsroom". The series focuses on the challenges facing a newsroom in putting forth the televised daily news: real news, real stories about the day's significant events, and not entertainment fluff.

The final show in the first season was entitled "The Greater Fool." The Greater Fool is one who can succeed where others fail. The Greater Fool is delusional, rather out of sync with the status quo, yet who presses on towards what he/she perceives is the finest goal. One of the characters says: "America was founded by Greater Fools." Think of Don Quixote.

I would suggest to be Christian is to be a Greater Fool. My evidence? Look to scripture: Amos 2:6: "Thus says the Lord: For the three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not revoke punishment; because they sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals." Luke 1:52-53: "He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty." Luke 11:"But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mink and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God....When he went outside, the scribes and the Pharisees began to be very hostile toward him and to cross examine him...lying in wait for him, to catch him...." The message of the Christ was love, compassion, and justice. To be one with the people, to dress similarly, to eat bread and drink water and wine, to heal, to reconcile, to live like a commoner.

On the contrary, the message of the power elite, the religious sages, the ecclesiastical gurus was to protect their positions, to live in leisure, to parade in white robes, to wear gold and jewelled head pieces, to sleep on soft pillows, to be waited on by scented servants, to trumpet exclusivity. The Scribes and Pharisees failed to address the people's true needs. Similarly, the Roman occupation demanded taxation which further stressed the people's well-being.

As THE GREATER FOOL, Jesus was big on equality, listened well,  responded to the cries of the weak and sick, wanted folks to share the wealth as each according to need, took action to address the common needs of the people.  It took THE GREATER FOOL to establish the Reign of God! It took "Holy Delusion" to counter the calculating broken souls of the power elite.

What is the venom of the broken souls?  In the midst of an unjust, unkind, cruel government, a leadership just passed a CROMNIBUS budget bill which imperils fairness, equal opportunity, and future security. Consider this travesty:

Guaranteed taxpayer bail-out of careless derivative investments by banks and Wall Street, the wealthy can give ten times to political groups what they could before, lessening the influence of everyone else,
cutting funding for the IRS which means the wealthy will have fewer people to check on their tax evasion schemes, cutting funding for the EPA so corporations can further pollute the earth and release carbon into the air without hindrance from inspectors, cutting into guaranteed pension plans which means less for retirees, showering the Pentagon with nearly 60% of discretionary spending, cutting the WIC program by $93 million and allocating over $400 million for three F-35 fighter planes the Pentagon didn't request, cutting Pell Grants for low income students to go to college, and sending the cuts to for profit companies that provide loans for students as a pay back.

And don't forget the pending Trans-Pacific Trade Deal which will cost perhaps millions of American jobs.

Those who passed this Cromnibus Bill and are working to pass the TPT are not GREATER FOOLS. They are the calculating leeches, the market marionettes, the back room swindlers wise to the machinations of the corporate-business cycles, the pompous plutocrats, the obnoxious oligarchs, the fat, fanatical fascists, who utilize their power to play us all as their entertainment, bowing to the god of profit! Under the guise of success and power, it is these who have failed the nation, failed humanity, failed the test of justice.

Who are THE GREATER FOOLS?  It is the followers of the Christ. It is the people! The supposed powerless! Those who swim against the odds, who do the unscripted, who throw the curve balls, who dance to the rhythms of justice for all, who believe in sharing the wealth, providing housing and food for all, guaranteeing education and healthcare as rights for all, assuring that infrastructure needs are addressed, spending less on guns and bombs, promising that all citizens can vote without being subject to the canard of voter fraud.

ARISE, GREATER FOOLS! 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

"Grant Me Justice...."
Luke 18:1-8
"Hands Up-Don't Shoot!" read the signs. But the police officer did shoot in fear for his life. Michael Brown was called Hulk Hogan and a Demon. Michael was an unarmed Hulk and Demon.  A witness 50-100 yards away said Michael Brown was charging him.  Others said Michael Brown had his hands up and was not charging.  Conflicting testimony.

The District Attorney called a Grand Jury to decide if there was "probable cause" for a trial. But the DA abused his authority. He manipulated the Grand Jury and set them up to do his bidding.  He turned the Grand Jury into a Trial Jury to decide the officer's guilt or innocence. "Probable cause" was off the table. There was no cross examination of witnesses. The result: officer Wilson walked free. What followed were riots and demonstrations nation wide. MLK, Jr. said: "A riot is the language of the unheard." People demanded to be heard! People sensed a miscarriage of justice. 

A Black leader said a Black youth is 21 more times ready to be shot or called to account by police than a White person. Meanwhile, a 12 year old Cleveland, Ohio boy playing in a park is shot dead by police for brandishing a pellet gun! Remember Trayvon Martin? Yes, in the Twin Cities, the majority of gun crime and gun violence is caused by African Americans. Yes, policing is a dangerous job.  But so is being a Black man or youth. 

Police officers are given TOO MUCH leeway, TOO MUCH benefit of the doubt on when to shoot. TOO MUCH! In Minneapolis, nearly 500 police/citizen shooting/confrontation incidents have occurred over a span of time and there has been ZERO police convictions.  Hmmm. I think there is a justice disconnect between what is justifiable homicide and alternative nonviolent responses to incidents. Why do police most likely go for a "kill shot" rather than a disabling shot to the legs or arms? Why is it that police believe lethal shots are justified simply because they "felt threatened" for their life?  This is too existential, too relative, too subjective, too Libertarian. 

In 1985, the United States Supreme Court decided that "a police officer cannot use lethal force against a fleeing suspect unless the officer has reason to believe the suspect is armed and an immediate threat to public order." Michael Brown was unarmed and no threat to public order other than perhaps having a handful of "cigarillos." 

Is it any wonder there is a consistent cry for justice? A son is dead, parents grieve, and portions of our nation weep and get angry, crying out for justice. The racial divide is exposed!

There is no place for a blood lust. There is a place for conversation, action, and justice. Action should include additional training of police officers, teaching officers the practical meaning of the 1985 Supreme Court decision. Action should be the wearing of video cams to document all incidents and arrests.  Action should be training officers to NOT shoot unarmed suspects, and if shooting is deemed necessary, training to NOT go for a "kill shot." Why not the legs or the arms? Police should be required to carry Mace, a baton, and a Taser gun. Police should be taught to be more aware of the context of the incidents.  If you are called to a toy store, the chances are that if you are confronted with a person carrying a toy gun, think that the gun actually is a toy gun! Recognize it for what it is!

As for now, the Federal Government Department of Justice should bring Darell Wilson to trial on Federal charges. There is clear evidence for "probable cause." Mr and Mrs. Brown call for justice, as do millions of citizens. Let this situation spark a renewal in police ethics and training. This tragedy has awakened deeply felt dissension, and torn the scab off the suppurating wounds of racism. Someone said (paraphrase): "Don't let a tragedy go to waste." Tragedy can unite. Tragedy can lead to healing. Let it be so. "I want justice!" the widow cries.  As does America.

"For he is our peace; in his flesh, he has made both groups
into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is,
the hostility between us."
Ephesians 2:14

Peace!
Ron

Saturday, November 15, 2014

CONVERSION: IT IS POSSIBLE!

I attended a lecture by Joseph Pearce.  He began by singing the first verse of "Amazing Grace." "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved as wretch like me.  I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see."

At the age of 15, Joseph Pearce joined the British National Front, a far-right political party opposed to multi-racial and multi-cultural England.  At the age of 16, he set-up the BULLDOG, the paper of the organization.  His parents never went to church and never prayed. He attended a school whose motto above the door was: "To your own self be true." These words are from Shakespeare's HAMLET, Act 1, Scene 3, spoken by Polonius to his son, Laertes. Joseph said this motto described his life. He spoke of his brief stint as a singer in a punk rock band. He spoke of a song he sang with the band which included the words: "White power! Smash, smash! Yanks, go home!" 

He was imprisoned twice. His conversion occurred during his second imprisonment. He was given a book written by C.K. Chesterton. It changed his life. He then read C.S. Lewis, followed by reading John Newton's conversion story. All the books pointed to the "Amazing grace of God!" Of Chesterton, Joseph spoke of his humor and humility. Joseph quoted Chesterton: "Anything that's worth doing, is worth doing badly." He coupled this with Chesterton's allusion to the value of standing on your head and seeing the world differently. Joseph liked Chesterton's comment about conversation: "We always argued, but never quarrelled." 

Through these writings, Christ came to "make sense" to Joseph. It led him to what he describes as a "rational faith." His book is titled, RACE WITH THE DEVIL: MY JOURNEY FROM RACIAL HATRED TO RATIONAL FAITH." Faith in Christ led him to conclude that racism is overcome through love, all through the amazing grace of God. The alternative, life without Christ, without God, leads only to the "Three G's: Guillotine, Gulag, and Genocide", referring to the French Revolution, Communism, and the Third Reich. Joseph is now the Director of the Center for Faith and Culture at Aquinas College in Nashville.

The relevance of Joseph's story for today is exemplified in the conflicts between Blacks-Hispanics-Asians-Whites-Native Americans-Muslims-Christians-Sunnis-Shiites-Russians-Chinese-Republicans-Democrats-Fundamentalists-Mainlines-Gays-Straights-Ferguson and.... The list is seemingly endless. Dealing with diversity and differences present the greatest challenges to peace and justice. 

Hatred is easy. Love takes work. The Apostle Paul is insightful: "The evil I do not want to do, that I do. The good I want to do, that I do not do." I take heart in God's words in Revelation 21:5: "See, I am make all things new!" This is "amazing grace." It is by grace that our hearts are changed and our actions focused to justice, peace, and reconciliation. Grace causes conversion. It is possible!

Peace!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

ELECTION REFLECTIONS
Our nation was devastated by the 2014 mid-terms. The cultural and political divide was glaringly revealed! The descent precipitous. The Biblical text that speaks to this time is the Magnificat in Luke 1. Notice the contrast, the irony. Replace the Trinity with the powerful elite, the greedy banker, the Wall Street mogul, the bought-off politician who breathes only the air of profit and perks. 

MY SOUL MAGNIFIES THE LORD: Money and the power of the elite was magnified. Winning trumped concern for the common good. Citizens United became the flood covering the goodness of life rather than a cleansing agent. The ark is nowhere to be found. Our god is the belly filled with poisonous ego, turned in upon itself with ulcerous pain.

FOR THE MIGHTY ONE HAS DONE GREAT THINGS FOR ME: The mighty are the corporate leeches who refuse to pay decent wages, seek ways to pay lower taxes, take jobs overseas and take advantage of overseas workers, who seek ways to avoid capital gains taxes, who suck money out of our society like a vacuum cleaner, who deny adequate health care to all, who stifle attempts to rebuild our infrastructure, who bleed the environment of health, who choke the air with carbon for profit's sake, who punish those immigrants yearning to breathe free and find sustaining labor and fair wages.

The mighty ones are Wall Street and Big Banks who refuse to help homeowners, who play with people's money by investing in the market rather than people, who feel entitled to yachts and holiday homes in Aspen, Nice, the Hamptons, and Chamonix, who refuse to refinance student loans, who want relief from regulations to the detriment of the national financial health.

The mighty ones are the politicians who sell their souls to the wealthy who buy their fealty with campaign contributions, who bow to the Big Banks, to Wall Street, and the corporate moguls believing it in the best interests of the country, who do not acknowledge the increasing economic inequality, who still believe that unfettered capitalism will right the sinking ark of the people, who believe the military will lead us home and is blindly deserving of our bended knee.

HIS MERCY IS FOR THOSE WHO FEAR HIM: Profit is mercy's pathological instrument. The record setting Dow juices the filled pockets and demands the peons fear their suited presence. Mercy is not what they give, but what they demand in payment.

HE HAS SHOWN STRENGTH WITH HIS ARMS: That the people will be crushed, that the people be low-wage slaves, that the people be denied jobs worthy of their talents, that teachers be layed off, that public schools be stiffed of adequate resources, that the majority of students be walled-off from learning, that higher and advanced education be only for those who can afford it.

HE HAS SCATTERED THE PROUD IN THE THOUGHTS OF THEIR HEARTS: A person's pride in their work and ability to support their family is squashed in the pulverizer of greedy power. The only pride is in profit and only the well connected deserve it because only they know the true capitalistic methodology, or so they believe. The rest of us just don't get it, as we are lazy, we are the undeserving.

HE HAS BROUGHT DOWN THE POWERFUL FROM THEIR THRONES: The Everyman, the Everywoman, the Everychild are the powerful, and their bodies litter American streets and soil.  They have been brought low from their thrones of home and family.

AND LIFTED UP THE LOWLY: Where? How? The lowly are ground up like hamburger.

HE HAS FILLED THE HUNGRY WITH GOOD THINGS: Only with fast food and dumpster leftovers.

AND SENT THE RICH AWAY EMPTY: Empty of restraints and regulations, empty of accountability in the courts, empty of empathy, empty of love, empty of justice, empty of God.

Rise up, O People of God! Reclaim the True Magnificat! Demand the Reign of God and the building of the Kingdom! Let God's grace guide, empower, and provide! The time is ripe for transformation!

Peace!
Ron