Sunday, October 16, 2011

Another pastor addresses the role of government

Well, I didn’t try to go to the Martin Luther King National Memorial dedication – I had visited the monuments near the Tidal Basin in September  -- since the president spoke, just as at HRC, going through security must have been time consuming.  I recall that it was this same weekend in 1995 that Farrakan held his “Million Man March”.  (For my visit to MLK, go to "BillBoushka" blog, Sept. 27, 2011.)

On this bright October morn, the Washington Post chided Americans for quickly losing focus on the issue of climate change, even compared to Europe (the latest science says that the sizes of animals is shrinking). In the “meantime”, the “Occupy Wall Street” and “Occupy DC” protests – moving to Times Square in NYC and getting permit extensions in DC – decry the “free market” system without proposing much of any specificity, other than expropriation. Perhaps a “Purification”.  At least the Tea Party, also populist, has some specific proposals.
Again (see Sept. 25 post), a prominent pastor speaks on the role of government. At the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC, Dr. Jeffrey Haggray spoke about “Citizenship and Stewardship”.  Government may rightfully redistribute wealth, he said. He didn’t speak much to the legitimacy of government, which in ancient or Biblical times had not been established through democratic means, particularly during the time of Christ and Roman occupation. Yet, you gave to Caesar what was his.  The pastor gave some of his own interpretation of the First Amendment and church and state. 

He also said, at one point, “Get involved”, and that was in fact the title a fictitious sermon given at an Appalachian commune in my 1986 novel manuscript “Tribunal and Rapture” (evaluated in 1988 by Scott Meredith). I remember showing the “sermon” to co-workers in Dallas and getting some response.  I will have to dig the manuscript out; I still have it.  But I wonder how you “get involved” when you have become walled off in a survivalist mode. The protagonist, me, has a climactic encounter with someone who had invited him to live there after a firing; then, on the outside, pre-Soviet-collapse world, a Communist Armageddon has brought about ruin to the yuppie world.  But a wedding at the end sets up a way forward out of a wasteland.

Of course, “get involved” can mean, “Put some of your own skin in the game”, outside the range of your own personal agenda. This is a stewardship month, and the pastor is teaching a class on Rick Warren’s “Purpose-Driven Life”.  And Sunday School this morning was about “gifts of the spirit”, or talents (at MCC Dallas back in the 1980s, that was always the topic every January).  But talents can be taken away. There is a hierarchy of gifts. Even in these individualistic times, proselyting can be a real talent, as unappealing as it is to me personally.  (Knowledge is a talent -- but from analysis, and occult -- receiving/speaking and interpretation of tongues.)  And whatever its reputation, particularly in the South, the Baptist denomination is supposed to cherish the idea that the individual chooses how to deploy his or her own talents -- even given the obstacles posed by others. 

As for role of government, I'm reminded again of the message of some music written by some NYC friends of mine (see my August 24 posting on the Drama blog), aiming at the idea of "parlor diplomacy", or the settling of issues from the bottom up, grass roots style, maybe with an "Area of Mutual Agreement" process (like Dan Fry's from "Understanding" in the 1970s), or the notion of "timocracy", how one enterprising individual can, with today's media and enough persistence, influence or set the pattern of thinking and social connection for an entire planet, regardless of formal government -- which right now, in our country, with its partisanship, get nothing done. So, back to the protests!

As I came home, I stopped in a MacDonald’s in Arlington and saw a small parade of cyclist dads with their small sons, all limbs shaved, completely. It was a bizarre sight.  And I thought “hoops” referred tp basketball, “wheels” to cycling, but I guess “hoops” has multiple meanings. Anyway, these men had literally put their own skin in a game. 

What a Sunday morning!

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