I’m honored to be able to say that I’ve been asked to join our local scout council’s cub scout camping committee. Camping has long been one of my favorite aspects of the scouting experience, as evidenced in part by my 9 years on our council’s camp staff. As my friend & mentor Jim Dedera used to say, “Summer camp is the Christmas of the Scouting program.”
I’m extremely excited about the opportunity to help and serve scouting in this new way. I was on the camping committee years ago as a youth representative while I was lodge chief, but I know that I’ll have more to offer now given my background and connections to more resources. I’m also very excited that my work in this role might be able to directly help with the program at camp for my own sons and others their age.
About the committee, from the BSA Camping and Outdoor Program Committee Guide:
The camping and outdoor program committee (COPC) is a critical leadership group entrusted with safely delivering the outdoor adventure that youth and adults expect and that lead to self-discovery and character development. The committee plans and oversees the council outdoor program and the facilities that are needed to support the program. Under the COPC’s leadership, all elements of the Scouting outdoor program collaborate to understand the market needs, develop relevant programs, and deploy facilities and resources to most effectively meet demands of increasingly diverse youth and adult populations. The national Scouting organization provides support for market analysis through Research and Innovation.
The committee is responsible for:
Inspiring youth and leaders to conduct meaningful and exciting outdoor programs at all levels, including the unit, district, and council.
Strategically focusing on and planning camping and program resources, properties, and facilities needed to deliver relevant programs.
Ensuring proper emphasis and understanding of the needs of an increasingly diverse youth and adult population.
Anticipating emerging needs of youth and parents.
Assessing and delivering program that can exceed the expectations of the diverse population.
Continually developing and ensuring maintenance of camps.
Promoting and marketing the council and national program and camping facilities.
Facilitating collaboration among expert functional resource groups/committees to provide relevant, safe, and exciting camping and outdoor programs.
My three oldest and me at camp in June of 2016. This was #3’s first time, and he’s been waiting yearsfor the chance to go to cub scout camp with his brothers. It was a great weekend!
At last week’s National Order of the Arrow Conference (I’ll do a write-up about the whole event soon), National Chief Alex Call launched a movement in his Wednesday night address. He asked (“dared”) each of the 15,000 Arrowmen in attendance to join him in impacting the world in a positive way as the Order begins its second century of service.
The concept is simple: Execute one, simple act of service (a “good turn”, as it’s been called in scouting for ages) each day. But now, instead of staying quiet about it, talk about it – Tweet about it or post it on Facebook with the hashtag #DareToDo. Why brag? Well, it’s not bragging as much as it is changing the common perception that there’s more bad than good in the world. By executing good deeds and spreading the word about them, we hope to start changing hearts and minds towards positive action one day at a time.
The challenge was to take the #DareToDo pledge for 100 days, but I have a feeling that for many of us, it’ll continue beyond the first 100 days.
[pey-tree-ahrk] n. noun 1. the male head of a family or tribal line.
My Grandpa Halbrook passed away this morning at 10:53. He was 85.
He was facing three necessary surgeries, each more risky and complicated than the last. His body didn’t carry him to the first. He was ready.
Roses are a special memory from times at grandma and grandpa’s when I was young. They kept a row of rose bushes along one side of their house, and I often went out and cut some to bring in to grandma.
The day of my grandma’s funeral 8 years ago this November, a single white November rose bloomed on the pink rose bush in front of our house. I knew that that meant something very special because of all that had led up to grandma’s passing.
This morning, there were two beautiful pink roses together on the bush. A patriarch is no such thing without a matriarch. They are together again…
Grandpa was a great man. True, brave, loyal, hard-working, knowledgeable, strict but fair. He had the right priorities, starting with family. He taught us all well, by word and by example.
He met grandma when he had a medical leave on the Japanese mainland while he was serving as a Marine in the Korean War. He fell in love. He faced resistance and friends that turned their backs when he brought her to the States. But that mattered not to them. Love wins.
Since their house was always blocks from mine growing up, I spent a lot of time there. I went there after preschool, and that’s when grandma and my Aunt Becky taught me to read (reading the St. Louis Post Dispatch newspaper). As I grew older, when I needed a break from my parents’ house, I could always ride my bike to visit grandma & grandpa’s house.
I’m sure my family will share a lot of memories in the coming days, weeks, and years, but here’s a short list of some of the random memories from grandma & grandpa’s:
Grandpa constantly reminding grandma that she’s really the boss
We’ll miss him terribly. In your kindness, please pray for our family, especially my dad, my Aunt Becky, and my Uncle Jerry.
I will always cherish the last hour I had alone with him last night, and the smile on his face when he saw his four great grandsons – my sons – visiting him for the last time last Saturday.
We’ll always remember…
Grandpa’s obituary is yet to be written, but for when it’s ready, I’ll re-post grandma’s, from November 11, 2007.
In the end, the two are inseparable…
Judy (Kimura) Halbrook, 79, of Granite City, died at 7:40 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2007, at the University Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Edwardsville.
She was born on Feb. 10, 1928, in Nagoya, Japan. Mrs. Halbrook was a homemaker; she was sworn in as a United States citizen on Jan. 26, 1960.
She married Ross Halbrook on Aug. 13, 1952, in Kyoto, Japan. He survives after 55 years of marriage.
Other survivors include two sons, Woody (Rita) Halbrook and Jerry (Shelly) Halbrook, both of Granite City; one daughter, Becky (Kerry) Johnson of Granite City; eight grandchildren, Michael (Suzanne), Sara (Michael), Sean, Kyle, Kelsey, Christopher, Kimura, Brett; and two great-grandchildren, Thomas and Matthew.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Toji and Kohagi Kimura; and one brother.
Funeral services were Saturday, Nov. 10, at Irwin Chapel, 3960 Maryville Road in Granite City, with the Rev. Larry Burnette officiating.
The body was cremated.
Memorials may be made to Holy Family Church Learning Center or Holy Family School, and will be accepted at the funeral home.
Today, I’m sharing a massive Throwback Thursday (#TBT): A stockpile of thoughts and memories that have come to me in recent weeks as I’ve been pondering the 100th Anniversary of the Order of the Arrow. I’m also sharing audio of two great men who had a huge impact on my life: my old mentor & lodge adviser Jim Dedera, and the founder of the OA Dr. E. Urner Goodman.
Last Thursday was the true 100th Anniversary of the first callout and Ordeal in the Order of the Arrow, the founding of Scouting’s National Honor Society. I Facebooked:
100 years ago today, the Order of the Arrow, scouting’s national honor society and the bedrock of the formation of servant leaders among scouting’s best, was founded. Apart from my family and church, the Order within scouting provided the most opportunities to grow in leadership and service, and to practice skills of management, organization, marketing, writing, communication, leadership, and more that I use in my day-to-day life. The Order of the Arrow helped make me who I am, and I’m honored to still be active and playing an active role in the celebration of the 100th Anniversary this year.
I’ve been meaning to dig up a little Throwback Thursday (#TBT) in honor of the 100th Anniversary, but first I needed some time to digitize an old tape that’s been sitting on my desk for a few months since I ran across it. Now I’ve had time, so it’s time to share. So here’s a random assembly of memories of my time in the Order of the Arrow, sandwiched between the 100th Anniversary date last week and me leaving to help on the staff of the 100th Anniversary National OA Conference (NOAC) at Michigan State University next week.
First, some memories of my own Ordeal, when I became a member of the Order of the Arrow after being elected by my fellow scouts in my own troop. My Ordeal (per my copious childhood notes) was on June 20, 1990. I give you 25 years ago:
These two pictures are scans from a framed collage that the Hewlett family gave me the day I was presented my Eagle Scout rank. In these pictures, I’m wearing the red scout hat, my dad is wearing the boonie hat, my friend and troopmate Mark Hewlett is in the red shorts, and our Elangomat John Peery is in the white shirt with green bands. Mark, my dad, and I served our Ordeal together. Mark and I went on to become the first two Eagle Scouts in our troop, with our boards of review on the same night (November 14, 1991).
We put in a lot of work that weekend in moving and re-building the camp’s monument to the donor of the land to its new location. Our troop had moved the monument as a service project during our week at camp – on our Ordeal, we built a stone walkway up to the monument.
For context, here’s a picture of me with 3 of my boys and my dad at the same monument, just 2 years ago:
After my Ordeal, I attended NOAC in 1990 at Indiana University for two days (dad, Mark, and I drove out and “walked in” – we even made it into the Theme Show! I was hooked). I got active in the newly-merged Kishkakon lodge in 1991 as camp promotions chairman, then served as lodge secretary from 1992-1994. I served on staff at the 1992 NOAC on the publications staff, writing for the NOAC Today newspaper. I covered the ’92 Summer Olympics and all things happening in the arena with OA Shows.
At the ’94 NOAC, I was in the Theme Show cast as part of the shows staff. Here’s a picture of me with a bunch of my lodge brothers (and fellow cast members) before we left for NOAC in ’94:
Just prior to leaving for NOAC, I was honored to be called out to keep the Vigil:
I served as lodge chief in 1995-1996, blessed to work with our lodge adviser Jim Dedera, who by then had become a close friend, adviser, and mentor. Jim passed away a couple of years ago, but not without leaving an indelible mark on hundreds of young men, including me and the close friends that I made while sharing in the leadership of the lodge in our service to our council and communities.
A few years back, Jim gave me a cassette tape that I tucked away until finding it a few months ago.
The cassette tape had a recording of Dr. E. Urner Goodman’s (the OA founder’s) recorded message to Arrowman on the occassion of the OA’s 50th anniversary in 1965, and a short reflection recorded by Jim himself. I’ve finally digitized it and can share it here:
Here’s “Vision Check”, in Jim Dedera’s own voice:
Here’s the text of the Jim’s “Vision Check” recording:
When was the last time that you had your vision checked? No, I don’t mean a physical eye check, but a vision check of the spirit. Each one of us needs to check the vision of the spirit within us often, and to reflect. The vision of brotherhood, cheerfulness, and service is important to each of us as individual Arrowmen. Brotherhood is not self-serving or lacking in love for one another, but Brotherhood is love, and Brotherhood is trust. Brotherhood is friendly. Brotherhood is kind. Brotherhood is caring. Brotherhood is accepting each other for who we are. Is that a reflection of our vision of Brotherhood? Cheerfulness is also a thing of the spirit. It comes from within. The inner vision of Cheerfulness is reflected in our attitude toward life and those with whom we come into contact. Cheerfulness is a reflection of our individual being. Is this a vision that we might have of Cheerfulness? Service, also, is of the internal spirit. Service is caring for each other and a willingness to share ourself. Yes, Service is a thing of the individual and of the team. Think of that word Team, and the letters in it. Together Everyone Achieves More in service to fellow man. Good vision is important for every Arrowman. Vision gives focus, expectation, motivation, and it sustains us for the long haul, to keep the spirit alive. Good vision of the spirit truly shapes who we are. A regular vision check of the WWW is always worthwhile. Be sure to remember that a vision check without a task is only a dream. May we together in the lodge continue to seek the higher vision and to find the greater beauty.
It means the world to hear Jim’s voice talking to us, challenging us, again. Talk about a “Throwback”!
With these brothers and friends, I learned to serve and to lead.
In 1996, I assisted in the direction of the NOAC Theme Show; in 1998 and 2000, I served as assistant and then Technical Director for NOAC Shows; in 2002, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to write the NOAC Theme Show; in 2004 & 2006, I led the communication operations for NOAC shows and in ’06 was lucky to be able to walk my first-born son Thomas across the NOAC stage in a stroller (the setting was a mall, and we were a “young family” of extras – I maintain that he’s now the youngest cast member in the history of the NOAC Theme Show). I also helped produce and lead the OA’s thematic theatrical productions at the ’97, ’01, and ’05 National Scout Jamborees.
Without a doubt, the Order of the Arrow “provided the most opportunities to grow in leadership and service, and to practice skills of management, organization, marketing, writing, communication, leadership, and more that I use in my day-to-day life. The Order of the Arrow helped make me who I am, and I’m honored to still be active and playing an active role in the celebration of the 100th Anniversary this year.”
Most importantly, it gave me skills AND FRIENDSHIPS for life. All around the country, but especially here at home.
So I’ll close this Throwback Thursday with words from the founder of the Order, E. Urner Goodman, from his recording for Arrowmen on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Order in 1965. Here’s the audio:
And here’s the transcription:
My fellow Arrowmen, during this our Golden Jubilee year, I just wish I might fly on some magic carpet to attend the celebrations in each area and in each local lodge of the Order of the Arrow. What a time we could have together. Well, for lack of that magic carpet, I do want to use the modern magic of the tape recording to bring my greetings and best wishes to you on this happy occasion. So here I am in my living room up in Vermont. My technician this morning is none other than the moderator of our town meetings here in the town of Winhall, Vermont. As I speak, I shall try to picture you in my mind’s eye, gathered about me, and imagine myself looking at each of you, face to face.
Well, Golden Jubilees are rare events, aren’t they? And we do well to make merry. I remember the golden wedding of my grandparents, in whose home I was raised. Grandpa Goodman was a very dignified old gentleman, but on that festive occasion, he even did a dance – after fashion. And he and grandma lived to celebrate many more wedding anniversaries after that one. So as the Order observes its 50th Anniversary, it is natural that we should have some big doings. As I speak, I am looking forward to the weekend celebration at Treasure Island in June. What a time that should be. God-willing, we should have a notable reunion, too, of the pioneers of the Order. My associate director of Treasure Island Camp in 1915, whom I like to call the co-founder, Carroll Edson; and then the very first chief of the very first lodge, George Chapman; and the young fellow who went with me into the woods to select and to prepare the first ceremonial grounds, Harry Yoder. Interestingly enough, George and Harry are still very active and interested in the Order, 50 years later.
Then, of course, my heart is set on the 50th Anniversary National Conference in August, at Indiana University, August 27-31, you remember. This fine campus has been the scene of many a national conference through the years, and in a very real sense, the Order has left its imprint on the grounds. Look for it when you get there. What a time it will be on our 50th. Plans are going forward to make this the biggest and best national conference ever. Meanwhile, in the Boy Scouts of America Report to the Nation during boy scout week, we are presenting a special report on our 50th anniversary to the President and to the governors of our 50 states. And besides such spectacular events, I am sure that in area conferences – yes, in local lodge celebrations, we shall make merry during our 50th anniversary year. I’m so glad that a special ceremony for such anniversary pow-wows in local lodges has been published. 1965 should be our big year in the Order of the Arrow – full of dramatic events. Now, my brothers, this you would expect me to say too: Our 50th anniversary year should be marked not only by festivities, but also by some notable achievements in service. I’m delighted that this begins with each individual arrowman.
By this time, I’m sure you’re all familiar with the special emblem that is to be awarded to each member of our Order who does five things related to our usefulness to scouting this year. I want to challenge every one of you to win this individual award, and shall be looking for it, ultimately, on your Order of the Arrow sashes. Earning this award means many more boys in troops in our camps, many worthwhile camp improvement projects, better scouting, better advancement, and most important of all, many new boys will have an opportunity to join in on the fun and adventure of scouting as cub scouts, boy scouts, and explorers.
One further admonition do I have for you as individual brothers: That you will in this anniversary year do your level best to set the very finest personal example as a true scout and a real brother. I have found, as you have, that others look upon us and expect to see a quality above the ordinary. The arrow is a hallmark of distinction. By the same token, it will be a wonderful thing if each lodge in the nation undertakes some special service project of worth during the year: One that will make your local scout council glad that 50 years ago the Order was brought into existence. Here we have a challenge and an opportunity to do some really big things. Let’s do them cheerfully.
Our chief area of service, of course, is in camping, for the Order has its roots in the camp. One thing that had delighted me in the past few years has been the way in which a number of our lodges have produced booklets on where to go camping for the use of all scouts and explorer units in their territory. Recently, I received another such booklet from the adviser of lodge #468 of the Mount Diabalo Council in California. It was one of the more complete jobs I have ever laid eyes on. It gives guidance not only to local council camping centers, but also to regional parks, state parks, and recreation areas, national monuments and parks, national scout camps, and historic trails. Now I must confess that this particular booklet had a sentimental appeal to me, my brothers, because the adviser who sent it to me is Gilson M. Talmadge, whom I have sometimes called “My very first scout.” You see, it was he, who as a boy led a handful of other boys to my front door in April 1911 and asked me to take them on a hike, eventually to become their Scoutmaster. Well, anyway, let’s make a great record for scout camping in our jubilee year.
I have another specific project which has been on my heart as a feature of our jubilee program: It relates to our preservation of the lore and the culture of our aborigines, the American Indian. My hope is that in each lodge, there will be a special report during 1965 on its study of the particular tribe or tribes which occupied its council territory. Yes, more than that, a report on what it has done to make the costumes and learn the dances and ceremonies of these early people come to life again. When we assemble all of these reports at the end of our anniversary year, it should make one of the most noteworthy reports ever compiled in this field. It would be a great birthday present to the nation.
There’s one more thing I want to say: The Order is not, and indeed never was, one man’s doing. From the very beginning, there were those, young and old, who helped lay the foundation. Men like Dr. Hinkle, a Philadelphia Scoutmaster, for instance, who did much of the early work on our ceremonies. As the Order grew, many men gave superb leadership to its growth in local lodges, and in our various areas and regions, and above all in our national committee. What a wonderful succession of chairmen we have had for that body. What a great step forward it was when we began selecting outstanding young men to be our national secretary and had area chiefs take over our national conferences. So here we are today, a great host of over 200,000 brothers in cheerful service, that covers every state in the Union. I shall never cease to be grateful to those who have helped bring us to this day.
My brothers, I remember how I felt when I became 50 years of age. I was ready to conquer the world for righteousness, figuratively speaking. I was a man full-grown, with a lot of experience behind me. And so, bring on your problems and give me a chance at them! That was my frame of mind. So may it be with us as we celebrate our golden jubilee. With the help and guidance of Almighty God, may we be willing to tackle any appropriate task of cheerful service that will contribute to the brotherhood of man. Amid all the voices of pessimism and discouragement in the world today, we offer out of our 50 years’ experience with dedicated youth, hope for brighter, better days ahead. May God guide each one of you to make the most of his life in this great crusade.
Well now, as I close this little talk, let me lead you in the traditional birthday song, using the words “My brothers” at the end… Happy birthday to you…
To brotherhood, cheerfulness, and service! To the next 100 years!
It was cool to read what Blair Reeves had to write about Adobe in his Bullish Data Newsletter… pretty much in line with what we’ve been telling the market we’re trying to do, and have been heads-down working on for the last few years. Wonderful to be in the company of other great, smart, passionate professionals in our #AdobeLife who are working together and becoming “a cast study candidate”…
Adobe is a rocket ship
Adobe’s Q2 report came out on Monday, and I updated my running chart of financial performance for the company and Marketing Cloud specifically. The company is on a tear. While their P/E multiple is still at eye-watering levels, in 2015 they’ve nearly doubled their operating margin from where it was in 2013/2014 and begun to ramp up net income in a big way. The fruits of their pivot to a cloud model are beginning to show.
One day, Adobe should be a case study candidate for a company that has successfully done two extremely difficult things well – simultaneously. First, they pivoted from an on–prem software model to mostly cloud. The transition to Creative Cloud, while ceasing the sale of their on-prem creative products, involved swapping out one source of revenue for another (recurring) one, which distorted the optics of their revenue growth for several years. It’s a tribute to their strong leadership and clear communication that they were able to do it as a public company.
Second, they built an industry-leading digital marketing line of business from virtually nothing. Starting with the Omniture acquisition in 2009, Adobe has deftly managed its marketing tech acquisitions in such a way as to build enormous value around the portfolio as a whole, and not just through the sum of its parts. (Can you tell I’m trying to avoid saying “synergy?”) Very, very few companies have done this nearly as successfully.
The Feast of Corpus Christi (currently designated in the Roman Missal as the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ) is traditionally celebrated today, the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. However, in our calendar in the United States, we will celebrate it this coming Sunday.
I love this feast day because of what it celebrates and focuses us on: The Body and Blood of Christ, the joy of the institution and presence of the Eucharist, and our call to be members of Christ’s Body, and to take Him into the world in our own lives and actions.
A Diaconate Apirant – A “Yes” from our Diocese
As such, it’s particularly meaningful to me that today is the day that I received a long-awaited letter from Father Christopher House, the Director of the Office of the Diaconate in our diocese, informing me that I have been selected to be a member of the diaconate class of 2020 in our diocese, with my formation to begin formally this coming fall. Today, Corpus Christi 2015, I begin a new journey.
It’s notable and important to mention something that’s been weighing on my heart and heavy on my mind the last several months since I applied for consideration for this:
When I submitted my application packet for the diaconate formation program to the diocese, I immediately started to feel a draw back to really focus and reflect on the chalice whenever the priest would elevate it at Mass. For years, knowing that my dad wasn’t Catholic, I would silently pray to myself at the elevation, “God, if it be your Will, please call my dad into communion via your precious blood.”
Three years ago at the Easter Vigil, I was blessed with the honor to stand with him and sponsor him as he entered into full Communion in the Church and received the Holy Eucharist for the first time.
I’ve been thinking a lot about that prayer that I said for years, and how the deacon assists the priest at Mass by helping to prepare the chalice, and then later at the final doxology of the Eucharistic Prayer, by elevating the chalice as the priest raises the paten with the Eucharistic bread.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the meaning of the deacon assisting in this way, and then about the primary ministry of the deacon being service out in the world, on the streets, where we need more and more to make Christ present… the connections between the deacon and the chalice, between service and sacrifice, between each of us and the role and service we’re called to within Christ’s Body.
Fathers & Sons
And then, as I continue to reflect on that silent prayer to Christ present in the chalice, and my own father’s journey, I find it funny that I found out about my admission while flying home on a work trip… in the Admirals Club at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, asking my oldest son to read the letter to me over the phone.
He couldn’t stand to wait, and neither could I. He got it honestly, I suppose. It was a special moment for him and for me. I’ll admit – I teared up a bit.
Fathers and sons, men and women, ordained and lay. Music directors and diaconate aspirants. We all have our place in the Body of Christ – we’re all called in various ways, and when He gives us the grace to answer that call and act upon it, wonderful things begin to happen.
Tonight I walked into Kool Beanz Cafe, the coffee shop a few blocks from home, for an end-of-day coffee. Victoria, the owner, pointed out a jar on the cabinets behind the front counter. Lemon drops. I smiled as she explained that someone had brought them in a few days ago, asked whether I still frequented there, and then left them for me to find.
I realized early on that there wouldn’t be a golden epiphany, no bright flash from the sky with a booming voice saying, “Michael. Do this!”
Instead, there’s a decision on my part each day to spend time in prayerful conversation with God, to carefully listen and try to feel His response, and then to take a few steps each day in the direction I feel I’m being led. That might continue to lead in the direction I’m now going, or someday it might turn me right or left down some entirely different path.
Now it’s simply, “Step by step with God”.
Jon talks about being brave, and not getting stuck – no “stuck dreams”. He writes, “You can’t wait until you feel brave enough to make a decision. You can’t wait until you have a perfect plan to make a decision. You just have to make one.”
Just one decision, just one step at a time. Sometimes one decision then 3 or 4 steps. The destination might end up different a few months or years down the trail, the trail might get dark and narrow, but you still walk it one step at a time.
“If you want peace work for justice.”
– Pope Paul VI
I didn’t sleep well last night. As I tried, buildings and cars in a city 20 miles from my own were being burned by the citizens.
The reaction to the announcement that Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson will not be charged in the shooting death of Michael Brown in August filled the airwaves, Twitter, and Facebook through the night last night. In fact – and I believe this is relevant – I’m fairly certain that more friends were posting about this than they did about election day.
How did we get here? Yes, I do believe that decades of ongoing “invisible segregation” from various angles led to a charged situation in reaction to this case. No, I don’t believe that it’s unique to our region, but it is likely amplified here due to the political and social History at play.
I also believe that the media and the 24-hour news cycle continues to play a role in inflaming the situation.
There are injustices to be righted, sure. But I couldn’t sleep because I had seen, in vivid color on the television, how far we had slipped as a society, how much loss of respect for others and for property had evaporated, and how much lack of restraint, self-control, and proper means of justice had been forgotten.
Justice? Justice under the law was announced last night for Officer Wilson. A grand jury of peers, of citizens, met for months, reviewing facts, testimony, and the letter of the law, and they made the decision that there were no charges that could or should be made against the officer.
Justice in our community was turned on its head in the same moment, though. Some with years of pent-up anger at their situations in life, and hatred toward those they perceive as keeping them there, and some who I truly believe are here to professionally incite have now taken over. A decades-old bandage has been removed, and the wound is bleeding profusely.
One tweet that I saw just before bed, in particular, is memorable and disturbs me. It read something like, “Jesus would’ve been at the front of the line of protesters.”
No, on this I beg to disagree.
The Jesus I know would have cared deeply about the situation and the people involved, but I personally believe he would’ve been tending to those injured. He may have been with the family of Michael Brown. He may have been consoling the families who own the businesses that were being destroyed by fire. I don’t think he would’ve been burning down buildings or torching police cars. The only time in Scripture I saw Him angry was in the House of God – the temple, His Father’s house – when it had been turned into a marketplace.
No, the Jesus I know might have asked the protester (remember his friend in the garden?) to “Put your sword back into its sheath” (c.f. Matthew 26:52), and then repaired the ear of the High Priest’s Servant, “…for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” (Ibid.)
He likely would have been in the neighborhood LONG before this turned to violence in the streets, and would’ve been working to do some of what needs to be done today: Helping youth receive a better education, develop hope, and find a path out of the oppression they’re living in; Helping parents connect with resources to raise families of faith and respect; Dare I say removing some of the layers and levers of government that lead to such imposing economic realities and forceful governance? He would’ve pushed for freedom – true freedom – freedom such as we probably wouldn’t recognize anymore, in our inclination to continue to vote for whomever will legislate taking from another man and giving to us.
There is an organizing principal that has developed through the years in Catholic social teaching, dubbed “Subsidiarity”, in which I strongly believe, and that I think we need to evolve back to (gosh, that constant revolution reminds me of my PoliSci 112 days…) Subsidiarity teaches that matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority. This ties back to my observation earlier about elections, but it also ties to Jesus, and faith in general.
Poverty and injustice must be solved first and foremost in hearts, then in familes and homes, on blocks within communities, within parishes and other churches, within neighborhoods. Injustice will never be defeated by a law passed by Congress, or by a state, or even by a county government. The further we have asked the government to solve our injustices, the further we have fallen, and the more polarized we have become.
I truly believe that this is the crux of the moment in History at which we stand: The final defining moment in which we must choose whether we will personally take responsibility for ourselves and our brothers, or whether we’ll delegate that responsibility to the government franchise.
This is a big part of why I feel called to the Diaconate, and I hope and pray that my application and formation process might continue. I believe strongly that I’m being called to place myself at the service of our bishop and his successors to help our pastors take Jesus – the real Jesus, the Jesus planted in our hearts and souls and bodies through the Eucharist – our very Church and parishioners – and lead us into the streets and homes and cities to bring all of our resources to bear to right years of wrongs, and to solve our problems as close to home as we possibly can. I feel that my entire life of experience and upbringing has brought me to this moment where I might be able to be a servant leader in trying to do something to right so many wrongs and help so many who are hurting. I certainly don’t even know all of the answers or all of the stops on that journey yet, but I trust that they’ll manifest themselves when it’s time, and that I’ll lead others, and they’ll lead me in the right ways.
In another related post, another friend commented that the ill-placed “Season’s Greetings” banner in Ferguson really needs to read, “Let there be peace on earth.” Yes, let there be.
If we want peace, we must work for justice, but not a co-opted political version of justice: Justice, first and foremost under the law, and then in a very deep, real way, justice in the hearts and lives of those held down by the constructs of our own society.
It starts with prayer, and then it moves on to looking for ways that YOU can help.