Pastor Henry's Memo

June 2018


Civility.  That public behavior expectation seems no longer to be in supply.  Our politics have become so polarized we seem not to know how to behave toward others who do not share our opinions.  We are divided by race and by income and by neighborhood.  We seem to have slots where we put people who behave contrary to our own predilections.  We label them idiots or extremists or bigots.  It seems we are almost eager to find fault and lay blame and then sit back and watch the fallout.  Imagine if Jesus only commiserated with people who were just like him.  He'd be the loneliest man on earth.  We need to be less aggressive and less intolerant and less small minded.  Our sensibilities may indeed get ruffled from time to time.  But if what we know as road rage is to be practiced even as we sit at our desks or in front of our television or while we work our fingers at warp speed on our cell phones to address the latest outrage, well, that's a shame. 


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Not all of my parishioners have their phone numbers in my cell's log.  That means I do not always know who is calling when the phone rings and I don't want to pay for Caller ID.  So, I answer call after call after call to make sure I'm not ignoring pastoral business.  Lately I've been receiving call after call after call about Medicare, as I am nearing that golden age.  Most of them are automated and it's a recording.  I hang up immediately.  Once in a while a human being is on the other end and I will listen for a bit before telling the caller I'm not interested.  I hang up without waiting for a reply.  Yesterday I received one of those calls and it wasn't about Medicare.  The polite woman inquired about my health and asked if I was feeling OK.  I let her continue.  She said it was never too soon to buy a burial plot.  If I wasn't already silent, I would have been stunned into it.  The lady was trying to sell me a grave.  And what made it so spectacularly unusual was this: she began by inquiring about my health.  Did she know something I didn't?  Never before had I been solicited over the phone to buy a grave. I know I need one, eventually.  We all do.  However, I will not conduct that transaction over the phone, no matter how polite the voice on the other end sounds.

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Unlikely Peacemakers

Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un.  Two of the most unlikely peace makers on the face of the planet.  Yet, there they stand.  They shake hands and they smile.  They sign documents and shake hands again.  And they keep smiling.  Reporters from all over the world comment and analyze.  24/7 news finds inventive ways to say the same thing over and over and over.  Allies and adversaries spin their approval and their cautions.  Diplomatic experts weigh in with history and context and make sober predictions.  Oh, that there was a pure and trustworthy palm reader or Tarot card reader or crystal ball seer to assure us of the future.  If only we could be sure hanky panky isn't afoot and lasting peace in on the menu for all the world to taste.  Time will tell.  And, perhaps, that is the best we can hope for in the short run.  As these two men fly off in different directions, may their having come together be a blessing for both nations.  May their smiles be genuine.  May their signatures be affixed to documents of peace and hope.   

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Miss America?

As the summer begins to bear down on those us who tire quickly of winter and can't wait for the sun and the breeze and the balmy temps, the world takes aim and punctures our hopes and aspirations.  It appears "a million girls who are more than pretty" will no longer ache and pine for Atlantic City.  The dreams of all future Miss America contestants will no longer need rely on their "all American face and form."  The swimsuit competition has been banished.  Miss America will be judged on intellect and poise and social awareness (whatever that means.)  And she can wear anything she wants.  Perhaps the day has arrived when the beauty pageant should be tucked away in an old trunk.  Let it finds its place next to carnival freak shows.  Let it slip into the dark recess of forgotten ephemera and never again see the light of day.  Let what was once a universally awaited extravaganza of talent and comportment and beauty be discarded.  Let those who remember what it was like to be "standing on the corner watching all the girls go by" be left forever cleaning their glasses and wondering how the world has gone by without so much as a fare-thee-well.  Perhaps even beauty is a thing no longer appreciated or acknowledged.  I have an idea: turn the Miss America pageant into an adult female only national spelling bee.  Maybe ESPN will televise that, also.

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