Tag Archives: platitudes

taking the bone away from a dog

People who love soft words and hate iniquity forget this, that reform consists in taking the bone away from a dog. Philosophy will not do this. — John Jay Chapman

There are times when I have to remind myself that I need to take a deep breath and move more slowly. But, then there are other times when my frustration at the lack of of caring and compassion I see around me almost drives me into despair.

Nowhere is this more true than in the church. Platitudes and prayers for the poor and oppressed flow from our lips in unending streams as long as we are well hidden behind our stained-glass fences. But once we go through the gate into the street all we can say is “good doggie.”

All of us daily pass by the big dogs cracking the bones of the poor. It’s not as if we don’t see the iniquity that crushes the oppressed in our midst. But, soft, smooth words whispered in a sanctuary are both safe and respectable. Attempting to take that bone away might mean stitches.

The hungry will never get fed, the poor will never get justice, until we care enough, until we love enough, to start taking the bones away from the dogs. When will we be faithful enough that we hunger more for justice than respectability? When will our love for each other trump our love for safety and ease? When will the headlines finally read “Man Takes Bone Away From Dog”?

praying for the Pope

Jesus wasn’t crucified for telling his listeners to consider the lilies and how they grow. He was nailed to the cross for pointing to the thieves and saying look how they steal. And the thieves to which he was pointing were the religious leaders who were most loudly proclaiming their religiosity.

Jesus was crucified because he was threatening the established religious order. The religious leaders in Jerusalem encouraged the Roman government to take care of the growing menace Jesus posed to their control of the faithful.  Jesus was drawing far too much attention to the disparity between their sanctimonious proclamations and the ugly reality of their lifestyles. He had to be silenced.

The Romans pulled the trigger. But it was the religious leaders that pointed the gun.

All of that is to say that I am praying daily for Pope Francis. He continues to demonstrate true prophetic courage in addressing the critical issues of our day. And there is true danger in that.

The Pope’s humility is real, but so is his call for change.  George Weigel, a conservative Catholic, recently wrote that, “Pope Francis is a revolutionary. The revolution he proposes, however, is not a matter of economic or political prescription, but a revolution in the self-understanding of the Catholic Church.”

I  disagree. Pope Francis is definitely working to clean out the thieves from the temple and put the Catholic Church back into order. But, he has also demonstrated he is committed to living out the gospel of Jesus Christ, not just mouthing platitudes.

Pope Francis is addressing the economic inequities of our world and he is doing it in a manner that points a finger at those in positions of power. He is truly showing preferential treatment towards the poor, the weak and the dispossessed. Such  prophetic faithfulness is powerful. It is also imminently dangerous. It was in Jerusalem. And it certainly is in Rome.

 

our hell will be far worse

War is hell. I know. I have experienced it.

Hunger is hell. I know. I have seen it

I have seen war and I have seen hunger. Nothing can adequately prepare you for either.

Experiencing the violence of combat is terrifying.

Seeing a starving child is terrifying. Seeing the parents of a starving child is even more terrifying.

I know. I have held far too many malnourished and starving children in my arms…Over the past 35 years I have learned that basic humanity demands more than platitudes for the hungry. Morality demands more than compassion. Morality demands action.

I have watched children so hungry here in the US they’ve torn into a 50 lb. bag of potatoes, stuffing raw potatoes into their mouths, gnawing through the dirt to put something in their bellies.

I have watched elderly women, mothers & grandmothers kneel in the frozen Afghanistan mud to pick up individual grains of wheat fallen from bags of relief food.

I have talked with 14 & 15 year old commercial sex workers in Zambia who prostitute themselves so they can eat. When I asked about the threat of HIV/AIDS their answer was as direct as it was chilling:

“If I get AIDS I know I will die, but it will be 3 or 4 years. If I have no food I will starve very quickly.”

I have watched grieving mothers holding their malnourished infants too weak to save. The pain in their eyes will follow me to my grave.

Hunger is hell. And we allow it to exist. If there is any justice in the world our hell will be far worse and for eternity.