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Dear Christine, Dear Brett

Dear Christine Blasey Ford,

I believe you.

For the same reason Bible scholars offer to believe the first disciples, witnesses to the resurrection of Christ. Though they could not produce physical evidence other than their first-person testimony (which varied from evangelist to evangelist) and could not provide tangible proof for investigating authorities. No, they are to be believed because no one would lie about something that cost them so much. Nearly all of them died brutal deaths for the testimony they refused to recant. “We have seen the Lord; He is risen.” (See John 20:18, Matthew 28:6)

The testimony you have given has cost you dearly. May it bring you closure and peace.


Dear Brett Kavanaugh,

I am sorry.

Our young lives should not direct the course of our whole lives. When we do things we may regret later, encumbered by still-developing minds, bodies and souls, should we have to answer for these?¬† I’m not sure. But I know this: denying them is deadly. Womankind is now being encouraged to be vulnerable, to share, to face our fears, and we are. (Thank you, Brene Brown.) This is bringing us health and strength and stature. But mankind is trailing behind. Vulnerability, honesty, and sharing are something men — especially men in powerful positions — still avoid if they want to continue their pursuit of wealth, power and worldly success.

I wish, for your sake, that you didn’t have to wipe this incident from your memory. That you didn’t have to find reasons why political foes would put someone up to saying this about you. That you didn’t need to save face by glossing over facts and inventing new truths. I wish you could look back on your life, face up to all that’s happened and live out of its lessons. For we are all meant to. I wish, for your sake, there was a Brene Brown for men.

Then, you could look at Christine Blasey Ford and apologize for the hurt you caused, the harm you may not have been aware of, and then you could share how you have allowed the incidents of your life to shape you. In-form you. Make you a wiser you. And we could believe you and hope that you would bring this maturity of self and clarity of character to our Supreme Court.

I wish our world was a better place for men, as it is fast becoming a better place for women. Unfortunately, in our current circumstance, now one question remains. If a sexual harassment indictment is brought against a Supreme Court Justice, can he (or she) be removed from a lifetime appointment?


A Concerned Citizen

What is Truth?… Amen


It is so. So be it. Assent. Truth.

In this sanctuary, offering prayers, reciting creeds, listening and responding, to words which make no demands of me. They are simply true. No doubt.  At the end, we agree. God and me.

I say Amen. 

It is so. So be it. Assent. Truth.

This is truth of the boldest kind. Not proof. Not fact. Not even wisdom. This Amen is spoken between us, between God and me, words of agreement. Words we say together, in unison.

It is so. So be it. Assent.

What is truth?

If it is nothing else, it is this. What you say when you know God is watching. Listening. Demanding nothing. Accepting everything. Including you.


Are You Making that Up?

A visitor to an Austrian refugee camp felt sorry for a little wisp of a girl, carrying a bucket of water along a muddy path. He asked her, “How long have you been without a home?” Surprised, the nine-year-old looked up at him and replied, “Our family has a loving home. We just don’t have a house to put it in.”

IMG_0009This vignette begins a newsletter edited by Dr. Rilling which was meant to offer commentary and sermon ideas for pastors set to preach during the upcoming season. Story took first place. Ah, the power and poignancy of a few lines of dialogue to bring one into a space and to set the stage. At once, we’re the visitor set on our heels by the child, who has shown us ourselves.

Story has the power to do this, and to accomplish it across generations and distances of miles, cultures and times.

Unless, we press for the facts of the case.

Was there really such a camp? such a visitor? such a girl? And would she have replied so? Is this a true story or just a fabrication? Did it really happen or are you just making this up? I’m not easily tricked, you know!

As soon as you ask all these things, you feel differently about the story. You erect walls of protection against, rather than opening windows to, the message and meaning in your midst.

While in our modern day rush to know exactly what happened and when, who said it and how, we may have honed our delivery so it is defensible and fact-checkable, but we also may distract ourselves from the truth at its core. That one could have a loving home without a ‘house to put it in’ is a truth we could all rally around. And, in fact, that may be just the truth we need to embrace to ignite our concern for those who, even without houses, have hearts capable of loving just as ours are.

Stories which inspire us with truth need not be factual, annotated or attributed. Oddly, they may have the power to teach us more about truth than ‘true’ stories do.

In Dr. Rilling’s day, it was not customary to attribute all quotes or verify all sources. He regularly uses poetry, lines from hymns, and conversations where “a famous preacher once said.” Only occasionally does he mark these with an end note. Perhaps if he had had the internet, many administrative assistants, and a schedule he could clear for several weeks, he might have included a few more clues as to his sources.

As it stands, I’m left to guess which words are his alone and which he borrowed from acquaintances in conversation, dinner guests (I understand that Billy Graham was one), fellow pastors, or the volumes in his study. At first, I found this¬†uncomfortable, as it is so unlike the documents I read and the world I live in, but I’m getting accustomed to it. It makes for fewer stops in the reading and more flow to the story.

And the story, after all, sets the stage. All that’s left is to give myself over to the possibility that these words have something to teach me, and then I’m home free.


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