Sunday, July 28, 2013

Revised Publishing Schedule

Starting now and continuing at least until the end of the year, this blog will be published twice per month, on the first and third Wednesdays, rather than weekly. The monthly reading list remains and will serve as the first post, followed by a topical essay for the second. Extra posts may be published to commemorate major holidays.

There are a number of reasons for this change, but primarily I am trying to listen to that part of me that is being drawn to sacred silence. With divine revelation, less is usually more. And I am just trying to be attentive to that truth.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Wages of Tolerance

"Who is my neighbor?" As I wrote in last Sunday's "Good News" post, we know the answer to this question. We know where this truth is supposed to lead us. We just fail to "carry it out." Why? Because we have settled for tolerating our neighbor, rather than loving them. Or even worse, we believe these acts are one and the same.

I wrote about this topic back in January, but it has become even more evident to me in the wake of the George Zimmerman trial. So much raw emotion is being spilt over this case. The subjects of our tolerance are tired of being unloved. Moreover, they see the harsh truth of our supposedly enlightened culture: if all Trayvon Martin deserved was our tolerance, then it becomes incredibly easy to tolerate his death.

"It is past time that we recognize this family of the One, this fellowship of the One. They are tired of us ignoring, neglecting, and tarnishing it. This family is our Creator's greatest gift to us and we spit upon it constantly. Enough!"

We cannot just tolerate the Martins and Zimmermans of this world. We must love them with everything we have. They deserve it. And so do we.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Firefighters & Deportees

Two articles in Wednesday's Los Angeles Times stood out to me in an unintentionally interconnected sort of way. The first was on the previous day's memorial service for the 19 firefighters killed in Arizona. The second told the story of the rediscovery of the names of 28 Mexican citizens who died in a plane crash near Coalinga in 1948. They were deportees on their way home, who became a nameless group buried in a mass grave. Two sets of people, separated by time and so much more, memorialized on the same sheet of newsprint. An unintentional connection bursting with meaning.

"We come from a common source. We are children of the same parent. Like it or not, we are family."

The firefighters certainly deserve every last drop of honor we can muster. But why did the deportees deserve anything less? A society should not be measured by the way it remembers its dead heroes, but by how it acknowledges the passing of those it labels as insignificant or unworthy. For these divisions exist only in our minds.

"In the end, we will all die. We will all return to the artist’s palette. We will all return as one … Our creator loves us all equally, saint and sinner. Our brother died and rose to welcome both to the banquet."

Recovering a name seems like such a small thing, especially when it is attached to someone who died so long ago. But a name means that you were known and loved, that you were a person with dignity, and that you have a seat at the banquet. These particular names remind us that we lost 32 siblings in that Central Valley canyon, not four individual Americans and a single inseparable mass of foreigners. Each one of them left behind a story that deserves to be heard just as much as the stories of those 19 firefighters who sacrificed themselves for us in that other lonely canyon.

So rest in peace, our dearest brothers and sisters:
Miguel Alvarez. Andrew Ashcraft. Bobbie Atkinson. Frank Atkinson. Robert Caldwell. Travis Carter. Frank Chaffin. Tomás de Gracia. Dustin DeFord. Francisco Durán. Santiago Elizondo. Rosalio Estrada. Marion Ewing. Bernabé Garcia. Salvador Hernández. Severo Lara. Elias Macias. José Macias. Christopher MacKenzie. Tomás Márquez. Eric Marsh. Grant McKee. Luis Medina. Manuel Merino. Luis Miranda. Sean Misner. Ignacio Navarro. Martin Navarro. Scott Norris. Román Ochoa. Ramón Paredes. Wade Parker. John Percin. Apolonio Placencia. Guadalupe Ramirez. Alberto Raygoza. Guadalupe Rodriguez. Maria Rodriguez. Anthony Rose. Juan Ruiz. Wenceslao Ruiz. José Sánchez. Jesús Santos. Jesse Steed. Joe Thurston. Baldomero Torres. Travis Turbyfill. William Warneke. Clayton Whitted. Kevin Woyjeck. Garret Zuppiger.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

True Freedom

Perhaps the deepest moral challenge to the United States, not only for this year but for years to come, is the ethical form of radical narcissism … when human judgment cannot see beyond its own exercise of freedom and exercises that freedom in isolation from the other.
Freedom as the right to say and do whatever I want. Freedom as the right to ignore any or all demands you make of me. Freedom as the fantasy of perfect autonomy. Is that the freedom we are celebrating this Independence Day?

Six years have come and gone since Kavanaugh wrote those words and the fantasy is as challenging as ever. Why? Because we continue to believe that freedom is about prioritizing the individual ahead of the family. How many of our brothers and sisters must sacrifice themselves for us before we finally get how backwards that notion is? Why do we refuse to see the truth revealed in our family's founding story?

So why did you come to be? … We needed to share ourselves … You call it love. To us, it is simply our way of being. We do not know how to stop sharing ourselves. We must expand and give love. We cannot be any other way.

We are free to join in our Parent's way, or not. No other freedom matters.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Monthly Reading Links

"Francis at 100 days: 'the world's parish priest'"
John Allen, National Catholic Reporter

"I'm Gay, My Dad's a Pastor, and ... We're Working on It"
Brandon Ambrosino, The Atlantic

"The Ten Suggestions"
Ben Bernanke, U.S. Federal Reserve

"The economics of inequality: Why the wealth gap is bad for everyone"
Charles Clark & the Editors, U.S. Catholic

"The Fight for Black Men"
Joshua DuBois, Newsweek & The Daily Beast

"Ensuring the Tenderloin's departed are not forgotten"
Maria La Ganga, Los Angeles Times

"On the Road"
Peter Leithart, First Things

Please follow me on Twitter (@jwbidwell) for additional reading recommendations.