September 01, 2005

A Parable

When I was a boy, we had a new pastor in my church. He seemed good enough, until the day came that we had a special meeting of the entire congregation after service to appoint two chairmen for our annual "Eastern Shore Day" event. It was a weird process - anyone could nominate anyone else, but, if you were nominated, you could always decline before a vote was held. Which is exactly what happened. Lots of people nominated someone else, who immediately declined.

Finally, our new pastor grabbed the microphone and scolded the congregation: "Remember, this is for God."

And the very next person who was nominated sheepishly accepted the position.

I think I was only 13 at the time. But, I think it's safe to say that, in that moment, I knew what evil was.

I complained to my mother and father that our pastor had just manipulated the faith of our congregation to achieve his ends. Granted, we needed someone to head up the program. Yes, it was for a noble cause. But it was the WAY he did it.

A man who'll do anything is, by definition, a man who cannot be trusted.

Roughly 5 years later, I was off to Princeton, but my church was in shambles. The congregation had been reduced to a skeleton crew - many long time members were driven away by the irrational, vendictive, tactics and rank incompetence of the pastor. The parsonage was in disarray. The church was practically bankrupt from extravagant, yet totally unnecessary & irresponsible projects like installing central air throughout a 150 year old gothic cathedral. And the conference refused to heed the cries of those who remained, desperate for a new leader. It was only after those members who were left withheld their offerings and refused to financially support the church or the conference, that the bishop finally got the message and got us a new pastor. In time, the church rebuilt into something even better than it's past glory.

Many years later, my mother (one of the diehards who would NEVER let anyone, not even a whack pastor, run her out of HER church) told me that one of the other members had run into our old, whack pastor. Not only was he completely unrepentent about the damage he'd done to my church. He proudly proclaimed that God had sent him on a mission to break the church down.

Why am I telling this story today?

America lost a city this week.


As my girlfriend often says "everything is for you." It's either for your benefit, or it's for your education.

I think we have alot more learning in store over the next three years, y'all.

Paul Krugman says it best:
I don't think this is a simple tale of incompetence. The reason the military wasn't rushed in to help along the Gulf Coast is, I believe, the same reason nothing was done to stop looting after the fall of Baghdad. Flood control was neglected for the same reason our troops in Iraq didn't get adequate armor.

At a fundamental level, I'd argue, our current leaders just aren't serious about some of the essential functions of government. They like waging war, but they don't like providing security, rescuing those in need or spending on preventive measures. And they never, ever ask for shared sacrifice.
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