What Hasn’t Changed

Don’t get me wrong. The recently-concluded season of American presidential politics—the longest and costliest in the history of the universe—was a much-needed time of introspection for the American people. After eight years of constitutional degradation, unnecessary warfare, and the erosion of America’s reputation abroad, we’ve needed a period of internal dialogue, and there’s clear evidence that the great national soul search was beneficial for us. In Barack Obama we’ve chosen a thoughtful, intellectually curious, articulate, and inspirational leader at a time when even mediocrity would feel refreshing. Historians will forever remember this election because after 219 years of electing white men to the Presidency, we have elected a man with an African father, and we put two women within spitting distance of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

So three cheers for introspection; but unchecked introspection can turn to narcissism, and the last thing our world needs is a narcissistic America so self-satisfied, so pleased with the transformation in Washington, that it ignores what has not changed around the planet.
Continue reading

Back to Business: Desmond Tutu on Climate Change and Poverty

I saw this video and felt a singular weight of conviction: now that the election is over its time to talk less about Joe the Plumber from Ohio and more about José the campesino from Honduras; less about middle class tax breaks and more about breaking the cycles of war, poverty and disease in Africa.

Please leave a comment

Tongues of Fire

This column was published on UPI’s Religion and Spirituality Forum on October 29, 2007.

I’ve spent the last week worrying about fires in San Diego County. Last Monday my mother-in-law woke me up with a phone call at six in the morning. “Don’t worry about us,” she said, “we’re fine, but you’d better call your aunt.”

I didn’t know what she was talking about. I still hadn’t seen the news of the growing fires that ended up devastating the communities in San Diego County where my wife’s parents and my mother’s sister live, but I found out quickly and for several days I was unable to keep my mind at home in San Jose. My wife’s childhood stomping grounds were on fire. All told, four homes belonging to members of our extended family were endangered by the fires. Thankfully, everyone in my family survived the fires without losing any property.

But many, many people were not so lucky. Continue reading