Monday, September 11, 2017

Again We Remember


Today we will gather in the chapel at All Saints Church at 12:10 p.m. for our daily Noon Eucharist and remember those we lost and how we were changed sixteen years ago on the day that has come to be known as simply a number: 9/11. Revisiting how we marked that anniversary fifteen years ago today at All Saints Church ... 9/11/2002 ... as we continue to hope for a world where differences enrich rather than divide and we strive to be the change we want to see.

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The candles massed in front of the altar burn in tribute to the names being read from the lectern – Naomi Leah Solomon, Daniel W. Song, Michael C. Soresse, Fabian Soto – as other names scroll above the altar projected on a video screen – John Bentley Works, William Wren, Sandra Wright, Myrna Yashkulka.

The church is silent save for the reading of the names and the careful footsteps of those who come forward to light a candle -- the gentle thud of a kneeler lowered for prayer --the quiet rustle of pages turned in a prayer book.

“American Airline Flight 11”– Anna Allison, David Lawrence Angell, Lynn Edwards Angell, Seima Aoyamma. The names began at 5:46 – the west coast moment when the first plane struck – and will continue through the morning until we gather for Eucharist at noon. The table is already set. The red frontal – blood of martyrs – covers the altar. The chalice is vested, the missal marked. The credence table is ready, too: flagons of wine, silver chalices and ciborium lined up – ready to hold the holy food and drink of new and unending life we will share here at All Saints Church.

“All Saints.” Charles’ deep voice breaks the silence as he begins reading the next segment of the list of names: “World Trade Center, continued” – Paul Riza, John Frank Rizzo, Stephen Luis Roch, Leo Roberts. I remember the ancient words of comfort from the prophet Isaiah, “I have called you by name and you are mine.” As Charles tolls the names of the dead that assurance echoes again and again in my head. These names I do not know – some I cannot even pronounce – each and every one known to God. Beloved of God.

“United Airlines Flight 93”: Christine Adams, Lorraine Berg, Todd Beamer, Alan Beaven. Gone from our sight yet gathered into God’s embrace -- seated at the heavenly banquet we can but glimpse through the sacrament we are preparing to share -- the offering of praise and thanksgiving we will present at this altar.

I look again at the ciborium massed on the credence table – the candles flickering in the polished silver – the light of lives lost reflected in the vessels holding the bread of life. It staggers the mind to consider what they represent – the magnitude of the collective loss of love, joy, hope and possibilities taken on that day a year ago with such sudden unexpectedness.

Takashi Ogawa. Albert Ogletree. Gerald Michael Olcott. The pain of death and loss mingles mysteriously in the promise of life and hope. Body and Blood. Bread and Wine. Strength for the journey and hope for the future. Hope for a world where differences enrich rather than divide. Hope for the end of wars waged in the name of the God who created us not to destroy but to love each other.

Dipti Patel. James Matthew Patrick. Sharon Christina Millan Paz. “Whoever you are and wherever you find yourself on your journey of faith there is a place for you here.” Thanks be to God. Alleluia. Amen.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

What "Fake News" Looks Like

We hear a lot about "fake news" these days from someone tweeting from the White House.

Under the barrage of those tweets identifying anything the Tweeter-in-Chief disagrees with as "fake" (Oh, let's just pick national news stories verified by multiple sources including sworn testimony in congressional hearings as an example) it's easy to forget that there actually is news that is fake ... as in made up ... as in manufactured ... as in patently not true.

Yes, it's tempting to dismiss the impact that actual fake news has on those who read it uncritically and allow it to feed, water and fertilize the unexamined bias and bigotry that frames their worldview. However -- given the very real threat that fertilized polarization poses to the foundations of our democracy -- we ignore it at our peril.

Here's an example. I saw it fly by on Twitter and thought ... c'mon, really? This is so fake it must be FAKE fake news because ... seriously!

But no. I went my own self personally to the website (conservativepost.com) and pulled this screen cap:


It purports to be the "shocking image" of Black Lives Matter protesters blocking Hurricane Harvey relief ... in August ... in down jackets ... with snow on the ground. I know. I can't even.

If it's possible to get more fake than that I quite honestly don't want to know about it.

But let's be clear: these are the same folks tweeting their outrage that Obama failed to meet the needs of the victims of Hurricane Katrina -- which happened during the Bush administration. They are the ones who are convinced Climate Science is a myth -- but Genesis isn't. And these are the voters who elected as their president someone who seems incapable of differentiating between fact and opinion -- proving that it is in fact a dangerous thing to live in a world where facts are not a thing.

Thankfully, scripture has an antidote to this craziness: John 8:32 ... "the truth will set you free." But in order to implement that antidote we have to activate it. So speak the truth. Call out the lies. Smoke out the fake. If we can be the change we want to see we can also be the truth that will set us free.