After the Debate: Beauty and Truth Still Win!

Friends, I’m going to start not with politics, but with beauty, because that’s how God began the world: with sheer wondrous beauty, and it surrounds us still. This world is real, present, miraculous, still unfolding. Don’t forget this in the midst of our human messes.





But there’s another kind of beauty: the beauty of truth. I want to speak truth about Monday night’s debate. (Even if you didn’t watch it, no matter. This is still about all of us.) Who won that night? That debate was the most unsettling peculiar even ugly presidential debate in the history of our country. The lamentable human condition was in full display on that stage, just as it has throughout this election season. But listen, the Scriptures are littered with this same condition! I recognize it, because I’ve got it too, and maybe you? Maybe all of us?



Remember the mother? The mother of two fishermen, James and John, who was ready to do anything for her sons! Anything! Even fall to her knees and plead for their promotion. Not just any promotion. A heavenly promotion! Kudos to her for her extraordinary faith, in believing what others did not yet---that Jesus was just who he said he was, and he WOULD reign over ALL! But I cringe at the rest because I understand it too. “When you come into your kingdom, please let my sons sit at your right and your left, in places of honor? Of course. She wants her sons to be great! (Don't we all?)

Remember, too, the day that twelve men walked a dusty road, arguing? They were famous. They could touch a broken leg and heal it, they could pray over an afflicted woman and stop her hemorrhage. They could restore a little boy’s hand, burnt in a fire, back to wholeness. They could even touch a dead body and lift it to life, on occasion. Big stuff. Crowds followed them. They were wildly popular. People hushed when they spoke, cheered when they healed.

They kept a record, each one of them, secretly: how many healings, how many exorcisms, how many hands shaken and babies kissed and cripples running races. But they couldn’t keep it quiet.

“So, how many you got there, John, buddy? I’ve had three raisings from the dead. Not to brag or anything, but that’s pretty great, I’d say. ”

         “Really? I took a poll in that last city and I’m definitely on top. They wanted to make me mayor!”

“Mayor! That’s nothing!” scoffed Andrew. “The Zealots want to make me president! I cured a whole colony of lepers!”

And so it went.

In their bickering and bragging, they even forgot about Israel, which was why they got into this campaign in the first place. They were all looking for a Messiah who would set Rome on fire, who would rout their political and religious oppressors and restore Israel to power and supremacy again. “Make Israel Great Again!” That was what they signed on for.



But, full of miraculous healings, pride and applause, even that heady slogan was lost. Ultimately, it came down to them. To each one of them vying against the other.

Aspiring to “Greatness” does that.  

When such words and debates fail, there are other tactics.  When Jesus healed and fed a whole mountainside of people out of one tiny lunch basket, someone had an idea. He got up and whispered to another, who grabbed another into their circle and soon a whole mob of them knew what to do. They would capture Jesus and make him a business offer he couldn’t refuse---he would be their king!! But they had a plan B too. If he refused, they would FORCE him to be their king!  THEY would be the king-makers! They’d make this miracle-man feed them; they’d make him overthrow their enemies. Yes! Israel would be great again!




They were wrong about everything each of those days. Jesus didn’t come to do any of that. The power Jesus granted was the power to forgive, the power to humble the proud, the power to be as pure-hearted and dependent upon God as a child. The little girl or boy he pulled into their midst made that clear. Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus didn’t end there. He clarified what aspect of that child we need to emulate: “ . . . whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

And later, "Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant."

But people didn’t want to hear that. Nor do we want to hear that now. We want our leaders to be "Strong Men," "Mighty Women," with strength and power in their fists and voices.


 I tell you, I don’t care about living in a country that’s “great,” particularly when it’s been downgraded to mean Clinton’s “values” and Trump’s economic prowess rather than the moral or ethical good. Nor do I want a president who crows about his or her own greatness and accomplishments. A “great” president of the “greatest country on earth” is less likely to seek God for wisdom, to listen to the people who elected him or her, to listen to the sage counsel of others.

But I’m not giving up hope. I pray that whoever is elected, under the incalculable weight of responsibility, will change and become like that little child----lowly and utterly dependent upon God.

And I pray for us that we too would change and become like little children who are known not by our aspirations to “greatness” but by our servant-hearted goodness, no matter who’s in power.

If we can do that, then we all win. And maybe our nation could again be called “America, the Beautiful and Good.”



Friends, who do you think won?

And---what did I miss in this?

The One Beautiful Truth about The RNC

While Donald Trump was named the GOP nominee, and while Melania Trump cribbed Michelle Obama’s words; while  Trump and Trump strode out onto the stage with Queen’s “We Are the Champions of the World” blasting, some people cheered and some people cried, some people began building refugee boats, some began building a business, some gnashed their teeth and others rubbed their hands in glee. 

The same happened when Hilary Clinton won the Democratic nomination.  

What did I do? I went for a walk around my island with my camera after dinner, as I often do. 





My racing heart calmed, and I come to you now to tell you this one beautiful truth:

No matter which candidate sits in the oval office, no matter how bitterly we shudder now at that thought, listen:

Beauty will not disappear.

Love will not disappear.

Hope will not disappear.

Faith will not disappear.





How do I know? Because we will not let it. In fact, if history is our guide, the Church may be in for growth and strengthening.  

God didn't wait for the world to clean up before entering as an infant. He didn't wait for leaders to become decent, humane, pro-life. He was born, it seems, in the worst of times, in a country with a ruler who killed thousands of babies in the off-chance that one might be a threat. And though, when grown, everywhere Jesus went, more and more men determined to kill this bringer-of-life, He never stopped loving, never stopped healing, never stopped bringing the kingdom of God to all those around him, lovers and haters both. 

It happened again and again: He heals a man’s hand on the Sabbath. The man leaps out of his presence healed, forgiven, freed, fully alive-----and in that same moment, scowling leaders begin plotting his death.  

This is the world we still live in, where people do whatever-it-takes to protect their personal power, their political power, their religious (or irreligious) power.

What will we do, then, about this same old sorry world? Shall we be poisoned by fear? Shall we plan our escape? Shall we descend into corrosion and cynicism? Shall we, like Pharisees, plot the end of our "enemies"? Tempting, isn’t it?

If you are anxious about both candidates, as I am, if you are despairing about both candidates, as I am----make a vow, as I am. Vow that you will be who you say you are:  vow to believe the words you maybe once learned by heart:

 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. . . .  Love never fails.


Do you see? If we have family and friends, if we live in a neighborhood, a community, if we belong to a church, in other words, if we have a beating heart and people around us---let's get busy. We have lots of work to do.

No matter who’s in office----a madman, a tyrant, an idiot, a criminal, an opportunist, a narcissist, a conniver, a reprobate----history is littered with such leaders, but never did it stop people of faith from courageously offering Love and Mercy and Beauty and Faith to those who wanted it least and to those who hungered for it most.    



 We pledge our first allegiance to God, not to a nation removing itself from God. The worse the leader, the greater our opportunity. The worse the leader, the more we pray for that leader.


 The kingdom of God has never relied on votes for its power. We have all the power we already need. 



 Let's get on with it then, shall we?  


Naphtali, Dan+Sandy.JPG



Love never fails.