Monday, October 5, 2015

After the Oregon Shootings: The Sin of Doing Nothing

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
--Edmund Burke

What’s worse? 

Fact: nine people died in a mass shooting on October 1st at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon.  Fact: in the past 1,000 days in the United States, there have been 994 mass shootings, with 1,260 deaths and 3,606 injuries.  (“Mass shooting” defined as four or more people shot at one event:  Fact: Americans are 4.4 percent of the world’s population and possess more than half of the 644 million civilian owned guns in the world. Fact: every single time a tragedy like Umpqua happens, America’s leaders and citizens are unable to do anything beyond well intentioned promises to hold the victims and their loved ones in “our thoughts and prayers”.

I vote for this last fact as the biggest tragedy of all.

When it comes to guns and gun violence, America, it seems, is impotent to change laws, change hearts, or stop the carnage. A story breaks about another mass shooting: Sandy Hook, Charleston, Oregon. It dominates the news cycle for a few days or weeks.  Politicians stake out their ideological turf, pontificate, and then move on. And us citizens, in what in any other country would be judged a public health epidemic at best, a national emergency at worst: we are left with nothing but our fears, frustrations and sadness and more obituaries in the newspaper.

I don’t care if you are right wing or left wing, liberal or conservative, a gun owner or a gun opponent: I believe most Americans--we know that something is very, very wrong. That collectively we must act.  That to do otherwise, to accept as a given, or “normal”, all the deaths and all the brokenhearted families and shattered communities: this feels evil somehow, a national sin.

So if we are to name the facts, we also need to name some of the myths in the gun debate, the tropes and clichés we tell ourselves to justify our inaction.  

Myth: Gun owners oppose any new gun control measures.  The truth? A majority of gun owners favor strengthened national background checks. The truth? The overwhelming majority of gun owners are safe, sane and responsible women and men who are wise and prudent in their care taking of firearms.     

Myth: Non gun owners (like me) want the government to take away the guns from law abiding citizens. The truth? Folks like me just want to balance the second amendment right to bear arms, with a citizen’s right (my right) to public safety. I want to know that some trustworthy entity is in control of just who can own a firearm. Is that really so unreasonable?  

Myth: Guns don’t kill people. People kill people. The truth: people with guns actually do kill people. These killers may be mentally deranged or criminals, but they are also domestic abusers who shoot their spouses; kids in homes who play with a gun and injure or kill a playmate; folks struggling with suicidal thoughts who kill themselves. The truth? All people who want a gun should not automatically or easily be able to obtain a gun. Period.  Why is this goal so hard to agree and then act upon?

Myth: Gun ownership makes us all safer.  The truth?  America is number one, worldwide, in total number of guns owned, so you’d think we’d be last in gun violence. According to an October 2012 Washington Post article, which cites statistics from the United Nations and the Small Arms Survey, the United States has the highest rate of firearm related murders of all developed countries.  

Myth: when it comes to gun violence we can’t do anything.  This is the worst myth of all.  Uncle Sam may be unwilling to pass new gun control measures, but the states are stepping up through new laws and ballot initiatives.  Especially since the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, many states have passed and implemented new, reasonable, widely embraced gun control laws.             

Here’s the truth. We can do something. We must do something. Umpqua could easily have been Boston or Framingham or Marlborough or Millis.  Gun owners, gun control advocates: the truth is that we must all work together to change things.  Otherwise it’s only a matter of time before the next Oregon. 

My thoughts and prayers? That God may help us all, to do something, anything, NOW.


Monday, September 28, 2015

Volkswagen: Please Say It Ain't So, Beetle!

Betrügen (German, noun) 1. to cheat, deceive, defraud, cheat on, fool, or swindle

The very first automobile I remember riding in as a kid was a jet black 1963 squat and pug shaped Volkswagen Beetle. I was a toddler, maybe a little older. The Beetle was our sole family car and all five of us--Mom, Dad, big sister Lynne, big brother Ed and me--we'd pile into that vehicle to see the world. My place in that quirky car was a tiny crawl space behind the back seat, just above the engine.  I'd sit cross-legged back there, the hum of the motor underneath me, the blue sky above. 

I loved that car, our little VW. 

The Beetle then was an unusual transportation choice.  It was weird looking, foreign. Neighbors drove over sized gas guzzling American cars: sleek Chevrolets, muscled up Fords, lanky Lincolns. But we were VW acolytes. In college I graduated to my roommate Rich's canary yellow two door VW Rabbit: tinny and uncomfortable, but perfect for pizza runs and out of town keg parties. ROAD TRIP! Brother Ed drove a VW too, a bus, top heavy and clunky. One night while driving it, I took a corner too hard and flipped it on its side.  I was ok. The van was totaled.

Volkswagen.  Since first being introduced to the American car market in 1949, VW and its very original vehicles have found their way into the heart of many American drivers. I'll bet you've got a VW story.

So I felt kind of sad last week when I heard that Volkswagen was caught committing one of the largest acts of consumer fraud in the history of car manufacturing and sales. Since 2009, VW intentionally hacked its own engine software so 11 million of its diesel vehicles could fool anti-pollution emission tests and be certified as "clean" vehicles. 

Say it isn't so, VW.

Yes, I know in our oh so cynical world, we're not supposed to be surprised or hurt by such revelations of human deceit. VW is not the first car company to cheat and sell cars that are dangerous or bad for the environment. General Motors knowingly sold cars with faulty ignition switches that led to injuries and deaths. In the nineteen seventies, Ford infamously sold Pintos with gas tanks that exploded on impact, in rear collisions. 

There will always be a few companies who push the ethical envelope, all to make more money.  There will always be humans in positions of power and responsibility who choose to cheat.  Athletes who cross the line, push the rule book to its limit and then some. Politicians who shade the truth for a vote. Spouses and lovers who break the bonds of relational fidelity.     

The temptation to cheat is a part of who we are as flawed and fallen human beings, Adam and Eve's original sin continually circling back into our shared life as a species.  There will always be lots of "good" reasons to cheat. We gain an edge over our opponent.  We  fudge the figures on our tax returns and pay less. We deceive by omission or commission, fib out loud or just stay mum.  We cheat because every one else cheats, right?

But the good news is that honest government environmental protection agencies and tenacious private watchdog groups kept at VW for more than two years, until the company finally admitted the truth. The good news is that for all our world weariness in the face of institutions and people who lie to us, we are still outraged by VW's bald faced deception. We are still angry that a brand we trusted and even loved, let us down. The good news is that VW is paying the price for its cheating: its CEO is gone, its stock price has gone through the floor and its future as a company is far from certain.

So maybe, sometimes, the good guys, the honest guys, the ones who choose not to cheat and instead play by the rules: they do finally win in the end.   

And yes, I still love that Beetle.   


Monday, September 21, 2015

Hang Up and Drive and PLEASE PAY ATTENTION!

Attention (noun) 1. a concentration of the mind on a single object or thought…with a view to limiting or clarifying receptivity by narrowing the range of stimuli. 2. an act of courtesy      

Pay attention! Please.

That’s what I wanted to say to a fellow driver last week, whose lack of attention could have injured or killed her self, her middle school daughter, a delivery van driver, and me.  The story: I’m slowing my car, signaling to take a left into the church parking lot.  She is right behind me, crosses a double yellow line in her car to pass me on my left, placing herself squarely in the path of an oncoming delivery truck. She clips the front of the truck with a “BANG!”, swerves back in front of me, her car finally coming to rest by the side of the road. Truck and driver are ok, and me too.

I quickly pull over, run to her smoking and smashed car, its front end ripped apart and sticking out in jagged edges.  The windshield is smashed.  Her passenger wails in fear. And although the first thing I say is, “Are you both ok?”(they are), what I really want to ask is: “Were you actually paying attention to what you were doing?” 

We have an innocuous phrase now for this increasingly common form of vehicular attention deficit disorder: distracted driving.  Sounds so benign, like it’s just an annoyance, a harmless habit. Yet this dangerous, clueless, stupid driving is more and more the norm on our roads and byways. I especially noticed it this summer while out on my bicycle.  Tooling around on a twenty pound vehicle that can be crushed in a microsecond by a two ton behemoth, tends to focus one’s attention. So I’d roll up beside a minivan or a pick up truck, stop at an intersection across from a tractor trailer and then try to get the attention of those drivers so they’d actually see me on the road. 

Instead, with one hand casually gripping the wheel, so many drivers were looking down to send a text or read a text, or pushing a phone against their ears while blabbing away, or doing their make-up or eating a burger or slurping from an oversized coffee cup, anything but actually paying attention. This was the norm in half of the vehicles I came upon, sometimes more.  The only thing which seems to save me these days as I venture out on two wheels is a very loud voice as I shout: “I AM HERE!!!! Hey! HEY!!!”. Then I pray I am heard, that attention is paid.

Yes—I too am guilty of this vehicular lack of attention at times.  We are all are these days, as we drive.  Can’t let go of our phones in the car, not for a moment. We drive cars that are now more distracting than ever before too.  My little Honda can send and receive voice texts and phone calls, though most of the time all I do is yell at the dashboard, to no effect.  This would be comical if it weren’t so deadly. 

Distracted driving killed 3,154 people in the United States in 2013, and injured 424,000.  According to, the federal government site which tracks such sobering statistics, at any given moment 660,000 drivers are driving distracted.  Put your head down for just five seconds to read that text about your fantasy football league or the latest tweet from Kim Kardashian and at 55 miles per hour, you’ve traveled 100 yards, without ever paying attention.

I love my phone.  We all do. It connects us instantly.  It satiates our need for stimulation. It’s fun and convenient and most of us cannot imagine life without it anymore. Yet our addiction to screen time is literally killing our ability to pay attention and not just behind the wheel but in the rest of life too. A May 2015 study by Microsoft Corporation found that we wired humans now have a shorter attention span than a goldfish. Homo sapiens pay attention for just 8 seconds on average, while our finned friends clock in at 9 seconds.  Maybe they should be driving our cars.

So imagine this, before you pick up the phone to text a friend or play with your I-Tunes or answer a call, all while flying down the road.  Your split second addiction to staying connected could kill someone.  Maim for life your loved one.  Could kill you, all in a heartbeat.  Is it really worth it to take that risk? 

So please: when you get behind the wheel--just pay attention.

Monday, September 14, 2015

America's Response to Refugees Makes Lady Liberty Weep

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
*(Some restrictions may apply)
--Emma Lazurus, inscription, the Statue of Liberty, 1903

Look at the very small print beneath any offer that seems too good to be true and almost always it contains a familiar caveat: some restrictions may apply.  Take the myth embodied in Emma Lazurus’ iconic poem “Colossus”, which adorns the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor.  It declares that America will always welcome the world’s huddled masses, her tempest tossed, yearning to breathe free. But what of this mythical ideal?  This comforting story we still tell ourselves as Americans in 2015? Is it now just false advertising, a faded romantic vision, replaced by America’s post 9/11 xenophobia and our national self absorption?

Maybe Lazarus’ poem should now feature an asterisk on the last line, warning refugees, the war torn, orphans, the “wretched refuse of teeming shores”: some restrictions may apply.  That’s certainly the message our nation has offered these past few weeks as the world community grapples with what to do about the Syrian refugee crisis.  Since Syria’s civil war began four years ago, nine millions Syrians have fled their homes. Six and half million remain in Syria. Three million have found refuge in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.  The remainder, half under the age of 18, are on the move, desperately seeking sanctuary and mercy.

Many nations have been incredibly generous in embracing the Syrians. Germany: 500,000 refugees. Sweden: 64,700.  France: 24,000. Great Britain: 20,000. Denmark: 11,300. Hungary: 18,800. Bulgaria: 15,000.  Then there’s the United States: until last week we’d welcomed just 1,500 in four years.  That’s not a typo. That number works out to .016 of the Syrian refugees. In a land of 321 million people, a land of immigrants, among the richest and most powerful on earth, we can’t even find the room to welcome enough folks to populate a very, very small town. For comparison: if the United States were as magnanimous as Germany, we’d be ready to shelter 3.2 million refugees.

There are plenty of political and bureaucratic excuses for this lack of mercy.  It can take up to two years to vet refugees after they apply.  Blame that on 9/11. We need to take care of “our own” first, right? Presidential candidates squirm when asked about what to do.  All of this avoidance of responsibility makes me wonder how quickly many of us forget that millions of us are here because our forebears landed on these shores. They weren’t turned away. Lazarus’ poem did once ring true.

As a person of faith, the refugee crisis reminds me that in the practice of religion, the refugee always claims a special place in the heart of God.  Jewish: “You shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens [once].” Christian: “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Muslim: “Do good: to orphans, those in need, the wayfarer.” We’ve talked about this crisis in political, practical, and national security terms.  But now our compassionate God asks us as a nation to talk about the refugee crisis in moral terms.

What is our moral responsibility as Americans to fellow human beings, who wander the earth with no place to call home?  What is the right thing to do in response to the worst refugee crisis of the last 25 years? If we were displaced and homeless, with nothing but the clothes on our backs, huddling in a bus station, beset by angry crowds, fleeing political chaos, would we not pray for just a little mercy?

So imagine this. There are more than 350,000 houses of worship in the U.S.  Imagine the larger ones stepping up and agreeing to host and settle just one refugee family. Imagine smaller ones banding together to do the same.  Imagine our political leaders talking about the refugees as a community to be embraced, not just a problem to be managed.  

I was a stranger and you welcomed me in.  That’s the bottom line, the call, and the need, right now. It is the good and decent and merciful thing to do. No asterisk.  No excuses.  Lady Liberty expects nothing less.



Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Vocation: The World Needs God's Love. Let's Get to Work!

“The place God calls you to, is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.”                -- Frederick Buechner

Here’s something odd.

This past Monday was Labor Day, the one day every year as Americans we are asked to reflect upon the absolute centrality of work to our daily lives.  But here’s the weird thing. We didn’t work that day. Didn’t labor. Most of us did anything but toil on Monday. We grilled, we played, we drove, we rested, we bid adieu to summer, we biked, we hiked, and we chilled out, anything but work. Unless we were among the small minority of folks who had to clock in—cops and firefighters, clerks and lifeguards, nurses and doctors, essential workers—we gladly skipped work.

Work.  Yet this is still what we do more than almost anything else in life.  Work. Like all people, in my life I’ve been a worker many times over.  A janitor.  Warehouse clerk. Delivery van driver. Printer.  Newspaper editor.  Corporate communications specialist.  Minister. Writer.  From the day of my first job, when as a sixteen year old I was hired to clean toilets and swab floors at a Catholic retreat center, to this day, as I type away on a computer and write about life and God: I’ve worked.      

Work is the one non negotiable call in this life, something that almost all humans must do, need to do, have to do.  Work. We work for money, to support ourselves and our loved ones, to put food on the table and a roof over our heads.  We work because we live in a world which does not freely or easily come to us, or reward us, without some toil or effort on our part.  We work because labor at its best gives us a reason for being.  We spend much of our early life preparing for work, training for work, learning about work, and then when we are ready, we begin our life’s work. 

In a real way, life is work and work is life.

According to Business Insider magazine, the average American worker will spend 90,000 hours over the course of the average life working.  The only activity humans do more than work is sleep—220,000 hours in a life—and we need all that shut eye to rest from work or to get ready for work. Yet for something we spend so much time doing—more time than we have for leisure, more time than we have with our family and friends---our satisfaction with work is apparently lacking.  According to an August 28th New York Times article “Rethinking Work”, work is not really working out. “How satisfied are we with our jobs? Gallup regularly polls workers around the world to find out. Its survey last year found that almost 90 percent of workers were either ‘not engaged’ with or ‘actively disengaged’ from their jobs. Think about that: Nine out of 10 workers spend half their waking lives doing things they don’t really want to do in places they don’t particularly want to be.”

Those are sobering statistics about the state of human work. It certainly explains why on the one national holiday dedicated to work, we choose enthusiastically to not work.  So here’s a radical idea: what if we redefined “work”.  What if we saw our life’s work not as the thing we do the most, but instead the job or pursuit we undertake which brings us the most joy? Work that makes us feel most alive? Work that we would do for free, maybe already do for free, and still love it nonetheless? What if in the words of the theologian Fredrick Buechner, we saw Godly work, divine work, real work, as the place where our one of a kind passion meets the world’s deep need?

Then our work might not just be what we labor at 40 or 50 or 60 hours a week.  Maybe our true work then is…coaching in youth sports, helping kids grow into their best selves.  Maybe our true work is parenting, being the very best Mom or Dad we can be. Maybe our true work is a hobby: shaping a piece of wood into a work of art, singing in a choir and hitting that perfect note, biking 100 miles and knowing the satisfaction of a soaring spirit and healthy body. Maybe our true work is volunteering on a town committee, working to make the community whole. Maybe our true work is being sober and helping other addicts to know serenity and the joy of a substance free life.  Maybe our work is digging into our faith in God: building a house for the poor, advocating for the powerless in our world, feeding hungry men and women at the Pine Street Inn in Boston.

Because there is work. Then there is work.  As a person of faith I have no doubt that God plants within every single human soul the gifts to do the good work which cries out to be done in our world.  Maybe our “job” then as humans is to discern what our true work really is, then pursue that labor with passion and purpose.

So happy Labor Day: not just one day a year, but every day.  Now let’s get to work.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Freedom of Religion? YES! Freedom to Discriminate? NO!

Vos vestros servate, meos mihi linquite mores (Latin)
You cling to your own ways and leave mine to me.
--Petrarch, 14th century poet and humanist

Religion is a funny thing. 

By funny I don’t just mean, “A priest, a rabbi and a minister walk into a bar…” Yes, faith can be funny.  But religious faith can be funny too: as in odd, strange, difficult to explain or understand, especially when the faith you profess is different from the faith your neighbor holds on to, or visa versa.  Times when faiths clash in the world, with the world.  It’s the old “my God is better than your God” argument.  Just read the news. Jews against Muslims. Muslims against Christians.  Christians versus the Muslims.  Buddhists rejecting Hindus.  Atheists mocking believers. Yada, yada, yada…

That is funny, because you’d think God would not take sides amongst God’s people, right?  That instead God ultimately wants all folks of faith, all people, regardless of faith or no faith, to live in peace. You’d think at its best, religious faith would respect other faith paths and traditions, remember that as religion moves through this amazingly pluralistic world, from the sacred to the secular, religion should do so with humility and not so much hubris.  As Elvis Costello sang, “What’s so funny about peace, love and understanding?” 

After all, this is God we are talking about. GOD: as in the creator of all things, eternal, always was, always will be, beyond any human comprehension. Who can know the very mind or will of God? In my little human mind and opinion, no one. So as a person of deep faith, I get really nervous when my fellow believers insist that everybody else is supposed to believe exactly what they believe, live just like they live. I get annoyed when they then take what are private beliefs into the public sphere and demand that the rest of society get on board. 

That’s not funny.

Just ask same sex couples seeking to be legally and lawfully married in Rowan County, Kentucky these days. Newsflash: as of June, same sex marriage is a constitutionally protected right in all fifty states. I don’t think there was an asterisk in the Supreme Court’s ruling exempting this one place.  But apparently the clerk of that county, Kim Davis, thinks the law doesn’t apply to her. Davis has refused to issue marriage licenses to any couples, gay or straight. She cites her religious faith and her struggle for religious freedom as the reasons for her defiance.  

Davis certainly has a constitutionally protected right to express her beliefs freely and fully. To worship as she wishes. To bring her God inspired ideals into the world and then try her best to get others to believe what she does. Organize.  Preach. Vote. But here’s the problem, the not so funny thing. Davis apparently also believes she has a legal right to insist that her private beliefs trump her public responsibility as a government employee, a duly sworn representative of the Kentucky state government, bound by all of the laws of the United States of America.  

As a fellow Christian I wish she’d take a real stand and resign her position immediately. Be true to her conscience and step down. Take her place in a long line of faith inspired folks who have the courage to accept the full cost of discipleship.  Then I’d really respect her stand, if not her specific beliefs.

This is what I believe, as a Christian and person of faith. All my life, as a citizen and pastor, I’ve enjoyed the benefits of living in a nation which reveres the separation of church and state, the Jeffersonian ideal that government has no business promoting, or preventing, religious practice. As a Christian, Uncle Sam can’t tell me what to believe or what not to believe. My responsibility is to live side by side in respect, with folks of my faith, other faiths, and no faith. Religious freedom does not give me or Davis or any other person of faith the legal right to discriminate against a fellow citizen, or deny their legal rights.   

So here’s a serious suggestion to my fellow believers. Be as convicted and sure of your beliefs as you desire, but then live and let live. Live and let live. The United States is an incredibly and increasingly diverse nation, a secular democracy, not a faith based theocracy. Therefore if a person’s religious practice (or lack thereof) does not impinge on the rights of others to practice religion, or directly hurt others, I say live and let live. When we who are religious carry our beliefs into the public sphere, we must abide by the same laws which apply to all the people.  Especially for those of us who are people of faith: maybe we need to worry more about how well we are doing with our God and less about how our neighbors live their lives. As Jesus once said, we need to watch out more for the log in our own eye than the speck of sawdust in the eye of a fellow citizen.

A Christian, a Muslim, a Jew, an Atheist and an Agnostic walk into a bar and guess what?  They all get along.  They respect each other. They live and let live.  

Wouldn’t that be funny?


Saturday, August 22, 2015

A Real Superhero Named Jimmy Needs Our Thanks and Prayers

"Superman never made any money, saving the world from Solomon Grundy, And sometimes I despair the world will never see another man like him."
            --"Superman", the Crash Test Dummies band, 1991

Superheroes never really die. Right? 

There must be something written in the “Superhero Instruction Manual”, a clause that says no matter what disaster strikes a superhero--in the last cartoon panel, on the final page of the comic, in the waning seconds of a blockbuster movie--he or she always survives somehow. Always. I’m sure of it. She beats the bad guys again. He carries on again, fighting for justice, peace and a better world because, hey---he’s a superhero.  She’s a super heroine. The rules of the universe don’t apply to them.

But then I heard last week that former President Jimmy Carter, a real life superhero, one of my personal superheroes: he is very, very sick with brain cancer, and that made me very, very sad for me and for our world.  No…Carter can’t fly at supersonic speeds, toss a tank aside like it’s a toy, or morph into invisibility. Yet his super powerful work for love and peace, the tireless ways he has stood with and on behalf of the world’s poor and oppressed since leaving office in 1981…for me, that’s what makes him a real superhero.  He is mere flesh and blood, yet heroic in the deepest human sense.

You want super heroic deeds? Carter’s lent his name, power and sweat to the cause of building housing for all God’s people in need, through Habitat for Humanity (HFH). In the thirty nine years that Carter has helped expand HFH, it’s grown from a small grassroots organization to the largest non-profit builder of affordable housing in the world.  Five million people in 70 nations now live in one million Habitat houses. 

Thanks Jimmy.

In 1982, Carter founded the Carter Center, at Emory University in Atlanta, to work for a more peaceful and healthy world.  Today the Center’s 175 employees are deployed in 91 countries: monitoring elections for fairness, brokering peace deals among warring factions, helping to eradicate chronic diseases like trachoma, the world’s leading cause of preventable blindness.  From Albania to Zimbabwe, the Carter Center’s commitment to a better life for all God’s children has made Creation freer and healthier.

Thanks Jimmy.

Not every one thinks Carter is a hero. Maybe that’s good. Heroes aren’t supposed to make all of us happy. A man of authentic embodied Christian faith, Carter left the Southern Baptist Church (America’s largest Protestant denomination) in part for that church’s stands against the full inclusion of women, and gays and lesbians. That cost him friends and goodwill.  His stand against the systematic oppression of the Palestinian people by the state of Israel has made him an enemy of many in the United States and abroad.  He is far from perfect, sometimes speaks too soon or too sharply and later has to explain, but he always takes an honest position on issues that matter. He uses the power of his ex-Presidency to work on behalf of the powerless. 

Thanks Jimmy.

He deserves thanks, too, for what he has not done, since departing the White House.  No worldwide tours and speaking gigs for millions in fees, speechifying to well heeled groups and power brokers.  No jumping on board some cable TV show as a commentator, collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars for empty pontificating.  No lobbying or backroom deals. He’s always stayed “Jimmy”. Teaching Sunday School at his home church in Plains, Georgia.  Finding joy in writing books and woodworking and loving Rosalyn, his partner in life for 69 years.  He’s remained a true public servant.  A public servant.

Thanks Jimmy.

I know I’m bias about my superhero.  I actually got to meet and work with him at a Habitat “Blitz Build” on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, in 1994, when Carter led 3,000 volunteers in building 34 homes in seven days.  Standing together in a long line for lunch one day, we exchanged greetings and shook hands. He was gracious, kind and humble, anxious to get back to work.  Always the work. I’ll never forget that.

Superheroes aren’t supposed to die.  But in the real world?  My oh my: how well some heroes live in service to their fellow human beings. 

So God bless you Jimmy.  And thank you Jimmy. We’re praying for you.