Loving the San Francisco Bay Area... Community development, urban ministry, trying to defeat poverty, faith, religion, politics, good music, the quest for the perfect pizza, the Yankees, motorcycles... All in a 'day's life'

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Foley / Packard Blues

The last couple of weeks has brought a couple of major scandals to light, namely the issue with Rep. Mark Foley and the Hewlett-Packard spying scandal. Both are huge lapses in ethical judgment. Foley, who served as the Chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children steps down after ABC news uncovered alleged sexually explicit messages with 16 and 17 year old male congressional pages. HP, one of Silicon Valley's banner companies spies on its own board, staff and journalists. Chairperson Patricia Boyd, along with four others, faces charges for conspiracy, identity theft and fraud.

Foley's issue may have sealed the deal for a Democratic take over of congress. Silicon Valley is reeling.

The press is having a field day. There is nothing more salacious than a politician being charged with a sexual crime, or a juicy corporate scandal. We love gossip, love standing on the sidelines when those who are richer, prettier, smarter or more recognized fall or stumble. Why else would voyeuristic reality shows retain their popularity?

As I struggle to resist my tendency to watch these stories unveil while wearing a sly grin, I thought about my own life. What if...? What if my choices, decisions and actions were brought to light for the whole world to see? This is not to excuse a politician who pledged to protect the helpless turn (allegedly) into a predator himself. But what about me? It's easy for us to scoff, kick the dirt and cast a stone. But what about my life?

The Gospel calls us to, while being a prophetic voice for the poor and helpless, look deeply into the mirror and search our own souls for the duplicity and deceit we find within. No excuses for Foley, HP, Clinton, Bush, Enron and the like. But, along the same lines, no excuses for John. No excuses for the church.

Today I woke up thinking about the familiar text from he dedication of Solomon's temple:

"At times I may shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or I might command the locusts to devour your crops, or I might send plagues among you. Then if my people, which are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land. I will listen to every prayer made in this place, for I have chosen this Temple and set it apart to be my home forever. My eyes and my heart will always be here."- 2 Chr. 7:13-16.

(Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 6:19 that under the New Covenant our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.)

While I'm grieved by each and every scandal and indiscretion that comes to light - I'm reminded that the church has a specific role to play in our society - as salt and light. Could it be that the strength of our country rests not on the congress or business leaders, but on the church's humility and acts of repentance, falling into our Father's arms of grace? Could it be that the simple yet profound act of caring for the widow or orphan will have a much greater impact than a political campaign or press conference? Jesus calles us to be people to be who do simple 'mustard seed' acts of faith. Small things making huge impact.

Let the church be the church, in humility and prayer speak truth, care for the poor, commit to living in a redemptive community. If we do so we extend the blessing of the Kingdom and impact the world waiting for His return. We used to sing a song at St. Peters Catholic Church, "Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me."

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