Delta Blues

This is a more or less slightly exagerrated recall of five or six phone calls to Delta I have made this week trying to change our return flight. I dial 1-800-221-1212. RIIINNNNNNG

Computer: Hi. Welcome to Delta, KLM and Air France. Are you a Sky Miles Member?


Computer: I’m sorry. I didn’t hear you. Let’s try again. Are you a Sky Miles Member?


Computer: Mmmm. I didn’t understand. Say Yes or No.                     

YESSSSSSSS! (Deep voice)

Computer: Let’s try again. I’m having trouble hearing you.

Okay, I think, do a falsetto. “YES.” Sounds like Franki Valli

Computer: All right. From here you can say, “Check my skymiles points, search for flights, hear uninteresting information about our hidden cost offers, or be directed back to the original menu, or speak with a representative?

Well, I never like to talk to danged computers. “Speak with a representative.”

Computer: I’m sorry. Did you say ‘speak with a representative?’


Computer: What? I can’t hear you.

Yes, Yes, YES YESSSSSS! (Granddaughter begins crying in the back seat.)

Computer: No need to raise your voice. Oh, behave

What did you say?

Computer: I said behave. You have no idea how many useless wrong turns there are on this tree. I can transfer you to purgatory anytime.

I can’t believe this. Put me through to a live human.

Computer: All right. But first I need a bit more information, Okay? Is this in regards to an existing reservation, a new reservation, a restaurant reservation, an Indian reservation, or moral reservations?


Computer: Just pullin’ your chain. Calm down. Existing reservation?


Computer: I’m sorry, I couldn’t make that out.


Computer: All right, I think you said, ‘Existing.’ Do you know your Skymiles number? Say it now or say, “I don’t have it with me.”

I’m driving down the road, so I’m sitting on my wallet where it is.

Computer: I’m sorry, what was that?

No, NO, I don’t have it, I don’t have it. I HATE you! Do you hear me? I HATE YOU, computer!

Computer: Okay. I’ll put you through to a representative. Hold on.

BEEP. connection lost.

This is only part of the story. I could tell you how the lady at the kiosk helped me try to find an earlier flight and end up with my wife going to Minneapolis and me to Salt Lake, but that’s another story. I am writing a letter about that womancomputer. She is evil.

Worth thinking about:  “Modern technology has become a total phenomenon for civilization, the defining force of a new social order in which efficiency is no longer an option but a necessity imposed on all human activity.”  Jacques Ellul.

Maybe some parts of life still deserve human beings speaking to one another…After a host of screwups, one helpful Delta ticket agent behind the counter in Portland straightened out our messed up itinerary.

War of the Worldviews?

Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar, wrote an opinion piece for CNN in the aftermath of the horrendous mass murder in Norway by suspect Anders Breivik.  Breivik set off a bomb and then, disguised as a policeman, infiltrated a youth camp where leadership and politics are taught and opened fire, at this point claiming at least 76 deaths.

Breivik is white, Christian, and released a bizarre 1500 page manifesto in which he advocated a revolution in which the cultural dominance of Christianity might prevail over what he saw as an “Islamic-Marxist” alliance.  He wanted to speak on television in his hearing to plead his case, still apparently seeing that his murders were somehow defensible as a desperate call to arms in a culture war.

No one would defend what Breivik did.  Glenn Beck, whose irrational rantings have gotten even stranger since being booted from Fox, did  offer the most incredibly insensitive (or worse if he believes his own drivel) statement of all when he mulled that the camp itself seemed somehow sinister, like a Nazi Youth camp.  Glenn, did you never go to civics?  Events and summer leadership training happens in the USA all the time, and many of them quite patriotic.   .

The right wing was not alone in its absurd reactions.  Lamentations about “fundamentalist Christians” quickly followed.  If you ever read the comments under the stories online, of course, you can read more visceral reactions to these things.  Religious folk often responded by saying, “No, this is not true Christianity, it is the work of a sick individual.”

Prothro calls all of us who practice religion to task for being inconsistent.  He writes: For the last two decades, Christian students have told me that Christianity had nothing to do with the Holocaust. After 9/11, many Muslims said that the men who flew those planes into those buildings had nothing to do with Islam. When Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot, we were told that the crime had nothing to do with our current climate of political hatred…Yes, he twisted the Christian tradition in directions most Christians would not countenance. But he rooted his hate and his terrorism in Christian thought and Christian history, particularly the history of the medieval Crusades against Muslims, and current efforts to renew that clash.  So Christians have a responsibility to speak out forcefully against him, and to look hard at the resources in the Christian tradition that can be used to such murderous ends.”

All of our texts have violent stories in them–Jews and Christians the book of Joshua, Islam has its parallels.  Christians have often been fond of talking about “spiritual warfare” and the world hearing us doesn’t understand that we don’t mean “killing people.”  The “weapons” of Christianity are faith, hope and love.  The way of Jesus is one of non-violence, not killing.  Have we not made this clear?  Apparently not.

So what does this have to do with “worldviews”?  I’ve kept thinking about him writing that 1500 page abomination before doing this.  His “worldview”.  Having a Christian “Worldview” has become a bit fashionable in recent years among evangelical Christians.  We talk of the importance of “examining one’s presuppositions” as though our own are clear and rational and pure and the rest of the world (the “lost”) are corrupt, compromised and sinful.

For more than thirty years I have engaged in many discussions with fellow Christians about “worldviews” and hear many preachers and media personalities talk about the so-called “culture wars” with this language.

“Constructing a Christian worldview” is a large enterprise.  I believe in Jesus as the son of God.  I am a Christ-follower.  I encourage others to follow His way.  Why would I react so negatively to all this “worldview” talk?  Why WOULDN’T I join in the obsession of so many to construct a “Christian worldview”?

Other than my almost automatic dislike of Christian trendiness itself, I would have to say that it’s the “rationality” of it that worries me.  The boundless optimism of naive Christian warriors is astounding.  They read a few books about the “Christian worldview,” and pretty quickly move to authoritativeness about “standing up” against this that or the other. It’s not that I don’t take the Christian view of things seriously–it’s that I do.

First, my “view” begins with the Jesus of the New Testament.  He engaged not in antiseptic schoolboy debates and parlor arguments based on straw men, but pushed deeper, down into human hearts.

Second, rather than seeking some comprehensive, one size fits all “system” that appeals to some personalities (who almost always benefit from it–strange about that), like the Pharisees and Sadduccees of his day, Jesus invited his followers to a Way of surrender to new perspectives, ruthless self-questioning, and humble obedience to his teachings and love for one another.

Third, the Christian “way” is not merely about rationality.  It speaks to the irrational and subrational, too–to things we can’t know and don’t know.  The Holy Spirit has to reveal truth to us, little by little, and so we are invited into this incredible humilty of following and living not from some “top down” system but from “bottom up” surrender.

It’s not very surprising that the bin Ladens, Nazis, Holy Warriors, Klansmen, Inquisitionists, and Breiviks of the world manage to create a god in thier own political, cultural and racial image and then demand that everyone else bow to it.  But it is not the God of Jesus. We cannot assume that the world knows these distinctions.  We ourselves have profaned, ignored and compromised this vision of our Lord too much.  We have explained away his call to peacefulness and created our own many systems.

Prothero is right in that sense. So count me as one who says clearly, “This is not Christian, even if it claims to be.”  The renunciation of violence as a way to resolve disputations, in a time when killing has become so efficient, seems more important than ever.  Be clear–we follow a Savior who laid down His life for the world and refused to take up the sword to save it.  Whatever we think of government, armies, war, executions and every other way of violence, let us at least acknowledge that the taking of life is profoundly serious and something that we accept, tolerate and ignore too often.

We have been too comfortable rationalizing our own way of life and downplaying the difficult and serious things our own Founder said to us.  I speak out to say, “Mr. Breivik in no way speaks for me as a Christian.”  But further, I stand against every effort at a “Christian view of things” that can be snapped together like intellectual Lego bricks, a neat little house of explanation of my own making.

Only a “view of things” that is prayed, agonized and wrestled into being with honest hearing and listening and with surrendered anger and sin, can be taken seriously.  A New York Times piece quoted Breivik as having written an entry in June that said, “I prayed for the first time in a very long time today. I explained to God that unless he wanted the Marxist-Islamic alliance and the certain Islamic takeover of Europe to completely annihilate European Christendom within the next hundred years he must ensure that the warriors fighting for the preservation of European Christendom prevail.”

Those of us who have anguished sincerely for decades to learn how to pray shake our heads.  One does not “tell” God what needs to be done.  This young man knows nothing of the ways of God.  But we offer him too many voices that seem to say these very things–voices of anger, frustration, rage and cultural certainty.  But no one seems to have taught him how to actually pray.

So Christians, speak.  And let’s beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks, as the Hebrew scriptures put it.  And maybe while we’re at it let’s refashion those worldviews into calloused knees.   Maybe if we spent the time we were using to argue our “worldviews” praying for our neighbors and for God to have mercy on us sinners we could find a better way.

Trading Places?

As a lifelong, maniacal baseball fan, i cut my teeth reading John R. Tunis books as a boy, listening to Cincinnati Reds baseball covertly after being sent to bed and imagining myself as a pro player one day.   I went to my first games at old Crosley Field and saw legends like Roberto Clemente, Hank Aaron, Casey Stengel, Frank Robinson and Warren Spahn live.  We sat on the third base side in box seats once close enough to hear Deron Johnson spit–which was frequently.

In my boyhood, there was only one thing that mattered–winning the World Series.  It never occurred to us that it was only Americans in the finals and that the rest of the world didn’t know.  It seemed like the biggest event in the universe.

A lot has changed.  Free agency came along and owners stopped “owning” players.  But eventually it made things more interesting–agents, players putting clauses in their contracts to only get red M&Ms, trade clauses of teams where they will NOT agree to be traded (I will not go to Bismark or Kansas City), and the internet Hot Stove.

“The Hot Stove League” was originally a phrase from the old days when men sat around the hot stove in winter, the off season, and discussed trades between teams.  Now it’s all by fax, mobile phone and internet.  Therefore, the most interesting times of the year are the day after the World Series ends until Spring Training and the last two weeks of July.  The former is the time when teams sign Free Agents and make trades.  It is a time when hope springs eternal for teams that finished third last year.  “If we can land a right-handed bat with power and a good starting pitcher, we might win it all next year!”

The period in July is even more interesting.  It is when teams become “buyers” or “sellers.”  Bad teams unload their stars to get rid of salaries when it’s obvious that they won’t win the pennant.  Therefore, baseball teams have had to get rid of the mentality of never giving up until the last out and they are eliminated from contention and replace it with, “How do we manage our player portfolio to minimize losses against probably ticket sales and revenues for overpriced hot dogs and parking to guarantee a small profit for the team this year.  Then we can publicly bemoan that we’re actually losing a ton of money so the players union won’t ask for more.”

The upshot is an interesting time when true fans keep up with rumors.  There is even a website called “MLB Trade Rumors” where Tweets, posts, stories and rumors are reported.  A the top of their home page it says, “IF IT’S WHISPERED, WE HEAR IT.”  On their “About” page, it says, “MLB Trade Rumors is a clearinghouse for relevant, legitimate baseball rumors.”

In other words, if your cousin Leonard says, “I think the Yankees should trade their starting rotation for Jeff Francoeur and a bag of bats,” it may not make it.  Only LEGITIMATE rumors.  I could write a whole blog about how this is determined and who is in charge of “rumor legitimacy,” but for fans, it’s the crystal meth of hope.  So you have things like these actual entries:
“TUESDAY, 10:16am: Giambi injured his left quad last night, and Renck says it’s a potential disabled list situation.  That could end the chances of a July trade.”

“The chances of an Ubaldo Jimenez trade are around 50/50, one source close to the talks tells Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.  To date, I don’t think any reporter has ventured to go above 20%.”  [20% IS PRETTY PRECISE FOR A RUMOR ISN’T IT?]

Actually, no one cares about the World Series winner anymore except for the ten minutes after they win the thing.  Then it’s ON TO THE RUMORS!  Add to this millions of Fantasy Baseball teams and their fake rosters and you have a whole world built on the importance of gossip.  As a minister, I’m supposed to be against gossip, but from the days of the old prayer request time in my early churches, I knew there was more than one way to spread rumors.  “We need to pray for Jimmy McGillicutty and his wife.  She’s been having an affair with that sorry man from Strawberry Plains and it’s tearing their family apart.”  Nodding heads of disapproval masking delight.

It has also led to precision evaluations of players.  There are statistics for everything:  OBP (On Base Percentage–how often the player manages to get on base in any way),  HBP (how many times they were hit by a pitch), SLG (Slugging Percentage–1 point for a single, 2 points for a double, 3 points for a Triple and 4 for a Home Run divided by the number of At Bats).  OPS is On Base percentage plus Slugging.  On and on.  You see how addictive this can be.

Which is why fewer and fewer people actually go to the games or watch them on TV.  Wins and World Series’ victories matter to the players and the two cities who win, but the rest of the fans are too busy thinking about trades and evaluating our own talent to trade and listening to rumors and blogs to actually go to a game.

I did think, though, that baseball has a lot to teach us about evaluating talent.  What if we did this in politics instead of costly wars?  “MSNBC Tweets that Britain may move prime minister to Australia for two Members of Parliament and a judge to be named later pending ethical evaluation.”  “King of Twambia may retire.  Search for new tyrant on the Free Agent Market.”

Or Business?  “Today, we will likely find out if Globehemoth Corporation will be able to unload their three main O’s, their CEO, COO and CFO in a move that most observers see as a salary dump.  The three came in with great reputations but so far have had disappointing performances.  Globehemoth’s Board Chair is said to be looking at minor league up and comers to replace them.”

Even Criminal Justice would benefit from this new way of doing things.  On a recent train ride from Portland to Seattle, the Conductor pointed out McNeil Island Prison in the Puget Sound, and shared with us that it had held, among others, the famous “Birdman of Alcatraz,” Robert Stroud, and Charlie Manson, who did two years there for federal check forgery.  I once heard about a prison warden who said, “The problem with our prisons today is that we need a better grade of prisoner.”  Criminals might feel better about going to a more glam facility, especially with some celebrity fellow inmates.

Perhaps if jailers and wardens were given some leeway to swap prisoners based on celebrity appeal rather than mere crimes and security, we might have a more appealing situation.  “There are whispers that Warden Jones is actually considering a blockbuster trade that would rock the correctional world.  Rumor has it that jailer Bob at LA County Jail is considering a Lindsay Lohan-Paris Hilton swap for loiterers and a couple of prisoners to be named later.  It is clear that the relationship of Jailer Bob and the celebs has soured to the point that he is willing to move them for very little, crimewise.”

I have even thought about churches.  From my first year as a pastor, I considered the joy of being able to willing swap members away.  In the Body of Christ, there are always productive bench players, pinch-hitters, and stars, but like any other organization, there are also clubhouse lawyers, bad attitudes, disappointing Free Agents who came in the door to boost the budget and lead committees to productivity only to end up as Inactive Members and so on.  Team chemistry matters.

But it’s not all negative.  Sometimes in baseball you trade a great left-handed relief specialist to get a good man with a glove who can play five positions.  I’ve always wanted to trade when I was deep in seminary graduates or university people or chaplains or engineers and get a left-handed artist or a tenor for the choir in return.  And you can never have enough stay at home moms with entrepeneurial talents or retirees with time on their hands and good attitudes.

Only thing is, good for the goose, good for the gander.  It might go the other way.  How about CHURCH TRADE RUMORS: If it’s whispered at the annual meeting, we hear it first!

“First Church is considering unloading its long-term contract with Pastor Smith as it rebuilds for the future.  Its economic situation probably calls for fielding a much younger staff team which would cost less but might take a while to turn things around.  Smith got off to a great start his first four years, with 5% growth per year, but personal family troubles and a bout of depression sidelined him for the next three.  His effectiveness has not been the same since.”

“Second Baptist and Third Baptist are mulling over a straight up swap of pastors.  Brother Bildge and Preacher Finch have both been in their pulpits for seven years and both churches are languishing in third place in their respective divisions.  A change of scenery might revitalize their disappointing careers.  Observers note that with Third’s deacon body, no one is likely to find much success at the church.   Their error rate is the highest in all ecclessiological circles.  Bilge, on the other hand, was doing well until he criticized FOX news from the pulpit and has been a lame duck from super wealthy followers of Christ who withheld their tithes in retribution, according to their convictions about discipleship.”

“Mt. Harmony #2 gave their pastor her outright release and she is now a free agent and may negotiate with any team.  It is rumored that the Rev. Alibright Harrison, who was drafted directly from the seminary as a number one pick, never really synched with the General Manager, Elder Neggo, whose tight-fisted philosophy and general conservative approach to church doomed the experiment from the start.”

I want to run the website.  The rumors will dwarf baseball and my job security will never end.

A Political Glossary for Newcomers

I offer this to students from other countries here on visas for college and to politically uninformed citizens to help them understand the current debates going on in our country.  GF

Entitlements—a word that once referred to “something earned or deserved, or given out of mutual agreement and covenant and generally accepted and validated by law.”  Lately it has devolved to a more primitive association to refer to another as “a deadbeat.” Today in politics it has a very strict meaning, as in, “money given to someone I don’t know and don’t really care about or from whom I can derive no direct benefit.  Therefore, it is waste and should be gotten rid of.”  In recent years it has become clear that the Entitlement People, whoever they are, do not spend money, buy groceries, pay bills, or eat at restaurants and therefore do not participate in the economic life of the nation.  They tend to sit at home, collect their benefits and checks, cash them and either buy cigarettes or send the money directly to China. The Entitled (I will henceforth refer to them as TE) use up valuable resources that could pay off the national debt and other important problems which they themselves created had they simply refused to accept the money the Congress voted to give them.  The simplest distinction will help the reader.  “Entitlements are what someone else receives as a benefit that they don’t deserve because they are not in my family.”

Term Limits—an imaginary concept that revolutionaries espouse until elected.

Immigration Crisis—see also, “Terrorists, Arabs, Foreigner, Muslim, Job-Gobblers.”  Bad people who come to the good country where we live, which the Native Americans gladly handed to us when our ancestors arrived, and negotiated same in solemn treaties which said, in effect, “Maybe you European people can stop the porous border issues we have around here.  We gladly give you control of all our land and resources if you will relocate us to barren and worthless areas and fence us in, where we can later develop casinos.”  In Alabama, this also refers to the flow of undocumented persons from Florida, Mississippi and Tennessee flowing into the state.

The Government—a word very close in pronunciation to “government,” which simply means the “the complex of political institutions, laws, and customs through which the function of governing is carried out.”  For newcomers to America, it is important to NEVER use the definite article.  When an American says “The Government,” they are, actually using profanity.  It refers specifically to their current group of elected persons and is not to be used except in violent discussions in which more than one person yells simultaneously and no one listens.  In this latter sense, it can never refer to anyone with good motives or intentions, only an amorphous and callously selfish group of piggish persons who pilfer through the public treasury to enrich themselves.  There is great debate among scholars about whether the nearly universally truth of a stereotype, in fact, makes something no longer a stereotype.

Political facts—an oxymoron referring to the emotions I have about people who feel differently than me, expressed as objective information but usually having more to do with where I live, what I do for a living, how close to retirement I am or other contingencies that shade my perspective.  Antonym—“serious dialogue with someone who disagrees with me.”

Common good—a euphemism for “we win, you lose” or, something that makes 50.01% of Americans feel that we are on the right course in an opinion poll.

Blogosphere—the collective wisdom of self-expression on the internet on things political, generally something the founding fathers would approve but also which carries the same dangers of a space suit without an oxygen tank or gluteal ventilation.  The current writer is certainly part of the blogosphere but recommends that readers be sure to read a real book at least once a week to counter nosebleeds and intellectual hemorrhoids  that can develop in the blogosphere.

PAC or Political Action Committeesee “Let Your Money Work for You:  Political Opportunities for the Discerning Investor” and “How to Win Friends and Influence Elections While Slandering People”

Fault—noun:  the giant crack in the good earth of America we are about to fall into while our leaders blame each other.  Verb—What a President or a Congress does to explain the current mess, similar to tennis, “They faulted their predecessors for their vote on the pay raise for themselves.”

Pork—Benefits to someone else’s congressional district that are the reason we have a massive debt to China.  [antonym: “Ice Tea money” An article posted in 1994 (real!) said, “Lawmakers Hope ‘Ice Tea’ Will Quench Their Thirst For Special Projects.  January 08, 1994 By Sean Holton Sentinel Washington Bureau.  Leave it to Congress to fight highway congestion with a multibillion dollar program that sounds like ”ice tea” but tastes like a pork milkshake.  On Friday, scores of lawmakers from Florida and other states lined up for federal ”special projects” money to be doled out this year under the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (abbreviated ISTEA, and called ”ice tea”).  Ice Tea is what our senator brought in.]  Pork is what they do in New Jersey.

Debt Ceiling—An infinitely adjustable mortgage that can only be purchased by the Congress which, unlike homeowners, is actually more payable the higher it goes.  Until homeowners can print their own money, this is likely to be a very restrictive real estate instrument.    Wall Street financiers are looking into a way to bundle America’s global debt as they did home mortgages and sell them to Pakistan and Venus.  This is promising because it is tied to an actual asset, the septic tank at the Capitol Building which, apparently, has an endless methane supply that could run the global needs of earth for two millennia.

Stewards on a Sinking Ship?

I have committed, as a writer, to undertake the serious discipline of writing during the month of July each year.  This is a little confusing, because I write all the time in my work, as a songwriter, just about everyday as a facebook citizen (won’t find me with those loathsome mundanities like how much mustard was on my sandwich or my farmville situation.  I try to write something short and worthwhile, except when i don’t, of course.  Which is why I like “like.”  Cuts to the chase, and you can “unlike.”).  I mean, though, that I have committed to myself to use my gift, whether anyone reads it or not.  Writing, the very act of committing words to sequence, has a power.

Anyway, I have dozens of book ideas, but most of them are still in my computer.  I’m one of those people Dorothy Sayers talked about in The Mind of the Maker when she said that  all artistic failures correspond to defects in trinitarian theology.  All artistic work begins as idea, “becomes flesh” in the act of writing (or painting, or making music) and then achieves fulness in becoming an experienced reality by those who read it, watch it or listen to it.  A work of art is not complete without this fullness of being–it’s fine that you have an idea, and many people, she said, say “My book is finished.  I have only to write it down.”  But until you write it, it is not complete. So, if you are a writer, you don’t wait for a contract or just think about ideas.  You write.

I have pondered about three projects I have in various stages of completion (whatever I do with them), but the one I have strong feelings about is “stewardship.”  It’s an odd phrase, usually associated in churches with fundraising and subscribing the budget, but it has an interesting history as a word.  According to the website “word origins” (, in Old English, where this word originated in about the 15th century, a steward was literally “in charge of a sty.”  This was either connected with the word “stigweard,” a compound from “stig” (hall or house) and “weard,” meaning a guardian  or keeper, thus, “keeper of the hall.”  It may have been from the word “sty,”, the place where the pigs were kept.  I will admit that in the current political moment someone who takes care of something dirty and unglamorous without credit is indeed, “Weard.”

Was a steward originally the guy who took care of the hogs?  Interesting thought.  Stewardship has a lowly dimension to it.  “Taking care” of things is not glamorous, appreciated, or always understood by much of our throwaway culture.  Our children may be changed by the recession we seem to be still in the midst of, but we are yet to see if it makes our children more fearful about wasting things or more attentive to taking care of what they have.

Where stewardship matters is its sense of one being responsible for many things and, presumably many other people.  If the steward doesn’t do his or her job, the hogs get out, money is lost, the house runs down, and chaos results.

Stewardship has relevance to all aspects of life.  It is the most powerful image I can think of for where we are in our current global situation.  We sit on a fragile planet with abundant resources, but finite ones.  How we treat that planet will not affect its survival in the universe, but it may have a lot to say about whether we’ll be on it for a long time.  Politics, relationships, economic life, culture, food and water, all are affected by our sense of (or lack thereof) of a sense of “stewardship.”

We watch the global economy halted by our politicians’ endless manipulations, who can never seem to answer each direct question with a simple “Yes” or “No”, posturing, accusing, projecting, blaming, offering excuses, and generally carrying on what sometimes feels like the old “bull sessions” in the dorm late at night in college.  Except their bull sessions affect people’s lives.  And in it all, the sense of stewardship can be lost amid the tantalizing seductions of power, fame and money, the Unholy Trinity of our particular moment win out.

It is a very dangerous time, a time that more than ever asks for servants but always gives in to seducers, wasters, magicians and promisers of fantasy.  Yet if they did tell the truth, give us the bad news, admit the pain that it would take to fix it, would we accept it?  It costs to be a steward.  No fame, no vast fortune, just this unrelenting sense of taking care of something that someone entrusted to us, because that responsibility is more important than all the pleasures to be immediately had by turning from it.

My prayer is for the rebirth of stewardship in the world–parents, families, stockbrokers, bankers, neighbors, policemen, company presidents and CEOs, workers, teachers, artists, politicians.  Without that sense that something is always asked of me for the sake of the other, that something that says, “It can never be only about you,” this ship will sink.  Every good ship has an officer called a “steward.”  The steward is not the captain.  No ship can sail with all captains.  The ship steward looks after the passengers’ comfort and wellbeing, and sees after the supplies and food.

Long live the stewards.  May their tribe increase.  But if we merely delegate this to certain poor souls who are left to tend the hogs while we all watch cable, we will sink.  As a steward of writing gifts, however small they might be, I must reject my own excuses and write as though the world depended on me.  Mothering, fathering, taking care of someone else’s money, churches, schools, neighborhoods, aging parents, the poor among us–we are all called to some great and unavoidable stewardships.  And if we evade them, not only might the ship run out of food or sink, we will never once before we die manage to be who we came here to become.  And that is a loss of incalculable measure.