Friday, August 29, 2008

obama, katrina, congo

The speech by Barack Obama at the conclusion of the Democratic Convention was historic and inspiring. As an American I was grateful for his willingness to fight for many of the facets of our common life that are so vital to the people of our nation: social security, public education, public health. I was also heartened by his willingness to raise the bar in linking our future need for energy with the employment of our people in that search. Finally, with the great majority of the inhabitants of our country, I am ready for change. John McCain, if he is going to make any progress, is going to have to make the same case that he is a change agent. Our mounting debt, the ongoing war in Iraq, the neglect of Afghanistan, the crumbling infrastructure and deterioration of many of our larger cities, the abused ecosystem, the use of torture, the politicization of the justice department, the cost of transportation (which admittedly neither party has been willing to solve), global warming...we are reaching a tipping point, and simply traveling the same path will be only to our peril. The next two months should be interesting, to say to least.


The third anniversary of Katrina is upon us, and we are now tracking Gustav, which has already killed 67 people in Haiti and the Dominican Repuplic, and is heading perhaps to the shores of the gulf coast. I remain convinced that Katrina was a moral test of who we are as a nation. Well-worth reading: Douglas Brinkley's The Great Refuge, riveting, balanced, epic; and worth listening to: Terence Blanchard's A Tale of God's Will: A Requiem for Katrina.


The news from the recent episcopal elections in the Congo reminded me that the world has become smaller. Bishop Yemba was re-elected (apparently, one is first elected, and then after four years re-elected for life---interesting), and the other candidate was Rev. Richard Okoko. I have come to know both of these men. Eighteen months ago I worked with a group for two days drafting a paper on the United Methodist Church and Global Poverty; Bishop Yemba participated and spoke with great authority (the paper can be accessed through the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry). I also chose Richard Okoko's small group within the Global Ministries legislative committee at the General Conference in April. He led us with great dignity and skill, even as he was experiencing a significant health challenge and working with The Discipline which is not translated in his native French language. Both of these men are committed to the gospel, aware of the complexities of the world, and invested in shaping the future of our denomination.


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