2.21.2008

the religiosity of health care

A bit foreword and perhaps disclaimer.

Talking about politics in the religious workplace is like talking about religion in the secular workplace. At least in a religious workplace where not all workers for the Word are hard lined religious rightists.

I am typically uncomfortable being extremely explicit with my political standings in any setting other than with my family who is forced into loving me by sheer genetics. Believe me when I tell you that when we talk politics over Thanksgiving dinner, our genetics are the only thing that keeps us from starting a mashed potato fight. That and the possibility that if thrown, the potato might get onto the pecan pie (or into the wine, depending on who you are). In that scenario, we'd all go home really grumpy. In non-familial settings, I prefer to listen to what other people are interested in and offer counter-points that I may or may not wholly own as personal viewpoints. I won't likely tell you if I own them or not. Sorry. Ambiguity suits me.

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Recently, in a strictly religious setting I was listening to a person of strong faith whom I respect a great deal though I differ from them drastically in a political sense. They were sharing their perspective on universal health care and these words as best as I remember came out of their mouth, "When I hear universal health care, I see my paycheck getting smaller."

I was horrified, though I expressed it by changing the topic.

I haven't done the research to speak conclusively of my opinions on universal health care. But my primary concern about it is NOT the size of my pay check. I want to make sure that the people who live in my neighborhood, immigrants, lower income families, students, the elderly have access to good care. I want our government to create or monitor a program that will be accessible to the most people whether that is government run or not. (Let us not forget how much employers in the States are shoveling into the health care industry.)

I hope people of faith will allow their knowledge of the justice of Christ and his compassion for the poor as they consider their political motivations. If the motivation for lower taxes is a bigger paycheck, perhaps you should consider the words of Ed Begley, Jr. as shared by No Impact Man, "I've never seen a hearse with a luggage rack on top."

You can't take your paycheck to heaven. But the righteousness of Christ you reflect might bring another person into the fold or make their life more livable. A lower paycheck may in fact cost more than its monetarily value.

2.14.2008

my sister, the theologian (or in her words, the c-list blog celebrity)

In a conversation about what I want to be when I grow up, my sister says to me, "Basically, WWJD? He would say, 'Lighen up, sweetchild, have a glass of water I have just turned to wine, and let me lead you. For I know the path I have chosen for you...or something like that.'"

I think she's on to something. I'm going to go fill up my water bottle, now.

2.11.2008

the whir of the spirit

February is a tough, dark month in Missouri. There isn't much to look forward to in February. It could still be ridiculously cold, icy, and snowy. The beginning of March doesn't offer much of a contrast. It, too, can be ridiculously cold, icy, and snowy.

Beyond that, February is a month when things get piled on. Students are mid-way through the semester, two-thirds into the school year. Teachers give large comprehensive assignments in February. The schedule is full with basketball and cheerleading and club sports and you-name-it-miscellanea.

Optimism runs thin in February because the end is not yet in sight. The close of the school year is still an ambiguously looming thing not yet realized. The coming of spring is unimaginable. The only holidays celebrate dead presidents and, for the adolescent and others, an unattainable "love" factor.

Yesterday, I gathered with a group of 8th graders and two of youth ministry moms. We had planned an afternoon of hot cocoa, warm cookies, and rest for our youth group. I wanted to encourage their hearts to not cool in the easily chilled environment. I think our goal was met.

Our youth room is not exactly a cozy place. It is big with flexible space, but it isn't cozy. Cozy has to be brought to the room. We brought floor lamps and candles and blankets and a fake fireplace (a television hooked up to a laptop with the fake fireplace screen saver and a nearby space heater!). We played quiet soothing music and made chocolate chip cookies in the oven. We made hot chocolate with all of the toppings and hung out with each other for the first thirty minutes with absolutely no agenda or games or anything to do except be together.

We talked about Pentecost and the fire of the Holy Spirit. We read Romans chapter 8 and explored the work of the Holy Spirit. Youth spent a good deal of time silently pondering a verse in Romans 8 that was comforting to them. We shared our thoughts, we sang a few songs, we prayed together for each other.

As the youth were pondering their verse, the room was silent, but I could sense a loud whirring in the room. It wasn't the whir of an idling computer, but of their prayers. It wasn't audible, but I could hear it. It loudly proclaimed the work of the Spirit.

That whir is making February bearable.