Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Mister Rogers, Jim Wallis & Me

Saturday morning found me in the kitchen well before dawn. Abbi and I had a 15k to run, so I was firing up the coffee maker and -- like so many Saturday morning's before -- listening to American Public Radio's Speaking Of Faith.

This week's guest was Reverend Jim Wallis, an Evangelical Christian writer, political activist, and founder and editor of Sojourners Magazine. He spoke with host Krista Tippet in low, patient tones. Still, standing there in the dark, I was moved by the depth and simplicity of his rousing, hushed sermon.

My hunch is that many consider his bold assertions -- like that inventing deliberately falsifying evidence to drive a nation to war should "not be forgiven" -- a bit much. I happen to think he's right on.

None of it's a surprise, though, given that he was President of Students for a Democratic Society at Michigan State. Inspired, like so many of his generation, by Ghandi and MLK, he writes, lectures and lobbies on behalf of social equity.

"How we treat the other -- the vulnerable, the poor, the enemy -- the one who's not at the table is the one we're going to be judged by."

"I want my kids to be raised in a country that values [that]" he said, "Not just the survival of the fittest."

"I love that Isaiah text where it says that your healing is tied up in your response to those who've been left out and left behind. This nation needs to be healed of it's division our deep inequality we don't know each other and we're diminished by that."

    Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
    when you see the naked, to clothe him,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

    Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
    then your righteousness will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lordwill be your rear guard.

    If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
    then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.

"The big choice for us today is between hope and cynicism. Hope is not a feeling or a personality type. It's a decision. Whenever change has come it's because a people believed in that possibility before it came to be so. Hope is a decision that makes change possible. So I believe hope is the most responsible contribution the faith community can offer the world. Things can change. They have, and they will."

Of course, I immediately wanted to interview him for the film. And I may just yet.

In addition to inspiring me, though, finding Jim Wallis (who is, no doubt, huge within his circles; the guy got Edwards, Obama and Hillary on stage in June to discuss faith, values, and social justice) so serendipitously -- right place, right time -- reminded me of something I'd been thinking a few days prior.

Much as I try to wrap this whole thing -- depth and simplicity and all of the values Mister Rogers stood for and aspired to -- up in a nice 90-minute bow, this film is just the beginning. This journey will take a lifetime.

1 comment:

Sandra said...

"This country will not be a permanently good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a reasonably good place for all of us to live in."

Teddy Roosevelt
Chicago, IL, June 17, 1912

Great post!
Greetings from Iowa - where the first caucus is just 29 days away. I hope we'll be setting this country on course toward a brave, new, inspired direction.