The new year was rung in with the surprising news of a small militia occupying a federal building in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, deep in rural Oregon. Armed protestors, calling themselves Citizens for Constitutional Freedom, have called on the U.S. government to reverse policies dealing with public lands that they consider unconstitutional.
The group’s leader, Ammon Bundy, a confessing Mormon, said they would remain there until they “restore the land and resources to the people so people across the country can begin thriving again.”
My spouse and I are four-and-a-half years into our adventure of co-pastoring. Will it be our last such adventure? I have no idea. Other married co-pastors have written great things in the last four-and-a-half years, and I am grateful for the wisdom they have shared. As we move further along in this relationship, new and subtle facets of working together emerge, and I think about them, and sometimes share them my husband.
There’s a meeting today with the city about some of our building issues, and one of our great members is going and said one of us needed to go with him.
“I don’t do goals,” I say when it’s my turn to introduce myself. A thin blanket beneath me, my legs folded, I am sitting in a circle of women at my local yoga studio. We are at a workshop “setting intentions for the New Year” with “a feminine approach to goal setting.” I am skeptical. I am more of a “let the destination find you” kind of person. I am better at beginnings.
It’s damnable that any reflection on American gun violence is quickly out of date. I was in Texas when the October 1 shooting occurred in Roseburg, Oregon, leaving 10 dead including the gunman. I was revising an article provoked by that shooting when 14 were shot dead December 2 in San Bernardino, California. Now there are two statistics I can’t get out of my mind: first, mass shootings (resulting in four or more deaths) occur at a rate of more than one a day in the United States. Second, more American gun deaths have occurred since 1970 than American war deaths since 1775.
Sometimes, when I find it hard to pray, when faith, hope, and love are threatening to dry up, I zero in on a handful of desperate pleas from a handful of desperate people who come across Jesus in the Gospels.
I used to get a phone call every Monday morning. “I just wanted to let you know what’s being said,” the caller would begin, and my body would tense as if preparing to be punched. Then, I would get the rundown of every complaint that people had about me.