Americans are not very good with failure. We take it personally; we draw lines in the sand and cast blame. And the Chicago Public Schools are, for the most part, failing—failing to provide an environment that fosters teacher excellence, failing to provide a physical environment in which kids can learn, failing to graduate kids with the basic skills to succeed, failing to graduate kids at all.
Those of us who follow the lectionary have encountered the industrious woman of Proverbs 31 many times. Every three years she appears with her wool and flax, her distaff and spindle, her keen eye for both fashion and a good deal, her open hand to the poor, and her penchant for providing her husband bragging rights at the city gates. But we haven’t always welcomed her.
Recently, a friend and I were talking about how disturbed and saddened we’ve been by the hateful and decidedly unchristian words spoken by self-proclaimed Christian leaders in recent years. The examples are too numerous to cite, and each has its own agenda of hatred and division. I complained that it was so deeply unfair that such intolerant and offensive perspectives were being allowed to speak for me and all other Christians.
My friend offered a profound and simple response: “Chris, they only speak for you if you don’t speak for yourself.”
"The more we read," writes James Fallows, "the more we see reminders that experiences or perceptions we thought were distinctive to us are in fact widespread, even banal." And here I thought I was the only one who ever noticed that!
Fallows has in mind his admiration of the Book of Common Prayer.