Alice Walker wrote those words in The Color Purple. When she did, she probably wasn’t thinking about an interpretation of justice such as the one put on display on April 24 in Louisville (and properly denounced and ridiculed as a total perversion of the concept). I don’t remember who it was who labeled it as “Just-Us Sunday,” but that’s not far off the mark. As a former and possibly future Tennessean, I was especially embarrassed that Sen. Bill Frist joined that motley crowd. Frist family members have been generous in Nashville with their wealth (from for-profit hospitals, to be sure — talk about perversion!) and have given time and effort to numerous civic enterprises in Middle Tennessee, so I didn’t expect one of them to be making common cause with the likes of Jim Dobson. A piece on the senator in last week’s Economist offered some enlightenment, however. You need to be a subscriber to read the whole thing online; here’s an enlightening excerpt (italics added for emphasis):
Why has Mr Frist thrown in his lot with the religious right? It is possible that he has enjoyed a private conversion. But the more likely explanation is that an intensely ambitious man desperately wants to be president. At his young gentleman’s academy in Nashville, his nicknames were “Mr President”, “Precious” and “Wilbur”; at Princeton, Harvard Medical School and the Stanford University Medical Centre, he was a super-achiever, so keen on practising surgery that he even adopted stray cats from Boston shelters for the sole purpose of dissecting them.
Now, no one who knows me would ever accuse me of being at the head of the league of animal lovers, but I’m really put off by this. (Not that I would ever have voted for him anyway!)
A friend sent this essay of Anne Lamott called “God Doesn’t Take Sides” (scroll down to read it), which for some reason cheered me up a lot, even though we might converse a bit about the “preferential option for the poor.” Another source of encouragement was spending a day last weekend in the presence of John Dear, peace activist and former head of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. He has a great spirit and tells very funny stories about his experiences. He says working for peace and justice should be fun: a good reminder for those of us who tend to get angry, intense, and rigid!
If you don’t subscribe to Sojourners, you might have missed this solid piece on Social Security by Jim Wallis entitled, appropriately, “Honor Your Father and Mother.” Not that they are paying that much attention to any of them, but the theocrats seem to be especially neglectful of the Fifth Commandment.