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Welcome The Reverend Beth Williams. ~ We are glad our new Director of Religious Education is here. Many thanks to Chere Coen and our RE leadership team. A strange satisfaction ~ The spirit of satisfaction, the feeling of revenge, is human and as old as recorded history. When Osama bin Laden's life was extinguished, the public displays of triumph and jubilation broadcast across the planet were troubling to me. Were they for you? And if at first there was jubilation, is there the same intense feeling now? We ought to reflect upon this business with each other and with our children/youth. I have to confess: any day I feel like dancing on someone else's grave is hardly my best day because I know other enemies and opponents are lurking in the real world and in the psyche. This strange satisfaction is fleeting in nature. I question in what ways it is perverse. I think indulgent triumphalism can do harm to us all. Something feels wrong in celebrating the death of anyone, whether in war or at the gates of a penitentiary on the eve of a state execution. Something feels wrong because it is not right action. I immediately think of the memorial service held here at church in August of 1998 after 36-year-old Ann Michelle Deney O'Connor, (daughter of Gwen Deney) was killed along with 212 other persons in a truck-bomb blast at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi. Life goes on for her daughters, surviving husband, and mother, but is there completion or closure with bin Laden's demise? I doubt it. Closure is becoming a phony word in our culture. Columnist Kathleen Parker says it well: "I take no solace in revenge" (Washington Post, 5-9-11)

In my acceptance speech upon receiving The Wade Mackie Peacemaking Award (from Bienville House Center for Peace and Justice, 5-19-11), I spoke of authors who have been influential. I named Reinhold Niebuhr, (we are without the principle of comprehension outside our comprehension) and James Luther Adams (there is no immaculate conception of virtue). I referred to Thandeka, who, in her book, Learning to Be White, identifies 'white shame' as a key psychological understanding of prejudice and racism. Culture inculcates feelings of sinfulness and shame, says Thandeka, through mechanisms of abuse and betrayal, justified in the name of race, money, and god. Racism may be less about hatred of the other and more about self-hatred. She makes a fine contribution to the continuing dialogue on race. As does Sharon Welch in her book, Sweet Dreams in America. In her analysis, Welch found that when white middle class progressives sink into depression, despair, or infighting, they may well have placed too much emphasis on winning instead of focusing on solidarity and being together to make a public witness. In her interviews and study of the civil rights movement, she found many African Americans who taught something beyond winning. Win or lose, the work we do in and of itself is meaningful, because we must be seen, for the sake of the children and succeeding generations. The children are watching.

Enjoy a summer of reading. Join me for a reading of Governance and Ministry by Dan Hotchkiss. Drop by the booktable to buy a copy or borrow a copy from the Leadership Library. Let's get together to discuss the salient points on Tuesday, August 9 at 7 PM, church.