Monday, November 08, 2004
( 8:37 AM )
Rev. Fred posts today about a tough choice he's made.
Yesterday I got a direct mail solicitation from Angel Tree, an annual program by Chuck Colson's Prison Fellowship that collects and distributes Christmas toys for the children of prisoners.
It's a nice program, well conceived and well run. The toys are collected from church or business groups, just like with Toys for Tots, and then are distributed to the children through their parents. Lately, Angel Tree has expanded to include mentoring and camping programs for these children. Like child-sponsorship programs, Angel Tree recognizes that its easier to get people to give to help the needy by making them feel warm and fuzzy about it, and the program cannily harnesses that sentiment for a good cause.
I used to plug Angel Tree every year back when I worked for the "alternative evangelical" Prism magazine. But I'm reluctant to do so this year. That reluctance, in part, is because Colson has spent the past year as an outspoken campaigner for George W. Bush.
We need to start making difficult choices, but we also need to fill the gaps. If we choose not to support things like Angel Tree because of the hypocrisy of its founder, then we must step in and provide other avenues for those children. But sometimes we need to step back and look at everything we're feeding simply by not choosing. Progressive voices get lost in the noise, but it is time to do as much as we talk. Making good choices for our community, setting an example for our children, raising our kids to know what it means to actually help someone, rather than sit in a pew and listen to someone declare who and who isn't righteous. These are the ways we need to change, not just how we campaign politically.
Who can be our example? Why not Jimmy Carter, for a start. He is a statesman who is unashamedly devoted to God, but what does he do with that devotion? Preach about the sin of gay people? Command folks to spank their kids to keep them in line? Celebrate "God in the White House?" No. He builds houses for poor people. He tries to stop wars. He steps in to help guarantee democracies can function. He heals with his hands and his feet. It's time for us to start making enough difference for our communities and our country that Republicans and Conservatives' empty promises and speeches about "morality" fall on deaf ears because too many people are seeing us actually change things for the better.
Let's get to work.