Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Illinois State Rep. Larry McKeon, friend of the poor, dead at 63

Larry McKeon, our 13th (formerly 34th) district state congressman, has died of a stroke related to his long-time struggle with both cancer and AIDS. Larry was the first openly gay congressman elected in Illinois (1997-2007). I personally knew Larry as someone vitally interested in the poor in our neighborhood, and was able to tell him "Thank you" for that work just a few months back.

His forward-thinking aid to our Chicago 46th Ward Alderwoman, Helen Shiller, helped her to establish both businesses and affordable housing during these lean and mean Bush years.

I'm sure a few readers are waiting for me (an evangelical Christian even if I am a lefty for the most part politically) to comment on homosexuality. That's a long topic and a complex one, and my sucky "Self-Inflicted" interview is probably the best place to go if ya really have to know my thoughts. It isn't impressive. But this is not about that -- it is about Larry McKeon, who did prove one thing. He served us as a public servant, not only with credibility but with heart.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

BlueChristian Goes Silent on Obama -- or anything else? How come?

Short and sweet, as a staffer / teacher in Jesus People USA's Project 12 discipleship training program, I was off for the past few weeks on an outreach to New Orleans and elsewhere with the whole of Project 12. That deserves a blog itself, but I can't promise I'll get there.

What I missed -- regarding the elections and regarding other faith-related issues -- while driving nails in New Orleans, scooping gravel in Missouri, and helping hack logs into planks in Indiana...

1. Rev. Wright's appearance in various media outlets, and Barack Obama's subsequent rejection of Wright. I'm trying to backtrack and actually watch the raw footage of these appearances. My current -- very tentative -- sense is that Wright erred in speaking out right now, and possibly erred further in defending his positions. I agree with those positions in large part, but disagree with the idea that HIV-AIDS was / is a plot against black people. (I say that while acknowledging with horror that the U. S. government did for decades experiments on African American soldiers -- without the soldiers' knowledge -- injecting them with syphilis and exposing by doing so not only the soldiers themselves but also their wives and offspring.)

2. The more to the point development that Barack Obama has for all intent and purpose won the Democratic Nomination (any other development would in fact destroy the party's chances not only for this election but potentially for future elections as well). Yes, we've all sensed this coming for some time now, but being both skeptical and existentially depressed (after the last eight years, shouldn't we be?!), it comes as a relief to see things finally falling into place for an Obama vs. Repubs race.

I continue to feel badly that for Obama to run, he had to knock Hillary Clinton out of the race. It was certainly exciting to contemplate a woman President, and I for one do not believe we will have to wait another generation in order to see that hope become fact. But in 2008, it is not about gender or even primarily about race -- it is about change. I hope to blog a little more reflectively on the Obamagelical nexus soon.

3. The terrible tragedies in Myanmar and China over the past few days -- I don't pretend to be an expert on that part of the world, and would direct all praying (and non-praying) folk to get involved via World Vision or World Relief (to name just two of many excellent organizations dealing with poverty and disasters world wide).

4. The release of the so-called "Evangelical Manifesto" is something I find only mildly hopeful, far too little and far too late. A collection of mostly white males talk mostly to other white males, showing at some points they are learning but at other points (such as the fact the document doesn't mention women much at all!) proving their tone-deafness continues. But since I hope to say more later, that's all I'll say now. And maybe I'll even find more positive about this document than I did on a first and second reading...

Well, that's a bit of why I've gone missing. And one more reason? My dear son Christopher is marrying his Azuree this coming weekend. So obviously, a guy who blogs a lot about unity in both this, my political voice, and (less often) romantically on my website, will be a bit tangented by his son's wedding!