Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Republican Dogs Chase ACA for Six Years ... Now Wonder What To Do

Here's the email I sent today to Blaine Luetkemeyer, Republican U.S. Representative from Missouri's 3rd District. I'm sure it won't change his right-wing reactionary mind.  But I needed to have my say. 

Dear Congressman Luetkemeyer,

I see you are on record as supporting the American Health Care Act, to be voted on tomorrow in the House of Representatives.  I strongly urge you to vote against this legislation.

There are many aspects of this bill which I oppose.  Let me focus on two.

At present, low income people can get a subsidy up front to make their health insurance affordable.  The Republican proposal would eliminate that and instead offer a tax credit.  But, Congressman, very few low income Americans have the first clue about how to itemize their tax returns. They take the standard deduction in what’s the equivalent of the 1040EZ form and off they send it.  These tax credits might technically be available to them, but do you realize how few of them would have the first clue how to access and claim those tax credits?

The Republican spokespeople keep saying this proposed law would make health care “accessible” to all.  I know where there is a Rolls Royce car dealership in Missouri, so a Rolls Royce is technically accessible to me.  But could I afford it?  Not a chance.  There is a great difference between affordable and accessible health care insurance, and the independent, bipartisan reports have made it clear that the proposed law makes health insurance much less affordable for people with low incomes.

Over the past six years, the U.S. House of Representatives has voted hundreds of times to repeal the hated “Obamacare.”  You have had six years to think carefully about a reasonable alternative.  This is not a reasonable alternative.  I expect many of the voters who swept you and Donald Trump to power in November will be decimated by this law.

The U.S. House reminds me of a dog that’s been barking at and chasing a car for six long years.  Now the dog has finally caught the car.  And he wonders what the heck to do with it.  Because he never really had a plan.

Congressman Luetkemeyer, the law being proposed in the House is not a plan that adheres to the words engraved in the Missouri State Capitol: The welfare of the people shall be the supreme law.

Please vote for the good of the people of the U.S. and of Missouri.  Please vote against this terrible piece of legislation.

Respectfully yours,
Lisa Fox
Jefferson City, Mo.

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Saturday, December 17, 2016

Journey to Maria's Ordination

Friend and fellow blogger Maria Evans was to be ordained to the transitional diaconate last night, December 16, at Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis. This post will mostly be about my experience of the crazy two days. Sorry for the self-absorption. 
I was honored to be asked to serve as crucifer for the festival service in which Maria and two others would be ordained.  The Cathedral’s verger, Shug Goodlow, and I had agreed to meet at 3:30, before the general rehearsal at 4:30, before the ordination service at 6:00 p.m.  If you know me, you know that serving as crucifer is a deep joy to me.  Further, I had walked with Maria through this journey for several years, so I was doubly thrilled to serve in this ordination.
To be sure I got to the Cathedral in plenty of time to meet Shug at 3:30, I left home at 12:30 Friday (yesterday), giving me 3 hours to arrive. That shouldn’t be a problem, for it’s generally a 2-hour drive from home to the Cathedral.  I was in great shape, I thought. Just before I left, a freezing drizzle began to fall.  I had been checking weather sites for two days.  All had said there was at most a 20% chance of precipitation, and all had said the temperature would be above freezing.  But they were all wrong.  When I got to my car, it was covered in a thin sheet of ice.  When I made my first turn, the car slid a bit on the ice.  Uh-oh, I thought; better take it easy.
I got onto highway 54 in town.  You who know the area will know it’s the highway that goes north for 30 miles, where it links up with Interstate 70 at Kingdom City. The speed limit is 70.  But everyone was driving 30 mph, and for good reason.  It should have taken me ½ hour to get to I-70.  Instead, it took an hour. In that 30 miles, I saw 7 vehicles spun out in the median and ditches.  I realized I was already cutting it close for making my 3:30 appointment for crucifer practice.  St. Louis is 2 hours from home, and 1½ hours from the Kingdom City interchange.
I took the exit ramp onto I-70 and was confronted with a horrible sight: a traffic snarl with vehicles moving at a crawl.  I figured it was a temporary delay. I was grateful that a semi truck let me into the right lane between him and another truck ahead of me.  We crawled along for ¼ mile.  Then we all stopped.  For a little while, I figured.  I was wrong.  At 1:50, I put the car in park and took my foot off the brake.  I had the heat all directed to the windshield to keep the ice from forming.  About 2:15, with the car warm, I turned off the ignition to save gas until we started moving.  Long story short: We all sat right there for 2½ hours.  During that time, I operated the windshield wipers often enough to keep the ice from forming, but only turned on the engine when I got too darn cold and needed the heater. Some people got out of their cars and "skated" on their shoes on the iced road.  A couple of women got out with a blanket, went off to the right, and guys held up blankets around them.  I think I know what they were doing.  After all, there was no restroom for miles around. 
At about 2:00, I alerted the Head Verger at the Cathedral about my situation and status, letting her know I wouldn’t make 3:30 practice and had no idea when I would make it to the Cathedral.  Then I texted Maria, letting her know of my situation.  She replied that she was stuck in the same traffic snarl, probably about a mile behind me.  She was with Carrol Davenport, the vicar at Trinity/Kirksville. We texted a lot, always hoping we would begin to move soon. While waiting, I listened to NPR for a while, then took out a book and began reading.  I never imagined I’d be parked there from 1:50 to after 4:00. 
When traffic began moving about 4:10, I was still about 90 miles from the Cathedral.  Way too late for rehearsal.  And the people back at the Cathedral were talking with Maria about what to do about the ordination of the three transitional deacons.  Everyone recognized that the hazardous road conditions wouldn’t get us there in time for the 6:30 service.  The Bishop and people at the Cathedral had agreed they were willing to postpone the ordination service start for an hour, to 7:30.  We all kept calling and texting with updates.
The fact that the traffic had begun to move wasn’t an “all clear” situation.  The first time we started moving, we made it about ½ a mile crawling along, then it was a parking lot again.  Eventually, we began crawling along at 5 to 10 mph.  An hour and a half later, we had moved 17 miles.  It was nearly 6:00 p.m.  My buttocks were aching.  I was hungry, not having eaten since breakfast.  And I seriously needed to pee. Then I came to a MODOT roadside sign, alerting us there was a traffic stoppage ahead, with a 20 to 30 minute wait.   I texted Maria that I was taking the next exit, at mile 175, where there is a gas station and a McDonalds. 
When I walked into the McDonalds, I was shocked.  It was like the U.S. version of a refugee transit station.  The place was full. There was nowhere to sit.  People were eating standing up.  Everyone was talking about the journey and ordeals they had endured in their travel. I wasn’t the only one who had taken the exit from snarled traffic to find food and bladder relief.
As I moved toward the rest room, a hand grasped my shoulder.  I turned to find it was the Rev. Christina Cobb, a priest of our diocese, a friend of Maria who had been in Lui (South Sudan) with her, one of Maria’s presenters. She had driven south from Mexico, Missouri, to rendezvous with Maria and Carrol and drive into St. Louis – a plan that had been hatched before any of us knew what the weather would throw at us. Chris was on the phone with Maria, and had learned the new plan at the Cathedral.  It was clear to all that we could not possibly make it there by 7:30.  The Bishop had made the decision to go ahead with the 6:30 start time for the two other ordinands and to ordain Maria the next morning at 10:00.  We all agreed this was a good decision.
Chris was still going to rendezvous with Maria and Carroll, and they were going to slog into St. Louis and get a hotel room for the night.  I decided to drive back home and make the drive this morning, when the weather was supposed to be clear.  I just couldn’t stand the thought of driving on to St. Louis with no toothbrush, no change of clothes. And I had observed that the westbound traffic (back toward home) seemed to be moving well.  I figured I would get more sleep by driving home and driving back to St. Louis on Saturday.   
Indeed.  I got home by 7:30.  Slow traffic but not a crawl.  Maria and the others didn’t get to St. Louis ‘til well after 10:00.
At home, I made contact again with the Cathedral’s verger and learned that no acolytes would be used in Maria’s ordination – not even a crucifer.  Needless to say, I was disappointed.  But still determined to be present with Maria for her ordination.
So this morning, I awoke to the alarm at 5:30 a.m.  I turned on my tablet computer to the St. Louis NPR station.  Partly because they have better programming early on a Saturday, but also in hopes of hearing their weather.  Here at home, it was 34 degrees and no precipitation.  All looked well.  I made coffee, fed the cats, did the morning chores. Then the St. Louis station weather at around 6:30 offere
d a dire report, saying that freezing rain was supposed to start about 10 a.m., exactly when Maria’s ordination was to begin. They also reported that the state Dept. of Transportation was telling everyone to stay off the roads between here and St. Louis.
I texted a friend in St. Louis, asking what he was hearing, but I guess he wasn’t up yet.  I proceeded to shower and dress for Maria’s ordination.  I got in the car and headed out. 
About the time I got to Kingdom City again, my friend replied to my text: “Don’t come. I doubt you’ll be able to get home in the weather that’s coming.”  I pulled off the road at Kingdom City, got a cup of coffee, and sat and thought.  It was a horrible time.  I deeply wanted to be at Maria’s ordination.  But I didn’t want to end up in a ditch.  After much thought, I turned around and headed home as a freezing drizzle resumed. 

Maria Evans after ordination. A happy Bishop Wayne Smith at right background. 

Thanks be to God, Maria was ordained.  St. Louis friends were there, as well as those from Kirksville who had spent the night in St. Louis.  I am grieving that I wasn’t there. But Maria reminds me that the ordination that matters – her ordination to the priesthood – will be in June.  Surely I will not be thwarted then by freezing weather and hellish travel conditions.

I’ll post more photos of Maria’s ordination on Facebook from a friend who was in St. Louis for the weekend. 

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Saturday, October 08, 2016

Angry White Men

What they say … and what I hear.
Over the past eight years, I have heard a lot of Republicans decrying the fact that President Obama hasn’t improved race relations in this country.  Those voices are even louder this year.  I certainly was one who hoped, when he was elected, that we were moving into a new and improved era of racial justice.  But the opposite happened.  With the election of President Obama, it seems that a new tide of racism was unleashed.  People who had been “in the closet” in their racism became emboldened.  Alas, the racial divide in our country became wider. 
I don’t believe that’s because of anything President Obama did.  I think it’s because the white boys were irate that a black man was in the White House.  I believe that’s why Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell almost immediately said that he and his Senate colleagues would obstruct anything and everything that the President would propose.  The sons of slave masters hated the fact that “one of them” had become the chief executive.
And you don’t need to look very far into this election cycle to see what will happen if Hillary Clinton becomes President.  Just read the comments on major news stories.  You will see terms like bitch and the “c” word bandied about regularly.  Just as the election of President Obama opened a floodgate of racism, we are already seeing a floodgate of misogyny unleashed against Hillary Clinton. 
If Hillary Clinton is elected President (and I hope she will be), I expect we will see an increase in misogynistic comments.  And it won’t be her fault, any more than the rise of racist comments has been President Obama’s fault.  It will be because people of privilege are incensed that “the other” has a perceived position of authority over them.  They hated having a black man in a position of preeminent power. They will have having a woman in power just as fiercely.   
A couple of weeks ago, NPR interviewed a Trump supporter who threatened armed rebellion if Hillary Clinton is elected.  What I heard?  Some white men are getting furious that their position of privilege is being threatened.

Monday, September 05, 2016

English Schismatics Pick Up the Tune

Now they're getting in line with the Global South and the crazy American schismatics.  A group of English Anglicans now have their panties in a wad over gay clergy and homosexuality. Imagine that. LOL.

A site called CrossMap reports that a gaggle of Anglicans in England are threatening a coup over the issue of gay marriage and homosexuality.  They are aligned with the silly fringe sects in Africa and the U.S.  Oooo ...!  My bones are just shaking at their power.  Not.

A gigantic tidal wave of twelve (yes, just 12) parishes in England are  incensed and threaten they will bring  the Anglican Communion to its knees.  Hmmm ...  Where have we heard that before in the past 13 years?

And what's the great travesty?  They are livid that "senior leaders are watering down the teaching of the Church of England on key issues like homosexuality."  

Give me a minute.  I need to read the Gospels, Epistles, and Hebrew Scriptures again. 

OK.  I've done that.  Nowhere do I read that homosexuality is a key teaching in the Bible.  I read about justice, hospitality, generosity, compassion, and love of Jesus as "key issues" in the Christian Bible.  I missed the part where God or Jesus made homosexuality a "key issue."  Which Bible are they reading? 


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

About Those Bathrooms

First, let me acknowledge that North Carolina’s HB2 is about much more than who uses which bathroom.  This legislation is hateful and invidious.  It arose because the city of Charlotte enacted a non-discrimination clause on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered persons. Among other things, it gave LGBTs legal protection and gave them the right to sue for discrimination.  Like Missouri, North Carolina law does not protect LGBT persons or give them legal standing.
I regret that the publicity surrounding the North Carolina legislation has focused on the “bathroom issue.”  But let me talk about that.  On its face, the law bars transgendered persons from using the bathroom in which they feel most comfortable. Let me share my take on this.
But first, a long digression.  (You knew that was coming, didn’t you? if you have followed my writings.)
I’m female.  Always have been and never wanted anything different.  I also have a rather androgynous appearance, probably due to my Dad’s genes.  Thank God, I didn’t seem to inherit many of my mother’s genes, which were characterized by short, overweight women prone to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Instead, I seem to have inherited the genes from my father, which gave me his height, body type, the health and longevity that are a gift to the Fox family, and even my Dad’s gait.  Most of my paternal forebears seem to die healthy and old.  They are a blessing to me.  
Not a blessing are the fact that I inherited my father’s features, body type, and big ears. 
I remember a day when I was about 12 years old walking along Main Street in my little town of 5,000.  I became aware that some old guy was following me.  I slowed down.  He slowed down.   I sped up.  He sped up.  I ducked into one of the shops, where I was known and would be safe.  The dude followed me.  As soon as I got inside, he said, “You’re Ralph’s daughter, aren’t you?”  I stammered assent.  He had not been stalking me.  He had just spotted me as Ralph’s daughter and wanted some sort of conversation … the gist of which I can’t remember after all these years.  But I remember asking him, “How did you know I was Ralph’s daughter?”  He said something like, “Nobody else walks like that.”
So there you have it.  I’m Ralph’s daughter.  I have his carriage and – God help me! – his physiognomy, too.  And I wear jeans or tailored slacks all the time. It’s been several years since I wore a skirt or dress.
As an adult female, bathrooms have often posed a problem for me.  I can’t tell you how often this has happened to me.   I go into the women’s bathroom, of course.  As I walk in, I see women look around in terror, who then leave as quickly as they can. Or I’m washing my hands in the sink. Another woman comes out of a stall, heading toward the sink, and she flees the bathroom. 
I know what they’re thinking.  They think a male has entered their precious public restroom.
And here’s the crazy thing: I feel shamed!  I feel totally embarrassed! My very female presence has caused them fright. I hate that!
It happened again at our last diocesan convention.  I was washing my hands. A woman who knows me slightly popped in, saw me, and reacted in horror, then went out. I'm sure she went to check the sign on the door.  She came in again, saw me again, and reacted in horror.  Both times, I said, "Kxx, it's me. You're in the right restroom." Both times she fled.  On the third time, I turned to face her fully, she recognized me, and it was ok.
But you know what?  It was NOT ok!  I was withering with shame. Shame that she had mistaken me for a male.  Shame that she saw me as "out of place." 
At work, we have a couple of bathrooms that aren’t gender specific. Those are the only ones I use.  Not because I’m transgender. Just because I don’t want to frighten the women.
At the Episcopal Church General Convention, during a break, I needed to find a bathroom, and the line was long at the women’s bathroom.  I went wandering around and came upon a bathroom marked “Transgender.”  Our Church had pasted that label over the Convention Center’s label.  I went in there, knowing it would be okay. As it happened, I was there alone.  But I felt great relief knowing no one would hassle me, no one would look askance, no one would flee, no one would make me feel ashamed because I didn’t conform to their views of “male” and “female.”
Dear transgender friends, I want you to have a restroom in which you can feel safe.  But know there are others of us, who don’t conform to the stereotypes, who will also welcome those bathrooms as safe spaces.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Death. Again.

From as early as I can remember, I had cat companions.  My father insisted that they be indoor/outdoor cats, so what I remember from my childhood is a long line of cats I loved who died. Who died young and too soon.  And I remember my father who always seemed angry about them.  Only in my adulthood did I realize that he wasn’t actually angry at the cats. I think he was exhibiting anger in response to my deep grief when each of those cats died, and he was powerless to assuage my childhood grief. I guess that’s how dads responded in the 1960s.
Death and I were enemies. I hated death for taking so many of my beloved feline companions away from me.
Things got worse in my early 20s when a dear friend was butchered to death by murderers. It sent me into chaos. It truly changed the trajectory of my life.
Then the Episcopal Church found me, thanks be to God. I found comfort in the liturgy. With my fury about death, I especially found comfort in the Burial Rite. I became the crucifer who most often served at our parish funerals. When a beloved friend’s wife died in the late 1990s, he asked me to be crucifer at the funeral, and I agreed. We talked about it. He asked me why the role of crucifer matters so much to me, especially at funerals.  I explained: “I hate death. When I serve as crucifer at funerals, I carry that processional cross as high as I can. For in doing that, I’m telling Death: You don’t win! ”
By now, I would think I would be better prepared to deal with death.  But it seems I am not.
A dear friend’s wife has died, much too soon, in the past several days.  I will again serve as crucifer, for all the same reasons. (“O grave, where is thy victory?)  But. But. But. I can’t quit crying for my friend who has lost his wife and companion. I can’t quit crying for my friend who is going to bed alone for the first time in more than 30 years.  I can’t quit crying as I realize how futile are any words I can possibly offer.
I take comfort in our liturgy and I believe the words of the Prayer Book.  But my creature self is unevolved. A part of me still has  thick red fur and no words and just wants to cuddle with another creature.
What words can I possibly offer my friend?  All I can imagine is a gesture of wild creatures, who lean up against each other without a sound. I wish I could do only that, for I have not one word of wisdom or adequate solace to share with my friend.  I wish I could just lean into him like foxes. Silent. Fierce. Compassionate. Wild. Howling. And howling.
"Rage, rage against the dying of the light." 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Good Shepherd Sunday

As an Episcopalian, I heard one very fine sermon today from our lectionary about Jesus as the “good shepherd,” and now I’ve read other good sermons online. 
We have a marvelous stained glass window in my church.  My photo may not be great, but the window is.  There’s a beautiful Jesus, tenderly carrying a beautiful lamb. 
This window got personal for me a couple of years ago during a “quiet retreat” in my parish.  I happened to sit just below this window.  In my long, quiet time of prayer and reflection, that window, that image spoke to me.  I found myself identifying with that beautiful, vulnerable lamb, and I wished to be cradled and carried in safety and love. Internally, I found myself shouting in anger at that tender Jesus in the stained glass window: “Where the hell were you when I needed to be cradled and carried??”  I’m not delusional. I’m not given to visions.  But, my friends, it was like I heard Jesus quietly responding to me out of that glass: “And when did you give up your ego and your pride and allow me to carry you?”
Wherever it came from, that voice of response was scathingly true.  Much as I long to be nurtured and tended and carried and cared for, my stiff necked ego just can’t give in and let myself be nurtured and carried.  I want it.  Oh, God, how I want it!  But the thought of yielding – the thought of being vulnerable and needy and meek and defenseless – it scares me to death.  It scares me to death!

So about three years after that “silent retreat” in my parish … 3 years after that “conversation” with this image …  I still confront this stained glass window every Sunday.  Jesus and I are still arguing.  I  with my conflicted desires, and Jesus with his invitation. 


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Screaming in Pain

Over two decades ago, I was close to a couple in Texas whose infant had a terrible form of leukemia.  During one of my visits, the mother took the little girl (about 2 years old) to the hospital for yet another treatment, and I accompanied them.  The treatment involved shots. I cannot forget how that little child responded.  She lay still on the table.  She had had so very many injections that she knew what was coming and knew how to behave.  But the pain was real, and she knew it all too well.  I remember being with her when the shots were administered.  She lay quite still as we held her little hands, while she moaned an incantation: “OWEE! OWEE! OWEE!” over and over and over again, but barely moving.
Years later, I had my own pain, emotional and psychological.  I remember holding my arms around myself, and echoing that little girl’s cry.  I couldn't be more articulate than to say “owee” again and again and again as I rocked back and forth, back and forth against the pain.
Yesterday, I had to take my cat Neko to the vet.  A week ago, I had noticed she seemed to have a sort of abrasion near one of her eyes. Yesterday, I noticed it was dotted with blood.  I called the vet and made an appointment to take her in.  Based on past experience, I gave her "kitty Xanax" 3 hours before the appointment. When I bundled her up for the appointment, she was seriously stoned, barely able to walk.  I thought that meant this would be a stress-free vet visit.  But, no.  Once we got there, she turned into Linda Blair.  Much blood was shed by me and the vet assistant. The vet determined we would have to sedate her fully in order to do an exam.  In the process of trying to subdue Neko for the sedative injection, Neko screamed like I can't describe – like a woman being flayed alive. The volume and pitch of it were something I’ll always recall but can’t describe.  I wish they'd given me a sedative, for I couldn't help crying when I saw her so terribly stressed.  
Today, I've found myself thinking about the emotional and physical pain we suffer and how we respond.  How I respond. To physical pain, I generally just whine, but pain meds take care of that.  But my response to emotional pain?  Sometimes I’m able to respond like that little toddler, crying “OWEE” over and over, rocking myself.  I have never had the nerve to respond to emotional pain like Neko did yesterday.  She was screaming in fury and outrage.  Her behavior was primal and true.  I've never had the courage to do that. 
Mostly, I just weep quietly and alone.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Bicycle v Car

Much has been written about the Episcopal cleric who struck a cyclist in her car this week.  I don’t know the facts about that case, and we probably won’t know about them for a while.  But I can say this for myself.
I’m a cyclist.  I love riding my bicycle.  I am fortunate to live near the Katy Trail, where I can ride on a trail and have very little interaction with four-wheeled vehicles. 
I also live just 1.5 miles from my office.  I could ride my bicycle to work, but I don’t.  Because there are very steep hills, on which I could easily gather up a great deal of speed … and I would be sharing those streets with 4-wheeled vehicles that are equipped with seat belts, air bags, side curtains, and hundreds of pounds of metal.  As a cyclist, I am protected by nothing more than a little helmet. Frankly, I am afraid to ride on the streets. 
As a cyclist who is also a driver, I am very attentive to cyclists. I give them the right of way. When I pass them, I give them a wide berth, for I know that a cyclist feels closer to a car than the car driver does to the cyclist.
In short, I think of myself as a very bicycle-friendly car driver.
Last week, I was driving my car out of an alley onto the street.  As is usual, I looked left and right, then left and right again, to be sure no cars were coming.   I pulled out, believing it safe to do so.  To my horror, as I pulled out, I saw a cyclist falling on the sidewalk to my right.  I hadn't even seen him!  He was so small on the sidewalk, when I was looking for cars on the street. Despite what I thought was my careful look, I had utterly failed to see him cycling down the sidewalk.  I immediately stopped, rolled down my window, shouted my apologies, then shouted my concern as to whether he was ok.  He was.  He had managed to stop before striking my car and before hitting the ground.  I hope he heard the concern and grief in my voice.
I was utterly shaken.  After getting out of the car and being sure he really was ok, I proceeded on.  But not easily.  And not without anxiety about “What if …?”  I could so easily have injured him had our paths been just a couple of seconds different.  Cars are so big and so easily seen.  Cyclists are so small and not so easily seen … even for someone like me, who cares for cyclists.  
Please, let’s be careful out there.


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Giving up Christmas

Very, very many years ago I gave up the secular holiday called “Christmas.” I do not like its cloying sentimentality.  I abhor the enforced gaiety of the season.  What is this mania that seems to grip the dominant culture of the U.S., as if we’re all supposed to be joyous and carefree, evidenced by massive expenditures during the consumer orgy that reigns from “Black Friday” through Christmas? 

I am not joyous when I consider my personal status, including the economic fact that I haven’t had a significant salary increase in over a decade.  I’m not joyous when I learn that the homeless population in our small town is growing dramatically.  I’m not joyous when our state legislature ignores the cries of the poor and hungry and sick, while they suck at the teat of Rex Sinquefield.

I’m not carefree when I watch what’s happening in the world around me.  The re-emerging racism in our country, often directed toward President Obama, and the systemic racism manifest in the death of Michael Brown and the aftermath in Ferguson.  The Ebola crisis that continues to grip countries including Sierra Leone, where many of my fellow parishioners still have family and friends.  The seemingly insoluble problems in the Middle East. The miserable chasm between rich and poor in the U.S., where “the American dream” now rings like a hollow joke. 

I can’t begin to count the number of people who, in the past two days, have asked, “How was your Christmas?” The question comes from co–workers who don’t really know me, waitresses, and shopkeepers.  Do they really want an answer?  I doubt it.  It’s like the co–workers whom I pass in the hall who, as they pass me, ask, “How ya doing?”  Do they want a real answer?  No, they do not.  If they did, they would pause and meet my eye as they ask the question.

What do they mean when they ask “How was your Christmas?”  I have no idea.  I had a rich and blessed Advent.  I was blessed to serve as crucifer at my parish’s midnight mass.  I was grateful that a couple of women in our parish decided to make Christmas dinner for all who wanted to come.  It was a blessing to share a Christmas Day meal with so many people whom I enjoy and treasure. 

I had a blessed Advent, while most of the populace was on a spending spree.  I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with the church family I treasure.  That made it a “good Christmas” to me. That’s more than I could have hoped for. 

As for the economic American “Christmas.”  No, thank you.