Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Saint and Sinner

I couldn't resist a memoir that begins like this.

This book is by the one who thought he'd be farther along by now, but he's not.
It is by the inmate who promised the parole board he'd be good, but he wasn't. 
It is by the dim-eyed who showed the path to others but kept losing his way.
It is by the wet-brained who believed if a little wine is good for the stomach, 
then a lot is great.
It is by the liar, tramp, and thief; otherwise known as the priest, speaker, and author.
It is by the disciple whose cheese slid off his cracker so many times 
he said "to hell with cheese 'n crackers."
It is by the young at heart but old of bone who is led these days
in a way he'd rather not go.
This book is also for the gentle ones who've lived among wolves.
It is for those who've broken free of collar
to romp in fields of love and marriage and divorce.
It is for those who mourn, who've been mourning most of their lives,
yet they hang on to shall be comforted.
It is for those who've dreamed of entertaining angels
but found instead a few friends of great price.
It is for the younger and elder prodigals
who've come to their senses
again, and again, and again, and again.
It is for those who strain at pious piffle
because they've been swallowed by Mercy itself.
This book is for myself and those who have been around
the block enough times that we dare to whisper
the ragamuffin's rumor--
all is grace.

Brennan Manning is now in his 70's and is saint and sinner.  Decades ago I began reading him (e.g. The Ragamuffin Gospel) and his authenticity, his vulnerability, and his reliance on grace have helped me to keep going.  

I was only a few lines into his preface above and was weeping.  I, too, often feel like a disappointment, a hypocrite.  There is often such a gap between who I really am and who I desire to be.  The shame that breeds can be paralyzing.  Brennan depends on grace and has always pointed the rest of us who are wounded and wounding, in need of healing yet healers, to that same grace.

In the intro is contained a poem by Leonard Cohen:

Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That's how the light gets in. 

I was raised to believe that the cracks elicit the darkness of God's judgment.  It has been such a buoyant relief to know that the cracks draw the light of God's grace. 

Teach me, brother Manning, as I read further.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

(Herman) Cain Wasn't Abel

Today, Herman Cain suspended  his campaign  in his pursuit of the Presidency of the U.S. claiming that the "false accusations" of four women and a fifth who claimed a 13 year sexual relationship with him served to be too much of a "distraction."  All of these allegedly lying women had hurt him and his wife to such a degree and the recent fallout sidetracked him from his mission, so he says, and therefore he is dropping out.   

He blamed the "spin" of the media and the "pundits" for their unfair and biased reporting.  Mr. Cain, it is that same media that catapulted you from obscurity to being known by millions. I'd be interested in seeing how you fare if you refuse the media any access from here on out, but, of course, you and I know that you won't do that.

I--none of us--knows whether Mr. Cain is being truthful in what he claims as to his innocence.  He claims he is "at peace with my God, at peace with my wife, and at peace with myself" --that's either a clear conscience or a seared one--and though I'd like to believe him something just looks and sounds suspicious as to his moral integrity.  My reasoning runs like this:  If  I am on a mission and a number of people trump up ludicrous and absolutely false charges as to my ethics and sexual morality I'm thinking that would motivate me even more to focus on the mission-at-hand rather than quit.  I'm thinking I have nothing to hide and these women have no dirt to dig up so I'll let them muck around in their mire and I, in the meantime, will be open and forthcoming--but focused on the mission.  Check my cellphone records, my email history, my texts--it's all there for your scrutiny.  While you're checking I'll be available for your questions but undeterred from my campaign.

In contrast, Mr. Cain, says these trumped allegations and the spin the media has put on all this has become "too distracting."  Again, I can't prove it, but I suspect that what has become ""too distracting" are poor choices he has made with a number of women, none of whom happen to be his wife and those choices have now bitten his beleaguered butt.

He now talks as though he is the victim.  These lying,  perpetrating women  went to the out-to-get-him  media and, consequently, all of this has brought upon him unwarranted hurt and distress.  In the Old Testament is the story of Cain killing his brother Abel.  In this scenario Cain was the perpetrator of the crime; Abel, the victim.

Mr. Cain, you don't appear to be Abel.