Sunday, September 18, 2016

2016.09.18 I'm With Her—HIllary R. Clinton, Politically and Spiritually

I feel as if we are living in quite a whirlwind in this chaotic American election season. Honestly I can’t wait for evening when we can gather, my beloved and I, to munch on popcorn or other delights and watch TV serial soap-opera-ish murder mysteries or medical melodrama. Why this activity is soothing, remains a mystery.

As to whirlwinds, the biblical Job, in the midst of the chaos and suffering of his life:  Where is God?   God spoke to Job finally out of the very whirlwind Job wanted resolved. So God must have been in the whirlwind proper, else how could God have been speaking out of it? Consider. 

“Whirlwinds in meterology are complex chaotic systems that suggest not pure chaos but rather the turbulent emergence of complexity at the edge of chaos.” (Catherine Keller) Job’s answer was/is blowin’ in the wind. I’m trying to trust the complexity emerging at the edge of chaos, the complexity where God just might be at work for the good.

I’m doing this by choosing life—not dying, shrinking in fear, or wasting energy on soul-starving negativity. I’m choosing to be “With Her,” as Hillary Clinton’s campaign signs invite. To be with her I’m seeking positive information about her. Positivity is hard to find. It does not sell newspapers, win Pulitzers for journalists, or popularize television news shows, but it’s in the whirlwind with everything else—including Godde.

Here are some earnest positive words (2015) about the young Hillary from the Rev. Dr. Paul Santmire, author/theologian and Lutheran pastor, retired professor of theology at Boston University:

A hundred years ago, I worked closely with a bright young Methodist student at Wellesley College, where I was serving as a teacher and Chaplain, one Hillary Rodham.  She was then, and, I believe, still is a person of deep moral passion, notwithstanding press caricatures of her that have appeared in recent years with predictable regularity.

Hillary came to Wellesley as an enthusiastic “Goldwater Girl.”  Hers was a dedicated voice of the Midwestern Right.  Then she took the (at that time) required sophomore Bible course, and it changed her life.  She was especially fond of Amos, texts such as 5:24, “Let justice roll down like waters.”  And she did not just talk the talk.

One example.  As president of the student government, she and a group of young women like her (I was a kind of back-row advisor to all this), wanted to address the mostly lily-white complexion of the student body.  At that time there were, as I recall, 12 African-Americans in a student body of some 2000.  The College’s administration wanted nothing to do with all this.  Hillary took the lead with her group to raise money independently to pay for those African-American students to make recruiting trips to predominantly black high schools across the country.  Not only had those schools never been visited by Wellesley College recruiters before, they were unknown to the Admissions Office.  That project turned out to be a minor success.  But my point here is not minor successes, but Hillary’s impressive moral passion and her eagerness to act on that passion.

I have kept close tabs on her personal and political trajectories ever since.  Notwithstanding her being the object of sometimes vicious attacks (tell me that sexism is not alive and well in this country) and notwithstanding mistakes of her own along the way, I believe that the faith that she discovered in Amos and the moral passion she exemplified at Wellesley College have not left her.  If anything, given the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, that faith and that moral passion have deepened and become the driving force of all she does.  I believe that she has added the wisdom of spiritual depth, too, which sometimes comes with maturity.  Did you notice that when asked, during one of the New Hampshire debates, about spiritual influences on her life she spoke at length and with some conviction about how much she has learned from that great Catholic spiritual teacher of our time, Henri Nouwen?

I, of course, am not an unbiased witness.  I affirm what I once saw, and I affirm what I now see.  I have walked the streets of New Hampshire in her behalf and I support her current campaign financially.

I write only with this hope, that, as you continue to reflect about the current campaign, you will take into account her moral passion and her spiritual depth.  She is much more than her popular detractors, even on the liberal side, make her out to be.  I also believe that she has even more to offer.  Her much vaunted “experience” is not something to shake a stick at, for example, not to speak of a certain wisdom she brings with her as a knowledgeable student of history.