Editor’s note: Michael Jay Tucker is an avowed secularist. He jokes that the only religious training he received from his father, a physicist, and his mother, a social scientist, was the statement, “You cannot be an atheist because you cannot logically prove a negative.
Yet, despite that background and temperament, Tucker recent attended a conference of politically active, liberal Christians. He came away deeply impressed.
This is the final installment of the series of short essays he wrote about the meeting.
Everyone, or nearly everyone (Pauline and Jenny headed back to Albuquerque) then drove or car pooled back to the Plaza for the Bishop’s Lunch. It was to be served at the La Fonda. We were a little worried, though, because the forecast was for snow that day, and it indeed begin to come down about that time. We worried a bit about being able to get out of town, but ultimately decided to risk it and stay for the whole event.
We parked and then walked to the La Fonda and the lunch, which was in the Lumpkins Ballroom. (I just looked it up on the web. The Lumpkins Ballroom was named after William Lumpkins, “an artist and architect best known for his abstract watercolors and pioneering solar adobe architecture.” Apparently he worked on the restoration of the La Fonda at one point.)
We arrived a little late and at first had some difficulty finding a table, but then we spotted two empty chairs and took them. We were pleased to discover that the other inhabitants of the table were from various UCC churches and organizations. Apparently, we lucked out.
We ate. It was a rather good bit of chicken. Then, over coffee, the conversations started at the table, which stopped and started depending who was speaking at the podium. The general feeling at our table, of the speeches at the luncheon, and of the meeting in toto was generally optimistic. Yes, Trump remained in the White House, and the effects of the past eight years of Republican-led financial mismanagement are still very much with us.
But there was a sense of cautious optimism. There was a new, potentially progressive government in the state, and, on the Federal level, not even Trump can last forever.
And besides, even if we have to deal with him through the end of 2020 (or, God forbid, 2024), Trump has done America one enormous favor.
He has so terrified the Left that we have finally found the energy and the will to oppose the system as it has become.
We left after the meal was done and the speeches were finished. The snow we’d feared had not build up, and though it continued to come done in bursts and sudden showers, it did not stick…which is typical for this part of the world. Our concerns were based on our time in New England.
We walked briskly to the car. Martha wanted to drive. And soon, we were on our way home.
The trip back was uneventful. We drove along the highway from one city to another, through what’s known here as mesa, i.e., grasslands, and rolling hills, and, we watched the enormous blue mountains in the distance ahead and behind.
The land here, to which we are saying goodby, is lovely, in its brown and southwestern way. Though, as an aside, it took Anglo-Americans a long time to figure that out. People from wetter, greener climes tended to see this country as a wasteland. Only much later did Americans from the east learn to see the browns and the blues, and the subtle reds of sunsets and dawns, and realize that they are rather wonderful.
That said, glorious as the country is, it is still quite hard. It is a difficult place in which to survive, if you don’t have wealth and power and electricity and well-stocked refrigerators and easy access to clean water. And given that many people don’t have access to all those things, or at least don’t have them consistently, there is still hunger here…even among, particularly among, the young.
Which brings me back, I suppose, to my two sorts of churches, the sacred and the profane. The origins and appeal of each are thus comprehendible. The world constructed by a perfect God is itself profoundly imperfect from our perspective. It has too much pain in it, and death.
And there are two ways of dealing with that. The first is to assume that somehow there is another Creation, this one without the fundamental design flaws of the material world, and that if we just use the right magic…the right belief…we will gain access to it, eventually, in the sweet by and by, on that beautiful shore.
The other is to assume that magic will not save us, that Creation is flawed and will always be flawed, but that it may be mitigated. We can make a limited difference, via our own efforts, our own labor, our own pain and law and endurance of disappointment…
So, I guess, again, I prefer the material church.
And achieve the widow’s mite rather than fail at the loaves and fishes.
And thinking thus, I rode with Martha…
As she switched on the headlights to dispel, however incompletely…
Michael Jay Tucker is the “sort of volunteer editor” of LR Net. He is also a writer and journalist who has published material on topics ranging from the Jazz Age to computers. (Among his small claims to fame is that he interviewed Steve Jobs just after that talented if complicated man got kicked out of Apple, and just before the company’s Board came begging him to come back.)
Tucker’s most recent book is Padre: To The Island, a meditation on life and death based on the passing of his own parents.
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