The first national election in Thailand in 5 years was held on Sunday, March 24 after several delays. The election boils down to two main matters, who will sit in Parliament and who will be the Prime Minister. The members of Parliament will select the Prime Minister who will then form the government and fill government offices.
In fact, the election is mainly a referendum on whether or not the current military-royalist government will retain its ever tightening control over all political processes. This is a devout hope of those with big business interests, royal ties, and industries to run. The opposition is made up of farmers, laborers, small-besieged business owners and academics.
First, the election. There were more than 70 political parties with candidates running for Parliament, but only a few of them had a chance to become influential. The two main contenders are Pheu Thai and Palang Pracharat. The Pheu Thai party and its components have won every recent election with convincing enough majorities to form the government without forming an alliance with a minority party. But the military staged a coup and has been running the government for about four years. Under their management the electoral process was changed, with the goal being to make it difficult for the populist Pheu Thai party to get back into power. The current rules stipulate that the lower house of Parliament will have 500 seats, of which 350 will be held by those obtaining majority votes in their districts. A remaining 150 seats will be divided between party candidates on the basis of the percentage of popular vote their parties acquire. They will be selected from party lists (in effect, elected by their party organizations). It appears that Pheu Thai and Palang Pracharat are neck and neck, with Pheu Thai holding a one seat majority. That means that each will have an equal number of the 150 “leveling” seats but the formula to figure out the exact number is complicated. In the end, both of the two biggest parties will need to add support from other parties. The third largest party is also the oldest, the Democratic Party, which was the main opposition party in the years that Pheu Thai and colleagues of Prime Minister Taksin and his sister Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra were popular (and fairly autocratic) leaders. It is unlikely that either Pheu Thai or Palang Pracharat will be able to form a government without the Democrats. But a new Bhumjaithai party emerged as almost equal in strength with the Democratic Party. Being anti-military, they are expected to vote with the populist, anti-military Pheu Thai party. The results of voting, objections to how the voting was conducted, and questions raised after the election will be directed to an Electoral Commission, which was appointed by the current government. It remains to be seen exactly how many seats each party will be awarded.
The upper house used to be elected as well, but due to changes in the constitution initiated by the current military government, these 250 “senators” are appointed by the government. Meanwhile, they will also vote on who will be the new Prime Minister. That means, presumably, there are already 250 votes for retaining Prime Minister (former Army Chief) Prayut Chan-o-cha. Without reviewing the math, it seems to careful observers that the military party, Palang Pracharat, will only need 126 votes in the lower house. At the moment they have about 118. An alliance with either of the 2 sixth-ranked parties (each with 11 votes) would probably secure Palang Pracharat, the right to name the Prime Minister. The loyalty of the Democratic Party is not yet clear. In principle they are opponents to either a military government or to the populist Pheu Thai party overseen by the Shinawatra family, whom the Democrats fought openly and vigorously. If the military alliance fails to form a majority coalition, given the advantages they have manipulated, their failure will be considered a major and unexpected upset. It would make the way clear for Pheu Thai and its allies to nominate Ms Sudarat Keyuraphan as Prime Minister.
The election is over. The vote count is all but wrapped up. Parties are having their discussions, and the Election Commission may have a surprise or two. May 9 is the deadline for getting the new government up and running. Whatever happens, the government will be shaky, made up of a tenuous partnership. The army under new command and fully supported by the palace will be keeping watch “to take over if necessary” to “keep the nation from spiraling into chaos again.”
Thai Buddhism can be spectacular. Take the festivities at Nong-Haa Village this past weekend for example. The celebrations were divided into three parts. The first major event was the installation of a Naga image in front of a new free-standing shrine of a large Buddha. (See picture 1 above.) The 7-headed Naga was nearly inundated with elaborate offerings of fruit, flowers and incense (picture 2). The service was conducted by a Brahman-Buddhist team of 4 led by a chanter with an exceptional voice. In a place of honor, but entirely passive throughout the ceremony, a Buddhist monk presided while the chanter called upon all the deities of the universe to be favorably disposed toward this event, to be present, and to invest this Naga with divine power (picture 3). The prayers were punctuated with fireworks, and emphasized by bells, a large gong, and sonorous squall of a conch shell trumpet (picture 4). When the Brahman service was over the Buddhist monk paid respect to the Buddha and then blessed the assembly with sacred water (picture 5).
The second event was before dawn the next morning. After a night of chanting by chapters of Buddhist monks taking shifts, the new Buddha image was enlivened. (See: www.kendobson.asia/blog/awakening-buddha). The climax of the night-long service was when the abbot climbed up onto a rickety platform to remove bees-wax patches from the eyes of the Buddha, symbolizing the awakening of this image to preside over the village (pictures 6 and 7).
The third event was later in the morning, when a larger crowd gathered for the inauguration of the village temple’s new bell tower. The tower is inside the temple walls, so it is part of the temple. The service began with the Brahman team again invoking the presence of countless gods and divinities (picture 8), and then inside the temple assembly hall a large chapter of visiting monks chanted stanzas beginning with the familiar 3-fold “Namo” meaning “I worship … the Buddha,” and then “I take refuge in the Lord Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha”. Then a 9-tier umbrella, called a “chat” short for “chat-monkol” which is the peak of a crown, was sent across the space between the temple assembly hall and the bell tower (pictures 9, 10, 11). The conch, bells and gong sounded throughout the assent, as well as a string of fire-crackers. People had tied gauze ribbons onto the chat in the color of the day of the week they were born, and these were then collected as good-luck souvenirs when the workmen on the tower removed them. A large brass temple bell was hoisted into place and rung for the first time (pictures 12 and 13).
Nong-Haa Village had been planning for this for many months. It is probably their most important cluster of ceremonies in a decade, and represents among other things, that the village and its temple (including especially the abbot) are keeping up with other villages which have erected large Buddha shrines to watch over their villages.
As this was going on, a quote by Thich Nhat Hahn reappeared on the Internet in which he said, “There is a misconception that Buddhism is a religion and that you worship Buddha. Buddhism is a practice, like yoga. You can be a Christian and practice Buddhism.” This quote, by the second most important Buddhist spokesman of our time confirms identical expressions by the Dalai Lama. Their understanding finds widespread acceptance among intellectuals who appreciate Buddhism as a philosophical inquiry into the nature of human life, and reject mythic and superstitious accretions that transform Buddhism into something other than an inquiry, a set of practices for conducting that inquiry, and conclusions about what that inquiry will discover. When the two most famous living Buddhists insist that Buddhism is not a religion, who would dare disagree?
In order to discuss whether Buddhism is a religion or not we need a definition of religion. I propose that a religion is a shared set of narratives and practices which connect people to the sacred. That narrative and those practices describe and re-enact a divine-human encounter wherein a fundamental truth was revealed. The purpose of a religion is to sustain and communicate that truth and the implications for a life modified to comport with that truth. The complex symbolisms in religions are to facilitate retention of the truth and to provide focal points for communities of believers to bridge the chasm between the mundane and the holy.
If Buddhism is essentially not a religion, then religious aspects of Buddhist festivities are not essential. They are extraneous. But those things, relegated beyond the margins, include nearly everything that makes Thai Buddhism compelling and attractive to adherents. There are several alternative interpretations of what went on last weekend in Nong-Haa Village. (3) It was a Buddhist festival. (2) It was a Buddhist festival in which non-Buddhist elements intruded. (1) It was not authentically Buddhist.
(1) The three celebrations at the temple in Nong-Haa Village WERE NOT AUTHENTICALLY BUDDHIST. “In fact, the way Northern Thai Buddhism is practiced is inconsistent with pure Buddhism.” This is a position advocated by the last century’s most profound Thai Buddhist scholar, the Ven. Buddhadasa Bikkhu, who tirelessly sought to rid Thai Buddhism of its superstitious and extraneous elements. Real Buddhism ought to concentrate on the core teachings of the Lord Buddha and practice forms of meditation that lead to enlightenment. The way to reform Thai Buddhism is through education.
However, as Buddhadasa understood, if one were to eliminate mythological references, whether artistic or literary, one would need an alternative set of symbols and architecture to express Buddhism and accommodate its practitioners. Buddhadasa proposed going back to the time of the Indian Emperor Asoka for those features. There is nothing about Asokan architecture that reflects Thai culture and heritage (or validates Thai royalty and religion). In fact, it was the royalist elite as well as the Buddhist hierarchy they had installed who tacitly opposed Buddhadasa’s reform, and continued their use of Brahman-Buddhist, Khmer-Thai ceremonies and architectural art. Reform never gained popular support, either.
(2) What happened in Nong-Haa WAS A BUDDHIST AND NON-BUDDHIST MIX. “Obviously, there were Hindu rituals permitted as custom prescribed, but there was a division between those rites conducted by Brahman actors and those undertaken by Buddhist monks. Buddhism is tolerant. Hindu precursors to Buddhism are recognized, but Buddhism has the last word.”
A closer look at how Northern Thai Buddhism functions, as well as at the festivals in Nong-Haa Village, tends to discourage the notion that a sharp division has been maintained between that which is Buddhist and that which is otherwise. In the first ceremony, to install the Naga in front of the stairs in the shrine, the chants included both Buddhist and Hindu stanzas and references to other influences. The Naga itself is a mythic being included in Thai Buddhism (see: www.kendobson.asia/blog/dragons-yearning-for-nirvana). Furthermore, the Brahman actors were Buddhists; they had not chosen and did not need to choose Hinduism over Buddhism. Brahman references were so thoroughly integrated into their ceremony that there was no need to choose between the two. In the case of the Buddhist abbot who sat enthroned during the ceremony, although he was not obviously involved until the end, his presence was more than that of an observer. He was the one who presided throughout the ceremony and gave validation to what was going on.
(3) The dedication of those temple structures WAS A BUDDHIST FESTIVAL. “Northern Thai Buddhism contains a unique configuration of symbolic components to convey Buddhist wisdom contextually.”
The fundamental question is whether Northern Thai Buddhism as practiced with a remarkable amount of consistency and consensus throughout the region, is valid or not. Is it in need of radical reform? As it is practiced and conceptualized it is a religion. It serves all the basic religious functions: to connect people to transcendence and also to transform the mundane prospects of life into a new potentiality, to connect people into a community of believers, and to communicate a narrative about a person in the liminal past who was superior and whom it is advantageous to hold in highest esteem and gratitude. As we have it, Northern Thai Buddhism is a full-fledged religion in every sense of the term. Were it to be shorn of all its religious elements it would be something entirely different.
BEHIND THE LANDMARK
The Giant Swing, เสาชิงช้า, is one of Thailand’s famous landmarks. It is located very near the most important palaces and temples, and would be mentioned in passing on almost every tourist excursion through the heart of Bangkok. For tour groups, the famous swing has to be explained, since there is no swing and nothing swinging.
Briefly, the Giant Swing was first erected in 1784 at the beginning of the Chakri Dynasty when the capital of the kingdom was relocated from across the river and new construction began. An annual Brahman harvest festival was held in front of a Hindu temple, now dwarfed by Wat Suthat the center for Siamese Buddhism during the reign of Rama I (reigned: 1782-1809). The swing ceremony consisted of chanting and a contest in which teams competed to be swung on a carved log high enough to grab by their teeth a sack of gold coins suspended on a pole 24 meters in the air. This commemorated a mythic creation episode in which Brahma tested the stability of the newly created world by ordering Shiva to stand on a mountain while giant snakes tried to shake him into the sea. The swing ceremony was conducted until 1935 when it was discontinued after several serious accidents and fatalities. The structure was repaired in 1920 and 1958, and completely rebuilt in 2006 and rededicated by Rama IX in 2007.
But there is more to this than tour guides will have time to reiterate as the bus maneuvers through the heavy traffic surrounding the little concrete island on which the Giant Swing is built. In fact, they might not dare point out some of the coincidences and connections between that unusual tradition and Thai royal protocol. The story behind the landmark will again swing nearly back into view during the forthcoming coronation of HM King Rama X on May 4-6 this year (2019 / 2562).
His Majesty King Rama I took great pains to reconnect his throne and kingdom to his predecessors who ruled from Ayutthaya for 400 years (1350-1767), having replaced (as they described it) the Khmer Empire (ca 800-1431) centered around famous Angkor Wat and the palatial city of Angkor Thom. The mythic roots of this lineage were both Buddhist and Hindu, with Hindu legends presumably being reiterated to legitimize royalty. This was complicated, including narrated and sculpted symbols, as well as ceremonially re-enacted ones, especially at transitional times like royal births, coronations, and funerals. In the ancient courts these ceremonies were performed by those ritually fit for such duties. So when Rama I undertook the establishment of a new court on Rattanakosin Island on the Chaopraya River across from Thornburi, he had two temples built, one for Brahman priests charged to carry out royal ceremonies, and a larger one next to it for Buddhist ceremonies. The Brahman temple was called Devasatan (เทวสถานโบสถ์พราหมณ์) or “Abode of the Gods”. It included 3 buildings in a north to south line each facing east, enshrining images of Shiva, Ganesha, and Vishnu. It is considered the leading Hindu temple in Thailand. H.G. Quaritch Wales in his 1931 writing about Brahmans’ role in state ceremonies says that there were also swings inside these buildings that were used for Hindu ceremonies. The temple compound is the residence for the court Brahmans who are descendants of Brahman priests as far back as imaginable. The men who took part in the swinging competition were also Brahmans. Aside from ceremonies related to royal persons, there were two annual Brahman ceremonies tied to agriculture, the Royal Plowing Ceremony at the time of rice planting, and the harvest ceremony called Triyampavai-Tripavai, which were the names of hymns to Shiva and Vishnu. These hymns were also included in Thai coronation rituals.
It is undoubtedly significant that metaphors and chants used in the swinging ceremony also were included in Thai coronations. There are two versions of the Hindu legend. In one version Brahma ordered Shiva to stand atop the world mountain and commanded Nagas (mythic serpents) to try to shake the mountain in order to test its stability. In the other version the Nagas wrap themselves around the world mountain as Shiva descends upon it, thus assuring its stability, after which the Nagas joyfully fling themselves away from the mountain into the surrounding sea to celebrate – and that is what the swinging recapitulates, the celebration of stability with Shiva enthroned on top of the world mountain just as the King of Siam is enthroned atop the kingdom. Why, then, would the swinging ceremony be allowed to lapse, being so metaphorically significant, as Rama I, II, and III well knew?
The official version which tour guides repeat in order to pass their examination for licensing is that the ceremony was discontinued because it was dangerous and men died doing it. It is a bit suspicious, however, that the decision came in 1935 right after the abdication of HM King Rama VII, during euphoria over the installation of a constitutional demotion of royal status, when the whole issue of whether to even retain the royal household was being considered by the military leaders in power.
H.G. Quaritch Wales (Siamese State Ceremonies (1931)), who was an adviser in the courts of both Rama VI and VII, makes a case that the Brahman priests in the Siamese court were retained because they symbolized continuity. Because all their texts and leaders were lost in the fall of Ayutthaya, those brought forth to continue the tradition were unable to even read and write Sanskrit or to recite chants intelligibly (he said they mumbled and had texts in transliterated Thai script the meaning of which they did not know). That, the author said in 1931 was what he found, and it helps explain why their importance faded. Moreover, they had all to become Buddhists before taking Brahman vows, and so they were prevented from many Hindu rituals, including animal sacrifices. The Brahmans were Buddhist-Brahmans. Even the plowing ceremony, which was a main event for them, was retained because it was so popular with the public. [These days the one who presides at the Royal Plowing Ceremony is the Minister of Agriculture.] Almost everything the Brahmans used to do is now being done by others, Quaritch Wales says, including the role of court astrologer and management of royal events. [We may be sure that the court Brahmans today are better educated than the ones in 1931 supposedly were.]
HM Rama IV had been a Buddhist monk before he rather unexpectedly ascended to the throne. One of his major efforts was regulation of diverse Buddhist groups under a central authoritative hierarchy, which would be a unifying factor as parts of the Siamese Empire were pulled into Bangkok’s orbit to oppose the threat of Western colonization. As Bangkok Buddhism’s role increased, other religions were also ceremonially incorporated into the kingdom and regulated, in order to function in behalf of it. This pattern of religious toleration, use of leaders of other religions to ratify the monarchy and national unity, and repetition of cultural heritage going back to mythic pre-history continued through the reigns of Rama V, VI and VII. It continues today.
When Rama VII abdicated, his nephew was still a boy. He became king with a regent as his guardian and official voice. Then Japan invaded Thailand, and the King remained in Switzerland for the duration. His brother, still a teenager, took over as Rama IX upon the sudden death of Rama VIII (June 1946), and began what was to be a 70-year restoration of the viability, prestige and significance of the throne.
In 2006, during the 60th anniversary of the reign of King Rama IX, at the height of his popularity, the Giant Swing was replaced. It is said the old wood was deteriorated, so new teak logs were brought down from Prae Province and the Giant Swing was rebuilt. The whole process was extensively reported and important. The finished reconstruction was dedicated by the King in September 2007.
As the events to follow in May this year will show, Brahmans still have a role to play in connecting the throne in the Grand Palace to the peak of the world mountain in the midst of the mythic Himapan Forest. And as newspapers tell us, the military rulers of the country are assisting in the restoration of the monarchy’s lost power. The Giant Swing ceremonies and the famous contest have not yet been restored. But the imposing red towers, symbols of stability, are ready. Maybe it’s just a matter of time.
We WHITE AMERICAN CHRISTIANS are being robbed. It is identity theft, theft of our futures, and theft of our security. And who is doing this to us? Other white American Christians, that’s who! Since identity theft is at the root of this whole larceny, I propose we consider what we can do about it.
I’m a white American Christian and I’m angry as hell about what’s happening. “White American Christian” has become an identity that trumps all other characteristics. Here’s how it works: if one is a white American Christian and one feels insecure about life at the moment, it is (1) either because the white American Christian life to which we are entitled and which “is the principle on which the USA was founded by God,” is being invaded and taken over by others who are not white American Christians. (2) Or our lack of security is because other white American Christians put some trifle ahead of being white American Christian. THOSE white American Christians think it is more important to be something else, feminist, gay, blue-collar laborer, sick, abused and on and on. They need to suck it up and get over being so damned needy. We are being attacked! (3) Or, somebody’s lying.
I am angry that what it means for me to be a white American Christian has been changed for a far worse idea. My being white is not a matter of choice; neither is my being a Kinsey 5 nor my finger prints. Being American has, so far during the past nearly 80 years, been an advantage despite living across the shining sea beyond the purple mountains and fruited plains. Being Christian began as an accident of my being born among Christians, continued as an act of commitment to Christian service, and is probably ending as a Christian among Buddhists not needing to fight one another. I deeply resent being treated as if I have exempted myself from the privileged elite into which I was born.
I am well aware that just being a white American entitled our family to assumptions and advantages denied to others. I ate my vegetables and cleaned my plate aware that I was better off than “millions of starving Chinese.” As for being elite, however, these are my memories of our family’s heritage: Mom’s spending money came from churning butter, without cows we would have suffered, the roof fell in on Uncle Walter’s house and the family of 6 lived in a large kitchen in back with a dirt floor, Aunt Eva’s house had no electricity, our house had no running water, on the coldest winter nights we had chickens in the living room. A friend of mine was Injun Joe who lived in a one room house next door. Grandpa had Gypsies that camped on their front yard, and Grandma fed hobos on the back porch. I was a young child most of this time [as the school photo shows]. Conditions got better but there were thefts.
My dad was a type-setter for the newspaper, secretary of the labor union, and was robbed of his union pension just when he was due to begin getting it. Without Social Security he could not have retired. That was my first clue that we could be robbed in other ways than at gun-point. Uncle Tom came home from the war and moved next door to Jack. It took me a long time to realize they should have been living in one house, but they were robbed of the chance to live without constant intimidation, by social opinion that all queers were faggots. Aunt Elsie became a beautician because the depression was going on and she was a female so college expenses were saved for her younger brother. Her aunt (my grandmother’s sister) was robbed of life when she blew her brains out with a shotgun because society refused to let her leave her violent, alcoholic husband.
Social opinion is one of the two greatest thieves of our time. We are blinded to options available to us by the need to feel protected as part of a tribe. If we dare to defy tribal totems and taboos we will be shamed and then evicted. Instead, we absorb the tribe’s perceptions that it is better to belong than to be defiant.
In his book, Dying of Whiteness, Vanderbilt University Professor Jonathan M. Metzel describes how White Americans will vote, act, and think in ways that are harmful to themselves rather than entertain ideas contrary to their white American peer-group (i.e. tribe). Interviewees told him they could not be for Obama-care even though they were literally dying (in hospice care with life-sustaining tubes inserted) and would have benefitted from better insurance, because they could not stand the idea that their hard earned money would also provide medical care for illegal immigrants and welfare queens. Once a tribe has acquired a slogan it tends to dominate further thought.
The other great thief is the elite 1% who are pillaging every resource they can get their hands on in order to become even richer. What they are robbing at the moment are public education, affordable health care, funds for retirement at a reasonable age, fair living wages, and a vast range of human rights. These things my generation and my parent’s generation worked hard to acquire. I tremble for the generations to come as the environment becomes unable to support life and natural resources are destroyed at an incredible rate. Take the Pacific Ocean for example. Radiation is fanning out from Japan, and the mass of plastic waste from California is now the size of France. Storms are increasing in destructive violence and frequency. Sea levels are creeping over island nations. Coral reefs are bleached and dead, potentially taking up to 50% of ocean creatures with them. Instead of working to save what’s left, every nation with the capacity to do so is increasing the devastation.
Back to my rage over the ongoing theft of my identity.
I do not feel especially attached to my identity as a white American Christian. But it is who I am. And I am married to a Thai man, accepted as a full member of a 100% Buddhist community (except for me). I have spent my whole adult life identified with and focused on three minority groups. I became an advocate of US civil rights in defiance of some important members of my family. I became a teacher to develop Christian leaders in Thailand where Christianity is less than 1% of the population. I became a defender of gender minorities and advocate for sexual human rights. Each of those expanded my identity. Each of those efforts cost a lot.
I am enraged to find that the very meaning of the term “White American Christian” has been distorted to such an extent that it is now a pejorative, derogatory term. I am ashamed to be identified with those who wear their White American Christian identities on their caps and stickers on their vehicles, and who attend political rallies where it is no shame to sport Nazi or Klan insignia and tattoos as if these groups did not murder millions and will not do it again if they have the chance.
There is only one thing to do, even if it is the last thing we do. We need to reclaim our right to be white American Christians. We need to reclaim the high ground that is proud to assert that white is a color assigned which has no validity, because it is never really white. American is a designation assigned by political entities that issue passports, birth certificates and collect taxes, but America is really a partner nation in the community of nations or it is doomed. Christian is a brand of humanity in search of connection with the transcendental-divine, but as a people striving to discern what is holy we are indebted to a heritage that has acquired vast spiritual treasure from Egypt, Persia, Greece, Rome and Phoenicia, as well as more recent insights from every faith community with which Christians have encamped.
We white American Christians are not a tribe of pathetic nationalists who cling desperately to ethnic supremacy. We are colorfully white, internationally American, and ecumenically Christian.
Jeffrey Warren of northern New York State was the only speaker at the special General Conference of the United Methodist Church (February 23-26, 2019) who anybody heard outside the convention center in St Louis. His 3 minutes of microphone time was replete with passion, hope, and irony. He got a sustained standing ovation which even brought the bishops to their feet (in defiance of conference procedures). He was an instant on-line hit. [You may find him on YouTube.] As I type this about 3 days after Jeffrey spoke to the assembly, far more than half a million viewers have viewed his plea for unity and justice. End to end, 25,000 hours have been spent paying attention to what he said. No other speech at the conference received any substantial air-time on social or mass media.
Jeffrey was a lay delegate among 800 at the conference. He is a student at Sarah Lawrence College, and therefore one of the youngest delegates. And he announced he is gay and hopes to become a Methodist pastor. If he makes it he has already preached to more people than he is likely to do throughout all the rest of his life. But we can’t know that, because he has what it takes to get noticed.
His message in three minutes was simple and contained three memorable sentences. “We desire a church that seeks the justice of God,” he said in behalf of people his age as well as all LGBT people. He talked about his successful campus witness, saying, “They (fellow students who came to Christ through his efforts) didn’t know God could love them because their churches said God didn’t!” Score! Finally, in full voice to be heard above the cheering mob, he shouted, “We are the church. We are God’s children.” His appeal was for unity and acceptance.
Ironically, (and irony abounds) his speech was on a procedural matter. Who would have guessed a bit of parliamentary maneuvering would steal everybody’s heart? He was supporting a move to send the conference’s consideration to a judicial council for review. Even more ironic is the fact that he represented a point of view that was going down in flaming defeat, and yet his short speech was the one everybody is going to remember. Most ironic of all is that he was speaking as one of the generation who will be sitting in the pews, standing in the pulpits, and residing in bishops’ chanceries in the next 20 years if the United Methodist Church in North America lasts that long.
There is a lesson to be remembered from this and other remarkable incidents in the past several months, including the Parkland, Florida high school mass murder survivors. The future generation is arriving now. They share the present, but they represent the values that will preserve the future. Without them now, at this very minute, the future could be as dystopian as “Mad Max” and “Clockwork Orange” showed us.
Rev. Dr. Kenneth Dobson posts his weekly reflections on this blog.