Sunday, January 16, 2011

Rev. Rodger McDaniel takes the long way home

I was pleased to see that today's lead story in our local paper was also on the web site. To read it all, go to: The long way home - Wyoming Tribune Eagle Online.

On the day that Rev. Rodger McDaniel retired from his state job, he grabbed his backpack and walked to the COMEA Shelter to spend a week as a homeless person.

For many years, Rev. McDaniel has been urging others "to get out of your comfort zone." He puts that into practice. He's been involved in the Cheyenne community for many decades. I first met him when we served together on the first Laramie County Habitat for Humanity board. He and his family spent a year in Nicaragua directing Habitat projects. He served in the state legislature. He brought new vitality to the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Division of the state Department of Health. He's established partnership with Wyoming social service non-profits, such as UPLIFT. In the interest of full disclosure, I'm on the UPLIFT board. I was on hand on a snowy November evening last year when UPLIFT awarded Rodger its public service award.

As I read about Rev. McDaniel this morning, I thought about David Brooks' column in Thursday's New York Times. We have lost our sense of modesty, he writes, the knowledge that we are limited in our skills and accomplishments and need others to fill in the gaps. The self-effacing are forgotten. The self-aggrandizing take center stage. The stage itself, it seems, has taken center stage.

In a famous passage, Reinhold Niebuhr put it best:

“Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore, we must be saved by hope. ... Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore, we are saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint. Therefore, we must be saved by the final form of love, which is forgiveness.”

The Rev. McDaniel probably won't disagree with this quote. Embedded with it are the Three Virtues that I learned in Catholic school: faith, hope and love. Or rendered a different way: faith, hope and charity. Jesus is quoted about these virtues in 1 Corinthians 13, the passage that so many of us heard (or read) at our wedding masses. It wraps up with a line that's translated in various ways. Here's one version: "So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three: but the greatest of these is love."

When I blog, I'm not always thinking of faith, hope and love. Usually I'm thinking very uncharitable thoughts. For example: "Tea Party members are a bunch of ignorant assholes." Not sure what Jesus or the Corinthians would have made of that. Not much love there, though.

Blogging is an attempt to communicate. But the most visible bloggers, it seems, are those who shout the loudest to rise above the din. I don't shout very loud. But that doesn't mean I am any less interested in my "brand." When I write, I am interested in the content but I also want people to read my work. I am shouting that the content on hummingbirdminds is pretty darn thoughtful and you ought to go read it.

Perhaps I'm deluded. Blogger and Facebook and other social media sites may not be new and innovative ways to connect people. They may just be other ways to say me-me-me.

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