Room for hope in the world |

Room for hope in the world

Rich Mayfield

Just when you think the religious can’t get more ridiculous, you come up against a news report like this week’s on the Church of England’s turmoil over ordaining female priests as female bishops. While the rest of the world has been vigorously engaged in breaking down the walls of sexism and reaping the generous rewards of women rising through the ranks to successfully lead some of the world’s largest institutions, these English Christians get themselves into a paternalistic tizzy. Surely even bishops can find a better use of their time.

So you decide all religions should be tossed out with the bathwater, but then you listen to a segment on the radio this same week where two homeless men tell of life on the streets. “We would starve,” they say, “if it weren’t for the churches.” And you realize that charity trumps stupidity every time and religion should survive for at least another day.

Just when you think the financial news can’t get any bleaker, the market takes another triple-digit dive, dragging your net worth along with it. News like this makes it all the harder to understand how a few hundred dollars from the government is going to spur the economy back to life.

So you decide we’re only weeks away from 1929, and it’s time to find a tall building to jump off of, but then you discover that even the news can be fun to watch when it’s broadcast over a brand-new big screen TV purchased with an economic stimulus check from a business that needs business to keep its employees working so they can purchase TVs and more from this and other businesses. And you realize that Congress may not be filled with crazies after all.

Just when you think our president can’t push the needle any higher on the incredulity meter, you read of how on June 25, President Bush met with Philippines President Arroyo in the Oval Office and told her (and the rest of us): “First, I want to tell you how proud I am to be the president of a nation that ” in which there’s a lot of Philippine-Americans. They love America and they love their heritage. And I reminded the president that I am reminded of the great talent of the ” of our Philippine-Americans when I eat dinner at the White House.” Kitchen work is a noble profession, so why did his comment come off as so unsavory? Maybe because it joins a list of equally ill-thought pronouncements like:

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“Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB-GYNs aren’t able to practice their love with women all across this country.” And, “You work three jobs? … Uniquely American, isn’t it? I mean, that is fantastic that you’re doing that.” (to a divorced mother of three!)

So you decide our nation really is deserving of the ridicule and scorn being heaped upon it over the last seven-and-a-half years, but then you have a conversation with your vacationing son-in-law who is currently serving as a liaison to Darfur from the U. S. Embassy in Khartoum and you are reminded of our president’s continuing commitment to Africa, channeling significant amounts of aid to battle some of the endemic issues that have plagued the continent for so long. The U.S. continues to be the leading international donor to the Darfur region with $750 million this year alone. And you realize that even presidential bumblers don’t blunder all the time.

And just when you think the environment is racing to you-know-where in the proverbial hand basket ” filled with everything from killer smog in Beijing to dead trees in the Rockies ” you find out the Bureau of Land Management puts a two-year moratorium on solar-power construction on public lands.

So you decide the inmates really are in charge of the asylum, but then you take a hike around hidden mountain lake, strolling by fields of columbine more vast than you can ever remember and a waterfall that cascades from far above ” and you realize that there is still bountiful beauty in creation and new life rising out of the forest floor. And then you get home to find out the moratorium has been lifted. Joy!

And hope ” coming from some new perspectives.

Rich Mayfield is the author of “Reconstructing Christianity: Notes from the New Reformation.” E-mail comments about this column to

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