Tag Archives: politics

Kristin Herdy’s Quest for the Holy Landfill

I’m an auntie! More on that later. On the way to and from the hospital to see my nephew, I drive along a country highway, dotted with several large estates and ranches.

What you notice as you pass are the iron gates, large houses, softly rolling green hills, cattle, pristine estate grounds and long drives, and the signs. Those houses all have signs up right now. STOP THE LANDFILL, they say. The signs are large, professional, and look costly.

I can’t help but think about the “sides” of this landfill issue. I wouldn’t want a landfill in my backyard, either. I wouldn’t want my groundwater potentially compromised by rainwater runoff over mounds of trash. I wouldn’t want the stench. On the other hand, landfills have to go somewhere, right?

Who should bear the brunt of the landfill?

Those who produce the most waste?

Those who can’t afford to stop the initiative?

Who deserves to live in a landfill-free environment?

Those who pay the most for their houses?

Those who bear the lion’s share of property taxes?

Matthew 23:27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.”

Reading those signs, I couldn’t help but feel that, as human beings, we know our waste, our excess, our sin, will come back to haunt us, but like the Pharisees, we also believe we can keep the facade looking clean and pristine and avoid the consequences.

We might try to hide it away in someone else’s area. We might try to slap a new coat of paint on it. We could rebrand and repackage it. We could recycle it or shoot it into space. We can’t seem to eliminate it, though, not through all our efforts.

No one wants a landfill in their backyard. No one wants to live in their own waste. No one wants the consequences of their sin to pile up and over their fences and spill into their flower beds.

If your sin were represented by a mound of trash… what is the capital of Assyria? how much wood could a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood? what is the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow? look! a baby!!!!

In other words, what absurd things do we do to avoid the punishment of our sin, instead of asking forgiveness and accepting the consequences?


Is the American Experiment dead?

Yesterday, as you’ve probably heard, Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot, along with several others, as she met with constituents at a local Safeway grocery store to hear concerns, explain her perspective and find out what challenges people in her district face.

As I write this, 6 people have been confirmed dead, among them a Federal judge and a 9-year-old girl, Christina Greene, who was at the event because she’d been elected to student council and was interested in government. The shooter is 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner, who seemed to have strict Constitutional ideas about the federal government and its representatives.

But, that’s not what I want to talk about, not really, anyway. I want this blog to be a community, a green, a common. I want to discuss our relationships with one another. Based on the reaction from conservatives, who want to distance themselves from this nutjob, and reaction from liberals, who want to crucify those on the right for their violent vitriol, I have to ponder, is the American Experiment dead?

In that land the great experiment was to be made, by civilized man, of the attempt to construct society upon a new basis; and it was there, for the first time, that theories hitherto unknown, or deemed impracticable, were to exhibit a spectacle for which the world had not been prepared by the history of the past. – Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 1831.


In order for that experiment based on emergent ideas to work, that radical move toward democracy, a republic of citizen voters, we must have a civilized society composed of civilized people. Those people, at the heart, must commit to the process, must trust in the process, even if they do not individually trust in their opponent or those opposed.

I tend toward the liberal, so I will say that I’ve been (perhaps unnecessarily) frightened of the political climate of late, especially the hate spewed as a result of March’s health care reform vote, which I supported. Then there was the Guy Fawkes-esque “Remember November” calls that had me wondering if conservatives wanted to blow up the Capitol. There were “2nd Amendment Remedies” and “Don’t retreat: Reload.” I had “friends” who posted photos like this to their Facebook pages:


I was told that I was crazy and hunting references were just good-old-boy dog whistles meant to rally the conservative base. Maybe that’s true.

I’ve also been disappointed in the liberal reaction to this tragedy. We don’t trust. We don’t accept condolences as genuine. They might not be, but, I’m willing to hope they are sincere. We point fingers and place blame. I think it’s too soon for that. I think it’s too fresh and too raw and too NOW. Everyone wants to preemptively disavow crazies from their side. Surely, liberals can understand THAT! In addition, we want to blame those who voted for Republicans in November, those who tend to support Republican candidates, or the Tea Party.  We blame the rhetoric even as we help shape rhetoric.

We’re now reaping what we have sown, America. We created a sharply divided electorate, and now we’re dying on that blade. Clarence Darrow, in defending murderers Leopold and Loeb, said of World War I, “I joined the general cry of madness and despair. I urged men to fight…the civilized world was engaged in killing men, Christian against Christian, barbarians uniting with Christians to kill Christians, anything to kill. It was taught in the schools, aye, in the Sunday Schools. The children played at war, the toddling children in the streets…. How long will it take the calloused hearts of men before the scars of hatred and cruelty be removed?” Men kill, he said, because killing is valorized in our homes, our schools, even in our metaphors. We create a culture of death.

I use “we” here. I should use “I.” I valorized killing, I have used hyperbolic metaphors. I have not been circumspect in my speech. I have created a culture of death because I have not shown grace. That is a feat far more difficult than assessing blame. Grace is not easy to give or receive. I have blamed. I have pointed. I have accused, aloud, and in my heart.

I leave you with the words of Omar Khayyam, quoted by Darrow in his closing statements, “So I be written in the book of Love. I do not care about that book above. Erase my name or write it as you will, so I be written in the book of Love” which sounds oddly like Paul to the Corinthians, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging symbol.”

Is it too late to save the Great American Experiment? Did it die yesterday with a 9-year-old student councilwoman in Tuscon? or is the response to this incident just the requiem for the American destiny that might have been and almost was?

*NOTE: I will not approve comments that are vulgar, violent, obscene or in any way contribute to the climate that I see as escalating disrespect of human life in our country. If that angers you, you have every right to start your own blog. Thank you for keeping comments clean.

Where were the Christians?

I’ve heard my opinions on politics called extreme. Too liberal. Too much like those “socialist” “non-God-fearing” nations like Sweden, France and Canada. God doesn’t bless nations like that; his rain falls only on the ones like ours, ones that believe the invisible hand of the capitalist, unregulated market , to be the hand of God. I’ve heard we need to take away health care, that I should be voting against people like myself, who only recently had a hope of health care that wasn’t tied to employment. I should be voting to “take out the trash” today, they say, and rid the halls of Congress of those godless liberals and their loose definition of the pursuit of happiness.

The deeper the red, the more self-identified Evangelicals

Take a look at the map above. The states with the higest poverty rate, the states with the highest infant mortality rate, the states with the highest populations by percent of Christians… are they all one in the same?

I’ve heard many times that it isn’t the government’s job to take care of the sick, or the needy, or the homeless, or the orphaned. I agree and I disagree. It shouldn’t be the government’s job to take care of the sick, or the needy, or the homeless, or the orphaned. It should be Christians’ jobs. If Christians had done their job, the government wouldn’t have needed to step in. But, where were the Christians? They were storing up treasures on Earth, where moths destroy and thieves break in and steal.

I agree; it shouldn’t be up to the government to decide who gets handouts, but where were the Christians? They were deciding between the deserving poor and the undeserving poor. They were choosing to offer their charity to people who would attend their church or seemed to be helping themselves. In the Bible, there are examples of Jesus helping those who helped themselves (woman with the issue of blood), but there were also those he helped who didn’t help themselves (Lazarus, blind man, Jairus’ daughter). None of us deserve anything, or, at least none of us deserve good things, that’s why we are so blessed by grace.

If we want to be a Christian Nation, if we want to be a nation of Christians, we need to start acting like one. Leviticus 19:9-10 says: “Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger. I am the LORD your God.” Where did that practice go?

If we want to be a Christian Nation, then either the Christians in this nation need to follow the word of God, or stop complaining when a government of, by and for the people, steps in to do it. If we want to be a Christian Nation, we’re going to have to stop talking out of one side of our mouth about the evils of abortion and out of other side about having to dole out money on welfare queens and their children. If we want to be a Christian Nation, we need to be praying for our leaders to have direction and wisdom and not praying that they die and leave their children fatherless. If we want to be a Christian Nation, we need to pray for all our leaders, not just the ones who agree with us. If we want to be a Christian Nation, we have to stop devaluing human life in other countries just because they follow the teachings of Buddha, or Mohammed or their own internal guide. If we want to be a Christian Nation, we have to be Christians in more than name.

In the interest of full-disclosure, let me say that I receive some government assistance. The same people who scream about leaches at the government teet are the same ones telling me that I should take all that is offered to me. What’s the difference between me and the rest of those suckers? How different am I? Let me tell you: I’m not that different, but they think I am. They think my white skin makes me more worthy. They think that because they know me, they know I’m qualified and fairly smart, that I’m better. They think that because I’ve managed to attain a certain degree that I deserve it, as long as the government is handing it out. I hear those comments and I don’t hear concern: I hear pride. Their own pride is speaking volumes – I’m like them, and if I need the money or the food stamps or the medicaid, then I’m entitled, just as they would be entitled if they needed it. I’m not entitled, I’m in need. I’m hoping that need is temporary.

Where were the Christians? How did we let it get this bad, that the government has to levy taxes to help the poor, instead of the churches doing it? How did we let it go this long, that the government needs to provide a refuge for the abused and neglected and elderly, instead of churches doing it? Maybe the problem is too big, now. I keep hearing that charity donations go down when taxes go up. Grumbling also increases. I listen and I hear excuses. “I’m not going to give to charity, my taxes are paying for stuff like that.” “I pay too much in taxes for the so-called social programs, I don’t have anything left.” If we had given to God what is God’s, perhaps Ceasar wouldn’t have demanded so much. If Ceasar wouldn’t have pursued a crusade, maybe we could give the taxpayers a break.

If Christians don’t want the government in their business, and I know I don’t, they need to start giving. Give the government a reason to let go of the social programs. Give until it hurts, not until it’s mildly uncomfortable. Even on assistance, even with those dollars that are deposited onto my card each month, thanks to government intervention, I give, and I could probably give more. I give in time, I give in energy and I give in prayer. If you own a Christian business, give someone who is struggling, a job. Give up your vacation or your free weekend. Give until it hurts, give in sacrifice, give in love, give regardless of the worth of the applicant, give whether you’re going to get a new congregant or not, give when you have it, give when you don’t have it — and then give the rest to God and let him sort it out.