God's Politics

God's Politics

My Minnesota /by Tony Jones/

But for three hiatuses for school, I’ve lived my whole life in the Twin Cities, and my heritage and skin tone match the Lake Wobegon image of my city and state. I’m the descendant of German, Norwegian, Welsh, and British immigrants. I’ve even been known to utter “you betcha” on occasion. But the new faces of Minnesota have been on display in the wake of the I-35W bridge collapse on August 1.

Yesterday, nearly three weeks after the collapse, the remains of the final victim, Greg Jolstad, were recovered. The list of victims tells a tale of today’s Minnesota. There’s the very Scandinavian last name Engebretsen, which belonged to a middle-aged mom who worked for Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. But alongside the victims who were of Northern European descent (Hausmann, Holmes, Sathers, and Eickstadt) are surnames from around the globe: Trinidad-Mena (Mexican), Sacorafas (Greek), Sahal (Somalian), Peck and Chit (Asian), as well as Native American: Blackhawk (Winnebago).

They were white-collar and blue-collar, Protestant, Catholic, and Muslim, married dads, and single moms. The oldest was 60, the youngest was 2. One was pregnant. One had Down syndrome.

Their pictures are a mosaic of diversity.

Pollsters tell us that our quaint land here in the Upper Midwest is changing, that immigration is reshaping Lake Wobegon. But in the information age, those macro-polls are often lost on us.

However, when a bridge collapses during rush hour, it takes a tragic snapshot of just who lives around us.

“Who is my neighbor?” a questioner asked Jesus.

The bridge collapse gave me a new answer to that question.

Tony Jones is the national coordinator for Emergent Village.

Comments read comments(13)
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Randy Myers

posted August 21, 2007 at 4:25 pm

Tony, thank you for your reflection on your home-state in light of the tragedy. Somehow, in some strange way there is a bit of beauty comingled with the tragic, that our sisters and brothers are revealed in such a way. It reminds me of Norman Maclean’s brother, Paul, in A River Runs Through It in whom was combined both the tragic and yet the beautiful. Perhaps there is also a pointing here to the Cross, physically, politically and religiously tragic under which is hidden the love of God.
Thanks again.

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posted August 21, 2007 at 5:09 pm

Tony, thank you for sharing the link to those pictures. They are beautiful.

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Mick Sheldon

posted August 21, 2007 at 6:38 pm

Tony that was an an enlightening perspective .
Great editorial .

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posted August 21, 2007 at 8:44 pm

Tony –
From one MN to another – thanks for your insight.
Peace be to all who lost a loved one.
Moderatelad –

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posted August 21, 2007 at 9:50 pm

Minnesota is changing, even out here on the prairie where I live. The mosaic of diversity is as rich as prairie soil, as beautiful as its flowers. Thank you Tony for feeding my soul.

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posted August 22, 2007 at 10:54 am

Thanks Tony,
I am a displaced Minnesotan, so I appreciate the reports and perspective from those who are there.

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Floyd Miller

posted August 22, 2007 at 10:17 pm

I was tearing up by the end of this article. It is the same sentiment I felt after 9/11 and the Virginia Tech shootings. Tragedy is equal opportunity. When Satan causes someone to mass murder or when he causes an arrogant, uncaring, and aloof administration to spend more money on a foreign infrastructure than on ours or when he deceives people of faith to commit sin, supposedly in defense of that faith, it is then that God compensates by showing us lessons.
Let us put Christ back in Christianity. There are many who have replaced Him with Wall Street.

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Tony Myles

posted August 23, 2007 at 12:07 am

Yes… and yes.

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posted August 23, 2007 at 7:56 am

Posted by: Floyd Miller | August 22, 2007 10:17 PM
‘…when he causes an arrogant, uncaring, and aloof administration to spend more money on a foreign infrastructure than on ours…’
I understand your sentiment, but you might be wrong. I believe the problem with the unfrastructure is that former Gov. ‘Trunbuckle’ diverted millions that should have been spent on highway and bridge maintance to light rail. Something that has no effect on about 98% of the metros population and will never pay for operations much less payback.
Blessings to the families and friends that grieve.

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kevin s.

posted August 23, 2007 at 2:36 pm

There is something unique about Minnesota that, I think, captures the imaginations of Americans (and even internationals). One of my friends was on the news internationally when he was looking for his cousin who was caught in the collapse (she is okay, but traumatized). People from as far away as Australia recognized him.
(side note: he was wearing a t-shirt that simply said “COLLEGE” on it. I asked if he would have worn that shirt had he know he was going to be on international television that day)
I live in Minnesota, and was having a beer downtown when the bridge collapsed. One of the things that overwhelmed me was the number of people who wanted to make sure I was alright. The cell phone lines were jammed with people who were concerned for one another. I was moved by the whole thing.
Floyd, you misunderstand God’s judgment to be simply a function of your political principles. Suffice to say, this was not God’s answer to the war in Iraq.

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posted August 23, 2007 at 6:44 pm

Excellent commentary Tony. For some reason or another it always is interesting to me how tragedy knows no boundaries. It’s so random for the most part.
Why some people feel they need to use this tragedy to make political statements (Floyd) is beyond me.

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posted August 24, 2007 at 10:12 am

What a beautiful article!
I have lived in Minnesota most of my 50+ years. I loved it when I was growing up here (duck, duck, gray duck) but I love it even more now! I feel so blessed that people of such diverse backgrounds want to settle here! Welcome to everyone!

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posted August 24, 2007 at 7:42 pm

Good post Tony. But over at Theoblogy you had suggested you disagreed in some way with John Piper over the bridge collapse. I gotta be honest I really wanted to hear that thought.

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