Progressive Revival

The Rev. Dr. Donna Schaper is Senior Minister of Judson Memorial Church in New York City and author of GRASS ROOTS GARDENING: RITUALS TO SUSTAIN ACTIVISM.

My people are shovel ready: they are ready to shovel the manure out of the
barn and clean political and economic house.

When I gave the pastoral prayer on Sunday, I couldn’t help myself. I had to
pray to God that God stimulate congress. 
Stimulate means to activate, deepen, embolden, inspire.  What stimulates my people right now?  Hope, most of which they are having to
come up with on their own.

The President is now stumping for the Less than Perfect But Absolutely
Necessary Stimulus bill, which sounds like a vitamin that upsets your stomach
more than anything else. In the pews, we know what burps.  We know the difference between
stimulation and boredom, stimulation and soul, stimulation and substance. We
know when our leaders don’t know – and we wish they would at least fake it.

In the pews, there is a triumphant pessimism, a load of boomers become
doomers, slum dogs pre millionaires. 
We knew the government was letting the liars and thieves run the government.  We know about the people who do enjoy
tax cuts.  We have seen their
houses, their advertisements for themselves, the amount they spend on face
cream, which would feed our family for a week. We still have a sliver of hope
that someone might lead the liars and thieves and SUV crowd out of town – and
do so with a smile, our smile, on their face.  So far, not so good. 
Thus the confirmation of that bulletproof jacket known as cynicism.  At least we are not surprised.

It could be different.  We could
have leaders who understood the relationship between catastrophe and
transformation.  This is what
ordinary people say to each other when terrible things happen: God never closes
a door without opening another one. 
Isn’t it great news that the old economy is dead?  It was mean when it wasn’t unfair. It
was a giant Ponzi scheme.  It
benefited the few and ignored the many. 
Right now our leaders are missing a great opportunity to take the
cynicism out of the electorate. 
Taking the political depression out of the electorate might even avoid a
material depression.

A good leader right now would articulate hope.  Forget about the material stuff, forget our rail system that
shames Bulgaria, our highway system and automotive industry that destroy the
air our grandchildren might have breathed.  Forget about the shovel ready infrastructure projects,
leaders, and talk to us about our souls. 
They have been trickled down ON for too long.  Stimulate them and you will be amazed at the growth that

My people want nothing less than perfect from our new President.  Think how Sullenburger landed the
plane. They want him to tell them how things are going to be better, in a
different way than they have always been. 
Nobody needs another hair dryer or toaster.  We need protection against depression, and I don’t mean the
economic kind.  We don’t need to
buy tasteless tomatoes any time of day or any time of year: we’d like our food
to taste better and be less fattening and artificial.  We need the government to figure out how to move us around
without destroying the planet’s air. 
We can’t figure that out by ourselves. 

We are shovel ready – shovel ready to shovel out the s……. that has comprised
our government for way too long. 
You can take the trickle too. 
What is that s……..?  It is
the government’s lying in bed with the rich who have now stolen both the
spiritual and the material infrastructure for the American Dream.  A good leader right now would say
enough of that.  A good leader
would guarantee that the rich are no longer going to enjoy BONUSES !!!! while
the poor and middle class can’t get the bank on the phone to remortgage their
3BR, 2Baths.  A good leader would
work from the bottom up, not the top down. 

The ground and the pews need attention.  If they don’t get it, watch out for social revolution.  Watch out for the current depression in
the pews to turn into anger in the streets. That will also cost pragmatic
leaders something: they will think they will have to protect the rich from the
poor.  Instead they could avoid
that expense and funnel stimulus money to the poor and middle class right now.
Think of it as a bargain.

Want to avoid a depression? 
Work on the depression that already exists.

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