Tag Archives: new york

Capital of the World: The Race to Host the United Nations: A TLC Book Tour Review

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Professor Charlene Mires’ Capital of the World: The Race to Host the United Nations, NYU Press 4 March 2013 is the fascinating story of the competition by numerous cities in the United States to become the host of the United Nations.

Professor Mires’ account of the story of how the UN came to be located in New York City, over the objections of many members is highly informative, readable and enjoyable. It is about an America that once welcomed engagement with the world in the heady days following the Second World War before signs sponsored by the John Birth Society and others popped up across the country demanding “Get us out of the United Nations.”

Mires traces the stories of a number of major cities including San Francisco, Chicago, St Louis, New Orleans, Philadelphia and Detroit as well as the Rapid City South Dakota, Sault Ste. Marie Michigan, Niagara Falls New York, Stillwater Oklahoma and a host of other cities and towns that sought to host the UN.

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The story which includes the attempts of various individuals, politicians and civic groups to lobby the UN to become its headquarters and thus the storied “Capital of the World” is fascinating. Though the campaign to host the UN happened over 60 years ago and we know the history of its location in New York the back story to how it came to located there is worth the read. Professor Mires tells the story of how the United States became the chosen nation of the location of the UN based on the history of Europe and questions of the emerging Cold War.

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What I found interesting was how the members of the UN finally settled on New York, despite the fact that many did not wish the UN to be in the United States and if it was not to be in a major city. The story of how San Francisco, a city close to my heart which hosted the inaugural meeting of the UN in 1945 was cut out of the running when a UN committee decided that no locations in the western part of the United States would be considered. That decision, which was based more on European objections to the geographic location was difficult to read. I cannot think of a better city and thankfully the mistake was rectified by the late Gene Roddenberry in Star Trek when the United Federation of Planets located Starfleet Headquarters and Starfleet Academy in San Francisco.

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That aside the story that Professor Mires paints of how the committee and the UN decided on New York is compelling. The process which included geographic, political and social concerns. Politically the influence of the American government should the location be too close to Washington DC prompted conferees to seek a location at least 300 miles from Washington. The real effects of Racism and Jim Crow laws eliminated all Southern cities and towns south of the Mason Dixon Line from the competition. Issues regarding crime, graft and corruption eliminated Philadelphia as well as other cities leading to the eventual selection of New York as the location for the nascent United Nations.

Overall I enjoyed the book. It was a quick, informative and enjoyable read. As a person who genuinely appreciates the work and promise of the UN, despite its shortcomings and failures I found it a story that caught my imagination and made me wonder the “what if” scenarios and what might have been if…

To me those are fascinating questions. What would have happened had the UN been located in San Francisco? Could it have led to the emergence of a stronger and move toward the Pacific Rim becoming the economic and political center of the world? Could the location of the UN in a place like Rapid City brought Middle America more global perspective and perhaps a larger population and economy? Could the selection of a Southern city led to a quicker end to Jim Crow and beginning of equal rights?

Those are questions for those that write alternative histories. They are speculation. Professor Mires work made me think of all of the possibilities that did not happen.

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I recommend this book for those interested in the development of the United States in the late 1940s and early 1950s as well as those that like to have their eyes opened to possibilities that they never before had imagined. Perhaps in an alternate timeline San Francisco not only has the Giants, but the United Nations. I would like to visit that city.

tlc tour host

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Aftermath: Sandy Spreads Destruction along East Coast

Destruction in Atlantic City NJ

Sandy is still bringing destruction to much of the Northeast and the damage to areas affected is still being assessed. As of this evening close to 8 million Americans are without power, many more now homeless and much property and infrastructure is destroyed. At least 50 people are known dead in the United States. Over 16,000 airline flights have been cancelled leaving people stranded not just in New York and the Northeast but around the world. Estimates of the damage are just beginning but the costs to Americans could be in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Tens of millions of lives have been affected by the storm. The fact that some of the most high density populations and vulnerable populations in the country and the seat of corporate America  will make Sandy one of the most destructive and expensive storms ever to hit the United States.

Massive flooding, devastation, power outages and millions of people cut off from transportation and communications. Subways, airports, ports and tunnels are flooded, water and sewage systems are heavily damaged and millions of people are at risk and winter is coming.  The area hit is the most populous in the country and what happens there affects all of us.

Less affected states are sending help to New York and New Jersey which have been the hardest hit areas.

La Guardia Airport

Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey has impressed me. His words to those that want to make this a political carnival were something that I admire. I don’t always agree with Governor Christie but the man is real. Christie has been one of the most aggressive Romney surrogates in the past few weeks and was the keynote speaker at the RNC. However, unlike some he is not simply a political hack. He actually seems to care about the people of his state and recognizes the necessity of Federal Government assistance. Likewise he seems to be able to separate political expediency for real life real time honesty. When interviewed by Fox and Friends host Steve Doocey this morning Christie was in rare form.

It started when Steve Doocy said, “Over the last couple of months, you have appeared throughout the country, Governor, on behalf of Mitt Romney… (W)e hear that perhaps Mr. Romney may do some storm-related events. Is there any possibility that Gov. Romney may go to New Jersey to tour some of the damage with you?”

Christie answered: “ have no idea, nor am I the least bit concerned or interested. I’ve got a job to do here in New Jersey that’s much bigger than presidential politics and I could care less about any of that stuff. I have a job to do. I’ve got 2.4 million people out of power. I’ve got devastation on the shore. I’ve got floods in the northern part of my state. If you think right now I give a damn about presidential politics then you don’t know me.”

First responders have done heroic things and the overwhelmed cities and states have requested Federal assistance, assistance that some on the political right say is either unnecessary, not the responsibility of the Federal Government or “better done by the private sector” are loathe to support, unless the disaster occurs in their neighborhood.  President Obama commented Monday when asked about how Sandy might impact the election:  “The election will take care of itself next week.  Right now, our number-one priority is to make sure that we are saving lives, that our search-and-rescue teams are going to be in place, that people are going to get the food, the water, the shelter that they need in case of emergency, and that we respond as quickly as possible to get the economy back on track.”

Obama will meet with Governor Christie in Newark Wednesday. The two leaders will see the destruction and work together to help the people that need help. That is what America is about.

This is massive damage and will be take a long term effort to recover. This is an American disaster, it affects us all in some way. The most affected are those directly impacted by the storm but if we do not act together it is a storm that could cripple the nation as much of our economy and commerce is centered in the epicenter of where Sandy hit so hard. It requires that Americans band together to help other Americans. It requires that we as a people finally stop the political fratricide and actually become Americans again.

Pray and help as you can. One can donate to the American Red Cross through this link:

http://www.redcross.org/support

The Salvation Army Disaster relief link for Hurricane Sandy donations is here: http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/www_usn_2.nsf

There are other groups that provide help and support as well, but those are two that I have donated to in the past and will do so again.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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A Massive and Deadly “Freak” Storm: Sandy Hits the USA

Sandy

I have been through quite a few hurricanes in my life and Sandy was just a glancing blow for us in North Carolina. My wife in Virginia Beach Virginia says that for once due to the storm sewers being cleaned out recently that our neighborhood is not flooded. However I have a lot of friends in the Northeast in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Maryland and DC who are being hit hard by Hurricane Sandy.

Lower Manhattan flooding (top) and Atlantic City NJ Boardwalk 

Sandy came ashore this evening making a direct hit on the coast of New Jersey. The storm is setting records. It is the most powerful Hurricane to go this far north since the Long Island Express of 1938. The barometric pressure is quite low, 947 millibars as it came ashore, and lower than that this morning. In size it is immense nearly 1000 miles in diameter affecting most of the East Coast from the Carolinas north. Storm surge is setting records and many cities along the coast are flooding.

 

 

 

Hoboken NJ PATH station (top) and Randolph County West Virginia 

The human and economic impacts will be enormous. Power has gone out for millions and it is expected that 10-20 million people could be without power for some time. Reports are that the subways of New York are beginning to flood. There is a danger that other infrastructure damage, including damage to banking and financial institutions could extend the suffering for a prolonged period of time and to people not in the path of the storm. The fact that Sandy has combined with a winter storm has made it much worse. The storm is causing blizzards in the mountains of Virginia and West Virginia. This is a major disaster in the making.

The Tomb of the Unkowns

First responders as always will take a good share of the initial hit from the storm, but it will be up to others at the State and Federal level as well as NGOs and individuals to respond. As of now National Guard Units and elements the Active Duty Forces under the the Command of USNORTHCOM and FEMA are preparing to move to assist. However, the effects of the storm damage will take the efforts of all of us to get through.

The Point Emerald Island North Carolina

For those who have never been a first responder or have been impacted by a massive natural disaster that overwhelms local and state agencies this may be a foreign concept. However having been a first responder who has also dealt with the theoretical aspects of disaster response in military and FEMA courses I know that within 24-36 hours most local first responders and agencies are spend rounds, they are as much victims as the people that they try to assist.

Katrina victims

As Americans our lives and livelihoods are so closely intertwined with each other and what happens in different parts of the country and world it is impossible for a single State or region to bear the brunt of such disasters as Katrina or Sandy by themselves. The response must go beyond attempts to capitalize on the disaster for political purposes to actually being a nation again. The people being affected by Sandy are not strangers. They are friends, family and fellow Americans.

For the moment the Presidential campaigns have ceased campaigning, although pundits and political flacks on both sides of our political chasm are still acting as if Sandy is simply another political event. Personally I think that people like that have lost something of their humanity. This is not about a political agenda, it is about our friends, family and fellow Americans being slammed with a natural disaster that we have not seen the likes of in years.

I have friends in all the sates affected. They span the political and religious spectrum and all are in harms way tonight and in the next few days and all stand the chance of losing life, home or health as a result of this storm.

 

Please pray for these people, our families, friends, neighbors and fellow Americans during this time.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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After Irene: What happens the Next Time, do we feel Lucky?

Crews working to restore power aboard Camp LeJeune

Irene has left the scene and thankfully for whatever reason, divine intervention or just plain luck Irene lost her groove and didn’t get it back before coming ashore.  There was damage and loss of life but it could have been much worse.  She had weakened and hit New York at low tide had she not weakened and moved fast New Yorkand much of New Englandcould have faced a disaster of epic proportions.  Even still damages are estimated at 7 billion dollars and there were towns which most people in power don’t really give a damn about that were devastated by flooding, storm surge or wind.

In North Carolinawhen I am stationed we took the brunt of the storm.  There was a lot of damage in the communities where she came ashore, the Outer Banks and in low lying inland areas where the building codes are less stringent than on the coast but it could have been much worse.  A big part of the reason is that we have been abnormally dry and so streams and rivers were low and the ground was able to absorb the heavy rain. I have been through worse here and I’m glad that we did not have a repeat of Floyd were the storm was a high category 2 with massive rains inundating a state that had been saturated by two previous hurricanes.

My Island Hermitage is on Emerald Isle and it is better situated than many communities on the Outer Banks.  Despite this I prepared in earnest and thankfully all the damage I had was a bit of wet carpet which happens every time we get a lot of rain.  I’m told that my home inVirginia Beach came through fine although as in every tropical storm or Nor’easter the lakes in my neighborhood overflowed and flooded the streets.  In past tropical storms and Nor’easters we lot power for extended periods of time.   According to my neighbor who was looking after the house there was only a momentary outage.

For us the storm produced some anxiety. As a geographic bachelor and as a part of essential staff at the Naval Hospital I knew that I would be there for the duration. Since Irene was a massive storm I had Judy secure our home and evacuate on Thursday.  We I made the call Irene was expected to hit as a category 3 or strong category 2 storm with both the Island Hermitage and my Old Virginia Home in the crosshairs.  I veer to caution in such situations, it is far better to over prepare and get lucky than to presume upon God or nature depending on your world view.

I rode out Irene in our Naval hospital with our bare bones essential staff, some of their families, patients and families, women in their last weeks of pregnancy and pets of the staff members forced to be on duty.  We did well, my Commanding Officer told the story in this blog post http://navymedicine.navylive.dodlive.mil/archives/501 .  We lost commercial power early on and were on diesel backup generators the duration of the storm.  After the Friday dinner we were reduced to emergency rations which the main courses have an eerie resemblance to MREs and what staff had brought from home.

I ambled about on my gimpy leg the best that I could and had to resort to using my cane to make my rounds as I went about to staff, patients and family members.  Several babies were born on Friday night and Saturday.  It was a good event and thankfully nothing bad occurred.  A lot of people especially those that had never been through a hurricane or had a spouse deployed overseas found it unnerving. But we did our best. We converted the chapel to a TV room for the kids to watch movies since they had little else to do and almost every television were on non-emergency circuits.  We ran an extension cord to an “essential” plug in our section of the building which allowed this to happen and our hospital American Red Cross office supplied us with DVDs as well as coloring books and games for the kids.

As I have written in previous articles the military, particularly the Navy tends to be more of a family than any civilian employer. We are bound together by our shared experiences of deployments, danger and regular moves and family separations.  We pull together in ways that I have never seen in the civilian world.   It is an honor to serve.  I finally left the hospital late this morning since Emerald Isle did not reopen the bridge that links us to the mainland until today.

Since I have come back online I have seen some comments from various critics of Federal disaster assistance or the actions of governors or mayors of states and cities with large numbers of people in the danger zone, about 67 million Americans I think is the number.  The most critical politicians were from the House of Representatives and the biggest mockers when Irene came ashore in a weakened state and did less damage than expected were from the “new” conservative media.  Having been through more hurricanes and major earthquakes than I can count and seen the devastation of these events and the effects on the lives of people I find the comments calloused, mean spirited and simply used this as another way to push a political agenda.

Of course it is easy to be a critic when you have no direct responsibility for the lives of people.  You see those in the executive branch be it at Federal, State of City levels of government  and the agencies are each level are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.  If they know of something that that could devastate their communities and the citizens in them and do too much and disaster doesn’t strike, those that hate government say that they are overreacting and an “intrusion of big government.”  If they don’t react it is held up as a failure of government.  As far as Federal assistance after an event those that say that the Federal government should let people sink or swim and states and municipalities fend for themselves even if the disaster is overwhelming the same is true.  They are always critical simply because they want to dismantle the Federal government. Well most are against it until it is their community is affected, the rare exception being Virginia Representative and House Majority Whip Eric Cantor who told people in his own district to take a hike after they were hit by an earthquake that no one ever anticipated or were prepared.

Close to 70 million people were potentially at risk from a potentially historic hurricane that only weakened at the last minute.  The President, the governors of the affect states and the mayors of major cities did what they were supposed to do.  They did not wait until it was too late as was the case in Louisiana and Hurricane Katrina.  For that they are mocked I the press, especially those that are deemed liberal I haven’t heard any criticism of the actions of Republican Governors of Virginia or New Jersey for doing what the Mayor of New York did.

We got lucky this time but some day we won’t be and if the critics have their way the result will be historic in the bad kind of way, think about the Tsunami in Japan kind of bad.  We got lucky and if we think of ourselves as gamblers we need to remember that eventually the law of averages works against us, just ask the people of New Orleans or more recently Joplin Missouri.  God or nature take your pick only gives us so many chances and it takes only one of these things to make a direct hit and wipe untold numbers of people, their communities and even the assets of major corporations and Fortune 500 companies, but then the people that are against Federal assistance to regular people would jump through their asses to help Corporate America, can you imagine what would have happened in Wall Street went under like they did back in 2008 except this time under real water?

Being prepared and taking precautions is always preferable to loss of life on a major scale.  No government or community can be prepared for all contingencies but it is foolish for them not to do so but they are damned if they do and damned if the don’t in the eyes of their critics do not have the same responsibility.

I do hope that we band together to help those most affected by Irene and other recent disasters.  Prayer is nice but action is even nicer. Thank God there are good people that lay it all out for those in need and do it well working with the government and other charitable organizations and individuals. I think a lot about the efforts of the Southern Baptist disaster response teams as well as the Salvation Army disaster relief and those like them that make such a difference.

I’m glad that Irene lost her groove and didn’t get it back, unfortunately lives were lost and millions of people have suffered some kind of loss due to her.

After the Storm

For me it was a long and exhausting event. But it was a great chance for me to have a weekend with some wonderful people, my local Navy and Marine Corps family.  Men and women that give every day and exemplify the best of America.  That makes all the difference.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Fires Earthquakes and Hurricanes Oh My! I thought God loved Red States more than Blue States

Denny Crane Alert! Over the top prose and satire contained in this post. Read with caution! 

Massachusetts is a Blue state. God has no place here” Denny Crane

Well it seems that things are getting a bit sporting back here on the East Coast, even the Red States those favored by God and Fox News are being afflicted with plagues that are more common in Godless Blue States like California and Massachusetts.  After all everyone knows that God loves the Red States more because they like God more than the Godless Commies and Socialists in the Blue States.

There has been a spate of events lately that are making me wonder about God’s love for his chosen people in the Red States.  There were earthquakes in Colorado and Virginia, fires in North Carolina, floods in the Midwest, drought in Texas and the Deep South and most of these places are Red States where God’s real people live.  I could understand if they were Blue States since God isn’t allowed in them.

I grew up on the West Coast, mostly in California where I also did my undergraduate work before I was commissioned as an Army Officer. That was back back in the good old days of the Cold War when the United States and Soviet Union held back chaos by dividing the world into us and them.  Saint Ronald was President and 80s power ballads were hot. But I digress….

I grew up in California, up and down the state, Oakland where I was born, San Diego, Long Beach, Stockton, and the good old San Fernando Valley.  Back in those days I got used to plagues, we had droughts, the Medfly, Jerry Brown, riots, Earthquakes and massive fires and mudslides.  It was good living.  Plagues build character ask the Egyptians and you never forget them.

I mean I have survived big earthquakes the 1970 Los Angeles quake, the 1980 Mammoth Lakes Quake while I was at a Christian retreat.  That weekend was strange there was nice weather, then snow, then hail and finally a thunderstorm before the skies cleared only to have a 6.8 on the Andy Richter Scale earthquake interrupt a class.  Now this was a Presbyterian Charismatic Communion retreat and if you didn’t know that some Presbyterians have this in them you needed to be there.  The building started shaking like a perverted Rock Star gyrating his hips and all of a sudden everyone around me was speaking in tongues, shouting and rebuking the Devil and some even rolling on the floor. I moved underneath a door frame as I was taught in school to do and wondered what was going one.  I survived as did they.  Well I’ve been through other earthquakes of varying intensities, most bigger that the wimpy 5.8 Virginia quake, I’m sorry that’s namby pamby, or even worse namsy pansy. I can’t imagine a namby pamby quake striking a Red State.

The problem is that instead of the Blue States getting these plagues of late as they rightfully should being that there are Godless Communists that love those ho-mo-sexual wedding planners, or weddings or whatever.  Just know that God doesn’t like it but for some reason it seems that all the plagues are afflicting the Red States now days.

Rick Perry’s Texas and Tom Coburn’s Oklahoma are going through a drought like the Dust Bowl days, except to escape it they don’t dare to go to California like people did in the 1930s and risk becoming ho-mo-sexual and having God send them to Hell.  Of course the drought has been going on for some time now but for goodness sakes a couple of days ago there was an earthquake in Colorado home of  James Dobson, Focus on the Family and the Coors Empire.  Red to the core, even the Birkenstock wearing tree huggers are red in their hearts.  Big church ministries move to Colorado from California and even more to Texas. But Colorado had an earthquake and Texas has a drought. North Carolina and Virginia have been fighting fires in the Great Dismal Swamp that won’t go out because of the richness of the peat soil and layers of American made pine needles. Now Virginia which is definitely back in the Red column after crushing a brief  Blue uprising has a really big earthquake by namby pamby East Coast standards.  My goodness the government of Virginia is in church more often than they are in session and are giving a new meaning to the Old Dominionists, but they had an earthquake strike near a nuclear power reactor; shut the place down for a while.  I wonder are they not praying hard enough or are there still enough of those Blue people hanging around to garner the wrath of God? And now there is a bitch of a hurricane named Irene that is threatening the good Red people of North Carolina and Virginia with devastation of Biblical proportions and since I live where the big “hit me sign” is, I am concerned.

This can’t be just.  The Virginians and North Carolinians have been throwing the leftist Democrats out of office at a cyclic rate of late, for goodness sakes they’re doing the work of God and this shouldn’t happen to them.  If God was just this would happen inNew York or Massachusetts where they do all sorts of Godless things and put Democrats in office and let ho-mo-sexuals be wedding planners and even get married to other ho-mo-sexuals.  This should be happening inMartha’s Vineyardwhen Obama is on the golf course with all his liberal commie pinko fellow travelers.

I think that Pat Robertson needs to get out his knee pads and flying carpet to pray this on away like the one he did back in the 1960s.  His place is in the path of Irene and they felt the earthquake down inVirginia Beach too.

That’s all I’ve got to say.

Remember where you heard it.

Padre Steve+

Back to reality, if anyone is taking this seriously they need to get a life. Yes it’s serious, but the seriousness is in the satire. If you don’t understand read my other “serious” posts. However mark my word there are already a lot of preachers out there claiming that this is all the judgement of God against America. But even so Pat Robertson should still be praying as probably all of us should. Besides I am not Red or Blue, I’m a Red White and Blue American Moderate and proud of it. Padre Steve. 

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Learning from David Wilkerson: A Reflective Moment

David Wilkerson died Wednesday in a tragic car wreck on a rural East Texas highway bridge. I wrote about this yesterday and have had more time to reflect on Reverend Wilkerson’s life and ministry and what struck me again and again as I read his blog posts and some of his books, was how he defied being put in a neat box.  It is a time for us to reflect on the life of the man and the content of his ministry so we might learn from him and serve God’s people.

If you cherry picked his writings you could paint a picture of him to make him in your own image. His theology was classic Pentecostalism and he was a Pre-Millennial Dispensationalist. These two pillars were foundational to his ministry. He was a young Pentecostal minister before Pentecostalism hit the mainstream and became a fashionable faith for well off political conservatives.  Pentecostalism began as a movement among the not so well to do back in the early part of the 20th Century. I think that gave David Wilkerson a heart to go into the slums of New York City and begin a ministry to gang members, drug abusers and prostitutes, people that most churches across the denomination spectrum of the day held in distain kind of like the religious crowd back in Jesus’ day.  He certainly didn’t go there for the money or for that matter with the goal of building a mega-church.  He went there because he heard about the violence and the suffering and he was used by God to change a lot of lives.  Likewise he never lost sight of that ministry but took it worldwide and then in the late 1980s when New York was in the tank awash in poverty crime and gang violence he went back. He took a former theater in Times Square which was the hub of all sorts of nastiness and planted a church there which is there to this day attracting a wide variety of parishioners and pilgrims.  By the church-growth school models it was not a smart move but he was obedient to the call that God had placed upon him two decades before.

His message was influenced by his Eschatology or belief in the End Times.  That message saturates his writings as he called people to be ready for the coming of the Lord, something that if I recall correctly is scriptural even if one does not embrace Wilkerson’s Dispensationalism as their eschatology. The Creed even says it “and he shall come again to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.” Wilkerson was a Pentecostal in his understanding of this and also believed that God still speaks today and that the spiritual gift of prophecy was still operative in the church. In this he was not unique even if some of his warnings seemed overblown or did not take place.  However his messages were always full of sadness when he spoke of judgment and he obviously was not watching CNN on a daily basis to check out what changes he needed to make to his message to sell more books and tapes.  He was authentic and honest and the message that he preached came out of a heart that was broken for the people of the earth. Through his work with the least, the lost and the lonely he was very sensitive to injustice, greed and the cult of personality.  When he preached a message of impending judgment it was because he believed it and because like so many of the Biblical prophets, especially Jeremiah who he reminded me of.  One could disagree with his interpretation of the signs of the times but one could never doubt that he actually cared about those he was warning.

If that was all that you wanted to believe about him you could paint him as just another Fundamentalist preacher.  But he defied that label.  His work, preaching and life showed that he was a man who also embraced the call of Jesus to care for those who were not welcome in respectable circles making him somewhat of a social Gospel type as well. In his prophetic preaching he condemned the Social Darwinism of unfettered Capitalism and some of his harshest messages were to the financial elites especially the banking industry.

Another interesting thing about him was that as he grew in ministry he refused to judge or condemn individuals and unlike many popular preachers had friends who were homosexual.  He did not agree with their lifestyle and he was honest in what he believed about homosexuality when he dealt with them but he did not drive them away.  He hated what he believed were the sins of homosexuals but he actually had compassion for them and maintained friendships with homosexuals, in other words he hated what he believed to be their sin but loved them and had compassion for them.

Wilkerson held himself and others to very high standards of Christian conduct a direct outgrowth of Pentecostalism’s roots in the Holiness movement.  Again he wasn’t a hypocrite, in his writings he admitted his own struggles in regard to his faithfulness and what he believed were his own failings. When one reads his last several months of essays on his blog you see a man engaged in an intense personal spiritual struggle even as he sought to encourage others going through similar times.  His willingness to write about this was remarkable by present standards where so much allegedly Christian preaching is shallow and insipid pop-psychology covered with a veneer of Bible verses and baptized as “Christian teaching” by men and women that never admit their weakness or faults until a scandal erupts and they have to apologize.  His writings as I pointed out last night reminded me of Jeremiah the weeping prophet who undoubtedly suffered from severe depression and even a bit of Martin Luther who struggled with his own worthiness even as he proclaimed the message of being saved by grace through faith.

I think that we can really learn from David Wilkerson’s life without putting him on a pedestal and proclaiming him as some sort of extra-special Christian that he would tell us not to do.  He was not a man of pretense and if you read his writings there are in them a sense of humility and unworthiness that at times comes to the forefront.  I think we need to remember him as someone who was obedient and authentic in the way that he lived his life and conducted his ministry.  He didn’t seek out the approval of the rich or powerful and was not one who was a partisan political activist. Where he was politically active it was mostly at the local level in trying to help those without a voice.  He was not a pawn of either major political party. Liberals could agree with his messages against corporate greed while conservatives could agree with his message of personal responsibility.  He was simply a Christian minster who cared about the kind of people that Jesus hung out with most of the time.  He embodied the traditions of his Pentecostal faith and was not a man that pursued the latest and hottest ministry fads.

I think that those things make him unique and hard to copy. There will be those that seek to emulate him and if they do it in his spirit versus trying to “claim his mantle” as some would want to do they will do well. I hope that those that emulate him will do it in humility and seek to be who they are as Christians and ministers and care for those that he cared for rather than trying to mimic his prophetic messages.

As I read article after article about Reverend Wilkerson today I was struck that even those that disagreed with him had nothing bad to say about him. The closest thing to a snarky attitude in an article came from the Wall Street Journal which appeared attempt to smear him by noting that Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart were fellow Assembly of God ministers and was the only paper to make light of his preaching.   The “liberal” New York Times, USA Today and others were much classier than the journal in writing about Wilkerson and good on them.

I didn’t agree with his eschatology and some of his teachings as I theological moderate from a catholic tradition. Likewise I see his struggle in his writings and I wonder about the circumstances of his death in light of those writings, but none of that takes away my admiration for his authenticity and willingness to care and be a voice for the least, the lost and the lonely.  We can only hope than in our time of economic crisis and political division that we will have more men like him who are authentic and faithfully proclaim the Word of God while caring for God’s people without seeking their own aggrandizement or power.

We thank God for David Wilkerson and for the lives that were changed through his ministry even as we pray for his family, friends and co-workers.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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