Giving thanks for hope

National Association of Evangelicals:

The full moon set over Peavine as I shuffled through leaves along the sidewalk, inhaling the fresh decay of autumn. In a flower bed along the road, small red roses survived, protected from morning frost by a pile of rust-colored leaves.

Can you believe we reelected President George W. Bush about a year ago?

Thirteen months ago, I was walking a similar route when a golden oak leaf fluttered past. I caught it, twirled it by the stem. The foliage felt like a sign that all would be well. That George W. would go away. I taped the “leaf of hope” to my office wall.

Then came the sunny reelection day. My leaf turned brown, brittle—fragile as faith.

By the time this column runs, trains will be chugging through Reno’s new trench. I’ve been enjoying downtown Reno—big new bookstore, coffee shops, Silver Peak, antique shops and all.

Well done, local movers and shakers.

Want to run the world?

Seriously, all hell is breaking loose out there. Graft and corruption writhing out from every overturned pebble. Americans on the take in Iraq. Americans outsourcing torture.

Public servants in the highest levels of government indicted, arrested, turning on each other like rabid wildebeests.

In the meantime, the peasants in our colonies are revolting against U.S. imperialism. Where Bush goes, from South America to Asia, huge protests follow. As I wrote this Friday, thousands of South Korean farmers armed with weapons of minor destruction (bottles, sticks and rocks) were being water cannoned into submission.

Bush was in town for a trade conference with Pacific Rim leaders and reps from the World Trade Organization, that slimy bunch of unelected global officials who really run the planet.

I wonder how Bush sleeps at night these days. Does God talk to him in dreams? Does the ghost of Cheney appear, dragging chains he forged in life? “George, remember the poor. Our rich friends don’t need any more handouts. Our unjust war killed more than 30,000 innocent Iraqis.”

Oh, yeah. Cheney’s not dead.

Speaking of evangelical Christians, you’d think Pat Robertson, who recently accused residents of Dover, Penn., of having “voted God” outta town, might attend to nose-thumbing at actual Biblical directives.

Jesus uttered no thoughts on public school curriculum, abortion or gay marriage. He did implore a rich man to “go and sell all you possess and give it to the poor.” No smarmy comments about social programs that don’t work. Just give and, “You will have treasure in heaven.”

Another New Testament bit: “Whoever has the world’s goods and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?”

Those crazy Jesus freakin’ big-hearted galoofs from 2,000 years ago. Love ’em.

Thankfully, some evangelicals read the Good Book. At the Web site for the National Association of Evangelicals (45,000 churches, 30 million people), I found a letter written before this year’s G-8 summit in London. In it, evangelical leaders call for world leaders to consider Millennium Development Goals that cancel debt for poor countries and aim to reduce poverty, hunger and disease. The evangelicals noted “structural inequities and power imbalances in trade rules that tilt toward the rich nations at the expense of impoverished nations.”

Huh. Imbalanced trade rules. There’s a topic worthy of a Sunday morning sermon or two.

“There is no place for apathy in a world which sees 30,000 children die each day because of poverty-related conditions,” the letter begins. “The Bible teaches that whatever we do to the poorest we do also to Jesus. We believe God judges nations by what they do to the poorest.”

There’s that judgment thing again. And it’s headed in our direction.

Then comes winter.