Naked City: Appreciating Human Stories

rainbow, hope, promise, future


rainbow, hope, promise, future

Stories of the human experience can be on a gigantic scale encompassing large populations. They can be about great dramas of the past or heartbreaking contemporary life. There is now a pending issue in our country that will cause the rippling effect of a virtual earthquake, not on our faith, but on how we practice that faith.

We await the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States later this month (June 2015) on the issue of a change to the definition marriage in secular law; to create an artificial state of marriage between same sex persons using civil law. It would be something equivalent to a child’s tea party, where pretend illustrates the desire to attain the actual. If so ordered, it also orders an intensified religious persecution automatically unless religious exemptions are created by legislatures or current ones are observed by other courts.

The power of this Court is played out not by the elderly and sometimes frail members of the court itself, but through physical force and intimidation by younger men and women dedicated to following their dictates. This system of law creation, judgment and enforcement is the system of social interaction we have formulated after centuries of debate and thought.  Influenced by church Canon Law in the heavily Catholic Middle Ages Europe, Magna Charta, was a foundational legal document whose first signing in June 1215 we celebrated just this month. We followed the precepts of this document with our own writing and founding of the Declaration of Independence. And now we are at this point in history and await the dictates of our desires without the benefit of the righteous influence of Jesus Christ, in a country determined to create its own morality – apart from God.

This is only one human story that is now unfolding. A very heavy one at that. One that I cannot say that I like very much.

And the Lord said to Moses, “How long do you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws? (Exodus 16:28 RSVCE)

Individual Stories Can Be The Most Uplifting Today

I have told this story before to a smaller group of people but it is worth repeating here.

Not long ago, I attended a hearing on our state’s parental notification abortion bill and happily socialized with evangelicals I had met before the proceedings began.

The committee, in the legislatures largest meeting room, along with several hundred people, TV news, newspaper photogs, was listening to a young woman telling her personal story in support of the bill. She was barely able to speak and tearing while forcing herself to continue about the importance of involving parents in such an important decision

In the middle of this poor woman’s effort to continue, the committee chairman, who was very experienced and in total control of this hearing, got up and started to make his way around the horseshoe shaped area behind other members. They duck out often in the middle of hearings. They need to attend to other business, have a smoke, make a trip to that little room, or just who knows what.

I was sitting way in the back so didn’t see clearly but what I was thinking was –  you jerk, couldn’t wait until she was finished, very insensitive.

The man walked around the end of the member area up behind her desk that was facing them and gently placed a box of Kleenex at her side. He then quietly returned to his seat. That gave her enough composure to continue her three minutes.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. (2 Corinthians 1:3-5 RSVCE)

What Is Important to You?

I have my teeth cleaned by a fellow parishioner and every four months I actually enjoy the process. She is not the gentlest cleaner but she is so animated and bubbly about our faith that I don’t notice much of the discomfort.

Last week she called me into the inner office from the waiting area and we exchanged the usual greeting – How are you…fine…how are you? I laid back in the chair and dutifully opened my mouth after the usual preparations for this dental procedure.

For about 20 minutes she talked and I mumbled about what was going on in our lives. Our lives are centered on the Church and as a common interest we conversationally worked our way to the up-coming Diocesan Synod in December, not the one in Rome this October. This is only the second one ever held here. The last was in 1959 and the current bishop is interested in our ideas to improve the diocese.

Several ideas came to mind between us and a trivial one was the lack of printing in the bulletin what year we are in, either A, B, or C, and which Sunday in order to follow the readings. This is printed sporadically and I can’t always remember unless we have recently had a special day like Pentecost or Easter.

So this complaint lead her to tell me that she always takes her missal and it is marked from last week so she will always know the proper page.

She said, “A few Sundays ago we left the house to go to Mass and I forgot my Missal, leaving it on the kitchen counter opened to the day’s readings. But I can’t use it anymore, it is just too messy.”

I ask, “What happened to it?”

“Well…our house burned down and it got ruined.”

“Yrrr hssse gttt whaaattt?”

I signaled that I wanted her to remove her hands and I said, “Your house got what?”

This poor lady and her husband returned home from Mass that Sunday, approached the front door and heard a smoke alarm inside. They opened the door and saw their living room in flames.

They lost everything that was inside that home: 1,000 books burned and smoke damaged, photographs burned, clothes burned, everything gone, nothing usable. They are now living in a rented house until their house is entirely rebuilt from the foundation.

I felt a little sheepish after complaining about the lack of information in our bulletin and also a little amazed that the one possession that appeared to mean the most to her was her missal.

God answered Solomon, “Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked possessions, wealth, honor, or the life of those who hate you, and have not even asked long life, but have asked wisdom and knowledge for yourself that you may rule my people over whom I have made you king,  wisdom and knowledge are granted to you. (2 Chronicles 1:11-12 RSVCE)

How Many Stories Are There?

There was an old television police drama that most of you are too young to remember called Naked City. It was very popular and based on a movie of the same name. Every show ended with this wonderful line from the narrator. “There are eight million stories in the naked city. This has been one of them.”

You might say that this article has been an abbreviated version of just three of them.

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3 thoughts on “Naked City: Appreciating Human Stories”

  1. ” …wisdom and knowledge are granted to you.”

    This is a guy who had 700 wives, 300 concubines and descended into idolatry. So I
    guess the lesson is – it’s not what one asks for but how one applies what is given. I think
    he took a chance with that baby and wonder what he would have done if the real mom
    didn’t speak up.

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