“Has there ever been a time in recent US history when things were actually good?” a young speechwriter asks on Facebook. “I’m looking back and it seems like whenever there wasn’t a war, there was a recession, and whenever there wasn’t a recession, there was some disaster or another, and when there wasn’t some disaster or another, massive amounts of people were still being denied basic human rights or suffering for one reason or another. It’s incredible to think that today, June 27, 2022 is the best time in history to be an American but… is it???”
As we ease into another Independence Day weekend and ask ourselves we want to celebrate our nation or drink to forget it—seems like a good time to leave here an essay I wrote four years ago, An American Prayer: In Conversation With My Dead Father. It begins:
My father’s been gone almost 10 years.
On the Fourth of July, I cannot decide whether I want to wake him up to tell him all about the national calamity, or let him sleep, and spare him the pain.
I think I’m going to wake him up.
My spirituality is like a lot of people’s, I think: The closest touch we have with God is the memory of our beloved dead, after we have washed them and groomed them and dressed them and arranged their quiet hands. And the closest thing to prayer is the conversations we have with them, still.
And I feel like praying today.
Off next week, back July 11.