Join Canon Robert Hendrickson, and me, this Lent.
To this point I have refrained from public comment on the tragic death of a cyclist who died because of the brokenness of an Episcopal bishop in Maryland. There has been much comment on the culpability of the bishop, the diocese, and the discernment committee who put her name forward despite previous troubles with alcohol.
There has also been much written on the need for both justice and mercy in cases such as this. There has also been a good deal of emotion in debates about what it means for us to welcome into leadership those who continue to struggle with issues of addiction.
On Facebook today, a friend sent along an idea that I thought both sensible and spiritually valuable. He wrote the following:
“Like everyone in the Episcopal Church, I’ve been torn, dumbfounded, and mortified by the events of Maryland: what it says about the episcopacy and church…
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No alcohol has long been a part of Eastern fasting. The CFW in Durham fasts from alcohol during Lent (except on Sundays and major feasts) and has for as long as it has been. I was already planning to fast from alcohol this year.
What hasn’t come out of this situation is any conversation about the culture of the car in our society and church. People, and more often poor pedestrians than upper middle class cyclists, are killed by our desire to get places quickly and independently. The routine visible carnage of deer, possum, squirrels, birds, and other animals should be enough to give us pause. In his “Energy and Equity” Ivan Illich makes a compelling case for the way in which all of us, but again the poor especially, are trapped by the increasing speed of transit and forced into consumption of transportation. It wasn’t merely Bp. Cooks drunkenness that killed Tom Palermo. It was her love of the automobile and addiction to speed that killed him. Nearly all of us are guilty in the same way as her.
Perhaps we should stop driving during Lent.