Sunday, May 10, 2009

Big Tents, Pup Tents, Heaven, and Republicans

First, Happy Mother's Day to all the wonderful women in everyone's lives, whether they be moms or grandmothers or sisters or aunts or nieces or just friends. I went to visit my mother earlier than usual this morning, something I do most Sundays but usually later in the afternoon. I took her flowers and gift certificates to her favorite place to regularly shop. She also got flowers from my niece and a two-seater rocker from my father. She now spends most of her time looking after my father, a man from whom she was granted a divorce in 1964. Not that she needs any, but I'm sure she is getting some bonus points in that big book where God is keeping score.

As for God's big book, who gets in and who doesn't, and all that, I am a Universalist. I sincerely believe in the grace of God and the idea that it extends to everyone and, since all have sinned, it isn't like only the perfect can make it. If so there would have been no reason to have built all those rooms mentioned in the line "in my father's house are many rooms (or mansions)." What need would he or we have of all those rooms if he didn't intend to invite us in. For most of us, the idea of God's grace is a very good thing because most of us have at one time or another given a judgmental person a reason to exclude us. But, excluding people over and over and over leads to a very small tent, one that eventually collapses upon itself.

Such is what has seemed to happen to the Republican Party. During the Bush administration, Republican purists (or self-described purists till they get caught doing something Democrats are often accused of but rarely caught) have made the big-tent Ronald Reagan created and the late Jack Kemp personified into a pup-tent suitable for a boy scout outing for a night or two. The Republican Party keeps imposing upon its members tighter and tighter restrictions. If you don't meet all the requirements, they sometimes wish you would just leave. That's what Arlen Specter famously did last week. He just up and left. Now, to be honest, he stuck his finger up and found the wind blowing strongly in a leftward-leaning direction. By his own admission, he wasn't the first of the 200,000 Pennsylvanians who switched from one side of the aisle to the other - he was the 200,001st. Political self-preservation played a large role in Arlen's short hop across. But, he did cross over into the big-tent of the Democratic Party, one which here in Kentucky I've often said is big enough for both me and J. R. Gray from down in Benton.

I tend to think of God and Heaven in a similar vein. A big-tent place where everyone can get in thanks to God's grace. I'm sure some are allotted nicer rooms than others; some get filet mignon, others get White Castles; some have cable, others rely on rabbit ears, and so on. But it is my sincere belief that everyone gets in - even Republicans.

Thanks Be To God.

The Archives at Milepost 606


Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Never married, liberal Democrat, born in 1960, opinionated but generally pleasant, member of the Episcopal Church. Graduate of Prestonia Elementary, Durrett High, and Spalding University; the first two now-closed Jefferson County Public Schools, the latter a very small liberal arts college in downtown Louisville affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. My vocation and avocation is politics. My favorite pastime is driving the backroads of Kentucky and southern Indiana, visiting small towns, political hangouts, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. You are welcome to ride with me sometime.