The bold headline on this morning grabbed my attention: One of the most dangerous hours in America is now 11 o’clock on Sunday morning. The story (littered with typos…but that’s another story…) addressed how lay and religious leaders are responding to the many instances of deadly violence at churches, synagogues,  and mosques. Many houses of worship have begun hiring armed security and/or have started recruiting armed volunteers to try to protect congregations from violent visitors. Those efforts to protect worshippers, the article notes, place religious leaders in delicate positions. Hardening religious venues against people who would do violence has the potential of interfering with the fundamental role of religious venues: to welcome everyone, including people who desperately need the kind of support houses of worship can provide. The article notes that “Houses of faith are one of the few public communal spaces in the country that were created to embrace all comers, including broken or disturbed people on the fringes of society.

I suppose the reason I found the article so compelling is the fact that I am a leader of my church and soon will begin a one-year term as its chief lay leader. Our church created a safety and security team within the past couple of years to deal with the potential for disruptions and violence. The possibility that violent attacks could occur in or around our building has been on our minds for a while now. But I am becoming more acutely aware of that potential reality of late. And the CNN article emphasized that such violence is a very real possibility. There is a fine line between protecting the congregation and making the church seem like a fortress or a prison. That fine line merits constant vigilance; calling for conversations about what is the “best,” most effective way to ensure the safety of members and visitors while ensuring the church is truly a welcoming place. Those conversations will be top of mind for me as time goes by. I wish it were not so; but there it is.


Ted Kaczynski, the “Unabomber,” is dead (of suicide, one report I read said). Kaczynski was both brilliant and broken. His loathing of what, in his mind, technology was doing to society may not have been too far-fetched. But he took his views about the “evils” of technology too far. Even so, his assessment of the dangers of modern society struck a chord with an unknown number of followers. What his adherents seem to have dismissed was the fact that his hatred of technology and modern society in general arose from his desire for vengeance, not because he wanted to protect people from the damage modern technology might do. Somewhere between his pursuit of “vengeance” and his assessment of the dangers posed by modern society, there may have been some kernels of truth. It is too bad, I think, his brilliance could not be harnessed and his mental derangement could not be squelched. He might have made invaluable contributions to the world we live in, if only he had been able to articulate his concerns in ways that did not erase the potential value of his messages.


Some of my dreams tend to plague me for days, weeks, even months after I have them. What I remember from last night’s dream experience is one of those I expect will haunt me. It was not especially troubling. But it was strangely pedestrian. When I awoke, it seemed like the dream was attempting to illustrate something (I do not know what) about myself that revealed irreparable character flaws. The flaws were, in my conscious state of reflection, impossible to define; yet they were obvious in their vagueness. Strange and troubling. And that troubling nature of the dream will be with me for a long while, I am afraid. Even if I could explain the dream (which I cannot), I would not, because it would be too emotional. I sometimes hate being unable to simply “turn off” thoughts and memories.


If I could go somewhere free of governments, I would go. But I would require control over my environments; my circumstances would be subject to my wishes, alone. What that means, of course, is that I want to be my own government. And I want my government to be the only government. World domination is what I want. But I want it in a tiny little world visible only to me. Is that really what I want? I doubt it. But I won’t know for certain until I have experienced absolute power. Only then will I be able to express, with certainty, what I really require and desire and need.


A light fog enshrouds the trees across the street from me. That must mean something. I just do not know what. Okay, I’ll get on with the day. More coffee. A shave. A shower. A glance toward the future. And a quick look at the past. And, of course, dedicated attention to the present.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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