Soul Among Lions

Posted: September 15, 2009 in Justice

When I was asked to speak at the CLS retreat on loving your neighbor, the life story of an eighty-five year old Tennessee farmer named Will D. Campbell immediately came to mind. Which isn’t saying a whole lot because the story of Will D. Campbell comes to mind often. There isn’t a writer outside of, say, the apostle Matthew, that has had a greater impact on my life.

Anyway, when I was preparing to speak I ran across a little book of Campbell’s called, “Soul Among Lions: Musings of a Bootleg Preacher,” written back in 1999. It is a small book composed of little bitty essays that are pretty great.

I’m telling you all this to warn you – on days like today, when nothing is standing out for me to write about, prepare yourself for the wit and wisdom of Will D. Campbell.

Here goes:

Every two years there is a new term of Congress to pass new laws. Trouble is, the more laws there are to break, the more criminals we have. That requires more prisons. Maybe we have enough laws. If something hasn’t been against the law for five hundred years, maybe we don’t really need a law to prohibit it. We started out with the ten commandments, and of that number, only two are still crimes. Honoring parents, graven images, adultery, keeping the Sabbath, lying, coveting our neighbor’s ass — all those things have gone by the board. Except in certain political situations.

The main topics of Congress these days are welfare, crime, balancing the budget, and campaign reform. Everyone knows they aren’t serious about that last one. Or about balancing the budget and welfare. How would it be if Congress didn’t meet for one term? They and their staffs cost approximately six billion dollars per term. That wouldn’t balance the budget, but it would help. Crime would decrease because there wouldn’t be any new laws to break. And when Congress did go back to work after not having been paid for two years, maybe they would be a little more sensitive to the poor. Maybe welfare would be more humane.

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