Thursday, October 7, 2010

my night with huckabee

Mike Huckabee gave a great speech last week.

It was not a political event, it was a fundraiser for the Bridgeport Rescue mission in CT.

At a time when the news cycle is dominated by extremists like O’Donnel, Angle, Miller and Paul… and the say-nothing-partisans like Palin, Gingrich and Beck… one could only get the sense that Mike Huckabee could well be the Republican nominee in 2012.

Huckabee was the keynote speaker for the annual Rescue Mission fundraising dinner last week. Speaking to a non-partisan crowd in CT, I imagine he chose his words wisely.

In fact, he started off by telling the audience he was advised to stay clear of politics and religion – which as an ex-Baptist minister who ran for president presented a few challenges.

Now I have not seen much of Huckabee since he conceded to McCain in 2008 and don’t believe I have ever seen his show. But on this night at least, Huckabee came across as smart, engaging, pragmatic… and most of all, as a man of great empathy.

From his humble roots in Arkansas, he knows what it is like to grow up in hardship. And he shared stories of sitting with families in ER rooms, counseling pregnant teens, standing up for women who had been abused by abusive husbands, helping seniors get healthcare, helping jobless find jobs.

In his tone and manner, I could almost hear another Arkansas governor who once captured America with the words “I feel your pain”.

Yes, there were a few hard-core Republican catch phrases sprinkled throughout his speech that made me cringe. But there were also some moments when this progressive leaned in to hear more.

He spoke about the percent of kids who live in poverty who come from single-parent households or families where the parents did not graduate high school (very high) vs. mother-father families where both parents finished high school (low). And he made the case that our put-em-in-jail-crazed society only serves to create more poverty and never-ending cycles of despair. There’s one line that stuck with me: “It cost us a lot less for the government to pay for four years of college than four years in prison.” Interesting.

Before the night ended, he got up and played in the band.

And yes, he did a great job promoting the work of the Bridgeport Rescue Mission.

Whether or not you’re a Huckabee fan, you have to love the work done at the Bridgeport Rescue Mission. It’s a non-profit, faith-based organization committed to providing food, shelter, clothing, education and job training to hungry, homeless and addicted people throughout Fairfield County, CT. This year, they will serve over 600,000 meals and provide more than 40,000 nights of lodging to those in need. And yes, they need your help. Please go to

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

brother, where art thou?

History has no shortage of famous brothers.

Cain and Able. John, Bobby and Ted Kennedy. Jesse and Frank James. Joel and Ethan Coen. Orville and Wilbur Wright. The Marx Brothers. The Ringling Brothers. The list goes on and on.

Still, it only just occurred to me that the first disciples of Christ were brothers: Simon and Andrew.

Of course, Simon becomes Peter—the rock on which Jesus builds the church. So maybe Andrew just gets lost in the shuffle. Like Tommie Aaron, who shares in the major league record for most home runs ever hit by brothers (768).

But after Peter and Andrew… the next two called by Christ were also brothers: James and John.

And as you read through the Gospels, it becomes clear that Peter, Andrew, James and John were key guys – the inner ring of a small, select group of followers. These brothers climbed the mountain and witnessed the transfiguration, tussled for attention, prayed in Gethsemane and followed Christ through the trials all the way to his death on the cross… then ran to the tomb three days later.

Perhaps it is no coincidence that those called upon to follow Christ and spread the good news were brothers. We know for sure that there were times of doubt, fear and disbelief for these men. There were moments when they wanted to turn their back on God. When persecution and ridicule ran high. When it simply was too tough to believe. And even more difficult to walk in his footsteps.

And yet, they persevered.

Who else but a brother could convince you trust your heart?

Who else but a brother could reassure you in times of darkness?

Who else but a brother could kick you in the ass – and set you straight?

You see, Peter, Andrews, James and John shared a life before Christ. They shared experiences. Perspectives. Through their words, they could validate, strengthen and challenge each other like no other.

Some days I wonder, how much more could I do for Christ if my two brothers walked beside me. Could they reassure me, provide the strength and the nudges (and kicks) I so desperately need to be the man I know I could be? In my moments of doubt, fear and disbelief, could they grab me by the shoulder and whisper in my ear: Brother, we have grown up together... fruit of the same womb... be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be a man of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.

I don’t know.

For unlike Peter, Andrew, James and John… I walk without my brothers.

But I do not walk alone. There’s TK, Stephen, Francisco, Dave, Mike, Kris, Dan, Kevin, Bill, Scott, Norbert, Derek, Perry, Rich. Bob and Byron, to name a few. These are my brothers. We can be honest, and brutal, and forgiving, and a pain in the ass when necessary. We look out for one another. Brothers, for sure.

But… perhaps… not entirely the same.