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November 4, 2009
A long list at morning prayer this week, twice as many as last week -- things were especially lethal in Afghanistan in the month just past. There is a lag, while families are informed of their loss, between when a fatality occurs and when we get the names online. And we awoke yesterday to the news that there would not be a runoff election Afghanistan after all: the incumbent's opponent withdrew, citing his belief that the second time around would be no purer than the first, so why risk people's lives? Because that's what voting is there: it can get you killed. People show up at the polls under threat of death for doing so. They must be protected by soldiers while they vote. Some of them have been murdered afterwards.

Here, no. We can stroll to the polling place in complete safety. We can vote by mail. We have it easy. Some of us remember a time when it was not so here, not for everyone, but that was almost fifty years ago now. These days, voting is a breeze. It's so easy, half of us don't bother. Interesting, how apathy accomplishes what violence aims for, and not a shot fired in anger.

You campaign in poetry, but you govern in prose, former New York governor once said, In honor of election day, yesterday's Times crossword contained that remark. It's true: a campaign is like dating and governing is like marriage. Whether a candidate is a fine orator or one whose speeches leave us longing for just one sentence with both a subject and a predicate, all talk about governing is easier than any doing of it. The winner will serve an electorate formed by watching television, consciously or consciously expecting that even complex problems can and should be resolved in about half an hour and willing to throw the bums out if that doesn't happen -- or, at least, willing to let others do so. We have a short attention span and an even shorter fuse.

Might there be other forms of government less irrational? All dictatorships have believed themselves to be such, and all have twisted quickly into something diabolical. Messy as it is, frustrating as it can be, hostage to our mediocrity as it may be, our way of choosing who will lead us is, at least, ours. If it is true that it mirrors our weaknesses, it can also mirror our strengths, and it will -- whenever we choose to lend them to the task.

You can find the names of service men and women to include in your prayers, along with lots of good suggestions about praying for the whole spectrum of government, at

Sunday, November 8th, Barbara Crafton will read and sign copies of Jesus Wept, her most recent book, at St Luke's Episcopal Church, 17 Oak Avenue, Metuchen NJ 08840. She will also preach at 8am and 10am that morning.
Monday, November 9th, 6-8 A Cocktail Party in New York for St. James in Florence. Spend a couple of convivial hours with Barbara Crafton in an intimate setting on Park Avenue, and do the American Church in Florence some good while you're at it. Former rector Peter Casparian will also be there, as will Bishop Pierre Whalon, and we will meet and mingle with Mark Dunnam, the brand-new rector of St James. Our beloved Juilliard students will be there to serenade us, and our hostess Anne Herrmann says that she has just had the piano tuned. The donation is $100/person. RSVP to Barbara Crafton via
Wed-Sun, Nov 11-15, Women & Spirituality: A Soulful Journey Among Ourselves
The profound experience of women's spiritual quests are explored in a four part series presented by the Psychotherapy & Spirituality Institute in association with Auburn Seminary, General Theological Seminary & Trinity Church Wall Street.

Part 1 begins at Auburn Seminary and examines how the sense of connectedness that is uniquely feminine supports social practices essential for a just society. Wed, Nov 11 | 6:30pm-8:00pm,Auburn Seminary 3041 Broadway at 121st
Guest Presenter: Rev. Suzan D. Johnson Cook (Dr. Sujay), Founder and Senior Pastor of the Bronx Christian Fellowship Church

Part 2 Fri, Nov 13 | 6:30pm-8:00pm St. Paul's Chapel, Broadway at Fulton Street
Guest Panelists: Amy Julia Becker (author of Penelope Myers), Jeanne Person (Director of the Center for Christian Spirituality), Kathleen Kelley & Sumaiya Malik

Part 3 Retreat day in the city at General Theological Seminary.
Saturday, Nov 14 | 10:00am-3:00pm, Entrance on W. 21st Street bet. Ninth & Tenth Avenues
Faciliator: Westina Matthews, PhD Guest Presenter: Rev. Julia Kristeller (Director of PSI's Muslim-Arab Women's Project & Interfaith Minister)

Part 4 Sunday, Nov 15 | 1:00pm-2:30pm | Trinity Wall Street, 74 Trinity Place | 2nd Floor
Guest Presenter: Barbara Cawthorne Crafton
Come to one part of the series, or come to all. Our speakers will have their books available for purchase and signing.
$45 for full series If purchased separately, Parts 1, 2, 4: $12 each, Part 3 Quiet Day: $20 (includes lunch)
For reservations or more information, please contact Mark D’Alessio at 212-285-0043 x11 or

November 21-22 St.Paul's, Fairfield, CT Youth event and Sunday Visit
"Telling My Story" event for youth Saturday evening for all diocesan youth. On Sunday, Barbara Crafton is preacher at 9:15 and leads an adult forum entitled "The Devil You Know and the Angel You Haven't Met Yet."
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